Turkey Trots and Travels

Happy Monday!  What an awesome week we had around here.  I think it is going to take another week for us to recover from all of the fun and adventures.

Last Monday we hopped in the car and headed to Chicago.  As you may recall, I did my first outdoor run since August and got in a pretty stellar 10 miler.  My body was definitely feeling it the day after, but it was totally worth all of the aches and pains.

On Thanksgiving morning we headed over to Winnetka where we tried out a new Turkey Trot.  In the past, we have done the North Shore Turkey Trot.  But the prices of that race are rather hefty and the amenities are pretty lame.  On top of that, I never received my age group award from last year and RAM Racing pretty much told me to stop contacting them about it.  Lame!

So this year we opted for a 5k down the road from us.  I typically despise 5k’s because I am incapable of not getting too competitive and end up sprinting until I make myself sick.  However, this year was different because Mary joined us for her first race.  I pushed her for 3.1 miles and we averaged just under 9:00mins/mile.  I can’t complain about that as it was my first time pushing the stroller since July and the race started out on a crowded rail trail.  Strollers had to start at the back behind a large group of walkers.

The Winnetka Turkey Trot will likely be a repeat for us.  They offered indoor restrooms and a decent aid station at the halfway point.  The race was timed but there were no medals (no problem).  My main complaint would be that when we registered and paid, we were told that we would receive a shirt.  Later, we received an e-mail that basically said, “Hey! Good news, we are giving away hats instead.  But we know you guys also like shirts so you can buy those too.”  Honestly, I would prefer a fleece hat to run in over the cotton shirts they offered.  But don’t advertise one way, and then switch it up after we paid.

We also registered Mary for the kids race and I am happy to report that she had an absolute blast.  Kids did get a cotton shirt with their race registration and she was psyched to have a “racing shirt.”  Shortly after we finished our race, the kids lined up and did a 20 yard dash.  I thought I would have to hold her hand but she proudly took off on her own and crossed the finish line to receive her plastic medal.  She was super proud.  She also insisted on filling up my Simple Hydration Bottle with orange juice, because all runners need fuel for a race.

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After Mary picked up her medal, we loaded her back into the stroller and ran the 3 miles back to where we were staying.  It was a perfect way to start the day.

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We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Mary had a blast running around with her cousins and some dogs.  Lucy had fun being passed amongst aunts.  We ate some delicious food, but also did a decent job of not over doing it. 

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The Friday after Thanksgiving was 60 degrees in Chicago.  Talk about perfect running weather!  Despite the fact that my quads were singing from the mileage over the past few days, I did head out for a sweaty 8 mile run.  It feels so good to be running outside again and at a rather decent pace.

We spent the rest of the day playing in the park with cousins and cheering on Rock’s high school hockey team at a tournament.  The team won 10-2 and Mary loved watching the games, especially because cousins were involved.

Now we are back home and I am happily getting into Christmas decorating mode.  I honestly just bide my time until Thanksgiving passes and then break out all of the fun holiday stuff.

I’m so excited that the holiday season is finally here.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving and look forward to sharing some fun holiday season tips soon.  Did you get a Turkey Trot in or a Black Friday shopping marathon?

Does anyone else get psyched when you get warm weather in late November?

I Took The Leap (Run)

Happy Wednesday!  For my friends in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving Eve.  Regardless of where you are, I am thankful for all of you for following this blog, commenting, and making my life full of fun and excitement.

We are in the Chicagoland area for the week visiting family and friends.  We’ve already had a fun filled past few days visiting with cousins and friends.  Last night we took a train ride down into the city to our old neighborhood.  We met up with family and a running friend for dinner at one of our favorite sushi restaurants, Fin.  I can’t recommend this place too much.  First of all, it is BYOB, which is something I love about Chicago restaurants.  Second, the quality of sushi is among some of the best I have had anywhere and I have had the luxury of dining at some of the best places in NYC.  However, unlike NYC these rolls don’t come at Morimoto prices.  We had an embarrassing amount of rolls and appetizers for less than $60.

It was my first time having sushi since being pregnant last winter and it was worth the wait.

