Bayshore Week 10 & 11: Emerald Isle Mile & England

9 & 10 weeks out from Bayshore. Halfway! Life has been crazy and all consuming lately, so I got way behind on my recaps. So this is a combined recap for weeks 10 & 11.

Week 10 was a major cutback setting up for Sunday’s Emerald Isle Mile. The timing for some lower mileage couldn’t have been better and I felt good and ready going into Sunday.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

Since I ran 3 days in a row, ending with my long run on Sunday, this was a much needed rest day. I was also able to get into the chiropractor to work on my hips and lower back. My left hip was tight from being in the car so much last week and then I completely wiped out on ice Friday night. That led to some pretty intense tightness over the weekend so I was hoping getting adjusted would help.


  • Planned: 45 min Easy + Yoga
  • Actual: 1:00 Hot Vinyasa Yoga + 5.4M @ 8:22 avg.

I thought I would try Saturday’s plan again and hit yoga first then run in the afternoon. With the tightness in my hamstrings and left side from the fall, I thought this might help loosen things up. I started the class feeling almost as tight as Saturday, but by the end, I felt 100% better. The only problem was that I tried to tuck my chin during a wheel and got SUPER dizzy. Luckily it was at the end of class because the dizziness was overwhelming and then I got nauseated and couldn’t stop sweating. Vertigo. It has happened before and it is awful. I tried a method that my brother taught me to get rid of it. It involves laying on each side for 5 min. It definitely helped, but didn’t completely get rid of the dizziness.

I did run that afternoon, which was potentially a questionable decision. But it was absolutely beautiful and my first chance to run in SHORTS and a T-SHIRT! I ran when I had vertigo before and knew that even though I would be dizzy at first, it would mostly subside after a few minutes. It was the same this time and it turned out just fine.


  • Planned: Spin + Strength
  • Actual: Easy 40 min Stationary Bike + Grandma Hips

I woke up still feeling dizzy so I worked all morning then got some medication at lunch. It helped some, but not entirely so I took it super easy at the gym. I rode the stationary bike very easy, barely even breaking a sweat, then went through the strength routine minus the inchworms, which I didn’t think my dizzy head could take.


  • Planned: Tempo w/2M @ 7:00 + Strength
  • Actual: 6.35M @ 7:47 avg. w/tempo: 6:55, 6:54

I woke up feeling much better and took advantage of another super warm day to run in shorts. The easy workouts made my legs feel really fresh and the tempo miles felt strong. Work got crazy and I had to squeeze this in so I didn’t do the planned easy strength warm–up. My dizziness felt better after the run than I had felt all week.


  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: OFF

I woke up feeling absolutely terrible. I was so dizzy that everything was making me feel sick. Yoga was completely out of the question. I spent half of the morning trying to get a doctor’s appointment, which I scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m. The rest of the day was spent trying to work between the dizzy spells. That evening, Char came into town last minute and I learned that vertigo is typically treated by PT’s. She had a friend that specializes in neuro PT walk her through the complete Epley Maneuver. It made me 100% better for the first time since Tuesday.


  • Planned: 20 min shake-out + striderz
  • Actual: 2.6M @ 8:21 avg + 6xstrides

I woke up feeling great and joined Char for the first 20 min of her solo 20-miler. It was perfect running weather and I would have loved to keep going (but not for 20 miles!). After the run I went to the doctor and he showed me how to treat myself for vertigo in the future. He also confirmed that there wasn’t something else going on causing the problem.


  • Planned: Emerald Isle Mile
  • Actual: 3M w/u + 1M @ 5:56 + 3M c/d

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Race report to come!

Week 10 Totals

  • Run: 21 miles 
  • Cross Training: 1 bike ride
  • Strength x 1
  • Yoga: 1 class (damn vertigo)

Week 11 started with an overnight flight to London and had lots of ups (literally and figuratively!). I was there for a strategy execution course at Ashridge University.

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Ashridge Campus

I also confirmed that the sleeping problems I had during my last trip to Europe in November were likely a result of not exercising, as I slept brilliantly on this trip!


  • Planned: 1:00 Easy (optional)
  • Actual: 5.5M @ 8:35 avg.

