Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chili Overload?

To beat a standard case of the Mondays, I participated in the local running groups' chili run (Running for Kicks). The event was sponsored by Mizuno and the chili was from Lindy's and Gertie's. Amanda's parents own 2 local franchises so it was nice to support their local business! There were tons of familiar faces at this run, friends both IRL and online!
Source: RFK Facebook Page
This photo is just a small sample because there were probably about 10 people who were still in the store as this photo was taken! It was a great run with great friends, and I really wish I could make it out there more often. Unfortunately, to get there on time, I had to leave work an hour early, take a different train, and change in the car. Maybe my next Monday off work I'll be there again... As this was my 3rd day running in a row, I didn't want to push too hard. I completed 4+ miles in about 38 minutes (8:56 pace). There were some hills but not a ton. It was just fun to run with a large group of some of my favorite running pals! :)

In other news, I've officially signed up to be a Ragnar Relay volunteer. Kate LF and I are signed up to help out our friend Kate S. and Amanda on Team Chicked! (Definition of "chicked" found here.) I'm looking forward to helping out my friends and hopefully I get one of the coveted volunteer spots at the finish line! Volunteer sign up is April 9 and the race is June 8 and 9. Much more to come on that in the months to come.

I've recently started reading Hal Higdon's book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, as I've mentioned in a previous post.
There are so many things I wish I would have known before I ran my first marathon! I really missed the boat on this one, and I highly highly recommend for anyone about to embark on their first marathon to READ IT!!! The chapter I'm reading today focuses on the 10 Truths About Marathon Achievement. I couldn't agree more with Hal's approach and I thought it would be great to share them with all of you!

1) Progressively longer runs will get you to the finish line
2) Scheduling rest days is the key to staying healthy
3) Taking one step back allows you to take two steps forward
4) Speed training can be a double edged sword
5) Learning pace and learning to race are the two most critical skills
6) Consistency, rather than spectacular workouts, is what counts in the long run
7) Nutrition is an oft-overlooked factor in marathon success
8) Practice everything connected with the marathon, not just the running of it
9) Tapering-reducing your training in order to be better rested for an upcoming big race-is both an art and a science
10) You'll go only as far as your motivation will carry you

Monday, January 30, 2012

Running of the Hills

Last week was crazy busy (worked over 50 hours) and this week is probably going to be just as busy! Ahh! Because of the impending busy week, I got in some good runs this week. (The next time I get a chance to run probably won't be until Thursday.)

Friday night I went to a middle school musical with my cousin titles "Back to the 80s." It was a high school story line with lots of 80s songs. I was cracking at some of the parts and if was cute. Very appropriate for junior high. I think it was kind of ironic that a bunch of kids that were born in the 2000's were singing about the 80s. "Get out of my dreams! Get into my car..."

Saturday morning I got up early to go for a run with my old marathon training group. A lot of folks from my pace group were there, and I have to admit it made me miss training and miss running a marathon this year (even though it is still only January)! We ran 8 hilly miles (those training for the Illinois Marathon did 10 or 11 miles) and I was quite proud of our steady 10:00 pace, with the hills!
Amanda and I after 8 miles
I feel much more accomplished after a hilly workout than a flat one. Does anyone else feel the same way? My hands were FREEZING after our run and just could not get warm.
Anyone have any suggestions for good winter running globes or mittens? I just can't seem to justify paying $36 for the awesome Saucony mitten/gloves. I've been using a pair of Under Armor running gloves and I think they are just too thin for the wind and cold of a normal Chicago winter. Although, some post-run Starbucks hot chocolate did help get those hands warm again. :)

Saturday night I went to the city and met up with my cousin for the first annual chili cookoff. I didn't enter but definitely did some of the eating and judging! I thought it was a fun and creative idea.
me and my cousin sampling some chili
Naturally I had to had a bowl of each, just to make sure I was judging them all fairly. Maybe next year I'll put together a pot of my own? I've actually been wanting to make some vegetarian chili this winter and have failed to do so. If anyone has any recipes to share, please let me know!

With all that great protein in my stomach, Sunday morning I got up early again and met my other running group for some windy miles. Kate S. and I completed 5 miles with a 9 min (exactly) pace. We had some stops and slow turns since we didn't know our way around, but it was an overall great run. Afterwards, we hit up the gym, specifically the weights section. I'm still getting comfortable with some of the weights and equipment so it was nice to have someone correct my form and give some encouragement. We worked on shoulders and I only did one section with the colorful girly weights. Considering I started being only able to lift the 3 lbs free weights for curls, I was pretty excited to be doing should presses with 12.5 lbers. :) After all that working out, we headed to a local breakfast place to meet up with the girls.
Because we always wear our pajamas to breakfast!

After a fun weekend full of lots of running and activities, I am spent... just in time for Monday! Thankfully I found these gems to help get me through the week. Arguable the 2nd best candy ever (SPK is still always #1).

But the bag is more than half empty and I opened it minutes before dinner last night. Wah wahhh....

Friday, January 27, 2012

11 Things Friday

The 11 things thing has been going around the blogging world. I was tagged by Too Tall Fritz and A Sparklish Roar but I can't seem to find the blog post from ASR?

