Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting Back on Track

Well, it's been two weeks now since the Chicago Marathon and it's safe to say I'm recovered and trying to figure out my running/workout routine. While I don't currently have a race on the horizons, there are a few shortish ones I'm considering. Running will stay constant in my fitness routine, even if I'm not running 40-50 miles a week.

The first week after the marathon, I took it pretty easy due to my schedule. Those first few days, I took a few walks around Chicago and then Wednesday, I did a 25 min strength routine at home before work. My first official run back was Thursday, four days post marathon. It was a fairly relaxed and chatty 4.5 mile run with a few runner friends.

That weekend was busy with work and seeing friends, so I got in a few yoga practices, a short run, and a hike with Lindsey. It's safe to say that my schedule is dictating my fitness, which is okay for now. 

Last week, I was happy to fit in a more normal schedule of running:

Tuesday: 3 am miles

Thursday: 5.5 miles, including speed work with the Flyers

Recycled photo of Hayward - same location, different night
Friday: 5.5 miles on my own in the mist. This run felt like a sanity saver and a super relaxing way to end the week. I then went home, cooked dinner (a rarity these days), and had a glass of wine. 

Saturday: 15 min hill trail run, power yoga {in which I got into assisted chin stand a few times!} Beware, this takes a lot of warming up, arm strength and general good sense if anything doesn't feel "right."

Sunday: 1 hour trail run {hip flexors were sore from Saturday like whoa}. I even told the manfriend we could turn around early instead of forcing ourselves through a few more miles.

 Hillz are hard.

One thing I've yet to figure out is how I'm going to appropriately fuel my body running less miles. I still feel equally as hungry, but know I'm not burning as much as before. It's all a balance and it's not a big deal if I gain a few lbs, but I don't want to be eating just for the sake of eating. Especially during this time of year where everything looks like it should be eaten (or drank)! ;)

Over the last year or so, I've gotten better about eating more clean and less junk {processed stuff}. By no means have I been eating veggies, fruit and protein alone, but I was fueling for high performance and energy and there's no reason to derail that train {even when the manfriend brings home a HUGE bag of Halloween candy}.

So, I'm getting back on the healthy eats train with lemon water + apple cider vinegar, green smoothies, and filling but nutritious meals. And on occasion, a few mini twix or some skittles. Luckily, Halloween will be gone before we know it!

The weather here has gotten cold quickly! This morning it was 29 when I took the dog for a walk! Welp, there goes fall...

Do you have any fun recipes on your horizon? I want to try some fun main dishes, but Sunday evening, I made Ashley's pumpkin spice baked donuts {featured on Top with Cinnamon}. Speaking of which, I should really get her cookbook.

Anyone signing up for any holiday races? I always love our local Turkey Stuffer 5K.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Little Things

I'll tell you, it seems like when I'm in school, my brain doesn't have much space for pondering things that don't revolve around chemistry, anatomy, or work. It's probably some kind of safety mechanism so my brain doesn't implode. So to keep it simple, I thought I'd share with you a few things that have been making me happy lately.

1. Big scarves. I have two infinity scarves and a few other colorful ones that I like to wear. I like that they not only add extra warmth, but are cozy and can add a little extra style to an outfit. I'm currently craving a big knitted version for winter.

Hello awkward bathroom pic

2. Tea. I've picked up a few different flavors on a few trips to the grocery store; green teas, orange spice, birthday cake. When I'm studying before work, it's nice to have a few different flavors to choose from.

3. Coffee shops. As convenient and free as studying at home is, it's just too easy to get distracted. $3 is easily justifiable when it buys you a few hours of fairly focused studying. P.S. Why are science chapters 50 pages long? As one of the slowest readers, it's pretty agonizing.

4. Fall leaves. I know, this happens every year. The leaves change color and then they fall off the trees.  But for whatever reason, I'm enamored with them wherever I go. On the running trails, driving down the street, outside my office window. I just can't stop staring {or taking pictures}.