Mary on the other hand was waiting all week to take the train into the city.  She’d been talking about it for days and the experience didn’t disappoint.  I love Chicago train conductors.  They are super friendly to passengers, and especially to kids.  Mary ended up carrying our tickets in her pockets the rest of the night.

One thing I have not done since Lucy was born is run outside.  I’ve been sticking strictly to the treadmill since I was about 31 weeks pregnant.  It has been 10 weeks since Lucy arrived and I have been mostly just trying to fit in runs when the kids are sleeping or when it is convenient.  This has meant treadmill runs to Netflix in our basement.  I finished off Grace and Frankie and rolled it over to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Both of these shows lured me in and I have not minded running indoors.  Last week I even managed to log 52 miles.

To be honest, coming back from pregnancy can be difficult for a runner.  Our bodies expand and don’t always adjust very well.  We have a hormone called relaxin that prepares our bodies for birth and leaves our us pretty loosey goosey for quite awhile after.  It’s easier to roll ankles and move things out of whack.  Last time around I did a number on my pelvis by trying to do too much too early, making it even more painful to come back.

A few weeks ago I was jogging in our driveway, chasing after Mary on her bike.  I had to stop because things just weren’t feeling right.  The treadmill provides just a bit more support and even ground for coming back from injuries and pregnancy.  Because of that, I was hesitant to get outside and go for a run.

We have a Turkey Trot coming up on Thursday and a lack of indoor options while we are away this week.  Both of these were perfect excuses to get me outside for a run.  Let me tell you though, I was nervous!

However, on Monday I was in a car all day and ate way too many “car snacks” (aka crap).  I really wanted to break a sweat and get a good run in.

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So I threw on some cold weather running gear and decided to just go for it.  My plan was to do 7 miles, but I quickly realized I needed this run in more ways than one.  I forced myself to keep the pace where I felt comfortable and not let my dusty GPS dictate my pace.  I did use the GPS as a reference for mileage and occasionally checked it because I was curious to see what my comfortable pace was, but I didn’t let it set the pace.

I felt great.  My new Asics that felt weird on the treadmill, felt amazing on the pavement.  I quickly decided to change my 7 miler to 8 and soon started playing the numbers to see if 9 would be doable.  At some point I had to stop and text my husband because I knew in my heart that I really wanted to get a double digit run in, just to know that I could.

It was almost as if I started to run better as my body remembered how to do things.  Even with the Chicago winds, everything just felt so enjoyable.  I finished off 10 miles feeling great and ready to devour a ton of sushi later.

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Sometimes we just have to take that leap and trust our bodies.  One thing I always try to remind my runners about is that once you are a runner, you are always a runner.  Things happen in life that cause us to take breaks.  Perhaps we get injured, or we just need a change for a bit.  Regardless of what takes us away from running, it is always there waiting for us.  It takes a few runs to get back at it, but it usually doesn’t take nearly as long as you anticipate.  Running is always there.  Your body and your mind will remember and do their thing.

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Happy Thanksgiving.  Any Turkey Trots on the agenda for you?

Anyone else tend to go a little crazy when they order sushi?

Eliminate Stress For A Healthy Holiday

I used to dread Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t a fan of turkey for some strange reason, and I dealt with some tremendous food noise in my head.  However, over the years I have become a big fan of this holiday and have learned that it can be a really fun time to gather around the table and actually enjoy yourself sans guilt.

When we spend a holiday or other family gathering worrying about what we eat and how it affects our bodies, we don’t get to enjoy some of the greatest times with the people we love.  The holidays shouldn’t be a time where we add stress to our lives.  It should be a time of enjoyment.

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So how do we go about that?  Below are a few tips from me as a certified Health Coach, personal trainer, and someone who has had to learn these lessons herself.

Start your day out right.  When you know that you are going to be gathering at the table and enjoying a little extra or eating things you typically wouldn’t indulge in, it helps to get some activity in earlier that day.

Our family has made it a tradition the past few years to pick a local turkey trot to do together.  It is not only a great way to get in some exercise and start out the day on the right foot, but it is also a great way to start the day with family and friends.  When we encourage each other to be active, it is so much more fun and a positive experience.

