Boston 2014 Training: Week 11 of 16

Week 11

RACE WEEK! This was a bit of a recovery week with a short taper before the NYC Half. I’ll post a separate update on the race (and how amazing it felt) later, but here’s how the week’s training went:

I ran 39 miles with 5 runs: core x 2, hip strength x 1, and ART x 1.

Monday: 5.2 recovery miles, 7:53 average.

Easy 5 around the neighborhood (in SHORTS again!). Legs a bit tired after Sunday’s 15-miler but the shakeout helped.

Tuesday: {10 x 400s} 8 miles, 7:23 average + core routine

I beat the wind today. Didn’t realize the wind was going to pick up later today. Went out around 4 pm with a constant 11 mph wind from the N and gusts up to 35 mph. haha, not ideal for a workout. Decided to run 4 against it to begin with and the next 6 with a tailwind. Really really happy with how these went.

2 mi up, 10 x 400 with 90 sec RI (30 sec walk, 1 min jog), 2 down. Turnover seems strong right now! I turned the pace screen off on my watch and ran all 10 by feel to focus on running smooth and controlled. Mission accomplished!

Splits:
Against wind: 1:24, 1:28, 1:29, 1:24
With wind: 1:23, 1:24, 1:25, 1:20, 1:23, 1:22

Wednesday: Complete REST

Thursday: Easy 7 miles, 8:10 average + core & hip strength routines

Easy peasey on the treadmill after work. Forgot my iPod needed to be charged so I stared at the TV screen. I shortened the hip strength routine today so that I wouldn’t be too sore for the next few days. (Turns out this was a smart decision because my hips and glutes were still a tiny bit sore on Saturday, but ready to race on Sunday!)

Friday: Complete REST – lots to do before traveling

Saturday: 4 mile shakeout in Central Park!

Such a gorgeous afternoon in Central Park for a shakeout. Corey and I flew in early Saturday morning, picked up our bibs at the expo, dropped our bags at the hotel, and ran around 2:30 pm that day. I finished the short jaunt with leg swings, dynamic stretching, and 4 x strides. I was getting antsy to race!

2014-03-15 14.47.47 HDR

Sunday: THE BIG DAY! 2 mile warm-up, 13.1 PR!

Spoiler alert: I ran a 3 min, 38 second PR with a 1:30:13. More on that in another post!

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Boston Training Begins! + New Obsessions

Yes, I used the word TRAINING! I officially started training for Boston 2014 on Monday, December 16th.

It’s taken more time to get to this point than I thought it would, but now that I’m here, I’m surprised how easily the miles have come to me the past 4-5 weeks. When I realized that Grand Rapids wasn’t going to happen and that this silly leg was going to throw my plans askew, I (very) slowly worked up the courage to start thinking about giving training another go. And I’m happy to report that I’m back at it and feeling like my normal runnin’ self again. It only seemed appropriate to begin the next training cycle on a gorgeous (warmish) wintery day in Chicago on my birthday. The snow started to fall just as I started my run and it was frigid cold—something I’ll have to get used to again as I put in some hard work over the next 16 weeks.

This fall/winter has been more about courage than I thought it would be. 2013 was a rollercoaster year. Ups and downs and loopty-loops made me happy, sad, elated, and frustrated, but I know that there were more ups than downs. For a year that asked more questions than provided answers, I think I’m stronger now. I wore my Boston 2013 jacket for the first time on my first training run of this training cycle and thought to myself, ‘it’s time to move on’. And so, that’s what I’m doing. Clean slate, open mind, fresh training, and lots of miles ahead of me in 2014.

Image

All bundled up for Boston 2014 training run #1. My face is freezing and I can’t feel my nose. Standard.

In November, I started to think about what I wanted to change and what I want to accomplish in 2014. And as I usually do, I wrote down some big hairy, scary goals and tucked it away in a place that I’ll be sure to look at it everyday. I’m excited to start working toward a goal again.

So, this is what I’ve been up to. At the beginning of November, the focus was on a bit more rest and then a gradual increase in my weekly miles with all slow, easy miles. I started at 20 miles per week and worked up to 35 miles each week for 5 weeks. Literally all of my these miles were easy recovery pace from 7:45-8:40/mi. No fartlek action, no speed, just MILES. It was slow going in the beginning and it was incredibly difficult to be happy with 20 miles total for the week. But I had to start somewhere after lots of recovery so I focused on keeping up with cross-training. It made me feel good just to be running 4-5 x a week again. I wanted to be able to do that without feeling like my legs were going to fall off. Success!

After 5 weeks of easy base-building, I decided to test the legs a bit. I increased my mileage gradually to 40 miles and added two light “workouts” to the schedule. The first was supposed to be a progressive run of 8 miles (4 easy miles, then 4 miles up tempo — not tempo pace, but a bit of a challenge). That plan flew out the window when I started running and the legs didn’t want to stop. I actually ended up running an 8 miles steady-state at 7:20/mi pace. It was a bit unexpected and, at the time, I kept telling myself that one good run doesn’t mean that my legs are ready for full training mode yet. Then, the second “workout” planned for the week was 8 miles with the last 10 miles fast/moderate. I ran the first 6 comfortably at 7:50-8 min/mi and then the legs were ON. I ran the last 1.5 miles of that workout at 6:40 pace. 6! A 6 hasn’t flashed on my watch in ….3 months? I was giddy and surprised and happy to be able to run a quick pace again.

The week of 12/16 was an awesome step in the right direction. 40 miles, 5 runs, two “workouts”, and a note in my training log that said “MY LEGS ARE BAAAAACK!”. At the end of that week, I knew that I’d be able to start putting speedwork on the schedule on 12/30 (and that’s still the plan this week). I’m also really happy with my cross-training this week. I was really bad about adding cross-training into my schedule in August-September and  I know that it has to be more of a priority this cycle.

To recap: Week of 12/16

Monday: 8 miles, 7:26 average (“workout” #1:progression run turned steady state)

Tuesday: 5 miles, 8:15 average + hip strength routine

Wednesday: 1 hour yoga + ART (Rest Day)

Thursday: 8.8 miles, 7:39 average (+1 hr belated bday massage)

Friday: 1 hour spin 

Saturday: 12 miles, 7:47 average

Sunday: 6 miles, 8:30 average

TOTAL: 40 miles 

Annnnd that brings us to this week! All of that good stuff that happened the previous week? Yep, it just kept rollin’. I ran a total of 44 miles this week. FORTY-FOUR! I like that number. And I especially liked how the legs are feeling considering I haven’t been to PT for ART since Wed, 12/18. I’ve been going about every 5 days so this stretch of 12 days is a good test especially with strong mileage and a slow build to more difficult workouts.