Do you have a favorite flavor of tea? What's making you extra happy these days?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chicago Marathon: The Recap

Hello, we're back from Chicago (as of last Tuesday eve)! It was a much needed vacation in the middle of all the chaos. This trip was truly a combo vacation as I was meeting up with blog friends (Amber, Lisa and new friend Anais), running the Chicago Marathon, visiting Pete's family (his brother and sister-in-law live in Chicago with their 11 week old baby girl!), and trying to fit some studying in for my Anatomy test. Oy vey!

I made it through last week and am now trying to avoid a cold, so wish me luck. You might be wondering how the marathon went, so here's a little more detail than what you might have seen on the marathon tracker.

But first, a peek at the largest race expo I've ever been to! Pete's brother Jon dropped us off at the marathon expo to meet up with the girls on Friday morning.

Anais, Amber, myself and Lisa

A & B corral bibs were red because they started 30 min prior to the other corrals

I loved how many running companies were there and all the plays on the windy city and the L train.

The rest of Friday was spent being touristy. The manfriend headed back to his brother's place after a bit and the girls and I took the architectural boat tour and spent some time chatting and sipping tea downtown. 


It was a gorgeous day and admittedly, I took a few brief snoozes on the tour. Thursday's early flight took it out of me.

Saturday night, the girls and I carb loaded at Nilsa's house with her family and a home cooked meal. It was fun and likely, much more relaxed than trying to find a pasta place to dine at in the city. The girls were staying at the Red Roof Inn, which was only a mile or two from Millennium Park where the race started, so I stayed with them that night.

Sunday morning, after about five hours of broken sleep, I jumped out of bed, put my race clothes on and headed downstairs to get oatmeal and tea from Starbucks. Amber, Anais and I took the bus down to Millenium Park and Lisa left a bit later as she'd be spectating.

It was quite a sight to see 40,000 other runners pouring into the park before dawn. I hadn't grabbed a throw away shirt so I was a little chilly for that next hour before the start. However, I can't really complain because race day weather was nearly perfect, starting in the 40s.

After a bathroom stop, I maneuvered my way to the B corral and found the 3:35 pace group. Shortly after, I saw the manfried roll into our corral, kissed him and waited for the go!

From a mile or so in, this race just felt hard.  My pace felt uneasy, although I knew I could likely push harder than my mind was telling me. I could just tell it was going to be a hard race.

The City
I figured trying to stay with the pace group with be the best thing for me to maintain my speed, so I did. I tried to look at the crowd, the buildings, and other runners and just soak it all in. One of the most incredible parts of the Chicago Marathon is that not only do you get to see a ton of the city (downtown, Old Town, China Town, Greek Town, River East, New Town, etc), there are people lining the entire 26.2 miles, and in some places 3-4 people deep.

The Crowd
The roar from the crowd and the looks on spectators faces definitely feeds you as a runner. There were several times where I had to look away from the crowd and back to the runners in front of me because looking at the crowd was dizzying. Another unique aspect of such a large race is that you're always running near people. It's rare that you have a ton of room around you. In fact, it probably didn't start to spread out until mile 21 or so.

Water Stations
The Chicago Marathon did a great job of making the Gatorade and water stations frequent and extra long so you wouldn't miss them while trying to make your way over to the right or left (they were always on both sides of the road). The water stops were one of the challenges in staying with the pace group, and trying to maneuver with so many other runners. Even as a seasoned marathoner and not walking through the water stations, I was chasing pace group down after every one.

Where it Got Challenging
I stayed with or closely behind the 3:35 pace group until about mile 19 where I just couldn't hang on much longer. My stomach was off the entire race and I could barely choke down my Shot Bloks or gel, which was unusual. Over the entire 26.2, I probably ate about 250-300 calories in total, so there's no doubt my energy stores were low near the end.

I'm in this crowd, promise. Just to the left of the blue tank top guy. 

Most of my miles varied from 7:48-8:15 min/mile until miles 20-25 where they dropped to 8:20, 8:28, 8:58, 8:58, 8:55 and 8:18. Clearly, I know there's room for improvement in those final miles but the Chicago Marathon was just not my day for a BQ. The temp had also warmed up by this point and was in the mid 60s. As with most marathons, I wanted to walk several times in those last few miles, but I didn't!

