Thursday, July 28, 2016

Current Faves & Obsessions

Lately I've been all about trying new things. New workouts, new shoes, new gear, new shops, new treats - it's fun to mix it up a bit!

Here are a few of my most recent favorites. I have a feeling these items will soon find their way to my tried-and-true favorites list :)

Saucony Run Pops
It was love at first sight when I noticed these shoes during a recent trip to Performance Running Outfitters. I was immediately drawn to all the bright-colored shoes on the wall - red, turquoise, orange, yellow, lime and purple! I really wanted the orange shoes but it turned out that the colors correspond with particular shoe models. I tried on Saucony Rides several years ago and remembered them fitting well so I was able to get the lime shoes. They are so cute and will be perfect for all the glue miles Coach Matt has me run every week.

Portillo's Chocolate Cake Shakes
Portillo's recently opened its first Wisconsin location and it's just a short 20-25 minute drive from where I live. The restaurant is known for its hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. But the thing I was most excited to try was a Chocolate Cake Shake. Not too long ago I read an article about these shakes and how they are made by blending an entire piece of chocolate cake with ice cream. I couldn't wait to see if the shake would live up to the hype - and it turns out it did! It was super rich and the perfect consistency. I can't stop dreaming about another one of these shakes!

Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wraps
I've seen Momentum's Motivate Wraps on Instagram but wasn't really interested til I saw a display of bracelets during a recent trip to PRO. I instantly liked the sayings on the bracelets and was impressed with how comfortable they are - a perfect fit for any wrist! I also like that they can be worn during workouts and races since a lot of jewelry isn't made to withstand lots of sweating and/or isn't too comfortable while moving around. The bracelet I chose is a mantra I'll use during the rest of my summer races and into the fall season: "Earned Not Given". A great reminder to put in the work every day during training and during every second of a race!

Yes to Grapefruit Facial Wipes
People often ask me how I can workout in the middle of the workday without returning to my desk a sweaty mess. These wipes are part of the solution! I go through about a pack a week and give myself a thorough wipe down after every runch. I love the grapefruit scent and they leave my skin feeling so refreshed!

Sarah Marie Design Studio Tanks & Ts
I would like one of every single tank and t-shirt in this online shop. I recently purchased the Track Queen tank and I absolutely love it. I sized up so it fits extra loose, which is perfect for gym workouts. I'm also a fan of the Elite Women Marathoners t-shirt and the Run All The Miles Eat All The Tacos tank. 

Tell me: What are your current faves & obsessions?

- ST

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k Recap

Warning: A very long post follows this message ... 

During the days leading up to this year's Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k, I had a lot of mixed feelings. I was pretty unexcited about the weather forecast - upper 80s and stormy - and also wasn't feeling the race given my fitness has been a bit touch and go lately. Some days are fantastic and others the absolute worst. But I also knew that a race like RNR CHI could be just the thing to snap me out of this training funk. 

Turns out I was right! Everything aligned for this race. The weather was as good as it gets for a July race in Chicago and the course was lovely. I had the most fun racing and it was a total confidence booster as I continue to increase mileage for a fall half marathon. I can honestly say this was, in my opinion, the best RNR CHI yet.   

Before the Race
At most races I skip the expo. But at Rock 'n' Roll races they are a must-attend event. I ended up buying a bunch of stuff at this year's expo. My haul included four tanks, a baseball-style 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, three shoe charms, two Sparkly Soul headbands, a Rock 'n' Roll Chicago magnet, a pair of sunglasses (prize) and, of course, the race t-shirt. 

After the expo, Mom and I headed over to Pizano's Pizza and Pasta for some pre-race carbs. On the way back to the hotel, Mom pointed out a little coffee shop/bakery that had a bunch of cakes and pastries in the window. Of course I was not about to walk past a bunch of desserts so we went inside. This was a total mistake. Mom and I each got a slice of Rainbow Cake. I told myself it would give me an extra boost of energy during the race. Instead I'm pretty sure it led to feeling a bit heavy/sluggish at the start. Oh well - live and learn!

The Race
So ... the race. After several days of worrying about the weather it turned out to be the best weather I've ever experienced at a RNR CHI race. It was about 69 degrees and overcast with a bit of a headwind.  Although the weather was much better than expected, I decided to stick with my race plan from Coach Matt

My corral was packed so I was excited when we were finally able to get moving. I ended up getting stuck behind people a few times during the first mile so didn't really get into a good rhythm until the 10k runners separated from the half marathoners. Once the 10k turned onto the Lakeshore Path it was all good and I was able to settle in. Nothing too crazy - more like a nice and steady pace that felt more like half marathon effort. 

Since I usually think of RNR CHI as having a pancake-flat course, I was pleasantly surprised that this year's new course featured a few small hills. These were great for changing things up a bit plus I like having a few hills during a race for variety. They are also a really great opportunity for catching and passing other runners ;)

I felt really good during the miles and soaked up the race experience - I loved the on-course music and all the friendly volunteers at the water stations. There was also a band toward the end that totes made me giggle with a silly song about donuts at the finish line. If only there really were donuts at the finish! 

I picked up the pace a bit during the final two miles and kicked in the final 0.2 (really 0.33 for me since I didn't run the tangents!). I haven't had a big sprint finish at the end of a race in awhile so it felt great to be able to really get after it

Although my time ended up being a personal worst for me for the 10k distance, I still feel good about the race. I felt good enough during the miles that I know I could have kept with the pace for a few more miles which puts me on track for a nice half marathon race this fall.      
VIP Experience
After walking through the finish area and picking up my gear check bag, I headed over to the VIP section to rest up while waiting for Mom. This was my first Rock 'n' Roll VIP race experience and it surpassed my expectations.

