Friday, January 30, 2015

friday five: favorite indoor workouts

Happy Friday everyone! I'm finally getting back to my normal schedule, and am joining back in with the Friday Five linkup hosted by Courtney at Eat, Pray, Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?, and Mar at Mar on the Run. Thanks for hosting, ladies! (Click on the links for each lovely lady to read their FF posts and to find other blogs to read from the linkup).

The theme for today is 'Favorite Indoor Workouts':

1. Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred - I love her quick 25–30 minute videos that are tough as nails. You can squeeze in a workout even if you are pressed for time, and you know you're making those 25 minutes count.

2. Jillian Michaels Body Revolution - see above.

3. Treadmill - I know most people hate the treadmill, but when it's too cold/icy outside in the winter, or too hot/humid in the summer, it's a great way to still get in my runs. As long as I have some good music or a good movie/tv show, I find the time to go by quickly enough. Mind you, I don't want to do my long long runs on there, but it's a great way to do the maintenance ones if the weather outside isn't to my liking.

4. Yoga - Great way to strengthen your body, as well as relax, burn calories, and fine tune the muscles.

5. Barre Classes - another great way to burn calories, build and lengthen muscles. I couldn't afford classes in the city anymore, but there is a Barre Pilates class at my gym that I'm going to try out next week.

What are your favorite go-to indoor workouts?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

f^3 lake half marathon recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the F^3 Lake Half Marathon 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!*

Plus a drawstring backpack.

A mere two weeks after the Dopey Challenge and a week after getting home from a cruise in which I ran the Castaway Cay 5K (completed the Castaway Cay Challenge),  I ran in the F^3 Lake Half Marathon. Well, running my might a very loose term in this case, as my body was very tired from the events two weeks prior and wasn't quite prepared for another half marathon yet. However, I had registered through BibRave, and had a commitment to fulfill (not that I was even thinking about backing out, I felt like I was ok to run, but once I hit the midway mark I could tell that I was exhausted).

One of the things that drew me to this race initially (before knowing about the possibility of running via BibRave) was the awesome SWAG that came with the race - knit winter hat + bottle opener medal (unique shape) + gloves + drawstring backpack free race photos + Goose Island Beer. That's a lot of great stuff.

I got the green one.

I was excited to have the chance to run this race as a BibRave Pro (it was my first race that I got a free entry for, even though I've done plenty wearing my tank and t-shirt :) ). I knew it was soon after Dopey, but figured I could handle it. Luckily, I was in pretty decent shape (and by shape, I mean I was still able to walk haha) after my first marathon, and I thought that was a good sign for the race.

They had multiple days and locations for packet pickup, which I always love and appreciate. I think it's important for races to do this, especially if there is no race day pick up (which was the case here), because it can be hard for people that live in the suburbs, or are coming from out of town, to get to pickup on a Thursday or Friday in the city. I was able to hit up Road Runner Sports, the Friday pickup location, around 11am. There was no line, and I just showed my ID and my mom's registration email to pick up both of our packets.

Packet Pickup for Road Runner Sports

The race was on Saturday, January 24. Somehow, here in Chicago, we REALLY lucked out with the weather. It was in the mid-30's and mostly sunny with a touch of wind that made the feel like in the upper 20's/lower 30's. For mid-January, that's really something. The course was clear of snow and ice, and only had some puddles here and there from the snow on the grass melting. 

Parking was available at Soldier Field in their north parking garage for $22. Once you parked, you could enter the United Club from level 3 of the garage - no need to even go outside! Loved this feature. There was a bit of a line to get into the parking lot, but I think I only waited maybe 10 minutes to get in, which I don't think is bad at all. I found parking to be fairly painless. 

The pre- and post-race portions were held inside. They had gear check, which I didn't utilize, as well as an area to pick up any extras you might have purchased (zip up, 2014 knit hat, or an extra 2015 knit hat). They also had these items for sale, along with some coffee mugs, pint glasses, etc. 

Being inside also meant indoor plumbing! Being able to use a warm bathroom that has running water and soap is always a plus. The bathroom I used actually had a short line, while the men's was out the door – I don't think I've ever seen that before.