Week of 12/23: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday: 8 miles, ~8 min pace. 4 miles easy , 3 at 7:20, and 1 mi cooldown.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles, 7:39 average.

Wednesday: REST + Christmas!

Thursday: 10 miles, 7:37 average. (including 8 x 1 min surges at 6:20-40 pace with 1 min recovery)

Friday: REST – family time

Saturday: 14 miles, 7:29 average pace! Really not sure where that pep in my step came from but this felt GREAT!

Sunday: 6 recovery miles, 8:30 pace.

TOTAL: 44 miles + 2 rest days

I wasn’t confident that my legs would come back so soon after a lot of recovery in September and October. I ran zero miles the week of November 3rd. Since then, I’ve run 21, 23, 30, 35, 29, 40, and 44 miles each consecutive week. 7 weeks of patience is paying off, I think.

Now, the hard work really begins!

New (Gifted) Obsessions:

Roll Recovery + Garmin Forerunner 220

#Runnerd Christmas presents: Roll Recovery & Garmin Forerunner 220.

My family was spot on with the Christmas presents this year. Two gifts that I will use literally almost everyday. The Roll Recovery is a torture/recovery tool that I’ve had my eye on since Hood to Coast when Robyn showed me her torturous ways and encouraged me to inflict pain on myself (all in the name of recovery of course!). It was especially handy in a relay scenario because having the time and space to foam roll is virtually impossible. I do my fair share of foam rolling and I really love the Stick but this thing is the real deal. I’ve been able to trigger point muscles that are pretty difficult to reach with a foam roller. Obsessed!

Garmin Forerunner 220Purtyyyyyyy.

Annnnnd the Forerunner 220. I’ve had the huge BRICK AKA Forerunner 305 on my wrist for 2.5 + years. Mind you, I have tiny wrists and this thing is massive compared to my frame. When I took the 220 out of the box, I couldn’t believe how light it was. I wore it almost the entire day and didn’t really notice it. I fits tighter and because it’s so light, it feels like wearing a normal watch (which would be impossible with the ancient 305). I took the watch out to time the satellite lock on Christmas afternoon and it locked onto a satellite in less than 35 seconds. Before my 14-miler yesterday afternoon, I turned the watch on and, I swear, it locked onto the satellite signal in less than 10 seconds. That’s impressive considering the signal lock seems to be much slower in the city than it is in the suburbs. Just knowing that I won’t have to wait 5-8 minutes for the satellite signal each and every time I run, makes me giddy. I’m sure I’ll have more positive things to say about the 220 the more I use it.

So with a new outlook on training, a newfound sense of courage after a crazy 2013, and some new training tools, I think 2014 is going to be a great year.

Did you get a lot of running specific gifts from friends and family members this year? What are your new obsessions?

Do you find it difficult to start a new training cycle? What are ya training for next?!

-J

Feeling High Maintenance

Over the past few days, I decided to DO ALL OF THE THINGS to “fix” some wonky issues that creeped up on me over the past week or two. My workouts haven’t been feeling all that great lately and while a lot of that is probably mental, there are a few twinges that made me think more about what I can do to prevent them from becoming bigger problems.

The left side is the weak side. It’s been that way for awhile. Last fall, after Twin Cities my left hip started to ache even when I wasn’t running and it got to the point where even sleeping on my left side was uncomfortable (initial sign of injury!). After 5-6 physical therapy sessions and a plan to keep the hips strong moving forward, I felt like I nipped it in the bud. All set for a strong training cycle before Boston. And despite just a few days when I felt like I pushed the left hip too much, I felt great leading up to Boston.

Fast forward to the past few weeks. Again, training is going well. I’m hitting paces and I know I’m getting stronger but I’m not feeling the way I’d like to at this point in training. This past Friday, I started to feel a twinge in my left IT band. I’ve never had an issue with it and, ideally, the hip strengthening exercises I  do should be helping to prevent injury. Beyond the IT band, I know my gluteus medius on both sides has been more sore than I’d like after hard efforts and long runs (because it felt the same way it had last fall).

Sure, a certain amount of stretching, foam rolling, and Trigger Point can take care of those little muscles that need extra attention. And I’ve been paying attention to them. But last Friday’s easy 4-mile shakeout was not fun. I ran it on the treadmill because I was too lazy to deal withs swirly winds that evening and I just felt like my left side was “off”. I felt a bit lopsided. I ran a very conservative easy pace and decided to just get it done, foam roll a bit that night, hydrate and hope that it would be okay for the long run the next morning.

Saturday’s run was 17 miles with the last 3 at tempo pace. Just like Friday’s shakeout, I got it done. I hit the paces I needed to and the last three were much faster than prescribed (I felt strong). I celebrated for a bit, but I would have celebrated more if it the run has just been more FUN. My left quad felt wonky on either side basically the entire time & I felt my adductor (inner thigh) straining more than I ever have before.

I already had a massage scheduled and thought to myself on Saturday afternoon, “Don’t worry. I’ll feel much better once I see the massage therapist”. Welp, I woke up to a voicemail from my massage therapist saying my normal appointment had been cancelled because there were plumbing issues at their location. DERP! I decided to book a sports massage and spend the extra money just to get the bodywork done at Cortiva Institute downtown. It’s a massage therapy school but you can also book with licensed therapists. I booked a 60 minute sports massage with Carolyn.

And I’m so glad I did. I had a great experience and I’m seriously thinking about switching therapists because of it. Carolyn worked on muscles that I’ve apparently been neglecting and ones that I didn’t even know were sore or tender in the first place. 60 minutes later and I felt much better.

But it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve always been interested in seeing a chiropractor. I haven’t had any major back problems in the past but I carry a LOT of tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck on a regular basis, which isn’t necessarily tied to marathon training but working at a computer all day long. A friend referred me to her chiropractor and I went for my first appointment this morning. And let me tell you, beginning the week with an adjustment (AKA SNAP CRACKLE POP!) was a fantastic idea. The adjustment literally took all of 30-45 seconds in several different positions but I did not realize how much tension I was carrying. The chiropractor said that my left hip is 3/4 inch higher than my right and that I’m essentially running with a flat tire (which is appropriate because that’s exactly what it feels like when it’s really fatigued). She also said that it’s higher because of tight muscles, so it’s not anatomical. …Which meant that I received a 30 minute massage therapy treatment right after my chiro adjustment.

