Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There's No Such Thing as Too Much Ice Cream

The last few days I have felt awful and very under the weather. I keep going to bed early and drinking lots of orange juice, but nothing seems to be working. I rested on Monday in hopes of feeling better but that hasn't worked yet. Hopefully more going to bed early, Theraflu, and orange juice will help the rest of this week!

Last night I had standing plans with my friend Sharon who is visiting from Omaha, Nebraska (she used to live in Pensacola, FL). The last few times she has come to town, we've gone on a run together. I thought it might be helpful to "sweat it out" so we decided to go for a fun/easy 3 mile run.
I felt really good during the run and we had a pretty quick conversation pace for the last 2 miles. It is always great to catch up with Sharon and talk about running, life, work, all the fun stuff! Our mile splits reflect how good we were feeling (9:24, 8:55, 8:52)!

After Sharon left, I had to stop at the grocery store and pick up a few necessities. While cutting through the ice cream aisle to get to the checkout, a few things caught my eye that I had to stop and purchase.
I'm a sucker for anything with little caramel pieces or little peanut butter cups. I went with the Caramel Caribou flavor and it did not disappoint! ALSO, Edy's has some Girl Scout Cookie flavors out now and Toph is a huge fan of Samoas so I bought this flavor for him. I tried a little and it did taste a lot like the cookie. I also saw Thin Mint flavored ice cream too, for those of you that wish Dairy Queen still had a Thin Mint blizzard (or was that only me?). Sorry for all this ice cream talk; I'm slightly delirious and hopped up on DayQuil.

Have you entered my Chicago Spring Half Marathon/10k raffle yet? You still have time! The winner receives entry into the Chicago Spring Half Marathon OR 10k on Saturday, May 12, 2012. The raffle ends on Sunday, March 4!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicago Spring Half Marathon and 10k Raffle!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently signed up to be a part of the Miles for Magic charity team. My goal is to raise $500, and I will be running the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon for Miles for Magic. To help raise money I will be raffling off several different items here on my blog. Today is the first of (hopefully) many more to come!

What will I be raffling off today? Race entry into the 2012 Chicago Spring Half Marathon and 10k!

The race takes place in downtown Chicago on Saturday, May 12, 2012. (The 2011 course information can be found here.) The winner of the raffle will be awarded entry into the half marathon OR 10k, whatever they choose.

To enter this amazing raffle, you must donate to my charity (Miles for Magic) by clicking here. For a $5 donation you receive 1 entry into the raffle, and each additional raffle entry is $3.

1 entry = $5
2 entries = $8
3 entries = $11
4 entries = $14
5 entries = $17
6 entries = $20

Please leave a comment on this post letting me know when you have entered the raffle. All raffle entries must be received by Sunday, March 4 at 11:59pm (CST). I will choose the winner using If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave me a comment!

Were you wondering about my clue yesterday?
I registered for this race in 2009. I didn't end up running it, but I absolutely love the race shirt and wear it all the time. I have heard good things about this race and I'm happy to give one of you this racing experience! Have you run this race before? Tell me in the comments and I'll update this post with some feedback!

I'm really excited about this raffle and I hope you are too. Best of luck to all participants!

In other news, Amanda and Kilax are the winners of the Nathan/Penguin Sports Wash samples! Please email me to coordinate the distribution of the samples.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Running the Hills and a Sad Movie

Yesterday was one of those runs that restores my confidence in running in the first place. I think it will be one of those runs I look back on fondly. I met my usual Saturday morning group for a hilly run. Our goal pace is around 10:00, but it usually ends up around 10:15-10:30 due to the hills. My goal on the schedule this week was to finish 11 miles in preparation of the Get Lucky half marathon. We started off with the first few miles being quicker than usual (9:33, 9:35, and 9:46). We kept trying to slow it down, but we all felt great and did slow things down once we got into the woods and hit up some larger hills.
Photos of hills never seem to do them justice. This was a big one (not Big Bertha, but still big). I ended up finishing 11 miles in 1:48:11 (9:50 splits). I was really really proud of this run and felt strong throughout the run. The hills didn't seem impossible but they never are easy. I'm feeling ready for all the goals I want to accomplish this year. 2012 is starting off great and I'm excited for everything ahead this year! Did you also do a long run this weekend? How was it? After this workout, I had to volunteer at my church. I took some fashion lessons from Stephanie at Run for Fun and wore my compression shorts and compression sleeves under my dress clothes. Everything felt great and I am back to normal today!

