13.1 is Done!

So I feel like there were points leading up to this race where I feared it would be my first DNF (did not finish).  My training was either non existent (ie weekend in Memphis) or poor.  I struggled to get through my long runs and my heart just wasn’t in it.  Yet when I woke up this morning, I was ready for whatever the day threw  my way.  It certainly helped that my my parents met me at my house so we could drive together to the race.  The BOY, who is still sick, got to sleep in.


What made this well-organized race so fun was the ease of getting there, the lack of crazy crowds, and the laid back vibe.  It’s actually at the same location where I ran the Hot Cider Hustle last fall.  Even better…the weather was PERFECT for a run!


I easily found my friend and was looking forward to catching up again.  We’ve done a bunch of bike rides and runs together this year, including the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  About 5 minutes before the start of the race, we found our way to the start line.  I didn’t have a set plan, which is so not like me, but figured I would find a steady pace and do the best I could.


I was so disorganized that I almost didn’t start my watch at the start.  The course weaves through a beautiful forest preserve.  My friend and I found an easy pace of running and conversation.  I was surprised at how good I was feeling as I trudged along.  I barely looked at my watch so I had no idea what my pace was but I still felt decent as we passed the 9:10 pace group with about 3 miles to go.  In the end, I even found a little kick as we raced to the finish line where my parents were waiting with cameras finishing just under 2 hours.

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Although I didn’t train to PR this race, I also didn’t want it to be my slowest race ever.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain a 9:05 pace and finish feeling pretty darn good.


The reward was lunch at Naf Naf.  The BOY’s choice but since he couldn’t join us we sent pictures!

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I spent the rest of my afternoon walking around the mall with my mom, which was probably great for my legs and sipping on Starbucks chai tea.  Now I am planted on the couch watching the Bears game and beginning to feel all of my muscles talk to me.  Thankfully, I have a well timed massage scheduled tomorrow!

Monday Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Labor Day!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend appreciating the last joys of summer and the ability to wear white : )


We had a little bit of everything going on this weekend.  Starting with wedding planning Friday night, a Saturday AM hot yoga class and venue visits Saturday afternoon.  Followed by an early morning run with a buddy Sunday morning.  And then birthday celebrations in the city and shenanigans the rest of the weekend. 

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Now it’s Monday and I scheduled in some much needed downtime for us.  I feel like we have been running non stop with little time to catch our breaths.  Perhaps that is common of everybody trying to hold on to the last few moments of summer before it fades into fall.  And speaking of running, I have been preparing for the half marathon I am scheduled to do in 2 weeks.  I don’t know if it is this first taste of thick humid air, the fact that I am now 33, or all of the things going on in our lives right now, but I have not found my running groove.  Whereas I usually LOVE the 13.1 distance, I am not looking forward to this upcoming race.  Based on my recent runs (and lack of mileage), I’m sure that I will struggle a bit to finish…even without worrying about my time.


It seems that there are many changes with age (which occurred to me as I was the oldest person at yesterday’s birthday party).  But I have to brag that I still got it when it comes to flip cup and can hang with the 20 somethings.  After sleeping in until 10am and spending the majority of the morning with my sister in law looking for a Thai place that was open to deliver us delicious fried rice (with no success), the only option I wanted for dinner was Thai!  We also did some wedding searching and pinning in between complaining about our lack of spicy peanut chicken.


My favorite peanut butter in homemade Thai is homemade peanut butter!  We went to the grocery store on our way home from the city and picked up ingredients and I had fresh PB before the crockpot was heated up.


I had dinner in the crockpot, laundry in the machine, and a few things picked up and was seated comfortably on my couch for an afternoon of quiet time.  Sad news…I may need to fire my wedding planner for sleeping on the job!


Our Thai dinner turned out incredible (not that I am surprised as Erin has some mouth watering recipes) and totally hit the spot!


What else hit the spot?  This weekend!  Spending time with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors, a much needed yoga class, and getting back to cooking and meal planning.  What more do you need?


MealPlanning 9/01/14

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Tuesday: BBQ Pork/Lamb and Green Beans

Wednesday: Turkey Taco Casserole

Thursday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies

How did you spend your weekend?


