Wednesday, April 30, 2014

the weekly chase #4

Road Runner Girl

Weekly goals for April 21–27; recap:

Goal #1 - Drink 6 cups of water a day (yeah, I'm repeating this one)

This went pretty well, except for the weekend... I always have trouble on the weekends for some reason. I really need to figure out a way to up the water intake on Saturday and Sunday. I'm much better at drinking water at work while I have my water bottle sitting in front of me on my desk, which I sit at all day long. Any tips for the weekend?

Goal #2 - Update my race spreadsheet. I've been a bit disorganized with all of my race results and would like to get them all onto one spreadsheet with the same information included for all of them. I have different files, and they all have different info – it's annoying.

I've gotten about half way through this task. 

Goal #3 - Run 4x

I pretty much sucked with this one this week. I only ran once (?!?!). Oops. Quite the slacker this week. I really have to get better about sticking with my goals! Tsk tsk. This week (and month, to be honest) have been jam packed, and I was really bad at sticking with a good running schedule. May will be a new month, and a better planned out schedule.

Weekly goals for April 28–May 4

Goal #1 - Finish updating my race spreadsheet.

Goal #2 - I REALLY want to get a PR in my half marathon on Sunday. My nerves always seem to get in my way, and I end up walking more than I'd like. I really want to stick to my run/walk intervals, which has gone well for my races this year, and (hoping) for at least a 14:30 pace. My fastest half so far is a 3:18:52 (slow, I know, I know), so really, I'll be happy with anything under that. Goal A is 3:05, Goal B is 3:10 and Goal C is 3:15. Fingers crossed for good running weather (read: cloudy, low 50s), and a good body/breathing feeling kind of day.

Goal #3 - Catch up on my blog reading. I have about 600 posts in my Bloglovin feed... I'd really like to get that number WAY down. It makes it hard when everyone is so consistent with their posts, and more and more just keep getting added ;) I'm gonna try really hard to get that to 300 (or lower?!) by next Monday, and then I'll have to be better at keeping up with it. Some of you may notice that I comment on a post a week or two after it's been posted. That's because I'm so far behind! Sorry, ya'll.

Thanks to Mindy over at Road Runner Girl for hosting this week's Weekly Chase :) Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, April 28, 2014

week in review; april 21–27

This was a bit of a lazy week... I'm a bit embarrassed!

Monday, April 21
rest day
I spent the day at work and then lounged on the couch, our busy weekend and 9.5 mile run on Sunday had worn me out.

Tuesday, April 22
rest day
I woke up with a migraine, so decided to sleep in instead of go for a run. I knew it was going to be a bit of a stressful day, with Walt Disney World Marathon weekend going on sale at 12 EST. I had decided to register for the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon in four consecutive days). I was a bit nervous to take the plunge, but I did! It was pricey, but I'm hoping worth it. I know that with the proper training, I can accomplish this goal, and cross the challenge off of my bucket list. It's going to be a lot of hard work, and very time consuming, but I'm ready for it. I also know it's going to take a lot of time away from my family and friends, but they are supportive and understanding. I am nervous about going for my first full marathon (though I am in the process of looking for a fall to compete in as a warm-up/trial), but I just have to believe that if I put in the work, I can do it. And as has been the recent trend, most of the events sold out within hours. What's left currently is Goofy and a Half Challenge and the full marathon. Anyway, after work, I headed up to trivia, as usual.

Wednesday, April 23
strength training - arms and abs

Thursday, April 24
2.1 miles on the treadmill

Friday, April 25
rest day
I woke up feeling pretty crappy. I could feel a new sinus infection was working its way in, so I tried to get as much rest, water, and vitamins as possible for the day.

Saturday, April 26
rest day (though it wasn't very restful at all!)
Saturday was spent outside standing for about 12 hours straight. My husband and I (along with some friends) had scored tickets to Dark Lord Day. A little bit about DLD: Dark Lord Day is the only day of the year to buy Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. It is a festival where participants can meet other beer enthusiasts, sample beers from all over the world, buy Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, enjoy good food, listen to live music and generally have a great time. It was a really fun day, where we made new friends and got to taste a lot of different beers that we would never have the opportunity to try otherwise, including one from Belgium. Unfortunately, it was freezing! Before I left the house, it seemed warm out, and I was worried I had over-dressed. On the contrary. It was SO windy, that even with the sun out, I was practically shivering. It would warm up for a minute, when the wind had died down, but then it would start back up again. Because we were so cold, we never stopped to think about the fact that the sun was out and we were getting burnt. The next day, I woke up with a pretty bad burn on my entire face (minus where my sunglasses were), and poor DH had it all on his neck and face. My neck was protected by my jacket collar being pulled up all day, thankfully. Anyway, there's our lesson. We didn't get home till late, even though I thought for sure I'd have time to get in a long run either when we got home, or have the energy to run before all of my events for the day Sunday.