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If you don’t like running, that is totally fine.  Go for a walk, hit the gym before it closes, or get the family outside for a tackle football game.  Being active boosts your energy, gets your metabolism going, and also elevates your mood.

Scan the table.  One great thing about Thanksgiving is that there are a lot of healthier options on the buffet.  Veggies are abundant and turkey is a great lean meat.  Just go for the white stuff!

Pick out the healthy options first and make those your biggest portions.  Then go ahead and indulge in those other yummy sides that you love but watch your portion sizes.

Stick to one plate.  Make yourself one plate and commit to it.  If you are still hungry after one large helping, take a moment to determine if it is true hunger.  If you feel that you truly are hungry, go for some extra veggies, or load up a salad.

The same goes for dessert.  Pick one piece of dessert or take 2 mini slices of pie if you can’t decide.  Odds are that it will still be there tomorrow, so don’t act like this is the last time you will ever get to eat dessert!

Bring something healthy that you love.  If you aren’t certain what will be on the table and you want to make sure you stick to a good plan, bring something that you know you will enjoy that is also healthy.  Perhaps you know that the appetizers will be your downfall.  Then bring a delicious veggie platter and some hummus.  Add some garlic to give it a kick and then enjoy!

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Remember that one day doesn’t break everything.  Sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself.  One day of unhealthy eating is not a complete loss.  You can always get back on track tomorrow.  At the same time, that doesn’t mean to just give up and eat everything you see.  Check in and make sure you are still hungry.  Try to be sensible with your portions.  But remember that tomorrow is another day and you can start it with a healthy breakfast and a solid workout.

Be kind to yourself.  Food should never be a source of guilt.  No one sticks 100% to their eating plan (okay, maybe Tom Brady, but how fun is that?!).  We all slip up and we all have foods that we love to eat just a little bit too much of.  Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace to have a less than perfect day.  Try your best to avoid the negative self talk.  Food is meant to be enjoyed, not to make you feel miserable.

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I can almost guarantee that we will all eat just a little bit too much, and a few things that we know we don’t really need.  Find a way to enjoy it and make a plan for how to start the next day in a healthy way, both mentally and physically.  

What are you looking forward to most about Thanksgiving?

The Days Fly By

Happy Monday!  We had a wild week around here filled with snow and frigid weather.  We lucked out and didn’t receive the foot of snow that was predicted, but I am not ready for winter to be here.  Whether I am or not, it appears that winter is here to stay.

I spent a day at work training clients and we also took some time to finally close up our cottage.  Perfect timing.  I wasn’t expecting the snow to arrive so soon and that would have made for a mess.  We still had our lawn furniture and picnic table sitting outside.

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We packed plenty of fun in this weekend.  Saturday started bright and early with pictures with my side of our family.  A few weeks ago we met with a local photographer to get some pictures taken with our girls.  They were so great that we decided to do a large family photo for my parents.  However, when the weather turned from cold to super cold, we thought we were out of luck.

Fortunately, our photographer was able to arrange for us to meet at the Grand Traverse Resort and do an indoor shoot. I can’t wait to see how the pictures turned out, as we used some really great areas of the resort as our backdrop.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend Wallhanger Photography!

It was also really fun to be there because the Beerd Run was getting ready to take off.  I had been interested in this event but opted out when we signed up for our photos.  This is a 5k that takes you around the resort and offers microbrew samplings at each mile marker.  There is beer and warm food offered at the end and each runner gets a knit beanie with a beard attached.  It sounded like a fun event, and judging from the people we saw hanging out in the lobby, it definitely was a great time.  Nothing is better than being able to use a warm lobby and indoor facilities before a race, especially in that weather.  Having quality microbrews on the course and afterwards is pretty great too.  Clearly, this is a recreational run, but if you saw my post on what makes a great race, this one certainly looked like it qualified!

After the shoot, Mary was famished and devoured a donut….or at least all of the chocolate that covered the donut.  Glad we kept that sweater clean until the shoot was done!

