Tag Archives: running

Run, Santa, Run!

3 Dec

This morning, Nick and I participated in the Santa Hustle 5K.  Both of us really enjoy holiday/theme races, and this particular race was actually featured in the last issue of Runner’s World.  We registered last weekend and woke up bright and early this morning to get our Santa on!

My initial plan was to run 7 miles this morning, as I am ramping up my mileage in preparation for marathon training.  I went to bed last night thinking that I would just get up a little earlier and run a few miles with Izzie before heading up to the 5K.  When I woke up, though, I heard rain outside and decided to forego the extra outdoor mileage.

The Santa  Hustle features technical t-shirts that look like Santa’s coat, as well as Santa hats and beards – all part of the goodie bag!  We got ready to run as Santas and had to take a picture before we headed out the door.

We both decided not to wear the beards to run, and Nick’s Santa hat was unfortunately too small.  Luckily he had a red running cap to wear instead.  I also donned a pair of red and green argyle knee socks, with Christmas trees and white fur trim.  You can juuust see the tops of them in the above photo.

The race was completely packed with Santas – around 4,000 to be exact!

It was really fun to look ahead of us at the sea of Santa hats!  They were also handing out Hershey’s Kisses and cookies at the aid stations, which was a very cute touch.  However, I learned that neither chocolate nor sugar cookies are great mid-run.  I was thirsty after each of those!

With 4,000 participants on a relatively narrow course, things were pretty darn crowded out there.  We ended up running our slowest 5K ever, coming in at over 32 minutes.  Yikes!

We had a great time at the race, but it ended up feeling more like a warmup than anything.  So we both decided to hit the gym when we got home, and I was able to get in my 7 miles afterall!  I completed 4 miles at around a 9:30 pace.

When we got home, we called Panes to see if they had their cream of tomato soup on the menu today.  Nick’s exclamation of joy when he was on the phone told me that they did!  We both ordered soup and a sandwich (I got the portabella and pesto on tomato focaccia) and enjoyed it while we watched the UNC game.

Unfortunately, the Tar Heels lost in a last-minute one-point game.  It was fun to watch, though.  I really miss being down there and getting into the excitement of basketball season.  I told Nick we’ll have to attend some of the alumni game viewing events here in Chicago this winter!

We just got done taking our family Christmas photo, with lots of hilarious outtakes.  I can’t wait to share ’em 🙂

Tonight’s gonna be a nice and relaxing cooking/movie watching kinda night.  Just like I like it!



It’s Friday, Friday!

2 Dec

Woohoo!  Finally, Friday afternoon has arrived!  Seriously, I have been ready for today since Monday.

I had a morning appointment today so I had to be out of the house by 7:45.  I think having a deadline, such as I must leave my house by 7:45 or I will be speeding and trying to “sneak through” red lights, thereby giving myself intense anxiety really helps me get my butt moving in the mornings.  Normally, when I don’t have to leave my house until, say 2:00, I snooze my alarm about a million times and think “I’ll work out at (insert future time here)”.  But today, knowing that I had to be moving by a certain time, I was out of bed by a little after 6 and on the treadmill before 6:30.  I wanted to incorporate some speed work into a total run of 4 miles, so I completed the following workout.

I followed the guidelines in my marathon training plan and did a 10 minute warmup, followed by 6×400 repeats.  I finished up with a pretty speedy mile (for me) and ended up completing 4 miles in 35:30.  As a typical slow poke, I was really excited about this time!  I also felt like I could easily have kept running for at least a few more miles.  I used to scoff at people who ran their 20 miler and then said “I easily could run 6 more”.  Puh-lease, I used to think.  But now?  Who knows.  Maybe that’ll be me 🙂

My Baby Girl

In July I took Izzie in to get her teeth cleaned, which required anaesthesia.  Before they cleaned her teeth, I received a phone call letting me know that one of her liver enzymes was slightly elevated.  The vet told me it wasn’t anything to be too concerned about, but he’d like to check it again in 4 months to make sure that it didn’t remain elevated.  I immediately went into panic mode and searched for causes of elevated liver enzymes.  I found many causes, one of which was being overweight.  Uh oh.  So, starting in July, Izzie went on a diet.  I bought her all natural food and became strict with myself about following the feeding guidelines.

