Tuesday, July 21, 2015

chicago marathon training: week 2

Monday, July 13: Burgers and Beer 5k
Tuesday, July 14: 2 miles at CP
Wednesday, July 15: Rest/Stretch Day
Thursday, July 16: 2 miles at CP
Friday, July 16: Rest/Stretch Day
Saturday, July 17: Rock 'N Roll 5k (3.1 miles at CP)
Sunday, July 18: Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon (13.1 miles)

My schedule got a little bit off this week. I was a dope and forgot to mention my Monday race to my Sweat Tracker coach, and so really my week was supposed to be: 2 miles CP Tuesday–Thursday + 11 miles on Saturday. She ended up having a bit of an emergency, so when she got back to me about skipping Thursday, I had already skipped Wednesday because I wasn't feeling great and figured I would do my 2 miles Thursday. Plus, I was running 5 days this week, rather than the 4 I usually do.

Anyway, I had a great time at the Burgers and Beer 5k, of which I'll have a recap up this week. The weather was extremely warm and humid, but at least I had my Buff to help keep the sweat out of my eyes. Universal Sole organizes a really great race and post-race party. I ran with my mom, who has a minor injury, so we did 30 minute run / 1 minute walk intervals.

My 2 miles on Tuesday and Thursday were fine. I ran 1 minute walk 1 minute run intervals. That seems to be going well for me on my shorter runs. My pace has been getting better, so I'm happy about that. Now I just need to carry that over to my longer runs. Let me just say, I am not a fan of the heat or humidity – it generally leaves me feeling nauseous and fainty, so I have to dial it down bit. 

The race on Saturday was a lot of fun. Pre-race, I got to hang out with my pal Jordan (who also came back to the race course to say hi to my mom and I before leaving – he's so nice!). The race itself was quite warm, but thankfully there was a bit of a breeze. Afterwards, I got to meet Meb, which was SO cool. I'll have more in my recap next week.

Sunday was a whole other story. The weather was MISERABLE! Originally there was rain in the forecast, which I welcomed (not lightning, mind you, since that would cancel the race, but rain would feel great with the heat). Unfortunately, no rain, and not enough clouds. It was hot hot hot. Again, I stayed with my mom (not that I would have been able to get ahead of her, if we're being honest). I was pretty much beat down at mile 3… the heat really ruined me. However, I still had fun with it, and still managed to finish, which is always my number 1 goal :)

Week 3 of training will bring another 3-day 2 mile run at CP Tuesday–Thursday, and then I'll be doing my long run on Sunday, which will be 12 miles. Hopefully the heat won't be so bad, but if it is, it'll give me some more practice of dealing with the heat while running. We haven't had a ton of HOT days yet this summer, so I haven't acclimated to it. I do want to continue running in the heat, so that if Chicago Marathon day comes and it's 80 degrees, I'll be used to coping with that kind of weather. I'm really hoping for last year's weather, though… but we never know what mid-October in Chicago will bring.

How was your week in training? Any races this weekend? Congrats, if yes! Now head over to BibRave.com to write a review and help your fellow running friends out :) 

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, July 13, 2015

chicago marathon training: week 1

Monday, July 6: rest day (stretch and foam roll); Jillian Michaels Body Revolution Phase 1 Workout 1
Tuesday, July 7: running = 2 miles; Jillian Michaels Body Revolution Phase 1 Workout 2
Wednesday, July 8: running = 2 miles
Thursday, July 9: running = 2 miles
Friday, July 10: rest day (stretch and foam roll)
Saturday, July 11: 10 miles
Sunday, July 12: rest day (stretch and foam roll)

I know most people started their training 3 or 4 weeks ago, and though I was running, I wasn't on a training plan yet. The one on Chicago Marathon's website was a bit too much for me, and lucky for me, I was able to get a coach from Sweat Tracker* to set up a training plan specifically for my goals and abilities, super personalized, to get me to the finish line. So, that's why that was week 1. I'll have another post soon with more details about Sweat Tracker and how it's going.