Slow Cooker Thai Chicken

Slightly Adapted From The Law Student’s Wife


2, 14-ounce cans light coconut milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

1/4 cup peanut butter (homemade!)

3 tablespoons red curry paste

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3 cups peeled and 1/2-inch cubed butternut squash pieces (about 1 pound) I didn’t use squash because the BOY doesn’t like it but I’m sure it would be awesome!

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced

2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)


In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, stir together the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken breast, squash, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion in the slow cooker and stir gently to coat with sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Thirty minutes before you are ready to serve, add the peas. Immediately before serving, stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, atop brown rice.

Great Western Half Marathon Recap

I didn’t want to run.

Not ever…just this morning…and maybe just this early in the morning.

As you all know, I am the type of person who really enjoys running, racing, training.  But, I’ve been in continuing ed classes 2 out of the last 3 weekends and out of town the other weekend.  Needless to say I am just exhausted!  Like curl up on the couch and take a nap 2 minutes after you  wake up exhausted.  It was the promise of an afternoon nap and and the realization that my friend was picking me up in 30 minutes that actually propelled me out of bed at 6am this morning.


Also not helping was that I overdid the carb load yesterday.  There was some tasty cookies and scones at the course during the day and I definitely didn’t measure out my pasta like I usually do.




This is for sure more than one cup of pasta.  But soaked in olive oil and garlic and topped with grilled chicken and mushrooms, it makes a fantastic pre race meal.  With a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert, of course.




My friend arrived right on time as I was packing up my bag.  I grabbed my overnight oats for breakfast to eat on the way.  Note: we truly have NO FOOD in our house and I stopped by the store last night to buy chicken and 1 banana to get me through race days meals.  We parked at the  high school and then hopped a bus over to the race site.  I ran this half marathon a year ago and was excited to do it again because it is well organized by friendly people along a beautiful forest preserve course.  The weather could not have been better and it really was was the PERFECT morning for a run, making me happy that I did indeed get out of bed this morning.




It’s been no secret that I am hoping to PR my half marathon time this year.  I came close to cracking 1:50 last year, but just couldn’t break through.  With a list of reasons I won’t name (although a few mentioned above), I was comfortable with this morning’s race not being my PR.  That being said, I still had that 1:50 in the back of my mind.  Last year, I hit a HUGE wall at mile 8 which may have been dragging down my confidence a bit, so I hit the start line hoping to beat last year’s time, but not really remembering what that was.




I never know how much detail to share in a race recap.  I’m sure you don’t want to know every thought in my mind for 13.1 miles….some days neither do I.  But because each race is so different, it is fun to share some of the details.  My friend and I hung together for the first 2 miles before I pulled ahead.  With last year’s BONK fresh in my memory, I didn’t want to go out too strong and was just hoping to keep a consistent pace.  The first few miles were a struggle.  I was tired, couldn’t find my rhythm, and struggling to keep my race belt in place.  At one point, my race bib (also the timing chip) came loose.  Around mile 5, I walked through the aid station, drinking some water with my first batch of nutrition (Larabar) and finally got my belt adjusted.  After that, I was able to find my running groove.  I was glancing down at my watch to get my mile splits as I crossed each mile marker, but in between I let my body determine my stride and pace. 




The mind/body connection during running amazes me.  My mind is saying ‘Go! Go! Go!’.  Yet my body is saying ‘Wait…we haven’t trained for these distances and speeds’.  I found this morning that my mind was just waiting for my body to give up and shut down.  Thankfully, I passed the dreaded mile 8 and mile 9 makers with no signs of a BONK.  By mile 10, I knew that a 1:50 PR was within reach and I wanted to finish the race with every mile under 9 minutes.  I allowed myself to slow a bit, walk through the water station, and focus on keeping my stride smooth.  I passed the bright yellow mile 12 sign right at 1:40.  With confidence, I continued along the path towards the finish…except I rounded a corner to find a gradual incline and a headwind that brought me to a halt.  Ok, not a literal halt, but I definitely felt the wind seep out of my sails.