Sunday, April 27
rest day
No long run, like I had hoped. I was very tired and sore from standing/walking around all day, and slept in, thinking I'd squeeze one in at night. I should have known better. I met a friend from college for lunch and then headed out to a four year olds birthday party for most of the day. When I got home around 6, I did some laundry, watched tv and went to bed at 9. The sinus infection felt a bit better today, but I am still trying to stay hydrated and get lots of rest. I have a half marathon in a week, and would like to do well and feel good while running it.

Overall, not a great week for me (running wise), but glad I was able to register for Dopey without much hassle (though lots of stress. If you've registered for runDisney events recently, you know what I'm taking about). I'll definitely have to be MUCH better at getting in my runs once that training plan begins in July. I'm not really following anything at the moment, which I think is my downfall. 

How was your week? Did you race or have a long run? Are you a beer enthusiast?

Friday, April 25, 2014

inaugural chicago quarter marathon

I have to admit... this post has been written nearly three weeks, and it didn't get posted because I never found the time (or procrastinated too long) to get the photos edited. My bad. Anyway, here is my race recap:

The Inaugural Chicago Quarter Marathon took place at 9:15 am on Saturday, April 5, with a start just outside of Soldier Field. What I loved about this race was that when my mom and I registered, we were able to get our packets mailed to us, rather than try and get to packet pick-up (especially when at the time of registration, there was no location specified yet). Convenience matters to me, and we registered soon enough that it was free! Score! From January 25–February 25, it was only $10, which I would have paid. Sometimes the locations for pick-up aren't close or convenient to get too. I prefer to take public transportation after work, but it's not always feasible depending on where it's at. So, whenever mailing is an option, I usually take it.

I pre-paid for guaranteed parking at Soldier Field online Thursday afternoon, to ensure we'd have a spot, though I don't think it was necessary. We were there early enough that the lot was barely filled, but I like to have it taken care of so there's one less thing to stress about. I had a time crunch this day, so public transportation would have taken more time than I had. I prefer it because it's cheaper, but I have to say it was nice being able to leave a little later, get there earlier, and hang out in the car until just before the start. 

My mom and I got there around 8:00 am for a 9:15 am start, so we sat in the car, had some Nature Valley Honey & Oats granola bars, and chatted until about 8:45. We headed out of the parking garage, took a bathroom break, and then found some sun to stand in before lining up to start. The sun was warm, but the wind was a bit atrocious (especially on the second half running back north). We lined up towards the back of the group, a bit behind the 12-minute mile pace sign.


At 9:15 am, they started everyone – no waves. The race started off heading south down the streets around Soldier Field, which were leading towards the Lakefront path. It was a bit congested, but nothing too horrible. I started off pretty well with 2:1 run/walk intervals, which was about a 12:30 pace for the first two miles. Unfortunately, I started having some problems breathing (darn spring!), so I had to change my run/walk intervals. I switched to 1:1, which slowed me down, but helped keep my breathing controlled. 

I was pretty warm, so took off my jacket and tied it around my waist. I was carrying a water bottle, so I didn't need to take any from the water stops (there were 2, but with the out and back, you hit them twice). It was sunny and lovely for the first half, but then at the turnaround, I regretted taking off my jacket. It had gotten so windy heading north and my arms were freezing! I didn't want to waste energy getting my jacket back on, so I just dealt with it. I ended up finishing with an average pace of 13:15 (I beat out nearly 200 people and I wasn't even last for my age group, whoo!). Not the pace/time I was hoping for, but oh well. When my breathing becomes an issue and I start coughing a lot, the only thing I can do is slow down and change my intervals. I'd rather finish than try and push myself too much to the point that I would need medical attention.

Afterwards, they had bananas, bagels, and water. My mom was asking me where we got our medals, and I sadly had to tell her there weren't any for this race. For some reason, she thought this race had them (I'm guessing because all other 10k races we've done we received medals)... wah wah. I was under a tight time constriction that day (had to get home and shower for a birthday party), so we didn't stay for all of the awards or after party. It looked like there was a band, but I can't be sure.

Overall it was a good race. I think there were a littler over 1,100 runners, but the congestion wasn't as bad as some other Lakefront races. I do love the view on the Lakefront path, and being able to park at Solider Field was convenient. I'd say one thing needing improvement was the number of portable toilets – the lines were quite long. I also would have liked a Gatorade stop, or some at the finish line, but that's not a deal breaker (now, if it was a half marathon, it would be). Each participant received an official black full-zip fleece jacket (embroidered! with the logo) for participating in the 2014 Chicago Quarter Marathon – they were quite nice (image below). I also liked that the race didn't start at 8, because I'm not happy about super early wake-up calls haha. I'll probably add this to the race list for 2015.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the weekly chase #3

Road Runner Girl

Weekly goals for April 14–20

I'm going to be honest guys... last week wasn't so great, as far as accomplishing goals goes (say that 5 times fast).