Now that I'm done being sentimental, it is time for some more pictures of my dog. Haha. Last night my husband made me watch Marley and Me. I had procrastinated watching it because I knew it would be sad and I would cry a lot. Truth be told, things went as expected. I was sad and cried a lot.
Pepper (my dog) knew I was sad so she was extra sweet all night. Oh those dogs! Just too sweet! Have you ever had a bad day and your dog (or cat) seemed to know and cheered you up? Animals seem really smart that way. :)

Today I lifted with Kate S. and my olive oil arms feel very noodley. I guess that means it was a great workout! Each week when I do a different weight routine, I surprise myself with what I can do. I think getting over that first mental barrier made all the difference!

I will be posting my first official raffle tomorrow to help raise money for my charity, Open Heart Magic. A clue for the raffle is below. I'm really excited about it! Until tomorrow...
Stay Tuned!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Taking Part of the Forest With Me

Last night I went for a run with my local running group which has become a standard Thursday night routine for the last 2 weeks. We weren't sure if the weather was going to hold out but thankfully there was no rain and the trail was clear. Here is a photo of our group!
L to R: Oscar, Maggie, Amanda, Genevieve, Lisa, me
I was super ecstatic to test out my new running gloves. #runnerd
My only gripe is that I wish I would have gotten a bigger size. I should have known better with my long fingers. They still worked though and my hands were much more comfortable than usual on a winter run. It was an overall win!

The pacing worked out well for the group as Maggie and I are about the same and Lisa and Amanda were about the same. As it looked like it was going to rain, I'd say Maggie and I had a classic case of "great minds think alike" and wore the same rain jacket.
If you haven't yet gotten sick of Sh*t Girls Say quotes

We were aiming for 4 miles and I decided to turn on my Endomondo, to test out the "pep talk" feature I've heard so much about. When we reached mile marker 1, I had forgotten I was wearing my headphones. When the electronic voice started to say "One mile completed..." I screamed and jumped. Maggie started looking around the trail, wondering what freaked me out. We started laughing once I realized it was my Endomondo. I decided then that it was a better idea to turn it off and not get freaked out on a dark trail while running at night

The next interesting part of this run was that I had to make a small pit stop in the woods. I apologize if this is TMI but the bathrooms were closed and it was an emergency situation. After jumping back on the trail as if nothing had happened, I didn't notice anything until we stopped at the turnaround a few feet down the road.

Apparently my pit stop included bringing some of the woods along with me for the rest of the run. Never a dull moment, I must say. Have you ever had to make a pit stop in the woods on a run?

Currently, we are in the midst of a snowy day. I am planning on running 10 miles tomorrow, and hopefully the weather will have cleared up a bit by then. Hopefully I actually remember to take some photos this Saturday. We'll see! Happy Friday everyone!

ALSO, I feel the need to mention Maggie's huge "favorite things" giveaway.  To enter to win, you donate $5 to her American Cancer Society page and every $5 donation is 1 entry. This raffle is kind of a big deal and you should totally participate. (I mean, even SR mentioned it on her blog.) Best of luck to all of those participating!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finally, New Winter Gloves

Tuesday I had a successful speedworkout. I completed 5x400m with a 400m recovery jog in between. The splits are as follows:

My goal 5k pace is 7:24 so I felt pretty good about this. Considering I haven't done speedwork in a few months, I comfortably met my goal. Now I know I can do it and it is time to turn it up next week for more!

Also on Tuesday I received my winter running purchase from Running Warehouse! A balaclava (left) and a pair of decent winter gloves (right). I've only been complaining about my winter gloves for months now. I'm excited to give these gloves a try today! I will post a review of them once I've given them a whirl a few times. I like the yellow color. You can see them from space!

I've also decided what I'm giving up for Lent this year. As I've mentioned a bunch of times already, Toph is a vegetarian. I thought since he already is one, it would be easy to give up meat for lent. Yesterday I was traveling for work and had a really hard time finding a menu item that was vegetarian. That prompted me to decide that I am going to go vegetarian for lent. I toyed with the idea of going vegan too, but decided that it would be a bad idea considering I just bought groceries and most of them would go to waste. Lol. Next year, I'm going vegan. Now THAT would be a challenge. :)

Tonight I'm meeting my running group for our 2nd attempt at a standard Thursday night run. Snow is in the forecast so it could be interesting. I brought my trail shoes and my running raincoat just in case. When the weather outside is less than perfect, do you still like to go out there and hit the pavement, or do you head to the treadmill? With the exception of extreme heat or pouring rain, I'll head outside! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Week

In light of starting fresh this week, I took a rest day on Sunday. Yesterday I decided to run 3 easy miles after the tough hilly and long run on Saturday. I met up with my friend Ryan and we ran 3 miles on the trail. I wanted to take it easy since I think I'm starting to get a cold and my legs felt a bit sluggish. The mile splits were 9:56, 9:45, 9:11. Not really consistent but it was nice to just run super easy. The pup came with us too which always makes for an interesting run! The first 1/2 mile is always the hardest because she forgets that we don't all-out sprint the whole time!
Pepper and I after our run

I was happy to start off the week this way since today I'm going to jump back into my speedwork this week! I have a month until the Shamrock Shuffle 8k where I hope to break 40:00. I'm going to attempt some 400m repeats since they worked well for me before. I don't want to push to do too much since it is my first time doing speedwork in several weeks. We'll see how it goes!

