Monday, April 19, 2021

Race Recap: Wintrust Lakefront 10 miler

I've run this race so many times that I've lost count. Last year, I was signed up for it, but COVID had other ideas. Set to take place in April, it was initially postponed to July. Then it was canceled and changed to a virtual race. What a disappointment! While I ran plenty of 10 milers last year, I didn't designate any of them as my replacement race. My heart just wasn't in it.

Last fall, CARA held a 5k trail race at a suburban preserve, trialing social distancing and spacing runners. I ran it and was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the process. Clearly, so was the city of Chicago, who agreed to let CARA stage their annual 10 miler this year. This is the first live road race held in Chicago since the start of the pandemic. Hopefully, it will set the tone for similar events to carefully take place. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sure, Why Not?

In spite of rising COVID cases everywhere, life continues its slow return to normal. This week's highlights include a return to a favorite race and a hike in a beautiful state area in Wisconsin. I had an RA flare midweek, which slowed me down for a day or so but didn't stop me from lining up at the start line on Saturday. 

So yeah, pretty much life as usual. I mean, why not?

Making my way through the gorge at Parfrey's Glen

Monday, April 12, 2021

Product review: Mizuno Wave Horizon 5

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Mizuno Wave Horizon 5 running shoes in exchange for my honest review.

Ahhh....is there no better feeling than slipping on a new pair of running shoes? That fresh cushion beneath your soles? When Mizuno Running contacted me to see if I wanted to try the newest model of the Wave Horizon, I jumped at it! A couple of years ago, I received a pair of the 3s and loved them. I was excited to try them again. 

Bottom line: They made them even better!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Whew!

It's been an overwhelming couple of weeks for me! Between Cocoa's surgery, working on the lake house, my continuing education conference, and some other family issues, something had to give--and that was blogging last week. With falling readership, I have been considering shutting down the blog, but I really do enjoy our little runblog community here. In a year of virtual races and isolation, the interaction with other bloggers and readers has really been a lifeline at times. 

So here I am, sharing a brief update of running and training from the past 2 weeks. I'll also share a Cocoa update at the end of the post. Long story short, she's doing great! So am I. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Coffee Talk: Spring Cleaning and March's Book Reviews

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Good morning! Let's catch up over coffee--it's been a long month, hasn't it? I'm having Starbucks Spring Day Blend. It's not too roasty and it's really perfect for these cool early spring mornings. As always, I have a scoop of GLG Collagen and a splash of half and half in my cup. What are you having?

What would you tell me over coffee?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Twisted Logic

 "Sunlight, opened up my eyes, to see for the first time, it opened them up.... 
...Don't fight for the wrong side, say what you feel like, say how you feel...
You'll go backwards, but then
You'll go forwards again,
You'll go backwards, but then
You'll go.." ~from Twisted Logic, Coldplay

Listening to music while running Friday morning, this song came on and it's stuck in my head. Good thing I like Coldplay! It pretty much summed up how it's been going lately. One step forward, two steps backward. 

RA continues to flare and after last Sunday, when I developed so much pain, I started a course of steroids. Thankfully, the low dose I'm taking dialed down the pain to a dull roar, but hasn't shut it down completely. Unhappy about the flare but grateful I can run without fatigue, I was also fortunate to have planned a few days off work for some continuing education. It was all virtual and a great way to learn, and the time away from the office did me some good.

Speaking of going backward, we found out this week that my sister has COVID. Yep. After a year of social distancing and masking, after completing chemo and surgery, she was carelessly exposed and now she's sick. It just makes me so mad! Soapbox alert: Your actions have consequences for others. We're getting so close to the finish line. We can't let down our guard now. Wear your mask! 

Moving forward, we went up to the lake this weekend to spring clean and put things back in place now that most of the repair work is done. The new carpet and bathroom flooring are in! It looks so fresh and I am even more excited for summer to come. We're doing a few other little things to spruce up the place. We're not doing a lot of redecorating since the eventual plan is to tear it down and build a house for retirement. For now, it's great to have our little getaway!

Flying on Friday

Thursday, March 25, 2021

March Runfessions

March just blew by me--much like a lion, I guess. It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time to runfess! It feels like we just did that, but here we are again. Of course, I've got a few things to get off my soles...much like the mud from the trails. Thank goodness Marcia opens the runfessional!

Let's get to it...

