Friday, February 24, 2012

Workout and Brunch

Workout and brunch sounds like a great start to the day, right?  The past two days I have done exactly that!  I have had the days off from work and got in two awesome workouts and enjoyed two tasty meals.  

Thursday I decided to get in my longest run before the Georgia Half Marathon in since there was upcoming snow in the forecast.  Thursday I woke up around 8:45am and slowly got all my gear together.  I ate half a Gatorade Chocolate Chip Prime Bar (which was just OK), a handful of granola, and a glass of water.  The past few weeks I have been going back and forth on the distance of my longest run before the half.  For my first half it was 10 miles and for the second it was 12 miles.  Adding the extra two miles worked for me.  I liked having a longer distance, but not the race distance yet, under my belt.  It made me feel more confident and prepared for the race.  For this half I have a shortened training plan and don't want to burn myself out.  I know I can run the half distance, but I felt better getting in a little longer workout, so I split the difference and did 11 miles for yesterday's run.  

After a warm-up walk down through the neighborhood I set off in the direction of the lake.  I made sure to keep an easy pace and just enjoyed listening to my current audiobook, 11-22-63.  About three miles in I reached the Lakeshore Trail.  
Since it was Thursday it was pretty quiet with only a few runners and bikers on the trail.  It was a cloudy day but I enjoyed the cool air and stillness of the lake.  To fuel for this run I went with a Honey Stinger Waffle and some prunes.  About 45 minutes into the run I ate a third of the waffle and switched between that and the prunes every 30 minutes or so, making sure to drink some water as well.  Around mile 5.5 and 8.5 my legs felt sore so I took mini backwards walking breaks for about 30 seconds then to rest my legs and work some different muscles.  Since the Georgia Half is a hilly race, I also made sure to run up two mini overpasses and a big overpass over the highway twice.  Overall it was good run!  
I always get a little unsure of myself when going longer than eight miles on a run.  I know I can do it, but sometimes the distance intimidates me, but once I get out there it ends up being fine. 
I planned my run accordingly so I could end up downtown to try somewhere new for brunch.  Katie recently went to Tempo Cafe and after looking at the menu and seeing her pictures I knew I wanted to try it.  Its a small family run place with a bright dining area.  
I ended up ordering the Gold Coast Omelet which included onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach, with one yolk and egg whites cooked with Pam instead of butter.  What makes Tempo Cafe unique is that the omelets are huge.  You are served an actually skillet filled with warm hash browns and then topped with a giant, fluffy three egg omelet.  It was gigantic, but I made a good dent and ate about 3/4ths of it.  
A great post long run meal!  Tempo Cafe is not far from where I work, so I will definitely go back!

Friday morning I woke up to see slushy snow on the ground, so I was happy I got my run in the day before.  I recently signed up for a free week of classes at Core Power Yoga.  It is a chain of yoga studios that offers a variety of classes.  The studios are really nice, almost like a spa.  Last Sunday Diana and I went to the Lincoln Square location and tried the 1.5 level class which was in a slightly heated room.  I went back Tuesday and tried the Core Ryder class which is a spin class on a bike that can actually move side to side.  Today, I decided to try the Lincoln Park location and went to the Hot Power Fusion class.  The class was done in a heated, humid room.  It was so humid in fact that about ten minutes into the workout I was dripping with sweat.  The class had a great flow through the movements.  I am still a yoga newbie and don't know all the proper names for poses so I usually check others in the class to make sure I am doing the right thing, but I didn't feel out of place.  It was an awesome workout to have on such a chilly day.  I recently purchased a Groupon to the studio for a month and look forward to trying more classes.  

After that great workout I headed just across the street to a new restaurant called Jam 'n Honey.  I have spotted it from the El several times and since I was so close I stopped in to try it.  It's a small place, but quite cute.  Every table has a giant jar of Nutella on it and two jars of homemade jam.  Everything on the menu looked good, but I have been craving pancakes recently and decided on the oatmeal pancakes.  My order arrived quickly with three big pancakes topped with a lemon blueberry compote (which I smeared all over the top) and their signature honey vanilla butter.  
Gosh, these pancakes were good.  So good.  You might think they would be grainy with the oatmeal, but they were perfectly fluffy.  I ate about half of them with just a bit of syrup and took the rest home to enjoy later.  All the food I spotted on other tables around me look delicious too.  I can't wait to go back and try something else!

