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.

FullSizeRender (29)

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.

FullSizeRender (30)

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.

FullSizeRender (31)

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.

FullSizeRender (32)

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…

FullSizeRender (33)

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

Bayshore Week 3: Miles, Yoga & A Thief

17 weeks out from Bayshore. From a pure running and workouts standpoint, the week went pretty well…although my  legs were pretty dead by the end of the week. To be expected as I increase mileage a bit. But (in case you don’t follow me on Twitter), there was an incident Thursday that kind of spoiled the week overall:

FullSizeRender (26)

More details on the incident below, but that put a dark cloud over my week and I was pretty bummed.


  • Planned: 3M “In & Out” Tempo run w/800’s @ 3:45/3:35
  • Actual: 7.9M @ 7:51 avg. (Tempo: 3:43/3:35, 3:41/3:30, 3:42/3:32)

This is a new-to-me workout so I was excited when I saw it on the schedule. I love tempo runs, but mixing it up keeps things interesting. Monday was a holiday so I took advantage and slept in. When I finally ran around 11, it was sunny and in the upper 30’s with no wind. As far as I am concerned, it is tough to find better running weather – ESPECIALLY in Chicago in January. The paces felt controlled and smooth and I was happy to see that there was a noticeable difference in the 7:10 pace and the 7:30 pace. When I backed off after the fast 800’s, the 7:30 pace felt like cruise speed. Nice little confidence boosting workout.


  • Planned: Strength + 50 – 1:00 Easy Run 
  • Actual: Strength warm-up + 7.1M, 8:22 avg.

Another warm-ish, low-wind day…how is this happening for so many days in a row?! I had to be in Peoria for a meeting at 12:30 so I was a bit rushed to get the strength + miles in and then packed (for me and the dogs) and on the road by 9:30. {I probably should have gotten up earlier?!} The miles felt great and it was fun having Walter with me for the whole run. He was strong and still really energetic at the end, despite this being in the range of his longest runs.


  • Planned: OFF/Yoga
  • Actual: OFF

I stayed in Peoria overnight so it was nice to have a rest day that allowed me to ride with my SIL to take my niece to school and then watch my other niece at her gymnastics class without having to wake up at some ridiculous hour. I originally thought I might go to yoga in the evening, but decided to make this my one complete rest day and save yoga for Sunday’s no-run day.


  • Planned: Strength + Speed w/3-4x(600, 400, 200) @ 5k pace or just below
  • Actual: Strength warm-up + 9.25M, ~7:56 avg. (?, 1:35, 46; 2:25, 1:36, 47; 2:24, 1:35, 46; 2:26)

Well, this was a bizarre day. My plan was to do the first 600 and last 400 and 200 on the lakefront path and the rest of the workout on the track. This would have worked out just right with the warm up and cool down from my house to the track. But unfortunately at the very end of my repeats at the track, some idiot guy (a runner) stole my Garmin! There was no one else at the track when I got there so I laid it on the ground next to the start line and put on my lap watch. A heavy set guy showed up toward the end of my workout but he was running so I didn’t worry too much. {Because what runner steals another runner’s Garmin???} He must have taken it just at the time that my back was to the area where it was sitting because all of a sudden I passed him on my last 600 and then he was gone and so was my watch. I am an idiot for leaving it on the ground and thinking it would be okay. But also, why are people so terrible? Because my Garmin was gone, I didn’t know my time for the first 600 and I skipped the last 400 and 200 of the 4th set. Because #1 I was so pissed about my watch and #2 without the Garmin, it didn’t really make sense to try to estimate the distance on the lakefront anyway. I just used the whole run home as a cool down.


  • Planned: 50 min Easy + yoga
  • Actual: 6M, 8:25 avg. + Hot Vinyasa Yoga

Walter and I got out earlier than normal for this run so I could get back in time to change, eat and make it to an 8:30 yoga class. I was underdressed/cold on the run and my legs were a little dead from Thursday’s speed workout so it was a bit blah. But as always yoga felt Ah-mazing.


