Friday Five: Staying on Track During the Holidays

It’s always challenging for me to stay on track with working out and not eating all-the-things during the Holidays. It’s dark when I leave the house, it’s dark when I get come. It’s cold. There is snow. And that’s all before we get to Christmas. Then there are cookies. And wine. And more food in my eyesight than I should ever considering trying to consume in one sitting.

Every year I go into the holiday season with good intentions, and come out feeling like I ate my weight in cookies (which is probably because I did). This year is a little bit different though. I’ll be entering the holidays coming off half marathon training (three days to go!), and not to toot my own horn, I’m in pretty decent shape right now. I’d like to keep it that way instead of backsliding like normal.  And on top of that, this girl is getting married come spring, and I don’t want to be working on losing Christmas-weight (yep, it’s a thing) while I’d really like to be working on toning up for my wedding.

My half marathon is this Sunday, and I’ve been catching myself thinking how nice it will be to not have to run all the time. Of course I will have to give myself a break, but I just need to make sure it’s not a 2 month break. I’ve been thinking about ways to not fall of the wagon after my race, so this weeks’ Friday Five link up with Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What and Mar on the Run has come at a perfect time. How to stay on track during the holidays!

Staying on Track

1) Yoga! My favorite yoga class meets on Wednesdays, and I haven’t been able to go because that’s when my half training group met. I’m excited to get back to the class after the race.


2) The treadmill. I mentioned on Instagram how much I hate the treadmill. How does it make 2 miles feel like 8? But it’s a necessary evil for an Illinois resident who will not run outside if it is a million below zero. I did the first few months of training for my first half on a treadmill and I’m still here to tell the tale. (Barely)

3) 7 Minute Workout app. I mentioned before how much I like this app, but I tend to forget about it. I’ll have to work on remembering to use it. I know there are similar apps out there, so I’ll have to investigate those, too.

4) Keep the focus on good food. During the winter the last thing I want to eat is cold veggies. I need to work on finding food that is comforting in the winter, and still fuels my body with good things. However, there will still be cookies to eat and cocoa to drink, just with a side of some veggies.

5) Weight training. I like to do weight training at the gym with the fiancé. One, so I don’t drop the bench press bar on my head, and two because I’m kind of new to free weights and still don’t know what I’m doing. I used to avoid the free weight section like the plague (the men over there have biceps bigger than my head!), but I’m getting better provided I have an escort to tell me what to do. And it’s a fun opportunity to get to do something together, which is always a plus.

As a bonus item… setting a plan. I need to focus on actually DOING all these things. During the winter I never want to do any of the above wonderful things. I put it off for “one more day” and the next thing I know it has been 3 weeks since I did any sort of physical activity. Though trying to keep warm during polar vortex time has to add up to some sort of calorie burn.

What do you do to keep on track during the holidays?
Do you have any favorite work out apps? I need more! I like the 7 minute workout app like I said before, and my Fitbit app! Wanna be friends?


Race Recap: First Midwest Bank Half Marathon

I ran my first half marathon before I started blogging, but I’ve wanted to write a recap of it!  Considering my next race is this weekend,  I figured now was a good time to remember my first one!  The race was on a Sunday back in May. It was the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon.


It was cold the morning of the race! Wait… I forgot some key things. *Rewind noise*

During the week leading up to the race, I was starting to feel kind of icky. That “oh crap. I feel like I could be getting sick but that soooo better not be happening to me” feeling. The days ticked by and I just felt meh. Then I woke up on Saturday morning. I was coughing. My nose was running. My whole body hurt.  And I had no voice!  It was pretty weird.  I could tell I was getting sick, but I was hoping it would hold off until after the race.  Nope!

After an emergency trip to Walgreens, I laid around most of the morning resting and feeling sorry for myself.  I would have liked to continue doing that, but I had to get all dolled up to go to a friend’s wedding shower.  It was a lot of fun! But the massive amounts of chatting (and wine) didn’t really help my sickness.  #worthit.

After the shower I drove to the hotel to meet my boyfriend and parents.  After setting out Flat Kat (which I had never done before… but I’d also never stayed at a hotel before a race) I realized I had no Garmin. NO GARMIN?!  Well boyfriend-of-the-year (now FIANCE!) drove back home, grabbed the Garmin and came back.  I got back to resting for a while.

After he returned with the once-forgotten Garmin, we headed off to pre-race day dinner… Pizza. And this is Chicago, so it had to be deepdish. Unfortunately the service was pretty slow, and I just kept getting more and more tired. After waiting for drinks… then waiting for pizza… and then waiting for the check… we finally got to head back to the hotel. Which ended up being back to the hotel via Walgreens so I could stock my FlipBelt with kleenex and cough drops. Awesome.