During the holiday weekend, I decided I wanted to get back into Jillian Michaels videos to help lose weight, build a better core (and really, muscles everywhere), and just generally improve my overall athletic abilities. I have her 90-Day Body Revolution, so decided to start the program back up (I never finished it the first time around), however, running would be my main focus and priority. I managed to get Monday's workout in post-work, and then I woke up early Tuesday morning to fit in Phase 1 Workout 2 in the morning before heading to work. Unfortunately, I didn't manage the workouts on Thursday or Friday, as planned. 

On Wednesday I started to feel the beginnings of a cold coming on, so decided to focus on running and getting the rest needed to stay healthy before it became a full on illness (generally with me, it becomes a sinus infection, or something respiratory – neither of which I'd like to deal with). Through my many sicknesses throughout the year, I know that for me getting a bit of extra sleep is very helpful for me, so that's what happened.

I felt pretty good after them – sore, but in that really good way. The way that you know your body is working on getting stronger. Hurts so good.

As far as the ruling went, the 2 miles on Tuesday–Thursday felt really good. I was feeling tired on Thursday, but apparently my legs weren't, because I couldn't slow them down to my a pace I felt I should be at, and I finished my two miles with a 30 second faster average pace than usual. Who knows what was going on.

On Saturday I hit up the trails for my 10 miler. I realized on my way there that I only had the bug repellent in my car that had been sitting there for a few years... and wasn't sure how good it was anymore. Last weekend I got eaten alive by mosquitos, and I wanted to make sure to bring repellent this time. I put on the old stuff anyway, hoping it was better than nothing, and it worked pretty well, thankfully. Only 1 bite this time, not 15 (and that's not a joke).

I also realized I forgot to pack my Clif Shot Bloks and my Energybits  - argh. I only had one in my backpack that was leftover from a previous run. While for most this might not be a big deal, who really needs chews for a 10 miler... well, I do. I also don't eat breakfast before running, so the chews and Energybits are the only things I'm taking to keep my hunger at bay and keep my energy levels up once I get to mile 5. I did have my bottle of Nuun and a bottle of water, both of which were gone by the end of my run.

I felt good for the first 5 miles or so, and then fatigue started to kick in. My legs felt good, but I just wanted to be done. My pace slowed and I had to do a bit more walking than planned. I partially blame the elevation gain, but really I just think the week caught up with me. I went out later than I planned, and even though I was in bed at 10, I ended up sleeping until 8 the next morning. I was so tired, that I didn't feel guilty about it.

I did a weigh in today for myself, to see how my week had been, and I was down a pound, so that was awesome to see (especially on a Sunday, when my weight is likely to be the worst after a weekend... maybe I should do weigh-in Fridays? What day do you think is best for weigh-ins?).

Also, if you are interested, I wrote a recap for Terrapin 5k and a review of Everlast Nutrition Vegan Protein Powder (vanilla). AND if you are looking for a race, I've got some discounts for you. Head on over to the discounts page!

I'm excited to see what my coach comes up with for this week's plan! Whoooo!

How was your week? Did you race? Have a long run? Tell me about it!

*Disclaimer: I received a free Sweat Tracker Performance Package to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

everlast nutrition vegan protein powder review

Disclaimer: I received four sample packets of Vanilla Everlast Nutrition Vegan Protein Powder to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

Hey guys! I'm back with another product review, thanks to the good folks at BibRave and Everlast Nutrition.

I have never tried protein powder before, so I was new to this whole thing, but was definitely interested in giving it a try! I was excited to have the opportunity to learn more about it all. I had to google recipes to find something I liked. Also, I should mention, I am not a vegan or vegetarian, so I used ingredients that were in my normal diet. However, there seem to be a lot of options for vegans out there (a few of my vegan friends were suggesting almond milk and coconut milk to replace regular milk… unfortunately for me, I don’t like either of those haha). I wasn’t sure if using non-vegan ingredients was a no-no, but Everlast tweeted me back saying that the beauty of Everlast VP is that it’s for everyone! So for me, that means you should make it how you like it, with whatever ingredients that might include. Hooray! If you're interested in learning more about Everlast Nutrition, go here.