1. Favorite race/event & why? Shamrock Shuffle. It is a great race to kick off the running season and it is always very well organize, great expo, and free beer! 2012 will be my 6th year doing it! Did I mention the free beer?
Shamrock Shuffle 2010, crossing the finish line together with the Kates!

2. Were you a Princess or TomBoy? I was actually both, strangely enough. I liked to play sports, run around, and not brush my hair…but I also wanted things my own way! Maybe more bossy than princessy.

3. Who or What inspires you & why? When it comes to running, I think that a lot of people inspire me. My cousin, who I’ve talked about before, for all she’s accomplished in her running career. By Kate S., Kate LF, and Amanda who are all inspiring in their own way and crazy enough to run with me through the winter! By all my new friends I’ve made since starting this blog only a few months ago! There is so much inspiration out there, if you just take the time to stop and look at those around you!

4. Do you have more “online” friends or real life friends? Real Life, but the group of online friends has been growing exponentially since I started my blog!

5. 20 Year Class Reunion….Are you going, legitimately busy or you wouldn’t be caught dead stepping in the door? Meh, I still keep in touch with my really good friends from high school. And those that were kind-of friends are now Facebook friends. It would be fun to see everyone IRL though. :)

6. Do you prefer Flowers or Candy from the significant other or should they save the $? BOTH PLEASE! (going back to question #2) I love me some SPKs that my husband always puts in my stocking! In the winter months we don’t have the time or funds to go out on date nights as much as we would like, so I like that Toph gives me flowers on the one cliché day of the year.

7. If you were rich and famous and had the balls guts to name your kid something outlandish, what would that be? First and Middle name, please! I guess I’m not that outlandish to begin with and I like “old people” names anyways. All our children will probably have names similar to someone in their 90s.

8. You’re in a marathon, in first place, on world record pace…..You have to “go”. Do you stop for a port-o-pot, and possibly lose the race and miss the world record or do you go in the street for the world to see? I think to save face forever, I would have to stop and use the portapotty. I mean, haven’t we all seen that one pic of that one guy? I’m starting to gag just thinking about it.

9. Why do you run? Wow. This question is quite philosophical. I think I can answer this with another question. Why not? I love to run for many reasons. It helps me feed my addiction to SPK and Cheetohs. It helps clear my mind and relieve stress. I get to meet new people. I feel accomplished after a long run, strong run, PR… So many great things that outweigh the bad.

10. Favorite type of run: Group, Solo, Tempo, Long Run, Speed Work? I love all of these for different reasons. I guess you could just say that I love running in any way! :)

11. Most adventurous “out of character” thing you’ve ever done? I don’t think I do too many things that surprise people.

A lot of my blogging friends have already been tagged already. Here are some questions and feel free to tag yourself or just respond in the comments.

Enjoy and Happy Friday everyone!!!

1) What is your favorite time of day to run and why?
2) What is your favorite/preferred racing distance and why?
3) Biggest accomplishment in 2011?
4) Favorite brand of running clothes (shoes, shirt, shorts, socks)?
5) If you could have one pet, what would it be and what would you name it?
6) Favorite fruit?
7) Favorite candy?
8) Preferred method of refueling during a long run or race? (Gu, Gatorade, Clif Shots, etc.)
9) If it was a perfect world, would you ever consider moving to a different state to give running a try as a full time job (a la Desi Davila?)
10) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
11) Who's your favorite athlete of all time?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Midweek Blues

This week has been insanely busy. I took Monday as a rest day since I ran a lot over the weekend. Tuesday I was in Memphis for work (day trip) so I was exhausted by the time I got home. I have CCD every Wednesday so I didn't get home until after 8pm last night. Since I was tired and exhausted, I decided to go for a run! I knew Thursday was going to be super busy at the office so I wanted to get in a run when I knew I had the time.

How can you not love this face?
I ventured out with the pup for a goal of 3 miles. I lost track of the time and distance and didn't check my watch until we were at 1.80 miles out and I hadn't yet turned around. Therefore, my 3 mile run turned into a 4 mile run. I needed a good shake out run after being cooped up the previous 3 days. My legs felt tight for the first mile or so, and then relaxed during the next 2. Then, I was anxious to get home so had a negative split for the last mile. I was pulling down my street when my GPS said 3.86 miles. I figured, what the heck... and continued on to a nice round 4.0. I took my favorite running buddy with me and she was a champ. She had a play date on Monday and was still a bit tired, but couldn't help herself but follow me around the house as soon as she saw me put on my running tights.

When I got home, I was hungry so I pulled open our "energy" drawer in the kitchen. (This drawer is full of protein bars, Gu, free samples from race packets, etc.) I saw a new free sample that I got in the mail from Kashi that I wanted to try.
Their GoLean Crunchy protein/fiber bar and the flavor was chocolate caramel. It tasted like chocolate covered caramel popcorn without that gross fake protein/chocolate flavor that many chocolate protein bars have. Here is a quick snapshot of the nutritional information.
The protein number wasn't that high (8 grams) considering it was being marketed as a protein bar, but with only 150 calories and 3 grams of fat, I didn't think this was all too shabby... especially when it was pretty delicious! I know I don't usually post about nutrition, and I am by no means an expert... but I actually liked this product and I thought I would share it with you*! (If you are looking for this product in the store, I would try the protein bar section.) I really love Kashi products and our pantry is usually stocked with a few boxes. What is your favorite mid-day snack? Do you grab a bar on your way out the door or do some solid prep work the night before? I am always running late in the morning and am lucky if I remember to grab something in the first place. :)

*I was not compensated in any way by Kashi for this review. The views and thoughts expressed on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Polar Dash Half Marathon Race Recap

My friend Kate S. recently completed the Chicago Polar Dash Half Marathon.
Kate and I at the Chicago Marathon 2011 expo
I had debated doing this race but ultimately decided against. Kate took the time to type up a race review that I could share with all of you! As a little background, this was another race put on by Team Ortho (they've also done the Monster Dash). It was the inaugural year of the Polar Dash in Chicago.