Photo via Marathon Foto

As I came down those last 800m to the finish, the crowd was once again incredible. I got choked up and a bit teary thinking about Boston and and all of those whose lives changed forever. Boston qualifier or not, I was lucky to be running a marathon on 10-13-13. I crossed the finish line at 3:38:05 and cried a bit of relief.

I slowly made my way through the finish, grabbed some food, water, and a free beer and made my way  into the park to the family meet up area to reunite with the manfriend and Jon, Cheryl & Vivienne where we hung out and listened to the live band for an hour or so.

Someone remind me not to wear such a pale color for my next race! Blah. 

*You may have seen this on the results, but the manfriend had a great race and finished in 3:19! His goal was to finish it around 3:20-3:25, so he definitely hit his goal! I have no doubt he could go sub 3:15, so we'll see if there's another marathon in his future. 

It's important to note that the Chicago Marathon felt like a pretty safe race to be running. The organizers clearly did a lot to keep runners safe after the incidents at Boston. Several months out, we started getting emails about what would and would not be allowed in corrals, the finish area, etc. Additionally, we were told that if anything did go wrong, there were colored markers on the course that could change from green to orange, red or black to warn you of an issue.

On race day, there were lookout stations near the start/finish for crowd patrol as well as armed law enforcement and K-9 units in several locations.

All in all, would I do this race again? Heck yes!

Riding the L train makes me feel like a city girl, even though I'm not

So, there you have it: our traveling and running adventures all mixed into one. Every time I visit Chicago, I fall for it just a bit more. I'm not sure I could survive its winters, but Chicago is definitely a place I love to visit. The city just feels alive, yet relaxed and very friendly at the same time. 

How is your week going? I'm frantically trying to catch up on chemistry and A&P reading. Not exactly 'quick reads.'

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Marathon Wednesday: Race Week

Oh hello, looks like I missed Marathon Monday by just a few days, eh? Life is busy, especially when you pack a week's worth of school and work into three short days!

Here's a look back at last week, my first official "taper" week. I'll admit that this go 'round it has definitely NOT felt like a taper. After all, in every other area of my life I am running full speed ahead (hello night classes, chemistry lab, crazy busy event planning for work). There's been no need for getting anxious about not running because I have no extra time to fill. I haven't even opened my Feedly reader in a few days (you know I'm busy when I'm neglecting my blog reading).

Monday - 30 min yoga flow, rest day

Tuesday - 5 a.m. miles

Wednesday - 6 miles in the fog with 8 x 2 min tempo intervals

Thursday - 20 min am yoga, 6 miles, 10 min tempo with the group and the rest of the run on my own. Feeling on the verge of a cold and my stomach was off so I just ran the rest on my own. 

Friday - Rest, busy, pm walk

Saturday - Under the weather, skipped the run, went to my awesome power yoga class with Kira though! Long study/cappuccino session afterward.

Love Vero Cafe

Sunday - Last LONG run of 9 miles! Pete and I headed out on our long run together. We ran about the first two miles together and then he took off. I stuck pretty close to marathon goal pace and the sun was out so it was a pretty happy run overall. 

Randomly ended up wearing four shades of purple for this run

This morning, I had a magical run. After my warm up mile, the next four were each at 8:00 pace or under and they felt easy on my legs and lungs. Seriously, that's just the kind of confidence boost I needed this week. Here's to hoping I have that exact same feeling on Sunday morning!

If you want to track us during the Chicago Marathon, you can find me under "Lauren Peters" (registered before we got married) and the manfriend under "Pete Moe."

How is your week going? Anyone else experiencing magical miles these days?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunshine Award

It's been a while since I've done one of these Q/A posts, but they're always fun to read about other people. Teri of A Foodie Stays Fit nominated me in her post, so here goes. 