The morning of the race it was COLD. I’ve lived in the Midwest to know that it being May did not guarantee good weather, but 40s?! Brrrrr. While we were standing around in the cold (and by standing I mean they were standing and I had my head on a table wondering how I was going to run 13.1 miles when I could barely lift my head), my dad thought it was hilarious that they were selling beer at 6 am. Naturally he had to drink one 🙂

It was finally time to line up and take off!  Had I written this sooner than 6 months after, I might remember more details of the actual race.  I do remember that…


  • The first landmark we passed was a Walgreens.  I wanted to stop and buy all-the-Day-Quil.
  • I kept my coat on.  Why oh why did I keep my coat on?
  • Hills.  I should have trained on more hills.
  • I went out to fast.  I always go out too fast, and regret it half way through.
  • I made some temporary friends… but after a while they slowly started speeding up with out me noticing.  Then I was going really to fast.
  • Getting tired.  Uh oh.
  • Half way! Turn around point!
  • YODA!  There is a man with a Yoda in a back pack.  Impressive.  (It was Star Wars Day… May 4th… May the 4th be With You… no?  Just me who is that dorky?  I was wearing a Star Wars shirt)
  • Oh yes, all the way back the way I just came.  Out and back course? Never again.
  • Hills.  Remember… more hills training next time.
  • Next time? Yeah… right!
  • Ouch.  All my joints hurt.  Still many, many miles to go.
  • Coat needs to come off.  Lets repin my bib to my shirt while running!
  • Ooops… dropped a pin.  That’s ok, still have three left.
  • I shouldn’t have done all my training on a gravel path and then expected to be able to run 13.1 on a road.
  • Oooo! I should run on the shoulder of the road!  That’s gravel!
  • No. No that won’t work.  Gravel paths are not the same as gravel shoulders.
  • 10 mile point!  Only a 5K to go.
  • Who ever says that is the devil.  5Ks are hard, too.
  • Walking walking walking. I like to walk.
  • Oh jeez.  I need to run or I will not make my 2:30 goal!
  • Ow. Running. Hurts.
  • So close…
  • Made it!
  • Ouch.  Crying.  Ouch.


My official chip time was was 2:27:12!  My goal was 2:30!  Woo hoo!

I was pretty much a hopeless pile for the rest of the day.  But I was treated to Portillo’s as my post race feast!  And a nap.  Which I took with my race medal on.

Five days until half number two!  The countdown is on!

Treat Yourself Tuesday: The Best Treat Ever!

It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with Becky over Olives ‘n’ Wine and Treat Yourself Tuesday!  I’m never any good at remembering to take pictures, so these are some random snaps from over the past few weeks.

A few Fridays ago at work I decided I earned a treat in the form of this delicious drink.  All that sugar, it’s definitely a few and far between treat 🙂


That same night, the boyfriend and I went for a walk at a local arboretum and were treated to this beautiful sunset.

mortonI was then treated by the boyfriend fiance to the best surprise EVER.  Don’t mind the terrible picture… it was dark and selfies are hard when you’re SO EXCITED.  I’ve been dating this amazing man for nearly four and a half years, and I could not be more happy!


All this excitement was followed by celebratory pizza! And beer! And wine! And ice cream!  (And followed the next morning by a rough 12 mile run…)


Since that wonderful evening?  I’ve been all-the-wedding-things! Somewhere in between my dream wedding and reality 🙂

One dream? The Palmer House Chicago.  This building is just gorgeous.  Did you know that brownies were invented at the Palmer House?  Mrs. Palmer requested a dessert for a group of ladies during the Chicago World’s Fair and the Palmer House chefs came up with a brownie.  See?  It’s a great place.


Another dream?  The Chicago Cultural Center.  This dome?  Amazing.

CulturalCenter CulturalCenter2


And with that, I’m back to day dreaming.  I’ll come back to reality… sometime… maybe 🙂

What is your fantasy wedding location?

Half Marathon Training: Weeks 13 and 14

Two weeks left!  I’m excited for the race to get here, and excited to sleep in on a Saturday once training is over.  Oops… did I just say that out loud?

Tuesday of week 13 I used the Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout app to get in a quick sweat session.  It may be only 7 minutes, but it sure gets your heart pumping!


