September 30, 2015

5 Things to Do To Stay Sane In Grad School {plus juggling everything else}

The countdown to Chicago is on and I've made it just over a month into my first semester of grad school. Jumping into a professional Occupational Therapy Master's program has been exciting but crazy busy. Changing my schedule and dealing with lots of simultaneous projects, studying for classes, and fitting in the rest of my life drives me crazy some days.  Even if you aren't in school, these tips could be applied towards any busy week!  Here are some of the things I've been doing to try to balance school, work, fun, and marathon training.  


1. Schedule in at least one consistent stress-relief activity.
 For me I feel so much better with a morning run or sweat session and need to make time for it each week.  Some days lately I can't sneak a run in because of lack of sleep, schoolwork, work, and life but too many days of no runs would drive me crazy.  I need those easy morning runs with time to reflect and think before most of the city is awake.

The days I get morning views like this are the best. 
 In school we are always talking about occupational balance, and it's such an important concept. We need both work AND play in a balance. 

Morning runs don't have to be your thing. Maybe your thing is to always spend X night watching Netflix or going out to eat. Maybe your stress-relief activity is just morning yoga or spending extra time to leisurely cook a nice meal. Build it into your schedule.  

2. Portable snacks and food.
I don't know what it is about sitting in classes that makes me so hungry. With my days on campus packed mostly back-to-back with classes not only packing lunches but packing plenty of snacks is key.  I always makes sure I've got easy snacks like fruit, baby carrots, protein bars, and LesserEvil mini popcorn bags in my backpack for when I'm hungry and stuck in class. 

I try to find packaged snacks that have lots of protein and are satisfying. Quest Bars have been awesome because they have lots of protein and satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Quest Nutrition mint chocolate chunk bar
  Luckily we have access to a refrigerator so I can pack some of my favorite cold snacks like greek yogurts or the local skyr smoothies from B'more Organic.  This coffee-flavored smoothie has 46g of protein, no added sugar, and is easy to drink in class or on the go. 

B'more Organic Skyr Smoothies are an awesome for on the go. 

3. A planner. 
Being organized is the most important thing. There is NO way I can keep track of everything I need to be at, homework, tests, work, social events, races, and appointments without writing everything down in my planner. Also I need to plan out things like 6 months in advance, no joke. 

Find what organizational system works for you whether that be your phone, Google calendar, whatever. Write stuff down because otherwise you will forget everything and drive yourself crazy. 

Speaking of which, anyone have an affordable favorite planner suggestion?

4. A support system. 
I wouldn't make half my workouts lately if I wasn't meeting a group of people or knowing I told some November Project tribe members I'd be there. Having the purpose of meeting people is major accountability for getting my butt out of bed in the mornings. 

It's also about having family and friends and significant others that can help you out whether that's running that errand for you so you have one less thing to do, offering moral support, buying you chocolate, editing your papers, or offering up fun things to do in the little spare time you have.  Don't be afraid to rely and lean on people a little more during this stressful time. 

For example, I never would have gotten out of my warm bed to go do a track workout at 5:30 AM yesterday if it I didn't tell a group I'd meet up with them.

Post-track workout all-stars.
5. Coffee. Everyday. Anytime.
 Enough said. 
Truth bomb {source}
What is your best way to stay sane during really busy weeks?  Do you use a planner? What's your favorite one?

September 28, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Training Recap {Weeks 11-14}

{Read about Weeks 1&23&45&6 ,7&89&10 of my training} Weeks 11-14 of training are here already.

Be sure to check out the hashtag #breathedeeplyandrunchi on Twitter and Instagram for more snippets of my training! 


Chicago Marathon 2015 Training Recap

Obviously I've been busy and training has been going okay although my marathon goals have changed from the beginning of training. Since I'm being on training, here's a big ol' 4 week recap
Week 11

Week 11 was a really great week of training with just over 40 miles in for the week. I've added at least one day a week of just lifting in the gym at school which makes me happy. My tempo run this week was done on a cooler day, and it was one of those runs where my tempo paces felt really natural.  

This week I did a really solid 20 mile run despite falling and scraping my knee in the dark on the first mile of the run as I was on my way to meet up with a group to run with.  My knee was a little sore but my hand took a bit hit. I awkwardly tried to hold a tissue on my hand during the run and cleaned it all up after I got him. Falling during running will never not be embarrassing.  I also happened to be decked on in my new favorite Brooks Running hat and an appropriate Brooks shirt.  


Post-run Cream Cruiser ice cream sandwiches at the farmer's market also make me feel better about my fall (see bandaged knee).

So big, but of course I ate it all. 
Week 12
This week had slightly lower mileage than I wanted but lots of great, shorter workouts. I had two 4 mile runs that felt really hot, humid, and hard. This week also included a super fun November Project-Baltimore workout that featured our awesome yearbook photos thanks to Pixilated

 This week's long run was 15 miles which included the Charles Street 12 Miler race which didn't feel as great as I wanted but was still a fun race.  