1. Include award logo in a post or on your blog. 
2. Link to the person who nominated you. 
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself. 
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award and ask them 10 questions.
Teri's questions...
1. What’s your favorite holiday and why? 
I love Christmas and everything that surrounds it: bundling up, picking out a tree, decorating, looking at Christmas lights in other neighborhoods, seeing friends and family. Not such a big fan of the buying/receiving millions of gifts part of it. And lately I'm falling more in love with the entire season of fall, although I know that's not a holiday. The changing leaves and pumpkins just make me happy. 
2. If you could go any place in the world, where would it be? 
Greece or Cinque Terre, Italy
3. Are you an introvert or extrovert? What’s an trait you have that obviously proves it?
I am an ESFJ (extrovert sensing feeling judging) on the Myers-Briggs scale, but I'm just slightly an extrovert and definitely have introverted tendencies (i.e. love parties and people, but also need my down time). The proof is in the puddin', as in, if choosing between heading home to relax or meeting up with a group of friends I will nine times out of ten pick the people. 
4. What was the first-ever blog you read that wasn’t a close friend or family member?
Hm, I can't remember! I have been reading Kath Eats, Fitnessista, Girl with the Red Hair, and Dietitian on the Run for quite a while. But my feed reader is full of blends (blog friends) I've been reading for quite a while. 
5. Why do you keep blogging?
Ultimately, I enjoy the outlet as a place to share my thoughts/feelings and connect with friends and like minded readers. I hope that one day I can turn my writing into something more professional, although I imagine I'll continue blogging.
6. What are you looking forward to during the rest of 2013?
I'm looking forward to meeting our new niece Vivienne (8 weeks old!) in Chicago, running the hell out of the Chicago Marathon (hopefully BQing), reuniting with a few blog friends there, and completing Anatomy & Physiology II (because I can already tell it's going to be a beast). 
7. What is a goal you are working on right now?
I'm working on Boston Qualifying, although I'm not waging my happiness upon it. And more importantly, working on finishing my pre-requisites in order to start a registered dietitian program. 
8. Do you believe in fate?
Er, sometimes? I believe that the universe and peoples' lives go in waves or circles and sometimes your circles pass with another person or opportunity at the right time. So I guess I believe that the universe and your intentions have designed something to happen. 
9. If you had unlimited money, how would you fill your time? 
Doesn't that sound fabulous? If I had unlimited money, I would travel more, enroll in yoga teacher training, buy a camera and enroll in photography classes, purchase a few more pair of boots and jeans, go hiking in the Himalayas, lay on a beach in Hawaii or Mexico at least once a year, visit far away friends, and take a ski trip to Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole, etc. Oh and be a stay at home mom. 
10. What’s your favorite TV show? 
We don't get a ton of channels because we cancelled cable about a year ago, but the Big Bang Theory makes me laugh a lot and Grey's Anatomy sucks me in every time. 

Tag, you're it! If you're reading this, you can either play along and answer the same questions on your blog, or pick one and answer it here. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Managing Stress

It's no mystery that stress is a part of our lives from time to time. And sometimes, it's more prevalent than others. As someone with a type A, always wanting to do everything at 110% kind of personality, I tend to create more stress than needed around certain things.

Alas, I've managed to find myself in some pretty stressful states lately. Last week I was feeling so stressed out that I was having headaches, got breakouts on my face, and feeling some tightening in my chest.

With two classes, 30 hours of work, running, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, I know that the next few months will be taxing no matter what. As a result, I'm looking at ways to stay happy and healthy during the peaks and valleys because I know I have to take care of myself first and foremost. 

I'm curious, what do you guys do to combat stress or prevent added stress?

Here are some things I do or am thinking of adding to my routine:
  • Running - Hello sanity saver and adrenaline rush
  • Yoga - Ommm. Can't argue with a good stretch.
  • Acupuncture - Want to see what the hype is all about.
  • Hitting up the farm/pumpkin patch - Fall produce, apple cider donuts, piles of pumpkins, trees changing colors; it all just feels right.
  • Lattes and coffee shops
  • Music - Revisiting itunes and making some new playlists, turning on Pandora more often. I forget how calming music can be.
  • Laughter - I could use a bit more silly in my life.
Here's a list of 20 other free or really cheap ways to relieve stress. Concentrate on good things. That's probably my favorite of the list. 

A few random things I'm thankful for this week are: The return of Grey's Anatomy & Scandal, clean laundry, Synergy Kombucha (Trilogy flavor), cute babies, and not going crazy during taper time. Anything you're particularly thankful for this week?