I was laying there before my mini-massage thinking, “when the heck did I become a high maintenance runner?!” and “why does my body seem broken all of a sudden?!“. 2 massages, a chiro adjustment, foam rolling, stretching, and tons of water in essentially 2 days seems really aggressive to me, but we’ll see how it pans out during this week’s training. I know that this kind of pain didn’t just magically show up. It had to have been building for awhile. When the chiro asked me what level of pain I’m experiencing on a scale of 1 to 10 and I said simply, “3” she told me she’d go ahead and equate that to a 7 or 8 because I’m a marathoner. Legitimate.

I also feel like I’ve been fighting a cold for 10 days now. Last week I had a bit of a sore throat, but now my energy level seems low, so I’ve increased my iron and vitamin D supplements to see if that helps at all over the next few weeks. It’s been years since I had a blood test so I’m also going to do that this week (you know, because I haven’t been concentrating on my health at all lately. Heh.) Rule #1: Pay for your health, right? 

5 weeks out from Grand Rapids and I’m hoping these little things make a big difference in how I’m feeling going into taper.

Have you ever gone to a chiropractor? Are your hips uneven like mine? Do you need someone to massage your butt for hours just like I do? (If so, please share your stories.) 

– J

Grand Rapids Training 2013: 5 Weeks Out!

Grand Rapids Marathon Training Week 6

This week, I ran 45 miles

+ 2 core workouts.

+ 1 strength workout.

Monday:

5.5 easy miles, 8:10 average pace.

I had a lonngggg weekend. And my body was demanding a full night of sleep. I didn’t think it needed 11 hours of straight slumber but when I woke up at 8 AM and realized I had slept through my alarm, I thought , ‘welp, guess I needed it!’ (thankfully, I didn’t miss any work calls or meetings.) I delayed the run until late afternoon and went to the gym because of a heat index of 99 degrees. Yeah, Chicago just got the memo that summer is ending and it decided to cram it all into 2-3 days. Swass.

Last week, I decided to run all of my recovery runs Garmin-less but that’s kind of hard to do on a treadmill. 🙂

+ Core!

Tuesday:

10 miles with 30 sec surges, 8:03 average pace.

Another treadmill run. Record-breaking heat in Chicago today…in SEPTEMBER. It’s been awhile since I ran 10 miles on the treadmill. Observation: very few people stay on a treadmill longer than 20 minutes at the gym. The 8 x 30 second surges felt good, but I ran them likely slower than I should have (around 6:30-6:22). Does anyone else find it hard to run controlled on a treadmill? You’d think it would be easier but I always feel like an uncoordinated baby giraffe on that thing.

+ Core!

Wednesday:

Rest + Recover.

1 Hour Yoga: Some quality time with a Rodney Yee yoga DVD. Lots of hip openers. I’m feeling better already, although I think whatever I’ve been fighting off for the past 5 days has finally won. Sore throat–hope it goes away soon! I’m glad I spent an hour stretching and breathing. Feeling “blah” all day is no fun.

Thursday:

8 mile progressive tempo, average pace 6:56.

I could find a few reasons why this didn’t go the way I’d hoped, but I’m choosing to ignore those.

Good things: 

  1. I got my butt out of bed to run this workout before work. Win. (And oddly, more energetic than yesterday. Throat wasn’t worse than the day before.)
  2. I’m not sure I’ve ever finished a workout in the 6:xx average pace before. This is a good sign.
  3. I just wanted to cut the workout short and cooldown the last 0.5 miles but I decided to punish myself push it for 1-2 too many water breaks (which are mainly why I’m so frustrated with the workout—too many stops!)
  4. If I adjust the target paces for the misery index (134), a 7 min pace should have been more like 7:10. It’s the little things.

Left quad feeling a bit wonky. Yoga yesterday helped.

Splits: 7:47 (0.5 w/up), 7:12, 7:05, 6:54, 6:50, 6:45, 6:42, 6:29 (last 0.5)

I’m slowly working my way through Matt Fitzgerald’s book, Run: The Mind Body Method of Running By Feel, and this quote jumped off the page at me this morning:

“The capacity to tolerate suffering is as critical to success in running as are the various components of physical fitness. And like those physical adaptations, the capacity to tolerate suffering can and must be trained. The runner who is serious about realizing his full potential in competition must suffer for the sake of suffering in training.”

Lately, some workouts have felt like one big SUFFERFEST. I’m keeping my head up and working as hard as I can.

Friday:

4 mi treadmill recovery, 8:18 pace. Left leg just will not get with the program it seems. It’s been uncomfortable on a few runs lately but this was the first one that started to worry me. Ran a super easy pace and just tried to let it do its thing. I foam rolled and stretched while watching TV at night and hoped it would be better the next day.

Saturday:

17 miles with 3 fast finish miles. 7:42 average pace, with last three miles at: 6:58, 6:55, & 6:43. 

I started this run around 10:30 thanks to the fall temps we’re having in Chi this weekend. Ahhh, sweet sleep. Procrastinated while noshing on breakfast, drinking coffee, and reading Running Times. Finally went out with Manuel Alejando C. (WHO RAN 9 MILES, HIS LONGEST RUN TO DATE!). From the start, I knew the left quad would give me trouble. Thank goodness I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. Otherwise, I’d see if I could squeeze one in today. Hoping it’s not serious IT band issues and I just need to give it a rest. Ran easy 7:45-8:00 for the first 14 and then fast finish the last 3 mi. The target was 7:00-7:05 and somehow, the legs “turned on” and I ran 6:58, 6:55, 6:43. I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed this run but happy to just get through it.

Note to self: new shoes ASAP (!) + foam rolling every night this week. Also, I didn’t run my shakeout yesterday until 5 pm. Next time, I’ll run it earlier and let the legs recover for a longer period of time.