I know religion is something that I don't really talk about on here (besides CCD), but I wanted to briefly talk about Lent. It starts tomorrow and I'm not sure yet what I'll be giving up. Last year I gave up treats (cookies, candy, desserts, cake, etc.) and the year before I gave up pizza (which was a lot easier than I thought it would be). I don't really drink much pop anyways, but I know giving up treats again would be really hard. However, I know I can do it already and I'm looking for a new challenge. What are things that you've given up for Lent? If you're not Catholic, has your family still participated? Do tell!

Also, I have signed up for my 4th half marathon of the year. Due to a schweet Schwaggle deal, I signed up for the Wisconsin Dells Half Marathon. The Kates and I are turning it into a girls weekend trip and I'm pretty pumped about it. I've never been to Wisconsin Dells before and I've never run in Wisconsin before so it should be fun! Have you made a destination race into a vacation, or found a race while on vacation?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Friday afternoon I was able to sneak away to the gym on my lunch break so I biked for 20 minutes and ran a mile on the treadmill. I got so bored on the bike, I just couldn't handle more than 20 min. It was weird to run just one mile but it felt good. I decided to take it easy since I knew I had a long run on Saturday.

Saturday morning I got up on time and met my running group for 9 or 10 miles. I ran 9 last week and felt good so I wanted to repeat the mileage. We ran through the hills and on a local trail. There was tons of uneven terrain from the soft ground that had frozen footprints and horse marks throughout the trail. Our pace leader, Jeanne, tripped on a rock and fell. It was pretty scary to see a friend down and not moving, uncertain if there was a possible injury. After waiting for a few minutes and assessing the situation, she checked her knee saw a scrape and got up. We were all really worried but she finished her miles and walked away with only a scrape and some aches. Thankfully she was okay! That is something to be careful for! I had an idea of what she was feeling, having slipped on the trail a few months back. It is never a good feeling to be on the ground after a fall. Have you ever fallen while out on a run? Did you have any injuries as a result? I was lucky to only have a sore ankle for a day or two but that was it.
 In the end, I finished 10.71 miles (so much for "9 or 10") and was pretty proud of it. It was a beautiful day for a run and I was happy to get out there and enjoy it! I put on my compression sleeves afterwards and didn't have any calf pain. Speaking of compression, I haven't mentioned yet that I won a pair of CEP Compression shorts from Steph at Run for Fun! I am so excited to be hopping on the CEP train and I cannot wait to use them for my next long hard run. I will be sure to take some photos and such once they arrive and I have given them a try! :)

Saturday night Toph and I attended my Grandma's 80th birthday party at the local pizza place.
For her gift, we all gave her gift cards to her favorite places. I thought that was a creative idea and perfect for my grandma and grandpa's budget!

Sunday I took a rest day and watched 6 episodes of Glee and am now officially addicted. I had never seen the show and I knew once I did I would love it. So now I'm watching season 1 and I love it, just as I knew I would. Now I have to get caught up to the current season.

Also, I woke up this morning with a runny nose. I'm worried I'm getting sick! I didn't get much sleep the past few weeks so that probably didn't help. Time to drink lots of vitamin c and get extra sleep! Hopefully this cold blows over in a couple days and doesn't hold me back. Are any of you guys feeling sick? I know with the weather changing, there has to be something going around!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Run with Fast Women

This has been such a long week! I don't know about you, but I'm very glad Friday is here! Last night, I attempted to gather together a Thursday night run with our running group, the F'N Runners. During the week, they normally meet at 5pm on Wednesdays. As I am just leaving my office in downtown Chicago at 5pm, I can never make these runs. Also RFK meets at 5:45pm to promptly start their group runs at 6pm. I can never make those either because I don't get home until after 6pm. Our group met at 6:30 on the trail. Considering this was the first meeting, I'd say attendance was high.
L to R: Michelle, Melissa, Genevieve, Kate, me, Amanda. Photo credit: Maggie
It is hard to get a good photo of everyone in the dark while we're also wearing reflective gear. We're going to plan to go again next week and hopefully there will be more folks to join us! I ran with Kate and Maggie for 6 miles (with a quick bathroom break at mile 4). We completed the 6 miles in 51:23 (8:33 pace). It is nice to run with fellow people our same pace and age group! Overall, I had a great time and hope to do it again next week! :)