If you ever find yourself in the Traverse City area, I highly recommend a visit to the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.  You will find a beautiful facility full of shops, restaurants, great hotel rooms, a fantastic spa, and a top of the line fitness facility.  If you enjoy swimming, golfing, or playing tennis, this is a great place for you.  Oh, and there is a Dylan’s Candy Bar too!

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We spent the afternoon taking a drive along the Old Mission Peninsula.  With views of both the East and West Bays or Lake Michigan, this is a stunning stroll.  The peninsula is packed with vineyards and wineries along with a few fantastic restaurants and breweries.

After Mary’s gymnastics class, a run for me, and a nap for the girls, we were off to Grayling where we tried out a new barbecue restaurant.  Ray’s is seated right along the Ausable River and has some pretty delicious bbq as well as a great selection of beer.  We loved the high ceilings and warm fireplace and Mary loved the giant moose on the wall.

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Pulled Pork salad was so good!

The rest of the weekend involved some cleaning time and a big family dinner on Sunday.  When the weather gets cold, I certainly love spending time in the kitchen.

We also got in the crafting mood and made a hand turkey on canvas.  Michael’s had a great deal on canvas (8 for $11) so I picked up a few for holiday arts and crafts projects.  This one came together with a little washable finger paint.  After a quick dry, Mary got to use marker pens (like you would use for bingo) to make the feathers.  I added a quick border and we now have a new Thanksgiving decoration.

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Next to Mary’s pumpkin we made for Halloween.

On the running front, I was able to log 45 miles last week.  I will call that a giant win for 9 weeks out from having Lucy!  Running is feeling good, although not yet quite back to the speed I would desire.  I was able to bump up the distance of a few of my runs this week and that felt like a huge success.

We are planning on doing a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day and I am looking forward to pushing Mary for that one.  5k’s are not my favorite as I feel they are a bit of a sprint and I tend to go a little crazy.  I’m relying on Mary to keep me in check for that one!

Do you have any Turkey Trotting plans?  Any weekend highlights?

It’s The Holiday Season aka Post Thanksgiving

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed a festive and delicious Thanksgiving.  Our family had a wonderful time.  Last Sunday we started things off by leaving the 11 inches of snow we got the night before and headed to Chicago.

It had been a little while since we had moved, and it felt so great to be back and see our family and friends. We tried to pack as much as we possibly could into a week and I think we did so with great success.

Mary got the chance to go play with some kids and she clearly had a blast “at school.”
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Tuesday night I went out for a rare girls night out back in my old neighborhood.  I arrived early for dinner and did a tour of my favorite grocery store, Mariano’s.  I love the openness of this store, the multiple bars, carts with wine glass holders, and the incredibly affordable selection.  The whole night was a blogging fail because I didn’t take a single picture but you will have to trust me that everything was just what I loved.

Next, I walked by our old apartment.  I couldn’t see in, but it felt nice just to walk by.  This was where Rock and I first lived as a married couple.  It was our first real adult home.  It was where we brought home our dog Louie.  And it was where we brought our baby home.

I then met my friends Kim and Jennifer for sushi at our favorite spot, Fin, in Ravenswood.  I love that Chicago has so many BYOB establishments.  Fin has some of the best sushi I have had and their prices are fantastic.  They offer some really creative rolls and other delicious options.  In the summer they have awesome outdoor seating and lounge chairs with fun ambient lighting.  Kim and Jennifer got a sneak peek into just how much sushi I tend to scarf down. One time when we are at Fin after a long run, a woman gasped to the man at her table as our plates were laid down, “Did you see how many rolls they ordered?!”  #runnerproblems

I may not have taken any pictures of us but I managed to run into Kim again the following night when she brought Mary this awesome Blackhawks hat.  She gets a kick out of the fact that I am a Red Wings fan and loves steering Mary towards her team.  You have to admit that the hat is adorable!

On Thursday we ran our annual North Shore Turkey Trot up in Highland Park.  We have done this race now for 3 years and each year we seem to recruit another family member to join us.  It is a fun family tradition and a great way to come back home and eat all of the food without the guilt (or at least a little less).