Highlights o’ the Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: The Kills- No Wow.
  • REGISTERED AND CONFIRMED FOR BOSTON 2014!!  After running it last year, I knew I’d be going back. I know everyone has their own reason for going to Boston. I’m excited to train for a race that will no doubt be special for many. Hopefully, it will be the experience that I wished I’d had last year. It’s going to be one big lovefest.
  • On Monday night, I was clicking through the channels and landed on Clear History on HBO. I watched it by myself and was literally laughing out loud through most of it (which is rare). I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Larry David but this movie was hilarious.
  • The Man and I went out for a midweek treat dinner to Hot Chocolate in Wicker Park. We had the carrot ginger soup, sauteed bean appetizer, eggplant parmesan, burger, and we shared a bottle of this year’s Allagash Fluxus. NOT TO MENTION the chocolatey goodness of dessert and a “half and half” hot chocolate (half hot chocolate, half espresso…..mmmmmm).

Pics o’ the Week:

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BOSTON 2014 Confirmation. Looks like I’ll be training through another brutal Chicago winter!

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A midweek treat with the Man at Hot Chocolate. Eggplant parmesan and Allagash Fluxus FTW

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The lakefront was beautiful (as always) on Thursday morning. #nofilter

2013-09-12 18.13.56

The honeycrisp have arrived!!!

2013-09-14 10.17.19

Ahhh, fall temps. I love you.

– J

Grand Rapids Training 2013: 6 Weeks Out

GR2013TrainingWk7

This week, I ran 47 miles

+ 2 core workouts

+ 1 strength workout.

Monday:

5.3 miles, 8:08 average pace.

Considering I spent all weekend either sleeping or standing around drinking beer at North Coast, running was the last thing I wanted to do. And especially because it was a holiday and it already felt like a normal Sunday rest day, this was tough cookies. Didn’t even make it out until 7 pm but it was nice to run on a cool summer evening.

A port-o-potty magically appeared on the sidewalk literally right when I needed it to. Why can’t that happen all the time?!

Tuesday:

9 miles, 7:15 average pace. 5 mile tempo workout.

Meh. Craptastic tempo even though I thought tonight would be a perfect night for a cool workout on the lakefront. The splits don’t show it but there was stop & go action because I just couldn’t get my head in the game. It’s hardly ideal to stop on any run, let alone a tempo. Splits: 6:45, 6:33, 6:43, 6:47, 6:48. Target was 6:45-6:50. I have a feeling this would have gone differently if I’d focused on hitting 6:50 and pushed the last few miles if I felt like it. There was absolutely no kick in the legs tonight and unhappy with my shoe choice. Not even sure why I wore the Fastwitch considering I haven’t worn them much for tempos this cycle. Legs felt heavy and the shoes felt heavy for no apparent reason. Meh. On any other day, this could have gone the other way. (And I’m sure it will the next time I have a tempo on tap.)

2 pats-on-the-back and 2 side-5s with Mike M. tonight, adding to the “no chit chat” side-5 during the long run on Saturday. At this point, we’ll rule the lakefront by the end of September. (Also, side-5 with @HillarySpeaks at the end–hey girl heyyyy!)

Wednesday:

REST + Ramen + Relaxation. 

Oiistar Ramen

ALL THE REST. Well, except for 30-40 min of dyanamic stretches, hip strength routine, and a short core session before eating ALL THE RAMEN with Chanthana. Spent the day mulling over why the tempo didn’t go the way I wanted it to but a good friend told me to

Thursday:

19 miles, 7:48 average pace. Yup, before work.

I had to shift my long run this week because of weekend festivities (that wouldn’t be fun if I ran 19 miles beforehand). I definitely feel like a crazy person for doing this before a full day of work but I’m happy to get it out of the way and “recover” while working on some projects. (It also helps that this isn’t new territory for me. Ran 3 of my longest training runs for Twin Cities on Fridays because of a very busy fall schedule with family and friends. Gotta get it done somehow!)

This run actually felt therapeutic. I found more of a rhythm today than I have on other recent long runs. I wish I ran with my phone more often because there was a gorgeous sunrise along the lakefront with the choppy waves in Lake Michigan. I ran the first half without music because it was so calm and peaceful out there. There was plenty of cloud cover, but a slightly annoying crosswind the entire time from the east (apparently it’s supposed to be 90 degrees this Saturday so maybe shifting the long run was beneficial for more than one reason!). I stopped for water at 6.5, 10 (+Gu), 13, & 16. There was a slight tailwind for the last 3 miles and I averaged 7:35.

The legs didn’t feel entirely cooked & happy to get the longest run of the cycle done! Onward.

Friday:

5 easy recovery miles. Pace unknown.

It’s unusual for me to run the day after a long run but this week isn’t normal. It took me awhile to get going but the legs slowly began to loosen up and move smoothly. I ran without my watch and without music to take this as slow as my body wanted to. I’m seriously considering ditching the Garmin for all of my easy runs through this cycle. There’s no need to have data on recovery runs.

Saturday:

9 miles, 7:18 average. Steady state workout.

Swapped this workout with the long run this week because there’s a big difference between running 9 and running 19 before some weekend festivities. I’ve been trying to ward off a cold for the past two days and woke up pretty tired this morning (about 7.5 hrs sleep). I knew if I didn’t get this done today, I’d regret it. Wedding craziness this afternoon, so I’m glad it’s out of the way. Saw Charlyn C. during her final 20 (woop woop!) before Fox Valley. There were periods of sunshine but the breeze was nice. I stopped a few times just to splash water on my face. The legs wanted to run 7:10s instead of 7:20-7:30 but definitely still felt the burn. Last mile in 7:02 just for kicks. (That felt tough, but good.)

Highlights o’ the Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: I got nothin’! Sorry guys. Adding a song to my playlist didn’t even cross my mind this week!
  • Ramen at Oiistar — I had the Tikkamen (chicken tikka masala spice!)
  • A new fancy schmancy dress purchase. For a girl that normally doesn’t wear dresses, I’m quite excited about this one.
  • ALL THE PUMKING. Thursday was a really long day with the long run before work, a full day of work, and errands in the evening. By the time I finally made it home at 9 PM that Southern Tier Pumking  tasted like absolute heaven.

Pictures o’ the Week:

Riverwalk Chicago

Gorgeous Labor Day walk along the Riverwalk

Barklee Sweater

Immediate regret. $98 for a sweater with a Barklee look-alike? How could I pass that up?

2013-09-03 15.32.06

Mid-afternoon cappuccinos with the coworkers

Fresh Lilies from the Farmer's Market

Fresh lilies from the farmer’s market- smell so good!

PumkingSweet nectar of the gods.

naps in the sunshine

The sweet pup contemplating a nap in the sunshine.

