Month: December 2015

Year of Running in 2015

I am linking up with Courtney to share my year in running.


  • Best race experience:  I ran 10 races this year.  Each one brought a different experience.  I worked hard and I pushed on through to cross the finish line.  But to pick one it would have to be the Covered Bridges Half Marathon.  It has a beautiful course with one gigantic hill around mile 8.  Still I ended up with my second best half marathon finish time.  My friend, Jaime, ran a sub 2 half marathon and it made me so happy I was there to enjoy the moment.
  • Best run: I ran 20 miles with the Chicago Endurance Sports.  They had everything set up from tents/support at the beginning of the run to even more support after the run.  It was a gorgeous day for a run and the coaches and pacers did a wonderful job.  It was definitely an amazing experience!  The only bad thing was that I lost my phone with less than two miles to go.  One of the coaches stayed with me to look for it instead of leaving me and going with the other runners from the group.
  • Best new piece of running gear: Definitely my Garmin Forerunner 225.  I had to purchase a new one in November (and thanks to so many discounts only paid $120 for it). Next year I want to upgrade to the Garmin Fenix 3.  Just a beautiful watch!  Not a running gear but I am also obsessed with Nuun Kona Cola.  Unfortunately, that particular flavor is being discontinued so you bet I am stocking up.
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year: To have fun and to be in the moment during my runs.  That is something that is hard for me to do but I am working towards actually doing it.  🙂
  • Most inspirational runner: This is a tough one.  But every runner inspires me.  I love hearing stories of how they became a runner and the reasons they run.  I never get tired of talking to them about their experiences and where they are in their journey.
  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: This photo was sent to me by a friend.  I was on TV!!


  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Two of my favorite races are the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th.  I love the distance.  For the former race, this year it was a cold and windy day but still fun.  Also, the race has the same start and finish line as the Chicago Marathon.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Progress.  I’ve been doing more speedwork and while it is taking me longer than I wanted to, slowly I am seeing progress in my runs.  I’ve had great and terrible runs (who hasn’t) but I am learning to not focus so much on the bad ones but to celebrate and learn from each one.

To read more amazing “Year of Running 2015” stories, go to Courtney’s blog.

Oh, and just want to let you know about my 5 days of giveaways beginning on Saturday, January 2nd.  I have items from Swiftwick Socks, MudLOVE, Momentum Jewelry, Lock Laces, and Hammer Nutrition. 



Race Medals in 2015

Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.


This year I ran 9 races (well 10 if you count the Illinois Marathon Relay) and earned 8 medals. This year my main focus was the Chicago Marathon so I had to limit the number of races.


Note:  Missing in the picture above is the one from the Chicago Half Marathon.  I took it to school to show it to my students and left it there.  


All of my medals hold a special place in my heart.  I worked hard and earned them.  Whether it was the course, weather or something else going on, I pushed on through to cross the finish line.

To recap:

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle-My first race in 2015.  It was cold and windy!  Love that this medal is also a bottle opener.

Live Grit Lakefront 10 Miler-Another cold and windy day!  It started off really nice but then the temperate dropped significantly throughout the race.  I was the only one that did not have a jacket in my bag because, well, it was very nice in the morning.

Illinois Marathon RelayI did this race mainly to cross it off my list and ended up having a great time with my friends.  It rained and rained and was even cancelled due to the weather.  But, we still managed to finish it.


Quarryman Challenge 10 Mile-Hills, hills, and more hills.  It was challenging all right.  Oh, how much I dislike this race.  Maybe I’ll do it again when I am in better shape and can tackle the hills. I remember it was humid and muggy in the morning.  Oh, no medal.  But there was pizza and beer….LOTS OF IT.

Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field 10 Mile-Finally a PR for me!  With a flat course and decent weather, everyone enjoys the race.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon-A fun trip with Jaime!  Oh, how I miss traveling and running with her.  She has already finished running in the 50 states.  It was a beautiful course with one gigantic hill around mile 8.  Still I ended up with my second best half marathon finish time. 

Elmhurst 4 on the 4th-One of my favorite races and plan to do this every year as long as I am in town.  It is a small race and cheap ($25), plenty of parking, semi-challenging, and not too far from my house.  The first mile was my fastest but paid for it later in the race.  Still, GREAT RACE.

Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon-Another HOT race!  My goal was to finish under 2:30 but that did not happen and honestly I was OK with it.  I met up with Kim, Elizabeth, and Sonya in MA, ate in NH, and slept in ME.  Three states in a couple of hours!!  There is so much to do in Portland and we made the best of it and had fun.  