The Polar Dash was a bit of a registration mess, but they did redeem themselves when race day kicked off a week later. Team Ortho launched the FB site about 3-4 months before the race registration even opened. Then they kept pushing back the opening of the Chicago Registration by two weeks, then another week, then posted it was opened and it still was not! When they announced it was open, I was misled in to signing up for the Minnesota version of this race-but one comment on FB lead them to refund my non-refundable payment in order for me to sign up for the Chicago event. Good job there.

They were also supposed to be holding a “14 days of give always” promotion on FB, that oddly ended after the 8th or 9th day….so that was another mix-up the promotion/marketing team was in charge of.

The race was rescheduled due to much speculation that the Chicago PD and park district called it off due to icy/snowy conditions, but when the race took place- it was the day after the highest snowfall we have had in Chicago this winter so far….???.... People got what they paid for-a true Polar Dash…..

The course was an out and back through the museum campus and out past McCormick place. With snow falling and the frozen lake as a back ground, the scenery was ideal. There was an issue with the first 2-3 miles being really bogged down due to the start taking place on the city sidewalks (so runners two across max made passing ridiculous) and your usual dopes who cannot read posted pace signs. Plus you had to stay to one side of the bike path as the elites started to make their way back… Oh, duh and the snow…just think repeat of Shamrock Shuffle 2009 when we had all that snow....

Race swag was A-mazing! The jackets where a great fit, super soft, and with a cute race logo-would have been nice if it stated ½ marathon,10k,5k so people would know what event it was. The finishers metals are absolutely beautiful. They are stained glass snowflakes- nice and big!

The after race was very organized-food was pre-packaged so all you had to do was grab a bag loaded with bagel, peanuts, banana, string cheese. Plus the best hot chocolate I have ever had was on tap.

Overall the headache with improper registration notification, and race cancellation was quickly remedied with how well the race went off (well minus the crappy start conditions). Team Ortho does need to work on their marketing a bit and maybe not promote a race until they are ready to handle inquiries or actual registration. Some hiccups, but overall a good run.

Thanks again to Kate for sharing your experience! What was the most interesting weather you've ever had during a race? Snow, rain, heat, hail? Mine was the Shamrock Shuffle 2009 when it was snowy and slushy the whole course. I PRed because I wanted it to be over and ran as fast as my frozen feet would take me to the finish line!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pumping Iron Sundays

I know this upcoming week is going to be crazy busy at work, so I tried to put in as much miles as I could this weekend. I've kind of been shifting my strategy this past week and less focused on the times of my runs. Just going out there and running has been my main goal, and for now, I like it like that.

On Sunday, Kate LF and I hit up the gym to do the upper body circuit I've mentioned a few times already. I got a copy of the magazine article so you can see the exact workout.
Each circuit should take 15 seconds, even though you are going up in weight and the reps are decreasing. Your first set should be easy, but not too easy, and the increments should be challenging but not overwhelming (If you're not sweating, by the 2nd or 3rd cycle, you're not working hard enough.) I really pushed the weight this last time around and have been trying to keep track of what I've done on Daily Mile. I like that you are forced to increase the weight and push your limits. I really like this workout a lot and am not yet bored with it. I know which machines to use so I kind-of know what I'm doing. Confidence in the weight area has helped me conquer this fear, and I feel I will be much more prepared for future races if I keep this up! Let me know if you give this workout a try and how it works out for you!

Since the weather was so terrible on Friday, my husband (Toph) and I moved our reservation to Sunday, in between the football games. After running and working out with Kate LF, I was excited to replenish some of those calories in the form of an Indian buffet.
Here is plate 1 of my meal. I felt quite adventurous and tried every single thing that they had. I was proud of myself because I can sometimes be a picky eater based on looks alone.

This weekend I received some sport wash samples and plan on trying them out and including a review!
Stay tuned later this week when I finally get around to doing my laundry. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hot Chocolate is the Best Reward

This past week has been crazy busy at work as I've already mentioned. I was very happy to squeeze in a short run on the treadmill just to do something other than sit at my desk all day. I ran 2.65 miles at a slow, easy pace. Then, I came home to this!
Yay for having to bury out my car from the snow for 5 minutes! I shouldn't complain though because my commute was only about 15-20 minutes more than usual. Which is a lot better than other peoples' commutes.