– J

Grand Rapids Training 2013: 7 Week Out

GR2013TrainingWk8

This week, I ran 41 miles.
+ 2 core workouts.

Monday:

Easy 4 miles, 8:30 pace on the treadmill. Shakeout 2 days after Hood to Coast. I’m holding on tight to delusion and denial. I wore my race shirt and drank from my Nuun bottle and pretended I was running to the next exchange. Sadly, there was no white 16-passenger van waiting there for me when I finished…

Tuesday:

Easy 6 miles, 8:20 pace. Another shakeout on the treadmill in the afternoon (escaping the heat seems to be a theme this week!). Did a full warm-up + dynamic stretches along with core routine after run. I ran a “progressive” on the low end of my easy pace range, from 8:25-8:00 just for the heck of it. My legs felt heavier today than they did on Monday, so two easy runs to start the week were definitely called for (as much as I didn’t want to see them on the calendar).

Wednesday:

REST DAY! Hip flexors were noticeably sore! (Probably from sitting in a van for so many hours last weekend.) Stretched and foam-rolled for a good 30-45 minutes in the evening to loosen up while watching one of the Nine for IX ESPN films on demand. Tuesday night tradition moved to Wednesday night this week.

Thursday:

10 miles, 7:25 average pace. 5 x 1 mile workout. I made it out of bed early enough for a longish workout this morning! Had 5 x 1 mi on the schedule. Ran 2+ mi to the lakefront, did some leg swings & such to warm-up the hip flexors, and started the 1 mi repeats. I felt creaky even through the warm-up and the legs didn’t feel fresh for some reason (sitting in a van for ~18 hours was tough on those hip flexors!) 3 min recovery between repeats, followed by 1.3 mi c/d. Chanthana and I had a perfectly executed side-5 10 seconds before my 3rd repeat and I recognized Annabelle W. too late for a side-5 a half mile later (but we got a wave in!). Splits: 6:26, 6:26, 6:26, 6:21, 6:18. It started to feel pretty tough in the middle of the 4th mile but I’m happy that I was able to keep pushing and run the last 2 repeats faster than the first 3. Starting to feel like the intensity is starting to build this cycle. 🙂

The fog was super INTENSE this morning. I couldn’t see beyond 150 m in front of me and there were plenty of people out there. It also seemed like bikers were taking extra caution, which rarely happens.

Side note: I have a furball ponytail problem following super humid runs. This has happened before and yes, I know that a braid would solve this problem BUT it didn’t even occur to me that my ponytail was turning into a furry beast of knots until I finished the workout.

Furball ponytail

See? Intense. I literally gave up trying to comb it out after using 1/4 bottle of conditioner in the shower. I put it up in a bun (which actually turned out to be pretty attractive) and gave up. I wasn’t able to comb it out until I had applied The Detangler conditioner (Paul Mitchell) & argan oil a full 24 hours after this run, and even then it took me a good 30 minutes to comb it out… This should be filed under #runnerproblems. Ok, next time? Braiding or bunning it before it becomes a problem!

Friday:

Easy 5 miles, 8:10 average pace. Yet another treadmill run this week! 95 degrees outside calls for a bit of relief inside.

Saturday:

16 miles, 7:37 average pace. Side-5s galore on the long run! Started at 6:15 am after 5ish hours of sleep (derp) so I wasn’t sure how this one was going to go. Found a rhythm and happy that the cloud cover stuck around for most of the run. Mile 4: side-5 with Charlyn C. and Luis. Mile 5: awesome, refreshing downpour. Mile 6: geese crossing. Mile 7-11: rhythm! (Had to slow myself down, 7:45 felt comfortable!) Mile 11: Side-5 with Mike M. and Marla!

I saw some other friends near mile 13 before I started the fast finish 3 miles (was that you with Corey, Erin ?) . Final 3 miles: 7:03, 6:57, 6:54 <—- that was tough! The legs didn’t feel super peppy today but they had more energy than I thought they would when I first started. Stopped at the farmer’s market on my way home for fresh lilies. Now, to spend the rest of the weekend on my feet at North Coast Music Fest. (Also, I think this might be my fastest 16 ever but I’m not sure!)

Highlights o’ The Week:

  • Added to my running playlist: Roar by Katy Perry. (Come on, you know you like it!)
  • On Thursday, there was a surprise concert on the rooftop of my building. Yep, you read that correctly. A friend came to the building to see a friend’s band play and she didn’t realize it was in my building until she arrived. Does a summer night get any better than a free, live concert with a view of the skyline? I think not.
  • Pizza and beer at Homeslice with the running gals! Although we can’t really prove that we were there because we didn’t take any selfies.

Pictures o’ The Week:

Homeslice Chicago

Homeslice evidence.

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Live band on the rooftop. Summer sigh

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Because why can’t you have dessert for breakfast?

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Cloud cover is always appreciated for long runs.

-J

Chicago Women’s 5k: Race Recap

This past weekend was all about running. Saturday? Beer run. Yep, beer run. 4 bars, 3 miles, and just a few beers and plenty of water to stay hydrated.

2nd Annual Chicago Beer Run

After more than a few attempts, Hillary and I (somewhat) nailed it.

Sunday? Chicago Women’s 5k.

On Saturday night as I prepared my race outfit and packed my bag (unnecessary for a 5k, I know), I felt tired but anxious. Every 15 minutes, I kept telling myself that I’d go to bed “in 15 minutes”. I was a bit tired from runnin’ around most of the day and a horrible night of sleep on Friday, but didn’t feel like laying down.

I went to bed at 10:30 and all of a sudden, my 4:55 AM alarm went off. Up and at ’em. I ate my oatmeal, sipped my coffee, and went downtown. (I was surprised that I was riding the train with several women who were wearing bibs for the half, which started 20 minutes before the 5k. There’s no way they made it to the start line on time!)  Hillary and I planned to meet around 6:15 AM, which meant we’d have just enough time for a quick warm-up before heading to the start line.

My goal was to start off at 6:30 min/mile pace and see if I could go a bit faster each mile.

Chi Women's 5k Ali Engin Photo 2

Photo Credit Ali Engin Photography

The start wasn’t crowded because it seemed like a relatively small field (not sure how many 5k finishers there were). By a quarter mile in, I was running by myself with girls 10 yards ahead and behind me. The tunnel of heat on lower Wacker was an unwelcome surprise but I felt like my legs were moving well. I had flashbacks of the Chicago Marathon and the lines of dudes peeing in the tunnel, which is something I’d rather not be reminded of (heh…).

