Chicago Spring 10k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Chicago Spring 10k  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!

The old saying goes, better late than never, right? So, it may be nearly a month after the fact, but I am finally reviewing my experience at the Chicago Spring 10k on Sunday May 19th. It honestly feels like the race was just yesterday, but maybe it’s just me feeling like this summer is flying.

A LOT has changed for me running-wise since May 19th. At that point I was two weeks into a new training plan and consistent running. After healing from my injury sustained during/after the Chicago Marathon in October 2018 I slowly started running again in January 2019, but with my crazy busy student and work schedule, I just did not have the time to run more than 5-15 miles per week. I kept this type of training up until the end of April where I ran whenever I could fit in a run and even did a few untrained races. As a competitive person by nature, with big goals, I knew this is not how I wanted my training to go the rest of the year and promised to get more serious about it. I received an opportunity to get coached by Jared Ward through his Endure Strong team in April. My goal race is the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 21, 2019 and I started a new training plan the last week of April/first week of May. There will be a future blog post on my experience with Endure Strong. I also started a one month run streak through Strava on May 1st, so at the time of this race I was 19 days into my run streak.

Let’s just say I was not in peak shape for this 10k race. With two weeks of consistent running under my belt and an unusually humid May day, I did not have any great expectations. I had talked to my friend Katherine before the race and we had a similar race plan, so we decided we would run the 10k together and then if either of us felt good, we would break away with no hard feelings. Neither of us felt particularly good during the race though, so this was a non-issue. Plus, we had an adventurous start to the race, where all of sudden Katherine disappeared from her spot next to me, because the crazy wind swept up her lucky visor. She was able to chase after it and a minute later returned to her spot running by my side. We hit mile 1 around 6:45, which was slightly faster than our plan of 6:50, but did not feel terrible.

But then the struggle-fest began…it was not getting any cooler and I was low-key getting annoyed that we had to keep weaving around the 3 hour half marathoners in our lane and then not veer into the other lane where the sub 1:20 half marathoners were rounding the final few miles. The half marathon started about 45 minutes before the 10k in the hopes of avoiding race overlap. I’d say my only complaint about this race is the over-lap still occurred, but it’s not a huge deal. Anyway, miles 2-4 were a struggle. At this point Katherine and I were no longer running together 🙁 . And I just felt clunky and overheated, but that’s to be expected when it’s extremely humid and you’ve only been training consistently for two weeks. My splits were 6:46, 6:48, and 6:55. The picture below summarizes exactly how I was feeling.IMG_9818

Then just before mile 5, I saw my husband cheering and I caught the 1:30 half marathon pace group. This gave me a little energy, but I was still feeling like garbage. I told myself if I could stick with them I could ensure my remaining miles were under 7 minute pace. I knew this was a tall task because I was also starting to have some GI issues (sorry for the TMI). I told myself to focus on sub 7 minute miles and not pooping (again, sorry for the TMI, but aren’t we all runners here? 😛 ). I was successful with my second goal (LOL), but not my first goal. Mile 5 was a 6:55 and mile 6 was a 7:05. I was able to kick it in around 6 minute pace for the final 0.2, but it did not feel great, especially with the GI discomfort. My overall time was 43:20, which is technically a 38 sec PR, but that’s not saying much when my first 10k last year was also run untrained. 

