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run rock ‘n roll chicago: the WORST race I’ve ever run.

Posted in Work Out by
I was provided a sample from Coolcore and promotional credit from Spothero, but all opinions are my own!

A few months ago when I started spending more time with my grandparents, my grandpa asked if I was still running. I wasn’t, but I thought about it often. On a whim, I signed up for the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll 10K – it was National Running Day and that seems to be an annual tradition of mine. My first half-marathon was the Run Rock ‘n Roll Cleveland half a few years ago, so I know the series and had had a great time. I thought I’d certainly have time to train up and get into shape to knock out some consistent 12:00 miles, never mind that my training has ranged from non-existent to inconsistent at best for the last few years. Nevertheless, I was excited to take on a race length I’d never done before!

Leading up to the race, I would hit the elliptical about five days a week for 30-60 minutes… starting about two weeks before race day. (At least I was trying!) The expo was at McCormick Place, which is officially my least favorite place in Chicago. Pro tip: if you’re ever headed there for a packet pickup, enter the Hyatt Regency as the destination, or else your GPS will bring you under the convention center where there’s no way to get in. Dani and I trotted around the expo quickly – the KT Tape line was mercifully short, and the free loot was pretty good. Rock Tape was there as well, but I resisted the urge to cover my entire body in kineseo tape. I’m excited to try the Muscle Mac we got. I also splurged on a race shirt – it’s almost like Brooks heard I was coming.

The night before the race I definitely had some nerves that I didn’t expect. My race day plan had turned into “finish, and don’t fall,” so I wasn’t anxious about hitting a goal time by that point. I did have a vague stretch goal in mind, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid and get hurt. I did the requisite pre-race preparation by getting my gear bag ready, putting the bib on my Fitletic belt, setting out my outfit, and plugging in the headphones to charge. I had received a tank from Coolcore to test out, so I paired that with my much beloved Superfit Hero capris. I bagged up three Olly Endless Energy vitamins to use as chews halfway through the race, then settled into bed to make plans to get downtown for the race. Arranging early morning transportation is one of my least favorite things – will there be Lyft drivers online before 6am? What time does my bus start running? I opted to bypass that and instead pre-book a parking spot by using SpotHero. I parked three blocks from the start/finish line, and it made it super easy to get downtown and save me some grief. If you’re running a downtown Chicago race, I highly suggest opting for that!

Like the last Run Rock ‘n Roll race I did, corrals were well-signed, and gear check was easy to find and navigate. They even had pre-race bananas and water, which was great since I had managed to walk out of the house without water.

I also want to give a big ‘ol shoutout to the lady I stood next to in the corral who was on the phone getting a pep talk from a friend. She said “I’m learning not to compare myself to the runner I once was and to instead embrace the runner I now am.” I’ve thought about that a lot since I heard it, and I was so thankful to be hearing it.

The race started at 6:30am with corral 1, and I crossed the start line around 7:00. It’s a similar start to the Hot Chocolate 5k, and I had forgotten that it starts with a bridge uphill. Woooof. I’d been having some trouble finding new running shoes to replace my long-blown out Asics, so I was running in shoes that I’d only had for two days. Probably not the smartest move, but YOLO, right? By the time I got up that first bridge my shins were SCREAMING, and I had shin splints for the first time in my life in mile one. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the race then.

I kept on, enjoying the gorgeous lake view, listening to my music to keep my pacing… until my headphones turned off before the second mile marker hit. It was really not a great start. I got EXTREMELY down on myself for awhile, thinking about how slow I was, how embarrassing it was that I was even trying, things like that. As we rounded a corner to get a really great view of the city skyline against Lake Michigan and came upon the first band, I realized how lucky I am to even be able to go run even if it is slow. I pulled over to snap a selfie, then trotted to catch back up to the ladies I’d been playing leapfrog with as a pacing trick.

run rock n roll course view

The race, my leg pain, and my splits got better after that. It’s so funny how things can be very self-fulfilling – if I would have let myself stay in the negative, I have no doubt that every step would have been painful. I tried resetting my headphones and they came back on as well. We hit the halfway mark water station, I ate my energy chews, and we merged with the half marathoners. The last band we passed featured a 90’s cover band, complete with a bassist in Zubaz – my soulmate, possibly? As we finally approached the timing clock, I could see that I was very very very close to my goal time… which I then missed by 1:02. I’m blaming that selfie! I’m pretty proud of being able to pull myself out of thinking negative, and for finishing a new distance. 10k is the perfect amount of running to not get bored, like I occasionally did in halfs.