My "weekend" has been pretty good so far.  I love trying new restaurants and being able to explore new places.  Chicago is the perfect city for this and it's part of the reason I like it so much! 

What's your ideal morning workout and brunch?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Quiet Birthday and an Upcoming Race

Friday was my 24th birthday.  I had the day off work, which was nice and decided to have a quiet day doing whatever I wanted.  
I guess you could say the celebration started early because I had cake on Wednesday night after work, since I had the next two days off.  Sprinkles, the amazing cupcake shop, is just a block from work so I picked up two cupcakes to enjoy for my birthday.  My mom surprised me with a $15 gift card there so I used part of it to grab a raspberry chocolate chip cupcake and a chocolate coconut.  The raspberry one was a new seasonal flavor and was good.  I love the combination of chocolate and coconut and that one was delicious as always.
Earlier in the week I finally made a decision on what half marathon I am going to run.  I have been researching since the new year trying to figure out which one to do and have decided to run the Publix Georgia Half Marathon which takes place March 18th.  I have family that lives in Atlanta so I'll have a place to stay and be able to visit with them.  The race is less than five weeks away so I have created a mini training plan.  I have maintained my running over the past months, but haven't run any longer than six miles in awhile so have I some longer runs planned for the next few weeks.  I am going to go with one day a week for speed work, two days of cross training, an easy run, and long runs of 8.5, 10-11, 8, and 6 miles.  It is just a basic outline, so it is flexible.  Atlanta is pretty hilly and the race elevation profile shows that there will definitely will be hills.  
I was a nanny in Atlanta for a summer during college and remember walking and trying to run up the hills in the neighborhood to be a challenge.  Chicago is pretty flat so any incline or bridge I see on my runs I am going to make sure to run up.  I am also going to work on strengthen my leg muscles.  I would really like to get under three hours, because I was so close last time.  My last half, the IronGirl, had some major overpasses throughout and I made it through that OK, so I am confident I will make it through this one.  

On Friday, my actual birthday, I woke up to an early 5am phone call from my dad.  I went back to sleep until about 8:45am when my mom called to wish me happy birthday too.  I decided to start off my day with a long run.  It was chilly morning, but I got my favorite running tights on and gathered my gear to head out to the lakefront trail.  I wanted to get in between seven and eight miles.  It actually started snowing around mile two and continued the rest of the day.  They were big, fluffy snowflakes and it was fun to run through.  It wasn't sticking to the ground yet, so I didn't have to worry much about slipping.  I took about two 30 second walk breaks to have some fuel, which were dried plums, but ran the rest of the way.  I made sure to keep an easy pace.  My legs felt pretty good the whole time although during the last mile I could feel the distance with a twinge of soreness in my legs.  By the time I finished about 7.4 miles the snow was really coming down.  I walked and stretched to cool down.  
As I was walking I discovered a new Pinkberry location in Old Town.  I have only tried their frozen yogurt once, but I decided to walk in a get a small birthday treat for myself.  I decided on a mini cup of the coconut froyo with dark chocolate crisps and fresh raspberries.  It sure was tasty!  I was still hungry so I headed over to Chipotle to get one of my favorite meals, a carnitas salad bowl.  After lunch I finally made my way to the El and back home.  I made sure to foam roll my sore legs and did some more stretching.  After a nice warm shower I looked outside to see the snow was actually sticking to the ground.  What a lovely gift from Mother Nature on my birthday!  

I considered going to a movie, but decided I was happy just staying home.  I got some more birthday calls from my family, browsed the internet, and watched some TV on Hulu.  I snacked on some hummus, pita chips, and carrots and later had a few dark chocolate peanut butter cups before calling it a night.  It was a quiet birthday, but a good one none the less.  

What are some of your favorite foods to have on your birthday?  Any advice on training for hills?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Holiday Challenges Wrap-Up

Right after Thanksgiving I committed to some fitness challenges for over the holidays.  I participated in the Holiday Booty Buster Challenge over at Run to the Finish, Coach Jenny Hadfield's Winter Running Challenge, and the local Frozen Tundra 100.  The first two finished at the start of the new year, but the Frozen Tundra just ended on February 1st.
So how did everything go?  I think it went pretty darn well!  The three challenges all coincided perfectly.  They all motivated me to get out there to run or workout because I knew I had to record my workouts for everyone to see.  Plus, I didn't want to bail out on a good challenge.
The goal of the HBBC was to stay active during the holiday season.  I recorded my workouts on Daily Mile and translated that to points on the group Google Spreadsheet.  There were weekly updates, posts, and prizes.  On days I didn't really feel like working out, knowing that I was three miles away from my point goal was motivation to get out there.  Of course, once I finished the workout I was always glad I did it.  I don't think I've ever finished a run or workout and not felt good! 