Goal #1 - Hit 10,000 steps a day: Reached this goal 4 out of 7 days, with 2 being extremely close, but not quite there (why didn't I move just a little bit more?!)

Goal #2 - Drink no more than 4 pops in the week. I had 5.

Goal #3 - Break 40:00 at 5k race Saturday. Completed! 38:03 :)

Goal #4 - Track and log all foods on Myfitnesspal app. Not so great - about 50/50 on this guy.

Weekly goals for April 21–27

Goal #1 - Drink 6 cups of water a day (yeah, I'm repeating this one)

Goal #2 - update my race spreadsheet. I've been a bit disorganized with all of my race results and would like to get them all onto one spreadsheet with the same information included for all of them. I have different files, and they all have different info – it's annoying.

Goal #3 - Run 4x

I am still keeping those April goals in mind, as well.

Thanks to Mindy over at Road Runner Girl for hosting this week's Weekly Chase :) Head on over and see what other people's Weekly Chase goals are, and add your own link if you are participating! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

week in review; april 14–20

Monday, April 14
rest day
Laundry and 'DWTS'.

Tuesday, April 15
2.01 miles on the treadmill in the am
It was a bit rough waking up in the morning, but I managed to squeeze in 2 miles on the treadmill before heading to work. Trivia night went fairly well, and was a fun night.

Wednesday, April 16
strength training - arms and abs
2 mile walk
Another evening of laundry and catching up on the DVR.

Thursday, April 17
2 mile walk
My dear husband and I went on our monthly date night for wine tasting and dinner. It was lovely.

Friday, April 18
rest day
The DH and I went up north to hang out with some friends. We went to a bar/restaurant for a quick drink and some chips/guac before heading out for dinner. We tried to get some pizza at Piece Brewery, however it was an hour and a half wait, so we went over to Lillie Q's and put in our name there for a 30 minute wait. We then walked a few blocks down to grab a drink while we waited, and then headed back for some delicious BBQ (I had some ribs, and usually I am not a fan of them smoked, I chowed down on these bad boys). With a race the next day, I limited myself to two drinks, and then had water/pop for the remainder of the evening. After dinner, we headed back to Piece for drinks for the other three, then headed back to our friends' place so I could meet their new dog (who was absolutely adorable). I hated to be the buzzkill, but we had to head out around 9:30/10 so I could get my gear together and get some shut eye. Even though it was only a 5k the next morning, I still need my 8 hours of sleep in order to function haha. After all, I am no longer a spunky 21 year old anymore ;)

Saturday, April 19
Chocolate Chase 5k with an official time of 38:03
It was a GORGEOUS day for a race! It was mostly sunny and started in the mid 40s and ended in the low 50s (some may say cold, but I loved it, and was actually pretty warm by mile 2). I ran 1:30/1:00 run/walk intervals with the goal of beating a clock time of 40:00. I haven't had a 5k in under 40:00 since 2012 (boo). I'll have a very short recap of the race (being local and small, there wasn't an expo, and the race itself didn't have much exciting going on).

Sunday, April 20
9.5 miles on a trail
DH and I headed over to the trails Sunday morning to get in a long run before our half marathon in 2 weeks. We went our own ways and did our own pace. It was a beautiful day – the high was expected to be 75, and was in the low 60s when we started. We weren't sure if there would be much shade on the trail. It was our first time there this season, and we didn't know if there would be much foliage on the trees yet (with the long winter we had). It wasn't too bad, considering how sunny it was – I was able to remain mostly in the shade, keeping cool and avoiding much sunburn (though I think my face got a little bit). I had on shorts, a t-shirt, and a half zip pullover, but after about a mile, I took off the pullover and tied it to my waist. Guess I could have left it in the car, but I thought with the wind I might be cool. Nope. I ran with my Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld Bottle Carrier filled with water, and brought some Sports Beans to test out. Well, at mile 1 I tried to open said Sports Beans, and couldn't get them open! I did the tear here, but it didn't rip it far down enough to be able to open the package. It was sooo frustrating. I tried for 3 miles to try and rip them open, to no avail (I even tried ripping with my teeth, which I hate). Luckily, I ran into DH, and with some effort, he was able to rip it enough for me to be able to squeeze a bean out at a time. Note to self: Cut open package prior to leaving the house. I liked the fact that they are re-sealable... but that's not possible when you have to tear the dang thing open. Anyway, I went the way that had more hills, and had a tough go of it. By mile 5 my legs were so tired, I had to walk up all of the hills. Also to my displeasure, I only had about 2 down hills. Oh well, those guys'll make me stronger, right? Overall, it felt great to get those 9.5 miles in prior to Easter dinner – enjoying some fresh air and exercise. We went home, showered, ate some lunch, and relaxed before heading to DH's parents house (I painted my nails a fun pastel blue/green (Essie Mint Candle Apple), and read a little in our sunroom). I'm personally not a fan of Easter dinner (read: I don't like ham), so I stuffed my face with appetizers and then dumplings. By the time we got home and watched 'Game of Thrones', I was spent. We went to bed at 9:30. Are we cool or what ;)

I hope everyone had great week/end and a (belated) very Happy Easter to you all!