Finish line gear was amazing. Bananas, bagels, chocolate milk (my fave,) Gatorade – they were well equipped with refueling options. Finisher’s village was great – they even had wine this time for those who don’t like beer.

Coolcore tank in Run Rock 'n Roll 10k Chicago

Shoutout to Dani for braiding my hair!

Coolcore‘s tank did an amazing job of pulling the sweat and moisture away from my body. I had actually worn it to a Flywheel class as well, and it did the same there, too. I was skeptical of the sizing, but I was so happy with it – the women’s XL fits loose, so it doesn’t feel like it’s clinging to you and lets you breathe. The only thing that I noticed early on in the race was that it did chafe a bit against my arms because the arm holes are a bit larger than I normally wear, but I’m very happy with it and look forward to trying out some of their shorts or leggings!

run rock n roll

If you’re considering doing any Rock ‘n Roll race, keep an eye on Groupon. A few weeks after I signed up, I saw that they were available there too.

July 24, 2017
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what’s the best time of day to work out?

Posted in Work Out by
This post is sponsored by Health I.Q.!

When I first started getting really into fitness in 2012, I would roll out of bed every morning at 5:30am to hit the elliptical for 45 minutes before going to work. I kept that up for awhile until I started to explore group exercise classes – almost always taking place at 5:30pm after work, completely reversing my regular routine. It showed me that there might not be a “correct” time of day to get up and get working out, but I did always wonder if it made me a bit lazier by not getting up early and joining the hardcore in the dark, early mornings.

If you’ve ever wondered what the best time of day to work out is, here are some things to consider!

  • The best time of day to work out is the time you can dedicate to it. It sounds obvious or silly, but it’s true! This is something I struggle with. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t work out in the morning or on my lunch break that there’s no point or that all my “free” time for the day is up. This is the most important thing to consider when trying to plan out your workouts.
  • If you need consistency and accountability, make a schedule and find a buddy to work out with. This was a big part of why group exercise was so effective for me. It was at the same time every day, and though I didn’t have “friends” in the classes, there were definitely people I was friendly with and came to enjoy seeing every day. Whether it’s a gym exercise class, a standing date with a friend, or a personal trainer, it can be a worthy investment as you get your fitness in gear.
  • Working out in the afternoon might be the best time of day to prevent injury or sleep interruption. Working out in the morning might be difficult because of sore muscles from sleeping in a strange position, and fatigue can put you more at risk for injury. Being active too close to bedtime can throw your circadian rhythm off. The afternoon might be the perfect time to protect your body and avoid feeling too “awake” to sleep!
  • Consider your safety and comfort when deciding when to work out. Maybe you go to the gym but it’s packed after work. Start becoming an early bird! Live by a really gorgeous park, but feel nervous about a pre-dawn run alone? Watch the weather, hydrate, and go for a spin after it’s a bit busier.

Take the quiz below to learn more about the best time of day to work out and start saving today. Your results on Health I.Q. can even help you qualify for lower life insurance rates!

About Health IQ:

HealthIQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world. In pursuit of this mission, they’ve created over 1,000 health-related quizzes and worked with innovative insurance companies to create financial rewards for health conscious people. To date, Health IQ has helped over ten thousand triathletes, vegans, runners, and other health conscious people secure billions in life insurance coverage, and they hope to expand to other financial rewards in the near future.

About Health IQ’s Learn About Life Campaign:

Learn About Life is a health-education campaign, with the goal of driving more people to learn something new about their health. To accomplish this goal, Health IQ has partnered with a select group of nonprofits and bloggers to produce and promote thousands of health related quizzes. If you’re a non-profit or blogger and want to learn about how you can support this campaign, email cleo.kirkland@healthiq.com with subject line “Learn About Life…I’m In”

July 22, 2017
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cotopaxi questival discount & giveaway

Posted in Travel, Work Out by
This giveaway is presented in partnership with Cotopaxi!

It’s no secret that I love Chicago and one of my favorite things to do is explore. Whether it’s trying new restaurants, hiking a new trail, or hitting the newest fitness class, I love to check out new things. If I can combine that with fitness, even better! That’s why I was so excited to find the Cotopaxi Questival Adventure Race.

