Bayshore Week 8: Greenville

12 weeks out from Bayshore. Overall this was a cutback week after last weekend’s 5k. I only ran 4 times making the mileage lower than in the last several weeks, but Saturday’s long run was a solid workout to cap off the week.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF/Travel

Very much needed rest day after Saturday’s race. I also traveled to Greenville in the morning so it was nice not to have to squeeze in miles before the flight or after work.


  • Planned: 50 Easy Run + Light Strength
  • Actual: 5.9M @ 8:30 avg.

I promised myself that I would get up early and get the strength done before the run, but sleep won out and I needed to get to the office at a reasonable time. Funny that I went all the way to South Carolina where it was 50 degrees warmer when I landed Monday…and then it snowed during this entire run. Also…HILLZ.

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  • Planned: Speed w/2 x (3 x 400 @ 1:40)
  • Actual: 7M @ 8:14 avg. w/400’s: (1:36, 1:37, 1:35), (1:37, 1:34, 1:33)

It is really, really convenient that there is a high school track exactly 2.4 miles (~20 min run) from where I was staying with friends in Greenville. I ran over to the track, feeling much stronger on the hills than the day before and discovered that the gate was locked. I stood there for a minute not sure what to do and looking for a way in (that didn’t involve climbing the fence). All of a sudden I hear someone shouting behind me, “I’ll let you in! I’ll let you in!”. A man comes running up with the keys saying that he normally has the gate open by now (school was just about to start) but had been lazy that morning until he saw me out there. I told him I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be out there and he said, “Sure you are!! Go on out!”. And THIS is why I love South Carolina. Since I was on a track (and not a treadmill) and it was warmer than Coach thought it would be in Chicago I decided to push the 400’s a little faster than 5k pace. I felt really good and it was fun to be back on a track.


  • Planned: 1:00 Easy + Strength
  • Actual: 7.15M @ 8:23 avg. + Grandma Hips

5ish inches of snow overnight and through the morning plus cold temps sent me straight to the treadmill for this run. I also knew that if I was at the gym already, I would be much more likely to get a solid strength workout done. I was a little bored on the ‘mill, but the run did feel nice and easy, which isn’t always the case with the treadmill for me.

The strength workout was a good one. It is cool to be able to see progress in adding weight or in my form on several of the exercises.


  • Planned: Spin + Yoga
  • Actual: 50 min Spin Class + Hot Vinyasa Yoga

I squeezed in a quick 50 min spin class before my meetings started for the day. It was enough to make me sweat, but I didn’t want to kill my legs before Saturday’s tempo long run.

I really wanted to get a yoga class in Friday after not going all week. It made for a quick turnaround before dinner with friends, but I was able to hit the 5:30 class. I am not crazy about the instructor during that time…she is the only one at my studio that I don’t love. It was still a solid 60 minutes on my mat.


  • Planned: 1:30 run w/30 min Easy + 25 min @ 7:50 + 20 min @ 7:30-40 + 2M @ 7:00 – 7:10
  • Actual: 11.5M @ 7:50 avg.; 30 min @ 8:15, 25 min @ 7:54, 20 min @ 7:36, 7:15, 7:06

I was both excited about attempting this run and terrified about whether I could actually hit the paces. It was VERY cold and I had to wait until 10 a.m., just to let it warm up to double digits. It was sunny, which definitely helped and when I started (going north), I felt great. Even after I turned back south during the 7:50’s I felt smooth and strong. As I pushed the pace down to 7:30’s, I felt like my body could handle it but the wind had picked up, which made me cold and it felt hard. Thankfully I was able to turn back north again for the final 2 miles and that helped a ton. I had a hard time getting the turnover up and the pace down in the first tempo mile, but a quick break (<1 min) to adjust clothing helped and I got close to target pace in the first mile at 7:15 and then pushed hard to get the 2nd mile in 7:06. I felt really, really good about this workout and think on a slightly warmer day, without the wind, that it would have been even better.

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The clear, sunny days are always the coldest.

The rest of the day was all about celebrating my birthday! I laughed so hard my face hurt.



  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: OFF

We slept in and then did a bunch of walking around to do errands/shop and get the dogs some exercise. I wanted to go to yoga, but the instructor that I am not crazy about was teaching the 4:00 class and then by the time the 7:30 p.m. class came around, I wasn’t up for heading back out.

