October 26, 2015

Goal Digger {End of year goals with HERstory Apparel}

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary shirt of my choice from HERstory. I was not compensated in any way for this post, I really just wanted to share the brand's story because I love their message! As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

If you know me (or at least follow me on social media!) you know that I am passionate about women's rights, and women generally doing kickass things in the world. I love empowered women, girl power, and girl bosses!  So when I read about HERstory Apparel on the HelloGiggles (a positive online community for women founded in part by Zooey Deschanel), I knew I wanted to share the brand's story on my blog.  


HERstory Apparel is a clothing line that wants to "honor the trailblazing women of the past, inspire the amazing women of today and ignite a future generation of girls." They create inspiring apparel for women and girls while also honoring many of the amazing women that mostly get ignored in history books such as the "fly girls",women who flew military aircraft as part of a program during World War II.


HERstory Apparel carries t-shirts and tanks that come in unisex, women, youth, and toddler styles and sizes.  Also a portion of their proceeds are donated to "organizations that empower women and girls." To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month, they have special collection of STRONGHER apparel from which $5 of each sale from the collection in October will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

I love that the website says that "this brand is for badass women...young and old!". 
Right on! 

I reached out to the brand because I really wanted to share their story on my blog and collaborate with the brand. They offered to send me a shirt of my choice so naturally I went with the GOAL DIGGER design. I'm always reaching for bigger and more amazing things in life! It especially seemed like the perfect message for me post-Chicago marathon and as this year begins to wind down. 


I have been thinking a lot about my goals life-wise and fitness-wise lately. I'm not quite sure what my racing goals for next year will be. I'm toying with the idea of running a spring full marathon or perhaps just trying to get faster and PR a half marathon. For now, here are my goals for the rest of 2015 after reflecting on my initial goals for the year.  

1. Journal everyday in my One Line a Day journal.  
I fell off the wagon hard with this but really want a little piece of my days to have, especially as I take on graduate school and a new career path.  

2. Stay in strong running shape. 
I always say I will keep myself in great marathon running shape. However the past 2 years after a fall marathon the holidays and winter weather interfere, and I never do. I want to keep some longer runs and speedwork in my schedule. 

3. Get back to lifting at least 2x a week.  
Just trying to hit the school gym might not work, but I really crave feeling strong again.  

4. Work on being confident. 
Some of my classes have reaffirmed that I really need to build my confidence in myself or at least fake it until I am confident. 

5. Fuel my body.
I've been eating a hella amount of junk lately. I can't keep hustling like I do without lots of good fuel for my body so I'm going to try to clean it up before the holidays. Don't worry there's always room for ice cream, pizza, and beer! 

6. Survive my first semester of grad school in one piece. 


Stay connected with HERstory on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

What's one goal you have for the rest of the year? What inspirational message would you like on a shirt? 

October 22, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015: The Big Recap

 So I finally sat down and finished my big ol' Chicago Marathon 2015 recap. I started out writing 2 posts about the expo and race, and now I've shortened it plus included lots of photos! It was a little weird running Chicago after just running it last year. I knew the way things were organized, the course, and what to generally expect.  This year was less fun because I had a really stressful week of school beforehand and had to plan a shorter trip, as well as get some homework done when I was out there. 


I went to the race expo on Friday after getting in late the night before. McCormick Place Convention Center is a hike from where I was on the western part of the city. Once we got there I grabbed my bib and checked out the expo. 


The Chicago Marathon Expo is my favorite so far. It's so well-organized and more importantly, super spread out. It's not super cramped and ridiculously crowded like I felt the Boston Marathon expo or other large expos are.  Nike had a huge booth as a sponsor, but the designs of their race apparel & merchandise were really similar to last year and not super cool, which was disappointing. Although the race shirt I got with my bib is an awesome  red short-sleeved top with a graphic black and white text in the middle. 


Once I was in the expo, the energy of all the runners and excitement for the race really hit me. I instantly became super proud to be among all these runners!  I also couldn't believe the race was in a matter of days. 


Nike had a big sign again that you could autograph and would be on the course. 