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Motion is Lotion

This week, RA didn't play nice at all. I don't know if it was the cold, blustery weather we had early in the week or a post-vaccine immune response, but I was achy AF. It doesn't really make sense to blame it on the COVID vaccines, because I got the second dose over 2 months ago. But something triggered my immune system. I'm writing this on Saturday and my hands are still swollen, inflamed, and achy. Joint pain woke me up in the middle of the night a couple times this week and I had to take ibuprofen, something I try not to do very often. I have avoided steroids so far, but I am considering taking a short course, just to shut this thing down. Thankfully, I'm not experiencing much fatigue as I have during other flares, so in spite of the pain, I've able to run and work out. 

Running and working out during a flare might not make sense to some people, but as we RA warriors like to say, 'motion is lotion'. I know that I'll feel better once I get those joints moving. That was the case all week. I did have to modify my workouts a little bit, though, to accommodate for the pain. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

5 Things I've Learned about Running During a Year of the Pandemic

Can you believe it has been one year since the pandemic started? A year of masks. A year of social distancing. A year of fear. A year of race cancellations. A year of disappointments.

Think back to where you were a year ago when the rug was pulled out from under us. I was in Florida visiting my parents and getting ready to run a trail race in the Everglades. My trip was cut short and I DNS'd my race when I returned home to care for my son after a snowboarding accident in Wisconsin. The following week, we were locked down. It was, to say the least, a shocking turn of events.

It's been a tough year in so many ways. As it always has been for me, running was a gift and a bright spot in a year that was filled with turmoil. I want to share the 5 things I've learned about running over the past year. I've learned a lot of other things as well. Some good, some bad. But I'd rather focus on the good and running was all that for me.

I keep hearing the phrase: "I just want to go back to normal." But was normal always good? I like to think that maybe the downtime of the past year has given us all time to step back and reflect on what is really important in our lives. Hopefully, we've all made some positive changes in our lives. Running changed for me this year and I'm really pleased with how things evolved.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

On the Way Up

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

After hitting the skids in February, I can say that things are definitely looking brighter! Once again, this week we were gifted with a lot of sunshine and the snow is gone. The trees have leaf buds on the branches. I spotted robins on my runs. My daffodils are even poking through the dirt. I know it's too soon to put away my winter coat, but it sure felt good to not have to layer up for my runs this week. In fact, I even got to wear shorts one day. 

Off the road, life has been pretty uneventful. My sister had her surgery last week and everything went well. The pathology report came back clear, meaning she is cancer free! This is all such good news! Today we're having lunch and going for a walk. We're even talking about planning our sister trip for the fall. Things are definitely looking up!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Book Review: A Runner's High by Dean Karnazes

 Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of A Runner's High from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  This book is due to be released on April 20, 2021.

"To me, running is a grand adventure, an intrepid outward exploration of the landscape and a revealing inward journey of the self."~ Dean Karnazes, A Runner's High

When long distance running legend Dean Karnazes gets an opportunity to run Western States, a 100 mile race that he's run over 10 times, he admits to feeling 'terrified'. He says the last time he ran it, 9 years previously, he DNF'd. He says his body was 'wrecked', something that has happened to him many times in his running career. That last DNF, though, broke his spirit. He had unfinished business with Western States and entered the lottery, just like a mere mortal. When he learned that he was moving up the list, he decided he better start training for it. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Slow Return to Normal and Mini Book Review of I Hate Running and You Can Too

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

Is it just me or does it feel like things are starting to get better? At least with regards to opening back up, that is. I'm not talking about dropping the mask mandate--it's a little too soon for that. With the approval of the J&J vaccine this week, I'm starting to feel much more optimistic. Even better---this week, I found out that my favorite race, the Lakefront 10 Miler, is going to take place on April 17. Live. On the actual course!! In Chicago!!!

Can you even believe it?

Of course, I signed up. With a guaranteed refund if the race is canceled, I saw no downside to jumping right in. Fingers crossed that I get to cross that start line! 

The sun is shining, the snow is melting...I can just smell the optimism! 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Coffee Talk and February's Book Reviews

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee! I love our monthly coffee date--it's the one time of the month where we all share what's going on in our lives off the road. While I love to run, I do have other things to talk about. I'm drinking my usual Dunkin' with a splash of half and half and a scoop of GLG collagen. What's in your mug?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Big Thaw

It's been a warm week, at least by February standards, and the snow is melting! At one point, we had 28 inches on the ground so the melt is a process, but patches of grass are peeking through the snow. My neighbor spied some green popping through the dirt and realized it was her daffodils! After such a cold and snowy month, this is a welcome sight. The people I saw wearing shorts and tank tops? Well, you can't blame them for a little wishful thinking. And yes, it's a great time to be a runner!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Runfessions: February

It's the end of February and I could not be happier. It's been a long, cold month, the pandemic rages on, and really, doesn't every day right now feel like groundhog day? I almost considered not runfessing this month, you know, same old, same old, but my soles are heavy and in need of absolution. I haven't missed a monthly runfession session yet. Thank goodness Marcia opens the runfessional on the last Friday of every month. And here we go...