Mile 1: 6:40 and feeling good.

We made a right turn heading south and I still felt like I had it together. Wasn’t sure yet whether or not I’d gone out too fast or whether or not I could trust my watch after the tunnel section. The course was clear and running south on Lakeshore felt smooth, but my legs were really starting to feel it. It didn’t help that the sun decided to pop out and say ‘hello’.

Mile 2: 6:29 and struggling.

Around Mile 2.4 I stopped to walk for 10 seconds. Yeah, walk. I was instantly disappointed in myself. Looking back on it, I’m not even sure why I slowed. I know I was tired and the humidity wasn’t helping. My legs felt like they were wading through sand even though I was still on pace for a PR. If I had just kept my legs moving I would have been fine. It was a mental rather than a physical decision to stop. My body was tired, sure, but it was my head & heart that allowed me to stop in the first place. Something to work on.

The downhill section heading into the Roosevelt bridge underpass at Mile 2.7 was a nice push. And then I quickly realized that the next 300-400 m would be uphill to make the final right turn to the finish. I pushed myself up the hill. Honestly, I was surprised that I had any kind of finishing kick. The previous half mile felt like a total slog and I didn’t think I’d have it in me.

Mile 3: 7:02 and looking for that finish line.

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My official finish time was 20:41, just 3 seconds from a PR (2012 Bastille Day 5k 20:38 in similar conditions). 

 Chi Women's 5k 2013 Results

I can’t believe that I finished 7th. I was disappointed but I know that a sub-20 5k finish is in me under better race conditions. 75% humidity is no friend of mine. I’m especially happy that I was able to come so close to a PR this early in this training cycle. (I told Coach I’d rather run a marathon than a 5k any day, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I come around to a speedier short distance race.)

Chi Women's 5k 2013 Finish Photo

Photo Credit: Ali Engin Photography

I’m usually not a “mantra” kind of person. I’m pretty sure I’ve never used one intentionally, but Friday night changed that. Andrew WK tweeted this and I quickly realized it would be perfect motivation during a race to keep going:

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(I was shocked that Andrew WK actually responded.)  So, I now have two mantras to choose from: “Push yourself past yourself” or “PARTY HARD AND RUN HARD, JENNY!”. I haven’t decided yet which one I like more but I know I’ll be using them both at some point. 🙂

Lessons to remember:

  • Internalize a mantra and don’t try to find excuses to quit.
  • Focus on keeping the legs moving as opposed to how hot you think it is. (It will all be over soon.)
  • Try to get that finishing kick started before the last quarter mile.
  • Wear an iPod if ya want to, ya dummy! A steady tempo would have been nice to have!
  • Always take advantage of free ice cream from an ice cream truck.

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Chi Women's 5k 2013 Chi Women's 5k 2013 Chi Women's 5k 2013

– J

New Training Cycle: Return to Habit

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I started a new training cycle last week. I’m 20 weeks out from the Grand Rapids Marathon, with plenty of shorter distances to train for and get me to the start line of my 4th marathon (what the what?!). Last week was the first week I ran 5 times in 7 days since the beginning of April.

It turns out my legs still know what to do. My lungs, on the other hand, are still getting the hang of it. It doesn’t help that Chicago’s weather has been incredibly bipolar lately. One day it’s 50 degrees and rainy. The next it’s 77 degrees with 70% humidity. I keep telling myself that things will become easier once the weather decides to be somewhat consistent and we can all acclimate to the heat around here.

I can’t believe that Boston was 7 weeks ago.

Time to get back to it and get ready for a strong cycle:

Less beer, more Nuun.

I love a good brew. I normally drink a beer with dinner every night of the week and clearly, enjoy more than one brew on the weekends. With the heat of the summer coming, that’s probably going to change. The last thing I want to do is sabotage my workouts by consuming too much beer and forgetting about hydrating properly. (It definitely helps that I recently tried Watermelon Nuun and have a new favorite, tied with Citrus Fruit. Tasty hydrating concoction, I love you!)

Hellooooo, Jillian Michaels!

In preparing for Boston, I did something I never thought I would do. I purchased a Jillian Michaels DVD, complete with her airbrushed abs and flowing locks on the cover. 6 Week 6 Pack Attack! In all seriousness, it’s a crazy hard workout. (I’ve been humbled more than 10x with this 30-minute workout.) Even on days when I don’t have time to spend some quality time with JM, doing core work needs to become a routine again, not just an afterthought or something I “forget to do”.

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Morning, sunshine!

Gone are the days when I can lazily wake up at 7:30 and hope to squeeze in a workout before starting work (that never really worked for my anyway!). The morning alarm is going to have to happen a lot earlier. Training for Boston was different than any of my previous cycles because I fought the winter elements on the lakefront, which usually meant that I waited until the late morning or early afternoon to run at the warmest point of the day. (That’s a luxury that I truly appreciate.) One good thing about the summer is that you *have* to wake up early in order to avoid melting into a puddle of sweat any later than 8 AM. I’m willing to set my alarm to 5 or 6 AM just so I don’t feel like I’m going to die on the run. As another “nudge”, I’ve written myself angry messages as the titles of my alarms on my iPhone. Whatever works, right?! (One of them is actually nice. It reads: “Coffee is waiting“. That’s a nice thought.)

Get in my belly! 

I think I’m getting back on the smoothie train, guys. I’m not sure how I managed to enjoy frozen smoothies when it was 10 degrees and snowing outside, but I did. Now that it’s getting warmer, I think I’ll look forward to putting them in my belly again. I don’t have any super tasty recipes to share, but my favorite lately has been:

  • frozen black cherries
  • frozen mixed berries
  • greek yogurt (with honey)
  • almond milk
  • Tera’s Whey organic dark chocolate protein powder
  • chia seeds
  • and a banana or avocado.

I don’t think it’s any accident that I started to feel stronger when I began adding more protein and fat to my diet. (I also add Udo’s omega oil and Floradix liquid iron to my shakes!) Last week, I also made a point to go to the grocery store with a list that made actual MEALS. Saved money for the entire week and made some delicious dinners including: salmon with yogurt-mustard-dill sauce with egg noodles and steamed broccoli, breaded pork chops with mashed potatoes and sweet corn on the cob, and chicken with sautéed onions, roma tomatoes, and jalapeño with brown rice and asparagus. I doubt that will happen every week but it felt so good to cook fresh food at home each night of the week.