How was everyone else's weeks? Any long runs or races? PRs? When's your next race?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the weekly chase #2

Road Runner Girl

A recap on last week's goals and how they went:

Goal #1 – Run 4 times this week. Only made it out for 3 runs this week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday). Whomp whomp.

Goal #2 – Put all of my clean clothes away in their appropriate drawers (I am guilty of folding and putting them in the laundry basket, but never emptying... oops). Completed!

Goal #3 – Strength train 2 times this week (Wednesday and Friday). Check.

Goal #4 – Drink at least 6 cups of water per day. Every day except for Saturday, which might have been spent drinking a few adult beverages and some pop at a baseball game. I did manage 3 cups, but not enough. I have to admit, getting 6 out of 7 days for this goal is still a big accomplishment for me, someone who isn't a huge fan of water (for the most part).

Weekly goals for April 14–20

Goal #1 - Hit 10,000 steps a day (progress tracked with my Fitbit Flex). I can hit that goal no problem on days that I run, but on a rest day, I'm lucky to hit 8,000.

Goal #2 - Drink no more than 4 pops in the week. I usually have 1 per day, but limiting to 4 should help with my continuance of drinking more water a day (will try for 7 cups a day this week!).

Goal #3 - Break 40:00 at 5k race Saturday. The last 5k I ran in February, I just missed this goal with a time of 40:08. 

Goal #4 - Track and log all foods on Myfitnesspal app. I was being super diligent with this before the new year, and have been quite lax since 2014 began. I'd like to get back into it, and be able to see how what I eat affects my runs.

I am still keeping those April goals in mind, as well.

Thanks to Mindy over at Road Runner Girl for hosting this week's Weekly Chase :) Head on over and see what other people's Weekly Chase goals are, and add your own link if you are participating! Have a great week, everyone!

Do you have any weekly goals, health related or other? Do you use Fitbit? Go ahead and 'friend' me, if you do! Always looking for more people to help push me to be better :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

week in review; april 7–13

Monday, April 7
rest day
After work, I spent the evening catching up on "Dancing With the Stars". I really like the "stars" this year, and I'm not sure who I want to get kicked off next... usually there's someone who isn't good/annoying, and each week I have someone in mind that should go home. Not this year - they're all hard workers and for the most part really good!

Tuesday, April 8
rest day
Another evening of trivia.

Wednesday, April 9
2.67 miles
It was a gorgeous day, so I obviously had to run outside. Unfortunately, my legs weren't feeling it, so it was a bit slow paced and I cut the run a little short.

Thursday, April 10
rest day
We had to run some errands when I got home from work, and then stopped for dinner at Red Robin. Yum. I was a little disappointed that they no longer use the baskets and don't have the burger wrapped in the paper anymore :( — it prevented me from making a mess and kept my burger bun from getting too soggy. Why you trying to get fancy, Red Robin? Oh well, it was still delicious.

Friday, April 11
3.49 miles
Another beautiful day! I got in 3.49 miles after work. The first two miles were painful – I was having some pain in my right foot arch and ankle. After stopping at mile 2 to take off my shoe and massage the arch, my foot and ankle felt better the last 1.5 miles.

Saturday, April 12
rest day
I spent the morning/afternoon at a White Sox tailgate and game with some friends. It was a lot of fun, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted and laid around for the rest of the night with an early bed time. I was disappointed in myself because I knew I wouldn't reach my goal of 4 runs this week, but I wanted to have energy for my long run on Sunday. That's why I need to get that run in on Tuesdays! I really need to drag my butt out of bed in the morning.

Sunday, April 13
8.32 miles
It was supposed to storm all day (when I went to bed, the forecast said storms beginning at 3am and going all day), so I went to bed thinking I'd try for a run outside, and if it was storming, go on the treadmill. Well, I woke up, it was sunny and warm, though it said storms were on the way. Instead of heading to the trail, like I had wanted earlier in the week (I was afraid it would storm while I was in the middle of the forest... not the best thing), I just ran around the neighborhood so I could make a quick dash home if I saw lightning. Luckily, it stayed nice for a while... though it made me mad that I could have made it to the trail without getting caught in the storm. Oh well. The miles went by fairly quickly. The first two miles were a bit sluggish, but once I warmed up and found my groove, I got faster. My fastest mile was actually mile 6, and miles 3–8 were all faster than miles 1 and 2. Whenever I started to feel tired, I would say out loud "You are strong. You can do this," which may sound silly, but I find that actually saying it (rather than only thinking it) helps me push myself harder. I was quite pleased with the run overall. Upper 60s is a bit too warm for my liking (when running), and I could feel my arms and face heating up early on, but there was a nice breeze that helped keep me cool (though at times it was quite windy, and of course I was going at it head on, rather than it being at my back). Always good to practice in all weather conditions, though, as it can help on race day – you never know what the weather will be like. The rest of the day was spent doing laundry, cleaning, and catching up on TV.

