Sunday, April 5, 2020

More Challenges

There are so many challenges right now. Most of them aren't fitness related. Every morning, I wake up feeling down, but running and working out is definitely a bright spot in my day and a mood lifter as well. Another perk of exercise is that research shows that working out boosts your immunity. I am happy to have my fitness challenges to take my mind off the real challenges, at least for a while.

In spite of the ample availability of virtual challenges to keep us moving and active, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) came out this week with a strong recommendation that no more virtual races be scheduled between now and the end of May. The concern is that since the stay-at-home recommendations have been implemented, at least in most of the states, there has been a big increase in people using paths and trails, which compromises social distancing. In the afternoons by my house, the sidewalks and trails are clogged with people out for a walk or a run. One of my favorite fitness paths, the retention pond where I do a lot of training, has been closed for this reason. I hope that all my favorite trails don't get shut down. I'll continue to go out early in the morning with the hope of avoiding most of the crowds.


Friday, April 3, 2020

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over a cup of coffee! Has it only been a month since we last shared a cup of joe? I don't know about you, but it feels like an eternity. Wow, have things changed since a month ago. Let me pour you a cup. I'm having Folgers (don't laugh) with a large splash of half and half. And of course, collagen.

Or maybe we should go straight to wine.

What would you tell me over coffee?



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

9 Fun Things You Can Do to Help Manage Your Anxiety During Stressful Times

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Do I even have to say that right now is the probably one of the most frightening times we've lived in since 9/11? The uncertainty, the lack of knowledge and mixed messages, and onslaught of bad news has sent even the calmest of folks into a tailspin. For those of us who are prone to anxiety, it has become very difficult to manage.

I could write a post about all the usual things you can do to help keep yourself calm: limit screen time and avoid the news, get outside for some fresh air, guided meditation and breathing exercises, phone a friend or video chat with a few, working out, limiting alcohol, and avoiding overeating--all things that can certainly help with managing stress. If you have anxiety issues, you know about all these things. You've probably tried some, if not all of them.

All my life, I've dealt with anxiety. Believe me, I've tried all kinds of strategies to manage my symptoms when they threaten to take over. Today I've got you covered with some creative, fun things you can do to distract yourself, make yourself smile, and maybe ease some of your anxiety. What we're dealing with right now isn't one bit fun, but taking a break from all the bad news and stress to do something different just might help ease the pain a bit.



Sunday, March 29, 2020

All the Challenges

Does it feel like this was the longest week ever? Every day seemed to bring some new challenge, be it adjusting to working from home, working out at home, and managing anxiety with the spread of COVID-19. I don't know about all of you, but I need my runs and my workouts more than ever. I'm still trying to figure out the whole working at home thing, although I had a major technological victory on Friday which made me feel like a boss. Social distancing hasn't been a big issue for me, as I get out the door very early for my runs, but I'm feeling the isolation. By Thursday, I was really down. I'm grateful for video chats--it was nice to see some familiar faces and have some laughs.

Besides the challenges off the road, this week, there were all kinds of fitness challenges happening! Thanks to everyone who tagged me to do the 10x10 push up challenge. With the 1000 burpee challenge being held by my CrossFit, I couldn't participate. It was just too much, trying to get all those burpees done and my shoulders thanked me. I don't think I've ever worked out so much in my life as I did this week!


Friday, March 27, 2020

Runfessions: Socially Distant..but not alone

What a month it has been and it's not over yet. March blew in like a lion and it's probably going to blow out like one too. Wish it would take this damn virus with it. 

As you might imagine, with such a challenging month, there's been a lot of miles run. I have a ton of runfessions to share. Marcia is opening up the runfessional today. It's always been virtual, so we don't even have to worry about social distancing. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How To Do The Perfect Push Up

Recently, I was tagged multiple times on Instagram to participate in a 10x10 push up challenge. With everyone staying at home for an undefinite period of time, workout challenges and virtual workouts have become very popular. I was pretty excited about the push up challenge because I think the push up is the perfect exercise. All runners should be incorporating push ups into their cross training regimen.

There's a reason push ups are used as a benchmark of physical fitness. Push ups are one of the best body weight movements you can do. Push ups strengthen your chest and back muscles, as well as your arms. Done properly, push ups force you to engage your core to support  and strengthen your lower back. Your lower body is engaged as a stabilizer throughout the movement. Push ups can also strengthen the muscles that support the shoulders.