And my PR slip right through my fingers.  I used my mind to push my body through that last mile knowing that I’d be proud no matter what (and vowing to train better for my next half marathon).




When I passed mile 13, I just took off letting adrenaline fuel me to the finish line!  This always makes me laugh because in  my head, I was sprinting full speed ahead, but who knows how fast I was really going.  I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line and excitedly looked down to see my unofficial time of 1:49:46.  I could barely walk to get my medal, my legs were sore tired and stiff and I have a huge new blister on the bottom of my right foot.  I happily took 2 bottles of water from the volunteers and slowly made my way with frequent rest breaks to the sidelines to cheer on my friend to the finish.




After the race, we took a few minutes to stretch and I definitely thanked her for dragging me out of bed and to the race this morning.  We snacked on some Great Harvest bread and a cookie before heading back to the car.




I was crazy sweaty, so I immediately showered when I got home.  The BOY was studying and heading out to the library just as I climbed into bed for an afternoon nap.  I slept for 3 blissful hours.  I probably should have done some foam rolling before napping, but didn’t think about that until I stiffly got out of bed for some afternoon errands.  I came back from Costco with a car full of goodies.  Shortly after, the BOY returned from the library to pick me up for an early date night a Yogurtland!




It’s been way too long since we’ve been out for fro yo, so it didn’t take much convincing to get the BOY out for a sugary dinner.  I filled my cup up high with some of their new flavors, including a fantastic Chai, and covered it with cookie dough balls and some other tasty high calorie treats.




The BOY has an evening of studying ahead of him, and I am looking forward to a quiet night in!  And maybe a little QT with my foam roller while catching up on some TV on the DVR.  That PR has left me tired and a little sore!


Do you like to read/hear other people’s race recaps?

Every details or the abbreviated version?



The official stats aren’t posted yet, but hopefully I have that tomorrow!

Mile Splits

Mile 2: 8:06

Mile 3: 8:21

Mile 4: 8:15

Mile 5: 8:17

Mile 6: 8:29

Mile 7: 8:08

Mile 8: 8:25

Mile 9: 8:16

Mile 10: 8:26

Mile 11: 8:46

Mile 12: 8:34

Mile 13: 8:25

The History of running {According to Jen}

While I am off running the Shamrock Shuffle this morning, I thought it’d be fun to share with you my running history and how I got to this point…


There are people who run and people who think that runners are crazy!  Which category do you fit into?


Me After Race


I fall into the runner category and am often asked how I started running and joined this athletic crew.  Well, let me tell you…it all started in 1992 when I began junior high as a 6th grader.  On the first day of school, my mom sent me with a bag of gym clothes and told me that I was joining the Cross Country team.  Cross Country???  What the heck was that?


Jen Cross Country 001


I was certainly an active child, on the gymnastics team and at practice a few days a week, but had never even thought about running.  When I went to practice that first week, it seemed that a lot of other kids were in the same boat…on the Cross Country team for no other reason than because their parents told them so.  Some of the friends I met running that week are still my friends today.




By 7th grade, the field had thinned out.  Most of my friends had found other sports that interested them and were no longer running Cross Country.  For me, this was an exciting year because my times got faster, and I even secured myself a spot on the state team.  Although I was the 7th runner whose time did not count towards the team standings, the weekend at state was a memorable one.  Between trying to beat the boy’s team in mortal combat and climbing up the large muddy hill in the middle of the state course on hands a feet, it was a cool weekend for a young. emerging athlete.




In 7th grade, I returned to the Pom Squad and made the volleyball team.  I also joined the summer running group with a small group of boys and girls from the Cross Country team.




But by 8th grade, I had quit gymnastics which drastically decreased my activity levels.  My body changed, I put on weight, and lost some of my running speed.  Along with Poms and volleyball, I ran Cross Country and track.  I didn’t make any state teams and track/speed running was never my strength.  I found these pictures below in my junior high scrap book.  Such a funny walk down memory lane!


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I must also admit that I was not the most gracious of runners during this time.  I had the most wonderful and supportive parents who were at every meet cheering me on to the finish line, yet when I saw them, I made faces and tried to hide from their photos.