I finally sat down to read two months’ worth of running magazines & came across this quote in the May issue of Running Times:

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Getting back into a routine is tough at times but all of these things make me feel more productive and energetic. How do you trick yourself into following a routine again? Do you find it easy or difficult to start a new training cycle?

-J

Race Recap: Chi Town Half 2013

130324 Chi Town Half Results

BOOM! 

Finally made it past the 1:36:00 barrier that I’ve been fighting for over a year!

1:36:08 Carmel 2012 (*previous PR)

1:36:16 Bayshore 2012

1:36:21 Batavia 2012

Going into the race, I knew that the goal was to avoid racing it all out. I have three weeks until Boston and putting all of my energy into this half wasn’t the point. Just a good fitness test to see where I’m at before my goal race. I think the half is a fun distance to race (much more so than the 10k!). I was lazy Friday night and spent most of Saturday relaxing. Plus, I got a race day mani & pedi— bright red nails make you run faster, right?! They must because they seemed to work for me today. Thumbs up, nails. I wasn’t really nervous about racing. But the jitters started right when I woke up this morning when I realized it was race morning (Somehow it sneaked up on me? Not sure how that’s possible.)

Photo Mar 23, 7 20 41 PM (1)

Heh…

I was able to get a solid 7 hours of sleep last night and felt refreshed when I woke up. Sipped my coffee, ate my granola, and drove over to the start. I assumed that the Nature Museum off of Fullerton would be open for gear check and to stay warm before and after the race (like it was for the Wacky 10k and the Bastille Day 5k) but I guess the Chi Town Half doesn’t offer that. I’m glad I overdressed with a hoodie and a puffy winter coat to stay warm because it was really cold.

Met up with Britt, Xaarlin, and Hillary for a quick warm-up before heading to the start line. I was hoping to get an easy 2 miles in but we were short on time and ran 1.6 miles, just enough to loosen up.

Dude, the course? MUCH crazier than it looks on paper—-> chi_town_half_map. Those random looptiloops, curly-qs, turns, and switchbacks were more frequent than I thought they would be for some reason. I felt like once I got into a rhythm there would be a random ‘hill’, bridge, or turn that I wasn’t prepared for. Plus, the signage would pretty minimal. The 10k started at the same time and I only saw two different signs that clearly marked the two courses—all the rest were just arrows, but didn’t mark which race the turn was for. I didn’t know this until I finished but apparently the race director had to STOP the 10k runners and redirect them, which made the the 10k course a 5-mile race. I’d be really mad if I had been running the 10k today or if they had messed up the half course. Xaarlin made a good point later on when she said that the people at the back of the 10k pack were probably fine because the director fixed it before they reached that point of the course.

The Miles:

I started out right on pace. Goal was to run Mile 1 in 7:15 and then stay consistent between 7:00-7:10 for the remainder of the race. This is a different strategy for me. In almost all of my previous half marathons, I start out pretty steady and then gradually speed up each mile through the finish. It was more mentally tough than anything else to run the same pace for 12+ miles (felt a lot like a long tempo run).

I knew I went out too fast by the time I got to Mile 4. I didn’t taper for the race and I knew I needed to stay conservative in the first few miles so that the last half of the race would be relatively comfortable. Couldn’t slow myself down enough to really take advantage of that strategy haha.

Took water at Mile 4.5. Dry throat. Ahhh much better.

At this point, I was deciding between staying conservative or chasing these 3 speedy girls. We likely all had the same goal because we ran together for a large portion of the course (shifted a bit with water stops and surges). I tried to hang with them as much as I could but it was tough to find that rhythm with all of the turns. It was fun to work together, though.

Took Gatorade (by accident!) at Mile 6.5. Gross. Gatorade.

Ok, halfway. Just gotta keep the legs moving and use the wind to your advantage once you reach the turnaround. The girls were still ahead and I hoped I’d catch 1-2 or two of them by the end.

Took a Gu at Mile 8.5.  i.e. way too late to really make a difference.

Totally forgot to take my Gu and I was nervous that the few sips of Gatorade I took at Mile 6.5 would make me stomach hurt, combined with the Gu. Luckily that wasn’t a problem but I had to wait 1.5 miles for the next water stop.

Had to wait until Mile 10 for the next water station. Blech.

The toughest miles of the entire race were Miles 7-10 when the headwind really picked up. The wind was fairly consistent through the race, but the ENE direction made a big difference on the north sections of the course. The wind would be fine for a second and then we’d come around a bend or up a small hill and the wind would hit us. Just tried to keep my legs moving and avoid looking at the time on my watch. I knew that if I just kept my legs moving I’d PR—just didn’t know how much I’d be able to push at the end.

Once we turned back south at Mile 9, I knew it would be a bit easier. And it seemed to be. Mentally it’s so much easier to know that you have 4 miles straight to the finish, with fewer turns. I fell into pace with this one dude (who was holding his phone in his hand. how do people do that??) at Mile 11 and kept reminding myself I only had 2 miles to the finish. One of the girls that I had been chasing for the last half of the race had fallen back. I knew she was hurting, so I gave her a high-5 and told her she could do it. (Cheeseball moment: I love doing this towards the finish in races. You know you’re both struggling. You both need a pick-me-up. Helps both of you out and you know you aren’t in it alone.) She kept up with me for about a mile and fell back a bit more. Hurumph. Back by my lonesome.

Mile 12 . 1 mile to go. I can do it.

130324 Chi Town Half Splits

I had more of a finishing kick than I thought I would have! I felt like I was running a 7:00 min/mile pace in the finishing chute haha! When I crossed the finish line, the time read 1:33:58 and I knew that I had just PR’d by about 2 minutes. What the hell?! Struggling through my previous 3 half marathons with a consistent 1:36 was tough. At the Batavia Half last fall, I wondered why I couldn’t just break 1:36 and call it a day. I guess that’s what a little patience and hard work can do. My 10th half marathon (for real. When did that happen?!) and I’ve only got speedier times ahead of me. That feels amazing.

The girl that I had given the High-5 came up to me at the finish and said “thanks for the encouragement”. I told her I’d been chasing her the entire way and she helped me a lot. Then I asked her if she ran a PR…..and she said it was her FIRST HALF! I may or may not have let an expletive or two fly from my mouth when she said that. Amazing.

