Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 3 of 14

BM2013 Week 3 Training

3rd week of consistent training! Ahhhhh this feels good. Back to my normal RUNGRY, dedicated self again. This week, Mother Nature decided to show her true colors in Chicago for the first time this winter. Monday and Tuesday were practically unbearably cold. Luckily, that didn’t last long and it felt like we had a “heat wave”—-and by heat wave I mean like ….25 degrees? [Note: we have a high of 50 (!!!) forecasted for mid-week this week! Make.up.your.mind.mother.(f***ing)nature.]

Weekly total: 35 miles, 1 easy run, 1 strength/core session

Monday: 1 mile repeats. 6 miles total: 2 mi w/up, 3 x 1 at 6:40 (2 min recovery), and 1 mi c/d. I was that crazy girl at the gym that seems to be angry about something that she wants to run her heart out. Because the windchill was like negative “forget about it!” I rocked these on the dreadmill. It actually went by fast and I felt like I could have run 1-2 more mile repeats at that pace. Perhaps a sign that I should have run them faster but this was a confidence booster.

Tuesday: rest

Wednesday: 3 mile tempo targeted at 7:00-7:10 (8 miles total). After a full day of work, I decided to take advantage of the relatively “warm” temperatures and head to the lake. My typical warm-up is exactly 2 miles because that’s how far my apartment is from the lake. I thought I’d run there, do my tempo, finish cooling down there, and then take the bus home. But I felt really good. I was SMILING WHILE  I WAS RUNNING. I was that kind of crazy runner that is just happy to be outside and covering miles. I always laugh at people I see smile-running but now I know what it feels like…exhilarating!!! My tempo splits were 7:05, 7:08, and 6:51. I felt like I was floating so I ran the extra two miles home instead of waiting for the bus.

Thursday: lazy night at home. Felt like I was fighting off a sore throat/head cold. Womp womp. DERP.

Friday: Easy 5 on the treadmill + core and strength routines.

Saturday: Coach called for 14-16 easy miles at 8:10-8:15 pace. I ran 15.33 at 8:04 average pace (whooops-y!). It was 14 degrees when I left my apartment and honestly I thought this was just going to be no fun at all. But the sun was shining and I had no complaints. I ran with my Nathan water bottle for the 2nd time and I think I’m starting to get used to it. A little concerned with some calf/achilles soreness in the left leg but I’m going to write it off as my legs acclimating to the consistent mileage again.

Overall, a good week for me! I ran happy this week and managed to find time to be good to myself. (Now if only I could get some consistent sleep in!)

Pics ‘O The Week

2013-01-23 17.23.01The lakefront was breathtaking on Wednesday night. The snow was falling and it was so calm out there. RAVE RUN

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Full commitment to training deserves a good beer (or three)

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Totally necessary puppy pic. She makes it tough to leave for a run sometimes

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Stocked up on Saucony gear this week!

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Happy to run in the sunshine this morning 🙂 Obligatory Garmin snapshot

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A post-run trip to Mariano’s Fresh Market = unnecessary drooling over everything in the store


Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 2 of 14

BM2013 Week 2 Training

I really feel like myself now. Last week was more of a “test week” to see if the hips are ready to get back into a training cycle. They passed the test  with flying colors so this week was a full, focused week of training. Especially after my speed session on Thursday, I realized that I forgot what it feels like to be RUNGRY (i.e. so hungry from running that you need to eat.all.the.damn.time. #runnerproblems). I also missed the post-workout fatigue that lets you know you pushed enough during the run. Ahhhhh what a good feeling.

This week was a good mixture of easy runs, key workouts, and strength-building.

Monday: REST

Tuesday: Short treadmill tempo. I knew this one would be tough (they are supposed to be). Note to self: tempos will *always* feel more difficult on that damn dreadmill (DD). I hate having the treadmill do the work for me and every mile passes by twice as slow as it seems to outside. I opted for the treadmill to avoid running in the dark and through a neighborhood with plenty of stoplights. Sometimes it just has to be done. The goal was to run all 3 at 7:13 pace but I ran the last one at 7:18. I’m sure I’ll get into the groove eventually.

Wednesday: Easy 6 miles. I don’t usually do easy runs over 4ish miles but I just felt so good and happy to be outside in the sunshine. Feeling lucky that I was able to head out around 10 AM and fit this in between work when the sun was out.

Thursday: 1k repeats! I was nervous about this one! The night before, I took a gander at my previous cycle’s 1k splits and wondered if I’d be able to run the same pace. I actually ran them faster. Admittedly, they were REALLY tough and I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to run all 5 by the time I finished the 2nd repeat. But the legs ‘turned on’ and I got into a rhythm. The easy 2 miles back home felt good (keep reminding myself that cooldown miles need to be easier than I want them to be). I spent the rest of the day either dreaming about food or eating food. [Note–focus  at work doesn’t come easy when the post-run rungry sets in.]