Post red-eye run in the English Countryside meant all the hills and light rain. What else would I expect? I always feel better with a run before sitting at work all day, so I was glad that coach put this optional run on the calendar. By the time I got from Heathrow to the Ashridge Campus and checked-in, I only had time for 45 min, but I was really happy to get in a run.


  • Planned: 45-1:00 Easy 
  • Actual: 7M @ 8:45 avg.

If I found the hills on Monday, I found even longer and steeper hills on Tuesday. But at least this time I didn’t find myself on any busy roads with no sidewalks. The vertigo made a brief appearance on Tuesday morning and at the start of this run. The doctor had warned me that jet lag could do this so I wasn’t too concerned. The run helped and I felt great all day in class.


  • Planned: Tempo run w/3-4M @ 7:00
  • Actual: light strength + 9M @ ~8:06 avg.

After struggling to find a good route Monday and Tuesday, I joined a classmate and one of our instructors for this run. Since I had a few minutes before our 6:45 a.m. meeting time, I did some light strength in my room before I met the guys. We did most of the route on trails (some packed dirt and some single track) and the average includes about a 1/2 mile hike up the steepest hill I have ever seen. For the most part of the run, we were in the 7:30-7:40 range on the rolling hills and we had about ~2M @ 6:50-7:00 on a slightly downhill pavement section and then another 1+M @ 7:00 on the dirt path heading back to campus. This run was an absolute freaking blast and even though I didn’t execute the run exactly as planned, it was really fun to mix it up with some trails and with fast buddies.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

Sleeping in felt amazing after a late night of work after class all day. Being 5 hours ahead makes the work day reaaaallly long.


  • Planned: 1:30
  • Actual: Strength warm-up + 11.75M @ 7:48 avg.

I did almost my full strength warm-up then joined my buddy Andrew from Wednesday for another trail run. We did the same route from Wednesday and then added on a flat-ish 15 min toward the end to make the total time. Chasing fast people will not only make you faster, but it will definitely boost the confidence. I would never normally attempt this pace for a “long” run, much less on rolling hills with 1500-ish ft. of elevation gain.

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Pictures don’t even do justice to the views. Also, the fog lifted right after this and we saw the very end of the solar eclipse!

After the run, I hopped on the train and headed up to Birmingham for the weekend to stay with my friends, Ebban and Phil.


  • Planned: (Optional) 50 min Easy
  • Actual: OFF

I would have liked to squeeze in this run, but we had plans to head up to Nottingham for the day and I helped Ebban out by watching one of her littles in the morning before we left. We did do a lot of walking around Robin Hood’s home so the day wasn’t entirely restful.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF/Travel home

Loooong travel day home. I briefly considered doing the 50 min run from Saturday once I got home Sunday evening, but I unpacked, did laundry then stayed warm and cozy on my couch instead. All I could think was that if it was a nice, warm spring day, I would have definitely run some miles instead of being lazy. Oh, spring, where are you?

Week 10 Totals

  • Run: 33.3 miles 
  • Cross Training: 0
  • Strength x 2
  • Yoga: 0
Posted in bike, Chicago, Goals, Races, running, Strength Training, training, Travel, Weather, weekly recap, work travel, Yoga | 3 Comments

Bayshore Week 9: Six

11 weeks out from Bayshore. I would like to say that March came in with warmer temps, but until the weekend came around, the thermometer wasn’t budging much. But when the warm temps came in, they REALLY came in! Saturday & Sunday were glorious. And fortunately I was still able to get in all my runs outside and had a SIX day running week for maybe only the 2nd time ever?


  • Planned: 1:00 Easy Run
  • Actual: 7.17M @ 8:22 avg.

I left my house at 5:30 a.m. to go to Lafayette, Indiana for the day for meetings so this run didn’t happen until I got back that evening. I don’t love running at the end of a long day but it did feel good to move after 4+ total hours in the car. I took Walter with me since the weather was in the upper 20’s, but he didn’t have a great running day. He started out super excited (normally an hour barely phases him in cool temps), but once we got to the halfway turn around, he was lagging a bit behind and didn’t have much spunk. I felt bad to keep him going, but it was cold so I just tried to get us home as quick as possible.