I wasn't able to make the official Nuun meetup on Saturday, but I was really happy to stop by and have a chance to chat with Kim who works for Nuun and was one of my Hood to Coast teammates! Getting a little pep talk and encouragement was really nice. 


I also picked up a cool shirt from one of my favorite running brands, Brooks Running, as well as some extra race fuel.  


Advocate Health Centers had a fun little photo booth going on. This sign really speaks to me! 


I didn't get a chance to snag a photo, but I got to say hello to Bart Yasso at the Runner's World booth before he had to scoot off to go give a talk.  

Nike is really great at having awesome photo ops at the expo. 


The rest of the day I spent in the city including grabbing lunch and finally meeting Susie in person which was SO fun. I did too much walking during the day and knew it was bad when my feet were hurting. 

The next day I went back to the expo to spend a little more time persuing and grabbing a few more things like an awesome Bondiband to wear on race day.I even bumped into Angela leaving the race with was SO awesome and random. My calves and hamstrings were feeling really tight which worried me, especially because I couldn't bring my foamroller out to Illinois. I had dinner at Little Goat Diner which included a burger, a side of homefries, and a little bit of apple pie aka all the carbs.  

Race morning I was so anxious that I woke up before my 5 AM alarm multiple times in a panic, which is typical for me before big races. My boyfriend said I was really amped, even before eating and having a little caffeine.  I had a banana and a plain bagel with peanut butter along with some Lemon-Lime Nuun Energy before getting on the train.  

Once we got downtown I was getting really anxious. The weatherman the day before had said it would feel like summer in Chicago for race day, which is no bueno, but it made for a perfect race morning. There had been talk all week about how it would be windy and unusually warm on race day as well as the race bumping up their EAS safety levels from low to moderate. I quickly took my throwaway shirt off when I got downtown. My boyfriend also made my name on my shirt (written on hot pink KT tape) bigger before saying goodbye.    

I wore my Adidas Energy Boosts ESM shoes, Feetures! compression socks, Lululemon pace setter skirt, Under Armour sports bra, Bondiband headband,  and a Lululemon tank along with my Nuun tattoo and some throwaway gloves.  

I anxious because the security line ended up being really long around 6:40 when I got there. I knew Corral C closed at 7:20 so I wasn't sure I would make it through in time. The energy of runners was filled with excitement, nerves, and impatience with the line.  


Eventually I made it through security, jogged to gear check to drop off my bag, and headed to the port-a-potty line before I made it into Corral C with minutes to spare.  I was stuck in the very back of the corral so I wasn't near any pacers. Once the race started there was so much excitement. I heard the elites start and then all of a sudden before I knew it we were running. The beginning of the Chicago Marathon is so special and is PACKED with spectators. It's also flat & fast so I know a bunch of people start out way too fast. I was nervous about my pace and how the weather and wind would be so I kept it slower for the first 13 miles. Looking back I wish I picked up the pace just a little bit, but c'est la vie. Also quick note, my Garmin GPS was all messed up from a tunnel and the buildings so I think I thought I was going faster at times than I actually was. 

Since I wasn't running with friends this year, my boyfriend made a plan to meet me at 5-6 locations based on his experiences trying to catch me last year. He was fabulous and saw me 4 times during the first half and manged to snag this awesome action shot at mile 3. Notice how happy I look! 


It's hard because now after the race, the miles blur. I loved going through all the different neighborhoods of Chicago. It was also fun because after racing last year and then exploring the city, I recognize different parts a lot better now.  I tried to keep my pace conservative until around mile 16 when I knew I could speed up a bit.  I was SO cautious of going out too fast because it's such a trap, especially in Chicago where the whole course if flat and fast. I sped up to around 8:00 min/mile  and was feeling okay. I was having a salted caramel GU every 6 miles along with salt tabs and honey stinger chews in between when I felt I needed something. 

I made the last minute decision to buy a handheld water bottle at the expo instead of my waist belt that I had been training with. I knew I didn't want to suck down the Nuun in it and then have to toss my belt halfway through the race so I went with the smaller water bottle so I didn't chance the belt annoying me.  My skirt held all my fuel which was great! 