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hello, Sunshine!

In spite of the continued cold temperatures and yet another snowstorm on our doorstep, optimism is in the air. The sun has been shining most days this week and that always makes the coldest day feel warm, right? I'm not downplaying the devastating conditions that have hit our friends in the south. Living in the midwest, we know how to "do" winter and while we may complain about it, we are able to move through the snow and life goes on. 

Sadly, though, winter proved to be a formidable foe as last weekend my husband drove up to the lake to check on the house and walked into burst pipes and water everywhere. We always leave the heat and water on as a preventative measure, but due to this prolonged bitter cold spell, the frost line is too deep. What a mess! He was able to get a cleaning service and a plumber to get the repairs started. Dealing with the insurance company was much more difficult and they reminded him that they are busy with the Texas disaster. The good thing is that we will be able to do some much needed purging and renovations. My hubs is back up there this weekend, pulling out the carpet and filling up a dumpster with years of accumulated stuff. Me, I stayed home with Cocoa, who would have only gotten in the way of this big project. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

7 Ways I'm Dealing with Anxiety

Disclaimer: The information in this post is educational only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice. If you are in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.  This post contains an affiliate link.

Got anxiety?

I do. Full disclosure, I am a high-strung, type A person. Oh, sure, laugh. I know it's pretty obvious. Those of you who know me are not going to be surprised by this disclosure. 

Looking back on my childhood, I was an anxious child, but in those days, the attitude was 'suck it up'. No one talked about anxiety or depression. There was no therapy--at least not in the small town where I grew up. So it's no wonder that I didn't develop much in the way of effective coping skills. By the time I hit my 20s, I turned to some pretty maladaptive coping mechanisms to manage my nerves.

As you might expect, that didn't work out so well for me, and long story short, I discovered running. Running helped me burn off that nervous energy and helped me calm myself. Running also gave me self-confidence, which helped me feel a sense of control over my life. Unfortunately, running and fitness weren't always the answer. Occasionally, I've had to deal with overwhelming anxiety that couldn't be relieved by a good pavement pounding.  

Like now.

The events of the past year--the pandemic and the political unrest--have really stoked the anxiety fires. I know it's not just me. I'm seeing it in my young patients and their parents too. But just because so many other people are feeling this way, it's not a misery loves company thing. Instead, it just makes me feel all the more helpless. Add to that the social isolation, the recent assault on the Capitol, and this never-ending cold, snowy winter-- well, I recently came as close to falling apart as I have in years.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Love the Run You're With

 🎶If you can't be with the run you love, love the run you're with...🎶  (apologies to Stephen Stills)

Another week of bitter cold and snow. I read today that we've had snow the past 8 out of 9 days and more is predicted for tomorrow. We have over 2 feet of snow on the ground right now. My car so completely crusted with road salt that you can't tell what color it is. I like snow and all, but really, guys, it can all melt now. The only one who is still loving the snow is my dog, Cocoa. Goofball.

Running has been a challenge, both due to the conditions underfoot and the limited availability of places to run. The cold is also an issue, but in spite of it, I did get outside for 3 runs this week. Did you read my post on dressing for winter running? I took my own advice as I prepared to run outside this week. In spite of the frigid, frozen conditions, I enjoyed those outdoor runs! There's always something special about getting out in the fresh air, no matter how cold it is. And (grumble grumble) I do have to admit that it's really pretty. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

How To Dress for Winter Running

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

After last weekend's trail race, I received a lot of questions about what gear I wore on that bitterly cold, snowy run. I've been running for 30 years and living in the Midwest, you either suck it up and go no matter how cold it gets or you run on the treadmill. I think you know what I do. The only thing that keeps me inside is ice. 

Here's how I dress for the cold. 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

It Might Be Cold but I Got to Run a Live Race!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

And we're in the middle of a never-ending pandemic...don't forget that. Live events are a rarity and I'm thrilled that the race director was able to pull this one off. It was a very small event, limited to 75 runners. The excitement of running a live race waned quickly with the arrival of bitterly cold temperatures. In fact, I had to really convince myself not to DNS. Reminding myself how fortunate I was to have a live event to look forward to really was the deciding factor. It's not like I haven't run in the cold before, either. I have all the gear including that awesome NorthFace thermoball jacket. I also recently purchased a SmartWool running skirt, which I wore over my tights. So off I went and I will share more details below. 