Reflecting on my workouts from this past week, I didn't run as much as I wanted to. Monday I hit the gym and lifted. Tuesday I took a rest day for Valentine's day. Wednesday I planned to run when I got home from CCD but it was raining and I was too lazy to go to the gym. Thursday when I ran with my group I realized it was the first time I had run since Sunday. Since my work schedule has been pretty crazy, I've been logging more miles during the weekend. I have to get into a better routine of more consistently logging miles instead of bulking up when I have time. I also need to add speedwork back into the routine, especially if I want to break 40:00 for the Shamrock Shuffle this year. When your workload becomes too much to handle, how do you make time for your runs? I've struggled with this recently and I after this week, I'm going to get back on the right track! I have to spread out my workouts without risk of overtraining. Thanks again Hal Higdon for more of your great advice! (Yes, I'm still reading the same book I keep talking about.)

In other news, Abdi Abdirahman will be running the Shamrock Shuffle this year. Too bad I'll be crossing the finish line after he's been long finished. Maybe I'll see him at the post race party and we can become besties? TBD. If you are also running this race, click here and let us know! A blogger meet up is in the works folks! :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Laundry Detergent Post

I recently created a mobile site for my blog. If you're reading this from your mobile phone, hi! I hope it is now easier to read than before! :)

I know I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I had been looking for a good laundry detergent to get rid of the sweaty smell from my clothes. I tried 5 different solutions and I'll tell you what (finally) worked for me!

First things first, I need to mention that I have hard water (and softener). I think this makes things a little different than regular water. For comparison purposes, I tried each product with a full load of wash including workout and regular clothes. It is also worth noting that all clothes were also put through the dryer as well (with the same dryer sheet and for the same time frame).

Solution 1: Penguin Sport Wash
I sent an email asking the Penguin/Nathan company to send me some free samples before investing in an entire bottle. They responded very quickly and were able to send some samples along. I was most excited to try this one so it was up first. I gotta say, I was disappointed. The result was a little better than regular detergent, but not by much. The armpit test (smelling the arm pit of a once super sweaty shirt) still yielded disappointing (and stinky) results. Perhaps this solution would work well with regular water? I have 2 more free samples. If you want to give Penguin/Nathan Sport Wash a try, leave me a comment! I will pick 2 people at random to receive the samples. If you are looking to purchase this product, you can find it at most local running or athletic stores. For a complete list of retailers, feel free to check out their website here.

Solution 2: Atsko Sport Wash
I also emailed the Atsko company asking for a free sample before committing to a full bottle. The marketing on this product seemed much more industrial, rugged, and for sportsmen. When I used this product, the sweat smell was cleared. The clothes were left clean but without a clean scent (I was disappointed by this but others may love this). I think the product worked well overall and accomplished its goal. If you have sweaty hunting clothes and want something clean without a scent, this is the product for you. Maybe if I paired this with some of those Unstopables beads, it would be a good combo? I think that would end up being pretty expensive to do all the time so I didn't research that result. Unfortunately, I only received one sample of this product that I used for the analysis. If you're interested, this detergent can be found through Atsko's website here.

Solution 3: All Free and Clear with Oxi Clean
After not having luck with traditional All Free and Clear, I decided to give the Oxi Clean version a try, with an assumption that the Oxi Clean would help. I'm not sure if it was the hard water, the Free and Clear formula, or the Oxi Clean works better on stains and not smells, but this product performed only mildly better than regular detergent. The sweat smell was was not removed from the clothes.

Solution 4: Arm and Hammer
After a recommendation, I tried traditional Arm and Hammer next, as their products are made with baking soda. After a cycle, my clothes smelled very fresh, but the fresh smell seemed to be doing a poor job of masking the sweat smell that still lingered when conducting the arm pit test. It seemed to attempt to mask the smell without getting rid of it.

Solution 5: Arm and Hammer plus 1 or 2 tbsp of baking soda
Based on another recommendation, I decided to sprinkle some baking soda in with the regular (Arm and Hammer) detergent. Folks, this was the huge winner! My clothes smelled clean, And they all passed the arm pit test! I still get excited when I grab a shirt and it still smells fresh with any remnants of a sweaty smell. This is how I will be washing all of my workout clothes from now on!

Special thanks to all the folks that made recommendations. I finally found what works best for me and our hard water. As this has been a long process, I'm happy to have come to a great solution that won't break the bank.

Don't forget, if you're interested in trying the Penguin/Nathan Sport Wash, leave me a comment telling me that you're interested and I will chose 2 winners at random to receive the free samples in the mail. You don't have to have a blog to enter, just leave me a comment! All comments must be received by February 26 (11:00pm CST). The winner will be announced on Monday, February 27.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for these reviews. Tide also has a sport product, but when I contacted them for a free sample, they were unable to send one. I do not buy Tide so I did not buy a bottle for testing. I also was told that Lululemon has a sport wash available, but this product was not part of the analysis.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post Valentines Day Post

Monday night I decided to give the circuit a try again since I hadn't lifted weights in about 2 weeks. It was harder than I remember and a bit difficult to do on my own. I thought it would be weird to ask a random guy at the gym to spot me. Therefore, I didn't try anything too difficult because of the possible catastrophe. My husband (Toph) says it wouldn't be that weird to ask someone to spot me. What are your thoughts? Would/have you asked strangers at the gym to spot you during a tough set?