I have since apologized numerous times and make a point to smile for photos, waving and thanking all of my family and friends who support my running habit!  In preparation for high school, I participated in a volleyball feeder camp and had plans to join the soccer team.  But things didn’t work out as I had planned.  A few weeks before the first day of high school freshman year, I broke my leg, had surgery, and spent the next few months in a cast and on crutches.  I didn’t get to play on the freshman volleyball team and by sophomore year spent more time on the bench than on the court.  Disappointed, I decided after my sophomore season that I would spend the fall running Cross Country instead of sitting on the bench. 




So junior year, I joined the Cross Country team with the goal of staying in shape for soccer season and getting a gym waiver.  The majority of the team was fast freshman, but that didn’t bother me.  I attended all of the practices, except for the first day of school which was also my 16th birthday where instead I went to take my driver’s test, and ran every invitational to the best of my ability.




I ran again my senior year making friends with some of the younger girls and runners on the guys team.  By the time, I graduated high school and left for college, running was just a fond memory in my past.  I dove into college full speed ahead managing to easily gain the dreaded Freshman 15.  Over the next 3 years, I had an inconsistent relationship with running.  It wasn’t until my senior year, that I began to exercise regularly with two of my close friends.  It was also during second semester senior year, that I tried my first yoga class.  Fast forward though 3 years of grad school, where I used running as my outlet for stress relief and fitness.  By the time I graduated in 2006, I was a regular runner easily completing 4-6 mile runs.  When I took my first job in Memphis, I loved running along the river a few blocks from my apartment.




I never really thought much about racing and if you had asked me if I was interested in completing long distances, I would have laughed in your face.  It wasn’t until 2007, inspired by others I knew running long distance races that I ran my first half marathon.  I trained all by myself in Tennessee running loops around the short river path in preparation for the St. Louis half marathon with my friend Kelley and her fabulous father.  They taught me the ropes of distance running, and we all finished together around 2:06.


Kelley and Jen Post Race


I shared more of my half marathon history in THIS POST, but after this race, I was immediately ready for my next one.  I signed up for the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis for December 2007, but was unable to participate because of a broken toe.  Instead I was cheering on the runners and thinking ahead to my next race, which ended up being the St. Jude half marathon in 2008.  What made this race even more exciting was that my friend flew down from Chicago to run with me!  Note: We will both be running the Chicago marathon this year (her first marathon)!




To date, this is my half marathon PR at 1:50:24, shocking myself at the finish line with a mile average of 8:26.  This is the time that I am planning to beat this year as written on my 2013 Bucket List!  When I moved back to Chicago in 2009, I was excited to sign up for some local races.  I ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler Memorial Day weekend.




Then, the Chicago Half Marathon in September 2009.  It was fun to be running in my home town with plenty of people to run with and cheer us on!


Group Before


On a cold morning in December, my brother, Mom, and I did the Rudolf Ramble 8k to round out an active year.




2010 brought with it my first and second sprint triathlons and weekends spent cross training on my new bike.


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With my main focus on triathlon training, I ran some shorter runs including the Lincoln Park Zoo 10k and Hot Chocolate 15k.




At the end of 2010, Luv What You Do was born, which allowed me to start sharing my love of running and race stories with you.  2011 was my most successful racing year to date.  I signed up for my first marathon and finished two more triathlons, including my first Olympic Distance Triathlon.




I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8k, the Pathways 5k, and finished my first 20 Miler in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.




In October, I ran my first marathon!!!




In 2012, I focused on running for fun!  I returned to Soldier Field, ran some local races, and made two attempts at a half marathon PR falling just shy of breaking through the 1:50 barrier last September.




The year ahead looks to be an exciting and active one!  I am already signed up for 4 running races, including the Chicago Marathon and 1 triathlon.  I look forward to continuing to write my history of running for MANY years to come!


To Be Continued…

Enjoy Every Mile

You guys leave me the best comments

Seriously, I don’t know what I would do without you!

Based on your suggestions, I think it’s possible to rename this post ‘How to Have a Stress Free Turkey Trot’!