Over time, I felt like she was starting to look better and Nick agreed.  Still, when I got the call a few weeks ago that it was time to repeat her bloodwork, I was nervous.  Partly, I didn’t really want to get scolded about her weight again.  But mainly, I didn’t want to hear that her enzymes were still out of whack.  So, when I took her in yesterday I was thrilled to learn that she had lost 12 pounds.  She is currently at about the weight that she was when I adopted her, and she really does look healthier.

It was a blessing in disguise that I had an early appointment today, because it prevented me from obsessing over what the results of the bloodwork would be.  Thankfully, I heard from the vet right after my meeting and my baby girl’s enzyme levels are right smack in the middle of the normal range 🙂  As it turns out, the enzyme that was elevated is non-specific, meaning that it binds to many different receptors, not just those in the liver (my background in neuroscience/pharmacology really came in handy when I heard that fact).  An elevation in this specific enzyme can be related to liver disease, but can also be related to stress, hormone fluctuations, and other things.   I have no idea if her weight was at all related, but now she’s a skinny minny healthy girl!

And since I got home, I have been smothering her with kisses and hugs, and letting her sleep on our bed (sorry Nick!)

This last picture was taken this morning, but it was too cute not to share.  Plus, she’s back up there now so it gets the point across.


Lunch today was a normal every day breakfast.  Oatmeal with chia, peanut butter and banana – with the rest of the banana and some more peanut butter on the side.

It was quick and filling, and just what I needed to get through to the weekend!  Happy Friday!

Halfway Through

30 Nov


This week has felt long, and it’s only Wednesday!  I felt rejuvenated when we got back from our Thanksgiving break, but getting back into the routine this week has been pretty tough.  I have not wanted to get out of bed at all!  Yesterday I skipped a workout all together, and today I chose to do another short 2-mile loop with Izzie.  Hopefully next week will be easier.  I’m inching closer and closer to the start of my marathon training plan!

Forks Over Knives

Over the holiday, Nick and I watched the film “Forks Over Knives” with his parents.  The premise of the film is that we should be eating a plant-based diet, and should be drastically reducing, if not eliminating, animal products from our diets.  I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this film at first.  I expected some pseudoscience pushy veganism.  What I didn’t expect was to walk away from the film intrigued and even convinced that they had a point.

Data was presented from two MDs who have spent their careers researching the effects of plant-based diets on several degenerative diseases.  Many of the studies could probably benefit from some replication (maybe they have been?  I’m planning to do a little google scholar search when I get some free time), but the data that was presented was compelling nonetheless.  The researchers found, for example, that people with advanced heart disease could halt and even reverse the progression of the disease just by switching to a plant-based diet.  Some animal research was also presented, showing that high levels of casein (the main protein in milk) resulted in precancerous cell growth, but reducing casein levels halted and reduced this growth.

Now, I didn’t walk away from this film planning on becoming a vegan.  Honestly, I could probably give up meat.  But I’ll never give up dairy.  I just like cheese and ice cream too much.  What I did walk away thinking, though, was that I could really reduce the amount of animal products that I eat during any given week.  Nick felt the same way, so when we got home on Sunday we whipped up a batch of vegetarian chili.

This chili was delicious and I didn’t miss the meat at all.  I did add some cheese, though – told ya I couldn’t drop it!  I plan to enjoy some of this chili for lunch today, and will post the recipe then – it’s one worth sharing!

As the chili was cooking up on Sunday, we also got to work decorating for Christmas.

We broke out some cute wine markers that Nick picked up a few weeks ago.

And lots of snowmen, Christmas balls, and even a wine bottle reindeer sweater!  I love the holidays 🙂


Another side effect of our viewing of Forks Over Knives is that I’ve been really trying to incorporate a piece of fruit into my breakfast, as well as for snacks/dessert throughout the day.  This morning I enjoyed another bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds, honey and raisins, with a pear on the side.

This type of breakfast makes me feel  healthy and like I am starting off my day on the right foot.  Now I’m getting my work on and hoping this week starts moving a little faster.

Found It!

8 Nov

For the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what training plan I’ll follow for the marathon in April.

When I ran the half marathon last fall, I followed Hal Higdon’s novice plan.  I liked the plan, but I didn’t feel like I was as prepared as I could’ve been.  By mile 9, my hips were totally falling apart and my legs just felt rough.


