Monday, December 29, 2014

week in review: december 22–28

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 26

Monday, December 15rest day

Tuesday, December 16: rest day

Wednesday, December 17: rest day

Thursday, December 18: rest day

Friday, December 19: 15 minute walk with dogs

Saturday, December 20rest day 

Sunday, December 21: 1.5 miles (mostly walking)

Weekly mileage: 1.5 miles
Total mileage for Dopey Challenge Training: 370.26 miles

Still not much running in my world, as I'm still getting over being sick. There's way too much coughing going on, so there's no way I could get through a run yet. I did a short dog walk and then hit up the trail on Sunday to play with my GoPro, take some video, and did a very short 1.5 miles that consisted of mostly walking. 

What I did a lot of this past week was sleep. I slept for more than 8 hours every night and it was glorious (since I actually slept rather than coughed all night - thanks NyQuil!). I unfortunately had to skip church with the family on Christmas Eve, as I was still coughing a ton and didn't have the energy to sit through that along with dinner and presents with the family. It's amazing how quickly my energy is zapped. 

Anyway, I'm hoping that continuing the rest, vitamin c, and lots of sleep will continue to help me get better in time for Dopey in a week and a half. Either way, I'll be pushing through it, but it'll be more fun if I'm not still hacking up a lung ;)

I'm looking forward to ringing in the New Year with my friends at a wedding. What are your plans?

How was your week? Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you a Happy New Year in a few days :)

P.S. Make sure to review your race(s) on, and join us for #BibChat tomorrow night at 8pm CT.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

friday five: free friday

A day late, again... sorry! It's been such a busy few days, spending lots of time with family and STILL recovering from being sick. I hope you all had a great Christmas and are gearing up for a fun New Years Eve.

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta: Courtney at Eat Pray Run DCCynthia at You Signed up for What?, and Mar at Mar on the Run, as I do every Friday. Thanks for hosting, ladies! This week's theme is "Free Friday", which means we can write about whatever we want. It was a tough call, but I decided to list my favorite races of 2014 (quite hard to narrow it down to just five!), as my final Friday Five post of the year. It's going to be a short post, as I'm sure everyone is busy this time of year. 

Top Five Races of 2014 (though not in a particular order).

1. Tinker Bell Half Marathon. My first time to Disneyland, and so of course was also my first runDisney race there as well.

2. Wine and Dine Half Marathon. This was my third year with this race, and though it was rainy the entire race, I had a great time. I also picked up my first Coast to Coast medal :)

3. Rock 'n' Roll Remix ChallengeI'm just going to lump this race weekend together as I did the 5k and half. I met Shalane Flanagan after the 5k, which was such an exciting moment, and had a really fun time at the half (even though it was crazy hot). 

4. Rudolph Ramble 8k. Just a really fun, holiday themed race that was well organized and had a nice course.

5. Soldier Field 10 MileAnother well organized race, with a finish line on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field – really cool.

Some other races that I really enjoyed: Rock the Night 5k, Burgers and Beer 5k, Shamrock Shuffle, Chicago Spring Half Marathon, and the Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon.

Did you have any favorite races from this past year? What made them so special?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

merry christmas!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to take the time to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas! I hope you were able to spend some quality time with family and friends over the past few days.

My day has been lovely so far. I slept in, then started to watch a movie with my husband, but ended up falling asleep pretty much right away and napped until it was time to get ready and leave for my aunt's house. I really needed that extra bit of sleep, since I haven't been getting much lately with this darn cough keeping me up all night every night the past week. I'm about to take some NyQuil and call it a day, but am so thankful to have spent time with family yesterday and today.

I appreciate you all and hope you had a wonderful day! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

rudolph ramble 8k recap

The Rudolph Ramble 8k is a race hosted by Fleet Feet Sports and was held in Chicago on Sunday, December 14, 2014. Feel free to head over to BibRave to read my race review (it's less personal and contains brief bullet points).

Sunday morning rolled around much quicker than I had liked (since we had a wedding the previous evening which meant a long night of dancing and a bit of drinking). I dragged myself out of bed and got dressed for the Rudolph Ramble 8k in Lincoln Park. I pre-paid for a parking spot in the area using Park Whiz rather than having to search for parking or pay $20 at the zoo. Once my mom got to my house, we made our way into the city. Traffic was light and we reached the lot in plenty of time. Due to a busy work and after work schedule during the week, we decided to do race day packet pickup. 

They had Packet Pickup on Friday and Saturday at 3 Fleet Feet locations simultaneously – Lincoln Square, Old Town, and South Loop. Lucky for me, as mentioned above, they also held Race Site Packet Pickup from 7:30am – 9am. 