The first time I tried it, my husband made it for me before I headed to work. He mixed milk, Everlast VP, ice, and some honey. I didn’t love it – the texture was a bit too thick, and the taste wasn’t anything to write home about. I figured maybe I needed another ingredient or two, so, I did some ‘research’ on that thing called Google, searching for protein powder shake/smoothie recipes. I found one with ingredients I had in the house already (or could modify for ones I had), and for someone like me who isn’t too kitchen savvy, looked easy enough. The result? Deliciousness! 

Vanilla Banana Protein Smoothie
Put the following ingredients into a blender or Magic Bullet:
• 1 serving Everlast VP Vanilla (I used my sample package)
• 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%, which was in the fridge)
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 banana
• dash of cinnamon
• ice
• mix until smooth

I didn’t have any lumps or chunks, so the texture was smooth and not too thick for this food-texture phobia gal. I think I would call it a shake over a smoothie, but I’m not sure what the difference is. The second time around with this recipe I used the whole banana instead of half. If worked just as well, and figured why not use the whole banana? I also added a small squeeze of caramel sauce. Yum.

Putting Everlast VP into the blender.

The actual recipe calls for almond milk instead of regular milk. I'm sure my 1% is adding more calories, but I prefer the taste and it seems to mix with my fraps and smoothies better than than Skim Milk we usually have. Depending how you make it, this simple, low-calorie smoothie with protein powder and almond milk helps fuel your workout (or fuels you post-workout), and adding half a banana (or like me, the whole thing) to the mix helps keep your electrolytes balanced. 

The finished product! Sorry for my feet..

My husband used one of my sample packets to make his own smoothie (apparently he was unaware that they weren't for him haha). He has used protein powders before, and said that he thought the Everlast VP was pretty good compared to the others he has tried. He's the kind of cook that just dumps things in without measuring, so all I can say is he used milk, ice, Everlast VP, and a banana. Anyway, he says it was enjoyable, which is the point I'm trying to make haha.

And why do we need protein? Here's an article from Runner's World about it, but the gist is that 'adequate protein intake accelerates muscle growth and speeds recovery by helping rebuild muscle fibers stressed during a run. Since protein helps muscles heal faster, runners who consume the right amount are less likely to get injured.' And guess what? Those that don't consume the sufficient amounts are at a higher risk for injury. Proper protein intake has also been shown to help maintain a strong immune system. Pass the protein, please!

How much is the right amount? The recommended daily amount is .36 grams per pound of body weight, 'but that's not enough for athletes, according to ISSN, which says endurance athletes like runners need .45 to .72 grams per pound. That translates into 75 to 120 grams of protein daily for a 165-pound runner.' Seriously, though, that article has a lot of good info for you, I found it very helpful, as I tend to have no idea what I should be eating, or how much of certain items (like protein) I need on a daily basis.

Everlast VP has 22g of protein in one serving, along with 1.5 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 540mg of sodium, 2g carbohydrates, and 2% calcium. One serving is 110 calories  15 of which are from fat. They suggest mixing 1 scoop in 8–12 oz of water or your favorite cold beverage or smoothie. I personally prefer the smoothie option :) 

Ingredients include: plant protein (pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein) carrageenan, sea salt, natural flavor, and stevia glycoside. This product is made or packaged in the same facility as products that contain milk, eggs, wheat, and soy.

I find it to be a great way to get my breakfast in in the morning (I usually can't eat anything for at least an hour after waking up), but I'm ok to drink things. I'm also not one to wake up early enough to be awake long enough to eat breakfast before going to work, so, I make a smoothie and drink it on my commute. As a smoothie, you are generally adding quite a few more calories, so it can work well as a meal replacement. I find that the smoothie fills me up until my next meal, without needing a bunch of snacks in between.

I also wasn't sure if it was best to get the protein pre- or post-workout scientifically (though I felt pre-workout drinking a smoothie wouldn't sit so well), so EverlastVegan answered me on Twitter: After a workout, muscle growth and repair are heightened for 24+ hours. Consume protein during this period to amplify muscle building. So there you have it. Drink your protein post-workout to help that muscle recovery!

If you're interested in giving Everest VP a try (or already have a love it), use code 'HEATHERRUNS13_1' for 5% off! Also, they currently have a promotion that if you buy a package of Everlast VP, you get a free Everlast 20oz Shake Cup (limited quantity available until supplies last). They are ALSO providing free shipping on all US orders over $20, which is also a limited time offer. I wouldn't wait to get these special deals, just sayin'. Grab yours today!