You need no equipment to do a push up, which makes it the perfect movement for a home exercise program.



Sunday, March 22, 2020

Running Away

“As this epidemic has progressed, we have had to make some hard decisions. To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay at home order for the state of Illinois, so that is the action that I’m announcing today.” ~ Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, 3/20/20
Most of us were already prepared for this. We've been staying home as much as possible, save for going to the grocery store and work. We've been running and working out, either solo or in very small groups. Those of us who can, and that includes me! are working from home. While many are complaining about the restrictions and inconveniences, most of us are grateful for the ability to continue our lives via technology.

These are challenging times but personally I've been impressed by the ability of so many businesses and people to adapt to the restrictions. Life hasn't stopped! Although on my walk this morning, it sure felt like it. There was no one out in my neighborhood. It was a little eerie!

Wednesday's St Patrick's day run

Friday, March 20, 2020

Now It's Gotten Real: How Covid-19 Has Affected Me Off the Road

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I feel like I need to start this post off with the disclaimer that is at the top of every email I've been getting from work (and there have been many):
"COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and we want to keep you informed with the latest information..."
So even as I write this post, things may change as soon as I publish it. In fact, I've edited and updated it multiple times before today's publication. There are just so many unknowns and that, more than anything has affected me. I'm pretty flexible and I can roll with the changes, but the uncertainty is really making my head spin. The good news is that the anxiety I was feeling last week before that ill-fated trip to Florida resolved upon my return home.

Now, the goal is to stay healthy. And calm.

Obviously, COVID-19 is affecting all of us in different ways and I wanted to share what's going on in my life off the road too. I'm kind of curious how everyone else is managing--feel free to share in the comments or drop me an email.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

10 Things Runners Can Do to While Waiting to Outrun the Coronavirus

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Coronavirus is spreading rapidly and people are being asked to curtail their activities. Social distancing is the phrase of the moment and means we have to avoid close contact with others. Bars and restaurants are closed. Handshakes-heck, even fist bumps, are out. Events are being cancelled. That includes races. The Tokyo Marathon? Cancelled. The Boston Marathon? The London Marathon? The Berlin Marathon? All postponed to September. Interestingly, 5 of the 6 World Marathon Majors will be held in the fall this year.

All of my spring races have been cancelled or postponed, except for one, which was a DNS for me. My running club has cancelled all of its group runs. My CrossFit box is closed for the next 2 weeks. What's a runner to do? I'm not good at sitting still and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a little directionless. No worries! I've got a list of 10 things to keep that running fire burning.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Going To Florida Was a Bad Idea

Alternative titles: 
-I Fought The Universe and The Universe Won
-Full Moon Fever
-Friday the 13th 
-Should I Stay or Should I Go

I almost always listen to my gut and it never lies. 

This week, amidst all the news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, I was preparing for my trip to Florida to spend the week with my parents and run that 25k trail race in the Everglades. I visit my parents in Florida every year and I was looking forward to seeing them, to the warmth, and the beach.

Going to the beach is never a bad idea, right?

But as the date approached, my old nemesis, anxiety made an appearance. I was having heart palpitations. My stomach was a mess and I started to consider if maybe this trip wasn’t the best idea. It was so odd. It was as if my body was telling me something. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book Review: Run to the Finish: The Everyday Runner's Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock, and Loving the Run

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Run to the Finish from NetGalley and Hatchette Books in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links. 

Before I ever started blogging, I read running blogs. At the time, I was starting to run half marathons and while searching Google for advice, I stumbled upon a few running blogs written by women who were moms and/or 'regular' runners. Totally relateable, I ate up everything I read. I probably learned more about running from those blogs than from any technical books I had been reading. I enjoyed the camaraderie that developed with the authors when I left comments on their posts. Through this community, I developed a confidence in my running as well as developed an identity as a 'real runner'.

One of the first running blogs I ever read was Amanda Brooks' Run To The Finish. Along with some of the other runblogging pioneers like Miss Zippy, Marcia's Healthy Slice, Shut Up and Run, and the ladies at Another Mother RunnerRun to the Finish has been on my to-read list since then. Althought we've never met in person, over the years, Amanda and I have become blogging friends simply through commenting on each other's blogs. It's been a lot of fun and exciting to watch her opportunities grow through her blog. This month, Amanda released her first book, aptly titled: Run to The Finish.