Yesterday I met up for lunch with Kim at the Ilax Studio. We both work in downtown Chicago, so I was glad our schedules coordinated for us to meet up to grab a quick bite.
It was nice to meet up with a fellow blogger and talk about running, blogging, interests, life, etc. Kim is really nice and you should check out her blog, if you haven't already! We both agreed this to do this again some time in March once our schedules are a bit more forgiving! Yay for new running friends online and IRL!

As yesterday was Valentines day, my husband and I "mildly" celebrated. I walked in to find a clean kitchen and some beautiful flowers waiting for me.
Being the garden nerd that my husband is, he will happily plant this in our yard come spring! It is a gift that keeps on giving all year round! :) For dinner, we ordered pizza from our favorite place.
Deep dish, of course. As a true Chicagoan, is there any other choice? Then, we exchanged gifts. I got him some Star Wars DVDs and Girl Scout cookies.
He got me something we so desperately needed. A new toaster oven! I can't wait to test out this thing this weekend! (Oh the things that I get excited about as an "adult") After exchanging gifts, we watched Empire Strikes Back while eating our Lou Malnati's. It was a perfect evening! What did you do for Valentine's day?

In other news..... It is official. I've registered for the Chicago Get Lucky 21k/Half Marathon. If you are registered, let me know and we can do a blogger meet up. (Gingerfoxxx, I'm looking at you!) As I haven't done an official half marathon since 2008, I think it will be nice to complete one without a specific time goal and to get a feel for the distance before kicking it up for the Southwest Half Marathon on May 6. I'm aiming for a sub 2:00 in May so I'm hoping to get maybe 2:10-2:15 for the Get Lucky race? We'll see how I feel, what the weather is like, and what the course is like.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frosty 5 Mile Race Recap (Guest Post)

On Sunday while I was still recovering from the freezing run on Saturday and catching up on old episodes of Pit Bulls and Parolees, my new running friend, Nicole Fritz, ran the Frosty 5 Mile in Channahon, IL. It is a small race put on by the local park district, but a favorite amongst those that have run it. I asked Nicole to do a recap of this race, and her guest post is below! To find out more about Nicole, Maggie at Mag Mile Runner did a great Q&A post found here.

On Sunday, February 12th, I ran the 33rd annual Frosty 5 mile in Channahon. This is the 4th year in a row I have competed in this race, and I just love it! The race is held at Pioneer Path School on Sage St. The course is mostly an “out and back” along country roads… with a few rolling hills!

Race day brought bright blue sunny skies!! The temperature was in the low 30’s with a wind chill in the teens. I chose to wear 2 layers on top and my winter hat from last year’s Frosty 5. No race shirts at this race… runners receive a cute winter stocking cap every year!! Pre registration costs $28 and race day registration goes up to $35.

Pre race photo with friends

The Frosty 5 mile begins at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon… I love the late starting times of winter races!!
Right after the race started

For the first mile of the race, we had the wind at our backs… I had agreed to help pace my friend Amy for the first mile… she has a tendency to start too fast and she didn’t want to make the same mistake at this race. I felt like we were on pace for our 7:20 first mile goal time… but Garmin told us we were at 6:50 pace!! I was so confused…apparently the wind was really pushing us!! The first mile is just a little loop around residential streets.

Mile 2 brought us to a left turn onto Front Street, which is where the majority of the race happens. Again, the wind was at our backs, but the rolling hills began! The hills caused me to slow my pace a little bit… my second mile was 6:58. The Des Plains River is on your right side during this part of the race… great scenery!

The 3rd mile was basically the same as the second… There is a large downhill at mile 2.5… I tried to pick up my pace and take full advantage of it since I knew I would have to run back UP it in a few minutes!! The turn around point for the race occurred just before the 3rd mile marker. Also, after we changed directions… we were greeted with a strong head wind! What I love about out and back courses is seeing all the other runners too…I heard lots of encouragement from those runners and I tried to cheer them on as well! :)
My goal for the 4th mile was just to keep moving! My pace unfortunately slowed to 7:20. I knew I was still on PR pace, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

The last mile brings you back into the residential area where the race began. Except on the return trip… the wind was not in favor! :(

Here I am fighting the wind in the last 1/4 mile

The finish line was such a welcome site!! I sprinted as fast as I could to get the bright red inflatable finish line! I received a light pink carnation upon finishing, which was a cute surprise! :) I even earned a personal best time!!