The parking lot I bought a spot for was about a half mile from the race site  (which was near Diversey Harbor and Lincoln Park Zoo). My mom and I got to the race with plenty of time to spare and packet pickup was a breeze. We received our bibs and our adorable knit hats. Near the start line, volunteers were handing out antlers for the runners to wear. I wore mine for the race, and thought they might bother me, but they didn't.

I went with the pink, blue and white hat, though
I wanted the red, blue and white one as well.

We used the Portajohn's before starting. My only negative thought on this race was that there were only about 11 of them – a few more would have been nice. Luckily we got in the line before it got too bad, but pretty close to the start the line was still really backed up.

The race started promptly at 9am with a group start. I was a bit nervous about this, but it wasn't a problem at all. I barely noticed much congestion other than right at the beginning, but the runners spread out and I found the race to be quite enjoyable, without the usual weaving that I have grown accustomed to in the past few races.

We ran 30 seconds and walked 1 minute intervals. I had just gotten a GoPro Hero 3+ thanks to the folks at BibRave and Addaday, so brought it with to test out. My arms hurt the next day from holding it up to take videos and photos – I haven't yet gotten any accessories to make it easier on the runs. Looking forward to trying a head mount or stick.

There were 2 aid stations that had both water and Gatorade, and plenty of spirited volunteers. I found the course easy to follow with the cones and course marshals directing which way to go. We ran a bit north to the Lakefront Path, came back around south, then past the Zoo and back again. Other than few pothole like areas in the ground, I thought the course was great - different than most other races, which was nice. The race was chip timed using the B-tag.

The course.

After the race, they were handing out bottled water, bottled Gatorade, bananas, Clif Bar mins (White Chocolate Macadamia Nut or Chocolate Chip), Ritz Bitz peanut butter or cheese crackers, and candy canes – great spread! There was also a coffee truck for those that wanted to purchase a warm beverage. At the finish line area, you could get your photo with Santa and a blow up Rudolph. My mom and I had no trouble getting a photo with Santa, as there was barely a line. 

Panoramic shot of the post-race area.

We stuck around for awards, where my mom got second in her age group! Go mom! Afterwards, we strolled through the Zoo to see the animals before heading back home.

The city.

This race was well organized and I will definitely look to add it to my 2015 race schedule. I'm really glad I decided to register for it, though it was a bit last minute (wasn't sure if I wanted to race the night after a wedding, but figured why not?). I also liked that it was an 8k rather than a 5k, makes the drive and price seem more worth while.

Monday, December 22, 2014

week in review: december 15–21; aka the week that wasn't

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 25

Monday, December 15rest day

Tuesday, December 16: unscheduled rest day

Wednesday, December 17unscheduled rest day

Thursday, December 18unscheduled rest day

Friday, December 19unscheduled rest day 

Saturday, December 20unscheduled rest day

Sunday, December 21unscheduled rest day

Weekly mileage: miles
Total mileage for Dopey Challenge Training: 368.76 miles

What should have been my final hard core training for the Dopey Challenge turned into a very sick week. This means I spent all of my time at home from Monday evening after work until I got up for work this morning. My only time out of the house was to get to the doctor and to get my prescriptions at the pharmacy. 

To say I am completely disappointed is a huge understatement. I'm a bit devastated, really. I was excited for my final Dopey Simulation, would should have been 4 consecutive days of running 3 miles, 5 miles, 12 miles, and 25 miles. Instead, I did nothing all week but lay on the couch coughing and unable to eat much of anything other than saltines and some soup broth. UGH. I know I'm ready for the challenge, but this final long weekend in training was going to get me there mentally as well. Now I fear I'll have respiratory issues through January and have trouble completing Dopey. I know this weekend wouldn't have done that much for me, but I was excited to get in the training and have the final push I needed to make me feel mentally and physically ready. It was just really a bummer to get so sick. I was honestly wishing I had gotten sick this week instead for Christmas... is that crazy or what? 

I suppose it's better I got sick sooner rather than later (and really, it was inevitable – I get sick in the fall/winter every year, and I'm surprised it held off this long), so that I could get medication and get myself on the mend before the end of the year. Better that it was a few weeks farther away from Dopey, right? Now is the time to rest and get healthy. I know I can push through the races come race day, so getting healthy is my main priority, and trying to do the maintenance runs until then (starting this weekend – I don't forsee too much this week as I'm still having trouble with breathing and not coughing constantly).

