2018 in review

Hello friends! Long time, no post and Happy New Year’s Eve! How is it only one day away from 2019?! 😱

Life got a little crazy since my last post in October: I ran my 1st marathon in a BQ, got injured during said marathon, finished my 1st semester of nutrition classes, and focused on injury recovery! All those recent events reminded me that it’s been a crazy fun, tear-inducing, challenging, awesome, amazing, and unpredictable year. 😜

So why not recap/reflect on the highlights from each month of 2018, so I can start 2019 on a high-note? Without further ado, here are my top moments for each month of 2018, running and otherwise:

January:  The top moment of January was running the F^3 Lake 5k and meeting a few of my new BibRave teammates. It was my favorite moment because I spent a lot of the fall injured, so it was exciting to be able to lace up and race a 5k, even though I only had a few weeks of training under my belt and no workouts. I treated the race as a tempo, somehow won, and had an overall great time. My husband ran the half marathon and earned a personal best time of 1:15! We were fortunate to have weather in the high 30s and the post race party was fun. If you want to read more about this race check out my recap 🙂 I am recovering from injury (again) now, so I likely won’t run the race in 2019, but I highly recommend the 5k or half marathon on 1/26/19!IMG_5111

February: The top moment of February was a tie between the unexpected snow day (and day off work) on Friday February 9, 2018 and being chosen by BibRave to test out the Aftershokz wireless headphones. And yes, I’m sure you’re wondering how one single day could be my top moment of 2018…but if you are a regular follower/reader here you may remember that I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. In January- March 2018 I was working as a temporary chemistry teacher for a teacher on maternity leave. The teacher had been on leave since September, and the school had trouble finding a teacher to take the maternity leave, so the students had been without a permanent teacher until I took the position in January. Without divulging every detail, it was tough situation that really tested me, especially when I was already fairly certain (not yet publicly at this point) that I did not want to teach, but rather go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, but more on that later 😉

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Anyway, after a particularly tough Thursday with some unruly students and a mountain of grading, we got an unexpected snow day on Friday, February 9th. For those of you who aren’t in Chicago, it is incredibly rare for the Chicago Public Schools to declare a snow day. It happens maybe once every 5 years. 😛 It was much needed! I was able to fit in a snowy run with my new trail shoes, my new Aftershokz, and in the daylight hours on a week day. Friday, Feb. 9th was AWESOME! It’s still funny to me in December 2018 that a simple snow day was my top moment of February 2018.

March:  Hands down the best moment of March 2018 was winning an Instagram contest for of three months of coaching with Heather McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. She had been a runner and coach I looked up too since I made an instagram page for this blog. 🙂 She’s positive, hard-working, a dreamer, speedy, and extremely knowledgable about running. In my short three months with her as my coach, I grew so much as a runner! I set a half PR, integrated more workouts and recovery, and took my running more seriously for the first time since running for my college in 2010-2013. I also watched many of my other Instagram friends become her athletes around when I did and make awesome running gains (I’m especially looking at you Teagan, Meghan, Laura, and Nicole :P). I was very sad after my three months ended because I decided to exit the work world and go back to school to study nutrition, so unfortunately I could not and still cannot afford a coach and I loved working with Heather 🙁 It would have definitely been helpful to have one when I trained for the Chicago Marathon because my training was kind of a mess 😂 ANYWAY, if you are looking for a coach and it’s in your budget I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Heather or any of the other McKirdy Trained coaches. 🙂 A majority of their athletes BQed or set PRs at their races this year and those are results you cannot ignore! 😱

Honorable mention/a close second was finishing off that maternity leave teaching position and figuring out my now public next steps. More on that below 😉

April: Okay, okay! I can’t pick just one moment because this month was freakin’ awesome. Hands down the BEST moment was deciding to change my path and go back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I also ran a personal best in my second ever half marathon (1:34), while sick, under the guidance of my new coach Heather. My husband ran the full marathon that same day in a stunning 2:42, cutting 26 minutes off his previous best time and securing a ticket to Boston 2019. You can read much more about my experience at the Illinois Half Marathon here.

Last, but not least I was able to meet and become real-life friends with two of my Instagram friends: Katie of 2fabfitchicks and Danielle of Feed Me Happy. Danielle and I are also now real-life classmates and future RDs, so that’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Meeting and running with Scott Jurek during his North book release tour also deserves an honorable mention! April was truly an amazing month!