Friday: quick 30 minute spin and 30 minutes of a strength routine. Since going to PT, I have a better idea of how to prevent the hip issue from sneaking up on me again. Did a random mixture of exercises/drills: squats, lunges, clams, single leg reverse lunges, mountain climbers, burpees, planks, core routine ….you name it. Friday seems like a good day to add strength training to my routine, as long as I’m not too sore the next day for my long run.

Saturday: Long run on the lakefront. 14 consistent miles, 8:07 average pace. I carried a water bottle for the first time in years because the water fountains are off for the winter (DERP). It will definitely take some getting used to but I’d rather do that than run 15+ miles without a single drop of water. I’d be lying if I said my arms weren’t a bit fatigued by carrying the bottle the entire way.

Treated myself to a post-run massage. The therapist I’ve been seeing has really helped stretch out my hips, although my back & shoulders were much more sore than I realized. He must have spent at least 20 minutes just trying to work the knots out in my shoulders. I think I had a good, speedyish long run Saturday morning because I knew I had to make it to my massage in time.

This week was the highest mileage week since Twin Cities and I’m feeling really great about how I’m doing so far. It’s amazing what a bit of rest and strengthening can do for your body and mind. I expected to be pretty sore and tired after this week’s key workouts but I felt really energetic and strong. [I’ll ‘toe the line’ in Hopkington in twelve weeks! Ahhhhhhh!]

Pics o’ The Week


Finished reading Run Less Run Faster this week. Lots of good lessons


Shrimp and Grumpy Goat Grits at Little Goat the other day. Sooooo yummy!


It’s like she had a really tough workout or something. 🙂


Pizza, beer, and friends at Piece = smiles


Stocked up on my smoothie essentials this week. Really need to focus on protein and iron in my diet now that I’m in full training


Ok, who the hell runs like this?! Massive arm swing, flowing hair, and no sports bra? You must be out of your mind


My Personal Chicago Coffee Shop Tour: Part 2

If you missed Part 1, you’re probably wondering why I went on my own personal coffee shop tour of Chicago. Answer A: I was bored. And B: I’ve kept a list of coffee shops to go to since I started working remotely in March 2012. And with some down time during the holidays, I decided it was time to make a commitment to find my favorites on the long list I had made. Check out Part 1 if you’re curious! 

Gaslight Coffee Roasters: 2385 N Milwaukee Ave


Getting to Gaslight was a breeze, especially because I call Wicker Park home. A short train ride up to Logan Square and a 1-minute walk from the stop and I was there. I arrived at 9, which was apparently before their normal rush because the place started humming around 10 am. I ordered a pour over and a chocolate croissant to get my day started.  It seems like the seating is designed for every kind of coffee shop-goer. There’s a retrofit auditorium-style bench to the left as you walk in, small tables for two on the right, a simple bar with stools on the back left wall, and a picnic table complete with a stuffed rooster at the back of the shop. The bar juts into the middle of the space and the signage is so simple that choosing my coffee took 0.5 seconds. I think this might be a new favorite of mine. The music and the din of the shop put me in a productive mode instantly. I spent 5 hours working at Gaslight—which is a long time relative to some of the other coffee shops I’ve visited in the past two weeks. (I also need to make a point to visit Café Mustache a block away while I’m in the area). I hear Gaslight offers a sandwich menu now but I skipped out on it that day. I’ll give it a try next time, I’m sure.

Bowtruss Coffee Roasters: 2934 N Broadway 


Rainy Friday morning. Do I make the effort to go across the city to Bowtruss? When coffee is involved, yes. I’ll do anything. I’d heard really good things about Bowtruss from several people on Twitter and I knew it would be a good way to end my week. I wandered into Bowtruss around 10 am and was kind of surprised to see I was the only one there besides a dude picking up approximately 50 lbs of beans for his boss at a coffee shop elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong—I like having the space and quiet to think but when I go to a coffee shop, but I thrive off of the din of conversation around me. Unfortunately, that was lacking here. And I think I know the reason why—they don’t offer free (or paid for that matter) wifi to their customers. I guess I can see both sides of this argument [A) they make their money from distribution B) they likely don’t want people camping out in their shop just for the free wifi] , but I would think that their business would really thrive if they offered wifi.

That said, I’d come back to enjoy a yummy pour over on the weekend when I am not trying to get work done. It would be perfect for a weekend when I’m trying to unplug–because lack of wifi access just makes unplugging that much easier (as long as I ditch my phone at home?). I ordered an Ethiopian pour over and it was ready instantly. A perk of being the only customer on a Friday morning, I suppose. Disappointed in the disposable cup especially because I ordered it ‘for here’ but it was tasty nonetheless. The space is really open and airy, complete with a skylight over the roaster. They retrofitted some old suitcases with speakers and stacked them toward the back of the sitting area. A hollowed out canoe shelves the beans they have for sale—the rustic outdoorsy feel is appreciate in an urban setting. They even have old sleds lining the wall. In general, Bowtruss is a good place to stop and think over a cup of coffee. I’d probably come back to ponder the meaning of life. If you’re looking for a place to work remotely or engage in conversations with strangers, you should probably skip it and come back when you’re feeling a bit more introspective.