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Seen on our walk to breakfast…a ginormous birthday donut.

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Fun at the dog park! 

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  • Run: 31.6 miles 
  • Cross Training: 1 Spin Class
  • Strength x 1
  • Yoga: 1 class
  • Treadmill runs: 1 (total treadmill runs = 11)
Posted in Chicago, Goals, Greenville, running, Strength Training, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 1 Comment

Mardi Gras Chaser 5k Race Recap

I will try not to make this a long one. It was only a 5k, afterall.

In late January, Coach and I were emailing/texting about my race schedule for the spring. He said he wanted me to do a 5k “in the next month.” Races in Chicago in February are certainly not abundant, but I found the Mardi Gras Chaser 5k/10k that was put on by Back on My Feet on Saturday, February 21st. The weekend was open and the race was very close to home so I tucked the thought away and decided to keep an eye on the weather. As the date got closer, the weather looked very reasonable {for Chicago in February}, so Coach and I decided to give it a go.

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When I picked up my packet from Fleet Feet on Thursday, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the race was chip timed and by the looks of the course map, that it should be an accurate 5k distance. (These are the two issues that have resulted in my “official” 5k PR dating back to 2012.)

So, yes, by the comment above, you can assume that I was hoping to PR this race. I wasn’t sure where my fitness was but I was really thinking that I could be close to where my two unofficial times were at about 20:30. 

The race didn’t start until 10:15, so I slept in, ate breakfast and headed up to Montrose Harbor around 9:15. I quickly found a parking spot close the start and headed out to warm-up. The plan was to run 2-3 miles plus some drills and 7-8 strides. It wasn’t crazy cold…mid-20’s and very low wind, but Coach’s primary concern was that I was completely warm before the race.

For maybe the first time ever, I timed my warm-up perfectly to finish everything, change into my racing flats and be standing at the start line in the cold for less than 5 minutes. I did a quick survey of the people around me and noticed a few really fit women that I thought would take it out fast. The winning time for this race last year was 20:55. The winner this year would get a pair of Mizunos and a Fleet Feet gift certificate, so I was hoping to that no really fast women would show up again this year!

When the announcer said go, I took off and tried to settle in. As usual, I started too fast and looked down to see 6:15-6:20 in the first quarter mile. About 4-5 women took off in front of me at that pace, but I pulled back to settle into my plan of around 6:40ish.

I felt smooth and controlled and passed all but one of the women in the first mile and crossed the mile sign at 6:38. Perfect.

Unfortunately I hadn’t even reached 1.5 miles when it started to get hard. Now, I know 5k’s are supposed to hurt, but usually I prefer to get through mile 2 before the suffering sets in. Around mile 1.4 I heard my name and saw Jenny running toward me on the path. Talking was difficult but I managed to grunt out that I was hurting WAAAAY too much this early. She (of course) said just the right thing and told me I looked smooth and to keep it controlled. I was starting to feel like things were really falling apart so that was exactly what I needed to hear.

After the turnaround at halfway, things got worse. My pace was slipping, I was struggling and I crossed mile 2 at 6:42. I knew from then on that the best I could do was to just hold on. For the first half of mile 3, my Garmin said my pace was 7:xx, but with about 0.5 miles left, a guy (who I had warmed up right next to) slowly passed me and I tried to hold on to his pace. Slowly I was able work back down and hit mile 3 at 6:48. 

I gave it all I had into the finish at about 6:10 avg. and crossed in 20:44, a mere 2 second PR and 2nd place female. (First place was a smoking 19:07!!)

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Gotta love a free race photo. And an “OMG I almost died” 5k face.

After finishing, I met Jenny back by my car and we finished up 45 minutes together to make for 12 miles and 1:30 total on the day.

I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to negative split and run closer to 20:30, but I will give myself a little credit that running in the cold (even if 25 degrees doesn’t feel that cold) is harder than running in warmer temps. But I also have had the feeling in tempos lately that my ability to run “fast” for longer than 400’s or 800’s is just not quite there right now. This race really just confirms that. I have plenty of time and lots of work to do in the “Spring of Speed” before it is all said and done, so let the temps warm-up and bring on the work!

Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, training, Weather | 7 Comments

Bayshore Week 7: Mardi Gras Chaser 5k

13 weeks out from Bayshore. When this week started, I wasn’t positive that I would be racing on Saturday, but Coach altered things mid-week to give me a little rest before Saturday’s hard effort. My legs felt pretty good going into the race so the extra rest days worked.

{apologies for the lack of pictures this week! Just lotsa words below…}


  • Planned: Tempo w/3M @ 7:00 + Light Strength for warm-up
  • Actual: Strength +  7.3M @ 7:44 avg. w/tempo: 6:57, 6:59, 7:00 

It was another cold day, but without the wind, 14 degrees is tolerable for an outdoor run (who am I??). Plus, the sun always makes it feel much warmer than it is. I felt strong on the warm-up and the first 2 miles of the tempo felt like cruise speed. When I hit that 3rd mile, it got really hard and I definitely had to gut out the final few minutes. This is the first time I have attempted a tempo at this slightly faster pace…It’s amazing what a difference 10 seconds in a tempo mile makes.

In case any one is wondering, the “light strength” workouts that I use for a warm-up consist of the following:

  • This workout (minus the single leg hops. I do the lunges as 30 x walking with arms above head to stretch hip flexors)
  • 15 x Single leg squats each leg (10 assisted with non-working leg on a block + 5 unassisted)
  • 25 x Hip raises each side
  • 10 x Eccentric calf raises (both legs to lower down, one leg lifting back up; one leg at a time/not alternating)
  • 15x Single leg raise holding towel against the wall w/my heel (glute activator)
  • Core: slow crunches x 10 + slow bicycles x 10 each side (<– emphasis on pelvis tucked in on both) + slow crunch w/ knee tuck x 10)

This only takes me about 15-20 minutes and being warm & sweaty before I leave makes it much easier to get out of the house. I also notice a difference in how I feel during workouts on a cold day if I warm up with this first.


  • Planned: 1:00 Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 7.2M @ 8:18 avg. + 1:00 Hot Vinyasa Yoga

I woke up to a gray, snowy day thinking, I don’t wannaaaa. But I bundled up and headed out and was surprised at how much fun I had. It was one of those days where I was dressed perfectly for the temps (~18 degrees, 11 mph wind) and it started snowing all around me, making me feel like I was in a snow globe. I was warm, but not too hot…so it felt like my clothes were just giving me a nice little cozy hug as I blinked snowflakes out of my face. #runnershigh

That feeling continued at yoga. I felt super strong and smooth through the flow and poses. It’s kind of like running, where some days are better than others and this was a good one!


  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: OFF

I really wanted to go to yoga, but two things: 1. It was absurdly cold out and not leaving the house all day was amazing. 2. My legs were generally a little sore from Monday’s workout and Tuesday’s yoga and I thought rest was a better choice.


  • Planned: Speed workout w/6×400 @ 1:40 or 5k-ish pace
  • Actual: 5.35M @ 8:04 avg. w/repeats: 3 x 6:39 pace, 3 x 6:35 pace

Quick and sweaty treadmill 400’s. With -25 degrees feels like temps…that was the only way this was happening. Instead of trying to do the math on exact time/distance for 400’s, I looked at the distance when the treadmill got up to the target pace (9.0, 9.1) and then ran for 0.25M. This wasn’t the confidence boosting workout that I would like to have 2 days before a 5k…not because it was hard, I just don’t feel all that smooth at 5k pace on the treadmill.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

Twice in three days that I didn’t leave the house one time all day.


  • Planned: Mardi Gras Chaser 5k w/1:30 Total
  • Actual: 12M @ 7:38 avg.; 3.3M w/u @ 7:56 avg (including 8 x strides)+ 3.1M race + 5.7M @ 7:56 w/Jenny

A race report will come, but I hung out with Jenny and drank beer after the race all day and now I am traveling for work…so maybe later this week?!


  • Planned: 50 min Easy + Yoga
  • Actual: 6M @ 8:38 avg. + 1:15 Hot Vinyasa Yoga

Slept in (see above about beer), went for a recovery shuffle in the sunshine (but cold) and then treated my body to some flow, balance and stretching for 75 min at a much-needed yoga class.