The first half of the course is amazing. It's fast, exciting, and shaded. Once I got about 2 hours and thirty minutes into the race I was feeling overheated. The second half of the race is all mostly in direct sunlight. There was not a cloud in the sky which helped, and I saw from an outdoor thermometer at one point that the temperature had already hit 70 degrees (the high for the day ended up being 78). I was trying to focus on my Paceband and was keeping an eye on the big clocks on course, but didn't know what time after the elites I had started. I knew I was behind my 3:30 race pace but figured a consistent pace was at least good to be. This time in Chicago I tried to soak everything in-the city,the signs, the spectators, and the fellow runners. I gave lots of high-fives, shouted, and always gave at least a fist bump when I heard someone yell my name off my shirt.  So many moments of running happy. 

Now I know I didn't hydrate well enough the days leading up to the race. I drank a bunch of fluids and electrolytes the day before and had lots of Nuun the morning of. I took a few salt tabs and alternated with water and Gatorade at every water stop. Something I've noticed in the last year however is that I just overheat sometimes and that's what happened. 

Besides my legs feeling tight since mile 14, and then generally feeling like lead pipes from mile 20 on, I just felt blah. I was feeling warm and not cooling down, despite a few ice cold sponges I grabbed later in the race from volunteers. Those last 6 miles were so tough. I walked through a couple water stops to try to regain composure because I was getting upset.  I can't explain it by anything except overheating. My head felt heavy and when my boyfriend managed to say hi to me at mile 22 and ran along side me as I took a few swigs of the Gatorade bottle he had bought for me, he said I was just sobbing. I just told him to leave me alone, that I needed to finish the race. I think you can be prepared, but my marathons have never felt like my training runs. 

It was that mental point where I couldn't talk to anyone, I was in pain, and I just needed to get these miles done with.  The super long, straight race course at this point doesn't help mentally either.  Definitely lots of tough moments mentally that come up only in races like this for me. I focused on staying positive and trying to push out those bad thoughts.  There were some tears, but eventually I just had my head hanging back a little  and tried to power through. I was repeating my mantra of "stronger than you" and "breathe" out loud those last 3 miles. Eventually at Mile 26 there is that little hill for the last 0.2 miles, and I gave it everything I had left in the tank.  

That face is a lot more pained than that photo at Mile 3!
I didn't even know what time I crossed the finish line in. When I was done I just needed to be done. I stopped my watch but didn't even look. I ended up finishing in 3:34:48, 5128/46034 overall, and 286 in my age group.  I'm not sure of my overall average race pace but it was probably around an 8:12 min/mile.  It was also a freaking negative split, which I mean, who does that?!

Once I crossed the finish line I just had to stop, but the amazing volunteers at the race finish wanted to keep people moving. The volunteers were great with checking on people, helping people, getting medical attention, and providing wheelchairs for those who needed them. Shout-out to ALL of the awesome Chicago Marathon volunteers at every part of the race! I felt like death for a minute or so and a lovely volunteer walked with me to make sure I was okay and not dizzy or anything. After chugging a bottle of water and 3 cups of Gatorade I was feeling okay, minus my legs barely being able to walk. 

I hobbled along, grabbed a heat blanket, and got some photos taken. Chicago is so big and organized so  they had a nice line to grab bags of snacks plus bananas, protein bars, and Gatorade protein drinks. They also had bags of ice which felt amazing.  At this point, a few happy tears were shed and maybe a few flexing/biting my medal race photos were taken. 

Goose Island, like last year, was handing out free 312 wheat beers in the finishers area (ones you didn't have to use your beer ticket for) which is what I had before any food. It tasted gloriously.  Eventually I hobbled over to Buckingham Fountain (which is currently being renovated so it wasn't working) and grabbed my gear. 


Next I sat down and looked at my phone which was filled with texts and congratulations. In this moment I finally smiled and realized I did get a PR and a BQ. It's not far enough under 3:35, but still. There were points in the race where I thought it was going to end up being a slower race so this still felt amazing. 