Run to the Finish, in Amanda's words, is not a book "for the elite runners. It's a book for me and you and the 98 percent of us in the middle of the pack to know that its just fine to be the best runner you can be while juggling work, family, friends, and still enjoying that delicious slice of pizza every Friday night."



Sunday, March 8, 2020

Am I Losing My Mind?

Nah. Although sometimes it feels that way!

I've been pretty distracted lately and that's made for some slip ups. Like wearing 2 different shoes to CrossFit. Forgetting to tip the nail technician who gave me my pedicure. No worries, I took care of it once I realized what I'd done. Oh, and I forgot we had tickets to the orchid show at the botanic gardens. I told my husband that we should consider it a donation.

He wasn't amused. But hey, I remembered to pay the real estate taxes and that was a win.

I'm not sure why this is happening, but I think I've got too much on my mind. Changes at work, insomnia, coronavirus, people texting me about coronavirus, events being cancelled, trying to keep up with social media, my upcoming trip to Florida...well, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

It's all a reminder to be more mindful and present. I've started setting alerts for events I put on the calendar. I need to take a social media break, or at least set limits on my screen time. Do more yoga. I'm hoping my week away will be a good reset.

We'll see.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! I've got some good stuff brewing. I picked up this bag of Allegro Girls Gotta Run Coffee at Whole Foods last week. Girls Gotta Run is a foundation started in 2007 with a mission to empower girls in Ethiopia through education and athletics. GGR starts working with girls after age 12 to keep them in school by providing them with scholarships, trains them in athletics, teaches them life skills, and assists their mothers in building a business. This year, the first class of girls graduated from the scholarship program--100% of them are going to college.

Allegro Coffee has been involved with the program since 2015 and this year has pledged $10,000 from its sales of Girls Gotta Run coffee. International Womens' Day is Sunday, March 8--what an amazing way for Allegro to empower these young women! This is a cup of coffee you can feel good about drinking.

Plus, the coffee is really good! I'll have a little half and half in mine, if you please...




Tuesday, March 3, 2020

5 Things I Considered When Buying My First Pair of Trail Shoes and A Review of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I almost never post shoe reviews. Why would I? There are plenty of shoe reviews available online, right? Runner's World has become nothing but shoe reviews. I received the new edition in the mail yesterday and yep, 30 new shoes!

With so many reviews and so many shoe companies vying for our business, who can we trust for an honest review? When I was shopping for trail shoes, I came across so many differing opinions. One website gave the shoes I eventually bought 5 stars, another 2.5 stars. I was so confused and I didn't know what shoes to pick.

So, I turned to my running friends for advice. Marcia, who is my go-to expert for all things running and who runs trails regularly, told me to start with the brand of shoes I normally run in--solid, common sense advice. Another blogger, Shiastho, who regularly runs trails with her husband, shared on a blog post that her husband bought the Brooks Cascadia, the model I was considering, and was really liking them. Based on those 2 trusted opinions, I made my decision and bought the Cascadia, opting for the XT model, which is made with GoreTex and provides protection from water.



Sunday, March 1, 2020

Leaping Out of the Comfort Zone

Even though yesterday was Leap Day, I didn't intend on even mentioning it in a post. But looking back on my week, I realized there were a few instances where I did some leaping, both literally and figuratively. I continued to train for my upcoming Florida trail race, a race I really have no business running. But hey, what fun is life if you don't try new things, right? There was a bootcamp workout where I did 75 box jumps. I pushed through RA pain all week to get my workouts done. And on Saturday, I drove downtown to meet my fellow CARA ambassadors.

No big deal, right? This might sound ridiculous to some of you, but I'm a bit of an introvert when it comes to meeting new people. I never considered not going, because I'm really excited to represent the organization. Plus, there was a plan to go to the Lo Rez craft brewery after our meeting. So I gave myself a pep talk, went for a run, and made my way down to the headquarters in Pilsen, where the plan was to watch the Olympic marathon trials.




Friday, February 28, 2020

Runfessions: February

Hooray for the opening of the runfessional! Even though February is the shortest month, there's no shortage of runfessions (and some crossfitfessions) for me.

Do you runfess? Marcia opens the runfessional monthly and cleansing the soles never felt so good!


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Can You Run When You're Sick?