It was pretty crowded, but I managed to spot Julia in the crowd, push my way through calling her name, and was able to say hi/take a photo :) I also met a twitter friend, Kim, finally. She called out to me when I was coming out of the bathroom – so glad she spotted me and said hi! She was very sweet and easy to talk to. She PR'd, so a big congrats to her!

I spotted Julia!

Gear check opened at 8:00am for a 10:00am race start. At 9:40am they did a warm up by the stage. At 9:48am, they led the runners outside to the start line. As far as corrals, they had pace signs up (went by minutes, so 9:00 min/mile, 10:00 min/mile, etc... not sure what they started with, though), so people could line up according to pace, and then at 10:00am the race began, starting in waves. It was maybe 2–3 minutes between each section. There were about 1900 participants in the half marathon. I didn't notice any issues with congestion, though I was mostly at the back-of-the-pack for the majority of the race.

Schedule of Events.

For those that didn't want to run the half marathon, they also had a 5K that started at 10:20am. Their goodie bag consisted of tech gloves and a pint of Goose Island Beer (beanie hat and medal for half marathon only).

I really enjoyed the course – I don't usually get the chance to go so far south on the lakefront path during a race (generally they're shorter distances), so it was nice to have some new scenery, plus there's something serene about the city in the winter—the lake, the skyline, all of the pretty sculptures along the path—made for great eye candy. But really, not having issues with congestion on the path is a RARITY, and I think it helped that being winter, there were less non-racers on the path and not as many cyclists as usual. Granted, the participation number wasn't as high as most other races that are on the path, but I was really happy I didn't have to do a lot of weaving.

The course.

Unfortunately, I was slower than I would have liked to be. I did the race with my mom, and we decided on 30 seconds running and 2 minutes walking to start off. Usually we can increase the running or decrease the walking times, but not this day. Since my body was pretty tired, I just couldn't get myself to go much faster. I was having some problems breathing, and I didn't want to risk injury or any health issues, so we just kept it slow.

The problem with this, even though we were within the packing requirement, was that the last two water stops were no longer serving (even though plenty of volunteers were still around), and at the finish there was no chocolate milk or KIND bars. HUGE bummer. Once we got inside, we went searching for hot chocolate, to find that was also all gone. Boo.

Other than that, it was a great race. The course was clearly marked, with mile marker flags at every mile. The volunteers were energetic and supportive. Having a later start time means sleeping in later, and generally a bit warmer temps. The weather was near perfect. Being able to stay warm before and warming up after the race inside was an amazing plus, and would definitely be even more inviting/welcoming on a colder race day (so hopefully it stays at this venue – this was my first year, but I heard last year was at Montrose Harbor). The after party went until 4pm. I would have stuck around longer, but I had to get to a party and left at about 2pm. 

Race results were up quickly that same day, and you could find a link to photos on their website. I also appreciated the Facebook message posted on their page thanking everyone for coming out. It was heartfelt and I thought it was a nice tough. They sent out a survey the following day as well, which to me is always a positive thing to so – it means they care about how it went for all the runners and will be doing what they can to improve for the next year.

I'll definitely consider this race again next year. Check out my BibRave Review here. I also noticed that they organize the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 that I was looking into last year, but wasn't able to do and was hoping to this year. That's July 7, so I'll keep you posted if I decide to register :)

Connect with F^3 Running:
Website | Facebook Twitter - my photo was retweeted by them :)

*Though I received a free entry into this race, as always, all opinions and thoughts are honest (and mine).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

i mustache you some questions

Earlier in the month, I was tagged by my friends Nathan and Angie to answer some questions. I'm quite delayed in doing so, but here are my answers: 
Four names that people call me, other than my real name:
1. Heath
2. Auntie Heather
3. I don't have many nicknames so can't complete this one haha...
4. ?
Four jobs I have had:
1. Irish Dance Teacher
2. Graphic Designer
3. That's all of 'em

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
2. Zoolander
3. Harry Potter Series
4. Silver Linings Playbook

