October 27, 2016

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

I have been putting this off because I don't even know where to begin talking about the Chicago Marathon. I've also been dealing with some foot pain and grad school midterms which can take a person's mind off blogging. Anyone else feel like their marathons go by in a blur? After it's over I only remember certain sites, certain miles, and certain feelings (including those steps across the finish line). 

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

Because of my grad school schedule I missed some fun things and had to get into Chicago late Friday night. I was feeling like a cold was coming on all week which had me thoroughly freaked out about the race. Saturday morning I ended up taking the train downtown to meet up with Kelly Robert's #SportsBraSquad Shake-Out Run at the Westin on Michigan Ave. I had met Kelly briefly at the November Project Summit in Ontario in July but finally got to have a quick chat and snap a photo with her.  She's fabulous and had a nice big group for a 2 mile shakeout run that included lots of beautiful city views and selfies. 


run-selfie-repeat-shakeout-run

Also kudos to Oiselle for hooking us up with some swag. I am in love with this shirt! 

oiselle-shirt-hat

You should totally go to Kelly's NYC Marathon shakeout run if you are in town for it! After a quick pit stop at Trader Joe's for bananas, bars, and beet juice with Emily  before heading over to the expo. 

Since this is my third year in a row, I knew what to expect. Things were still really organized as I expected. I suppose I was feeling a little bit anxious about the race and that my boyfriend hadn't up with me yet so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Also the expo is far more crowded on Saturday than it would have been on Friday so that is something to get used to if you haven't been to a big race expo, particularly a World Marathon Majors race one. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-1

So I quickly grabbed my bib and bothered strangers to take photos of me, despite still being kinda gross looking since I didn't shower post-shakeout run. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-2

No big race expo is complete without a stop to the Nuun booth to say hello and grab a cute new water bottle to add to my collection. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-3-nuun

I also got to check out the Moji booth and try out some massage products that I took home with me. This Moji Foot Pro is fabulous on the bottom of your tired feet, especially if you freeze it first!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-4-moji

As always, I love all the awesome Nike graphic photo backdrops around the expo. Perfect for getting pumped about the 26.2 miles happening the next day!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-5

I also co-hosted the We Run Social meetup with the fabulous Heather which was nice, despite some people being confused that we were not in fact speaking on the Runner's World stage but rather just meeting near it! 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-6

There was a few more photos before getting showered and relaxing. I grabbed some pasta with Erica for dinner. I had some pasta with chicken and marinara sauce as my pre-race dinner. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-7

Before bed was iPod and Garmin charging as well as laying out all the goods I needed for the next day. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-gear

{Lululemon Run Swiftly tagged shirt, Lululemon shorts, Ciele hat, Feetures! compression socks, Brooks Launch 3 running shoesHoneyStinger Ginsting gels & Huma gels, Nuun Hydration Lemon-Lime Energy, and Run Gum in peppermint} 

I had worked with Coach Suz (she's fabulous!) to have her consult on my training plan and race day plans and offer her suggestions so I had a general idea of how I wanted to run the race. I was feeling anxious and unsure of how I felt about the race pretty much up until I got to the starting area.  Once I felt the chilly weather (despite not being quite as chilly as I prefer) and all the marathon excitement in the air, I was really happy. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-1

It was also possibly that things were going super smoothly. I got dressed and had a banana, Salted Caramel HoneyStinger waffle, and Nuun. I took the train into downtown and caught one just as it arrived from the Austin blue line station. I moved through the security checkpoint super quickly this year and EVEN found a port-a-potty with only 6 people ahead of me in line. There were Nike pacers in line too so I'm almost positive it wasn't VIP or anything and was just covered by bushes so it was less crowded. The realist that I am, I was thinking that things were going too smoothly to be true but tried to roll with it. 

Miles 1-5: Pace groups make me anxious because of my self-placed pressure to keep up with the group, but I decided to line up with the 3:30 pacers anyways. Hats off to the guys that were super fun and amazing.  The start is really crowded which kind of helps with runners starting out slower and not going out too fast so I didn't worry. The beginning miles with the pacers was super crowded and for the first 5 mile I was almost tripped and bumped into people multiple times which was really freaking annoying.  It's such a big race and the 3:30 pace group seemed popular. Especially since I have run this race now twice before, I really tried to soak in the race and excitement with no music or anything. My GPS was yet again messed up because of the tunnels so I really focused on just staying with the pace group.

chicago-marathon-2016-race-2
My boyfriend got this cool shot of me running by and smiling at around Mile 3ish. 