For Coach Jenny's Holiday Challenge I set a goal to run 12-18 miles a week.  Coach Jenny sent out weekly emails with motivation, tips, and weekly giveaways.  I posted my weekly mileage on her Facebook page.  I didn't win any prizes, but my mom, who also participated, ended up winning a medal hanger!  She really needed it because all of her medals were just hanging on a hook in the hallway.  Now she has a beautiful medal display to show off her eleven medals.  This challenge was just another great way for me to keep up with my running.  Coach Jenny is always answering reader questions and has tons of great advice and recommendations.  I used her training plan for my first half marathon and plan on using her plan again (with a few tweaks) for my first full marathon in October.  If you aren't already you should be following her on either Twitter and/or Facebook!

My final holiday challenge was started by a fellow FF Cheer member.  This winter was forecasted to be pretty bad so we were challenged to still keep up with our running outdoors through December and January by getting in 100 miles and logging them on Daily Mile.  Running in the cold was new to me, since I only started running about a year and half ago and was in Florida.  After these past few months I have discovered I really like running in colder weather.  According to many people this winter has been pretty mild, which was fine with me, although there were a few very cold days.  
I ran through the snow for the first time which was exhilarating.  Running in the heat is really draining sometimes, so the cooler weather has led to lots of great runs and even a faster pace.  

I attended a cold weather running seminar at Fleet Feet which was chock full of advice that has helped me this winter.  Layering is definitely the key to cold weather running.  My aunt got me some awesome Athleta running tights, which are fleece lined and are great for cold runs.  On top it has usually been a long sleeve tech shirt and then a fleece jacket.  A hat and gloves are also really good for chilly runs.  The hat, which covers my ears, is great and definitely helps keep my temperature regulated.  Before the season I also invested in Smart Wool socks which are my new favorite.  They keep my feet blister free and warm.  I purchased some YaxTrax, but have yet to use them since it hasn't been very snowy.  They are meant for use on packed snow or ice to help prevent slipping.  

I finished both December and January with 51 miles each for a total of 102 miles!  All of them were outside, since I do not belong to a gym.  About four runs were in Orlando, but the rest were all in Chicago.  Having the challenge was great motivation to make 50 miles happen each month.  

All of the challenges were fun to participate in and a great way for me to add some extra motivation to my workouts.  I liked recording my progress along with others.  Daily Mile is such an awesome tool for recording miles and workouts.  I only started it at the end of August, but I love it!  If you aren't on Daily Mile, get to it! 

If you participated in any Holiday/Winter Challenges, how did it go?  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm Going to Run a Marathon!

AHH!  I did it!  I am officially registered for my first full marathon!  I will be running 26.2 miles through my new city, Chicago, October 7th.  
I wasn't sure I wanted to run a marathon, but after seeing my mom complete her first one last year the idea was planted in the back of my mind.  I figured I needed more time to really decide since it is such a big commitment.  It wasn't until volunteering a few months ago at the 2011 Chicago Marathon that I finally decided I wanted to actually run a marathon.  I was so inspired by seeing and cheering on those thousands of people.  I knew I had to do it.  I wanted to do it, and if I trained properly, I could.  I contemplated a few different marathons, but finally committed to Chicago.  I live in the city so I won't have to worry about travelling, it is one of the top marathons in the country, and the energy and crowd support is some of the best.
Registration opened this past Wednesday at noon.  I was working, but as soon as I got home that evening I logged online and registered!  I will be one of 45,000 people running the 35th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon - I cannot wait!
I am currently rereading Marathoning for Mortals and plan on figuring out my training schedule soon.  This is the real deal people.  It is crazy to think about how far I have come - I almost can't believe it!

Who else is registered for the Chicago Marathon this year or tackling their first marathon this year?  If you have already run a marathon what race did you choose?