Four books I’d recommend:
1. Unbroken
2. The Book Thief
3. The Cuckoo's Calling
4. Loving Frank
Four places I have been:
1. Glasgow, Scotland
2. Dublin, Ireland
3. Brean Sands, England
4. Vancouver, Canada

Four places that I'd rather be:
1. Hawaii
2. England
3. New Zealand
4. Disney World

Four things I don’t eat:
1. Mushrooms
2. Anything spicy
3. Sea food
4. Ham

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pizza
2. Cheeseburgers
3. Cheese fries
4. Craft Beer, yes, I'm including it in my foods haha
Four TV shows that I watch:
1. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
2. Downton Abbey
3. Revenge
4. American Horror Story

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Princess Glass Slipper Challenge
2. Meeting more running friends in person
3. Entering the Chicago Marathon lottery
4. Checking off some goals (like cross training more frequently)

Four things I’m always saying:
1. I don't care, you pick
2. Going for a run
3. Want to go grab a drink?
4. I'm hungry

Four people I’m tagging:
1. Jess
3. Erin
4. You - Pick any (or all) of these questions and provide your answers as a comment.

Monday, January 26, 2015

week in review: january 19–25

Well, Dopey Challenge training is over and I do not have another training plan in place yet. My next half marathon in which I have a finish time goal is at the beginning of May, so I definitely need to start getting something put together.

Monday, January 19rest day

Tuesday, January 20: rest day

Wednesday, January 21: rest day

Thursday, January 22: rest day

Friday, January 23: rest day

Saturday, January 2413.1 

Sunday, January 25: rest day

Total Weekly Mileage: 13.1 miles

As far as how my week went, not too much happened. I am finally starting to feel back to normal after being gone for nearly two weeks, plus FINALLY starting to get my health back to where it should be. It's been a long two months, that's for sure.

On Friday during the early afternoon, I went up north to grab my packet for the half marathon on Saturday. My husband came with, and since we were so close to the Binny's with the tasting room, we decided to check that out. That Binny's is the largest I have ever been in, but unfortunately the tasting room was closed for that day for an unforeseen circumstance. When we left, we noticed that Goose Island Brew Pub was across the street, so went there for some lunch and a drink. Yum.

Saturday morning was the F^3 Lake Half Marathon. We really lucked out with weather that day. You can read my BibRave review here, and I'll have a full recap later this week. A goal of mine for 2015 is get my race recaps posted in a timely fashion (within a week... minus Dopey Challenge because I'm still processing it all!). 

After the race, I went straight to my favorite brewery for a special party. When that ended, I went home to shower and take a quick nap. Around 7 some friends came over and we chatted and hung out until midnight. 

Sunday my husband and I FINALLY had the chance to go see the final Hobbit movie. Great movie, but the only theatre in our are that had it still has the most uncomfortable seating ever. It was tough to sit there for 2.5 hours, even though the movie itself went by quickly. After that we stopped at the brewery on our way home, because I had the taste for a Bloody Mary and they make them so delicious there.

So that's my week. It was nice to get in some relaxing time — the only running was the half marathon, and I doubt there will be much this week. I want to give my body a little more time to recover from the exhausting month it has had.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

nite ize: visibility, safety, solutions

Disclaimer: I received a variety of Nite Ize 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 of the awesome products Nite Ize sent.

If you guys know much about me, you know safety is a key concern when I'm out running. I've had to do a lot of night running (I prefer it over early mornings) post work, and I take every precaution I know of to keep me safe out there. I wear a light up vest, bright/reflective clothing, always wear my Road ID, tell people where I'm running and for how long, use Knuckle Lights, etc.

I was super stoked to hear I'd be able to try out some of the awesome products Nite Ize has! What was in the box? A SlapLit LED Slap Wrap, ShoeLit x2 (blue), LED Marker Band, Curvyman, Inova STS Headlamp, Gear Tie - Clippable Twist Tie 24", Gear Tie - Clippable Twist Tie 12", and Gear Tie 8 pack(2 x 3", 2x 6", 2 x 12", and 2x 18"). Lots of cool stuff! 