  • Run: 38 miles 
  • Cross Training: 0 (took 2 full rest days instead)
  • Strength x 1
  • Yoga: 2 classes
  • Treadmill runs: 1 (total treadmill runs = 10)
Posted in Chicago, Goals, running, Strength Training, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 1 Comment

Bayshore Week 6: Recovery

14 weeks out from Bayshore. After running 24 miles at Ragnar, Coach set this up as a recovery week. I am glad he did because I think those miles took more out of me than I initially thought they did. I was definitely feeling a little tight in the beginning of most of the runs and just feeling like the “easy” miles were harder than they should be.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF/Travel

Before Monday, I thought I wanted to run in the warm weather before I left Key West and was kind of sad it was a rest day. After a late night of shenanigans on Sunday night, I was happy for another day of rest and glad that my only exercise looked something like this…

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  • Planned: 45 min Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 5.35M @ 8:32 pace + Hot Vinyasa Yoga

After two full rest days, I was hoping my legs would be fresh and springy. Not so much. Walter and I went out for a run after work and even though it wasn’t that cold, I never felt like I warmed up. I just felt blah almost the whole time.

I changed after the run and went straight to yoga. Being in the warm room was just what I needed and I FINALLY held a headstand for a solid amount of time! It was that crazy feeling of it just magically happening after trying for so long. (Of course I also tumbled backwards out of one and fell on my arse too…)


  • Planned: 45 min Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 5.5M @ 8:27 avg. 

Walter and I went for a run at lunch and it started just as sluggish as the day before. Finally around mile 2, things clicked and I felt much more like myself again.

I knew I wasn’t going to make my normal evening yoga class because I had a hair appointment, but I hoped to make a late afternoon class at the gym. When the time came around to go, I was feeling sleepy and sluggish and decided to skip it for some rest.


  • Planned: “Light tempo” w/3M @ tempo on feel + Light Strength
  • Actual: Treadmill run, 7.15M @ 7:59 avg. w/ tempo: 7:16, 7:14, 7:09 + stretching

I think that last year I would have taken this run outside. It was cold (~10* w/25 mph wind) but really sunny. This winter I just don’t have the same tolerance for those cold and brutally windy days. And thanks to Netflix, I don’t hate the treadmill right now. Although, when my blue tooth headphones died less than 5 min into the warm-up, I wasn’t really stoked. The tempo miles felt comfortably hard and it was nice to get some turnover back into my legs again.

I planned to warm-up with strength stuff before the run, but realized 10 min into the warm-up that I forgot. Then after the run, my legs felt tight, especially my hamstrings so I used the time to stretch a la Amanda’s tips instead.


Friday morning spin felt really good…just enough of a workout to sweat, but not enough to fatigue my legs. And finally I did almost the whole strength workout (minus pistol squats…running short on time) and wasn’t sore the next day! Progress!


  • Planned: 1:30 Run
  • Actual: 11M @ 8:24 avg. (treadmill)

This was hard. I probably could have run outside, but with the crazy wind and cold temps, I just wasn’t feeling it. Jenny and I met at the gym to run “together”, which definitely helped, but I was not prepared for how hard this would feel almost the whole time. I like to think maybe (?) the new treadmills weren’t calibrated properly and I was running faster than I thought? From the looks of this video…I am guessing that was actually NOT the case. Why do I always feel like I am running way faster than I look?

This was during the last mile of a treadmill PDR. Credit goes to Jenny for the video (I didn’t even realize she was back there!)


  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: 1:15 Hot Vinyasa Yoga

One of my most favorite things ever might be Sunday morning yoga then a full day of relaxing. The class felt amazing and I held another long headstand!!

The only other time I left the house all day was to take Walter to the Blood Drive being hosted at our vet’s office. He met all the criteria to be a donor, but ended up testing positive for an antigen that makes him not a good donor. He was still very proud of his bandanna and treat bag.

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  • Run: 29 miles 
  • Cross Training: 1 spin class
  • Strength: 1
  • Yoga: 2 classes
  • Treadmill runs: 2 (total treadmill runs = 9)
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 5 Comments

Ragnar Florida Keys: Take 2

I had a bone to pick with this relay. When I ran here 2 years ago, I had a tough go of it. The heat destroyed me and the running part wasn’t any fun. In my opinion, relays are ALL ABOUT the fun, so this year I was determined to come back and enjoy some warm weather runs, beautiful scenery and have some redemption from the misery of that night leg in 2013. That mostly happened.