This morning my running group got together for their annual Hot Chocolate run. Majority of the group is training for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon so the miles were varied depending on everyone's schedule. I was planning on doing 6 but ended up doing 7. The course was extremely hilly so I was very happy with our 10:12 average moving pace. 
Amanda and I before the run. Unfortunately the photo is pretty dark!
The streets were plowed so we ran up and down the hills without too many hazards. I wore my trail shoes and they were great for the snow, but I still want to pick up a pair of Yaktrax (or something similar). I tried to take a photo of a few of the hills.

These photos just don't do the hills justice, seriously. It felt really good to get out there and accomplish a respectable distance. I haven't run this much in awhile! (Thanks to Daily Mile for helping me keep track!) After the run, we hung around for a pancake breakfast along with treats, snacks, and hot chocolate (the best). Hot chocolate is my newest addiction. I mean, where has it been my whole life? 

Is anyone else anxiously awaiting the Drew Peterson movie on Lifetime? It is on tonight and I am super excited about it. "I'm untouchable b*tch."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Annoying Neighbors and Indian Food

What is this a picture of? You have 1 guess...
Our neighbor's backyard, taken from our bedroom window. Their backyard is still decorated like a Christmas wonderland! Bright Christmas lights shining in our bedroom, and the moving/interactive inflatables make the dog bark like crazy. Today's date is now January 20th, just as a reminder. I'll start taking bets guessing when they'll take them down. I'm guessing March 13.

Best of luck to any friends and fellow bloggers running the Polar Dash tomorrow! Part of me wants to go and spectate, just to see how things shake out as there has been a lot of controversy about it (doubt it will be as much of a mess as the Hot Chocolate DC--then again not many are). In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't end up signing up. This week is my running group's annual hot chocolate run. We run outside, drink hot chocolate, and eat pancakes. Considering how cold it is going to be, I'm really excited about it.

Tonight Toph and I have a date night planned to a local (and only) Indian restaurant close by that has a dinner buffet. We haven't been in forever and I have an Amazon deal that expires next week. I absolutely love Indian food!
I'm hoping that they have my favorite dish... tomato sauce with cheese (aka shahi paneer). My stomach is growling just thinking about it. Buffet style is pretty much the only way I'll eat Indian food. I like to be adventurous but I don't want to commit to something if I end up not liking it. What are your thoughts on Indian food? Are you adventurous enough to try, if it isn't already a standard favorite?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marathon Amnesia

Yesterday I had fully planned on doing the circuit workout during my lunch break... Until I looked at the clock and it was after 4pm. Things were so crazy busy that I only got up to use the bathroom. Depressing? Yes. But it is only going to get worse as out busy time is not yet underway (I work in investment consulting).

Kilax had a post yesterday talking about coaches. I also spoke with Maggie over the weekend and she had mentioned one of her friends using a coach also. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, although we don't really have the money for it right this second/month. I thought it would be fun to do some research and see if a coach could help me reach some of my 2012 goals. Have any of you used a coach before? What are some pros and cons? How has it worked out for you?

In other news, I finally started reading Hal Higdon's book: Marathon, The Ultimate Training Guide. Maybe it would have made more sense for me to read this before I ran my first marathon last year? Either way, I am totally getting marathon fever. I have too much on my plate in 2012 (cousin's wedding, CFA exam in December) but I def want to run one in 2013... (If I'm not pregnant.) My friend Kate and I have talked about also doing one the year we turn 30, just because it will be a giant milestone of a year. Is it too ambitious to be thinking about 2013 and 2014 goals when I have barely started some of my 2012 goals? One of these marathons, I'm going to try and get into the NYC Marathon lottery. If I don't make it, I'm signing up for Chicago. I might even try to qualify for Boston. It is such a prestigious race, I think I'm going to regret not giving it a try. BUT first marathon goal would be to cross the finish line without puking first. Maybe after that I can think about improving my time. :) Have you already started thinking about goals for 2013 or 2014?

Obligatory marathon finisher photo

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Treadmill vs. Ice: Winner = Treadmill

Yesterday I went to the gym with Amanda. We were going to run outside but the sidewalks and roads were icy with a layer of snow on top (to dangerously hide the ice). Since this is the exact scenario that caused my fall back in December, we decided to not risk possible injuries. Instead, we tried to find treadmills next to each other... until we realized it is January in a gym. I was tempted to pull an It's Always Sunny and yell really loud across the treadmills to make everyone want to move, but decided against it. (Please tell me you've seen the Thundergun Express episode.)

My legs were a bit tight from the 5k over the weekend so I just wanted to have an easy run. No stress, no competition, just a jog. I kept the treadmill at 9:30 pace and was really comfortable. Biggest Loser was on so it was easy to lose track of the time. I did 3.5 miles and made it home in time to watch the elimination. This show is so interesting to see who gets eliminated and their thought process. And does anyone else think Conda is a huge brat? This season seems to have some folks that are ungrateful for the experience. I mean, you're on The Biggest Loser! So many people would love to be in your shoes, while you're quitting mid week and/or arguing with your trainer regularly! The trainers know what they're doing, obviously!...

When I got home from the gym, I was pretty hungry. Thankfully there was a package waiting for me from Steph at Run For Fun full of Popchips!! (I won a giveaway on her blog!) They are a fantastic snack, and it totally hit the spot. Thanks Steph for hosting such a great giveaway!
Have you ever tried Popchips before?