I really need to start taking some fun pictures to add to these weekly reviews/recaps... it would make it more interesting, no? Hope everyone has a great week!

How was your week? Any great runs/races?

Friday, April 11, 2014

bank of america shamrock shuffle 8k

The Shamrock Shuffle 8k was held on Sunday, March 30 in downtown Chicago, with a start and finish in Grant Park. This would be my second time running the race (would have been third, but I was sick last year). My mom and I were in Wave 3, with a start time of 9:15 am. I knew that we would actually start a little later, as there were multiple corrals in each wave, which they let go a few minutes apart from each other. Wave 1, which consisted of Corrals Elite, A, B, C, and D, had an official race time of 8:30 am. Wave 2, which consisted of Corrals E and F, had an official race time of 8:55 am. Wave 3, which consisted of Corrals G, H, J, K and L (me), had an official race time of 9:15 am. Last year there were only 2 waves, so they must have added another one to help with congestion – there were more than 30,000 runners that crossed the finish line this year, and in 2013, it was the world's largest 8K with more than 33,000 runners crossing the finish line (info from emails I received post race). Each wave had a separate Gear Check, which I can't speak from experience, but I imagine helps with keeping shorts lines. The bibs had the timing device, so no need to try and attach anything to our shoes (which I hate having to do haha).

We got to Grant Park around 8:30 am – plenty of time to spare. I'm not one that likes to get to races too early, because I hate waiting around (it builds my anxiety to a level it doesn't need to be at). I've never checked any bags at Gear Check, so I don't need extra time for that. Toilet facilities (read: portable) were located throughout Grant Park near the start and finish areas, so when we jumped in line around 8:45, there wasn't much of a wait. I'm sure part of that is thanks to Wave 1 already having started.

Since I was coming off of being sick (and still had a darn cough), my mom and I decided to do run/walk intervals of 1:2. So we wouldn't get trampled from the start, we lined up at the back of the corral. It ended up being great, as we rarely had to deal with crowds on the roads (when I ran in 2012, there was so much congestion that you could barely pass anyone, and I recall being run into multiple times, even though I started in the correct corral for my speed – D and I were next to each other, elbows touching, that's how close, and people would go between us without an 'excuse me' – it was very frustrating and annoying). Another plus at starting in the back was that we avoided those groups of runners that like to start at the very back and push their way (and I mean PUSH) through the crowds... why don't they start at the front of their assigned corrals? I digress.

It ended up being a beautiful day – it started in the lower 40s with lots of sun, and I think it was upper 40s when we finished. Ya never know what kind of weather you'll get on race day in Chicago – just days earlier the highs were in the 30s and I feel like there was fresh snow on the ground. Anyway, it was a great day for a race in the city.

We crossed the starting line at about 9:39 and took it fairly easy. It was nice to chat with my mom during the race, it made the miles fly by. I really wish I could have run faster, as I had been in training, but it just wasn't in the cards for me. Instead, I enjoyed the weather, the easy run/walk intervals, and the scenery. I made sure to raise my hands when we were about to stop our running and go into walking, as well as making sure no one was behind us, to avoid any run ins. All was well the whole race, which was lovely. 

Marina Towers on State Street

Iconic Chicago Theatre on State Street

The race started going north on Columbus Drive, west on Grand, and then south on State Street. Running down the famed State Street is probably one of the best parts of the race. You get to run by The House of Blues, across the Chicago River, and then by the Chicago Theatre. There were two on-course aid stations that offered Gatorade® Endurance Formula (lemon-lime), water, medical support and toilet facilities (which didn't appear to have any lines, from what I remember). Aid station 1 was at mile 1.8  and then aid station 2 was at mile 3.5. They had plenty of volunteers (over 3,000 for the day - thanks everyone!), which meant there were a lot to hand out the cups. There was no waiting for cups to be filled or to find a volunteer to grab from. As always, I made sure to thank everyone for their time/efforts. I also tried that trick of folding my cup to drink (which I heard The Diet Diva Tara Gidus talk about at the Tinker Bell expo) - - it worked wonders! No spilling on myself while I walked and drank. It's amazing how those small things really make for a better race experience!