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

Perfect running weather. This should have been the ideal day for a long run, but it felt way harder than 11 miles should. I felt comfortable for the first hour around 8:05-8:15 pace, but when I tried to pick it up in the last 4 miles to sub-8:00’s, I felt like I was working really hard. I wrapped up the run with a really good, long stretching session…probably something that I should be doing way more often.


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

Sunday morning yoga followed by a lazy day on the couch. Ahhhhhh.

  • Run: 41.4 miles 
  • Cross Training: 0
  • Strength: 2
  • Yoga: 2 classes
  • Treadmill runs: 0!! (total treadmill runs = 3)
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 6 Comments

Bayshore Week 2: Heat Wave

18 weeks out from Bayshore! My goal at the beginning of the week was to get outside for more of the midweek runs. While the weather wasn’t awesome at times, it was certainly MUCH warmer than the week before. It also got better and better as the week went on, leading to some really great running weather by the weekend.


  • Planned: Tempo run w/3M @ 7:00 – 7:10
  • Actual: 7.25M @ 7:54 avg. (Tempo: 7:24, 7:11, 6:56)

What I should have done was run early in the morning. What I did was go back to sleep after dropping Brad at the airport and then work + procrastinate until much later. The manageable winds from the morning turned into 21+ mph winds in the afternoon. I felt like I was running into a wall during the 1.2 miles of the tempo going north, then like I had a sail when I was coming back south. And yes, I cheated a little by making the downwind portion a little longer. #noshame


  • Planned: 50 – 1:00 Easy Run + Yoga
  • Actual: 7.3M, 8:12 avg.

It was almost like a heat wave with 18 degrees and very low wind. When the sun was out for portions of this run, it felt gloriously warm. Yoga never happened because the daytime classes conflicted with my work schedule and then I went to the dentist and it definitely wasn’t happening after that.


  • Planned: 1:00 Cardio Cross + Strength Workout
  • Actual:  50 min Live DJ Spin + Jenny’s Strength Workout (minus side lunges & pistol squats)

This was a little short of the hour prescribed by Coach, but let’s just assume the intensity of the spin class made up for it. The class was a sweat fest, but the time flew by! I ran out of time before class to do the entire strength workout so I conveniently left off the two exercises that make me the most sore.


  • Planned: Speed w/12×200 @ 47 – 50 sec. (+10 min drillz added to warm-up)
  • Actual: 6.2M, 8:26 avg. (200’s: 46, 47, 45, 46, 48, 48, 46, 47, 46, 47, 49, 45)

Run commute home from dropping my car off to get serviced meant a slight tailwind for the majority of the repeats. The weather cooperated, but I should have worn thicker socks because my tootsies were cold! These 200’s are a nice boost of confidence for my turnover, since I felt like that has really been a struggle in speedwork lately.


  • Planned: OFF
  • Actual: OFF

5 year Anniversary! Food, wine, rest. And walking dogs in boots.

FullSizeRender (25)


  • Planned: 1:45 Run
  • Actual: 13M, 8:04 avg.

The forecast called for almost 40 degrees, but with high winds that were supposed to increase as the morning went on. I got up early to try to beat the wind, but by 7:30, it already felt like a wall with some of the gusts. But I felt good and strong and even against the wind, it felt warm and there were swarms of runners out.

After the run, I took an epsom salt bath, which definitely beats the hell out of an ice bath (thanks to Jenny for the recommendation!) then headed downtown for some shopping with friends.

Shopping sometimes requires wine breaks.

Shopping sometimes requires wine breaks at department store bars.


  • Planned: OFF or 45 min Easy Run
  • Actual: 5.3M, 8:26 avg. + yoga

Nice and easy miles with Walter. Just as warm as Saturday, but without nearly as much wind. This weather is absolutely glorious for January!