Miles 6-10:
 I told myself to just try to settle in, stay comfortable, and follow the pace group but not freak if I wasn't right next to a pacer. The pacers were great with one guy telling the guy in front to pull back. I was feeling great and tried to settle in and stopped at most of the water stops. I wasn't carrying any water because it annoys me so I made sure to stay hydrated.  The miles were moving past especially because I wasn't paying attention to my watch. It was nice to feel comfortable with the pace group and not have to worry about anything but running and keeping them in sight.  Still no music and lots of crowd support! 

Miles 11-15: I feel like in my marathons I always am dreading and waiting for the wall so I talked to Suz about throwing in some faster strides and changing my mentality. This time I stuck with the pace group but was feeling really good and was annoyed by the crowdedness of the group behind the pacers so decided to run in front of the pace group around mile 14. I kept my mentality the same as I had at the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this year where I tried to just run where I felt good and not get freaked out by the pace. I also took an extra gel around mile 12.5 as Suz suggested to give me an extra boost when I usually start to freak out on the inside.  The pacers reminding everyone from Mile 11 onwards to stop at the water stops was also super helpful. 

Miles 16-20: Around Mile 16 I turned on the iPod. I also peeked back behind me a couple times before I just kept running and knew that if I saw the pace group pass me, I'd have to keep up-but I didn't see them. I kept telling myself my mantra "I am comfortable, I am strong" and reminding myself how crappy I felt at this point last year and how my legs felt good this year. My breathing wasn't heavy or labored, and I was having fun. Once it hit 18 I tried to periodically check out my watch but not let it determine the race for me.  Around 18 the thoughts that I had a fast enough 3:30 BQ (and PR) in reach but tried to not get ahead of myself because as I knew, the marathon is a 20 mile warm-up with a 10K race.  I saw my boyfriend at Mile 18 who had some water and was literally stunned as I ran by smiling and giving him the thumbs up, telling him I felt great. 

Miles 21-26: Obviously my legs started to hurt after mile 20 as is expected with a marathon. I knew at this point that I was crushing it and only had to make it to the finish. Mile 22 on was just giving it all I had left in the metaphorical fuel tank. I had my music and the crowds to help push me. At Mile 22 was the November Project-Chicago cheer station which was a huge boost to get some cheers and high-fives.  During this last stretch I focused on just getting to the next mile marker.  Making it to the next mile was a nice mental game that helped push me to the end.  The miles blur together now. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-3
Around Mile 23, pushing it to the end. 
As I got to Mile 25, all the emotions start to hit me. It was different because usually I get more emotional during the race but was surprisingly composed during this marathon (mostly because of my mental game).  Once I was at this point I knew I would make it and tried my best to push it to the end.  As I crossed the finish line I was in tears and just broke down sobbing after I finished. Two different people asked me if I was okay, and I told them it was just happy tears, no worries. 

As I waddled towards the fountain with my Goose Island beer in hand, which tastes effing amazing after a marathon, I was SO damn happy. You can see it in this photo below. That moment of relaxing, with a beer in hand, all by myself was is my favorite post-race moment to savor. 

 I was ahead of the 3:30 pacer, completely surpassing my A goal for the race. I grabbed my bag and had texts from friends. Suz texted me that I crushed it. I was confused because friends were saying I had run 3:34 because the live tracking on the app had gone by gun time not chip time (which I later found out) and caused me to freak out that my results were messed up. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-4

Suz texted me my actual race results which made me feel awesome. 3:27? WHAT?!


I met up with my boyfriend and some friends and was on top of the world. ON TOP OF THE WORLD. I was kind of in disbelief that I ran a marathon in crushing my goal time and it wasn't that painful. I mean my legs hurt, and I don't think I could go faster but I did it. Despite not really believing in myself until race morning. Over a 7 minute PR and a nice cushion over my 3:35 Boston Qualifying time.  

Third time's a charm, Chicago. I LOVE YOU. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-5

The race was a little warm (not as much as last year thank goodness), but perfect for hanging out afterwards. After frantically finding the results tent I learned that their tracking system was down and others had messed up tracker times so I felt confident that my time was not completely messed up. I threw some sandals on and just hung out with friends jamming to the live band. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-6

Oh and I used my beer ticket to grab my free beer (the one at the finish doesn't count-I love you Chicago). It was so sunny out I actually got a little sunkissed on my face.  

chicago-marathon-2016-race-7

After a shower and some relaxation, I headed out to Small Cheval for my post-marathon meal of choice-a burger, fries, and a beer. Amazing

chicago-marathon-2016-small-cheval-burger

Finally the night was ended with a few more beers and some Jeni's Ice Cream in Wicker Park. I was going to go for the double scoop, but the triple scoop was the marathoner's special for the same price so obviously I went with that. The perfect end to the day! 

jenis-ice-cream-wicker-park-chicago-marathon

The race day was better than I imagined and now I'm a little worried I won't have a better marathon!  Thank you again everyone for all the love, support, and good vibes!

