Illinois half marathon training weeks 1 & 2

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 to review find and write race reviews!


I can’t believe I’ve made it through the first two weeks of Illinois half marathon training! It has been tough to balance training with my (relatively) new teaching job…Things are going well training wise, though, and I really hope it stays that way! I’m nervous because of my injury history, but I am optimistic, especially after I wrapped up week 2 yesterday! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my last two weeks of training! 🙌🏻

Week 1: Monday February 5th -Sunday February 11th

-Monday February 5th: REST

-Tuesday February 6th:  3 miles @ 7:42 on the treadmill followed by strength work


-Wednesday February 7th: REST/XT

-Thursday February 8th: REST

-Friday February 9th: Unexpected day off work (snow day) resulted in a fun, but snowy/slippery 5 miles @ 7:59 pace


-Saturday February 10th: 4 miles @ 7:31 pace


-Sunday February 11th: REST

WEEKLY TOTAL: 14 miles

Week 2: Monday February 12th -Sunday February 18th:

-Monday February 12th: 3 miles after school at 7:18 pace followed by stretching


-Tuesday February 13th: REST

-Wednesday February 14th: 3 miles @ 7:07 pace. I ran by feel, but ended up with a run that was almost at tempo pace…


-Thursday February 15th: Late and dark 4 miler at 7:49 pace. This run didn’t feel great…



-Friday February 16th: REST

-Saturday February 17th: 1 mile w/u, 3 miles @ goal half marathon pace (6:49, 6:54, 6:48), and 3 mile c/d


-Sunday February 18th: 5 mile recovery run @ 7:39 pace followed by yoga


WEEKLY TOTAL:  21 miles 

Tonight’s question: What races are you training for this spring? Will any of you be joining 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!😉


Top 5 reasons why you should run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve lived in Chicago for 4 years now and this is the first year I’m running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k!😱 If it weren’t for all injuries over the last few years, I would have run it sooner because it’s a really awesome race! Don’t be like me-run it this year too! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code!😜

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

1. You can’t beat the amazing city views on the race course! 😍 I may be biased because I live in Chicago, but dang the views are gorgeous! You get to run through scenic downtown Chicago where you get the best of both worlds: city AND lake views! And if you’re not up for the full 8k, the 2 mile walk course still boasts some stellar views! 😊


2. Beer! 🍻 Need I say more? You get one free Michelob ULTRA beer at the finish line (if you are of age of course)! There is live music, great city/lake views for that post race insta 📸, and then you can head over to the post race party. This year the post race party is at the Scout Waterhouse & Kitchen (1301 S. Wabash Ave.). If you bring your race bib to  the Scout between 2 pm and 1 am they will give you another free Michelob ULTRA!


3. The race is such a big deal that NBC 5 Chicago covers it! So, if you’ve ever wanted to be on TV, now might be your chance 😉 The cooler your outfit, the better your chance of being featured on TV (ok I made this up…but dressing up is part of the fun 😝)!


4. The race is competitive. There’s even an elite corral! So you just may be able to admire one of your favorite runners from afar!  Each year over 30,000 runners run the Shamrock Shuffle! So, regardless of your pace,  there is bound to be someone to race against and push you toward an ever elusive PR! And if you are extra competitive you can form a team and race in the team competition division. Plus, the finisher’s medal is pretty is I do say so myself!🥇


5. You just might PR! An 8k is a unique race distance (4.97 miles) that you may have not done before. And anytime you run a new race it’s a PR, right?


BONUS REASON: I’ll be there! I’m running it for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜


Have you run the Shamrock Shuffle before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! If use the code “SHUFFLE” at the following link: you can save $10 on your race entry!


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.


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 😛


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.


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!


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 😛


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! :/


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



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.


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!!!! 😱


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!


-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.


-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.


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.


-Saturday January 6th: REST DAY

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


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.


-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.


-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 🙁


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!


-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.



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?

Running into 6 months of marriage: a look back on how we met & our Chicago Marathon engagement

I can’t believe I’ve been married for 6 months! 😱 Time flies when you are having fun-that’s for sure! Although the last year has had some ups and downs, including my injury in Nov, my wedding exactly 6 months ago was, hands-down, the highlight of 2017! So in honor of the best day of my life (so-far), 6 months of marriage, and my favorite runner in the whole world (who happens to be my husband) I am taking a look back on our story. 😍


I thought this would be a fun way for all of you who don’t know me in real life to get to know me better….but rest assured this blog will continue to be a space primarily dedicated to running/training, racing, running product reviews, and vegetarian food.

So, without further ado, here are the stories! 💕

How my husband & I met

My husband and I knew of each other for years before they started dating because we attended the same middle school and were both on the cross country/track teams in high school. Fast forward to April 2009: it was track season and prom asking season. My now husband noticed a lot of his friends on the track team were taking dates to prom. He decided he also wanted to go to prom in May, but who should he ask? Even though he barely knew me, he thought he would ask me because he thought I was a talented and cute runner on the girls track/cross country team and I seemed nice. He waited at my locker on an April morning with flowers and asked me to prom. I accepted!