May: May’s top moments are a tie between being interviewed for my first ever magazine article in Voyage Chicago and my birthday BibRave run meet-up at Millennium Park. It was nearly 95 degrees, but I still had a blast running with Steph, Ben, and Frank on my 26th birthday! 🙂 Joining such an awesome team of supportive and fun runners/ambassadors may have been my greatest decision all year, besides deciding to go back to school 😛

June: It was a hot day and not my best race time, but I still pick my first ever 10k at the Run for the Zoo as my top moment of June 2018. I even managed third female overall somehow 😛 It was a fun race to rep BibRave and somewhat kick off my Chicago Marathon training!

July: My husband got a new teaching job and we moved to a new apartment. I absolustely love my new loft apartment and it’s proximity to awesome places to run along the Chicago LakeShore path.  I  was honestly hoping that the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon would be my top July moment,  but I just did not have a good race and you can read more about it on my Instagram 🙁 I’m still glad I ran it even if my time of 1:36 was very far off of the 1:30 I was hoping for at that point. 

August: A hot month full of marathon training and long run PRs (mileage wise) every single week. I even made it through my through my longest run ever (20 miles) and nailed my fueling strategy with Spring Energy (ElectroRide in my hand held and Canaberry gels ).

Running the Nike unsanctioned 6k race deserves an honorable mention, as well. It was a fun race and a great way to fit in a mid-week workout.

September: Oh man September was a tough month! I was struggling to balance my classes, work, my extremely long commute to/from school, and training for the marathon. I had a few 0-10 mile weeks and I even contemplated not running the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, after turning around my training a bit, some reflection on how far I had come (despite a less than ideal training situation). and the kind words of so many of you I decided to still run. That is definitely my top moment of September 2018. It was not an easy decision!

October: Completing my first marathon in a BQ, enough said! 😛  Although, having to stop multiple times to stretch due to hip and IT band pain and then becoming so injured I just started running again a little over a week ago also serves as a bit of a low point. :/ You can read more about my race on Instagram.

I am extremely grateful that Dale of Marathoner Dale ran part of the marathon with me. She had a fantastic race (earning a 3:22 PR) and helped me at my lowest, most painful points. I am also grateful that Jess (the cofounder of BibRave) and I were able to run together for some of the race! 🙂 I am positive with better training (and honestly a coach ), I would have a had a much better and injury free race, but hey- a 3:28:01 is not bad for my first one!

I am proud, but am also dreaming bigger (and training MUCH smarter) for my next marathon! 😛 I had a blast meeting a lot more of my BibRave teammates at the Chicago Marathon summit and the race and would not change the race or this weekend for anything, though. I can only hope to perform at what I am actually capable of next time I run a marathon 😉

November: No running at all for me in November, as I focused on cross training, resting, and gaining hip/glute strength. BUT the best moment was watching my husband cut two more minutes off his personal best marathon time at Indy Monumental in a blazing fast 2:40! 🔥 I am also grateful for Ashlyn, who is the kindest human and an amazing friend, who put together a strength training plan and will make a running plan once I am able to run more. I am not sure what I did to deserve her help, but I am grateful because this injury has been a struggle and an uncertain time for me. :/

December: After not being able to run post-Chicago marathon, hands down the top moment of this month was the pain-free mile (even if it was on the dreadmill) I ran three days ago! I am cautiously optimistic about my return to running as enter 2019! I am not sure anything I will do in the remaining hours of 2018 can top that, unless I am able to run 10 miles 😉 But don’t worry, I’m won’t try such a foolish thing!

Finishing my first semester nutrition school finals and earning good grades also earn an honorable mention, but clearly being able to run again is more exciting to me 😛 I also got accepted to be a BibRave Pro for another year, so I am grateful that they want to keep me! 🙂

So now, I want to hear from all of YOU! What were your top moments of 2018, running or otherwise?! 👇🏻

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Product Review: BibBoards

Disclaimer: I received BibBoards to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I wish I had known about Bibboards a few years ago when I was a collegiate runner. Nothing made my soul sadder than poking my lucky jersey with safety pins week in and week out (except for a bad race, but those were rarer occurrences thankfully :P) ! By the end of the season, my jersey would start to fray and the micro sized pin holes would morph into a noticeable larger hole or a noticeable collection of smaller pin holes. Furthermore, during windy races my race bib would get caught in the wind and just generally annoy me by flapping around. There was even a race that my bib become partially unpinned 🙃 And let me tell ya, in those swift and competitive college races, the last thing I wanted to worry about my losing my race bib or being poked by an errant safety pin…

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(Throwback to my college running days and the annoyingly large bibs. This was from the NCAA regional meet in 2012)

Unfortunately for me, Bibboards were not around when I was in college. Bibboards started as an idea in 2009 and came to the market less than two years ago in 2016! Read more about their story here. If they had been around then, I would have started using them sooner! As soon as I got my package in mid January, I knew they were a genius product and one that I would continue to use for months and years to come!