What is your favorite big race moment? 

October 21, 2016

Super Berry ProYo Smoothie Bowl

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ProYo. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Right before Expo East this year, I was introduced to the one of exhibitor products, ProYo, a protein-packed frozen yogurt pop.  I really find myself needing to up my protein and not just eat sugar-packed protein bars on-the-go, plus I love ice cream & frozen yogurt. It seemed like a win-win and spoiler alert: they taste delicious! Each 4 oz ProYo tube is made with creamy probiotic yogurt packed with 20g of protein, 2g of fat, 3g of fiber, and only 140 calories plus is rated as low-glycemic. It's also gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.  

I love that I get an extra helping of probiotics to help my tummy out as well as 25% of my RDA for calcium. The pops come in various flavors including Vanilla Bean, Dutch Chocolate, Banana Vanilla, and Blueberry Pomegranate. Truthfully, I can tell the pops have that slight whey/protein taste,but despite this I still had to tell my boyfriend to keep his hands off of them! 

Despite being delicious right out the package, I've found that the recommendation on the ProYo boxes to blend with water like a smoothie has been one of my favorite ways to eat them. It's great make 'banana ice cream' with frozen bananas and pop one of these in there for a different flavor plus extra protein.  

When I'm feeling a little more ambitious to whip up a pretty food-blogger inspired smoothie bowl, I've been making a variation of the one I'm sharing on the blog today.  I really prefer eating thick smoothies out of bowls and love being able to top them with all sorts of goodies (chocolate chips is a favorite topping!). This is a berry ProYo smoothie bowl topped with superfoodie toppings like chia seeds. 

super-berry-proyo-smoothie-bowl-graphic1

Super Berry ProYo Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients: 

      1 Tube Blueberry Pomegranate ProYo High Protein Frozen Yogurt
      1/2 Cup of Frozen Strawberries
      1 Tbsp honey
      ½  Tbsp of chia seeds
      ½  Banana
      4 oz milk (based on preference)
      1 handful of ice cubes
Toppings (optional)
-       ½  banana
-       1 Tbsp peanut butter
-       ½ Tbsp chia seeds
-       1 Tbsp hemp seeds

Instructions: 

– Squeeze ProYo Blueberry Pomegranate Tube into blender.

Super-Berry-ProYo-Smoothie-Bowl_blender
– Add ½ banana, honey, and ½ tbsp. of chia seeds
– Add 4 oz of milk and handful of ice cubes.
– Blend all ingredients together and pour into a bowl.    It maybe a little thick so use a spoon to help.
– Slice ½ banana and place on top of bowl. Top bowl with peanut butter, chia, seeds, hemp seeds, and anything else you’d like!
Super-Berry-ProYo-Smoothie-Bowl_toppings
– Eat immediately and enjoy!


If you don't have any ProYo on hand this recipe could work by substituting 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries and 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or various other substitutions. Obviously I totally recommend the ProYo (plus it's simpler), which you can find in the freezer aisle at Giant stores locally in the Maryland area or check out their store locator for more options. Check out more recipes on the ProYo website including mine :) 


Super-Berry-ProYo-Smoothie-Bowl_final

Do you enjoy drinking smoothies or eating them out of bowls? What is your favorite snack topping?

October 13, 2016

My Go-To Post-Run Snacks with Relay Foods MD

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Relay Foods. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

Thank you SO much for all of the congratulations on my previous post-yes a race recap for the Chicago Marathon is coming so stay tuned! 

With travelling and a really busy rest of the month ahead, I definitely am in need of some healthy and easy grocery shopping and meal prep options. I've reviewed Relay Foods MD before and even shared a yummy marinated mushroom recipe from Relay Foods that is still a favorite and easy side dish. I was definitely excited to place an order after getting back from Chicago so that food shopping was one less errand I had to run. 

Basically Relay Foods is an online grocery store where you can shop online from their stock of products and groceries from over 200 local farmers and vendors.  Most of their foods are organic, local, or all-natural and allow you to just fill up a virtual shopping cart online and either pick-up your groceries for free at their set pick-up spots or have them delivered right to your door for a small fee.  

relay-foods-md

Relay Foods also just released their new rigorous food standards, ensuring that they are always offering foods good for you, the community, and the planet. 