I’d be lying if I said I was not disappointed with this race and time, but I need to give myself some grace. I had only been running consistently for 2 weeks going into the race and I had not done speed work. Now, nearly a month since this race, I can confidently say I would run a much faster 10k (maybe around 40 minutes), since my training is going well and I’ve been doing speed work! It’s good to have perspective of where you are at in your running journey. On May 19th, that was what I had to give. And in the near future I will definitely go after that 10k time. If you read Katherine’s review about this race, she had a similar experience. IMG_4652Overall, it was a well run race (minus the 10k/half marathon overlap) and it was fun. I loved that we all got a free plant for finishing (I still have mine, but it looks dead 🙁 ) and the post-race brunch was a nice touch (even though there were not many vegan options, but that’s what I expected). The best part was getting to hang out with Katherine and finally meeting Katherine’s athlete and my Instagram friend Maddie in real life after the race. We all took some silly pictures and just giggled about how hard and hot the race was. I was in awe of Maddie because she ran the half marathon and I could not imagine how that would have felt, after the struggle I felt during the shorter 10k race. But, we all did our races and are stronger athletes because of it! And this is still a must-run race, because most years the weather is nice and the city/lake views you get during the race are outstanding. I plan to run the 10k or half marathon again next year! I also plan to be better trained this time around 😉 Processed with VSCO with c1 presetHave you run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon or 10k before?! Did you run it this year too? 

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Breaking out of your shell with Turtle Gloves: a reviewed

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens 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.

With the winters we have been having here in Chicago I could not help, but say “shell yeah” to the opportunity to test out the Turtle Flip Mittens on my runs. Plus, Turtle Gloves is an amazing, up and coming small owned brand so I knew I wanted to give them some extra love!

So, what are Turtle Gloves, Turtle Flip Mittens? They are mittens, of course! They come in three different weights: light, midweight, and heavyweight. The weight you chose will depend on the climate in your area and time of year. I live in Chicago and we’ve been in a polar vortex on/off since January and I have Reynaud’s so the heavyweight are my mitten of choice. I also love that they have a variety of sizes to fit all hand sizes, both small and big. I almost got the youth size, but I like some room in my gloves, so the small was perfect! 😛 I love that the mittens can be worn in other ways, such as fingerless gloves (for those mid run photos 😉 ) when your hands get warm or even as arm warmers, perfect for race day!

Another use I shared with some of the other BibRave Pros is snot gloves…😂 Okay, I know GROSS, but my nose runs constantly when I am running and Turtle Gloves are the perfect material to wipe your nose without making it chapped and the material is pretty absorbent… That brings me to my next favorite feature, how easy it is to launder the gloves. They can go in the washer and dryer, no problem and they came out softer than ever with each wash. And yes, I washed them a lot because of all the times I had to wipe my nose. 😛

The only con I can think of for Turtle Flip Mittens is that they were not warm enough on some of my runs. BUT I have Reynaud’s and am the type of person that is always cold and needs two pairs of gloves on winter runs under 20 degrees..with that being said, I like that I was able to layer a small, thinner glove under my Turtle Mittens because they are roomy! So hardly a con, because i could still wear them on my coldest runs, as long as I layered up!

BRP Ben and I give Turtle Gloves two thumbs up!

I HIGHLY recommend Turtle Gloves Turtle Flip Mittens as a regular part of your running wardrobe, especially if you live somewhere that is cold. It’s Mid-march and I would not be surprised if gloves are needed for at least another month🙃I’ll make sure to keep a clean (snot-free pair) ready for all my upcoming runs. 😛

Lastly, want to try some Turtle Gloves for yourself? Use the code “TurtleBibRave” for 15% off order when you order on their website!And let me know below if you’ve tried Turtle Gloves!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say Turtle Gloves:

Amy

Ben L

Ben W

Jenna

Jennifer

Jonathon

Lisa

Randy

Sam

Tia

Vanessa

19 goals for 2019

Happy New Year friends! 🎉I hope 2019 is off to an amazing start for all of you! 🙂 I’ve seen a few people share their 2019 goals over the last few days and I love reading other peoples goals (is that weird?! 😂), so I thought I would share mine as well. 😛

I’ve seen a lot of people pick 19 goals for 2019 (#19for2019), so I decided to do the same. The #19for2019 is from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, I believe. I do not listen to the podcast, but I have heard good things, so maybe I will start! Anyway, the point of 19 goals in 2019 is to pick several smaller, more manageable goals and/or changes to implement over this year and to periodically check-in with yourself. Last year, I had 15 goals and tried to check-in with my goals each season, so I will strive for the same this year.