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Less than a week after I received my BibBoards, I had an opputunity to try them out and see if they lived up to the hype. I ran the F^ 3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k race on January 20th and used my brand new BibBoards. I received 8 BibBoards total: 4 with their original BibBoards logo and 4 with a red wine glass that said “will run for wine” (so much truth to that second set of BibBoards 😂).

I opted to race with two of each BibBoard just to mix things up. 🙂 I pinned the BibBoards my race bib the night before and was surprised by how strong they were! It definitely took some elbow grease to unsnap them and I needed my husband to help me the first time around. I think the strength of the BibBoard is a huge pro- I knew I would not have to worry about my race bib becoming unattached from my shirt during the race the next morning.

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(Flat Amanda the night before the F^3 Lake 5k race)

The morning of the race, I met up with some of my fellow BibRave Pros and they were intrigued by the BibBoards. I showed them how I attached my race bib and that the BibBoards did not leave any holes in my favorite RunJanji technical long sleeve top! Now, the final test that the BibBoards would have to pass was the race test. Would they annoy me during my 5k race or would I not even notice them?

 

(me during/after the race without a care in the world- about my race bib at least!)

I am happy to report I did not notice my BibBoards or my race bib at all during the race! They securely held my race bib to my shirt and allowed me to focus all my energy on racing!

This is exactly the type of product I love-one that makes running and racing easier. Furthermore, they are super cute, right?! 🙂 Let’s be honest, half the reason we race is for the post-race treats: whether it is food or alcohol. 😛 So, why not express your love of post race treats on your BibBoards? Furthermore, I even credit the BibBoards to helping me win the 5k- I was able to focus on catching the people ahead of me and not on worrying whether or not my race bib would stay attached to my shirt.

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Like what you see and want your own set of BibBoards?! The code #BibChat will save you 20% on your order. You can purchase one of their adorable pre-made designs (such as the “will run for wine”) or make your own custom set. The custom sets are perfect for putting your running club logo on, putting a favorite running quote on, or advertising a favorite race/product. Honestly the sky is the limit for what you can customize!  I just ordered my own custom BibRave Pro BibBoards this morning, so I can support my favorite running group at all my upcoming races!

I would love to see what custom BibBoards you come up with in the comments below. Let me know if you try them out! 🙂

Also, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about Bibboards:

Lissa 

Jeannine

Vanessa

Stephanie

Karen

Logan

Andrea

 

F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k race Chicago review

I will start my race review by saying in an ideal situation I would have run the half marathon, not the 5k. I become injured in early November and was unable to run the Madison half  marathon that month, so I knew a January half  wasn’t realistic. My husband signed up for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and I felt left out, so I signed up for the 5k in the hopes that I would somehow recover and be able to run at least a few weeks before the race. Thankfully, I overcame my injury in a month and half through lots of rest, time in the weight room, yoga, and a little cross training. I started running again a week before Christmas and knew that my goal for this 5k would be to finish and nothing more.

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Now I will say that despite my lack of fitness going in, I am so happy I signed up for this race! The weather was unseasonably warm for January (40s) and it was so much fun.

Packet pick up: There were multiple weekends and locations (city and suburbs) to pick up packets and even an option to pick it up race morning for $15.

Parking: Only con about this race. Parking was a slow process and expensive because they made you pay before entering the garage. Most places have you grab a ticket and pay on the way out. I would have preferred that option because my husband and I kept our wallets in the bag in our car truck. So when we got to the front of the parking line I had to jump out of the car and scramble to open the trunk and find one of wallets to pay… I feel like myself (and everyone else) who had to do this held up the parking line significantly.

Waiting for the start: My favorite part of the race (besides running it) was the ability to stay inside the warm United Center until the start of the race and pee in a real toilet instead of a porta potty 😛 I also thought the gear check was easy to find and very well organized. If it had been actually cold on race day, I would have still been comfortable because the start line was right outside the door. I still took advantage of the warmth and since I did not warm up, I reported to the start line 5 min before the race. Had I had lofter goals for this race (i.e. getting a PR rather than just finishing), I would have warmed up, done drills, etc. I also used the wait time to finally meet some of my fellow Bibrave Pros Connie and Ben in real life 😛

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Race course: The 5k (and the half) was a flat/fast out and back course. There was one water station on the 5k course than I didn’t use or need, but it was nice that they had one. My husband ran the half and did not take in much water, but was pleased with how many stops were on the course too. There were quite a few people cheering and taking pictures so that was also cool.