You start by getting a good night’s sleep, eating a filling breakfast, sipping on black tea, checking the weather (25 degrees…yikes!), bundling up for the day ahead, and putting a smile on your face.




Do I look warm and toasty?  I only felt warm until I got out of the car.  At which point, the BOY and I had 45 minutes to walk around, use the bathrooms, and prep for my race.




He pointed out that the end of November was a little too cold for a race.  Ya think?  It really didn’t feel too cold until this morning since my last few runs have been unseasonably warm and delightful.  I was even wearing short sleeves for my 12 miler!  About 15 minutes before the race, the BOY and I made our way to the start line. 


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Now, I know I don’t look warm in this picture.  The race began and I found my way to a friendly group of runners.  I had no idea what to expect so I just put one foot in front of the other.  One of my favorite things to tell new runners before their first race is to ‘Enjoy Every Mile’.  Feeling bitter cold through my fingers and toes, I decided to focus on this saying throughout my race.  During a run, every mile brings new views, new people, and new experiences.  I look forward to each mile…sometimes it is excitement and other miles offer new friendships and scenery.  I can’t stop window shopping cute jackets and shoes on the other runners, and there are always a few running patterns to observe (I call this an occupational hazard…ha ha!). 

About 3 miles into this morning’s race, I was starting to warm up and keeping an impressive pace.  The only problem…I really had to pee.  You can ask how this happens after using the bathroom multiple times before the race, but I can only blame it on the shivering cold and possibly a nervous bladder.  I decided to make a quick (only 1 minute) bathroom stop in the middle of the race for fear that my stomach would become upset.  The hardest thing about the cold was the frigid air streaming in and out of my lungs.  I was really looking forward to making my way to mile 10 where I knew that my Dad, Aunt, and the BOY were waiting to cheer me on.




My family came at the perfect time since I was starting to lose some steam.  My Aunt lives in Florida, so she was all bundled up, which of course made me smile!  At this point, I was only checking my mile splits and had no idea what my overall time was. 


The last 3 miles were an out and back, so I knew the family would be waiting for me again. I started getting some pain in my right foot, but kept on moving. I also saw the funniest sign that said ‘Chafe Now, Brag Later’…so true!  And another one that read ‘A half marathon because you’re only half crazy!’ It was a challenging last mile, but I powered through checking my watch just as I crossed the finish line.  It said 1:50:36 (Hooray!), and I was awarded an awesome medal for my efforts : )




I grabbed 2 glasses of hot apple cider and some pretzels while constantly walking to prevent my legs from starting to cramp up.  I was so super excited to have finished such a speedy race (especially with the cold weather and the nontraditional race prep).  I thought that my previous record was around 1:51, but when I got home, I double checked.  My PR in a 2008 half marathon was 1:50:24….so close today!  But, I did stop for a potty break.  So I’m calling this one a tie.  That’s ok….right?  Next year, I will break 1:50…mark my words.  But today, I am thrilled with my accomplishment and my ability to ENJOY EVERY MILE (even the cold ones)!




Plus spending the rest of the day with my family was great!  Especially digging into this mushroom and spinach cheese-less pizza!


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Perfect post race fuel!  After which, I came home to collapse on the couch in my compression stockings and rest my tired legs.  I am pretty stiff, but proud of today’s effort!  Thankfully, I have already scheduled a Monday morning massage.  I am so lucky to have the most amazing support system and love sharing my races with them!  Thanks guys for standing out in the cold just to watch this half crazy girl finish another half marathon!


2012 Schaumburg Half Marathon Turkey Trot
Saturday, November 24, 2012




Bib #

Overall Place

Age Group Place
23 F 30-34

Chip Time



It is with this post that I officially end the 2012 Race Season!  But I am already planning ahead to next year. 


Did anyone else run a turkey trot?

What do you have scheduled for next year?


Mile Splits

Mile 1 8.01

Mile 2 8:12

Mile 3 8:18

Mile 4 7:23*

Mile 5 9:33*

Mile 6 8:27 (with a bathroom break)

Mile 7 8:20

Mile 8 8:22

Mile 9 8:26

Mile 10 8:54

Mile 11 8:22

Mile 12 8:43

Mile 13.1 9: 26

Total: 1:50:35

*I think this mile marker was a little off because I wasn’t running this fast nor was mile 5 that slow!