Also, it was horrible being home for all the days, not going into work, but not having any energy to get things done around there. Boo. I don't even have my Christmas tree up yet... ahhh! If we weren't having family over on Christmas Eve, I wouldn't even bother. I still have a few more presents to get and all of the wrapping, and I haven't even ordered our New Year cards yet. Ohhhh boy, it's gonna be a long few days up ahead.

Sorry for all of the complaining, but this is life for me right now haha. 

How was your week? Are you ready for the holidays? Can you believe next week are the final few days of 2014?! Bananas.

P.S. Make sure to review your race(s) on, and join us for #BibChat tomorrow night at 8pm CT.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

bibrave pro stocking stuffer guide: recap

If you follow BibRave on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which I hope you all do by now, this past week they did a Stocking Stuffer Guide with some of the BibRave Pros' favorite things (sponsored by Zensah). I just wanted to do a brief recap of what each day was for y'all, and just a heads up, I'm a fan of EVERY item on the list.

Day 1: My favorite fuel = CLIF BARS

I love me some Clif Bars and Shot Bloks. I pretty much keep a few bars in my purse/bag at all times for when a snack is needed (which for me, is often). I especially like the minis – they are the perfect size and about 100 calories each.

Here's my review on some Clif Bar & Company products.


Day 2: Jeremy's favorite recovery tool = Zensah!

I have taken to wearing my Zensah sleeves on my long training runs during this Dopey Challenge training session. They help keep my legs feeling strong even when they are tired. I've found the Ultras to be an amazing tool for after the runs – they have a bit more compression, which helps with the blood flow and muscle recovery. You can read my review here and Jeremy's here.

Day 3: Angie loves to recover with Addaday!

She takes such fun photos!

Addaday has some of the most AMAZING rollers to help heal tired muscles all over the body. I have the Ultra Roller Plus Series Pro which offers a variety of gears and even has a precision gear to get some of the harder to get at places. Read my review here and Angie's here.

Day 4: Amy loves her Garmin!

I don't have a review for a Garmin, but I've been using the Forerunner 220 since May and love love love it. I've only had trouble with the accuracy two times since I started using it, which I think is pretty great.

Day 5: Melissa loves to recover with Chocolate Milk!

Since I heard of the great powers of Chocolate Milk after running, I decided to try it out for myself. I've noticed some quicker recovery in my own muscles after longer/tougher runs—it's been a quicker recovery time, and have noticed the day after those runs, I don't feel as bad as I used to. There were days that I would have trouble walking the next day from sore legs, but that soreness has greatly been decreased since adding chocolate milk to the recovery lineup. I drink it as quickly after my run as possible (I believe they say within 20–30 minutes is best). I've also been keen on the extra protein kind – that extra 20% is a wonderful thing. Again, no review for this one, but if you like chocolate milk, I would try adding it to your routine. Would love to hear how you notice a difference.

So that's that, my dear friends. All of these things make some great stocking stuffers (though maybe don't add that milk until the last minute ;) ). I would be a happy camper to find any one of these products in my own.

Hope everyone's holidays are going well so far, and looking forward to ringing in the new year :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

friday five: holiday traditions

I'm a day late on my post - many apologies! I've been stuck in bed ALL dang week sick. I managed to get out of the house yesterday to get to the doctor for some medication, and that's about all the energy I had. I'm feeling a smidgen better today, so wanted to make sure I got this posted – never want to miss a week of Friday Five!

Anyway, I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta: Courtney at Eat Pray Run DCCynthia at You Signed up for What?, and Mar at Mar on the Run, as I do every Friday (or Saturday on a rough week ;) ). Thanks for hosting, ladies! This week's theme is "Holiday Traditions".

1. Christmas Eve Mass. Every Christmas Eve I go to mass with my siblings and my mom.

2. Christmas Eve at my house. Starting a few years back, we started having Christmas Eve at my house. It has a little more room than my mom's, so my nephew has room to run around. With all of the new additions to the families (wives and kids), it made it easier to squeeze everyone in.

3. Popeye's Chicken for Christmas Eve Dinner. This has been a long standing tradition in my family. I honestly can't remember a time we didn't do this.

4. Movie time. My husband and I love watching movies during the holidays. We've been trying to get in a few Christmas movies (like Christmas Vacation - I've never seen it, if you can believe such a thing.) and I need my all time favorite White Christmas. If we find a day of nothing, we'll be doing a marathon of the Lord of the Rings Triology. Love it.

5. Baking cookies with my mom. I think I might have mentioned this in a post previously, but I always bake butter and sugar cookies with my mom before Christmas. I've been sick so haven't had the chance to do this yet, but I'm hoping I'll be better by mid-next week to partake in our tradition. I'll be so sad if I can't make it.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

justin's review

Disclaimer: I received a sampling of Justin's products to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews! All opinions and thoughts are honest and my own.