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  • Planned: Speed w/200 alternating @ :45 & :55 x 6-8
  • Actual: 5.7M @ 7:56 avg. 200’s: 43/54, 46/54, 47/56, 47/56, 47/56, 46/58

Wow, this was a tough one. (And I had to read the workout a few times to understand how it worked.) Essentially you are “working” for the duration of the repeats by alternating 200’s at 1 mile race pace and then about 1:20/mile slower. I was targeting 5:55 – 6:00 and 7:15-7:20. The instructions were to quit as soon as either the work or rest fell off pace. It sounded reasonable enough…they are *only* 200’s, after all. But the “falling off pace” happened almost immediately for me. I kept going to get to 6 repeats, thinking my targets may have been a little too aggressive. I had a hard time locking into the pace at both the work and rest and think that it would be much better to do this workout on the track {when the snow melts}.


  • Planned: 45 min Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 5.5M, 8:17 avg. + 1:00 Hot Vinyasa Yoga

It was back to pretty cold temps again, with a high of 20 degrees and some wind. That combined with the above freezing temps from Tuesday made for slick sidewalks between my house and the lakefront. Luckily it was only in patches and it’s only about .6 miles each way. I felt sluggish and slow, but my pace was somehow faster than what my legs were telling me I was running.

After a busy day of meetings, there was nothing I needed more than a good solid hour of yoga. It was a slower class than normal since there were several new people in the class and it was exactly what I needed.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

It felt good to lounge in bed a little after I woke up instead of preparing to head out for a run. I drove to Peoria in the afternoon for a meeting Friday morning. It was a fun evening with my nieces and in-laws.

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I think Ernie had fun too…what do you think?


  • Planned: Tempo w/3M @ 7:00 (last mile sub-7:00)
  • Actual: 7.3M @ 7:45 avg. w/tempo @ 7:01, 6:56, 6:53

I debated whether to get up and do this run before my meetings started, but it was COLD (8 degrees!) at 6 a.m. I decided to wait since it was supposed to get up to mid-30’s in the afternoon. I ended up running around my in-laws neighborhood before heading back to Chicago so I could be guaranteed daylight. Plus it is nice to mix it up from the Lakefront sometimes. I felt good on the tempo miles and was really, really happy with how these paces felt compared to last time I did this workout.


  • Planned: Yoga + 45 min Easy
  • Actual: 1:00 Hot Vinyasa Yoga + 5.37M @ 8:24 avg. (in 45 degrees!!)

The plan was to meet up with the Mikkeller Run Club at 11:15 for the majority of this easy run. But I knew that if I wanted to get in another yoga class for the week that I needed to go before the free beer run. I am glad I went but my hamstrings were so tight that it almost hurt to be in down dog…they loosened up some, but not completely and I definitely need to get some work done on them.

I didn’t quite time my 20 min warm-up right (+ had an emergency bathroom stop back at my house) so I missed the run club group. Fortunately the bartender told me the route and I was able to catch the group on their way back and join them for the last 1.5ish miles. it was a glorious day for a fun run with friends the sun was shining and it was 45+ degrees. {If you live in Chicago, this is a great group, led by my friend Charlyn and her husband Luiz. 40+ people on only the second meeting!}


  • Planned: 1:30 Run
  • Actual: 11.11M @ 8:06 avg.

It felt weird to run “long” on Sunday, but I had nothing going on so the time change didn’t bother me at all. Everything felt tight when I woke up so I took my time eating, doing chores around the house and rolling out before I ran. My hamstrings and left calf still felt pretty tight for the majority of the run, but otherwise I felt really, really good. The pace felt easy and I just cruised along. Walter joined me for the first 5.5 miles and had a much better day than Monday. Apparently he likes warmer weather too!


  • Run: 42.2 miles 
  • Cross Training: 0
  • Strength x 1
  • Yoga: 2 classes
  • Treadmill runs: 0 (total treadmill runs = 11)…dare I say I am done with these for the year?!
Posted in Chicago, Goals, Greenville, Run Club, running, Strength Training, training, Treadmill, walter, Weather, weekly recap, work travel, Yoga | 7 Comments

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 | 2 Comments

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 | 8 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 | 2 Comments

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