How Not to Prepare for a Half Marathon

Number 1

Spend Wednesday night out drinking for your brother’s birthday, and stay up way too late waking up totally dehydrated and in desperate need of caffeine!




Number 2

Inhale massive amounts of processed sugars and carbs!


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Number 3

Continue to drink from the world’s largest bottle of prosecco.




Number 4

Schedule your last 3 mile run for Thanksgiving day, which is nearly impossible to accomplish due to Numbers 1-3.


Number 5

Spend the day before your race (aka Black Friday) on your feet shopping and waiting in hour long lines for really cute clothes!





Number 6

Spend 48 straight hours talking non stop so that you have a scratchy throat and hoarse voice.


Number 7

The night before the race, fill up on sweet potato pie by the forkful.




Number 8

Then proceed onto a random-thrown-together dinner of leftovers including sleep-inducing turkey.





I would encourage you not to follow my lead with the worst race prep ever (goodbye PR), but feel free to borrow my prerace positive attitude knowing that I had an awesome 3 days (and got some really good Black Friday deals) and that no matter what happens tomorrow, I am so happy and thankful to be running 13.1 miles.  Until then, I will be rehydrating and sipping tea with my legs up thinking warm thoughts before I wake up to the coldest day since last winter!  Brrr!



Pumpkin and Cream + Thanks and Giving

Good Monday Morning!

Today is a little off because the BOY is home all day. What does this mean?  Well, most importantly, it means that I can’t watch Grey’s Anatomy this morning before my run because the second I tried to put it on, he started to whine a bit.  Yikes!  He better get used to it because starting next semester he is off on Mondays, and after 4 years of not working on Mondays, I kind of have my routine down.


First up…tea!  I bought this seasonal tea when I picked up boxes and boxes of Candy Cane Green tea from Trader Joe’s.




I brewed up my first cup this morning.  Let me just tell you that it smells wonderful and tastes just as good!  It is a really flavorful tea (although this may be because I made mine extra strong)!




Then it’s on to breakfast.  As soon as the weather cooled off, I started craving this Pumpkin Cream Pie Oat Bran from Peas and Thank You.




I made this last winter and absolutely loved it!  So my mouth was watering before I even started cooking.  This oat bran is spicy, creamy, and super filling!




I followed the recipe as written, but I add my sweetener as a topping at the end instead of in the beginning.  This morning, I used maple syrup.




In between cooking, I darted back and froth to the television where I was watching the Today show.  I’ve been living back in the Chicago area for almost 4 years, yet I still love to check out the Thanks and Giving kick off.




I even record the show all week just to watch Marlo’s short segment each day!


Thanks and Giving 2007


The hospital holds a special place in my heart, and I think the message of being THANKFUL for all of the joy in your life and helping others is so important, especially this time of year.  It also gets me geared up for the holiday season ahead!  One of the things that I am thankful for is my ability to run.  I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but there was a 6 month period where running was contraindicated for a medicine that I needed to take.  The children of St. Jude kept me inspired throughout this time, and my first race back (and current PR) was the St. Jude Half Marathon in 2008.  It was an emotional run, and I had tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line.




On days when I am not-so-motivated to get in a workout, I think about this time in my life, put one foot in front of the other, and remember how lucky I am that I RUN.  This is what pushed me out the door on this grey morning while the BOY tried to convince me to stay in.  I must admit after that comforting bowl of oats, the idea did cross my mind. 




My legs are a bit fatigued after Saturday’s 8 miler and yesterday’s 90 minute Hot Yoga class, so I made it a watchless run.  With all of my recent training, I have been thinking a lot about mile times and pace, and today I wanted to run just to run.  It was a beautiful morning to be outdoors, which a nice woman walking her dog and I discussed on the path.  Even without my watch (or maybe because of), my 5 miles sped by quickly and I returned home in the best mood with plenty of ideas on how the BOY and I should spend our day.