Almost immediately after finishing, my friend Amy and I, snapped this quick picture…
2nd and 3rd overall females!

…and then we headed out for a cool down run. Our friend’s dad was running the race, and we wanted to head back to help him finish. We ran along the course and cheered all the runners in! It was fun!! When we found our friend’s Dad, this is how he looked… he was having so much fun!!
Ray Wertelka

This race has a great post race party!! They serve pizza in the cafeteria of the middle school. I’m not sure where the pizza is from… but it sure is delicious!! The post race scene is simply a great atmosphere to chat with fellow runners and make new friends!

Awards began at approximately 2:40pm in the Gym. They award trophies to the top 3 overall men and women, as well as medals to the top 3 in each 5 year age group. I was lucky enough to earn 3rd overall female… which meant I earned a cute little trophy and even an embroidered scarf. Sweet!! This year’s race had 232 finishers. :)
My race swag!!

This race is one of my favorites… I love small town races and I will continue to run the Frosty 5 for many years to come!! :)

Thanks so much Nicole for a great recap! This race sounds like a great one and one to put on the list for next year! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Runday

Yesterday my running club was meeting bright and early, but I decided to go out on Saturday night and sleep in on Sunday. As the temps on Saturday were freezing, we still ended up getting in some miles (1.8), running to and from the bar. (No, I'm not joking.) I still wanted to get in some miles and planned on going out while it was still light out. Being the procrastinator that I am, I left my house at 6, while the sun was already setting. I did my normal 5 mile loop and the pup went with. For those of you that haven't run with a dog before, here is my normal view.

After our 5 mile run, you'd think the dog would be tired, right? Nope, she still wanted to play fetch with her favorite toy ever, the tennis ball. I think that means that she can go on longer runs. Maybe next time we'll try for 6! I was happy to stop home briefly after 5 miles to peel off a layer, charge my phone, and say bye to Toph before he headed to the gym.

I had wanted to do 8 so I headed back out for 3. In my head, I kept thinking that I should do 9 instead as I've hovered around 8 for quite a few weeks now. Instead, I went out to the 2 mile marker before turning around and heading home. I had negative splits on the last 2 miles as I was excited to be finishing 9 miles and exited to be finishing period. I whipped up a quick dinner and we watched the mid-season premiere of the Walking Dead before heading to bed. I'm not quite sure where the show is going, but I like it.

Training officially starts this week for the Southwest Half Marathon on May 6. However, I've decided I'm doing the Get Lucky 21k so the training is going to be a little mixed. Meh, I'll figure it out! :) In other news, I finally have the results of my laundry detergent tests and I will be posting later this week.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cupid's Chase 5k Race Recap

Saturday morning I woke up to let the dog out and the temps were below freezing. I knew the planned 5k was going to be a rough one, weather wise. I packed some additional layers and headed out to drive back to the old stomping grounds in Old Town for the Cupid's Chase 5k in downtown Chicago. Amanda and I got there about an hour ahead of time to pick up our packets. Upon registering, they had an "unavailable/available" option. I didn't understand the option when registering (I thought it was related to running) so I picked "available." It seems obvious now, haha. Thankfully they let me switch it out upon arrival.

I thought it was a cute idea, I think they just should have explained the option on the website better. Other than that, the pickup was easy and I really appreciate when downtown races have race-day packet pickup. It is really helpful for those of us that live in the suburbs! We met up with Maggie and Genevieve pre-race to take some pictures!
Left to right: Amanda, me, Genevieve, and Maggie

As it was Saturday, we participated in the Sherry Arnold Virtual Run. We wore the Sherry Arnold bibs on our back and thought about her while we ran. 

Amanda and I were trying to break her old record, but with the snowy conditions and unshoveled trail, we knew it was going to be difficult. The first mile we were right on target, but with the weaving and such that took place, that was probably not the best idea to start out so strong. Our second mile split was behind, and we realized we weren't going to meet our goal. We finished strong and were happy with the end result regardless, 29:05. 
Finish line photo!
Special thanks to Nicole Fritz for taking our action shot photo! Overall, I thought it was a great race. The course was clearly marked (out and back) and I liked that it was an underutilized part of the lake front path, compared to other Chicago races.

Afterwards, we headed to breakfast at Nookies and it was wonderful. It totally hit the spot and was a great place to warm up with a warm cup of coffee. It made me really miss living in Chicago and the restaurants available at our disposal. It was a great end to a great morning and a great race. I would recommend this race to others as it was cute and not too expensive ($35) for a downtown Chicago 5k.