My goals are a combination of running, marriage, hobby, and life goals. It helps with accountability to have specific goals and to pick when you will check-in with them. I aim to check-in with my goals in March, June, October, and the end of December 2019! So let’s run into 2019, with speed, determination, and enthusiasm toward our goals 😉

19 goals for 2019:

1. Read (or listen) to 24 books

2. Read (or listen) to a book for at least 10 minutes/ day 

3. Write 2 new blog posts/ month 

4. Maintain my paper/pen running log (I use the Believe Training Journal) for the entire year 

5. Go to bed earlier (ideally before midnight, but this will be tough with night class)

6. Crochet or knit at least 1x/week 

7. Try 3 new workouts this year

8. Strength train 2x/week (at least 20 minute sessions)

9. Yoga 1x/week (at least a 20 minute session) 

10. Glute strength/hip strength/pre-hab exercises 3x/week

11. Foam rolling/ Roll Recovery before OR after every run for 5 minutes 

12.Run 2,019 kilometers this year (1,254.5 miles)

13. Embrace cross training 1x/week to help prevent future injuries 

14. Run a race (any distance) in a state that is not Illinois

15. Sub 1:30 half marathon 

16. Sub 3:10 marathon 

17. Focus on saving-double our savings account

18. Cook 1 new meal/ month with my husband

19. Try 5 new veg-friendly restaurants 

What are your goals for 2019? Did you also make a #19for2019 list?! Let me know here or on Instagram, so I can cheer you on! 🙂

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?! 👇🏻

Healthy and happy running with Nuun Immunity

Disclaimer: I received a 2 tubes of Nuun Immunity (Orange Citrus and Blueberry Tangerine) 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.

As many of you already know, I am running my 1st marathon this weekend! 😱 One of my biggest concerns, besides fitting in the training with my busy work and school schedule, was staying healthy. Running is really good for you, but high mileage on a student schedule with less sleep than ideal and hours spent on public transportation, had me concerned… I was looking into ways to stay healthy before school started, and then I was given the opportunity to test Nuun Immunity through BibRave! 🙌🏻

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First things first, what is Nuun? Nuun is an electrolyte supplement that you add to your water.  I’m sure many of you have tried Nuun before or even seen it at local races. There are a few different types: Electrolyte, Vitamins, and Immunity. I’ve used the Electrolyte tablets on some of my long runs for the sodium replacement. Immunity is different from the other varieties because there is less sodium and more immune boosting and inflammatory nutrients. I love that each tablet contains elderberry, turmeric, zinc, ginger, and echinacea, all things that might help prevent colds or reduce inflammation in your body.

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Each tube comes with 10 tablets that dissolve easily in your water. No scooping or measuring is necessary, so perfect for people who live on-the-go lifestyles, like myself. There are two delicious flavors: Orange Citrus and Blueberry Tangerine. Blueberry Tangerine is my favorite, but both are tasty. Since, receiving the tablets in August I have had at least one tablet and as many as three a day. I’ve had to reorder a couple of times- that’s how much I love them! 🙂 There were a few weeks where many of my classmates and a few of the professors I work for as a nutrition assistant were sick and I managed to stay healthy.  What is even more amazing is some of the last few weeks I was only averaging 5-6 hours of sleep a night, which is not ideal for marathon training (or in general). I’m a person who feels best with 9 hours of sleep! I cannot speak for sure what has kept me healthy, but I feel like Nuun Immunity played a role! Plus, like a good future Registed Dietitian, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to stay hydrated and pair your Nuun Immunity with nourishing plant-based meals to be your strongest self 😉

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You better believe I will be hydrating with all the beverages and drinking Nuun Immunity tablets like it’s my job over the next 4 days until the Chicago Marathon. Then a after the marathon, they will be a critical piece in my recovery puzzle 🙂 I am a believer! Nuun Immunity has helped me run healthy and happy this training cycle and I want it to help you too!  Head over to the Nuun website and use code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off!