Disclaimer: In my real life, I'm a nurse practitioner. As always, with any medical advice you read on the internet, it is always best to check with your personal medical provider. And just so you know, Dr Google is not your friend.

Influenza. Coronavirus. Norovirus. Rhinovirus. Enterovirus. 

If it seems like the whole world is sick, you might be right. Influenza activity remains high, with strains of type A and B still circulating. You can't turn on the news without hearing about Coronovirus and its imminent threat. Coronavirus is so widespread in Asia that the Tokyo Marathon announced it would be cancelling the race for everyone except elite runners and elite wheelchair athletes.

I guess elites are immune to Coronavirus? Not sure I understand that logic. Not sure I'd be traveling to Asia to run the Tokyo marathon right now. And now the Coronavirus is spreading through Europe, with an increasing number of cases in the US. It's enough to make you want to run away! 

If you've been lucky enough to escape illness this winter, count yourself in the minority. My clinic has been busy and I'm washing my hands like it's my job. I don't want to get sick and I'm sure you don't either. 

What if you do come down with something? Can you still run? Will you? How does an ailing runner know when it's ok to lace up? I've got some tips to help you decide if you should stay on the couch or if you can go.



Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Activity Hangover

As I've increased my mileage and upped my weights, I've noticed an increase in my RA disease activity. Physical activity, including running and strength training, can cause inflammation. In a person without an autoimmune disease, the inflammation brought on by vigorous exercise can lead to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In those of us afflicted with RA and the like, not only do we get DOMS, but we can get an activity hangover.

Just like a hangover from being overserved at the bar, an RA activity hangover can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms like nausea, fatigue, stiffness, and joint pain. The activity hangover is due to excess products of inflammation in the body. For the past couple of weeks, on and off, I've had these symptoms. I guess you could say I've been overserved at the bar--the lifting bar, lol. Yet, I keep going back for more. Deadlifts? Make that a double, coach...

I'm pretty sure that having an activity hangover is the reason I struggled at last Sunday's Auto Show Race. That 10 miler I ran the day before apparently was equivalent to too many glasses of wine. Was it worth it? 

Of course it was. After all, no good story starts with "I went for a walk"...

On Monday, I debated going to CrossFit because I still felt yucky. I woke up feeling stiff, achy, sore, tired, and a little bit queasy. But like I always do when I don't feel well is I decided to TRY. I was able to finish that workout strong! No regrets. Sure beats laying around on the couch. What's an RA warrior to do?

Avoid foods that cause inflammation. Eat more foods that reduce inflammation. Drink lots of water. Most important of all: take and respect total rest days.

The best remedy? A little hair of the dog: gentle movement. Gentle stretching and yoga. Hangover be dammed. Contrary to what you might think, laying around only increases the joint stiffness. I've found that once I get moving, I do feel better. 



Friday, February 21, 2020

Book Review: The Vail Method

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Vail Method from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

As an aging runner who would love to continue to stay active, I was intrigued by The Vail Method. I'm not a fan of fad diets or methods that promise to make me feel 20 years younger. So when I was asked if I wanted to read and review The Vail Method, I was reluctant. This is a running blog! Did I really want to go down this path and review this kind of book? But after reading a little bit more about Dr Ehrlich and his book, I realized that I was actually the target reader for his approach.

In his ophthamology practice, Dr Matthew Ehrlich observed many older patients who were struggling with health issues. Experiencing some age-related health changes himself prompted him to help middle aged and older adults stay active and healthy. His passion for fitness and healthy eating led him to complete a fellowship in antiaging medicine. Using evidence-based medicine, Ehrlich developed his plan, a holistic and practical approach to getting and maintaining fitness, increasing energy, and peace of mind.

Sounds good? Let's dig in.



Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Race Recap: CARA Honda Miles Per Hour Run

It has been many years since I attended the Chicago Auto Show. In the days before children, my husband and I went quite a few times with friends. We'd make a whole evening of it, going out to dinner after. It was always a lot of fun!

When the Chicago Area Runners' Association (CARA) announced they would be organizing a race through the Chicago Auto Show, I was intrigued! The race was going to be one hour and runners would be expected to complete as many miles as possible in that time frame. I had never done a race like that before and certainly, I had never run a race through an auto show.

I figured it would be different and it would be fun. Plus, I can do anything for an hour, right?