I just completed an order of my favorite easy snacks to refuel with after a run.  I always try to eat something within the 30-60 minute post-run window, even if it's a snack before I get the chance to make a meal. Honestly I'm always hungry so it's easy to eat, but it's good to try to get a snack with a good 3:1 carb to protein ratio that will help my body recover.  

Check out my go-to post-run snacks: 

go-to-post-run-snacks-relay-foods-md

1. Bananas with nut butter 

(right now I'm loving Relay's Own fresh ground almond butter). 

2. Michele's Granola and yogurt (like this Liberte black cherry whole milk yogurt) 

Michele's Granola is a delicious Baltimore brand that is not too sweet or heavy on the sugar and is super crunchy. 

3. Organic chocolate milk 

(I limit dairy but chocolate milk has great a great recovery ratio and is super easy to drink a glass of while I'm prepping a larger meal!) or these single serve boxes

4. Trail mix

I'm a sucker for trail mixes especially ones with lots of different nuts, dried fruits, seeds and of course some chocolate chips. This Antioxidant Mix, Berries & Chocolate also satisfies my sweet tooth!

5. Energy Bars

It's easy to have an energy bar in my gym bag or purse to have on hand, especially if I'm away from my apartment or need to drive home from a run. Some of my favorites lately are the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar, Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate KIND bar, and Coffee Chia Health Warrior bar


Relay Foods has a great Refer a Friend (RAF) program in which if you're a current customer you can refer friends to try out Relay Foods with your link and you both save! 

Currently a RAF link will save a new Relay Foods customer $20 off of their first order of $60 or more and the person who's RAF link it was, will also get $20 credit. During the month of October it has been increased to $30 off of $60 (still for new customers only!) and the RAF link owner will also get $30. 

relay-foods-md-refer-a-friend-october-2016

If you haven't tried Relay Foods and are curious, please use my Relay Foods link to save $30 off your first order of $60. If you already are a customer, share your code with friends to save! 


What's your go-to easy post-run or post-workout snack? 

October 12, 2016

I DID IT! {Chicago Marathon 2016 Initial Thoughts}

If you follow me on social media you probably saw that Sunday was one of those perfect race days. It went so smoothly I still want to pinch myself to make sure it really happened that way. 

chicago-marathon-2016-initial-thoughts

Obviously since it was my third year in a row running the Chicago Marathon, you might have already guessed that I was a fan. Besides the flat and fast course, the whole thing is so well-organized. I love the city route, the atmosphere, the spectators that line the entire course, and all of the amazing volunteers. 

Race morning was a breeze, and I stayed calm, collected, and just let myself run. I can't thank all my friends, family, fellow runners, and followers for all the love, support, and good vibes I was given.  When I knew at Mile 20 that I had a Boston Qualifying time and my goal in me, it was just a surreal moment. I wanted that dream of running Boston really badly. 

I tried to tell myself not to get too excited since the race was just starting at Mile 20, but deep down I knew I could do it. I spend a lot of time trying to fake confidence and believe in myself (#workinprogress). The days before the race I was anxious about my goals and saying I was ready for the marathon despite so many people telling me I was going to rock it, yet it took race day for me to positively believe it.  I trusted the training and myself especially once I past the halfway mark. I knew that my legs and heart were going to get me to the finish line strong.  All those early mornings, hot & humid summer long runs, and tough workouts were worth it. 

The last 6 miles hurt (I'm pretty sure that's just a given in all marathons), but it was one of the couple marathons where I felt so in control for most of the race. My mental game was on point, and I stayed fairly composed during race until I saw the finish line. Immediately after crossing it I started sobbing. Sobbing so that people were asking me if I was okay, and I was like it's all good-they are happy tears! That elusive Boston Qualifying acceptance time (not just qualifying cuts it anymore!) was mine. I crushed and surpassed my goal time of 3:30 all while not only telling myself that I was strong but truly believing it.  

chicago-marathon-2016-results


I'll have a full race recap up at the end of the week, but just remember to run happy & dream big. You have all the power to achieve your dreams already inside of you.  

chicago-marathon-2016-stronger-than-you-know
My custom Momentum motivate wrap bracelet with my mantra from last year still holds true. 

And sorry that you'll have to keep hearing about the 2016 Chicago Marathon. Most of my races aren't this amazing so I'm soaking it alllllll in. 