As I mentioned on my Coffee Talk post, I've been struggling with motivation lately. I was doing ok, but once we got the big snows of the past couple of weeks, my trails were inaccessible. I was suddenly really limited to where I could run. Couple that with the cold, windy weather that arrived this week and an RA pain flare on Tuesday...well, it's been mentally challenging. Outdoor running has been my therapy for over 30 years and I need it now more than ever. I am determined to suck it up and get outside no matter what, even if it is only for a few miles. My race on Saturday proved to me how important that is right now.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Coffee Talk and January's Book Reviews

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Let's catch up over coffee! I've got Allegro Organic Hardwired brewing; this bag of coffee benefits the National MS Society through the Team Left Hand's Bike MS Team. Bike MS is the largest fundraising bike series in the world. I do love me a cup of socially conscious coffee! Mine has a splash of half and half and a scoop of GLG Collagen

Sunday, January 31, 2021

More Snow + Mini Book Review of Bravey

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

This is the snowiest January I remember in a long time! As you read this, we are digging ourselves out from another 8 inches and it's still snowing. I love snow and all, but this is just too much of a good thing. 

Winter, combined with the pandemic, has given me a lot of downtime. I should could be cleaning my house, purging all the stuff we've been accumulating over the years. I have a list of home projects that need to be done. Instead, besides running and working out, I'm reading all the books. I have a large backlog of running and fitness books in my e-reader! There are so many new releases coming out and I've got them all, or so it feels. Over the next couple of months, I'm going to share a few mini-reviews on my weekly rundown posts instead of doing full-on reviews for all of them. 

Today for my first mini-review, I'm sharing Bravey by Alexi Pappas, which is more of a memoir than a running book. You can find it at the end of this post.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

January Runfessions

Are we runfessing today? It is the last Friday of January, after all, and I runfess that I am happy about that! For those of us in Chicago, January is not usually a treat. The cold, wind, and relentless gray...it kind of wears a runner down. I guess I feel like with the continuation of the pandemic, this January the weather is merely a footnote. I runfess that I am enjoying the snow. But there is always something to get off my chest, so here we go:

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Coming in From the Cold

Literally and figuratively. More on the actual cold weather below. 

But first, on Wednesday, I came home from my snowy trail run just in time to witness the Presidential swearing-in ceremony. I am not one to cry at events like this but this time the tears flowed and they kept flowing all the way through Amanda Gorman's beautiful poem. When Garth Brooks sang Amazing Grace, I was a hot mess. I had to get myself together and ready for work. 

In spite of the cold weather that day, I felt as if a warm summer breeze was blowing; the anxiety and sadness that had been weighing me down for much of the past year started to melt away. Democracy prevailed! There was so much hope and promise at that ceremony. For those of us who refuse to subscribe to conspiracy theories, lies, and hate, there was the realization that things are going to get better. It won't happen overnight, but yeah, the future looks bright. 

"There is always light. If only we are brave enough to see it. If we are brave enough to be it." 

~Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb

 

Friday's cold run

Saturday, January 23, 2021

My 5 Favorite Trader Joe's Items

Who doesn't love Trader Joe's? I'm fortunate to live less than a mile from the iconic grocery store. Trader Joe's has grocery staples, but also many unique items that you suddenly find you can't live without! The store is constantly introducing new items and rotating seasonal items in and out of the store. I've been shopping there more frequently since the pandemic started due to their strict masking policy. Employees have been limiting the number of people allowed in the store at any time.

Today I'm sharing 5 of my favorite items from Trader Joe's! Only 5? It wasn't easy to narrow it down, but these 5 items are currently the ones that send me back to the store for more.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I'm not going to lie--What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami has been sitting on my nightstand on my TBR (to-be-read) pile for a few years now. There used to be a book exchange at CrossFit, this book was in the pile there, and since I'd never read this so-called classic running book, I brought it home, and there it sat. I don't know what took me so long to read it. There were mixed reviews, for sure, and more appealing books came my way. Plus, it was published in 2006--was it even still relevant? I decided to find out.

So what does Haruki Murakami talk about when he talks about running? Sometimes, not much. Other times, he says a great deal. And was it worth the read? Bottom line: Yes. Is what Murakami writes about still relevant? Absolutely.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

I'm All Right

 Disclaimer: I received a HALOLIFE sport mask in exchange for my honest review.