Different than a traditional 5k or running race, Questival lets you “spend 24 hours with your closest friends, in your favorite city, checking a bunch of amazing experiences off your bucket list?” Sounds pretty awesome, right?

Questival is a 24-hour adventure race that invites you to build friendships, push yourself, experience your surroundings, and have a whole bunch of fun. Your team of 2 to 6 people will do exciting, unpredictable, and downright good things you never thought possible. We guarantee it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

Cotopaxi is bringing the Questival to Chicago from August 25-26, and I’m already recruiting my friends to head out with me. As I learned in a race a few weeks ago, I am a bit out of shape, but that’s no problem – Questival is accessible even for people who aren’t super athletic.

Not only does the entry fee include 24 hours of adventure, all participants also get Cotopaxi’s Luzon Del Dia Daypack. Every one of these bags are unique because they’re handmade by Cotopaxi employees who get to select each part of the bag (learn more about this in this video!)

I’ve been using it for about a month, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s a great bag to wear when I head out to tour Chicago, packing up to organize a road trip with friends, or even piling my belongings into it to settle in for a long night at the rock show.

The bag features some really great details, including a Velcro key loop, adjustable straps, and a card holder inside the zipper pocket on the front of the bag. Since it’s built for a hydration bladder, I picked up this one on Amazon, and it’s worked great! If you’re an outdoorsy type or even someone who just carries a lot of stuff around, I highly recommend this bag. (Did I mention you get it for free if you do the Questival race?!)

This giveaway is over, but be sure to visit Cotopaxi and register for the Questival near you! Check back in a few months for a review and recap of the Chicago event.

July 17, 2017
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19 summer athleisure must haves

Posted in Style, Work Out by
This post contains affiliate links.

summer athleisure must have

Athleisure is still all the rage – thank goodness. And thanks to all the brands that are still catering to lazy girls like me (though I prefer to call it “practical” – if I wear my workout clothes all day, I’m cutting down on laundry!) If you’re looking to change up your wardrobe for summer, check out some of my favorite go-to pieces.

Mesh Panel Capris: I love mesh panels, especially for summer runs to prevent any swampiness. These plus size ones are cute too, with a fun print and pocket for a key.

Ripped Leggings: These don’t come in my size, but that isn’t stopping me from wanting to channel my inner Brie Mode. They don’t actually look like they’re all that practical, but they’d be cute for Sunday Funday!

C9 High Waisted Legging: These leggings are my everyday go-to must haves. I have four pairs, and it still doesn’t seem like enough. They’ve held up well over a year and a half, but they do tend to pick up any lint in their vicinity, so they’re not the best for someone with pets (or someone who forgets to check pant pockets before doing laundry.)

Lucy Capri Leggings: Lucy gear can be pricey, but I find it to be worth it. I had a pair of their perfect leggings for more than three years before they started to stretch and pill (and even then it was probably due to my weight gain.) They’re worth the investment, especially now that they’ve started a plus size line as well!

Criss Cross Racerback Bra: I love sports bras, and I especially love strappy, cute ones. This one would be super cute under an open back shirt, and the multiple straps can help with distributing any front heavy weight if you know what I mean.

Back Cut Out Bra: Another sports bra with fancy detailing, this one looks like it has less support but would be comfortable for lounging around the house or under a casual dress for brunch.

Criss Cross Strappy Bra: The bank on this one is still fun and creative, but it provides more support than the other two options. Perfect for HIIT workouts or long runs and still looking fab afterward.

Pizza Crop Top: Sometimes you just need a reminder of what all this working out is for. Times like that I would love to be rocking a pizza shirt – eyes on the prize. Beloved Shirts has a ton of other print tops if pizza isn’t your thing (but honestly, isn’t pizza everyone’s thing?)

Marika Dry-Knit Shirt: I’ve had a Marika shirt from TJ Maxx since 2012 or so, and it’s still in good shape. If you’re looking for something long-lasting, this is the brand for you. They dry really fast, and the ruching in the shirt isn’t uncomfortable or chafe-y at all.

adidas aeroknit Shirt: The color of this breathable shirt, plus the open armholes (to show off your cute bras) make this a winner for me. Tank tops are made for summer – sun’s out, guns out!

Goldsheep Tank: I think everyone has one of those “when I lose this much weight, I’ll let myself buy this” goal shirts. All my hours spent watching Total Divas have led me to Goldsheep Clothing, an overpriced line with lifestyle shirts and activewear leggings.