All it takes to turn on the SlapLit is a quick press of the button.

Let's start out with the SlapLit LED Slap Wrap:
Yes, it's incredibly similar to the slap bracelets of my youth that I was so fond of. How cool is that?! It's made of a durable nylon with a reflective spider web design and is very bright. You can put it on your wrist, ankle, or upper arm. You can use it in two different modes: one where the light stays on, or use it in flashing mode. It's your preference. It's great for any activity outdoors during the evening - cycling, running, walking, lawn games, etc. How did I like using the SlapLit? I LOVED IT. I'm a big fan of things that light up for my night runs, and it made me feel visible (because I was) and safe. It's really easy to use – just press the lightbulb graphic to turn it on, and slap it on your wrist. Press twice for the flashing mode, and another time to turn it off.

It retails for $11.99 and when the batteries get low, you can replace them with a 2032 3V Lithium Coin Cell (which can be bought on Nite Ize here, or found wherever batteries are sold). 

Some other notable details from the website:
• Bright red LED for Active Illumination - Glow or Flash Modes
• Passive High Visibility Reflective Pattern
• Easily replacable 1 x 2032 3V lithium battery included
• 100 hour battery life

LED Marker Band:
Another great product for safety during night runs is the LED Marker Band. It's lightweight, adjustable, flexible, long lasting, and makes you VISIBLE. This is key to night time running. I want to be sure that I am doing everything I can to make myself visible to drivers. While I also have to be diligent in checking for traffic myself, as I know drivers aren't always paying the best attention, I feel better with the fact that I'm at least very easily seen by them if they are paying attention. Not much more can be done on my part.

Front and back of the LED Marker Band

This guy is easy to put on. I tried it on my arm; all you need to do is slide your arm in, adjust the strap, and shut the clasp it in place when it's at the size you want. The retail price is $11.99 an can be found here.

Some other notable details from the website:
• Bright red LED for Active Illumination - Glow or Flash Modes
• Passive High Visibility Reflective Pattern
• Lightweight, Flexible Design
• Easily replacable 1 x 2032 3V lithium battery included
• Adjustable size elastic strap fits: 5.5" – 25.5"
• 100 hour battery life

ShoeLits on my Nike Lunarglide :)

I received two blue ShoeLit - somehow they knew me favorite color! ;) They also come in red, green, and pink. My shoes don't have a ton of reflective material on them, so I love having this extra light to make me visible. I feel a bit like a personal light up show, but if it's what might help prevent me from getting hit by a car, I just don't care what I look like.

They are water resistant... but I wonder how much water they can withstand? Would they have made it through the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which, for me, was 3+ hours in the rain? I'll let you guys know if/when I find out it's water resistant level :)

These were easy to put on – just slide the clip underneath your shoe laces and then snap to the front portion (the light). These are made with a bright white LED in a water-resistant casing backed by a durable stainless steel locking gate. To turn on, just twist the light, and turn the other way to turn off. These retail at  $4.49 per light (they are not sold as a pair, but as individuals).

Some other notable details from the website:
• Features passively reflective pattern for safety when not illuminated
• Secure clip: easy to attache and remove
• Easily replaceable 1 x CR 927 3V lithium battery (included)
• Battery Run Time: 24 hours

This thing is amazing! So so bright. I honestly loved to use it when taking the  dogs out for their night time bathroom breaks - they go in a special run on the side of the house, which has very poor lighting, so this headlamp helped a LOT. I love that to turn it on, switch to the other settings, turn off, all you have to dis swipe. Again, they must know my favorite color as I received blue :)


It was really easy to adjust the strap so that it fit my head properly. Watch how it works/how to use the lamp here. It retails for a reasonable $34.99.