A package is 31 servings, or 2 pounds, and costs $39.99. From what I hear, that's a reasonable price. I've never purchased protein powder before, so couldn't do any comparison, but my sources say that's cheap for a protein powder, especially when it's a vegan product.

EverlastVegan will be sponsoring #BibChat this upcoming Tuesday at 8pm CT – join the conversation and have a chance to win some awesome prizes! It's always a fun time, and everyone is welcome!

You should follow them on social media – motivational images and quotes on Facebook, and they are very active on Twitter (they were always responding to my questions, or just interacting with me in general – better than a lot of companies).

Connect with Everest VP:

website | twitter | instagram | facebook

Read some other PROS thoughts and recipes:

Angie (granola bar recipe) | Angie (go-to smoothie recipe) | Jess | Allison | Laurel | Katie | Kim | Laura

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ram racing terrapin 5k recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into RAM Racing Terrapin 5k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

The Terrapin 5k, with this year being the last, was held on Thursday, July 2 at 6:30pm. I'm always a little nervous doing races in July, especially with how hot and humid Chicago can be. The running gods must have been smiling down on me, as it was a GORGEOUS night for a run. It was party cloudy with temps in the high 60s (maybe lower 70s) with a slight breeze. I was glad that I chose to put on shorts and tie-died Zensah compression sleeves rather than wearing capris. I was definitely sweaty when running, but the good kind, not the dripping sweat because it's 100 degrees + 100% humidity. (If you want the short and sweet review version, go here).


While there were different options for packet pickup, including 12–3 in Deerfield and Elmhurst on Sunday, and 10–3 at Fleet Feet Old Town, I was very very happy to take advantage of the race day packet pickup option. I didn't have time to drive to any of these locations prior to the race, as they are all a bit of a hike for me.

Post-race party with Lou Malnati's, brownies,
and Magic Hat? Sign me up!
Plus, look at the fun shirt and hat!

I left work early in order to ensure that I had enough time to get into the city and get to my packet before it stopped at 6pm. I got there with lots of time to spare – 5:00, to be exact. I had pre-purchased my parking on Wednesday using SpotHero, for $10, so it made that bit less stressful (and cheaper than choosing a parking facility the day of and paying $20+ for a few hours).

After the long drive (about 1.5 hours), I had to utilize the bathroom, and I stopped at the open facility right before heading into the park – I'm a fan of running water and soap! I knew there would be ports-potties in the race area, but figured there was no line here, so might as well just go. 

Anyway, the race set up was within a fenced area in the park (so was on the grassy part – luckily, even though we had been getting a lot of rain, it wasn't muddy), so I headed in and to the left was the packet pickup area. A lady waved me over before I even knew that's where I should go. I handed her my printed out confirmation email, and bam, I had a clear plastic bag in my hands with my bib, safety pins, tie-dyed tech shirt, and hat. I have to say that the shirt was cooler than I was expecting–it looked much better in person than it did in the photos online. Yippee! (Speaking of, I saw someone in my neighborhood wearing the shirt the other day – she was walking her dog. I wished I had been out running instead of driving, because I would have struck up a conversation with her).

The scene pre-race.
Right after getting my packet, I spotted Julia and her boyfriend, so I hung out with them for a bit to chit chat. They had to do a few warm up miles, so we set our plans to meet up post-race, and I kept an eye out for my pal Jordan. During this time, I decided to get my drinking wristband, since I had some free time, and figured it would be nice to have it done when I finished so I wouldn't have to worry about it. I got in a short line, showed the guy my ID, and he put on my wristband. 

About 10 minutes before the race I spotted Jordan, and it turned out we were in the same corral, so we went together to line up (the line up area was outside the fenced area over on the sidewalk).

Me and Jordan at the start line of the race.

The corrals were A–D and had maybe 2.25 minutes between each wave release. The race started on time, and at about 6:37 we were off. I stayed with Jordan for the first 11 minutes or so – just before the first mile marker. You guys, I RAN that whole time. I know, amazing, right? If you know me at all, you know I do the run/walk intervals, and usually my runs are no longer than 1 minute before I take my walk breaks. Being with Jordan made me push myself harder. It was great. 