Sunday, February 16, 2020

These Shoes are Made for Running

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

These shoes are made for running
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these shoes are gonna
Run all over you...
Apologies to Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood

I continue to put miles on my new trail shoes. Between running on the trails and the snowpacked path, my Brooks Cascadia 14 XTs were my main go-to for my runs this week. Since I've gotten so many questions about them, I'm going to post a full review in a couple of weeks. My early verdict: so far, so good.

There was also an indoor race on Sunday, but I wore my Brooks Adrenaline 20s. The race was run entirely around the Chicago Auto Show and in an interesting twist, we ran for one hour, trying to accummulate as many miles as possible. I'll share a full recap on Tuesday, but if you want to know how it went, be sure to check out my instagram!

Sunday's cold, windy run

Friday, February 14, 2020

Loving...Not Loving

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a long time since I've done a loving..not loving post. I figured that there was no time better than the day of love...or not love, in some cases, to share what's been making me happy lately. My cup doesn't always runneth over with love, though...



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Race Recap: Universal Sole Valentine's Trail Challenge

What the what? Yep, you read it right. I ran a trail race. In the winter. In Chicago. Now, while our trails aren't what you might think of when you think of trails, we city people are pretty fortunate that about 100 years ago, civic leaders set aside land to create forest preserves, open land that everyone could use. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Regular readers of my blog know that I do a lot of training in the forest preserves. It's an opportunity to spend time in nature while living in a very urbanized area.

I wanted to run a race this past weekend and I was thrilled to see that Universal Sole, a race promoter in Chicago, hosts a trail race series in Schiller Woods, one of the forest preserves on the border of the city. I signed up 2 days before the race and at 8 am, arrived on-site to pick up my packet. It was 30 degrees, the ground was covered with snow, and I was wearing my new trail shoes.

It was pretty much a perfect day for a February trail run in Chicago!

The start/finish chute

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Change In Plans

A few weeks ago, I posted my goals for 2020 as well as my spring race plans. I can't plan too far in advance because who knows what RA has in store for me. My first race was planned for this weekend, but my plans changed and so did my race! I'll tell you, flexibility is really the name of the game here.

Logistically, driving up to Madison for a Saturday morning race just wasn't going to work. My husband was also fussing about what to do with the dog. Since the weather was iffy all week, I hadn't signed up for the race yet--I was going to do that at the race. Instead, I signed up for a local trail race. I'll share more about the race on Tuesday's recap. But I will say that I was thrilled to find a trail race this time of year! I need some time on the trails to get myself prepared for my upcoming Everglades Trail Run and this time of year, trails are snow covered and difficult to navigate.

I had RA symptoms all week, with pain in my joints. I didn't let it stop me, but I did have to pop some ibuprofen and use some topical analgesics to get myself moving. Thankfully, I was able to keep up with all my workouts. Praying that RA doesn't pull any tricks on me this year.


Friday, February 7, 2020

My Favorite Race Medal

I really should have titled this post: "My Medal Rack is Full". At the end of 2018, I realized that there was no more room on my medal rack. I thought about ordering a new one, but I had the thought that maybe I didn't need one anymore, that maybe I wasn't going to run so many races, and then there was the never-ending flare of 2019 which threatened to put the kibosh on any races at all.

In spite of all that, I accumulated a few medals last year. They've been hanging on the very end of the rack while I figured out what I was going to do. Last month while scrolling through Instagram, an ad for Groupon popped up. The deal was serendipitously for a medal rack. I have this conspiracy theory that Google, and maybe Facebook too, is always listening to us, although I don't recall discussing my medal rack situation. Anyhoo, I clicked on the ad and found the deal. The medal rack was 65% off the normal price. You could customize it--oh the pressure! and there were several size options.

It was a sign. I made an impulsive decision to buy the Groupon. I optimistically chose the largest rack and ordered it. It arrived yesterday. While I put all the medals from last year on one tier, I had the opportunity to take a trip back with a look at all my past medals.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

4 Don'ts and Dos for Injured Runners

Disclaimer: This is an updated post from 2017.

Been there, run that. I'm the runner who ran a race on a broken toe. I'm the runner who bought herself a road bike and road tested it wearing the boot. I'm the runner who trained for and ran a marathon while battling plantar fasciitis--with my doctor's approval, of course.