Have your tried Nuun before? If so, which is your favorite flavor? The Blueberry Tangerine Immunity and Blueberry Pomegranate Vitamins are my two favorite flavors. 🙂

 

Organizing Your Weekly Plant-Based Meal Plan

Good afternoon friends!

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a food related post here 😱 I’ve been a little caught up in the busyness of school, work, and deciding if I should run the Chicago Marathon or not over the last few weeks. The good news is, I decided to still run the race despite a few weeks of less than ideal training! Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know this!😜 You can’t run you first marathon if you don’t start the race!😉

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During these busy days of marathon training, school, and beyond, it is so important to eat healthy and often. When I get busy or stressed, I tend to under eat, which is the opposite of a lot of people and not ideal for running some serious miles.😩 What has been key for me overcoming this over the last few weeks is planning my meals (especially lunch) ahead of time. It also helps to have most amazing husband, who makes me cashew butter and jam sandwiches on especially busy mornings to bring to school. I’m lucky, what can I say?!😍

Anyway, imagine my excitement when Meghan Harris of White Rabbit Garage Storage, reached out to me to write a guest post here about meal planning. I thought that it was perfect timing, as I am personally working on being better about meal planning!

So, without first ado, here is the first ever guest post on Black Bean Queen! 🙂

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Eating a plant-based diet is not only healthier for you but also makes you feel better and have more energy throughout the day. However, organizing and creating a meal plan to follow can be tedious and daunting. Without a solid plan in place, it is easy to fall back into old habits and to slip up more often than you’d like. Below are 3 tips to help you organize your weekly meal plan and a sample plant-based meal plan for you to try.

Look Through Your Pantry

Go through your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator to get a solid idea of what foods you have to cook with already. Starting with foods you have previously purchased allows you to not only save money, but also time when shopping. You’ll also waste less food.

Going through your pantry will give you a sense for what foods you typically eat and help you remember which ones you didn’t like when you tried them. You will also be able to free up more space and organize the shelves, so you can look through your food storage easier in the future. If you have any food that you don’t like, and it hasn’t yet expired, donate it to your local food pantry.

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Find a Place to Keep Recipes

If you prefer written recipes you will want to find a place in your kitchen that won’t get ruined by spilled oil and is easily within reach. Consider finding recipe organizers at Target or on Amazon.

If you prefer online recipes keep a file on your computer or phone to organize different websites, you have found with recipes. You can use a word doc, detailed Pinterest board, or Google files to do so. Make sure this is accessible from several devices in case one is misplaced or broken.

Choose Meals with Familiar Ingredients

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 Meal planning will help you feel less stressed during the week, so you can avoid spending money on unnecessary food purchases. However, if you are shopping for items you primarily are unfamiliar with you won’t use them either.

If you shop for black beans often, you know when they are a good deal and when you should use a different kind of bean. If you use quinoa often, you know exactly how long to cook it for before it becomes soggy. As you become more comfortable with meal planning, add in 1 or 2 new ingredients each week.

As you work on your weekly meal plan, remember that it’s okay to be flexible and that some meals may go awry. You can always pick yourself up and try again the next day!

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BONUS: Here is a simple work week meal plan for you to try!

Day Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Monday Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Basic Tofu Stir Fry Cauliflower Fried Rice
Tuesday Vegan Waffles with Blueberry Sauce Creamy One Pot Pasta Pasta Bean Casserole
Wednesday Peanut butter and dark chocolate oatmeal Squacos Greek Goddess Bowl
Thursday Apple Buckwheat Pancakes with Coconut Caramel Apples Tomato and White Bean Salad

 

Black Bean and Quinoa Taco Bowls
Friday Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Hummus Pizza with Veggies

This post was written by Meghan Harris at White Rabbit Garage Storage. She enjoys hiking, playing card games, and spending time with her family.

What other tips do you have to organize your weekly meal plan?

 

A long overdue Chicago marathon training update

Hello friends!

I’m really struggling. REALLY. STRUGGLING. And then I saw this e-mail… but only after I dug through my junk e-mail folder before emptying it.