Wednesday was the usual group run, but it was a little tough this week.  It had rained all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so it was pretty humid.  My lungs were feeling it, and my legs were pretty tired too.  We got through six miles though, and it wasn’t a too awful pace.

Thursday after work before dinner, I decided to go for a walk.  No destination, just around a few blocks.  It was full of pretty fall leaves! Love it.


Saturday morning I was prepared to run 12 miles, but when I got there it had been changed to 11.  Woo hoo!  We were on track to run 13 miles for our longest run before the taper, which seemed a bit much to me, so I was fine with the drop to do 11 two weeks in a row and then 12 as the longest.  The weather was a little nuts.  I had eventually decided on a t-shirt, which I ended up regretting when it started raining.  Blech.  The last few miles were ROUGH.  Which was later explained by final pace: 10:03! WHAT?! I do NOT run that fast, especially for that far! Except for the fact that I did!  I got a little teary at the accomplishment, but sssshhhhh.


I then rewarded myself with this kind of afternoon:

fb11Sunday evening I did a little at home arm work out.  I did this Sexy Shoulder Workout from Erin over at The Almond Eater.  The squat / overhead press?  Love.  Fits in with my squat challenge slash operation-fix-the-knee-pain.  It adds some new variety to squats, and works shoulders.  Excellent.

Going into week 14, we’re getting down to crunch time.  There’s been a few weeks where I’ve only gotten in two runs, rather than the three I would prefer.  This is due to a combination of 1) being a bum, and 2) blisters and knee pain.   More like using the blisters and knee pain to rationalize being a bum.  Running with the group on Wednesdays has been longer runs during the week than I’m used to; my body wasn’t doing well with running 6/7/8 miles on a Wednesday and then 10+ on Saturday.  That wasn’t enough recovery time, so I decided to do similar mileage this week, but spacing it out to three runs rather than two.

I was sitting at my desk on Monday being impressed with the superstar pace from Saturday’s long run.  The thought jumped into my head that if I’ve gotten so much faster recently, that maybe I could break my 5K PR.  If I can run 11 miles at just over a 10 minute pace, maybe I could beat the 5K at a 9:20 pace.  I set it two years ago, and it was kind of a freak accident.  I talked briefly about it here.  Well, I don’t have any 5Ks coming up due to no-free-weekends-ever, so I decided that I’d try to break it after work.  Nothing like 4 hours of preparation.  Anywho, Monday at work kinda sucked, so I was grouchy when I set off on the trail, and busted out an 8:34 mile. WOAH too fast, though that’s probably a 1 mile record.  So the next mile was about a 9:51 trying to recover.  I was doing math and figured out what I would need to hold my pace at to get under 28:59 for my 5K.  Well I ran, and it hurt, but I did it!  Yeah, I know it’s unofficial, but I’m not too concerned, I just wanted to know if I could do it! Next time, I’ll go for more even splits!


Tuesday was a weights day at the gym with the boyfriend.  Productivity + my favorite person?  Not a bad evening.  Judging by the pain (in a good way) in my arms the next day, we had a pretty good work out too.

Wednesday I did my second 5K of the week.  I tried a new route, got creeped out in the woods, went back the way I came instead of completing my planned circle… I need to stop watching so much TV.  Still got in the three miles, even if the Garmin map looks like I am crazy.

I took Thursday and Friday off in preparation of Saturday’s final long run before the taper (YAY! Taper).  Got to give my knees and blisters a rest before 12 miles!  Saturday’s run ended up being pretty warm out.  I wasn’t properly hydrated, and I didn’t sleep very well the night before so it was a bit rough.  My knees ended up being OK, but my hips were killing me.  I just can’t win.  Regardless, finished!  It’s taper time!

12MInstaI’ve been happy with how this training has been going, but I’ll be glad when it’s over!  I’m getting tired!


The Fit Dish: What Has Your Past Taught You?

Hello, everyone!

My life has gone from zero to sixty in the past few week or so (which is the reason for the blog silence), but that means that this weeks The Fit Dish topic couldn’t have come at a better time!  Thanks to Jessica Joy at The Fit Switch and Jill Conyers for hosting!

This weeks topic is “What has your past taught you about living today?”

Over the past few years, I’ve made a lot of changes towards living a healthier life. The changes range from trying to concentrate on eating healthier, whole foods and making exercise an important part of my day.  These have made me feel a lot better physically, and given me a lot more confidence to pursue more fitness related goals, like my second half marathon training!