Once I found my boyfriend and a friend, I got to relax in Grant Park. It was a beautiful day if you weren't running! It was awesome to see so many people finishing and to take a few moments to reflect that I just ran my 3rd freaking marathon. Who would have thought 4 years ago that I would be a MARATHONER, PLURAL. Even though I was in horrible pain at the end of the race, I was already thinking of what my next marathon would be. 
It's a sick hobby, isn't it? 


I eventually redeemed my free beer, munched on a protein bar, and then headed out to spend the afternoon grabbing some food and drinking a few beers. 

Snacks from the race bag that I didn't eat until later!
Sometimes post-race it's a burger and fries, but today all I wanted was this personal pizza all to myself. Yes, I like thin crust better than deep dish! YUM. 


Honestly, I can't be sad of achieving my B goal, a PR and  BQ, even if it isn't fast enough to actually get to run Boston. It sucks that I felt like it wasn't even a real Boston time because I know when I apply I'll get cut,especially with how many people applied this year. I just feel the need to qualify saying I have a BQ because when people ask if I'm running Boston I can't say yes. 

Now I've accepted that you know what, it is really freaking awesome and is a Boston Qualifying time so HELL YEAH. I'm chipping away and know that I can train hard and maybe have that magical race day where I can run a little faster. Anyhow, coming away with a PR is a really great feeling. It kinda sucked not having any of my running buddies that I trained with along side me, but I was super grateful for how beautiful Chicago and all the spectators, volunteers, and runners were. Also my boyfriend is a trooper for seeing me on course like 6 times and having some extra fuel for me if I needed it. 

I was so happy to have my custom race mantra on my arm thanks to Momentum because it was the best reminder to repeat it to myself. I am stronger than I know! 


What's your favorite race mantra? How did your big race or event of the season turn out? 

October 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats {Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter}

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Mighty Nut through my association with Fit Approach. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I'm attempting to survive midterms and a million things after travelling for over a week so posts will still be scattered. I'm happy to have some fun new products to try out that fit into my busy lifestyle and taste delicious.

Thanks to my partnership as a Sweat Pink ambassador with Fit Approach, I was given the chance to try the new Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter from the Peanut Butter Co. I'm a peanut butter addict so I have had a chance to try a couple other brands of powdered peanut butter that are out there. I received the original and the flax & chia blend powdered peanut butters, but it also comes in chocolate and vanilla flavorsThe flax and chia seed ones doesn't taste too different from the original-it just happens to have the nutrition powerhouses that are flax and chia seeds.


Powdered peanut butter is pretty much just peanut butter from which they sucked out all the fat and oil. It contains 85% less calories than regular peanut butter but still has all the delicious peanut butter flavor plus it still packs 6g of protein per serving.  


I love good fats, but find that powdered peanut butter is a nice alternative if you like to have multiple serving of nut butter a day. You can mix it with a little bit of water to make it into a spread, but I find it's really great to use in smoothies and recipes to cut on calories but still give me lots of that delicious peanut butter taste which I love in pretty much anything.

With early classes for school, most mornings I am literally running out the door to make it there on time. I have started prepping overnight oats for breakfasts that I can eat in the car or in the beginning of class. I love making different variations of them depending on what I have on hand. They are super satisfying and something quick and easy to make the night before. If you aren't feeling the cold oats, you can eat heat the oats up in the microwave in the morning as well!


Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats

Serving Size: 1     Total Prep Time: 15 Minutes


1 small banana, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats
½ packet of stevia (substitute your sweetener of choice)
2 tbsp of Mighty Nut Flax & Chia Powdered Peanut Butter
1 scoop peanut butter whey protein powder (optional)
3/4 cup almondmilk (use whatever milk you prefer or have on hand)


Mix all ingredients, using only half of the banana, together in a jar or container with a lid. Store in refrigerator overnight. Before eating,stir and then top with remaining 1/2 banana, sliced. Enjoy!

I loved the texture, flavor and nutrition stats of Mighty Nut. Compared to other brands I thought the powder clumped less and had a really great taste. It's your lucky day because you can win some for yourself right now. Mighty Nut was nice enough to allow me to give away a jar of Mighty Nut in any flavor of choice plus a cute little measuring spoon to one of my readers!. 