Photo Mar 24, 10 56 14 AM (1)

This week was the first week I’ve run 6 days in a really long time. I’m so happy that I was able to run a PR on legs that definitely were not fresh. Now I’m definitely looking forward to Boston (like I wasn’t before?). It’s so nice to know that my hard work is paying off & I can keep challenging myself. I guess I’m going to have to set my sights on an even speedier half come fall? 🙂 We shall see!

Photo Mar 24, 12 07 11 PM

We recovered from the race with boozy milkshakes. I’m thinking this is a new tradition for races in Lincoln Park!

Hillary, Britt, Xaarlin, Me, & Chanthana (chief cowbell-er)

Photo Mar 24, 11 09 07 AM (1)

White Russian Boozy Milkshake + several cups of coffee. = EXTREME RECOVERY

(Not to mention the challah french toast)

-J

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Boston Marathon 2013 Training: Week 9 of 14

After last week’s snot fest, the mileage this week was much higher. I spent most of last week feeling sorry for myself. Like most runners, I was frustrated because my head cold was preventing me from running and pushing myself in each workout as much as I wanted. It’s really easy for me to get down on myself sometimes. Ultimately, I need to learn to be more patient and trust that I’ll feel better soon.

I tried to be patient with myself this week and let the miles come to me. I honestly can’t believe how good closing out the week with today’s 18-miler felt. All good signs that I’m working hard and will have a great race at Boston. I’m starting to get excited to race again…and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.

I know that if I want to run a PR at Boston, I will. All I have to do is keep telling myself that I will. 

I ran 46.5 miles this week + 3 core routines + 2 strength routines.

BM2013 Week 9 Training

Monday: 8 miles, 8:32 average pace. Treadmill. It felt good to get a solid 8 in on a Monday, especially after how mopey I was feeling on Sunday post-race. Once I saw the race results and Coach gave me a reality check, I was ready to take on the week and realize that I am, in fact, getting in good shape. Sore throat and congestion still hanging around but not really affecting my easy runs.

+ 30 mintes form drills & core routine

Tuesday: 35 minute core routine. Ok, I have to admit something. This workout was from Jillian Michael’s 6 Week 6 Pack DVD. Yes, I have become THAT girl. I felt a large amount of shame when I put it into my Amazon cart, but, to be fair, the workout is intense and Jillian is just as tough on a DVD as she is on Biggest Loser (she even gives the two girls that do the workout with her a hard time—and they actually have 6-packs, so….there’s that.)

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Stop judging me, people. I’m gonna be RIPPED.
On another note—this cover is total airbrushed. Is there NO HOPE, Jillian?!

Wednesday: 7.15 miles; 8:23 average pace with 2 x 1/2 mile hills at 3% incline. Hills don’t exist around here (and no, Cricket Hill doesn’t count.) Just like anyone that trains in flat land for Boston, I’m beginning to get a little nervous about them. I try to keep my cadence high and my feet moving when I move uphill and it’s never been a problem for me on other hilly courses (like Batavia or Twin Cities, somewhat). Hoping that’s the case at Boston too! Side note: I have a flexible work schedule which means that I usually don’t get up super early to get my runs in. But this morning I actually got to the gym at 7:15 and felt great, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about fitting it into my day. I should do that more often.

PM: Spent 40 minutes stretching, foam rolling, and using The Stick. Yet another thing I should do more often.

Thursday: 2 x 2.25 mile tempo, 7:26 average pace; 9 miles. First “real” workout this week. It was *tough* and uncomfortable but that’s the point of tempos, right?! Ran 2 mile warm-up, 2 x 2.5 tempo at 6:50-7:00 min/mile (2:30 jog recovery between), and 1.75 mile cooldown.

Went out to the lakefront for the first time in awhile. My legs could not find a rhythm at all–either wanted to go faster or slower than tempo pace. The head cold symptoms are pretty much gone, but I’m still having trouble breathing comfortably in the cold. Mucus just won’t leave and the post-nasal drip is getting annoying. Besides that, I guess I felt good and I’m glad that I can still hold on to a 6:50-6:55 pace even when I’m not feeling 100%.

PM: SLEEPFEST. You know you’re a runner in training when you’re super excited to go to bed before 9 PM. (Coach says “an athlete in training is a sleeping animal.”) All I could think about today was how much I wanted my bed and what time I’d likely fall asleep. I took an hour nap before dinner, ate dinner, and went back to bed. AND SLEPT FOR 10.5 HOURS. It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore! I used to be a huge night owl and thought that going to bed at 11 PM was “early”. These days, I’d much rather skip some TV shows and crawl into bed instead.

At some point, all of these fluids, vitamins, and sleep have to ward off this cold for good.

Friday: Easy 4 miles. Legs not sore at all from yesterday’s tempo and the sun was shining all day! PLUS, it was *almost* 40 degrees here. It’s the little things, ya know?

Saturday: 18 miles 7:50 average pace. I’M ON CLOUD 9 ABOUT THIS ONE! I seriously don’t know how this could have gone any better than it did. Speechless.

Week 9 Long Run 18 Miles

Sunday: (not so) sleepfest. Helping my mom move into her new lake house in Michigan. I should probably consider this strength/cross-training, huh?

Highlights o’ The Week:

  •  Added to my running playlist: Closer by Tegan and Sara
  • This week involved a whole lot less Mucinex and cold meds. (my stomach was VERY happy about that). A huge mug of Cinnamon Hearts from David’s tea before bed on Thursday was a nice, hot treat.
  • Basically….sleep was the ultimate highlight of this week.
  • Also, sunshine. (or whatever that giant ball of light in the sky is!) I walked the pup on Friday during lunch and I can’t get enough of her speedwalking.

Pictures o’ The Week:

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My mom was in town on Sunday afternoon. Barklee LOVES her (and yes, she posed for the camera)

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There was another dog in my life this week. This is my boss’ dog, Mr. Chips. He looks like Barklee but 7 times bigger (not kidding).

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I was dreaming about this Hazelnut Macchiato during my entire run on Wednesday. It was so worth it.

Marketing at its best: this “new” drink from Starbucks is just a carmel macchiato with hazelnut syrup. Woop!

+ I think it’s my cure for S.A.D.

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The Man and I went to Grass Fed for dinner this week. If you want a no-nonsense place that serves amazing steak, you know where to go.

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The lakefront was absolutely stunning on Thursday morning for my tempo. Best place to stop and think.

-J