From State Street, we headed west on Jackson, north on LaSalle, west on Randolph, south on Franklin (where we ran past the Sears Tower... or I guess I should say Willis, but I never will), then east on Harrison where we passed the mile 4 marker (almost done!), then south on Michigan, east on Roosevelt, and finally, north on Columbus. I never felt too tired or coughy, so when we turned the corner at Columbs towards the Finish Line, my mom and I kicked it into high gear for the last .3 or .4 miles to cross the line with an average pace of under 15 minutes/mile. Obviously nothing to write home about, but for being sick for the previous two weeks, not as horrendous as I would expect. I still managed to beat over 1,000 people, so that's good enough for me this time around ;) Hopefully next year I won't be coming off of illness and able to run it more than walk.

Once we crossed the Finish Line, we headed towards the 'Mariano's Runner Refreshment Area' (sponsored by Mariano's, obviously) and grabbed a bottle of water, a cup of Gatorade, got our picture taken a bunch of times by the photographers stopping us (I won't say no, I feel bad haha), and grabbed our snack bag and bananas. In the plastic grocery bags (so thankful there were bags, as I hate trying to carry it all!) there were pretzels, Sun Chips, and a Belvita cinnamon soft baked breakfast biscuit. There also seemed to be a tent where they were giving away small pieces of pizza, but there were very long lines (it looked like they were waiting for the pizza to come out of the ovens), so I passed.

I wanted to check out the After Party, so headed on over to the hub (Buckingham Fountain). The party was from 9 am – 1:30 pm and featured live music and beverages for purchase. Runners 21 and up had a drink ticket attached to their bib numbers that were redeemable for one Michelob Ultra, and any other drinks were at additional cost. I've never had a Michelob Ultra, so I thought I'd grab one (even though I knew I wouldn't like it, why not try and then know for future reference). It was pretty crowded in the After Party, and took a bit of weaving to get to the drinks, but there were no actual lines, so it was easy to grab. I had done an ID check when we walked in, so I had a wristband in order to make it easy. I really did not like the beer. I had a about a quarter of the cup and then handed it to my mom for a few sips. The rest I used to fertilize the grass. I prefer my beer to have more flavor. There were also some sponsor tents and a food tent (had burgers, wine, and I'm not sure what else). We also found a tent that had some samples of wine - "The Naked Grape" – and if you sampled, you got a grocery bag (the reusable kind) with some goodies, such as a wine glass charm, a button, and some literature. I wasn't paying too much attention to the band, but they seemed pretty good, and were playing some Indie Rock, which makes me happy.

After about a half hour, we decided to head on home. I give this race an A+ - great course with enough waves/corrals to prevent too much congestion (at least from what I could tell. Perhaps others in the earlier corrals had different experiences.),short-sleeve tech-shirt, plenty of bathrooms, not too early of a start time (even for the fast runners), enough refreshments for 30,000+ runners, wonderful expo, and a fun, relaxing After Party. The only thing that would be better is a medal at the Finish Line ;)

Whew. That's finally done. Sorry it took me so long to complete. I think that's my longest blog post yet! I hope it's helpful for anyone interested in the race next year. 

Have you ever run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago? Or any race in Chicago, for that matter? What race? What were your thoughts?

Editors note: I wrote a review on BibRave for this race, if you're interested in checking it out. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

the weekly chase

Road Runner Girl

I read The Weekly Chase #66 from Mindy over on Road Runner Girl's blog and really liked the idea, so I'm joining in on the fun! This is my first go of it... let's see if I can get it right ;) 

Next week I'll be able to discuss how my goals I set for this week went, and set new ones for that upcoming week. Without further ado, my goals for the week of April 7–13:

Goal #1 – Run 4 times this week.

Goal #2 – Put all of my clean clothes away in their appropriate drawers (I am guilty of folding and putting them in the laundry basket, but never emptying... oops).

Goal #3 – Strength train 2 times this week (Wednesday and Friday).

Goal #4 – Drink at least 6 cups of water per day.

Some of these coincide with my monthly goals (drink more water, strength train), but I think adding them as weekly goals makes them feel more attainable.

I really like the idea of a money jar – adding a set monetary amount to a jar for every day you exercise/complete a certain task, and then using the money to buy a reward (such as a manicure, new workout clothes, etc.), but I rarely have any actual money to do that with haha. Seeing the money accumulate in the jar could really motivate you on days you aren't feeling a workout. I guess I'd have to plan in advance and have some money available for jar input :P

How about you? Do you like to set weekly, monthly, yearly goals? Is there a special way you motivate yourself to reach those goals? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

week in review; march 31–april 6

Monday, March 31
rest day
Monday night was the hour long series finale of "How I Met Your Mother". I'm sad I won't have this show to tune in for anymore, but I do feel like it was time for it to end. I'm glad they were able to do a ninth season to wrap it all up. I won't spoil any of the moments/secrets/surprises, but I have to admit, I was a little mad at the ending. After sleeping on it, I woke up having had come to terms with it. In a way, it was a fitting ending, and the more time passes, the more ok I am with it. What did you think of it?