Enter using the Rafflecopter below before October 27, 2015 12 AM EST. Sorry, US only, and winner can only win one Mighty Nut & Fit Approach prize.

Do you use powdered peanut butter? What's your favorite breakfast to prepare ahead of time? 

October 16, 2015

Baltimore Running Festival Tips & Girls in STEM with Teza

It's been a whirlwind since Chicago so I'm still working on getting my expo and race recaps ready. For now check out some awesome other things going on around the interwebs! 

Check out my favorite Quick Workout Resources guest post on Nicole's blog, Fitful Focus. I share some of my favorite videos, youtube channels, websites, and DVDs I use to squeeze in a quick workout when I'm short on time.   

Attention all my Baltimore area runners racing in the Baltimore Running Festival this weekend!

Check out all these great race tips (including a few from yours truly) from this Baltimore Sun article which also includes an interactive marathon map.  I also did a guest post on BMOREtoned featuring my 5 tips for the Baltimore Running Festival half & full marathons-the post also includes an awesome running playlist from Jami.  

The Baltimore Running Festival included my 2nd ever half marathon in 2012 and first full marathon in 2013 which were both great experiences.  

Post-Baltimore Half Marathon 2012
Good luck to everybody racing this weekend! 

As a lady with a degree in chemistry and job in the medical research field as well as soon to be woman in healthcare, I am a huge supporting girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education).  We need more ladies who love math and science to contribute and do great things in this country and around the world. I was contacted by Teza Technologies to help spread their message related to this and wanted to help share their latest campaign: 

October 12, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Post-Race Check In

Yesterday I completed my 3rd marathon in Chicago (full recap to come soon!) The weather was windy and warmer than I was comfortable with at a high of 79 and completely sunny. I went out cautiously slow in the beginning and ended up feeling overheated the last 5 miles. It wasn't the 3:30 A goal I had, but I did manage to run a negative split, get a PR, and a BQ of 3:34:48. It's not enough to actually get in and run Boston nowadays, I know. It's still awesome to have a BQ that I seriously fought for those last miles of the race when I was in so much pain. Looks like I'll need to keep trucking towards my Boston dreams! For now, I'll be celebrating with lots of fun, food, and beer!

Thanks to everyone for all the support. All your texts, comments, tweets,shout-outs and likes made me so happy.


Be sure to check out my last post that includes my marathon race packing list

October 9, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training 2015 Recap {Weeks 15-17} & Marathon Packing List

{Read about Weeks 1&23&45&6 ,7&89&10, 11-14 of my training}
 Weeks 15-17 are pretty much done with which means the Chicago Marathon is a day away (!?!?!?!)

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


Chicago Marathon 2015 Training Recap

Week 15

Week 15 was a solid week of training with some runs, November Project, and getting in my 14 mile long run before and during November Project #hillsforbreakfast on Friday. 

Taper-style November Project with Sarah

 Tuesday I made it to the newly formed informal Track Tuesday group of November Project runners. I haven't done track workouts in forever so it was definitely really tough. I can't wait to get my butt to more of them after the marathon is over.  

I'll probably eventually get to sharing a full race recap, but on Saturday after a night out including beers and late night pizza I ran the Donate Life 5K with a November Project team.  I wasn't expecting much, but ended up being motivated by my NP friends and snagged top female. It was a small 5K, but it was still fun because this never will happen at any big races and NP guys took 1st and 3rd as well.  I mostly was motivated by the awesome crab medal that the winners got, let's be honest. It felt good to run a fast 5K and one where I didn't feel too bad during the first two miles.  

Week 16
This week I had booked a 45 minute massage which was honestly the highlight of my week. Apparently my legs are unbalanced when I run which could be fixed after I release enough of the tension. I might try to find a way to get regular massages to keep everything aligned and loose. This week was some true taper time so I only run a couple times and took a really sweaty spin class at Rev.  I was getting a little anxious about taper and aware of each and every twinge I felt in my legs when running.  