How do you give back around the holidays?


I just read about Rebecca’s Mission A Toy For Every Pup

Her post is really sweet (she has the cutest dog) and you can easily donate while you are doing your online holiday shopping with this Amazon Wishlist!  Check it out!


You can find this hearty fall breakfast recipe HERE!

I ate half this morning and I am planning on reheating the other half with some almond milk for breakfast tomorrow.



My IT Band Tried to Sabotage my Run

Another no alarm Saturday, but this time it was planned!  I started the day with a hearty breakfast who’s purpose was to propel me through this morning’s 8 mile run.

TJ’s oatmeal + Chia Seeds + Cinnamon and a Pear = Awesome!




Another plank (because I didn’t do it yesterday).  Even with an Us Weekly in front of me, that was the toughest challenge of them all.  But I did it!  I have a feeling the jump form 3:30-4:00 minutes is going to be impossible a hard one!




Another Larabar.  You’d think I was advertising for their company (and if they’d like to send me some flavors to sample, I’d be happy to blog about them).  This one is my favorite to date.  It reminds me of the Smooth Caffeinator Picky Bar which I love…only Larabars are easily available at the grocery store.  Now, I just have to figure out how to make this flavor at home!




And then yet another run.  We are 1 week away from the half marathon and I can only hope for race day weather like today.  I headed out with way too many layers, and came back in short sleeves covered in sweat. 


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I was scheduled for 8 miles and decided on an out and back along the forest preserve trail.  The trail is similar the one I will be running on next weekend, but a town over.  My trail is a lot hillier (relatively speaking, I do live in the Chicago suburbs so take hills with a grain of salt), therefore, perfect for training.  From my first step out the door, I had my stride back (the cold stole it during Tuesday’s 6 mile run) and the morning had aligned for that perfect run!  I made it to mile 1 in 7:59 feeling strong.  Somewhere along mile 3, I started to get a little twinge in my left IT band.  It is no secret that I have some of the tightest IT bands out there, but for the most part they don’t interfere with my run.  I have sneaking suspicion that this pain was also related to my quads, specifically the rectus which crosses the hip, since I really tightened up after last weekend’s rainy run.  I got stopped at a light between miles 3 and 4 and took that time to stretch, which totally did the trick.  I got right back into my stride cruising along enjoying the day and saying ‘Good Morning’ to everyone that came my way.  I hit the 6 mile mark at 49:25 which is more than 3 minutes faster than this week’s 6 mile run.  For some reason, that last mile back to my house always stretches on forever.  I wanted to finish quick with a sub 8:30 mile but came bounding in at 8:43.  Certainly my slowest mile (I think I write that every time), but thrilled with my 8 mile time of 1:06:16.  My runs have not been this fast or this strong recently and to complete my last long run at race pace (probably a little faster as I averaged 8:15 this morning) felt fantastic!

So did rolling out my legs on my foam roller after my run.


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Especially that left ITB!  My legs are definitely sore and tired.  But never too tired for a trip to the grocery store.  The BOY and I took a second go at meal planning for this holiday week.  Then returned home, quickly unloaded the groceries, and got back in the car to head out for lunch at my favorite restaurant!




This light was totally rocking my picture, but after an 8 mile run, I’m not sure there is anything better than pretzel bread, a glass of Cooper’s Hawk Barrel Reserve, and the Chef’s Special Blackened Tilapia Salad?!




Would you judge me if I told you at the entire salad AND a chocolate covered strawberry for dessert?  With exhausted legs and a full belly, it seems like the only thing left to do today is take a nap!

Bundled Up

This is the kind of morning where it helps to have a running buddy.  I have gotten in the bad habit of not setting an alarm on the weekends, having a leisurely breakfast with tea, reading my favorite blogs, and in this morning’s case, watching a few hours of Law&Order over breakfast.




A running buddy might have helped get me out the door before 11:30am.  I am feeling much better than last weekend, but not quite 100%.  And with the weather topping out at 40 degrees, I better get used to bundling up for my runs.