Tuesday, April 1
rest day
It's April, ya'll! Can you believe it? I can't, seeing as the weather is still usually in the 30s or below. Sunday and Monday were pretty beautiful days (sunny and in the 40s), but it was back to colder temps on Tuesday. It was another Tuesday night of trivia, in which we did fairly well, but not good enough to place. Same old tune.

Wednesday, April 2
rest day
Another rest day, I'm embarrassed to admit. I was having trouble sleeping, so instead of waking early to run, I decided to stay in bed. Lazy me. That evening I had to make a trip to Target for some birthday gifts for the three kid parties we have this month, and then D and I went out for dinner. 

Thursday, April 3
2.5 miles on the treadmill while watching "LOST" in the morning. 
Yep, even though one of the pups was snuggling adorably with me in the morning, I managed to roll out of bed and get a short run in. Go me. That demonstrates huge willpower, as she isn't always snuggly, so it's a treat when she comes up on her own and does. Melts my heart every time haha. Thursday night I had an eye doctor appointment and picked out a new pair of glasses (frames). I can't wait for them to come in! I'm so nerdy. My doctor gave me some new contact lenses to try out, and when I went to take them out at home before bed, had the hardest time doing so. Apparently, their method is different than what I was used to, and I had to look up the best way to take them out. It's a bit weird, but I'm hoping I'll get used to them in time. They are really comfortable for all-day wear. Not that my old ones weren't, but these are just a tad bit better at keeping my eyes from drying out.

Friday, April 4
rest day
Friday evening was spent finishing up "American Horror Story Asylum" and getting all my gear ready for the Chicago Quarter Marathon in the morning. I loved how AHS finished the season. Seriously, watch it if you haven't yet. I can't wait for the "Coven" season to come out on streaming for Netflix. "Asylum" took a long time — I think "Coven" had nearly finished before it was released to stream. Oh well. 

Saturday, April 5
Inaugural Chicago Quarter Marathon (6.55 miles)
The race went pretty well, and I was very pleased with how I did. My official pace was 3:15/mile, which was a personal best for any race since 2012, and a distance PR as well (I'll lump this distance in with the 10k's). I'll recap the race in another post later this week. After the race, I had to rush home to shower and head out to Indiana for a one year old's birthday party. It was a great time seeing friends and all their adorable, hilarious children. After that, since we were already in Indiana, my DH and I decided to hit up Three Floyd's. It was a 15–30 minute wait – I wasn't paying much attention, and the time went by quickly as we sat in the sun (to stay warm, the shade was too cold) chatting. We ended up staying there for about three hours... I guess we had a lot to talk about :) I had a delicious craft root beer (I'm a huge fan of root beer). On our way home from there, we stopped at a restaurant/alehouse to meet some friends we haven't seen in a while for a quick catch up. I hadn't seen one of the gals in so long, even though I was exhausted, I couldn't pass up the chance to see her. Basically, I was out of the house for over 12 hours. When we got home, I immediately went to bed and left the DH to feed/take care of the dogs. Sorry, pal.

Sunday, April 6
1 mile (give or take) walk with the dogs
Yesterday was gorgeous weather (sunny and in the 50s), so of course we had to take the girls for a walk. I think they're both a little out of shape from the long winter, as their usual route had them panting only a few blocks in. I can't wait for the weather to be like that more frequently, so they can get out for walks more. They love it! My quads were a bit sore from the race, so it was nice to get out for a walk and stretch the legs. After the walk, I had a quick breakfast and then got to work cleaning the house and doing laundry. I love doing these tasks when the sun is shining in the windows, and it's even warm enough to open a few and get some fresh air in (and stale air out) after the loooong winter we've had. We had plans to meet up with some friends for an early dinner and drinks — the food, drinks and company were wonderful (lots of friend time this weekend, it was great!). We obviously had to be home by 8 pm for the premier of Game of Thrones Season 4. It did not disappoint. DH and I have both read the books, and I like to pick up on things that are different between the two. They obviously will need to deviate from the plot, as they are doing seven seasons, and Mr. Martin has yet to finish the series. I'm thinking maybe by 2030? There's no way they'll be finished before the tv series ends (they plan on doing 7 seasons, and I believe I read they were renewed for 2 more, which would make it 6 for now).

Anyway, that was my exhausting week. How was yours? Did you have a race/how did it go? Do I go into too much detail about things that aren't running/race/health related? What did you think of the "HIMYM" finale, if you watched? Are you into craft beer? What's your favorite brewery?

Until next time, friends!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

bank of america shamrock shuffle 8k expo

Last Friday, March 28, I had to pick up race packets for myself and my mom for the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k taking place on Sunday, March 30, in Grant Park. The Expo was being held at Navy Pier in Hall A.