Some notable things about the headlamp from the website:
• Mult-mode, full LED color headlamp featuring a simple touch activated user interface - Swipe-to-Shine
• Lumens (White LED):High - 142 | Medium - 40 | Low - 3
• Run Time (White LED): High 4h 40m | Medium 26h 40m | low - 2h
• IPX-7 - Waterproof to 1 meter
• 1 white high power LED featuring 5 modes (high, variable dim, medium, strobe, and lockout)
• 2 red LEDs for preserving night vision that features 5 modes (high, variable dim, medium, strobe, and lockout)
• Fully programmed lock-out mode to prevent accidental activation when transporting or storing
• Battery Type: 3 x AAA alkaline replaceable batteries
• Available in 3 body and strap colors: Charcoal, Orange, and Blue
• Impact resistant polycarbonate body
• Adjustable Angles for precise illumination
• High quality, woven elastic strap

Honestly, I need a little more time with it to remember all of the ways to switch the modes (other than from high, medium, strobe - that's pretty much a no brainer haha), but so far, I am finding it easy and quite helpful to use. For running, it's a bit easier to have a headlamp than to have to carry my Knuckle Lights, plus, the batteries last WAY longer. Thank you, Nite Ize. I swear, I had to change the batteries after every Knuckle Lights use, which was really frustrating. If I didn't, I'd be out for a run and one would always die. Ugh.

This cute little thing is great for keeping cords from getting tangled up in my purse. I try to always keep my Apple headphones on me at all times (never know when I need to listen to music!), so Curvyman was a great solution for me. No more tangles! Amazing. He also has some other great features: use it to shorten your cord, clip it on to your shirt when running. I'm sure there's a million ways you could use this product. This product costs just $3.39.

I clip him on the inside of my purse. Great way to find him.

Some other details of note:
• Available in black, white, pink, orange, and purple, plus two tactical colors: coyote brown and foliage green (both have S-Biner's with black non-reflective gates)
• Customization Availble - engrave your logo or company name
• Made of durable, lightweight plastic
• Comes with a size #0 plastic S-Biner attachment (clip on to your keys, backpack, purse, or zipper pull)

What an awesome use!

Finally, I received an assortment of Gear Ties

They're great at keeping larger cords from tangling - I found them useful when I traveled to Florida for keeping my GoPro Battery Charger and other cords - it kept them in a more organized manner. Definitely better than those paper/wire ones that come with most product packaging. Honestly, I haven't found a use for the Clippable Twist Ties, but they offer a variety of uses on the packaging itself – hang a smaller piece of luggage on your roller bag, Clip and hang larger cords in the garage (maybe that extra extension cord that's in tangles). I think if I gave them to my husband, he'd find a lot of things to use it for. I have a feeling they'd come in handy on a camping trip. Depending on what you got, they ranged from about $6–$25.

Some product details
• Available in the following colors: black, blue, lime green, red, bright orange, neon yellow, neon pink, desert tan, foliage green, coyote brown, and navy blue (some have assorted color packs)
• Use gear ties in the garage, on the boat, in the home, and in countless other places where things need to be secured and organized
• Waterproof and safe for use in fresh or salt water without damage
• UV resistant - will not be damaged or destroyed by extended sun exposure
• Tough rubber shell provides excellent grip
• Use indoors and outdoors in any weather
• Strong wire inside holds its shape
• Won't scratch or mark
• Twist it, tie it, reuse it

Some cords kept organized while traveling.

Thanks so much to BibRave and the people at Nite Ize for the wonderful opportunity to try all of these amazing products! Definitely check them out - especially if you are someone that spends time outdoors when it's dark out. Safety first!! They also have some pretty cool stuff for your cell phone.

Connect with Nite Ize:


Check out the thoughts of some other BibRave Pros:

Monday, January 19, 2015

i'm back! a recap of the past few weeks.

I DID IT! Dopey Challenge Complete!

Hi guys! Just wanted to write a post and apologize for my absence. I've been a busy lady these past two weeks, and honestly, writing up blog posts was the last thing on my mind, and I'm ok with that. I had such a great time meeting up with friends, and making some new ones, along with all of the fun races.

Anyway, I am back and hope to play catch up the remainder of the month with blog posts and reading all of my friends posts as well. Hope you have all been great and have been having some wonderful runs and races. 