Big Shoulders Coffee: 1105 West Chicago Avenue


I cheated. I’ve actually been to Big Shoulders before. But only ONCE before so I decided to include it here. Out of all of the coffee shops I’ve been to in the past few weeks, Big Shoulders has BY FAR the best customer service. The baristas are incredibly attentive and laid back. Both times I’ve gone, I ordered the slow drip and watched the lovely contraption drip liquid caffeine into a glass pitcher while people-watching with the help of floor to ceiling windows. It’s really easy to get work done in a place like this because it’s simple, clean, airy, and active. It’s especially nice that it’s directly off the Chicago blue line stop and 5 blocks away from my place. After going there today, I’m actually looking forward to making Big Shoulders a normal spot for me. I’m convinced the customer service won me over–because a cup of coffee should be about genuinely nice people serving up delicious caffeine.


Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 1

BM2013 Week 1 Training

And so the journey begins! Week 1 of a 14-week training cycle and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in weeks. After being ‘cleared’ to run by my physical therapist last week, I was excited to get some quality runs in but also nervous about not overdoing it. I only ran 48 miles in the month of December which is (by FAR) my lowest mileage month of 2013. Taking two weeks off running was more challenging that I anticipated. It’s really easy to take running for granted when your body has never told you to stop completely for 14 days. But for that time, I was really happy to be able to cross train in other ways and I’ve found a new love–spinning. I’d love to be able to commit to at least one spin class per week through this next training cycle (I honestly think it’s done wonders for my turnover).

So, after resting, cross-training, reflecting, and trying to keep myself busy in other ways (mainly visiting coffee shops and drinking copious amounts of beer!), I’m ready and excited to get on a normal training schedule. I think I was beginning to go crazy without a consistent plan, to be honest.

Just as I normally do, I only ran 4 times this week.

Monday: 6 miles (2 mile warm-up, 2 miles at 7:08 min/mile, 2 mile cooldown). This run was really all about testing my legs and my left hip to see if all systems were GO for the training cycle. Felt good to sweat it out on something other than a bike!

Tuesday: rest (business trip)

Wednesday: Easy 5 miles. This run was the best kind of therapy. It was sunny, 45 degrees, and downright balmy so I went out for a lunchtime run. My ‘easy’ pace doesn’t seem to have dropped much because my average pace was 8:02. Wahoooo!

Thursday: 4 x 800s. This was another “test run” to see if I can handle the training. And I’m happy to report that it went really well! I ran a long warm-up and then focused on turnover for 4 x 800 meters with 3 min recoveries. I didn’t look at the pace shown on my watch and just tried to run consistently through each repeat. When I arrived home and uploaded my Garmin data, I realized that I’d run the 800s at the same pace as I had back in August. Now that’s a good feeling!

Friday: Last physical therapy session! ‘Nuff said.

Saturday: Long run! Again, 50 degrees in Chicago in the middle of January. It’s just crazy out there. The lakefront was full of people running long and it felt like a bustling summer morning when people are preparing for fall marathons. I wore shorts and a light long sleeve shirt but easily could have managed with a regular shirtsleeve shirt. I ran 11 miles at 7:56 pace and I felt so comfortable the entire run. My knee drive especially feels much stronger than it did back in November and December.

Sunday: 85% of today was spent horizontal on the couch. It was bliss.

Photo Round-up of the Week:


Cool view of the Chi skyline looking east just after take-off on a business trip


Good morning DC!


So dramatic. She must have had a busy day at home 🙂


Coffee shop smiles


A little bit of happiness


Just For Thought: New Year Inspiration

I recently saw this video on Cup Of Jo and thought I’d share it here. The lesson of “what would you do with your life if money were no object” can seem kind of tired at times (especially with everyone asserting their New Year’s resolutions in January), but I think it really is true. Just more food for thought, I suppose!

My Personal Chicago Coffee Shop Tour: Part 1

I have an obsession with coffee. I’m addicted to caffeine. My version of a happy Saturday afternoon is holing up in a coffee shop somewhere in the city with a big cup of joe and good book. For real. Include chocolate and it really is one of my “happy places” (the most obvious of which is the lakefront….duh).

This year for the holidays, I was gifted with the longest vacation since college. Back then, I was extremely spoiled with my school’s quarter system, as we had just before Thanksgiving Day up until just after New Year’s Day off. Six weeks is a long time to be idle as a college student. By week 3, I was pretty sick of a routine that didn’t include long days. Nowadays, I work for a super small company (think “two people small”) and it was decided about a month ago that we’d both take two full weeks off work to prepare for a busy 2013.