My sister-in-law Kate invited me to run this relay with a group of her friends from Roanoke, VA. They are all moms, most with multiple children and many who also have challenging careers (in my van alone: an OBGYN, a veterinarian, an attorney…). I wasn’t really sure what to expect because Kate told me that everyone on our team was “in it for fun” (not speed). I am a competitive person, but I am all about running a relay for fun, with no pressure, so that didn’t matter to me at all. What I learned once we started running was that these women had trained for this and they are runners! There wasn’t a single one of them who was throwing down anything slower than a 9:30-10:00 min/mile. I was really impressed because how in the world do they find the time??

There were two teams from Roanoke and we were named Star City Sole Sisters – Team Sugar & Team Spice. I was on Team Spice in Van 1. While there were many accomplished athletes (including several former Division I swimmers and a Kona qualifier in her first Ironman!!), I was the only one among both teams who had ever run a relay. Despite that, these women had their sh*t together. We had shirts, tank tops, pre-prepared van decorations (including LED lights!), laminated maps for each leg and wait for it…HOTEL ROOMS booked for showers/sleep after leg #2. I could go on forever about the prep they put into this race and the research they had done before arriving in Miami.

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Lights, magnets, peel-off star stickers and NO messy shoe polish!

We started at 9 a.m. Friday morning, which was also pre-arranged by our captain, who requested the earliest start time we could get. This worked out fantastic for the timing of our runs in Van 1…the best I have ever experienced.


Just before leaving South Beach Friday morning. From left: Courtney, Me, Katie, Erin, Laura, Kate and driver Heather.

Kate was our first runner and she kicked us off on a very chilly (for Miami) and windy run over the Key Biscayne bridge.

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Seriously though, isn’t she the cutest?!

I quickly took on the role of navigator and happily played that role for our rock star driver, Heather, for the rest of the relay. Finally around noon on Friday, it was my turn to run.

I was runner #4, which had the longest combined legs of the relay, with 24 miles total. I had welcomed the switch from a shorter leg back in January when Kate said one of the other girls had asked. I was ready for the challenge and since I have been running 35-40 mpw consistently for the last couple of months, I was “trained” for it.

Leg #1: 4M @ 7:38 avg.

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All smiles finishing up leg 1.

Coach gave me the instructions that run #1 should be easy and I would get some tempo miles in the second leg. Quite frankly 7:38 pace didn’t necessarily feel easy but it didn’t feel hard either. It was really difficult to hold back so I just kind of went with it. I got held up at 2 stoplights, fairly briefly (I stopped my watch). It was warm, but not scorching hot since there was a nice breeze and overall I felt good and happy. One thing though: I am always surprised at how slowly the miles go by in the first leg of a relay. I felt like I had run well over a mile and looked down at my watch to see I had only been 0.3. It must be a weird adrenaline thing from waiting around all morning to run.

I passed off the slap bracelet and noticed that my counterpart from Team Sugar was waiting alone at the exchange. Their van had gone to the wrong exchange and Kimberley was stuck there for over 30 minutes until they figured it out. Good wake-up call for me as a navigator!

Once our van finished with leg #1, we changed and headed to get a light lunch. We ended up stopping at Jimmy Johns, which hit the spot and filled me up (this is important for later). We used the rest of the downtime to navigate our way back from the wrong exchange (oops! but we figured it out in plenty of time) to the major exchange at the Homestead Speedway and then to relax and take advantage of clean bathrooms.

Around dusk, Kate was off again and Van 1 was back in the game. I tried to snack sufficiently while I was waiting for my leg, but nothing really sounded good and I was afraid of eating too much. Between lunch at Jimmy John’s around 1:30 and my run around 9:00 p.m. I ate carrots with hummus, a cutie, a string cheese, a Greek yogurt and a Picky Bar (I think). I didn’t feel hungry, but my appetite might have been supressed because I was a bit nervous about the long run and tempo miles that were ahead. Looking back, I should have eaten something more substantial because that just wasn’t enough food in an 8 hour period preceding a 12-mile run.

Leg #2: 11.8M @ 8:16 avg. 


Ready to run in the dark.