Here's a little recap of the past few weeks since my last week in review December 22–28.

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 27

Monday, December 29rest day

Tuesday, December 30: rest day

Wednesday, December 31: rest day

Thursday, January 1: rest day

Friday, January 2: rest day

Saturday, January 3rest day 

Sunday, January 4: hike at Bullfrog Lake in the snow

Weekly mileage: 0 miles
Total mileage for Dopey Challenge Training: 370.26 miles

So, I was still battling the cough and sinus infection this week and just continued to rest/sleep the best I could. I figured at this point it was the best thing I could do for myself before the big races in Florida. On Wednesday we had a wedding to celebrate, along with NYE, so that was really fun, though a late evening. January 1 we went to my in-laws to hang out with the family and my sister-in-law and her family for the last time before they headed back home to AZ. 

Other than that, not much to report. I started to get my gear and packing list ready for the next week.

Dopey Challenge Training (RACE WEEK): Week 28

Monday, January 5rest day

Tuesday, January 6 fly to Orlando!

Wednesday, January 7: WDW Expo

Thursday, January 8: WDW 5K (3.21 miles)

Friday, January 9: WDW 10K (6.34 miles)

Saturday, January 10WDW Half Marathon (13.35 miles) 

Sunday, January 11: WDW Marathon (26.84 miles)

Weekly mileage: 49.74 miles
Total mileage for Dopey Challenge Training: 420 miles

What a whirlwind of a week! It snowed the night before we left, and a little in the morning, so I was concerned with getting out on time, but other than having to wait for our pilots/crew from another flight, there weren't any other issues. We left about 30 minutes late, but were only about 10 minutes late landing thanks to some tailwind. We checked in to the hotel, unpacked a little, and headed to Magic Kingdom for some rides and fun.

Fun at Animal Kingdom.

On Wednesday I woke up early to sign up for the NB Virtual Queue and then hit up the expo when it opened so I could ensure I got the Dopey merchandise that I wanted in the correct size. It was a bit of a madhouse, but I managed to get everything I had my eye on. I'll speak more in detail about the expo in another post, and each race will probably also get their own post as well.

I will say that the Dopey Challenge was very tough, but very rewarding. There were tears, as predicted, for many reasons – pain, exhaustion, relief, pride. Basically, there were a whole lot emotions running through me the entire race. I still can't believe that it's over! All the hard work and 29 weeks of training DONE. It's like... now what?! Haha. I actually have a half marathon this upcoming Saturday, so obviously I still have plenty on my plate, but I don't have a training schedule put in place yet, so that's weird. It was something on my calendar that I followed almost religiously, so to not have that feels like something is missing.

Dopey Challenge Training: Week 29

Monday, January 5rest day - head to Disney Dream Cruise!

Tuesday, January 6 Nassau

Wednesday, January 7: Castaway Cay 5K (3.1 miles)

Thursday, January 8: rest day

Friday, January 9: debark, spend a lot of time at the airport, fly home

Saturday, January 10rest day 

Sunday, January 11: rest day

Weekly mileage: 3.1 miles
Total mileage for Dopey Challenge Training: XXX miles

The day after successfully completing the Dopey Challenge, I went on a Disney Cruise to run the Castaway Cay 5K and received the Castaway Cay Challenge medal :) I didn't have any cell service (except briefly when I turned it on in port in the Bahamas so I could email my husband) and I wasn't going to pay for internet access on the ship, hence why my week in review posts have been missing and why I am now trying to catch up... did anyone actually miss me or my posts? Haha.

Enjoying some sun, beach, ocean, and beer at Castaway Cay.

I have other half marathons on my list for the upcoming months, and I'd really like to get a PR of under 3:00 hours, so that's my next big goal. I know it's feasible as I was getting faster throughout 2014, I just wasn't going for any times during most of my races, I was stayed with my mom and had fun with her for most of them. 

Time to start getting together my next training plan. I think my goal race will be a local half in the beginning of May. It's a fairly flat course with an out and back, so as long as the weather isn't too warm, I think it's the perfect race to set my sights on.