My motivation this morning was my half marathon in 3 weeks.  PR aside, my goal for every race is to have fun and finish strong and healthy, which is why I needed to get in a long run today.  I bundled up from head to toe and headed out to the path.  I had no time expectations and just took 1 mile at a time.  I was surprised by how bare the path was.  Almost all of the trees have lost their leaves, and the forest preserve was really quiet.  Around mile 6, I stopped to remove a layer and snacked on a gingersnap LARABAR.




I’ve never tried a LARABAR before, but just had a few bites since I didn’t have any water with me (I finished the rest when I made it back home).  I must say that the bar tasted just like a gingersnap (yum!), and around mile 7, I decided that gingersnaps would be amazing dunked in this Spiced Pumpkin Dip.  I felt surprisingly strong through my last few miles and came bounding back in the door in search of my foam roller, which by the way is MIA.  Bummer!  Running in the colder weather was an adjustment.  I finished right around 9.5 miles in 87:11.  This is nowhere near race pace, but that is okay.  It felt great to be outside and I know that come race day, it will be exciting to have so many running buddies and fans!  I had a quick lunch after my run, and the BOY and I finally took a trip to the grocery store.  We threw a batch of Really GOOD Chili in the crockpot (this time using turkey) to bring to a Bear’s get together tomorrow.  We are getting pretty quick and efficient with our chili making!




And for dessert….well you’ll have to wait and see, but I will give you a sneak peak!


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How are your cold weather runs going?

Any upcoming races?

Want to be my running buddy?

4 Weeks to PR

I expected to wake up this morning, pop out of bed, and feel just like myself again because I am an optimist and because I spent all weekend feeling sick and I am now done with being sick.  Unfortunately, there was no popping this morning.  I still sound pretty bad and I have a wicked sinus headache.  Ugghh!   I was hoping, wanting, and planning to get in a strong run this morning.  My backup plan was to just get outside, walk or run and just do whatever I can.  But, I feel worse today than yesterday!  Enter frustration…


About 10 months ago, I set a goal of running a half marathon PR this year.  I was motivated by my impressive marathon splits last October and convinced that I could run 13.1 in under 1:50.  My first attempt at this was in May.  Although my training had ups and downs, I was confident on race day.  Unfortunately, I hit the wall HARD at mile 8.  Although I didn’t get the time that I was hoping for, I powered through for a strong finish and was definitely pleased with my run.  I was hoping to run another half marathon in early October, but a broken toe set me back on mileage and split times.  Now, here we are about 4 weeks before my Thanksgiving half marathon and my quality of training is POOR.  I haven’t run more than 10 miles in a long time and my energy levels are on the floor. 


So my head knows that this PR is a long shot, but I also know that I LOVE running, races, and the half marathon is fun distance no matter what your race time.  Yes, non-runners, I did just say that 13.1 miles can be fun : )  Moving forward, I plan to do the best I can with my training.  What is hard for me is knowing how strong my running was a year ago, but I have to keep in mind that this  has been a different year for me.  This year has been busier and more stressful, and I haven’t been able to prioritize workouts and training.  And the extra LBs hanging around aren’t helping either.  The optimist in me knows that f I don’t hit that 1:50 this fall, there is always next year.  I know that I have that PR in me!  But a lot goes into making my body race ready, and I welcome the changes it takes to get there.


For breakfast, I dove into a bowl of Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal from Veggie V (I added some banana to sweeten it up instead of syrup). 




And then topped it with my homemade apple butter.


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Yum!  What a happy breakfast!!!




Sadly, after breakfast I crashed on the couch and haven’t been able to get myself moving since.  I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck!  Meanwhile, I rediscovered an old guilty please, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders TV show.  Please don’t judge me!  You know you have a guilty pleasures too!  I used to watch this show ALL the time when I lived in Memphis.  Who knew that it was still on?  Yesterday, I DVRed, like, 6 hours of the show which have been keeping me entertained from the couch.  Because I was sick all weekend, I had big plans for today, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  Return…frustration…I hate being sick and I’m sure ya’ll are sick of hearing about it : )  I am off for a nap!



How do you prepare for race goals?

Do you get frustrated when you’re sick?

Am I making any sense?  ha ha!