Originally coach prescribed a 3-4M warm-up + 10k tempo/time trial @ 6:50 – 7:30 + 2-3M cool down. When I started the run though, something told me that I should start conservative. I decided that I would try to run this progressively and hit the last 6ish miles at tempo pace. So here is how it went down:

Miles 1 – 7: 8:08, 8:05, 8:02, 8:01, 7:54, 7:52, 7:47 <–Pretty good, huh?! Going into mile 7, I was having a blast, feeling strong and was pretty confident that I could continue to drop the pace over the next 5 miles. It was warm & humid but there was cool air coming off of the water and I felt good. BUT…I didn’t bring any fuel or water with me (stoopid). This was generally a “no support” leg, but there were supposed to be 3 water stops (I only saw 2) and the van was was allowed to stop at one point (we thought mile 6) to support their runner. I was pretty hungry early in the run, but wasn’t worried because I *knew* I could get fuel from the van at mile 6. But when I reached mile 6, I was still on US 1 leading into a bridge, so I knew that wasn’t possible.

At exactly an hour into the run…to the second…I hit a WALL. It was dark so I couldn’t tell, but apparently I started up the incline leading into the big bridge and also became exposed to a massive headwind (even for this Chicago runner!). I felt like I was running through mud and it took all my effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I still had to run up a 0.75 mile bridge. As you can expect, this happened:

Miles 8 – 11.8: 8:15, 9:04 (bridge), 8:47 (down then back up another bridge), 8:29 (down), 8:56

This might be one of the worst bonks I have ever experienced because there was no gradual degradation. I went from feeling great to feeling awful from one moment to the next. And to make it worse, the wind was blowing so hard across me that I kept getting blown over and stumbling toward the direction of the on-coming traffic.


The bridge at night, as taken by Kimberly while she ran the same leg. I remember the moon’s reflection off the water being nice, but by this point, I wasn’t seeing much but the ground.

It was miserable and all I kept thinking was “where is my van?”. It turned out that they weren’t allowed to stop until mile 10 and when they didn’t see me after a few minutes, they were worried they missed me and took off to the exchange. I was sad to miss them (and my bottle of Nuun!) but defaulting toward being ready in the exchange was the right call.

After I finished running, I was starving. Kate made me a PB&J that I scarfed down and I also ate some Cheez-Its (salt please!) and drank some electrolyte drink that someone handed me after I finished my Nuun. These were all very bad decisions.

In the next hour, my stomach started cramping and I spent the next 6ish hours in and out of the bathroom and struggling with stomach cramps (along with 3 other teammates who, coincidentally also ate string cheese earlier?). Thankfully we were able to get showered and lay in bed (whether I slept was questionable) for 3+ hours before we had to meet our van at the final exchange. I took Tums and Imodium and drank tons more water and Nuun.


Fresh off of our hotel naps while Kate was running leg #3. Everyone in this picture except Laura (in reflective gear) was fighting stomach cramps.

By the time my run came around again about 10:30 a.m., I was feeling 80% better, but the stomach cramping (and bathroom visits) were still intermittent. I wasn’t confident if I could run 2 miles, much less 8+. But I wasn’t going to give up my run altogether (Kate volunteered) and I knew if I started it, I would have to finish because it was supposed to be a no support leg.

Suck-it-up, buttercup! I tucked some toilet paper in my shorts and got my a$$ out there to run.


Kate and I just before starting my final leg. Forced smile.

Leg #3: 8.2M @ 8:36 avg.

The first two miles were very similar to what I experienced in this race in 2013. I got an intense side stitch almost immediately. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that if I back off the pace, relax and breath through it, the cramp will disappear at mile 2. So that’s what I did and sure enough, by mile 2, I felt better than I had all day. My body was tired, but I felt good. I maintained an easy and steady 8:34-8:44 pace and just plugged away one mile at a time. The van ended up being able to stop at about mile 5 and I think they were shocked to see me smiling and happy.

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Getting some Nuun from Kate. I think she was just as happy that she didn’t have to jump in and run the rest!

Just as I was passing a guy at mile 8, he decided that he wanted to race me to the finish. My competitiveness took over and I found myself picking up the pace. I rounded out the final 0.2 at a 7:21 pace, which felt like an all-out sprint, but he still had a slight edge on me to the exchange. Dudes and their egos.

Once our van finished, we headed straight into Key West to get food and relax until Van 2 finished up. We parked at a local high school and took a cute little trolley (and beerz) to the beach party. Open containers FTW.