I ended up with a pretty bad flare up of ITB Syndrome and was sidelined for months.  Then, when I did get back into running, I ended up with tendonitis in my thigh, which resulted in knee pain in my other knee.  This was incredibly frustrating!

During my injured period, I began training for a triathlon.  I really enjoyed triathlon training and felt like it kept my injuries mainly at bay.  So, I’ve been hoping to find a marathon training plan that would allow me more than one day of cross training.  I think this set up just works better for me.  I searched and searched, but couldn’t find anything…until the other day.

I stumbled upon the FIRST training plan, which only requires 3 days per week of running workouts.  I was intrigued, and after reading more about the program I decided this is the one for me!

The speeds and distances are faster and longer than other training plans, which makes me feel like I will be prepared.  But with only 3 days per week of running, I also feel that my legs will have enough rest and variety so as to reduce the risk of injury.  Here’s to hoping!

Since the plan starts at a higher mileage than I was initially planning on, I’ll be spending the next few weeks building up to a long run of 9 miles.  I also tried out the first speed workout this morning, to get a feel for where I’m at.

First, I had to look up how far 400 meters is 😉  Once I got it all figured out, I hopped on the treadmill and completed the following workout:

Walk at 4.0 pace for .1 mile

400m at 7.5 pace, .1 mile at 6.0 pace x3

400m at 7.5 pace, .1 mile at 4.0 x1

400m at 7.5 pace, .1 mile at 6.0 pace x2

400m at 7.5 pace, .1 mile at 4.0 x1

400m at 7.5 pace, .1 mile at 6.0 pace x1

Sprint at 8.0 pace for .1 mile

I ended up covering 3 miles in 27:30 – my fastest pace yet!

I enjoyed this workout, and am looking forward to the speed work included in this training plan!

When I got home, I iced my leg and rolled out the ball of my foot.  I wore heels to the wedding this weekend, which basically felt like this:


I never was the type to be able to handle wearing heels for long periods of time.  I’ll blame it on being such a tomboy growing up.  My feet were hurtin’ the past few days!

Luckily, I had this sitting in our freezer.

It is basically like a foam roller for your tootsies, and it felt Ah.Mazing.

You can’t get away with this in a regular office!

Now I’m off to power through this cold and dreary Tuesday!

Fire and Ice

28 Oct


Last night, Nick and I had a hot date…to watch one of his friends torture himself.

Let me explain.  As fans of spicy food, Nick and I started watching the Food Network show “heat seekers” a few weeks ago.  On one of the recent episodes, a pizza place here in Chicago called Bricks was featured.  Nick and I have ordered from Bricks several times, so we were intrigued to see the “Super Painful Challenge” that was highlighted.

The challenge involves eating a 10-inch pizza, topped with spicy pepperoni, jalapeno peppers, several layers of scotch bonnets, and ghost pepper sauce in 10 minutes.  Eating a 10-inch pizza alone in 10 minutes sounds tough – but scotch bonnets and ghost peppers are no joke.  

Well, Nick has a friend who loves spicy food and also can’t turn down a challenge.  Since he is in town for a while, Nick proposed the Super Painful Challenge to him and he accepted.  I couldn’t turn down spectating this event, so off we went in the freezing cold rain last night to watch Howard torture himself.

The evening started with a huge mug of Oktoberfest beer.

Nick and I ordered our usual – the Sweet Heat pizza, which includes BBQ sauce, jalapenos, bacon and chicken.

While Howard and his friend, John, got to work signing their waivers:

“Let it be known that I have undertaken this ridiculous challenge of my own free will.”

Oh, we were in for a treat!  After a few suspenseful minutes, the Super Painful pizzas arrived – from across the table you could feel the burn of the peppers.


The nice people at Bricks provided the challengers with gloves, so their hands wouldn’t fall off from touching the crazy-hot peppers.

Once they were all gloved up and ready to go, the timers were started and they were off!

Let me just make it known that I in no way understand wanting to eat something that will hurt and not taste good.  But, I did enjoy watching.

Neither Howard nor John completed the challenge, but Howard put in a valiant effort – he finished 3/4 of the pizza in the 10-minute period!  Insane.