I've gone back and forth regarding my February 5k. Thanks so much for all of your input! I think I'm going to do the Cupid Chase with Amanda to try and help her reach her PR (that she can totally do). We're aiming for at LEAST 27:55. :) Depending on how I'm feeling afterwards, I MAY try and still do the Valentine's 5k in Valparaiso, IN and try for my own PR. We'll see how I'm feeling and how it goes. That is still a few weekends away so there is time to prepare and decide! Have you ever completed 2 races in 1 weekend? If so, how did it work out for you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stinky Clothes

After a hard race and some cross training on Sunday, I took yesterday as a rest day. I'm meeting up with Amanda tonight to do 3 or 4 miles in the hills of Palos. There is a chance of snow but I brought clothes for all sorts of weather conditions so it should be interesting!

I posted little awhile ago about laundry detergent. I'm having a tough time getting the smell of sweat out of my clothes. I've been using All Free & Clear (not because I'm allergic, but because it was on sale). However, my workout clothes were still stinky (like, super stinky) after washing them 2 or 3 times. Based on a friend's suggestion, I tried Arm & Hammer. Not the Oxi Clean stuff, just the regular kind. My clothes smell really fresh, but it just seems to be masking the sweat smell instead of actually getting rid of it. My husband and I don't support Procter & Gamble (because they still test on animals [what decade is this anyways?]) so Tide, Gain, and Wisk are out of the question. I've sent a few emails to smaller companies that have sport-specific wash to see if they can send me some free sample to review and possibly give away! Stay tuned! :) And if you have any suggestions, please please let me know via comments or email!

So, who watched the Bachelor last night? These girls are so catty and some of them are seriously crazy. The concept for this show is just so bonkers to me. But that hasn't stopped me from watching this season!

Since I don't have a new photo, I'm going to recycle an old one.
Have you ever tried vodka infused whipped cream? It is pretty amazing.

Also, thanks so much for all of your votes. It appears that Amanda has the most "likes" on Facebook and will be CARA's Athlete of the month! I couldn't be happier for her!!

And I do have 1 more question for you guys. I'm deciding what my February 5k should be. There are really only 2 options: Warm Your Heart and Cupid Chase. Here is a little summary of each. Which one would you choose??

Warm Your Hear 5k
Sunday, 2/26
$40 Registration
Unsure of the course

Cupid Chase 5k
Saturday, 2/11
$35 Registration
Lakefront Path (expected frigid temperatures)
Single loop course

Monday, January 16, 2012

Midwinter Cruise 5k Race Recap

First and foremost, have you voted for Amanda yet? Voting ends today (all you have to do is "like" her photo)!! Please, please help us out!!!

To keep up with my 1 race per month goal, I decided (kind of last minute) that my January race would be the Midwinter Cruise 5k put on by the Park Forest Running Club Pancake Club. It is a local running club and I have heard rave reviews from the previous races. I love small local races with a chance of winning an age group award (winning!) so I had a feeling this would be a good race. I haven't been doing much speed work lately, but I was still aiming for that 22:xx goal!

First off, the SWAG. I showed up race day to register (still only $25-yowzas!) There were some shirts available but only L or XL. In the theme of a "cruise," they passed out leis upon entering the gym and some runners even had Hawaiian shirts over their fleeces. Parking was close to the gym so I was able to drop my stuff off.

I headed out for a pre-race warm up with Maggie, Amanda (TTF), and Aurelia. We ran 1 mile at 10 minute pace to get our bodies warmed up and ready to go. We went to the start line and felt the brisk wind at our backs. It was much colder than I originally thought but I felt I layered properly and would be fine once the race started. (I'm always amazed at the folks that start off a race in shorts even when it is freezing cold. I mean, I'm sure you're going to get warm, but THAT warm?) I started off with Maggie as that worked out well for us at the Dash Into the New Year 5k. We are about the same pace at this point and in the same age group (for the next 8 months anyways).

First mile: 7:26 I was feeling good and thought "If I keep this up, I can meet my goal!" At the first mile marker, someone was there yelling out times (there was no clock). What great race volunteers that will go out there in the freezing cold just to shout out times as runners go by?

Mile 2: 7:37. Well, my goal will not be met unless I totally knock it out of the park for the last mile. Based on how I was feeling, I knew that my 22:xx goal was slipping through my fingers. I hadn't done much speedwork lately, so I had no one to blame but myself. However, Maggie was still ahead/with me so I kept on pushing.

Mile 3: 7:37... It would have been worse had I not pushed super hard the last 1/4 mile. Coming around the last turn, I heard some huffing and puffing behind me and knew someone was approaching. She moved to the small gap between me and Maggie, and I started to panic. "This girl looks like she could be in my age group!" was my first thought. The competitor inside me had to push through and try to catch up to Maggie!
Photo credit: Maggie's husband

Finishing time was 23:33, officially. It was a close one but I ended up coming in 2nd after all, just a few seconds behind Maggie... and 1 or 2 seconds in front of the mystery runner (who ended up being in our age group after all)! It was a great race with some tough competition!

Maggie and I both placed for our age group, her 1st and me 2nd.

Is it too much to compare ourselves to Shalane and Kara?
I mean the resemblances are uncanny. Same running group, friendly competitors, amazing abs... That last one may or may not be true...