Finish Line of My First Half Marathon

But even through all of this, the hardest part for me is focusing on being attentive to remaining positive mentally.  I can tend to let one seemingly bad thing spiral my day (or week…) out of control.  Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on positivity.  The boyfriend is always reminding me that positive thoughts bring about positive results.  It’s sometimes hard to remember, but I have noticed that it really does happen!

There is going to be a lot of change coming up in my life, so it will be important to remember these lessons.  Healthy food, lots of exercise and most importantly, a positive attitude will keep me moving forward!

What lessons have you learned that keep you going forward?

Friday Five: It’s My Jam!

With my half marathon coming up, I’ve been thinking about refining my running playlist.  And then I had quite the succession of phone problems, and have now lost my the running play list.  Boooooo.

Anyway, imagine my surprise when the theme for this weeks’ Friday Five Link Up was Top 5 Running Songs.  Woo Hoo!  Thanks to the DC Trifecta, Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What and Mar on the Run, for hosting! I’m certainly going to be checking out the other links… I need a new playlist!


Now, beware, my taste in running tunes can be a little all over the place.  You’ve been warned.

1) Chelsea Dagger – The Fratellis.  Now maybe it’s because I’m a Chicago Blackhawk’s Fan, but this song is great to run to.  I can’t help but sing along!

2) Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega. Ha! Judging me yet?  I hope not, because this is also a way fun song to run and run-dance to.  Run-dance… is that just me?  Waiving your arms around like a crazy while running down the street, dancing to tunes only you can hear? Yeah, that’s me.  Ya know those people who say they’ll start running once they see a happy runner?  Clearly they haven’t seen me jammin’ to Lou Bega.

3) Tearin’ Up My Heart – N*Snyc. Ok… Now I’m starting to embarass myself.  Only not too much… Everyone needs a little middle school dance style running song.

4) International Love – Pitbull.  I LOVE Pitbull.  Side note: I need to get me some Fireball by Pitbull to add to this mix.  And some Enrique, preferably Bailando.  And some Pitbull and Enrique in the same song, because that’s the dream.  I so wanted to go see them when they were in Chicago.  (Get back on track, Kat, sheesh.)

5) High Life – Brad Paisley.  To round out the variety of genres, add a little country!  I love Brad Paisley; my birthday present was tickets to see him in Indy, and it was awesome.  There is also some Zac Brown Band and Keney Chesney residing in the playlist as well.

I told you my music tastes covered the spectrum of genres.  Although, writing it out pretty much cemented it.  Ah well, it’s fun to have it on shuffle.  I never know what I’m going to get, and it’s a fun surprise!

What’s your favorite running song?  I need some new music!

Half Marathon Training: Weeks 11 and 12

Less than one month left until race day!

Monday of week 11 I set off for 4 miles after work.  It was a perfect fall day.  Cool weather and crunchy leaves.

Fall Run

Wednesday for the group run, we knocked out 5.5 miles (AKA “one loop”) and then headed to a local Mexican restaurant!  Corona and enchiladas… my kind of running evening.

Corona Run

For Saturday’s long run, we got a break!  Only eight miles!  I love it when I get to the point where “only” prefaces “eight miles.”  It doesn’t happen very often.  Even though we got a mileage break, we certainly did not get a weather break.  It was cold… 39 degrees!  It was windy.  It was raining… luckily not the whole time.  And there was the occasional time where there were snow flakes instead of rain drops.  SNOW!  But we survived.  More than that… we were pretty fast!  Eight miles at a 10:13 pace.  I’ll take it!

Cold Run

To start off week 12, the boyfriend and I hit the gym for a weights session.  I’m going to keep working on these arm muscles!  *Flexing emoji*

Wednesday with my group, I wanted to do six miles.  Then I was talked into 6.5… and eventually 7.  When all was said and done we did 7.25! Tricked!  But the run felt good.

Saturday’s long run had weather in the upper 30s again.  However, there is apparently a HUGE difference between 38 and windy/rainy and 38 and sunny!  Luckily this time we had 38 and sunny.  This run also felt really good.  I didn’t want to fall into a heap until mile 9.  Nine of 11 feeling good?  I’ll take it.  Those last two miles though… whew.  We made it though.  And the pace was AWESOME.  I’m getting pretty excited.  I feel faster than I have in the past, which is a great feeling.


I only remembered to take a picture after I already collapsed into the car 🙂

I was struggling through this whole training thing for a few weeks.  I was feeling like I was always tired, never getting to sleep in on Saturdays, fitting in these longer runs… it was bumming me out.  But looking back on these last few weeks, it’s making me feel better about it.  Seeing results is quite the motivator!

How is your training?  Do you have any fall races coming up?