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I just started running again a month before the race (due to my injury) and recently got a new job as a chemistry teacher, so my training was subpar going in. I only ran twice in the two weeks before the race and decided that with my lack of speed work it would be smartest from a recovery/injury standpoint to treat the race as a tempo run. I ran it in 21:08, which was a tempo effort for me at this point in m training, and unexpectedly 1st place female… Finally, everyone I saw on and off the course was nice, but I feel like this is because only the most dedicated runners are willing to run or volunteer in a Chicago winter race!

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Post race/swag: Everyone who ran the 5k or half got a cool medal. The top three overall 5k runners for each gender got a plaque and the top three half marathon runners got prize money, which helped make the half marathon competitive. So, I got a pretty sweet plaque from the 5k! There were also age group prizes for the half marathon, which my husband narrowly missed (4th in his age group with a PR of 1:15). We also all got a cool lightweight hooded top, which is super comfy and soft and I’ve already worn twice since last weekend 😛

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I waited around with the other 5k finishers until my husband finished the half marathon. Again, I was grateful that I was able to wait around in the warm United Center instead of outside. We all took some time to stretch and we met up with one more Bibrave Pro Mark! I’m sad I wasn’t able to meet up with/find everyone! :/

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Then, we attended the awards ceremony, so I could collect my first place plaque and cheer on all the finishers.

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After party: After the awards, we finally decided to mosey on over to the post-race party and get our free beers from Kroll’s. Our entire table ordered Two Brother’s Pinball pale ales. A few of us got food as well: my husband got a veggie burger, I got sweet potato fries, and Mikey got a Chicken Cesar Salad which he enjoyed. Kroll’s had a fun atmosphere, the food was decent, but I feel like they were a bit understaffed. They could have used a few more severs to handle the high volume of hungry and thirsty runners.

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Overall, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon and 5k was well organized, fun, and definitely a race I’d do again. 🙂 Although, next time I’d do the half marathon rather than the 5k. Did any of you run F^3 this year or in the past?

P.S. check out my F^3 review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂

 

F^3 training weeks 3-6 (12/25/17-race day 1/20/18)

Good evening friends!

I know that technically I raced yesterday…BUT I will finally recap all my training or lack thereof that led to the race. In the very near future I will also review the F^3 Half Marathon and 5k here and on BibRave! I will say now that it was fun and very well run! I am pleased with how the race went, but not with my training. You will see what I mean below…I am giving myself some credit, though, because I just started a my first ever teaching job where I am teaching chemistry to high school students who did not have a teacher for almost three months AND finals are in a week!!!! 😱

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Things have been crazy, so my sleep and my training has definitely suffered: I get to school by 7 am most days and do not leave until 445-6 pm most nights and often still have work to do when I get home. I’m not making excuses, but rather giving an explanation for the many zeros/low mileage weeks below. I pride myself on being real with all of you! Even though I am a former college runner, I want to remind all of you that now I am just a regular person with a real job, trying to fit in my runs and live my life. Please be kind before commenting on my situation! I know I did not train adequately and that is why I took yesterday at tempo effort, rather than an all out race. As I figure things out and get the students caught up, my hours will be better and so will my training. I am looking forward to better weeks of training for the Shamrock Shuffle and the Illinois Half Marathon. I am forever grateful that I am no longer injured! 🙂

Week 3: Monday December 25th-Sunday December 31st:

-Monday December 25th: 3.6 miles at 7:23 pace with my husband & sister-in-law. Furthest run since my injury! I foam rolled and stretched after the run.IMG_4738

-Tuesday December 26th:  REST

-Wednesday December 27th: 3 miles at 7:25 and it was freezing! It felt like -3 outside!

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-Thursday December 28th: Yoga/strength for 60 min

-Friday December 29th: Wintery weather caused me to move this run to the dreadmill and it did not feel good. 3 miles at 7:29 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling.

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-Saturday December 30th: Yoga for 30 min

-Sunday December 31st: 4 miles at 7:19 pace with my husband followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 13.6 miles

Week 4: Monday January 1st-Sunday January 7th 

-Monday January 1st:  REST DAY

-Tuesday January 2nd:  5 miles at 7:21 pace (2.5 with my husband and 2.5 alone) followed by foam rolling and stretching.IMG_4834

-Wednesday January 3rd: Cold weather makes it tough to tempo. 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo (6:33), & 2 mi c/d followed by stretching and foam rolling.

-Thursday January 4th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Friday January 5th: 3 miles at 7:20 pace followed by stretching a foam rolling.