Now it is time to focus on cross training, weights, core strengthening, and speed work! 400 repeats, I'm looking at you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Running with the Dog and an Empty Veggie Tray

My family stayed over on Friday night and we had a fun night in. I didn't get any running gear, but I did get a sweet Hunger Games shirt that I can't wait to wear to the movie! We just hung around, had some beers, and ate some pizza.

Saturday my running group was getting together for an early morning run but my family didn't leave until later so I wasn't able to go. However, they did leave in time for me to sit and watch the marathon Olympic Trials!!! It was such a great race for both the men and women. I can't wait for London when we'll have one of the strongest Olympic Marathon teams ever! What was your favorite part of the Olympic Trials? My part was when my top 3 fav females crossed the finish line first and qualified!

Even though I missed my early morning run, I headed out after the trials were over. I went for a 4.5 mile run with the pup in a total of 39:18 (8:41 pace).

The dog was a complete and total spaz for most of the run. None of the sidewalks were plowed so we had to run part of the way in the street and she kept stopping in front of me. I was so worried that she was going to get hit by a car!! I now know to take a different route until the snow melts! I was so worried about here, there was tons of stopping and everything else. It made for a very exhausting run, but I was happy to get out there and do it!

After the run, I was pretty hungry. I guess I didn't realize how truly hungry I was until I decided to snack on the unopened veggie tray leftover from the family party.
Yes, I ate all of that myself. Apparently broccoli (the empty slot), tomatoes, and carrots are my preferred vegetables. I do not like those snap peas, they are gross.

I recently received my Five Bamboo yoga pants in the mail that I won for the virtual Christmas Eve 10k. I'm wearing them right now and they are super comfy and it feels like I'm wearing nothing. I will do more of a full product review later, after I have them nice and worn in... and after I get a chance to use the rowing machine while wearing them.

I ran a 5k earlier today, and am still working towards that 22:xx goal! I won 2nd for my age group, and will have a full race recap tomorrow. It is now time for me to finish watching this Lifetime movie that I got sucked into. I keep seeing previews for the Drew Peterson special and Rob Lowe looks super creepy (No worries folks, it is already set to record on DVR).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cupcake Fridays

First things first, have you voted for Amanda yet? Voting closes on Monday! Please do so!!

On Wednesday I attempted to do the circuit workout that I did with Kate LF last week. She read about it in Muscle & Fitness magazine and I think it is a really great workout. It helped/helps me to push through some of those mental barriers of what I am capable to do when it comes to lifting weights. My friend Kate made me a copy of the article and I will try my best to explain the exercises once I know the right terminology to use, haha. It calls for 4 circuits but since I spent about 10 minutes walking around the office fitness center trying to figure out what equipment is the equivalent, I was only able to squeeze in 3 circuits (and the 4th is the hardest). Next time, I know if I get in there and get to work, I'll be able to do all 4 circuits easily. In between each circuit, we do 5 min on the elliptical. This is a nice break from our arms while still moving. I feel like I got some stares, and I was hesitant to pick up the 15 lbers that are in the other section of the weights... but after I did and was able to rock out those curls, it was totally worth it.

My family is coming over tonight to celebrate my birthday so I have been feverishly cleaning the house for the past 2 days. (This floor mat found on Pinterest totally summarizes my feeling towards cleaning.)

That hasn't left much time for running, especially since we received our first winter's snow fall yesterday! I'm hoping to get out there tomorrow after the family leaves to get in some miles in the winter wonderland, if only to test out some of the new birthday running gear! (I know I've already mentioned this a bunch of times but I'm really excited. I'm sure I will take a bunch of pics and turn this into a runner fashion blog for a day.)

Now, it is time for me to have my afternoon snack before quitting time.
Pink Velvet cupcake from Cupcakes for Courage
Happy Friday folks!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vote for Amanda!

Since my blog is new, I'm still getting a feel for how I want to do things. Some other bloggers post videos, participate in WIAW, wordless Wednesday, meatless Mondays, interview other bloggers, and all other things in-between. I haven't interviewed other bloggers before, but I'd like to take a little time to highlight my friend Amanda, because we need your help!

Amanda and I met in June of 2011 at day 1 of Chicago Marathon training. It was our first marathon, we were in the same pace group, and we became friends right away. For those of you that have trained for a marathon, you know there are good days and bad days out on the trail. We would always stick together and help each other out and keep that motivation going. We started the Chicago Marathon together and had a pact. 
Amanda and I before the start of the Chicago Marathon

We would stay together as long as we could, but if one person was doing better than the other, we'd wish each other well and split up. We stuck together until mile 10.5 where I had to drop back because I was struggling. I wished her well and she went on to cross the finish line! Amanda has a really great race recap here, explaining both of our experiences.

Amanda at mile 23 of the Chicago Marathon

I started running in 2003 when a friend wanted to do a run for her 30th birthday and wanted me to participate.  My friend stopped running a few years later but I kept on running.  I like the challenge of running.  For me, it's not easy to do, it doesn't come naturally.  So to be able to do it and run half marathons and even a marathon, is a huge sense of accomplish.

Actually, even though I was running (and even did my first half in 2006), I never considered myself a "runner" until maybe 2009 when I ran 6 miles one day and didn't have to stop and walk!  I literally stopped afterwards and couldn't believe it. I used to just think I was a person who ran, but not a "runner".