I didn’t really get the chance to truly train for this race.  I have had more a lackadaisical approach to my running since my last marathon.  Between moving, starting a new job, and pushing a baby in the jogging stroller, runs are more just a part of my daily routine.

But I was feeling good and gave myself a little extra push for this race.  The night before I created a race specific playlist and threw some songs on it that had great BPM’s to allow myself to push the pace a bit.

Without pushing too hard and ensuring that I still had an enjoyable race, I was able to manage a 10k PR, 3rd place in my age group, and a 78th overall finish.  I was really excited with this run, and thrilled to then enjoy the holiday spread.

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All dressed up for Turkey Day!

We rounded the week out with some great family time.  Rock’s high school hockey team hosts an annual Thanksgiving tournament and we were able to check out a few of their games.  Mary loves hockey and we found out that she also loves popcorn!  She is truly becoming a little rink rat.  I have a feeling she will be wearing skates before we know it.

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Thanksgiving is a really special holiday and we had a wonderful time enjoying it with family and friends.  Now I can turn on the holiday music without any guilt and start pulling out the decorations!

How was your Thanksgiving.  Have you started decorating for the holidays?

 

Trail Running

15kTrailRunThis past weekend my husband and I joined some family and friends for a post Thanksgiving 15k trail run held in a local forest preserve. In the weeks before we were able to get together for a few training runs which made it pretty exciting to look forward to the race!
Trail running can be both fun and dangerous. There are ways to ensure you have a great time and stay safe. First, make sure you are fitted with the proper gear. There are trail running specific shoes you can wear, but any sturdy pair of running shoes will suffice. I would not recommend minimalist shoes or regular street shoes for a run on the trails. You need to be aware of the rugged and irregular terrain on out there because it is easy to roll an ankle or worse. Not having proper footwear makes it even more difficult to navigate the trails. Good shoes are a runners best friend!
Most running clothing is appropriate for trail runs, however it is important to think about what you might encounter out there. I have done a trail run in the mountains and come across some pretty cold streams that I had to cross as well as some nasty thorn bushes that left me with some pretty bloody knees by the time I was done. Running tights might be more appropriate than short running shorts to help protect your legs if you encounter thorns or a likely spill.
The most important thing you need to remember about trail running is to slow down. If you run an 8:00 minute mile during training, don’t plan on that being your pace on the trail. The varied terrain and other obstacles force you to slow your pace down significantly. In a way this is really great, because you have to focus on each footfall and the beautiful scenery, the miles will likely pass without your having to think about it. One thing I always try to focus on is areas covered with leaves. You need to be careful because you have no idea what lies beneath those leaves! On my trail race up the mountain I came up to a racer and tried to pass them but they sped up. I got so excited and frustrated with the other runner that I sped up and lost focus of what I was doing. My ankle rolled, I heard a snap, and all I could picture was me being helicoptered off of the mountain. I was able to put weight on my foot and finish the race, but I spent my post race bliss time in an ice bath and missed a few weeks of running to mend my sprained ankle. For months after the race my ankle would swell after any run. Bummer!
One great thing that I love about trail running is that I can get out of my usual overly competitive mindset. You can’t worry about your PR’s when you are in a trail race because no two courses are alike. Even when you are running the same trail for a second time you have no control over the changes that occur from day to day such as the weather, fallen trees, and soggy grounds. There is something so amazing about the organic environment and your feet doing their thing!
Running trails can be a part of your weekly training if you are looking for a nice way to mix up your workouts. It will help slow your pace down and work some muscles you don’t normally use during road runs (my glutes were singing the next day!). It is a great way to put away the watch and break up the monotony of your daily runs. The fresh air and new scenery might be the mental change- up you need to get yourself out of a training rut.
Just make sure before you go that you take along a cell phone and let someone know where you will be going and when they can expect you to be arriving back home. Make sure you are also aware of what you might encounter on your run such as skunks, or other animals that may be on your course.
Get online or ask your local running store for some recommendations of area trails. Rail trails are a great option as are local cross country ski courses. They are already groomed for you and often enjoyed by runners and mountain bikers alike.
Happy Trails!
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