I honestly had never heard of Justin's until the gang at BibRave told us that they were partnering up with them. The friendly folks at Justin's had graciously offered to send some packets to all of the Pros.

What a shock when I received the package. It was fairly heavy, and when I opened it up, I knew why – they had sent me 6 boxes of the 1.15oz packets! That's 60 packets of what sounded like delicious treats. There were 2 boxes of each of the following flavors – Classic Almond Nut Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend, and Maple Almond Butter.

I first tried the Classic Almond after my 23 mile run a few weeks back. It was quite a tasty treat afterwards (and gave me something to look forward to at the finish), though I had trouble eating the whole packet at once.

Using Justin's Almond Butter for a sandwich.

Next, I brought the Classic Almond to work to put on my usual lunch, which is PB&J, but instead of crunchy PB, I used the Classic Almond Butter. It was fantastic. My next trial was the Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend. It was AMAZING. My favorite by far. After opening for a quick taste, I decided to spread it on one of my all-time favorite snacks, an All-In Almond Picky Bar. It was fantastic. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter spread on
an All-In Almond Picky Bar.

The final taste test was the Maple Almond Butter. I decided to put this on one of my top breakfast foods - an English Muffin. It was a delight! It was a touch sweet, but not over the top. I think it was a perfect combination of maple and almond butter. Yum.

English Muffin + Justin's Maple Almond Butter = delightful.

I've also caught my husband sneaking packets from their boxes and using them to make sandwiches for work. He loves all the flavors, but I think the Chocolate Hazelnut was his favorite. I know he's tried them all on bread for sandwiches, and has also tried them on bagels. He hasn't found a bad combination yet.

I really want to get my hands on their Peanut Butter Cups (um, they have white chocolate ones! Can you say amazing?!) and the Vanilla Almond Butter. They also sell 80 calorie squeeze packs, which I think might be the perfect size for carrying on a run or hike, as well as being an easier amount to eat on the go. I love the 1.15 oz packs for travel and bringing to work to make sandwiches.

Another thing I like is that they are all-natural, and that I can pronounce all of the ingredients in each product, which generally isn't a very long list. 

A breakdown for each of the 3 flavors I received can be found below:

Justin's Classic Almond Butter
$11.99 for case of 10 packets
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Almonds, Palm Fruit Oil*.
*Sustainably sourced palm fruit oil
7g Protein, 2g Sugar, Orangutan Friendly Palm Oil, 0g Trans Fat, Vegan, 3g Fiber, Gluten Free, Kosher
Nutritional Facts for Classic Almond

Justin's Maple Almond Butter
$11.99 for a case of 10 packets
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Almonds, Maple Sugar, Palm Fruit Oil*, Sea Salt
*Sustainably sourced palm fruit oil
6g Protein, 3g Sugar, Orangutan Friendly Palm Oil, 0g Trans Fat, Vegan, 3g Fiber, Gluten Free, Kosher

Nutritional Facts for Maple Almond

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend
$11.99 for a case of 10 packets
Ingredients: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Cane Sugar,
Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Palm Fruit Oil*, Natural Vanilla, Sea Salt.
* Sustainably sourced palm fruit oil
4g Protein, 8g Sugar, Orangutan Friendly Palm Oil, 0g Trans Fat, Vegan, 3g Fiber, Gluten Free

Nutritional Facts for Chocolate Hazelnut

One other great thing is that they share recipes on their website for some of the most amazing sounding things ever! Check them out here. I hope to find some time in the near future to make a few things, including Maple Almond Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts, Justin's Giant Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and Gluten-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies. Jenn made some delicious looking Almond Butter Banana Bread Muffins – check out here recipe here.

A little bit more about Justin's from their website:

Making the foods we love extraordinary, with an uncompromised spirit of innovation, sustainability and community.
Our products are made with common sense. A sense that cooking in small batches ensures higher quality. That selectively choosing fine, all-natural ingredients will make it taste better. And that no matter their size, companies should always be grateful to their customers, employees and community.

At Justin's, we all feel an acute need to give back to the community in the most impactful manner possible with the understanding we are a small, growing company. Being a healthy and optimal food source for impoverished communities, Justin's has chosen to reach out and support a local organization whose impact is far reaching. Our answer is The Conscious Alliance. 

Sounds like a great company to me. You can find out more on their website.

So, where can you buy Justin's? Good news for me is that I just spotted some jars at our local Jewel, so you might want to look at your local grocery store as well. You can also purchase online at their website. You can also search for locations using their locator.

Connect with Justin's:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

What the other Pros have to say:
Jeremy | Amy