The first thing I did was wash my hands at one of the sinks. I don't know about you but I always feel kind of grimy after finishing a race. So it felt great to wash up a bit. Then I hit the hosted bar area for a Diet Coke with extra ice. There were tons of empty tables so I made myself comfortable and sipped my soda while people watching. I noticed a massage area not too far from where I was sitting but decided to skip it even though there wasn't a line. There was also a changing area which I will definitely take advantage of next time. 

After awhile I decided to get a cup of coffee and saw a bunch of people were getting food. So I decided to check it out and found an amazing spread. Eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, pasta salad, mini sandwiches, tons of fresh veggies & fruit, hummus, cookies and brownies were just some of the items on the tables. I loaded up a plate with bacon, veggies and fruit. It hit the spot! I definitely recommend adding on the VIP Experience if doing a RNR race.

I was sorry to have to leave the lovely VIP area but needed to get back to the finish line area to find Mom. So after eating I headed toward the finish line and then walked along the course a bit til I saw Mom running. I jumped in the race and ran with her a bit and then hopped back over to the spectator area to wait for her at the end of the finisher's chute. As you can see, she looked fantastic and finished strong!

Fun in Chicago

After the race, Mom and I enjoyed Chicago. We shopped along Michigan Avenue and indulged in several delicious eats and drinks. A few of my favorites:

Brunch at Mercadito

Dinner at Chicago Q

Deep Dish at Gino's East (with Bucky!)

Macarons from Alliance Patisserie

So that was my race weekend! I highly recommend adding Rock 'n' Roll Chicago to your 2017 race calendar. I'm already looking forward to next year's race :)

My questions for you:
  • Have you raced a Rock 'n' Roll race? If so, what was your experience?
  • A night-before-the-race treat - do or don't?
  • Where are your favorite places to eat in Chicago? 

- ST    

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

All The Updates!

Hey Everyone! Are you all feeling rested after a long holiday weekend? Having an extra day or two off always makes me think ... all weekends should be long weekends ;)

Anyhow, after a few days of partaking in all things a holiday weekend should include, I'm ready to get back to the usual routine. Coach Matt sent me a new training plan over the weekend and I'm ready to dig in! 

This week includes:

Monday: 6 glue miles w/strides 4 glue miles - I indulged too much on the 3rd
Tuesday: 8 mile workout, inc. 5 miles w/pickups + Y-Blitz
Wednesday: 5 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 5 glue miles w/strides + Y-Blitz + Core Work
Friday: 10 mile run
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: 5 glue miles + Core Work

Total: 37 miles

These past few weeks I've been tweaking my diet a bit after noticing I'm consistently low on several nutrients, particularly potassium, iron and sodium. I believe this deficiency is playing a role in the awful calf cramps I get every Wednesday evening after Y-Fuse. These cramps are the worst - my leg (it varies which one) seizes up at an odd angle and won't move or bend until I can manually work out the cramp. Mega painful, not to mention inconvenient since it usually happens in the middle of core class.

I've been trying to get in more potassium by adding sweet potato to my meals and eating other potassium-rich foods like bananas, leafy greens and yogurt. However, I'm still way short on potassium pretty much every day. Anyone have tips for getting more in my diet?

Breakfast: Protein Oatmeal* + Plain Kefir
Snack: 6oz Greek Yogurt + 2 cups raw veggies
Lunch: Light & Delicious Tuna Salad + Banana + Nuun All Day Tablet
Snack: Popcorn + BeFit PreWorkout Drink
Dinner: Chicken Chorizo Tostada** + Spinach Salad + Blueberries

*1/3 cup old fashioned oats + 2/3 cup unsweetened plain almond milk + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice + dash of cinnamon + sprinkle of sliced almonds and dried cherries

**1 whole wheat tortilla, baked + 1 cup arugula + 1 AmyLu Chicken Chorizo link, cooked and sliced + 1/3 cup diced and roasted sweet potato + 1-2 Tbsp fresh salsa + 1 Tbsp contija cheese

That's how I'm training and eating this week! To wrap up this post, I'll share a few recent favorites/obsessions. Here's what I'm loving lately:

Walks along the Milwaukee Lakefront - Lately the weather in MKE has been nothing but gorgeous. I've been taking full advantage of it with plenty of walks along the Lakefront. It's been wonderful - I hope things stay this way all summer!

All the treats - These past few days have been pretty treat heavy. It started with a batch of Chocolate PB Cup Cupcakes. I immediately put half in the freezer and packaged up a few to give to my parents. But I did end up eating three cupcakes over the course of four days. I also did quite a bit of indulging at Summerfest, Milwaukee's big annual outdoor music festival. It's tough to say which treat I enjoyed most - it's a three-way tie between bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, a chicken & waffle cone and a triple scoop of Cedar Crest ice cream!

Track & Field Olympic Trials - I've been super excited to watch America's best runners take to the track to see who will get to represent our country in Rio. My favorite moments so far have been Galen Rupp winning the 10,000 and Allyson Felix winning the 400.

But enough about me! How about you tell me:
  • What have you been up to lately? Any recent or upcoming races? 
  • Have you ever dealt with mid-workout cramping? What are your tips for preventing it?
  • Have you been following the Track and Field Olympic Trials? If so, who are your favorites to make the team and/or what are your favorite Trials moments so far?

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

- ST