Around 1 p.m., 29 hours and 7 min after we started the race, the rest of Team Spice arrived in Key West. It was a beautiful day for beachin’ but I felt bad for those last few runners because it was pretty hot!


Like I said…these girls had their planning down. Champs on the beach to celebrate the finish!


So lucky to call this girl my sister.

We didn’t stay at the beach too long because everyone was exhausted and wanted to get checked into our house. The girls rented two cute townhouses right next door to each other…one for each of the teams. That night they had food catered in at Team Sugar’s house. My stomach was still off for the next couple of days though and I wasn’t able to eat much.

Sunday we rented bikes and rode over to the beach…

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Key West is definitely not known for its beaches, but it was a beautiful day and it felt good to relax. That night we took advantage of what Key West IS known for and hit up the live music and party scene on Duval St…but not until after receiving our AWARDS:


Team Sugar was “Numero Uno” and Team Spice was “Almost First” in the female sub-masters division. {But also the fastest two all women’s teams overall!}

And finally after brunch and shopping Monday, it was back to reality and cold Chicago…


Posted in family, Food, friends, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, training, Travel, Weather | 10 Comments

Bayshore Week 5: Ragnar Florida Keys

15 weeks out from Bayshore. The majority of this week was geared toward preparing to run my 4th relay on the weekend. I will have a recap of the relay soon, but for now, I will just say – the cutback worked because I went into the weekend with fresh legs and ready to go. I wish that meant I executed my runs perfectly, but unfortunately it doesn’t. More on that later…


  • Planned: Treadmill Tempo/Hills w/90 sec hills + 10 min @ 7:00-15 + 90 sec hills + Strength
  • Actual: 7.9M @ 8:13 avg.; hills @ 7:30 avg., tempo @ 7:02 avg. + Grandma Hips

After getting 18″ of snow Sunday, Coach knew that a treadmill specific workout was on tap for Monday. We were stuck in the ‘burbs Sunday evening and had to drive back early once the roads were clear. A day of meetings meant I didn’t get to the gym until the evening rush hour was well underway. I found the only available treadmill in the whole place and got to work. The workout was complicated: warm up + 3×90 sec hills at tempo effort (3-6% incline) + 10 min @ tempo (7:15 –> 7:00) + 3×90 sec hills (same as above), with rest in between each set, of course. The workout flew by, but it was tough. I definitely recommend it if you are looking to spice up your treadmill time.

The last thing I wanted to do after the run was strength work, but I was already at the gym so I dragged my butt upstairs and did Jenny’s strength workout (but skipped the last 3 exercises because the soreness was already kicking in before I even finished!)


  • Planned: 45 min Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 5.4M @ 8:22 pace + Hot Vinyasa Yoga

Super easy treadmill miles. It wasn’t super cold, but the sidewalks were still sketchy enough to make me not want to trek to and from the lakefront on them. My legs were really creaky at the start of this run…it was only a mere 14 hours after Monday’s tough tempo…but the easy run did the trick and I felt great at the end.


  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: Yoga

Yoga two days in a row?! My body thanks me for these days every.single.time.


  • Planned: 30 min Easy Run
  • Actual: 3.6M @ 8:36 avg.

I flew to Miami relatively early Thursday morning. I definitely could have gotten these miles in before I left, but why run in the cold or on the treadmill when you can run in Miami?? I figured I would have plenty of time when I got there to get it all in. Between the logistics of getting to South Beach, van decorating, meeting the team, etc. I had to squeeze the run in right before dinner and then go to dinner without showering (gross)! It was warm and windy, but not sweltering and my legs felt dead. I was glad I ended up squeezing in the miles, if nothing else, just to shake out the travel blahs.

Friday & Saturday

  • Planned: Ragnar Florida Keys: 4 Miles + 11.7 Miles + 8.3 Miles
  • Actual: 4M @ 7:38, 11.8M @ 8:16, 8.2M @ 8:36



  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

We slept in (glorious sleep!), rented beach cruisers then rolled over to the beach for the remainder of the day. Since we maximized our beach time, we ended up at the Ragnar Awards Ceremony still in swim suits and beach clothes. And this picture about describes how the rest of the night went for me…cocktail in one hand and water bottle in the other (bottom right).