I showered right after the run, but then remembered that I really needed to get another strength or yoga session in for the week. I reluctantly dragged myself to a 4 p.m. yoga class and was SO glad I did. I felt amazing after and my body was happy.

  • Run: 39 miles (woah!)
  • Cross Training: 1
  • Strength: 2
  • Yoga: 1
  • Treadmill runs: 0!! (total treadmill runs = 3)
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | Leave a comment

Friday Fun XVI

Happy Friday Everyone!! Today is a very special day because…

  1. 5 years! Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary. It is amazing how time flies, yet our wedding day seems like so long ago. We have had a ton of fun and been through many life changes (including 3 moves!) over the last 5 years, but there is very, very little I would change. I only wish I could go back and relive January 16, 2010 all over again because it was a truly incredible day. wedding1We watched our wedding video today and it was fun to relive the moments and to remember little things that faded away from our memories over time. And of course to laugh at how we sound on TV. We are celebrating with dinner then drinks tonight at The Publican and The Aviary. Two fancy-schmance places that we both have been wanting to try for a while now.
  2. The Bachelor. I know, I know. Trash TV. But I love every bit of the producer-instigated, not-real-life, probably-won’t-last minute of it.
  3. Winter trip. I finally booked flights earlier this week for another quick jaunt out to Keystone for some snowboarding during the last week of January. Brad booked his trip a while ago, but I was holding off to make sure work things wouldn’t interfere. I am not brave enough to try to take the whole week off during these busy times, but I am going for 3 solid snowboarding days. We have some friends from across the country that are planning to be out as well so good times are inevitable.
  4. Ragnar Florida Keys. Also finally booked flights for this! As my Turks & Caicos tan fades, I am looking forward to running in the warm sunny Keys more and more.
  5. Clean Jewelry. Over the holidays, my cousin (who also happens to be a brilliant dentist) gave me advice on how to clean my wedding rings and other diamonds. She got married about 18 months ago and her rings are always sparkly clean. The secret is a Sonicare toothbrush and a water/ammonia mixture per this video. I cleaned my rings this week and they sparkle like new! (I tried to take a picture but the iPhone really didn’t do justice to the before and after).
  6. Live DJ Spin. Jenny posted about this last week. She has been trying to get me to join her for one of these classes since she first started going. Finally my cross training day aligned with the Wednesday evening class and I went. Now I get why Jenny raved about it so much! It was an intense workout that FLEW by. The music was great, the instructor made me want to work harder and I got in a good no-impact sweat session. All around A+.
  7. “Get Shit Done” Week. This past week has been dedicated to getting a bunch of life things done that I have been putting off because of work craziness. It feels so good to cross things off the list and feel like I have my life under control again. My list included things like getting the oil changed in my car, getting my ice maker fixed, booking flights (see above), calling about missing/stolen packages, scanning and emailing insurance papers, taking dry cleaning, grocery shopping, paying bills…it goes on and on.
  8. Three Day Weekend. Monday is a holiday for my company and even though Brad has to fly back to Virginia to work, I will thoroughly enjoy an extra weekend day to sleep in and lay on the couch watching Netflix before starting back up again for the week.

Who else has Monday off? Any big plans for the weekend? Have a great one, whether it is 2 days or 3!!

Posted in Chicago, Ernie, friends, life, Races, running, swimming, training, Travel, triathlon, workout clothes | 3 Comments

Bayshore Week 1: Treadmill Central

As I mentioned, we are 20 weeks out from Bayshore Half Marathon. That is currently my goal race for this spring, but I am hoping to add some shorter races in the mix over the next few months. This week was defined by absurdly cold and windy Chicago weather that drove me inside for almost all of my runs. Last year when I was training for Boston, I would have definitely done more of the runs outside (Tuesday in particular). This year feels different and I don’t seem to have the same motivation to run in bitter cold temps. Maybe because I am not marathon training or maybe because I got burned out on the cold/icy runs last year?