Short Stop Long Sleeve: I love to throw on a long-sleeved shirt when I leave the gym, even in the summer. This one from lululemon is cropped with a mesh panel in the back for maximum breathability while still keeping you covered up.

No Bull Women’s Trainers: I will always champion heading to your local running store to get properly fitted for shoes, but I got a pair of these No Bull shoes and I don’t regret it for a second. They’re definitely pricey, but with my documented love for buffalo plaid, I had to get them. They’re perfect for strength training workouts and very true to size.

Nike Flyknits: Really cute shoes… that I can’t wear. If these work on your feet, I’m super jealous. They’re stylish whether you’re at the gym or just hanging out.

Sun Bum sunscreen: I’m a SPF-holic, and won’t leave the house without a quick spray of sunscreen on. Sun Bum is my favorite – the spray goes on evenly and it’s pretty sweat-resistant. Don’t forget to spray the top of your head (you can thank me later when you aren’t battling the red part.) Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is my go-to for my face.

YurBuds Wireless Headphones: When I upgraded to the iPhone 7, it meant my large collection of YurBuds could no longer easily plug in. Since my ears are a weird size, regular ear buds don’t usually fit well, so the hooks these headphones offer make them ideal. I had tried a lower cost option, but they were really uncomfortable and didn’t stick. Now that I’ve converted to wireless, it’s been so convenient – I don’t have to worry about accidentally yanking them out of my ears when moving my phone!

Quay Sunglasses: Oversized glasses are my jam, but it’s hard to find sporty-ish sunnies that fit the bill. These ones from Quay are great and I love that tortoiseshell print. I have two pairs from Quay already, so I can definitely say that they’re worth the $50!

Water Bottle: Gotta stay hydrated during the hot summer months, and I love these kinds of water bottles. The storage compartment holds your ID or credit card and a house key, so you don’t have to carry anything extra around!

Gym Bag: I will live out of a gym bag, so I need something as functional (and big) as it is fashionable. This one from Vera Bradley has a large zippered opening, plus outside compartments to easily tuck things into.

May 3, 2017
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go cubs go / race to wrigley 5k recap

Posted in Work Out by

race to wrigley

It’s been quite awhile since I sat down to write a race recap! Last weekend I headed out to do the Race to Wrigley 5k, sponsored by the 2016 World Champion Cubs.

I didn’t go to packet pickup so I can’t speak to that experience, but my partner in crime seemed to be in and out very quickly.

Saturday morning we rolled out of bed at 6am and grabbed a coffee and a Lyft by 6:45. Next year I would leave a bit later – it was a little on the chilly side, but the Cubs team store and Sports World were both open for pre-race shopping. Getting there was very easy – they hadn’t shut the streets down yet so our Lyft dropped us off right at the start line, and everything was well-signed so it wasn’t hard to navigate. For the first time I thought I might have an issue with runner’s trots, but it ended up holding off (thank goodness.) Around 7:40 they started corralling everyone to the start line, and after a few stretches and the national anthem, we were off. Thank goodness the rain held off – I’m writing this in a thunderstorm and it would have been a cold (but fun) race through this weather.

I thought the course was great – flat, easy, and not too many turns. There was a ton of course support in the form of security and police officers, and it was one of the best and safest road races I’ve ever done. The two water stops on the course both seemed like they could have benefitted from a longer head start or more tables to line up cups on because when we went through, they were already getting backed up and running out, and we were toward the front of the pack.

When the course looped back around and we saw Harry Caray standing on the corner signaling our arrival back to the Field, it was such a relief, but also super exciting. Running through the concourse was fun, and a great way to finish the race. Hitting the mile 3 marker and with the finish line in sight, we both took off to cross the finish line… so we thought.

The finish line was the only part of the day I would have changed. Not too long after we took off at the mile marker, it started backing up terribly because the finisher chute was far too small to sustain the number of runners finishing. Add in the fact that many of the fun runners were finishing at the same time as us and there was really not enough room. From the time we stopped until we actually crossed the timing mat, it was almost six minutes. I’m still really proud of my time (especially for having not trained at all) and proud of Brendan for doing so well even when it got hard!

This race also helped me remember how much I love running. The camaraderie, the good ache after going hard, the joy of the finish line banana and happy volunteers giving out medals. Despite the finish line backup, it was a really great race, and I’m excited to Race to Wrigley again next year!

May 1, 2017
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