This week, I finally got on top of my anxiety and started to feel a lot more like myself. With the tumultuous events of the previous week behind us, that awesome virtual trail race I ran last weekend, and a few good nights' sleep, I have been much calmer. I'm feeling really good following the second dose of the COVID vaccine. Even though there is still so much unrest and uncertainty, I am hoping that remembering the word I chose for this year, STRONG, will help guide me through the upcoming bumpy days. 

As always, this week there was running and there was lifting. I can't be mentally strong if I'm not physically strong, right? 


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

My Word for 2021: STRONG

A little late to the annual word-of-the-year announcing party, I've settled on a word to guide me through 2021. Not a resolution maker or a New Year's goal setter, I've also never chosen a word to focus on for the year. But this year is different.

It sure did start off differently, didn't it? 

When I woke up last Wednesday morning, I couldn't wait to lace up my shoes, with hopes to escape to the trails and chase my anxiety away. Surely, I thought, a run in the woods, in the snow! would make me feel better. I do love a good snow run.

Unfortunately, I couldn't escape my thoughts. The trail was snow-packed and icy and required even more focus to avoid tripping or falling than usual, yet I kept getting lost in my head. Six miles later, and I felt no better. Fighting tears, I was considering calling off work. I berated myself, telling myself that I was STRONGER than this. 

Later that morning, looking at my pictures I took on the trail, I searched for a quote to describe the beautiful winter scenes I captured. This quote popped up first and oh my, was it fitting: 
"In the midst of winter, I found that there was within me, an invicible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there is something stronger, something better, pushing right back." ~ Albert Camus.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Feeling Salty

Holy shit, it was A WEEK. 

Sorry for the salty language, but yeah, it's been a week. We've been watching The History of Swear Words on Netflix and it is a hilarious look at swearing. It's definitely not for everyone, but for this first week of 2021, it seems to fit quite well. Laughter is the best medicine and this show gave me a much-needed release from the omnipresent anxiety that not only am I experiencing, but am seeing in friends, family, and patients as well.

Who could have predicted the horrendous events that took place this week in our nation's capitol? There were warnings, but judging by the carnage, no one seemed to take them seriously. The tumultuous past couple of years have turned the country into a pressure cooker, although some say the pressure has been building for years. So many people make the comment that 'they aren't political' or even that 'it doesn't matter who is in office'.  We have to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. Even if it means 'being political', whatever the hell that means. If you think your vote doesn't count, well, this week really proved that it does. 

I feel like for the past year I've needed to have a disclaimer in my posts: This is not a political blog. This is a running blog. All opinions posted here are mine. I'd like to get back to the business of just writing about running. Heck (hell?), I just want to run. Have I told you lately how much I love to run? This week, there was plenty of that.


Monday, January 4, 2021

Running Wasn't Canceled: A Look Back at 2020

In one way or another, 2020 was the year that challenged all of us. How could it not? From politics to the pandemic, we've all had to adapt and figure out how to survive these trying times. Running was the key to keeping me sane this year. But running was different this year too. Races were canceled and group runs were not happening. Virtual runs and challenges became a thing. Initially a novelty, for this runner, virtual runs grew old really fast.  

How to sum up the year that was 2020? There were a lot of lessons to be learned, for sure. Instead of just writing a recap of the year--you can certainly read my 2020 racing recap here--I decided to do a self-reflection of my year as it related to running. These questions were taken from a Psychology Today article; I adapted them to fit my purpose of evaluating my running and fitness from 2020. 

I'm not a goal setter or a resolution maker, in fact, my goals evolved as the year played out. These questions helped me frame my year in a positive way, which was really helpful in light of the year that was 2020. This exercise also helped direct my thinking towards 2021. I'm looking forward to using my answers to help me decide on my plans for the upcoming year. It's not going to be a normal year, either, so it's good to be ready for whatever comes our way!

Newport State Park, June 2020

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Here We Go Again

New year, same old song and dance lol! I really wish that with the flip of the calendar, we'd have a clean slate and things would return to some semblance of normal. Not so much--the COVID rages on--but one thing remains constant: running and fitness. I ended the year with a hard strength session and a big hug (like, she wouldn't let go) from my coach. The new year started with a trail run. In spite of all the turmoil around me, I'm happy to have one thing that is constant: running. 

Running got me through 2020; I'm happy to continue the wave into 2021. 

Here's to hoping for a better year! 

1200 miles for 2020!