  • Run: 40.7 miles 
  • Cross Training: 0
  • Strength: 1
  • Yoga: 2 classes
  • Treadmill runs: 2 (total treadmill runs = 7)
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 4 Comments

Bayshore Week 4: Keystone Running

16 weeks out from Bayshore. I knew going into this week that it would be a little tricky to get all the miles and workouts in since I would be snowboarding in Keystone during the second half of the week. But thankfully our condo building now has a halfway decent treadmill, which makes runs in the mountains much more feasible.


  • Planned: 4M Tempo run @ 7:15 – 7:20 
  • Actual: 7.6M @ 7:44, tempo: 7:13, 7:12, 7:09, 7:06

Mid 20’s and no wind. A little colder than it has been, but no complaints from me on January 26th! I spent the first 2 miles of the tempo trying to pull back to goal range and settle there, but couldn’t find that 7:15 – 7:20 pace. Finally by the third mile, I just went with it. I knew the faster paces would make the 4th mile harder (especially since coach had given me the go-ahead to “let her rip” in the final mile), but sometimes it’s tough to find that tiny little notch to slow down and then I end up 10 seconds off of where I should be. The 4th mile was tough, but my body responded when I pushed harder, which is a really, really good feeling and sign that my fitness is coming back.


  • Planned: 1:00 Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 7.1M @ 8:28 + Hot Vinyasa Yoga

It snowed a little overnight (~1″), but just enough to make the sidewalks and Lakefront Path a slushy mess. Between the shifty footing and having to stop to fix Walter’s boots slipping off a couple of times, I was definitely ready to be done with this one. It was one of those days that wasn’t really that cold or windy, but I still felt chilled almost the whole run. Maybe that’s why I never got sweaty during the yoga class? But being in the warm room still felt really, really good.


  • Planned: Snowboarding
  • Actual: 10 Snowboarding Runs

This was originally supposed to be a 50 min easy run day, but my flight to Denver was at 5:30 a.m. which left no option to run before the trip and I planned to snowboard all day once I got there. Coach switched the easy run to Friday and I took full advantage of fresh legs to have some fun on the mountain.

FullSizeRender (27)


  • Planned: Speed 2x1M @ 6:40 + Snowboarding
  • Actual: 5.7M, 8:35 avg.; mile repeats: 7:01, 7:03 + 7 snowboarding runs

The ONLY way to do speedwork in Keystone was to hit the treadmill. I was hoping that being indoors would help with the altitude situation that I usually experience during mountain runs. The good news is that it did help some, but I definitely was still feeling the lack of oxygen on the repeats. I started near goal pace, but it became apparent really quickly that holding the pace for any amount of time was impossible. Even at ~7:00, I was struggling to keep up with the belt! I was a sweaty mess by the end of the workout.

Between some work calls and logistics of meeting our friends at Breckenridge, this ended up being the shortest day of snowboarding we had. My legs were definitely thanking me for that.


  • Planned: 50 min Easy Run + Snowboarding
  • Actual: 5.5M @ 9:01 avg. + 12 Snowboarding Runs

I got up super early again to get the easy run done before we headed over to Vail for a full day on the slopes. Thanks to the season premier of Scandal, the treadmill time went by fairly quickly, but I had to keep the pace slower to make it feel truly “easy” at altitude. This is about where I normally am when I am outside in the mountains, but with much fewer walk/oxygen breaks.


Liquid courage.


  • Planned: 1:30 – 1:50 Run
  • Actual: 12.5M @ 8:30 avg.

The good news is that we planned to be back in Denver for Saturday morning and running there was at least a little easier than in the mountains. I was able to keep a more “normal” long run pace, but on any inclines, I slowed significantly…that’s where the altitude seems to affect me the most. I was proud of myself for gauging my effort pretty well and not crashing and burning at the end. I also really enjoyed the loop through Denver, that included both Cheesman and City Parks, which are awesome for running and were filled with other runners.


City Park


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

SUPER lazy Sunday snowed in at our friends’ house for Super Bowl festivities. I didn’t get out of PJ’s until 3 p.m. and never ended up going outside all day.


This was only about halfway through Sunday’s blizzard. Also backyard = Suburbs.

  • Run: 38.5  miles 
  • Cross Training: 3 days snowboarding!
  • Strength: 0
  • Yoga: 1 class
  • Treadmill runs: 2 (total treadmill runs = 5)
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 2 Comments