Special congrats goes out to Genevieve for PRing by over 3 minutes and chicking a guy too!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finalizing My 2012 Race Schedule

One of my goals for 2012 is to complete 1 race per month. So far, I am on target to meet this goal. A recent office email informed us that the firm will be reimbursing participants of specific races as part of the new health initiative. A list of the races is below.

Shamrock Shuffle 8k - Sunday, March 25
Ravenswood 5k - Sunday, April 29
Corporate Challenge 3.5m - Thursday, May 24
Lincoln Park Zoo Run 5k & 10k - Sunday, June 3
Jim Gibbons 5k - Thursday, June 14th
Terrapin 5k - Thursday, August 23
Race Judicata 5k - Thursday, September 13
Bucktown 5k - Sunday, September 30
Hot Chocolate 5k & 15 - Sunday, November 4

Thankfully, a lot of these coincide with my schedule and are normally pretty pricy. If they are free, however, I know my wallet will thank me to sign up for at least a few of these! I wish there were more longer distance races, but I'll take what I can get. Are any of you local Chicago runners thinking about doing any of these races?

I am yet again debating doing the Valparaiso Valentine's 5k this Sunday. I was completely set on it on Monday, until I've the Chicago Get Lucky website came out. Now, I just want to do this race (which is now $67.77 for the half marathon) and I figure the $20 I would have spent on the Valparaiso race (plus gas) can get me closer to it. Or maybe I just do both?? Decisions decisions. I guess we'll see how the weather shapes up this weekend!

Wednesday night I had some time after CCD to fit in a run, but I had to go solo (my dog had a puppy play date all day and was too exhausted to run). In light of the Sherry Arnold Virtual Race this weekend, and just in general, I was nervous to go out alone. I grabbed my pepper spray, told my husband where I was going, and headed out for a quick 3 miles on the sidewalks. I didn't look at my watch, I just wanted to go out and enjoy the run. I completed the 3 miles in 25:44 (8:34 pace) but with a huge stomach ache the last mile. Note to self: do not eat anything made with Velveeta before a run. It has the opposite effect of Gu and will slow you down and make you feel like you are going to throw up with every step.

Last night I hit the rowing machine in our basement to get caught up on Game of Thrones before the new season starts in April. Is anyone else as excited as I am for the new season? I've had the books on my list for awhile but have not yet committed to them.

Are you participating in the Virtual Sherry Arnold run this weekend? If so, where and how? I'm running the Cupid Chase and will have her on my mind as I help Amanda try to meet her PR goal. Are any other local Chicago bloggers going to be at the Cupid Chase this weekend? Fellow local blogger, Too Tall Fritz, has put together a group run in the Frankfort area as well (click here for more information). The group will be meeting at 7:30am this Saturday in Frankfort by Old Plank Trail and Wolf Road. Come one, come all and share your story!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Deja Vu

First things first, I finally created a banner that I actually like. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks Picnik for offering premium status before you shut down for good. I'm sad I only recently discovered you.

Earlier this week I talked about my new kicks, Asics 2170.
I said that they had a "Cinderella" type feeling, as if my feet felt like they were home. This morning I realized why. I've owned a pair of Asics 2100's before, the 2140s that I purchased in 2008 that I wore to complete my first half marathon.
I only had about a month to train for this half marathon because I was coming off of physical therapy after having an extremely weak core and subsequent knee pain. Once my core was stronger, the miles became easier. My goal was to finish, and that I did. As I begin to focus on half marathons more this year, I have become very nostalgic about my first one. At my mom's house the other day, I found this photo of us in a frame and it made me smile.
I am so happy, having just met my goal. I wasn't trying to run fast, break records, get a PR, or meet a specific time. I was just trying to finish. Since the marathon last year, I've really taken a step back and stepped outside my competitive box. Sometimes I've had the most fun just running with friends or running to meet a distance goal, not to speedily get to the finish. Don't get me wrong, I like being speedy too. I just now know that I don't have to be speedy all the time. Getting in 8 miles, is still 8 miles regardless of my pace. I think this is going to be my feeling towards the Get Lucky 21K that I am most recently obsessing about. I just want to finish and have fun with it. (However, the Palos Half Marathon in May is a different story.)

How do you help balance between your need for speed and the need to complete the miles? Sometimes do you sign up for a race just because you want to finish, not because you want a specific time? If so, what distance and how do your thoughts change from race to race?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Serious Internal Debate

Last night I worked late and was able to catch up on the Biggest Loser from last week. I don't know what it was like in previous seasons, but a lot of these folks seem like jerks. Does anyone have similar thoughts? While watching the Biggest Loser, I was inspired to do some workouts. I did all my normal core exercises and also tried to do some pushups. Wow, pushups are way harder than I remember. I could barely do 5 on my knees. Maybe one day I'll be able to do a normal one?