Chicago Half Marathon-Love this race because of the medal!  I ran this race without listening to music.  Yep, 13.1 miles with no music.  Great course!  Plus I made it on the news.  This race works out perfect for those training for the Chicago Marathon.


Chicago Marathon-My last race of the year and my 7th marathon.  Done and done.  So many mixed feelings with this race.  I was happy, relieved, and in pain.  I chafed really bad and that hurt even more to walk than from running 26.2 miles.  I remember thinking that I would never run a marathon again.  Well, that did not last long because I applied again for next year and am waiting to hear back for CARA.


Favorite Medal: The one shown above from the Chicago Half Marathon.  Almost as big as my face and I think similar to the one from the Little Rock Marathon.  Also, I enjoyed the course and we had great weather till the end when it started to run.

So here are my medals for this year.  What’s your favorite bling from 2015?

RnR NOLA Week 2 and 3

I’m linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap.

Hoping everyone had a good week!


My first week of training went well.  Weeks 2 & 3 went OK.


*Week #2, December 14-20


  • PLAN – 5 miles all easy effort
  • ACTUAL – 5.02 miles @10:13 average pace

This run was so much better than last week.  I went to a meeting after school and when I went outside, I saw these ominous looking clouds and decided to skip my run and go home.  Well, once at home I felt guilty about missing my run and then just went for it.  It was a great run!  It always happens that my best runs are usually the ones I want to skip.  Splits are:
Mile 1-10:16
Mile 2-10:27
Mile 3-10:20
Mile 4-9:48
Mile 5-10:16

So weird to start and end at the same pace.



  • PLAN – Cycle Zone and Body Works Plus Abs
  • ACTUAL –Skipped both classes.

My alarm did not go off in the morning so I did not make it to spinning.  Then I stayed after school to volunteer for Ornament Night.  It was a fun night and I enjoyed seeing the parents with their children having a good time.

I did win two M80 Roller from Carlee’s 12 days of Christmas Giveaways!  I had been sending so many tweets hoping to win one of the prizes.  All of that tweeting definitely paid off!



  • PLAN –2 miles warm up (10:00-10:45), 2 minutes around 8:30 with 3 minutes recovery and repeat until you get 2 miles, then 1 mile cool down
  • ACTUAL – 5 miles @11:42 average pace

This was the same workout from last week.  2 miles warm up @10:55.  2 minutes run were @8:32, 8:39, 8:39, 8:39, 8:39.  3 minutes recovery were at walking pace.  As for cooldown, .50 was @10:55 and .50 @10:32.


  • PLAN- 4 miles negative splits
  • ACTUAL- Did not run.

I met a friend for dinner and it was nice to catch up.  I had some delicious deep dish pizza and a chocolate martini.  I am a big fan of the apple martinis but this chocolate one was DELICIOUS.



  • PLAN – OFF

Last day before winter winter.  Had a great day at school with the kiddos and received lots of presents from them.  I do not expect any presents from them but just to show up ready to learn.




  • PLAN- 8 miles
  • ACTUAL- Did not run.


I kind of wanted to do my run but my body did not.  I slept in which felt great and woke up at 8:30.  However, I stayed in bed for a few more hours.  Lola was tired too.  Eventually I did get up to go to a family holiday party.


  • PLAN- Yoga
  • ACTUAL- Did not make to class.

Week #3, December 21-27


  • PLAN – 6 miles all easy
  • ACTUAL – 4.02 miles @12:04 average pace


First day of winter break.  Just wasn’t into it.  Run sucked. It was wet, cold, and windy.  Splits are:

Mile 1-10:36
Mile 2-12:16
Mile 3-11:56
Mile 4-13:30


  • PLAN – Cycle Zone and Body Works Plus Abs
  • ACTUAL –30 minutes spinning and 4 miles @10:24 average pace

My alarm went off and I turned it off and went back to bed.  Then I quickly jumped up because I knew I had to go since a sub 2 half marathon is not going to happen if I keep missing my workouts.  I made it in time to class but the instructor did not show up.  I did my own for 30 minutes then ran 4 miles on the treadmill.  I cannot remember the pace I ran for miles 1 and 2 but I did alternate (2 minutes/3 minutes) between 10:43, 10:21, and 10:00 for miles 3 and 4.