  • Planned: OFF or 20 – 30 min Recovery
  • Actual: OFF

This was our last half day in Turks & Caicos. I got a text from Coach mid-morning that I could do an easy 20-30 min recovery from the 12-miler I did the day before if I wanted. I knew that I would regret not running one last time in the warmth, but it was really hot and sunny and I was already in my swimsuit and sunscreened up for one last time, so I chose to stay poolside for the last few hours of vacation instead.


  • Planned: 3-mile tempo run OR Treadmill Hill workout
  • Actual: 6.65M, 9:00 avg. w/Treadmill Hills

I opted for the treadmill because even though it was a bright sunny day, my body wasn’t ready to brave 17 degrees with 15+ mph winds and real feel temps in single digits. The workout was 4x 1 min @ 2%, 4%, 6%, 8% incline. The workout is all done at “easy” pace with 2-3 min walking rest between sets. I ranged between 8:12 – 8:27 pace. I love this workout because it goes by really quickly, but that 8% incline, even for one minute, is tough. I took full advantage of indoor time to watch the first hour of the Bachelor premier on my iPad.


I still had another hour of The Bachelor left so I didn’t hate it that I was forced indoors again by double digit negative “feels like” temperatures. Another bonus of already being at the gym is that it makes it really easy to go upstairs and do some strength work after the run. I did Jenny’s strength workout (also known as “Grandma Hips”) and it makes me sore every.single.time.

FullSizeRender (20)

BOSU ball squat selfie. This is my favorite of all the exercises. Also, I think the mirror is scratched…not sure what the blur is on my inner thigh?!


  • Planned: Easy Cross Training + Yoga
  • Actual: 35 min Elliptical + 1 hour hot Vinyasa yoga

I debated all day what I felt like doing for cardio. Eventually I headed to the gym in the last 45 min I had before the yoga class I signed up for and squeezed in 35 min on the elliptical while I watched Scandal on Netflix. Even with the distraction of Olivia Pope, I was pretty bored.


  • Planned: Speed workout w/4×800 @ 3:20ish
  • Actual: 6.65M, 8:11 avg. (3:20, 3:20, 3:19, 3:18)

Once again, the high never got above 7 with winds of almost 20 mph so I was back to the treadmill. The plan was to get up and do this workout before my meetings started, but I woke up early to a sick pup so I waited until the vet opened and took him straight there. After that I had back-to-back meetings all day and didn’t get to the gym until 5 p.m. rush hour. I have always thought speedwork on the treadmill seemed really hard, but somehow these 800’s seemed like the treadmill was doing all of the work for me. They felt much easier than outdoor 800’s.

FullSizeRender (22)

Sick puppy (notice the IV shave) + big bone (that he stole from his much bigger brother)



  • Planned: 1:30 Run
  • Actual: 11M, 8:13 avg.

It got up to 15 degrees by mid afternoon, but it was super windy, making it feel more like -3 during the run. Originally the plan was to meet Jenny for a treadmill date, but after much debate we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and get outdoors. We randomly ran into each other right as she was starting her run on the path so we ran a solid 6+ miles together. The company made the time fly and I ran much faster than I would have otherwise. Win-win!

FullSizeRender (21)

What you can’t see is the layers upon layers that were under these clothes!



  • Planned: Body Pump + Swim Training Class
  • Actual: OFF

I laugh thinking that I was planning to get up for an 8:30 a.m. class and swim. We had a dinner party with a bunch of Brad’s friends from high school and many glasses of wine and an almost 2 a.m. bedtime were involved. I slept until 10, went to brunch (with Jenny, Chanthana & Liz), then to see Wild. Not quite the workouts I had in mind, but a lovely Sunday!


  • Run: 32 miles
  • Cross Training: 1
  • Strength: 2
  • Yoga: 1
Posted in Chicago, friends, Goals, running, Strength Training, swimming, training, Treadmill, Weather, weekly recap, Yoga | 3 Comments