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It’s like the Chicago marathon knew that seeing this e-mail would not be in my best interest, so it went right to junk. But I saw it and it’s already something I’ve been considering since late last week.

So yes, it’s true I’m considering NOT running the Chicago Marathon as my first marathon. I know this may come as a complete and total shock to you..especially if you follow me on Instagram. There you see that I update my training pretty frequently, but that is not the whole story, especially lately.

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I offically made the decision in April 2018 to change my path and pursue my dream to become a Registered Dietitian. At 26 years old, you could say I’ve never been one to do things conventionally 😉 But my former jobs will only make me a better RD in the long run. I’m two weeks into my classes and new job as a nutrition assistant. I’m loving it, but things have been tough. I don’t want to sound ungrateful-I’m so fortunate to have the ability to take out loans and go back to school, be healthy enough to run, chase my dreams, and rely on the support of others, especially my husband. I could not make this dream a reality otherwise.

But, there have been a lot of doubts.

I keep questioning myself: “Is it worth it to change my career after I already have a BA in a related field and MA in a different field? How do I balance sleep/ training/ work/ classes? What does it say about me if I chose sleep after a late night of studying versus an early run? Am I passionate enough? How can I utilize my time more effectively on my 2.5-3 hour commute? As a future RD, isn’t it ironic that I struggle to eat enough to fuel my training/life sometimes? How can I expect to run a marathon on 30 miles per week when I was doing better mileage  earlier this summer?”

Then, I feel like I turn these personal questions into EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES…

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(My longest run last year since college almost exactly a year ago that resulted in another injury)

I spent most of my college running career and the years after nursing injuries/not running. I got hurt again last year at this time when I was trying to finally make my return to running! I later realized the key for me to staying healthy is doing most of my runs at a very easy pace. It took me until this year to master that. I’ve spent years just wanting to get to this point of healthy, consistent running! And now I’m there (or was, except for last two weeks of training)…

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(throw back to 2011 college cross country)

In college, I had a demanding science major, a very part time job (I was allowed to do my homework during it :P), cross country practice (sometimes twice a day), and a few other extracurriculars.  So, now that I’m older, back in school, and healthy, it’s frustrating that I am struggling to balance my schedule. But I’m only on week 2, so it will get better! It doesn’t help sometimes that when I am talking to other people training for a marathon in person or on social media I see so many who juggle even more than me crushing their training. And the first thing I think after being inspired and excited for them is, how? What is their secret? I don’t mean for that to sound pessimistic. But it’s hard to not to play the comparison game. I know I’m not the only one.

But my husband reminded me that some of you may look at me here, on social media, etc. and think that I too am crushing it and have the perfect training/life balance. I assure you I don’t! I am a firm believer in less is more, but America teaches us to be busy, busy, busy. Who can work the longest? Who can eat the healthiest? Who can run the most miles? Who can do the most extracurriculars? Work the most jobs? etc. etc. It’s not realistic to do everything, all the time, and you never know the whole story until you ask someone. We are all just trying to figure it out.

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I pride myself on being honest in the hopes that others can relate. Last week I ran only 35 miles (instead of my goal of 40-45). I struggled with the timing of runs with my new classes, my 2.5-3 hour commute to school, and the heat/humidity/weather. This week I started working on top of my classes and that further complicated things. I’m still trying to get in the rhythm of a good schedule because this is all new to me. I’m only at 8 miles this week and may reach 25-30 miles depending on the next 24 hours. I’ve been demoralized about my paces during runs and I feeling worn down on more runs than energized. Also, I’m competitive and put a lot of pressure on myself to run a certain time. Yet, I know no one will judge me if I run a 3:15 marathon or a 4 hour one because it’s amazing to just finish one! Although, I cannot decide if I have enough training to still run Chicago, especially if this trend in my training continues…This is why I desperately wish I had a coach and/or team. 🙁

I thought it might help me decide to reflect on the majors lows and highs of my training so far. Lows first, then highs because I  am doing my best to remain positive!