Double-thumbs up aka my classic running pose
Week 13
On Labor Day a bunch of us November Project-Baltimore people traverbaled and went down to the NP-DC workout.  It was super fun to visit another tribe and get in some different #hillsforbreakfast at Meridian Park.  
Loving my fresh new DC tag
This week also included a bunch of running including NP-Baltimore workouts on Wednesday and Friday as well as the Shake Shack Track & Field Run on Tuesday.  

My long run started out with me planning on only running my 17 miles, but the route I ran with some November Project people on the northern part of the city to Charles Village and along to the Robert E. Lee Park trails proved it would probably be a few miles longer. The group I was running with was running 20 miles and since I was feeling good I decided to get in my 22 mile run. It was nice to have a group of people to motivate me and made the run less painful than it otherwise could have been.  We finished the run just in time because as I sat down at breakfast to eat my chocolate chip pancakes at Light Street Cafe with the run gang it started to rain.  I was thinking about breakfast for the last 1/4 of that run! 

It was weird how chill I felt afterwards when I finished 22 miles. I took a moment to sit by the Inner Harbor and stretch and soak in the moment. I saw my friend on his way to work right after and he said I looked like I was about to start my run, not be finished with such a long one! Training doesn't get easier, but certain parts of it are definitely different each time around. 

Repping my Momentum jewelry shirt and Footnotes of course
Week 14
This is the week where school and my new schedule really started to catch up with me so it was struggle to fit in some workouts and runs.  I had a quick treadmill run one day and a quick lifting session at school on Monday.  I also had to take a rest day on Tuesday instead of on Sundays like I frequently do. 

My long run was a 17 miler (for real this time), and I was totally mentally not feeling it. I got up super early and the city was eerily quiet and seriously foggy. I was feeling so over training and waking up really freaking early to run this morning but thank goodness for running with NP-Baltimore people who kept me motivated and entertained throughout the run.  

Yep, that's the Inner Harbor. Totally looks like The Mist attacked.
Sunday was the super awesome Empowered by Gundalow event. We didn't get quite enough people to sign up to run with me which makes me sad, but I totally understand because there was tons of races this weekend. I was happy enough to go help out with the barre class at Pop Physique. I definitely felt the burn-it had been a while since I've taken a barre class. My legs were especially feeling it since it was the day after my long run, yikes.  

The after-party at Ryleigh's Oyster was really fun and reminds me why I love Gundalow Juice and all the amazing people who are involved with and support the company and the Baltimore fitness community.  

{again thanks to Pixilated for the fun photobooth!}
The bad: Weeks 11 & 12 I really needed to be more hydrated. It was another hot and humid stretch of weather. Weeks 13 & 14 I was noticing really how tight my hips have been. It's probably due to the lack of stretching plus all the sitting at desks in school during the week. 

The good:  I'm happy that I made it through my 20 and 22 mile runs and that they actually felt pretty good. No injuries and not even much post-long run soreness which is weird to me, but I'm not complaining. So happy to be starting taper! 

Things to Focus on: I really need to tighten up my schedule and actually plan workouts for the beginning of the week when I'm busiest so that they happen. I seriously need my morning runs as stress-relief. 

This post was linked up with Weekend SnapshotsWeekly Wrap, and MIMM.  

How was your week of workouts?  Do you get really tight from sitting all day? Have you ever fallen running? 

September 23, 2015

12 Reasons Why November Project-Baltimore is Awesome (and you should join us!)

I haven't talked about it in much detail in a while, but November Project-Baltimore is still my favorite, almost two years after joining in. 

Thanks to Facebook photos, it's all everyone thinks I ever do-no, seriously. 

It was really great to have tribe members to organize long runs for marathon training this summer, which let me get to know many people a lot better. Although I may be a little more reserved than other tribe members, I have just as much love, pride, and enthusiasm for this tribe and appreciate all their love, support, and sweaty hugs.  I thought it was time to show my tribe some love!  

Reasons Why November Project-Baltimore is Awesome (and you should join us!)

1. The tribe is weatherproof and never cancels any of our FREE workouts-we embrace it. 
And sometimes we make snow angels.  

2. We do lots of fun things outside of workouts including happy hours, training runs, dinners out, and races like the Cupid's Undie Run in February. 
Also free workouts mean more money for beer and food!

Yeah, most of us are actually friends and not like those people you kinda stare at while you work out in the gym.


3. We love running stairs and #hillsforbreakfast. 
I know that least Sarah and I think stairs are the best. 

4. We race everything.  
It doesn't matter how fast or slow you are. 

There's always a friend you can "convince" to run a race with you. 
Post-Sole of the City 10K 2014

5. We keep it weird, real weird. 
Whether you are throwing feathers around with other tribes. 
Post feathering at NorthFace Endurance Challenge DC 2014 

Or bopping each other on the noses. Or curtsying when you say "good morning". 