We've all got stories. While researching this post, I found multiple stories of runners "pushing their limits", including a story about a runner who was planning to crutch walk the Boston Marathon. I get it. He's injured and can't run. But come on man! These articles portray the runners who do these things as heroes. I'm thinking that this act of bravery could lead to new injuries, including nerve damage to the upper extremities. Brave or foolish? Not to say that any of us wouldn't consider said act of bravery. It is Boston after all!

I also read a race recap where the runner actually walked a half marathon--wait for it, it was the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon--wearing a boot. Foolish? Risky? I've been in a boot and all I can say is wearing it threw off my entire gait. I would imagine there's a huge risk of injury to the unaffected extremity. The author comments in the post that she regretted her decision to boot walk the race. But if you are interested in trying this, she has some suggestions on how to best attempt this. I'd probably stay away.

Even elite runners aren't immune from running while injured. Sarah Crouch ran the 2019 Boston Marathon with a 'stress reaction' in her femur. You know how this ended, right? She hoped to be the top American woman finisher but instead developed a fracture in her femur during the race, finishing in 60th place.  She and her coach received a lot of well-deserved flack for this. However, I think we runners all understand her determination to push through injury.

Common sense tells us that sometimes, as runners, we have to give ourselves a break. But common sense isn't always common when it comes to race day or training decisions. There's no glory in being sidelined. An injured runner may be longing to participate in an event he trained for. Is the price to pay--more time off the road, medical bills, or worse--worth it?


Sunday, February 2, 2020

I Cheated on my Body and my Body Fought Back

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

When will I learn?

After sticking to a mostly plant-based diet for the past couple of months and feeling so much better, I cheated last week. Big time. And I paid for it. I've been avoiding most dairy, which seems to cause inflammation for me, save for a splash of half and half in my coffee and a sprinkle of feta on my salads. I've been feeling so good. So good, in fact, that I got brave.

I made a quiche last week. Sticking to a veggie theme, it was spinach quiche. But it was made with 3 kinds of cheese. I figured I could try it, see how I felt after I ate. It tasted fantastic, my husband loved it, and I felt fine the next day. So much winning! Feeling brave, I got cocky. I had the leftovers for lunch. Twice.

My old nemesis, IBS (aka I'll be stopping) started to return. But it wasn't as bad as in the past and again, feeling brave, on Sunday at dinner, we ordered cheese curds. Tuesday, it was pasta with cream sauce.

Did I overdo it? You think so?

On Monday, I felt a little achy in my elbows. Slapped some CBD cream on it and I was good to go to CrossFit. On Wednesday's run, I also felt achiness in my knees. And my tummy--well, without being too TMI, let's just say I was stopping.

After that, I returned to my dairy-free life but the pain lingered on through the week. The worst was on Saturday. I woke up determined to run but every joint in my body hurt. The pain was making me a little nauseous too. I popped a few ibuprofens and hit the couch, waiting for it to pass.  While the pain simmered down to a dull ache, I still felt yucky. I finally gave in. There would be no run. I also canceled my massage--no need to poke the bear, right?-- and rested all day, hoping for a quick return to feeling good.




Friday, January 31, 2020

There Goes My Dream of Singing in a Rock Band...and other Runfessions over Coffee

What a start to 2020. I've got so many runfessions this month! Thank goodness Marcia hosts monthly runfessions. Do you runfess? It really feels good to clear the soles of my monthly running (and sometimes not running) transgressions. There's no penance and this month, we're runfessing over coffee with Coco and Deborah.

It's pretty much pain-free!

But first things, first, how do you like your coffee? I'm still sipping Colectivo Co-Optiva with GLG collagen and half and half. It's the perfect way to start the day!

Singing on the treadmill helps pass the time!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spring Race Plans

Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for All Community Events and the Chicago Area Runners Association. I received comped entries in exchange for sharing their races on my social media accounts. All opinions are my own.

While most of you have already solidified your spring running plans, mine have been kind of in flux. I had a few loose ends to wrap up including that heavy lifting cycle. Now that I'm done with that, I'm ready to shift the focus back to running. I am especially excited this year because I am feeling good and ready to run the races I couldn't run last year due to that extended RA flare.

Fingers crossed that feeling good continues!

I've had a few spring races in the back of my mind. I'm returning as an All Community Events ambassador this year and will be running a few of their races! This year I'm excited to announce that I will be offering discount codes for some of the races I will be running. Stay tuned to the blog for that.

In addition to the ACE ambassadorship, I was selected to represent the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) as an ambassador. The details of my responsibilities are still unfolding, but I will be running the races that they sponsor.