Training lows:

The Rock ‘n Roll Chicago half marathon (week 8) where I ran much slower than I expected, but it was a tough day for all in the monsoon-like conditions:

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My first “true” long run of training cycle was 14 miles (week 10) where I learned that 12 ounces is not enough water, you need to wear sunscreen, and one gel is not enough:

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Last week’s long run (week 14) that was supposed to be 14-15 miles and I only completed 12. It was my worst run this training cycle and left me feeling defeated and questioning if I have what it takes:

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Training highs

The first tempo run in the training cycle (week 11) that felt good/strong. I did a 4 mile tempo in 6:51, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:49:

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My first ever 16 miler (week 11) with my husband while on vacation in Michigan, where I nailed my nutrition and first started feeling like the possibility of me running a marathon was not so crazy:

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My mile repeat workout during week 12 of training where I exceeded my expectations and ran a 6:24, 6:13,  6:11, and 6:22. I realized I am in better shape than I thought! Nowhere near where my mile repeats in college, but this is a new era of running for me, so I was proud of myself that day:

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My 18 miler (week 12) where I ran 12 miles with my old college teammates and 6 miles on my own. I nailed my nutrition on this run! The run made me realize I am tough and can run further than expected:

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My 20 miler during week 13 done all on my own. I nailed my nutrition on my run and ran it at an easy pace, but was able to pick up the pace a little at the end, despite it being 85 degrees out.  The run was actually pretty fun and it made me realize I am mentally and physically strong enough to run farther than I though!

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The Nike race last week (week 14) where I ran a decent 3.4 mile race (22:04) in the middle of my first week of school where all my other runs that week were subpar. It was fun! It reminded me that I miss racing, especially the shorter ones and training with a team. The positive energy at the race was contagious!

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If you stuck around to read this…thank you! 🙂 It was helpful for me to formulate how I have been feeling. I have until Sept. 18th to decide what to do. As of tonight, I do not know the best decision, but know that your support of my running, my new career path, and me means the world. Know that whatever I decide about Chicago, I am still rooting for all of you! Keep crushing your runs and workouts! At the end of the day we run for fun, so what’s the point if it’s not fun? I am taking the pressure off myself and thinking through this decision. I have a feeling that even if I don’t run Chicago I will find another race to do since I have increased my fitness a lot the last few months 😛

Have you ever deferred a major race (or any race)? Why did you make that decision? 

 

Plants are cool #2: Basic Tofu Stir Fry recipe

Good afternoon! This is the 1st Saturday I have gotten off of work early in months, so I decided it was time to finally share another plant-based recipe! Today I am sharing a staple recipe in my apartment: basic tofu stir fry. My husband and I eat this at least one a week, if not more often 😛 That’s how much we love it! And it’s easy to prepare, easy to customize, and easy to clean-up,

I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am plant based…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Basic Tofu Stir Fry recipe

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen stir fry vegetables OR slice up your favorite fresh vegetables (I recommend peppers, broccoli, onion, mushroom, carrots, celery, and baby corn)

Organic extra or super firm tofu (I recommend Trader Joe’s or 365 by Whole Foods)

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

Dried ginger (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Tamari sauce to taste (at least a tablespoon)

Optional: red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or nutritional yeast. 

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the vegetables if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Press your tofu. We invested in a tofu press because it significantly cuts down on the time of the recipe.  (Here’s some methods to press tofu if you don’t have a press).

5. After pressing your tofu, slice into bite-sized cubes.

6. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan or a Wok and then add the cubed tofu.

7. Sauté the tofu on medium- high for about 5-10 minutes or until the cubes start to brown.

8. Add the fresh, sliced veggies or the frozen stir fry veggies and continue to sauté until everything is cooked thoroughly .

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

10. Once the tofu stir fry is cooked throughly, serve atop the cooked grains and add your desired mix-ins. My favorite mix in is pumpkin seeds and my husband loves red pepper flakes.  🙂

If you make my basic tofu stir fry recipe, I’d love to see your creation! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of basic tofu stir fry on my social media channels!