Nick took one bite when they were done…

…and immediately started sweating and hiccupping.  It was pretty funny.

All in all, this was a very entertaining night.  What can I say?  I guess I take pleasure in other people’s pain (at least, when they actively sign up for it).

The Next Morning

This morning, thanks to the two mugs of Oktoberfest that I enjoyed, I was feeling a bitt groggy.  I just can’t hang the way I used to.

I took solace in the fact that Howard and John were most definitely feeling worse than I was, and I eventually peeled myself out of bed and took Izzie for a run.

I took a quick peek at the weather on my phone and saw temperatures in the low 40’s.  Yikes!  I bundled myself up, but was still pretty cold throughout the run.  Being outside definitely helped my cause, though, and I was feeling great as we wrapped up our 3-miler.

When I got home, I also completed the 10-lb. Slimdown XTreme Abs video.  I really enjoy this series, and my abs were burning when I was done!

As I got ready for my morning meeting, I enjoyed a bowl of oats with brown sugar and raisins, and a mug of tea.

Now I’m just powering my way through my Friday  Thursday (I have to work tomorrow morning).  See ya later!

Sunday Morning Run

23 Oct

This morning I awoke to the sound of a whining dog.  Let me rewind to yesterday to explain.

Yesterday afternoon I was running around doing errands and stopped in to  Home Goods.  In the pet aisle, I stumbled across this bad boy.

A “Ginormous” pumpkin flavored play-bone.

There were several other pumpkin pie flavored Nylabone-type toys, but all of them were designed for either light or moderate chewers.  Experience has taught me that buying Izzie anything designed for moderate chewers is a quick waste of money.  This bone was edible, and set up like a tripod to provide the pup with ultimate chewing leverage.

Izzie loved this bone!

(Don’t worry, once I saw what a mess this was about to be, I kicked her off the couch).  Anyway, Izzie loved this bone so much that she consumed the whole thing in less than 5 minutes.  She’s special.

So this morning she was whining her little heart out.  I ignored her for a while but once I remembered the “ginormous” bone, I figured she meant business and I’d better get her outside ASAP.

I leashed her up for a run and set out to complete a 2-mile Izzie loop followed by a 2-mile alone loop.  However, once we got outside I realized that Izzie had tons of energy this morning.  Heck, I thought, let’s give this a shot!

I bypassed our normal loop and ended up completing 4.25 miles with Izzie by my side for the whole run.  She was even sprinting ahead of me during the last 1/4 mile!  It was such a great feeling to have her out there with me the whole time.  She’s a fun running partner when she wants to be 🙂

When we got home, I enjoyed a quick breakfast of cereal and pumpkin-peanut-butter bagel.

This afternoon I had a long-overdue catch up with a friend, and am now off to organize and decorate my “home office”!

10-4, Sonic!

20 Oct

This morning I completed a brand new treadmill workout.  This workout is called the “Broderick Crawford” workout because of its 10-4 pattern, in reference to “Highway Patrol” (a TV series which I have never seen).  Basically, the workout is comprised of a warm up and cool down period, with 10 minutes of “manageable hard” followed by 4 minutes of “recovery” repeated twice in between.  Here’s what mine looked like.

I really enjoy completing standard interval workouts, but felt like I needed to work on sustaining “faster” paces for longer periods of time.  This workout fit the bill.  But, truth be told, I really chose it because of its fun name.  I’m a sucker for clever names.

Which makes me think of gene names.  Yup, genes.  Geneticists are a pretty clever breed, and many genes have funny, clever names.  Case in point…




The Sonic Hedgehog gene!

I remember learning about the Sonic Hedgehog gene during one of my neuroscience classes in grad school and thinking it was pretty awesome that someone named a gene after a video game character.  This prompted me to look up other gene names, a list of which you may find here.  Two of my favorites are “Ken and Barbie” and “Tinman”.  But, enough about my random interest in gene names…

After completing my cleverly-named workout, I came home and enjoyed a mixed bowl of cereal.

1/2 cup chex, 1/2 cup honey nut cheerios, 1/4 cup Kashi GoLean Crisp & chia seeds.

Topped off with chocolate soy milk, of course.

I needed the chocolate for recovery!

Today’s going to be another looong day, so I’m off to get started!