I didn’t expect to take so much time off at the end of 2012, but I wasn’t about to pass it up. But, after getting over the fact that I wouldn’t have to (key phrase: HAVE TO…I literally can’t stop myself from working, so it’s not 100% down time), I realized that I’d need to do something to keep myself from spending everyday at home in my pjs in front of the t.v. (when not running, of course).

SO, I CAME UP WITH A PLAN. I’ve had a list of coffee shops I have yet to visit in Chicago for the past 8-9 months. And even though I have a flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home 50% of the time, I haven’t been able to tackle the list and actually visit these coffee shops in 2012.

GOAL: Visit one Chicago coffee shop I’ve never been to each day for 7 days.

(Spoiler alert: I failed miserably at the streak but still made it to plenty of new spots!) 

Kickstand Espresso Bar: 824 West Belmont Ave


I ordered the Mexican Chocolate Mocha with Cayenne. And it was full of spicy deliciousness. I’m never in this neighborhood but I was nearby at a physical therapy appointment and realized how close it was as I started walking to the train. I really appreciated the ambiance at Kickstand. It was really bright and cheery, which is exactly what I needed on a gloomy winter day in Chicago. I also ordered a sesame bagel toasted with cream cheese, which wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t disappoint either. The decor was a mixture of cool art and repurposed tables ‘n chairs. The wainscoting on the walls was made of old meter sticks. I appreciated its DIY-ness. Seating is somewhat limited for this little espresso bar, but there are two larger tables and bench seating that looks out onto Belmont—perfect for people-watching. They serve Metropolis coffee so if you’re a fan, go there for the good beans and the good space.


Buzz: Killer Espresso: 1644 N Damen Ave

Ok, I admit it. I failed. I didn’t make it to a new coffee shop on NYE or New Year’s Day. Guilty as charged. But after rehydrating and learning how to become a human being again, I sauntered over to Buzz for a little caffeine kick in the pants. From the outside, Buzz looks like it’s “cutesy”. You know…like one of those places that is covered in pastel paint and probably harbor young mothers with cute little children. But NOPE! I was mistaken! Buzz is nestled between a bar and a restaurant in what looks like a cute family home, but the inside if very modern and sleek. The bar is made of reclaimed wood (aren’t they all nowadays?) and the lighting makes the space really fresh. As you walk in and past the coffee bar, the seating is really cozy. Silver-brushed tables with spotlight lighting overhead make it a place to cozy up with a book or work on your own. The customers were a mixture of people working silently on their computers to a few people have a very deep intellectual conversation to people like me that just wanted a quiet place to sit and think for a bit. I work from coffee shops often and this is one that I would visit if I didn’t need a ton of space. Small tables make for small tasks sometimes.


Oh! The COFFEEEEE! I ordered a delicious Brazil pour over. It was exactly what I wanted. I’m not a creature of habit when it comes to how I take my coffee. Sometimes I go for cream, sometimes I don’t. That day? No cream. Just pure delicious coffee. They have over 6 different pour overs and they all cost $3.50, which isn’t bad in the city. I highly recommend giving this place your time.

Ipsento Coffee House: 2035 N Western Ave 

After a short run in the morning and an overall slow start to my day, heading to the coffee shop was a bit of a chore (I know, I know…). But this place truly made up for it. I walked in and immediately ordered the first thing on the menu, the Ipsento Latte. I’m a sucker for anything with coconut and this latte was full of coconut milk and honey, two of my favorite things.  I ordered a 16 ounce and sipped on it for a good, long hour. It was also spiced with cayenne just like the Kickstand Mexican Chocolate Mocha —I think it’s safe to say I like spice. Ipsento is SUPER cozy. Again, limited seating like Kickstand and Buzz, but that’s likely why people frequent them. I cozied up with my latte in a comfy corner armchair initially and then moved to a little table in the opposite corner to get some work done. They played really good music that put me into a productive mode for a solid 4 hours. I’ll be back (especially because it only took me 10 minutes to get there, including time to walk to the train).



Side note: I have yet to go on one of Caffenture’s coffee bar crawls but Ipsento is included on their blue line crawl. And I can totally see why.

I still have a solid list of coffee shops I have yet to visit but I’m happy I’ve been able to finally cross some off of that list. I work best in a coffee shop with delicious beans, good music, and ambient noise from conversation among customers. Happy to have found three more spots I can frequent in Chicago when I’m looking for a change of pace (heh…get it, runners?).

What’s your favorite coffee shop in Chicago? Do you try to visit all local coffee shops or do you stick to chains like Starbucks? If you could visit one coffee shop in a different neighborhood everyday, would you? What should I add to my list?!