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-Saturday January 6th: REST DAY

-Sunday January 7th: 6.1 very windy miles at 7:31 pace followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 18.1 miles

Week 5: Monday January 8th-Sunday January 14th (WEEK 1 OF TEACHING)

-Monday January 8th: REST

-Tuesday January 9th 4 miles easy (7:40 pace) after a long two days of teaching, followed by foam rolling and stretching.

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-Wednesday January 10th: 30 minutes of yoga

-Thursday January 11th: REST

-Friday January 12th: REST

-Saturday January 13th: Tempo workout: 1 mi w/u, 1 mi tempo at 6:46, and 2 mi c/d. Overall pace was 7:12 and I stretched and foam rolled after the workout.

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-Sunday January 14th: 7 miles at 7:57 pace. I think the face below says it all…I felt terrible on this run for some reason 🙁

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 15 miles

Week 6: Monday January 15th-Sunday January 21st (RACE WEEK)

-Monday January 15thREST

-Tuesday January 16thREST

-Wednesday January 17th: REST

-Thursday January 18th: 2 miles on the dreadmill at 7:30 pace my new AfterShokz headphones!

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-Friday January 19th: No run, but lots of foam rolling and stretching.

-Saturday January 20th (RACE DAY!): Due to my lack of training and injury history I decided to treat this 5k race as tempo run. I did my tempo 5k in 21:08 (6:48 pace) and that was good for 1st place… My husband ran the half marathon in 1:15:58! Will do a full recap and review on the blog and BibRave in the very near future with more pictures! It was fun to meet up with the other BibRave Pros who ran the race. Pictured below is the BibRave Pros who ran the 5k.

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WEEKLY TOTAL: 5 miles

Today’s questions: Did you race this last weekend? If so, how did it go? Also, has your running ever suffered due to a new job? If so, how did you reestablish a new running routine?

F^3 training weeks 1 & 2 (12/11-12/24/17): my return to running after injury

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a running/training update…but until Saturday December 16th this gal was confined to cross training and rest due to  left IT band injury. :/

The good news is all my rest/cross training/strength work paid off and I’m back at it! 🙂 My comeback race will be the F^3 5K on 01/20/2018! I’m sad that I’m not running the half marathon like I planned, but that would not be a smart training move…Sudden mileage increases and laziness toward strength work is what got me injured in the first place.  I’m just happy to be running again! I have all year to reach my time goals- this 5k is just to get back out there! Although, at some point this year I’d like to run a sub 18 5k…not sure how realistic that is.🤔

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So, without further ado let’s recap my last two weeks of training/ my return to running. I won’t lie- it’s not very exciting 😂 My return to running involves cross training, strength work, and only a few days of running per week. Each pain free mile and increase in my strength and balance is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it!💪🏻

Week 1: Monday December 11th-Sunday December 17th:

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

-Tuesday December 12th: 20 min on the stair stepper, lower body weights, foam rolling, & resistance band exercises

-Wednesday December 13th: 30 minutes of yoga & foam rolling

-Thursday December 14th: REST DAY

-Friday December 15th: 20 minutes stationary bike, resistance band exercises, upper body exercises, and core

-Saturday December 16th: 1st run back in nearly 6 weeks! 2.2 miles at 7:30 pace followed by lower body strength exercises & foam rolling

first run back

-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

Week 2: Monday, December 18th- Sunday December 25th:

-Monday December 18th: 2nd run back was 2 dark miles at 7:24 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling

2 miles in the dark

-Tuesday December 19th: 40 minute upper body, core, & IT band strength routine

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-Wednesday December 20th: 3 miles at 7:15 pace followed by 15 minutes of yoga and foam rolling

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-Thursday December 21st: Lower body strength routine similar to Tuesday’s workout

-Friday December 22nd: REST DAY. Went to zoo lights and out for pizza/beers with my husband to celebrate the end of final exams with his students (he gave a little over 100 final exams Monday-Thursday, so was A LOT of grading due today ).

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-Saturday December 23rd: REST DAY, but did some stretching & foam rolling

-Sunday December 24th: Christmas Eve fun run of 3 miles at 7:47 pace with my husband and the running club in our hometown. We kept the pace easy because it was icy and it started to snow toward the end of the run.

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Today’s question: Are any of you running any races this winter? If so, are they in a warm or cold destination? ALSO, if you aren’t running any winter races and are interested in the F^3 5k or half marathon in Chicago, check out my race discounts page! Plus, then you can join me at Chicago’s coolest winter race! See what I did there?! 😂