October 7, 2016

Chicago Marathon 2016 Goal Chat

THE BIG RACE IS IN 3 DAYS, GUYS. Seriously can't believe at the end of this week I'll be running the Chicago Marathon for the third year in a row. This year feels a little different-like it snuck up on me somehow? I'm sure I'll be feeling more marathon excited once I get into Chicago tomorrow night. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-goals

Honestly the whole idea of writing about my goals is scary. It's stupid because everyone I am friends with or who follows me on social media knows I'm running the Chicago Marathon. People who run who I've talked to more in depth know that I want a BQ. And that means a faster BQ not a BQ like last year where I will not get accepted to run the Boston Marathon. 

The weather is looking cooler this year which means I might feel better than last year. My training wasn't perfect. School and life get in the way. I didn't get my mileage as high as I ultimately wanted. It's easy to sit in taper and look at your training schedule and think you should have ran more, or done more speed workouts, or ran an extra 20 miler run.  But now the work is all done and the race on Sunday is the victory lap. 

I did run many hard workouts and ran some really great races so I am proud of this training cycle.   

It's just the idea of putting your goals out there and not achieving them that scares the crap out of me because it's embarrassing and a terrible feeling. There's nothing I can do but put my goals out there and hope that lots of love, support, and good vibes are with me on race day.  I believe in the power of positive thinking and mentally getting yourself prepared but not psyched out. 

October 5, 2016

Chicago Marathon Training Weeks 14 & 15 Recap

IT'S RACE WEEK, GUYS. Seriously can't believe at the end of this week I'll be out running the Chicago Marathon for the third year in a row. Here's a recap of really my last two weeks of training. Don't worry a post on race goals and taper madness will come later.  Here's a recap of weeks 14 & 15 of my Chicago Marathon training. 

Chicago-Philly-marathon-training-recap-workouts-weeks-14-15

Marathon Training 2016 Week 14 (9/19-9/25)

MondayRest
Tuesday: Charm City Run training group coaching, 3.1 miles  I wanted to squeeze in a workout but didn't make it there early enough due to traffic. BLAH
Wednesday: November Project-Baltimore workout at the top of Fed Hill and run there/back , 5.0 miles 
Thursday:  Tempo Run with 4 miles at race pace, 8.4 miles 
cooler temps mean HOT DAMN feeling strong
Friday: Nuun Year Dash virtual run , 5.25 miles
Saturday:  Long run coaching and a couple miles to finish it out, 15.04 miles 


I FINALLY got the chance to meet Erica in person and she joined  me for 6ish miles around the Inner Harbor!
run-baltimore-erica-finds-me
Bloggers always need a photo op

Sunday
: Dogfish Dash 8K, 4.9 miles

Felt really strong and held a faster pace than I expected I was 8th female with a surprisingly speedy, beer-loving crowd. Full race recap to come!  

Total miles: 41.69 miles

October 3, 2016

Running into Fall with Lululemon {gear review}

Disclaimer: Lululemon Baltimore offered me a complimentary outfit for review purposes. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

As much as I love lots of different running gear, there are always some pieces that end up being worn the most. The couple Lululemon tops and tanks I have are an example of that.  I have only splurged on pieces from Lululemon every so often, but have been impressed in the comfort and quality I've found. I've actually worn Lululemon capris or skirts for all of the 4 marathons I've run-no chafing at all!


chicago-marathon-2015
Running the 2015 Chicago Marathon in a Lululemon Cool Racerback tank and PaceSetter Skirt 

I dare you to go try things on in that store and leave the store empty-handed! However I gained a lot of respect for the brand after running Lululemon's Seawheeze Half Marathon this summer and seeing what an amazing event they put on.  


seawheeze-lululemon-half-marathon-finish-2016
post-Seawheeze Half Marathon 2016 in a (tagged) Lululemon Run Swiftly tee and Speedsport shorts

When I was asked to review a couple piece of running gear for my local Lululemon store, of course I jumped at the chance. By the way, the Lululemon in Baltimore, Harbor East is a great store with fabulous employees and local ambassadors, in case you were wondering. 

With the Baltimore Running Festival coming up and the weather still a little bit variable, it was tough to choose what outfit I wanted to review. I run 'hot' (#thesweatylife) and am still loving wearing tanks so I chose out a Run Swiftly tank (MRP $58) in one of the newer colors for Fall, a mixed black/sapphire blue shade . I always think warm colors for Fall but since blue is one of my favorite colors, I love adding this almost midnight blue shade as a Fall favorite. 


lululemon-fall-run-gear-photo4-review

I love the Run Swiftly material because it feels soft, lightweight and comfortable as well as wicks sweat well. 


lululemon-fall-run-gear-photo1

One of my favorite features is that it is prevents you from smelling bad due to the X-STATIC® which inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. The color is a deep blue that is perfect for Fall plus it has that Swiftly tech that I love. 

 
site design by designer blogs