I had dinner plans at Wildfire in the evening so I missed the body works class.  For dinner I had the medallion trio and the signature martini flight (Cosmopolitan, Green Apple, Wild Raspberry Trio, and Stormy Night).



  • PLAN –2 miles warm up (10:00-10:45), 2 minutes around 8:30 with 3 minutes recovery and repeat until you get 2 miles, then 1 mile @9:00-9:30
  • ACTUAL – 5 miles @10:48 average pace

I did not set the treadmill at 1% like I normally do.  Miles 1 and 2 were done @10:43.  2 minutes were done at 8:27; 8:27; 8:27; 8:27; and 8:27 pace while recoveries were done walking @17:08 pace.  Last mile I alternated 2 minutes/3 minutes @9:05; 9:14; and 9:23.  This run felt a little easier but that’s because I had the treadmill set at zero incline.


  • PLAN- 3 miles easy
  • ACTUAL- 3.02 miles @9:58 average pace

Run went much better than Monday’s .  It was still cold and windy.  I wanted to run more but was too cold.  I got negative splits so that made me very happy!!  Splits are:
Mile 1-10:12
Mile 2-10:01
Mile 3-9:42



  • PLAN – OFF


  • PLAN- 8 miles
  • ACTUAL- 9:02 miles @10:37 average pace

A cold and windy morning in Chicago!  There were two of us in our group and our first mile was too fast. The last 2 miles were difficult for me so I stopped and walked a bit.  Overall, I am very pleased with my pace for miles 1-7.  Splits are:
Mile 1-9:33
Mile 2-10:39
Mile 3-10:35
Mile 4-10:28
Mile 5-10:21
Mile 6-10:23
Mile 7-10:35
Mile 8-11:09
MIle 9-11:50



  • PLAN- Yoga
  • ACTUAL- Did not make it to class.

Heads up!  I will have 5 days of giveaways beginning Saturday, January 2nd.  Don’t miss it!


Things I’m Loving I



None of the links below are affiliate links so feel free to click away!

Welcome to my first post on things that I am loving lately!  Here it goes:

  • Go Contigo Water Bottles – I first came across this brand from Heather and was intrigued by it.  I’ve had the usual bottles from Nuun and Hammer Nutrition but they all leak.  No matter how tight I close it, water always manages to leak.  These bottles are AMAZING! They’re made with ultra-durable, shatter resistant plastic and the lids have AUTOSEAL® technology which is leak and spill proof.  I have the AUTOSEAL® Grace in 24 ounces and 32 ounces as well as the Shake & Go® Fit Shaker Bottle.  I also purchased the coffee mugs but that is another story.
  • Late to the party here but I am obsessed with Nuun Kona Cola.  I am bummed out the flavor is being discontinued so you bet I am stocking up!


  • ChicoBag from REI.  Mainly I have been using this bag when I go to the gym.  I change at home and just take other stuff that I need (water bottle, headphones, towel, etc).  I also have an Apera bag but sometimes that is too bulky so the ChicoBag is the perfect size. They’re made of durable and washable fabric, stuffs into a built-in pouch and unstuffs to a full-size shopping bag, and can hold 40 lbs.

So tell me what are YOU loving lately?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Races and Treadmill Incline

I don’t know if you saw it but on Wednesday, December 16, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series had a one day only special pricing (and limited space) for all of their races.  I saw it on Facebook on my way to school and once there I quickly signed up for two races in Seattle and Las Vegas.  I am already planning to run in New Orleans in February and have already run in both Seattle and Las Vegas.  My nephew lives in Seattle so I would like to visit and run the race again hoping for a better experience.  As for Las Vegas, well, why not?  Plus, I had a great time the last time I was there.

I know, I know.  I told myself I wouldn’t run another RnR race because I did so many in 2013.  I haven’t even run the once in Chicago since then and I live here.  Plus, it is always so hot here at that time but that is another issue.  So now I have three next year!

Unlike most people, I do enjoy running on the treadmill.  I like it when the weather just doesn’t make it possible for me to run outside or when my runs call for a specific pace.  Lately we’ve been having great weather in Chicago so most of my runs have been outside.


I’ve been setting the incline at 1% for all of my runs.  I came across this article “The Truth About Setting Your Treadmill Incline” and Matt says “So instead leave it at 0 percent unless you’re looking for the specific challenge of running uphill.”  So now I am torn between leaving it at 1% or changing it to 0% like Matt says.

And totally random and to make you laugh.  I have yet to put up my tree.  No shame here.


Fan of RnR races?  Which is your favorite?