In March, I'll be taking my annual Florida trip to visit my parents and I'm planning on running a trail race down there. Last year, I ran a couple of short trail races and really liked the experience. This should be interesting.



Sunday, January 26, 2020

Gearing Up for Spring

Now that my strength cycle is complete, I'm making running plans for spring. I'll share those on Tuesday's post, but it feels good to focus on running again. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed slumming it the past couple of months, "just running" without a goal or a purpose. Sometimes we have to do that, right? I feel renewed and ready to tackle some running challenges again. I'll still be working on strength with Sammy Jo, but my focus will be more on maintaining that strength I gained over the past 4 months as well as working on some skills to help me stay mobile.



Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review: Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Spirit Run from NetGalley and Catapult in exchange for my honest review. Spirit Run is scheduled to be released on March 3, 2020. This post contains affiliate links.

NoƩ Alvarez was a nineteen year old college student, a son of Mexican immigrants, who, after spending a summer working alongside his mother at an apple packing plant, wanted to do more with his life. He was saddened by his mother's and other workers' acceptance of their lives. Struggling to fit in at college, Alvarez gave up his scholarship and decided to join a Native Americans/First Nation Movement called Peace and Dignity Journeys. PDJs are marathons that are meant to create awareness amongst Indigenous people of the Americas. Spirit Run is Alvarez's story of his four month journey with PDJ.



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

PRs and My First Powerlifting Meet

Followers of the blog know I've been working on getting stronger for a long time. I started strength training back in 2013 after a long stretch of running-related injuries. Long story short, I was evaluated by a corrective exercise specialist and was told that I had weak hips and my glutes weren't firing. Hey now! After working on getting stronger, I learned the valuable lesson that runners cannot live on miles alone. That coach, Becky, trained me for my PR Chicago marathon.

She had me at deadlifts.

When Becky moved to Las Vegas in 2017, I found a new coach, Sammy Jo, at the same CrossFit box. We have been working together for almost 3 years but it really wasn't until last fall that I really found my strong. Sammy Jo and I decided that for this strength cycle, I was going to go for some really heavy lifting. My prolonged RA flare from earlier in the year had finally resolved and I was ready to kick RA to the curb.

Over the past 4-5 months, Sammy Jo has pushed me harder than I've ever been pushed, outside of running. It was a new kind of uncomfortable and there were times when I felt overwhelmed and maybe even a little scared. She was right by my side and promised me I'd not get hurt lifting the heavy weights. I didn't.

When the CrossFit box announced a powerlifting meet, Sammy Jo wanted me to enter. My strength cycle was wrapping up and she thought it was the perfect time for me to push for some PRs. I was reluctant. Me, in a powerlifting meet? The new owners of the box also encouraged me to sign up. So I did.




Sunday, January 19, 2020

You Can't Go Wrong with Strong

This week...I did a thing.

I stepped out of my comfort zone. Way out of my comfort zone.

I participated in a powerlifting meet at my CrossFit box. While I knew I was doing this for a while, I kept it under wraps because I needed to get my head around the idea. Seriously, I'm a runner! What the heck was I doing at a weight lifting competition? Well, when your coach is an Olympic-style weight lifter, you drink a little of the kool ade she gives you. The stuff she makes me do, the weight she makes me lift--it all makes me a stronger, better runner.

Trust the process, indeed.

No matter what you do, you can't go wrong with strong. I'll share more specifics about the meet on Tuesday's post. We spent our time together this week getting ready for the competition.



Friday, January 17, 2020

60 Blog Prompts for Runners

We've all been there. Sitting down to compose a post, staring at a blank screen, and just not feeling creative. Maybe you've drawn a complete blank.

It's also that time of year where we don't have a lot going on. It's winter and for most of us, race season hasn't started yet. It just feels so...empty.

You could just skip posting...but if you're like most runners, you're a bit compulsive and you like to stick to a posting schedule. What to do?

Don't despair! I'm here for you! I've got a handy dandy list of 60 topics that you can flush out fully into the blog post of your choice. I hope you find something here that you can write about!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

How To Be a Good Social Media Steward: 14 Tips to Keep Your Interactions Positive

Disclaimer: This is an updated post from 2017.