Or building plank pyramids at the end of the workout. 

6. We like giving hips-in hugs. 
There's nothing like a big sweaty hug early in the morning. 


7. We are really happy to be working out with November Project at 6:30 AM (or 5:30 AM!). 
Just trick yourself into getting to the workout before your brain knows what's happening. 


8. We love Baltimore and supporting our community. 
There is so much Baltimore pride present, and the tribe is always supporting things like local 5Ks,community events,  great organizations like Back on My Feet, and even the awesome cafes like Light Street Cafe and Grace's Acre that allow us to takeover after workouts.   


Helping out with the Back on My Feet Baltimore shoe drive earlier in the summer 
9. We are great at taking photos and rocking neon-colored grassroots gear. 
We promise you'll get an awesome new Facebook profile photo if you come workout with us. AND WE HAVE A CRAB TAG which is obviously awesome. 


10. Our workouts change every week and are always fun and sometimes strange. The workouts include everyone's favorites including lunges, burpees, hoistees, and partner push-ups.  

We also really love squatting with our good friend "Sally".

11. We work out so early that we see amazing sunrises over the city of Baltimore. 


12. We have AMAZING co-leaders that keep things fun and the energy high as well as do a great job of making it a welcoming environment. 
Shout-out to Pat, Sydney, and Nick for being amazing people!
November Project Baltimore is one of my favorite things about living in the city. I can't believe how many friends I've made through the tribe and love knowing I can always count on someone to be up for something, no matter how crazy it sounds. I'm so happy the tribe embraced this crazy runner lady

P.S. We also like dogs, beards, and butts

Get the latest updates and weird photos on Facebook or check out the blog

If you are in Baltimore come join the tribe #bemore_bmore for a free workout on Wednesdays 6:30 AM (and 5:30 AM) at Rash Field and Fridays at 6:30 AM at Patterson Park. 

 If you are still confused about what November Project is, check out the website

See if one of the tribes in 23 cities across North America is near you, just waiting to give you a sweaty hug. 

Have you ever worked out with November Project? Do you belong to an awesome fitness group?

September 21, 2015

2015 Chicago Marathon Goals {Failing doesn't mean failure}

This post has been brewing in my mind for a while, and since I'm 20 days away from the 2015 Chicago Marathon, I've been thinking about my goals a lot. 

I've put it out there that I want a Boston Qualifying time (BQ, in runner-talk).  I want it badly. Partially because it's a badge as a runner to qualify. Selfishly, I want to rock that really cool jacket. Partially because it's a scary big goal.

I love these sweet Boston Pro Compression socks. 
Partially to prove to myself that I can freaking do it. This girl who never ran track or cross-country in high school. Who works and goes to school and does a million other things and has to fit in her runs can do it. Who isn't a super lean and graceful-looking runner. Who doesn't run everyday. I know it can come off as a pity party  (boo hoo, I'm so close) or silly because there are people who qualify all the time. 

I thought it might have happened last year in Chicago, but then I ended up getting sick the whole week before and went into the race just wanting to feel good and finish. It may have been a twisted blessing in disguise because I ended up having a great race and finishing in 3:36:01 which is just 1:01 off the 3:35 time I need for my age/gender. It was partially my training, partially that I was relaxed, and partially that the race gods were smiling down on me. 

I planned on working my butt off this training cycle earlier this year. I planned on upping my weekly mileage, doing more long runs and back to back runs. I read books and planned on focusing on my fueling, attempting to not gain my carb-happy weight, and take training more seriously. 

Instead I spent all summer trying to figure out my graduate school plans and then started school full-time. School and other life priorities had to come first for me. I worked hard for that too, so I had to be flexible with other things. 

So I'm not sitting here right now 20 days out feeling lean (hello those extra 5-7 lbs of carb-happy training weight), fast, or with higher training mileage (sitting around 30-40 miles per week). I had to have a more relaxed training cycle, which did include many really solid long runs. 

I'm not trying to complain, this post is more for myself, so I can get all this out of my head. 

Lately I have been trying not to talk about my goals. I'll feel embarrassed if I don't qualify this year because I'm so close,which makes it feel harder to me in some sense. I'll also feel like failure, which I suppose is always the fear when you put your goals out there. 

Tonight I'm sitting here knowing that it'll be okay. My A goal may be to run a 3:30,kicking ass(phalt) and taking names, even though I'm not confident in this right now. 

My B goal would be to to PR, which may mean a BQ, it may not. I've got like 7 years left in my age bracket for this qualifying time so I've got time, for sure. I know I have a few more marathons in me. Boston isn't the end-all, be-all. 