A recent announcement on Facebook over the weekend was that the Get Lucky 7k/21k was coming to Chicago. The race is being put on by Team Ortho (Monster Dash, Polar Dash). I've heard positives and negatives of both races, so I'm not sure about my feelings on Team Ortho. But I'm totally smitten/sucked in by the idea of another St. Patrick's Day themed race. The swag: a zip up jacket with the "Get Lucky" slogan on the front, a race medal with a shamrock on it. Let's be honest, I just really really want that shamrock medal! There are plenty of other spring races that are traditional half marathons, but their medal doesn't have a shamrock on it. (Haha I guess you can take the girl out of the South Side Irish but you can't take the South Side Irish out of the girl!)

I'm officially signed up for the Cupid Chase 5k this Saturday. I'll be pacing Amanda for a birthday PR (that I know she can totally get). I still plan on running the Valparaiso Valentine 5k on Sunday too, so this should be a fun and busy weekend! Will you be racing this weekend? If so, what race?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Its Monday Already?

Wow, I am finally getting a chance to catch my breath before yet another crazy week at work. This past weekend was a lot of fun and I was able to get in the runs that I wanted/needed.

Friday I got to work on time and worked through my lunch so I could leave on time. I wasn't able to get in my workout, but we had 4pm beers instead. After the rough week I had, I'll take it!

Saturday morning I set my alarm for 6am so I could run the hills with my fellow Yankee Runners. My body naturally got up at 5:50 and I took my time getting ready and eating my overnight oats... Until I looked at the clock again and saw that it was 6:59 (not 5:59). I started running around and checking all the clocks in our house, wondering if I missed a daylight savings update. False--I set my alarm for 6pm, not 6am so it never went off. Thankfully, the day and the run were not lost. The F'N Runners were meeting at 7:30 a few minutes from my house, so I was able to meet them on time! The trail was a bit icy in some spots, but we ran a solid 6 miles in 56:35 (9:25 pace).
Group photo. Source:
I felt great during the run, but afterwards I had some slight aches. I have been lazy with my core strengthening exercises this week as I haven't had much time for things other than work and sleep. Also, I knew I was in desperate need of some new shoes.

After our run, I headed to Running for Kicks to use the gift certificate burning a hole in my wallet. I knew my old Asics Kayano 17s had seen better days, and I wanted to give some other brands and shoes a try. The salesperson (Colleen) was super helpful and friendly. I recognized her from Yankee as well. She worked with me to find the best shoe for my feet with some of my issues (over pronation, etc). My orthotics did not fit as nicely with the pair of Mizunos or Brooks shoes that I tried. With the Asics, I felt like Cinderella and her glass slipper. They just feel like they were made for my feet. I ended up going with the Asics 2170. I wasn't a big fan of the color, but I went with function over fashion in this case. :) They were a step down in weight from my Asics Kayano 17s, but for the training I will be doing this year, they will work just fine. (I'll post a full review a little later, for those that are interested.)

Not only did I get new shoes at RFK, I finally jumped on the compression bandwagon. I've been running in the hills recently and my calves have not been liking me very much. They have been sore, but it is just from being worked more than usual. Therefore, I decided it was finally time to suck it up and buy the one, the only, CEP compression sleeves. They measured my calf and found the right fit for me.
As soon as I got home, I slipped them on with my Five Bamboo cropped leggings (and slippers of course) for the rest of the day. My calves felt/feel great and I am very glad I bought them. I only wish I had bought them sooner!

Since my Saturday run plans changed, so did Sunday's plan. I met up with the F'N Runners again, bright and early at 7am.Considering the time of day, there were quite a lot of us.
Soure: TooTallFritz
The larger group was planning on doing 10 miles, but I wasn't up to that distance yet. I went out 4 with the group, waited for them to get back, and then ran 4 more. One of the ladies stayed back with me so we waited on the trail together. Overall, I completed 8 miles in 1:11:41 (8:57 pace). During the run, I also got the change to use my Fuel Belt that I won from Mag Mile Runner's giveaway a few months back. I was glad to have it and was able to share the wealth with others. I know when we start to get some warmer weather, I will be very happy to have it!

I had to get a quick snapshot of me wearing my new shoes on their first trip! (Don't mind the weird face angle--that sun was bright!) Afterwards, I had no aches and my feet felt great. I am super happy with my new Asics! I have a feeling we are going to get a long quite well! When's the last time you got some new kicks? What is your preferred brand?

What did you all do for the Super Bowl? I ate too much food and didn't win any money. What was your favorite commercial? To be honest, I thought the commercials weren't all that great and the half time show was a snooze. Granted, I would much rather listen to Madonna than the last few half time show artists. Although the shameless plugs of Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton annoyed me, as I'm not a fan of all the singing shoes (X Factor, The Voice, American Idol, etc.). What were your thoughts about the halftime show?