Since 2003, I have lost approximately 90 pounds and even ran my first marathon last year. Running is not easy for me but I've met a terrific group of running friends and I love doing it!

Yes, you read that correctly--90 lbs!!! Amanda has some before and after pics on her blog and the transformation is amazing. What a great accomplishment and how inspirational to others! Not only is she a great runner, but she is a great friend. When I went to Grand Rapids to try marathon attempt #2 (Amanda's recap here), Amanda drove the 3 hours and was there to cheer me on!
Us at mile 18 in GR
I struggled again but she was there to help me through it.
About to cross the finish line!
Notice, Amanda has all my gear like a true runner friend! :)

Sporting our finisher medals!

Why am I doing all this talking about Amanda (other than the fact that she is awesome)? She has been nominated for Athlete of the Month for the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA). I would like all of your help to vote for her because she deserves to win!

What do you have to do to vote? Simply head on over to CARA's Facebook page and "like" her photo. The photo with the most "likes" wins!

Thanks in advance for all of your help and votes!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back on Track

After my horrible workout on Monday, I wanted to start fresh on Tuesday. My goal for the run was to complete 5 miles at a comfortably quick pace. I messaged a friend (Ryan) late in the day yesterday to see if he wanted to join me for the run with my dog. He said he usually doesn't have much motivation to run after 6pm so that sounds like a great idea.

When I was changing out of my work clothes, I noticed something strange. Why can I feel the floor even though I have my socks on?
Oh, that's why! There is a giant hole in the bottom of my socks. Thanks Pepper!! She likes to take folded laundry and chew on it if I'm watching TV instead of playing fetch with her. (Yeah, she's kind of a brat.)

After I was dressed, Ryan came by with all the right reflective gear, and I regret not snapping a photo of us runnerds before heading out. Ryan stayed behind me and the pup to start which actually worked out well. We found a steady pace early on so the dog wasn't a complete spaz. I was annoyed that my Garmin wasn't catching a signal for the first 1/2 mile (I thought about bringing my cell phone for its Endomondo purposes but decided against it at the last minute). When it finally turned on, we were well on our way. We finished up 4.0 miles in 37:25 with an average pace of 9:21 which I was quite happy with. I didn't feel overly tired but fresh and motivated when I was finished! (I got on Google maps at the office this morning and realized the actual distance was 4.4 miles, but I didn't start the watch until the satellites were synced up)

On our run we talked a bit about heart rate monitors and the difference of running by heart rate versus speed. I know Maggie at Run for Pi(e) swears by this method. I am intrigued and want to investigate further before completing my next marathon (whenever that is)... I already have the Garmin 405 but don't know much about the heart monitor strap or how to get it activated, etc. I guess that's what the internet is for! :)

Before my husband went off to bed, I had him snap a quick pic of me and the pup. Aren't we cute? Haha
I was looking forward to testing out my shirt from the Dash Into the New Year 5k because at first glance it looked really nice. I LOVED it, mostly because it is nice and long (aka doesn't ride up), dry fit, and comfortably loose (they only had men's sizes).

I came home from our run just in time to see the end of the Biggest Loser. I'm now totally addicted to this season. I've seen episodes before here and there, but never a whole season. This is going to be my first one (I know, I'm a little slow to the BL train). I really like Dolvett and want his team to do well (Bob is annoying to me for some reason), but I really like a lot of the members of the black team better than the red team. So now I am hooked and can't wait to see what happens next week! What are your thoughts on this season of the Biggest Loser? Which trainer do you prefer? Which team do you like better (black or red)?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fresh Start Required

Last week I didn't really run all that much. I have plenty of excuses to justify it, for sure. In light of the latest season of Biggest Loser that I'm addicted to and their theme of "no excuses," I feel guilty.

I guess I would feel less guilty about it if I was still meeting my goal runs. However, that is not the case. Yesterday was attempt #2 of the "progressive" run (as seen in Runners World). The plan was to run 1 mile at 8:30 pace, 1 mile at 8:00, and 1 mile at 7:30. The first mile at 8:30 was no problem. Halfway through mile 2, I could feel that this was not good. I pounding my feet really hard, could barely breathe, and my body didn't feel right. I slowed down to a 9:00 pace for a quarter mile but tried to bump it up again for the last quarter mile (to a 7:30 pace). I couldn't keep the speed up and had to finish at 9:00 pace. There were a couple different factors that might be the cause. The main reason, I think, is that I didn't eat enough for lunch to have such an intense workout. Thinking of food as fuel, I don't think there was enough in the tank. breakfast: bowl of Crispex; Snack: banana; lunch: Lean Cuisine rigatoni. The plan was to eat a salad with my rigatoni but I got busy and didn't make the time to put it together. A mixture of not enough to eat as well as a failed week last week lead to an unsuccessful attempt. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day.

Tonight the plan is to do 5 miles with the dog at a leisurely pace. I received lots of fun running clothes for my birthday, so I cannot wait to test them out! I'm also doing another 5k this weekend. I am going to aim for another sub 23:00 (obviously) and see how things shake up. With my lack of speedwork in the past 2-3 weeks, I don't know if a sub 23:00 is possible. I'm running this race with a few other good competitors so I have hopes it will be a good one!