 

Run for the Zoo 10k review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Run for the Zoo as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

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I was lucky enough to run my first ever 10k at the Lincoln Park Zoo Run for the Zoo on Sunday June 3, 2018. Even though I ran cross country/track in college, I never made it through a track season due to injury and thus never got the chance to run a 10k race. The weather on race morning was absolutely perfect for a shorter race: sunny, no wind, and in the 70’s. 🙂 I was fortunate to be joined by my husband, my good friend Michael, Michael’s mom, and fellow BibRave Pro Ben.

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My training for this race was virtually non-existent. I ran the Illinois Half Marathon on April 28, 2018 and after the race I took a couple weeks off/very low mileage due to some knee/hip pain. Once I finally started running again, I did not do any speed work and only ran 9 times between the half marathon and this race, so I was very surprised with the outcome. I came in 2nd overall and 1st in my age group with a time of 43:58. So not bad!

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Although, next time I run a 10k, I want to do speed work and train hard because my ultimate 10k time goal is sub 40 minutes 😱

My husband had a speedy race for his first ever 10k: 35:03 (5:39/mile!!!) and came in 5th overall and 2nd on his age group.

 

Michael and his mom were also happy with their races! I did not get a chance to catch up with Ben after his race, but his recap is here and it sounds like a solid race, especially because he ran two tough races in the span of 24 hours!

Other race notes:

Expo/Packet pick up: The packet pick-up was held the Friday and Saturday before the race at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was easy to find and the volunteers were friendly. I picked up packets for myself, my husband, Michael, and his mom since I was off work the Friday before the race.

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Parking: It was a little tough to find parking at the Lincoln Park Zoo lot and it was a little expensive, but it was worth it to get a close parking spot. Michael and his mom found a parking garage about a mile from the zoo for cheaper. Free Street parking is hard to come by in the area, so you should either take public transit or be willing to shell out some cash for parking.

Waiting for the start: The start line was easy to find and had different sections of the corral depending on your projected finish time pace. I lined up a the appropriate spot, but I felt like a lot of other people did not. There were definitely people who started too fast and then faded, but I feel like this happens most races.

Race course: The course was relatively flat and fast. It started on the road in front of the Lincoln Park Zoo, then moved to the Lake Front Running Path, and then you finished with a loop inside the Zoo. There were lots of beautiful views to take in on the 10k course! The only parts of the course I did not like was the start of the race/end of the race were run on the uneven road and the slippery board walk in the last half mile. I felt nervous that I was going to slip, but I luckily did not. It is not the race’s fault either- it had rained the night before. Overall, they did a great job of marking the course and ensuring our safety.

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Post race/after party: As soon as I finished the race inside the Zoo, I was greeted with all kinds of beverages and treats. My favorite was the post-race popsicle! There were various vendors out and about, so you could get a lot of free treats. Kind bars, beer, water, Gatorade, and Bobo’s Oat Bars to name a few. You could take a walk through the Zoo to say hello to the animals, take pictures in any of the ionic locations in the zoo, or dance to the post-race music.

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Swag: Every finisher got a cool dri-fit shirt. The top male and female 5k and 10k winners each won free flight tickets, so that was cool. As mentioned above, there were treats galore. There were also free race photos and they definitely captured some great moments during the race. 😛

Athlinks: Since this was my first ever 10k I get to consider the race a PR 🙂 So, of course I claimed my shiny new PR on Athlinks. I’ll be sharing a post about what Athlinks is later this month. You can see my claimed results here! Athlinks is an awesome way to track all results for your races. I also use it to figure out what goals I should shoot for my next race by adding myself to the start list. I definitely suggest creating an account and claiming your results too. Share your Athlinks profile link in the comments below and I’ll follow you! 🙂

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Overall, it was fun race! It’s flat and fast which is perfect for obtaining a 5k or 10k PR. I’d run it again next year!