My C goal will be to just run it, not hate it and have fun. There's always a little pain involved, but I want lots of those happy miles too. Like when my Beyonce jam comes on and I'm smiling and trying to conserve energy but maybe singing and dancing a little because I'm feeling good. 

So guess what, if I go out to Chicago and leave with a happy race I'd  be happy. If I just complete my D goal of simply finishing the marathon, I'll probably be a little upset right afterwards, but I'm going to not try to let it get to me or ruin anything.  Why? Because I just ran an effing marathon and I'm going to celebrate by eating lots of donuts and having lots of beer in Chicago afterwards, just like last year.

Caught mid-donut devouring last year in Chicago!
The beauty of the marathon is just that, it's a marathon. It's a word used to describe long, arduous processes.  Only 0.5% of the US population runs a marathon each year so finishing one is an accomplishment. No matter my training, I really can't control everything on race day. I can just finish training hopefully strong and healthy and give it everything I've got on October 11th! 

This quote is applicable to all things running and in life. Remember that if you don't achieve your goals, it isn't failing.  Set big goals and take chances! 


Have you had any roadblocks in your training? Do you go into races with multiple goals?

This post was linked up with Weekend Snapshots, MIMM, and Thinking Out Loud

September 16, 2015

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies & Myprotein Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary box of products from Myprotein in exchange for my blog review. I received compensation for writing an article for the Myprotein blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Posts two days in a row? Who am scheduling posts before classes started and all that. 

I was recently contacted by Myprotein to review and test out a few of their products. I also wrote a great little article for their blog about how to train for a 10K called So You've Run Your First 5K

Myprotein is an online nutrition brand in Europe that is just starting to break into the US market.  They have lots of products on their website including protein powders, protein cookies, and pre-workouts.  

After perusing the site I settled on trying out their smooth peanut butter (obvious choice), beef jerky (original), Impact Whey Protein (unflavored), and BCAA powder (tropical storm). 

The beef jerky is a really great snack to eat when I'm on the go in between classes or want something savory that has some protein in it. It seemed to be a pretty high quality jerky which was surprising. 


The peanut butter at first seemed pretty basic-just 100% peanuts in a huge jar (that only retails for $7.50). I was shocked by how much I liked this however. It seemed to be a lot smoother and less oily or runny than other natural peanut butters.The taste was really delicious, and it also didn't get super hard when I refrigerated it.  

The Impact Whey Protein is also really reasonably priced and was surprisingly great despite the basic ingredient of 100% whey (along with soy lechtin) in the unflavored variety I received.  The protein powder mixed really well and wasn't grainy at all. I used it in smoothies, oatmeal, and mixed with yogurt. For the unflavored  protein the macros were awesome with one scoop containing only 100 calories, 0 g of carbs, 0g of sugar, and 20g of protein.  I usually am limited by protein flavors I have for things (like always having only vanilla or chocolate when I need the opposite)  so it was refreshing to actually have some unflavored protein I could add to anything. 


I go back and forth on how I feel about BCAA. I know that they are awesome for recovery, but I'm not really a huge powdered supplement person because I usually forget to mix it up or don't like the flavor. This mix contains a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine which according to Myprotein go straight to the muscles to replenish stores and start recovery right away. Honestly I hate fruit punch flavors, but the tropical flavor wasn't too bad. I could fairly easily gulp down two little scoops of this mixed with water. 


I decided to make a sweet treat with my protein goodies-shocking. I whipped up a batch of protein cookies with the peanut butter and whey. While I'm against making everything a protein cookie or treat (because real cookies will always be better duh), I do eat a mixture of  healthier, more nutritious snacks in addition to actual treats. I liked having these around as something to munch on immediately after a run, after dinner, or as a snack while I decided what my actual snack would be. 



Total time: 18-20 mins
Makes: 10 cookies


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Myprotein peanut butter)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar*
1/2 cup (~2 scoops) unflavored* <yprotein whey protein powder 
1 whole egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
1.4 tsp of salt


Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. 
Spoon & roll out 10 balls onto a line baking sheet. Press done cookies gently with a fork. 
Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Allow cookies to cool and firm up. Enjoy!

*For the sugar I used stevia-use whatever sugar & sweetener you prefer. 
*I used Myprotein unflavored whey but you can substitute for a vanilla or peanut butter protein powder.  
Ready to go in the oven! 
This cookies came out a little crumblier than normal cookies so check on them around 8 minutes and be sure to let them sit and cool before eating. I few really messy, crumbly ones made the perfect topping for yogurt!  Let me know if you try these out. 

I'm no food blogger, but c'mon these look pretty good. 
Overall I was pretty impressed with the prices, high-quality products, and selection over at Myprotein. If you do a lot of online shopping, check them out. I know for US orders shipping is only $5.95 and is free for orders over $70. 

Have you ever purchased an unflavored protein powder? What is your favorite protein packed snack?