Yesterday I asked about race envy. I have been seeing some posts about the Disney marathon. Have you ever thought about completing the Goofy Challenge? I don't know about you, but that is one race where I do not have race envy. I think just a marathon or a half marathon is enough for me in one weekend.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to Reality

Sorry I haven't been posting much over the weekend. I only had my iPad with me and I don't yet know how to use many of the features. Warning, the "iBlogger" iPad app is not for the "Blogger" website, despite the logo being exactly the same. (I will be contacting Apple to try and get my money back from that scam, by the way.)

I spent the weekend (Thursday through Sunday) with my husband's family in Lake Geneva. We had tons of fun! The scenery is beautiful.
We always play lots of really fun games.

Drink too much alcohol...
and end up like this

The birthday gods must have been shining down on me because I didn't get sick the next day. I felt horrible, don't get me wrong, but didn't get sick. As my birthday is January 6 and most people are tired from Christmas and/or New Years, my birthday isn't usually a big deal. I have fun keeping things relatively low key and my husband and I just go out to dinner and that is it. This year was an exception and we had a ton of fun (as I'm sure you can tell from the pictures)!

I planned on doing a local race in Lake Geneva on Saturday, but we always go to church on Saturday night. I thought I would be able to squeeze in both but decided against going to the run and ran on the treadmill instead. I also planned on getting up early our last day to run around the area, but packing took longer than expected and I wasn't able to get out there. I'm disappointed I wasn't able to run outside like I always love to do on vacation, but I was happy to get the run in regardless! Now I know for next year to plan my time better to get it done!

I'm happy to be back to reality, sleep in my own bed, and catch up on all the blogs I've missed! Today I plan on hitting up our office fitness center to get in 3 miles and also see if I can do the circuit workout that my friend Kate and I did last Monday. We'll see if they have the right equipment to do all of the exercises! Half marathon training will start soon and I'm excited to get my butt in gear to work towards my first sub-2 hour half marathon in May! I think I'm going to enjoy not training for a marathon this year, but I already know I'm going to miss it. Do you get race envy? Wish you signed up or trained for something when cheering on a friend? Do you sign up for next year's race right away? What do you do to help counter your envy?

Friday, January 6, 2012

HBD to me and the Olympics

After a long day of travel and shopping we arrived at the Abbey Resort last night. The hotel restaurant is arguably the worst food you've ever eaten in your whole life. (I've been watching a lot of "Kitchen Nightmares" lately and am seriously considering nominating this place.) I was exhausted after dinner so we just hung out in the hot tub and went to bed early.

Since today is my birthday (I turn 28), I woke up to some Facebook notifications and a phone call from my brother. So far it has been a great day and most of my gifts have been running related! I got a new pair of Nike running tights that I'm really looking forward to testing out for the race tomorrow. Considering it is unseasonably warm, I'm glad I brought 5 different running outfits (which is more than regular outfits I packed). Everyone here thinks I'm crazy to run while on vacation, but I think of it as a new adventure. All of the trips I've taken in 2011 involved a run of some sort, whether on the treadmill or outside. Atlanta was way hillier than I expected, and the elevation in Denver didn't affect me as much as everyone made it out to be. And Santa Rosa, CA is beautiful any time of year, period.

What are your thoughts on running while on vacation? Or, what does your spouse/family think of your vacation workout habits?

I've been catching up on the latest issue of Runners World and am totally pumped up for the Olympic trials. The article on Des Davilla has me ready and raring to go. I've been reading up on all the different athletes and the female race sounds super competitive and exciting! Sorry Toph, I'm calling first dibs on the big TV on January 14! Are you all as excited as me? Who will you be cheering for?

For some reason I can't figure out how to upload images in blogger on my iPad so I apologize for the picture-less post :(

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Birthday Present and More Pictures of my Dog

Yesterday I was so sore I could barely move so I decided to take a rest day. Working out at the gym is hard!

My husband and I will be leaving tomorrow afternoon to go to Lake Geneva. Every year his family goes up there around or after New Years and takes over a whole hallway at the hotel. It is a weekend where we sit around, drink, play games, and eat really delicious junk food. It's basically Christmas without all the stress of preparing, cleaning, and gift giving. We leave on Thursday and come back on Sunday. Since we won't be around to celebrate my birthday on Friday, I got to open up my present early. Drum roll please...

Yes, that's an iPad! I've been wanting one ever since they came out but would never justify such a large purchase (especially on myself). My husband knew what I was thinking so he decide to get one for me. (After I opened it, he did say that it was on sale because someone returned it after opening it. He really knows how I love a good deal.) on the plus side, I'll be able to keep up with all my blogs while in Lake Geneva, as long as the hotel has some kind of wi-fi. (Although, The Abbey tries hard to be upscale so there might only be free wi-fi in the lobby.)

Naturally the first thing I did was take a bunch of photos of my dog and mess with the Photo Booth feature. I know this is going to be a fun weekend!

Today on Living Social's website, they have a 1 year subscription to Women's Health magazine for $8. As I'm just starting to get more into lifting weights, I thought it would be a good starting point. If you want in on this deal too, here's the link!

Have any of you subscribed to Women's Health before? What did you think of the mag?

Do any of you also have an iPad? What are some good apps? Pinterest really needs a better iPad app.