But… after 11 minutes I needed a walk break to catch my breath. After that, I did 1 minute walk/1 minute run intervals. I was really happy with how I was feeling – a little tired, but it felt good to push myself to go faster than usual. The thought of my friends having to wait a long time for me to finish (eh hem - Julia was the first female to finish — speedy McGee!) kept me moving quickly, as I didn't want to make them wait TOO long. So, thanks for putting that pressure on me, you guys! Ha - I jest, since I put the pressure on myself. I gave them lots of warning to go eat and get some beers and I would meet them in the post-race area, so that they didn't have to wait for me at the finish. To my surprise, they were at the finish line still when I crossed! Then they yelled at me for saying how slow I was, since they weren't waiting long at all. They're so sweet. Anyway, the point of the story is that I'm thankful to have awesome running friends that help motivate me to be a better runner.

The course was enjoyable – a little different than most other races that are at Arvey Field… even if the only difference was the direction was switched. It's a little hard to explain how the course went, so here's an image of it. The only bit of course I didn't enjoy was towards the end when you had to run down a small grass hill, which was lined with small square bricks (mind you, the bricks weren't connected, there was a space between each) – for a clumsy gal like me, that could have been dangerous. Luckily, I managed to get down it without incident. 

The course.

At about mile 1.5 or 2 there was an aid stop. I only remember seeing water, which I grabbed from a volunteer, but online it said there would be Gatorade. Can anyone confirm if it was just water, or if I missed the Gatorade in my race haze? For a 5k, I think it's fine if it was only water, but I do my best to provide all the information to my readers :)

At the finish line, they had cups of Gatorade. This isn't a deal breaker, but I would have liked a bottle of water, especially before heading over to drink some beers. I did chug my cup of Gatorade, and then Tom (fellow BibRave Pro), Julia, J's BF, Jordan and I headed to the post-race party. They got their items from gear check, we grabbed some Lou Malnati's pizza and brownies, chatted, and then headed over to the beer tent. 

BibRave For Life!

Another thing, if you know me, is that I was very pleased that it was a craft beer! Not only that, but they had two options – Magic Hat #9 and Electric Peel. I personally preferred the Electric Peel, an IPA (which is surprising, because I'm not usually an IPA person). Tom had to leave a bit earlier than the rest of us, but we ended up having some drinks and talking for about 2 hours after the race. There was a Grateful Dead cover band (Old Shoe) playing until about 10, and it was just such a lovely night to be outside enjoying the company.

Lovely evening for a race.

A funny thing that happened was that a few different runners came up to our group to give us their extra drink tickets before leaving. I don't know if it's because we looked like we were there for the long haul, or because we were a larger group than most, but we appreciated it. Once the runners started clearing out, security started allowing some Dead Heads to wander in to enjoy the band and some beers. Tickets were available for beer for $5 (cash only), or you could have purchased extras at the packet pickup. Each runner had a ticket for a beer and a slice of pizza and brownies attached to their bib.

Nom nom nom.

I had SUCH a fun time at this race, and am bummed that it won't be back next year. This was my first time experiencing it, and it was awesome. I think RAM Racing did a great job communicating all of the night's events, along with the packet pickup info, in advance, so runners could plan. I knew well in advance when and where packet pickups were, and that the best option for me was to do it on race day. I've never had any problems for packet pickup or on race day with a RAM event (I've done Hot Chocolate, Rock the Night, and I'm sure some others in the past that I can't think of now). So for me, I have no problem registering for more events that they host, especially since they all have amazing SWAG and post-race treats.

Julia and I hydrating post-race.

With our new friend Caption Jim.
Can you tell who the runners are? They have the reflective gear haha.

Did you race the Terrapin 5k this year, or in the past? How did it go for you?

Make sure to go to BibRave.com and write reviews for any/all of your races! It helps runners choose their races in the future, and helps race directors see what they can improve on. Also, head on over to Twitter on Tuesday nights at 8pm CT for #BibChat where we discuss running, motivation, food, beer, etc. It's always a blast, and the hour files by. Check it out!