Did you run the Run for the Zoo this year? If not, you really should register for next year! I’m already thinking about it 😉

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P.S. Check out my 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! 🙂

Illinois half marathon training week 10

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon 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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Good evening friends! I can’t believe we are 11 days away from race day! 😱

I am definitely getting nervous because it’s my 1st big post-college race, but I also feel prepared. This training cycle started out rocky with my crazy schedule during my temporary teaching job, but getting a coach a month ago has been a game changer. Plus, my teaching job is over now, and although I am working two part time jobs, I have been able to train more consistently than when teaching. And I’m just generally happier and more motivated about training because now I am on a path to pursuing my passions. 😍

I sometimes have to be creative about when to fit in my runs, though, because some weeks I work mornings/days and other weeks I have to work evenings/nights. Regardless, the change in jobs has allowed me to run more often with others, go to fun events, and meet new people as you will see in this week’s training recap. I even hit my highest weekly mileage since college over the last two weeks. 30 miles per week may not seem like much, and I was running more in college, but I’m just so happy to be running injury free again! 🙂 So without further ado let’s get to the recap!

Week 10: Monday April 9th -Sunday April 15th

Monday April 9th: My friend Ben has a somewhat a flexible work schedule and I was off work, so he came to Chicago to run 5.1 miles (7:47 pace) with me. Afterwards, I took him to one of my favorite coffee shops. He’s silly and got a cold drink even though it was chilly and it had snowed earlier in the day! I got an oat milk chai and I would 10/10 recommend. It was fun to spend the afternoon running and talking to another fellow running nerd. I’m grateful for all the awesome people I have met through Bibrave!

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-Tuesday April 10th:  I ran 4.5 miles with some 6x 30 second strides at 6:16 pace mixed in. Then, I went to one of my favorite Thai places to finally meet up with Danielle in real life. We had been following each other on social media/our blogs for a while and talking nearly every day prior to dinner about all things running, health, and nutrition, so I was not scared at all to meet up! The two and half hours really flew by at dinner and I cannot wait for more adventures with another fellow future RD!

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-Wednesday April 11th: I helped lead an easy 3.1 mile evening fun run with Scott Jurek and then attended a question/answer session and book signing. It was amazing and honestly I’m still star struck that I met one of my favorite runners in real life! I cannot wait to read North, his newest book! It was worth the long line to get it signed and have him write personal note to my husband, who was coaching track and unable to attend the event.

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-Thursday April 12th: A while ago Katie messaged me saying she’d be in Chicago for a business trip and asked if I’d want to run this week. Katie is another runner that I connected with through Instagram. We decided to run together on Thursday. We ran 5 miles at an easy pace (7:53/ mile) along the Lakefront Path. The weather was amazing and actually spring-like, unlike Monday when it snowed. The miles flew by far two quickly and we bonded over being former division 1 runners and our love of training/racing even in our busy adult lives. I hope we can run again soon! I love how social media and this blog has connected me to so many amazing people.

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-Friday April 13th: REST DAY. Spent some time doing yoga and foam rolling because it was much needed.

-Saturday April 14th: 12 miles at 7:53 pace. This was supposed to be a hard workout within my long run, but the freezing, windy, rainy weather made that tough. I did the best I could, but only completed 4 of the 6 tempo miles. It’s tough when you are supposed to run 3 miles at 7:00-7:15 pace, 2 miles at 6:49 pace and 1 mile at 6:49 pace or faster and you know you can hit all those paces, but running into the crazy headwind you get a 7:09 as your fastest… My husband was helping me pace the workout (all my paces are easy for him because he is super speedy) and together we decided the time on my feet was much more important than hitting the paces. We decided to just finish the run as a regular long run rather than tempo more into the crazy wind. I was super frustrated on Saturday, but now reflecting back on the day I am proud I got my long run done! It would have been easy to turn around, head home, and throw in the towel.

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-Sunday April 15th: REST DAY.

WEEKLY TOTAL:  29.7 miles

Tonight’s question: Are you racing this month? If not, want to last minute join me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