I had my last long run of 10 miles scheduled for the weekend, which forecast ed to be full of rain and possibly Hurricane Joaquin.  Luckily the hurricane didn't hit us, be we got days of rain and colder temps. I managed to get in 10 miles Friday morning with 2 fellow November Project friends and ended up at #hillsforbreakfast. I did a few hills but mostly stretched, before getting home into dry & warm clothes and napping! 
Running in the rain in my purple raincoat. 
Week 17
This final week was all about tapering. Honestly I was so swamped with school that I didn't feel antsy about running less or taking extra rest days. Plus having an excuse for why I eat so many carbs was nice.  I got in a few easy, short runs along with a November Project workout on Wednesday. Today I stopped by the Chicago Marathon expo and probably spent too much of the day walking around the city. I plan on putting my feet up and stretching out tomorrow after a quick shakeout run. 

The bad: I've noticed since being in school and sitting for hours in class that my hips in particular have been especially tight. I need to really do better about stretching during the week after class all day and doing some hips-opening yoga stretches.  

The good:  I'm just happy that I've survived training injury-free. There are always hard training runs as well as ups & downs, but overall I had a pretty straightforward training cycle. I wasn't travelling as much so getting runs in wasn't hard and most of them felt great-training for a marathon hasn't gotten easy, but it's definitely become more comfortable to transition into.  

Things to Focus on: Since race day is on Sunday, all I am focusing on is trying to relax. I had a stressful week at school plus then travelling and all so I just need to keep breathing and thinking positively.  

I'm a total list person so whenever I have a big race like a half marathon or marathon and especially if I need to travel, I like to make a list of everything I need for the race. I like to lay everything out together so that I hopefully don't forget anything I need in the morning, especially since I'm not a morning person.   

Here's my race packing list: 

How was your week of workouts?  Do you get the taper crazies? 

October 7, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie Recipe (With Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener)

This is a sponsored post in partnership with Zing™ and Her Campus Media. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
As someone with huge sweet tooth, I love using alternative sugar replacements to cut
down on the sugar in my diet. Since discovering stevia years ago, it has become my go-to daily sugar-replacement.
I was really excited to try Born Sweet™ Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener because it is made from 100% stevia and has zero calories and zero artificial ingredients. Zing™ makes a Baking Blend with stevia leaf extract and pure cane sugar (5 calories per serving), but I was sent the Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener which is perfect for sprinkling on food or mixing into food and drinks. I was sent a box of single-serve packets, but it also comes in an easy-to-spoon jar as well.

The biggest test for me with stevia and recipes that use stevia is the taste. Some varieties of stevia leave really strange, bitter aftertastes to the food and drinks they are added to that totally take away from enjoying my meal or snack! I have to say, that the taste is really great with this brand. I’ve been sprinkling a little into my coffee and tea or mixing into smoothies and yogurt bowls.
Since the weather is starting to cool down and fall is in the air, I’m ready for some of those great fall flavors in my food. 

Don’t worry, I don’t have another pumpkin smoothie or latte recipe for you today. 

Instead I have an awesome smoothie I have been loving as a snack in the afternoon or after a workout that includes another one of my favorite autumn flavors-apple cinnamon and goes perfectly with some Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener.
The spiciness of the cinnamon and nutmeg is balanced by the hint of vanilla and
sweetness of the apple. I used my NutriNinja blender, but just a word of caution that you may need to experiment using applesauce in the recipe if your blender at home cannot handle blending apple chunks!

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

Serving Size: 1 Smoothie      Total Time: 5 Minutes


1 small apple, cored, chopped in chunks
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 packet of Zing™ Stevia or tsp of sweetener of your choice
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1 cup cashew milk (use whatever milk you prefer or have on hand)
1 handful of ice cubes (~ 1 cup)


Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until blended completely. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

You can use the store locator to find a location near you that carries Zing™ and even Give Zing™ a follow on Facebook and Twitter for more news and recipes. 
Use this link to snag a free sample to give it a try!

Have you tried stevia or an alternative sugar replacement before? What's your favorite fall flavor?