Notice the construction crane on the right

Navy Pier is a 15 minute walk from my office, so I used my lunch break to head over there. I left around 11:30 in the cold wind, and when I got there, noticed there was a lot of construction going on. It appeared that the whole outside was closed off (the images of the renovations they had on the walls make the new outside look really nice, but I'm not sure when construction will be completed – hopefully by summertime), so everyone had to walk inside. This was a bummer, since it's much easier to bypass people outside on the Pier than it is inside. It was really crowded (spring break for some, perhaps?) with young kids/families meandering about. The other problem was that I was wearing my big winter coat, since it was cold outside, but walking inside I was sweating my booty off! I guess I could have taken it off and carried it, but that would have made squeezing past people and kiosks more difficult. Oh well, not much could be done about either (minor) issue. They did a good job of posting signage to point you in the right direction. I'm sure it was confusing for a lot of people trying to make their way through the construction/inside.

Entering the Exhibit Hall

Anyway, after making my way into the hall where the expo was held, I headed straight to get the bibs (there was no mistaking where that was with the giant banner they had, as you can see in the photo below). Our numbers weren't next to each other, but they were in the same section, so I only had to wait in one line, which was nice. It didn't take long before being helped by the nice gentleman volunteering, as there was only one person ahead of me in line. After a quick minute, I got both the bibs in their envelope (with pins included), thanked the man, and headed to the opposite side of the hall to grab our shirts. 

I had to go to two separate lines for shirts, as my mom and I wear different sizes, but again, it was really quick and I only had to wait behind one person in the first line and none in the second. They had sections, consisting of two volunteers for each: Women's XS, S, M, L, and XL? and Men's XS?, S, M, L, XL. I have to be honest – I didn't pay that much attention to all of the sizes offered. I had my blinders on to get what I needed and get out of the way. The shirts came in a clear plastic bag with the Shamrock Shuffle logo on it, filled with coupons and pamphlets. All of the volunteers were very friendly, which is always nice to bonus. I know sometimes they have to deal with people yelling at them (for things that might not even be their fault), so I try and be extra polite/friendly, hoping to keep them happy (they are volunteering their time, after all). I checked to make sure the shirts were the correct size, held my own up to make sure I didn't need to exchange (they had a little section off to the side of where you picked up the shirts for exchanges), and then I wandered around for a bit. 

This is one of my favorite local expos other than the Chicago Half Marathon (which is in the same location. I haven't done a marathon, so can't speak of that one held at McCormick Place, but I find Navy Pier easier to get to.). They have so many different booths/exhibitors to look at. Mariano's was giving out small samples of wine, pretzel chips, and Naked Juice (I tried Green Machine... pretty good!), Sweaty Bands, Bondi Bands, Nuun (they had samples to taste), Charity Teams, Hippie Runner, FlipBelt, Clif Bar (also with samples), Fitletic, other races, and much, much more! So much to look at, so little time (and energy). After perusing, I went over to the Fleet Feet booth to check out the Shamrock Shuffle gear they were selling (Nike products). I bought my mom a black, long sleeve tech shirt and myself a neon orange, short sleeve tech shirt and a black half-zip tech pullover (the softest material ever! I bought one last year as well, and it's my favorite). I then went to the Official Merchandise section, which were pint glasses, and picked one up for D/myself (to add to our pint glass collection). 

After that, I headed back to work, looking forward to race day. Sunday was scheduled to be fairly nice weather (much better than that day), but in Chicago you just never know until you wake up and head outside.

Race recap coming up next!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

april goals

Can you believe it's already April? Per usual, the months are flying by. Funny how that happens.

I thought for April I'd write down some goals I have and share them in hopes that I stay motivated and accountable. Now that I'm almost back to normal health, I'm hoping to get back into running 3-4 times a week. Anyway, in no particular order, a few goals for the month are:

1. Continue upping my daily water intake. I've been better about drinking more water, thanks to my Brita pitcher, Eddie Bauer water bottle (I like the straw/sipping function, but I don't use the freezer core often, as it's usually unnecessary), and Nuun All Day that I keep at work (I get bored with the taste of water and need to mix it up with some flavor every now and again), but I could still use more. I definitely do not drink the recommended daily amount. 

2. Run 50 miles. For some this task is easy, but with my miles lacking in March, I wanted a realistic goal.

3. Add strength training to my weekly routine. I keep saying I'm going to do this, and never do. I hope by writing about it I'll feel accountable (even though I'm not sure anyone even reads my posts haha). It's all about mind frame, yes? I'll believe there are readers to give me the push I need ;)

4. I have a 5k on April 19, and I'd really like to go sub-40 minutes. Again, this goal is easily obtainable for most, but my quickest 5k time (at a race) in recent months was 40:08, and I'd love to beat that. I can have great training runs, but I seem to have problems on race day... and I believe it's mostly nerves/mental. However, the more races I participate in, the more experience I gain, means my nerves (and my time) get(s) better. 

I think I'll stop there. I don't want to overdo it and risk being disappointed come April 30. Wish me luck!

How about you? Any goals this month? Advice to help me run better races?