As a run blogger, I am very active on social media. I participate in 2 sharing pods on Instagram and look at a lot of Instagram posts. While I love to hate on Facebook, I have an active presence there with a page and participation in several sharing groups. I use Twitter but still don't really get it. Pinterest is one of my number one referral sources and so I work really hard to develop pins that are attractive and likely to be repinned.

So you might call me fairly well acquainted with social media. I wouldn't call myself an expert. I play by the rules. I come by my likes and shares fairly.

Sometimes social media makes me cranky. Not only because people don't follow the "rules" but because they're posting things that maybe they shouldn't. Based on my observations, I've got some tips for playing nice on social media.



Sunday, January 12, 2020

I Do Have a Few Goals for 2020

I really dislike sharing my goals. Putting it out there in the universe makes it seem so real, doesn't it? While I agree that telling people about my goals for myself helps me stay accountable, it also makes failure to achieve those goals that much more painful.

I learned that lesson with my first marathon in 2011. I signed up to run for charity, I posted it on Facebook, and I told everyone my plans. I even broke the cardinal rule of running a first marathon, which is to not set a goal finish time. The goal I should have set for myself, to cross that finish line, did happen, but not at all how I planned. In reality, I fell apart at mile 18 and ended up walking much of the rest of the race. It took me a long time to accept what happened at that race. 

I know a lot of you share your goals--some even give themselves grades on their progress towards achieving them. That's not me and for now, I'm going to keep this year's goals close to the vest. I'll keep you posted as I go.



Friday, January 10, 2020

The 10 Year Challenge

Did you participate in the 10 year challenge? If you are on Facebook or Instagram, you couldn't have missed it. People posted 2 pictures of themselves, a current photo and one from 10 years ago, side-by-side, to show how much they've changed. Some people called it the "How Hard Did Aging Hit You Challenge", which was enough to make me shy away.

There were also the conspiracy theorists who claimed that Facebook made up the whole challenge for their facial identification software. Considering how many photos people already post on Facebook and that a lot of users have been on the platform for over 10 years, I highly doubt 2 more photos are going to make a dent in what Facebook already has on us.

I didn't participate in the Facebook challenge, but I'm sitting here in front of a blank blog post and searching for things to write about. I didn't do a throwback post at the turn of the decade, so I thought it might be fun to look back on running over the past 10 years. Fridays are usually reserved for more personal posts on the blog, so thanks for indulging me.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

17 Things Bloggers Can Do to Combat Content Scraping

Last week, I received an email from a fellow blogger. She found some of her posts reproduced without attribution on a sketchy blog site. She wanted to let me know that on that site, she also found some of my blog posts. While trying to figure out what to do, I discovered a similar website that had also posted some of my blog posts. The text of the posts was altered slightly, albeit awkwardly, but the content and photos remained all mine. Even the title of the posts listed my blog name.

It was jarring, to say the least.

Imagine seeing your content, including your photos, on another website. I was in good company along with Another Mother Runner, Marathon Investigation, and Women's Running. It made me wonder what these bigger blogs were doing, if anything, to stop their content from being stolen. I also wondered why anyone would want to steal content from my little blog!

Talk about feeling helpless. It's the freaking internet! As much as I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle the thief, it was just a fantasy. I needed to figure out what to do to protect my content and myself.



Sunday, January 5, 2020

New Year, Same Old Me!

It's a new year and I haven't made any resolutions or goals for 2020. I haven't chosen a word for the year. Instead, I'm just keeping on, rolling with the progress that I made as 2019 drew to a close.

If I were to make a resolution, it would be to actually train, not to just go out and run. I won't lie, I've been enjoying 'just running'. Junk miles, all of them. Kinda fun, though.

I do have some races in mind for the spring and if I want to feel good about how I run them, I'm going to have to do some training, including speed work. I'm mulling that over as we speak.

You know I'll do it. Ever the competitor, I'm driven by results. I've got a couple of weeks before I have to get back to work. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the ride!

NYD run in the woods

Friday, January 3, 2020

Coffee Talk

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. And lots of cool photos. The holidays were awesome.

Good morning! What's new with you? Are you recovered from the holidays? Let's catch up over a cup of coffee. I'm pouring some Colectivo Wonderland, a holiday coffee which was a gift from my son's girlfriend. She also gave me this awesome mug, my new favorite. Besides the Colectivo, I received quite a bit of coffee for Christmas, so I'll be working my way through it during these cold, dark days of winter. With a splash of half and half, it's the best way to start the day.