We hung out several times in groups and at track meets leading up to prom. Then, we went to prom together as friends and did not expect to be anything but friends after the night ended. But something was special about that night in May 2009 and we both felt it. My now husband realized that night he wanted to hang out with me more and asked me on an “official” movie date the following week. I eagerly accepted. That night (May 9, 2009) he asked me to be his girlfriend and the rest is history!

The Proposal

On the morning of October 9th, 2016 we both woke up before 5 am. I had to report to the first Chicago Marathon water stop to volunteer by 5:30 am with my now husband’s mom, our friend’s mom, and my now husband’s sister (who made a surprise appearance…but I now know it was to be our photographer). That morning, I was confused why he woke up extra early with me since he was running and he did not need to be up until 5:30 am. He claimed he had to grab some “throw away warmups” from his mom’s car, so he went to her car, but at the time I did not think much of it. Little did I know he was giving the ring to his mom for safe keeping…

I hopped into car clueless about the day ahead. The day seemed relatively normal and this was my third time volunteering at the Chicago Marathon, so I knew the drill. After the race ended, his mom, his sister, our friend’s mom, and I went into the post-race party to find and congratulate my now husband and our friend. Once I found the boys, I volunteered to locate snacks for both of them, since I figured they would be hungry.  It was the perfect time for his mom to return the ring!  Once I returned, I gave my now husband  the snack and was confused that he didn’t want to eat it. I asked if he wanted me to grab a beer instead. He said sure, but that he wanted to walk with me to grab it. I said it was not necessary, but he insisted anyway…

Once we were out of the giant post-race crowd, he got down on his knee and proposed. I was shocked and excited. And of course the answer was YES!


Running was how we started dating in high school  (2009) and he wanted our proposal to occur surrounding one of our favorite activities. I am still in awe that he was able to get down on one knee after running a marathon…


Please let me know in the comments, via e-mail, Instagram,  Twitter, or Facebook if you appreciate these glimpses into my real (non-running) life or if you prefer the normal types of posts.




Join me at the Illinois Half Marathon on 04/28/2018!

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 to review find and write race reviews!


I’m excited to announce that I am running the Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday April 28, 2018 and I’d love for you to join me! 🙂 I even convinced my husband to run the full marathon, so hopefully I can convince YOU to run something!🤞🏻If you don’t want to run a full or half marathon they also have a 5k, 10k, and  marathon relay!

This is a really awesome race because it is FLAT (i.e. fast and perfect for PRing) and you get to finish in the historic Memorial stadium!  Plus, it is a USATF-certified marathon course and serves qualifying race for those of you looking to Boston-Qualify!😉 Another perk, are the free pacers for the half-marathon and full marathon! I know I will personally utilize the pacers during my half marathon race, so I can reach my goals. Finally, this race boasts some sweet amenities from free digital photos (how else can you immortalize your ugly race pain face?! haha, but seriously…see below for one of my college running gems 😂) to a pre-race bagel bar to a post race Muscle Milk.


(Me circa 2012 as a college runner with the classic race pain face)

So, what are my goals for this race?! Well, I’ve only done one other half-marathon in  and I did not train for it. For that race, I didn’t do speed work, my longest run was 8 miles, and my weekly mileage was maybe around 20 miles. I was feeling burned out from college and college running… I shouldn’t have signed up for one the summer after graduation. :/ During the race,  I ALMOST dropped out because my IT band tightened up around mile ten and I was in a lot of pain…but I’m stubborn and wanted to finish, so i did! I ended up taking a month off after the race and spent almost 8 months barely running without pain before I admitted I was injured…I went to Physical Therapy for 4 months in 2015 to get fixed up.  Considering all those factors I’m fine with my time 1:40, but I know I am capable of more this time around!


(My now husband & I at my last half marathon in 2014)

My goal is to at least get a PR and ideally run a sub 1:30! I’m going to train smarter and am already building my base. I just got over another injury, so I’m taking things real slow. I’m doing the F^3 5k in a few weeks to see where I’m at and then I plan on doing another half marathon in March to gauge my fitness. It will either be a trail half marathon in San Francisco or the Carmel half marathon in Indiana over my spring break (March 30th weekend)….stay tuned!

I’m going to loosely follow the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 training plan and it peaks around 35-40 miles per week. It is a 12 week program, so I will switch from base building to the training plan the first week of February. I picked the Intermediate 2 plan because I am keeping my mileage modest the first half of this year to make sure I stay injury free. Then, I will ramp my mileage up once I starting training for the Chicago Marathon later this summer! 😱

So, what do you say?! Want to join me at the Illinois Marathon? If so, use the code 2018bibravebonus for $5 off race entry for any of the race distances! 🙂

2018-BibRave-discount-code-usage-instructions.jpgTonight’s question: Are you running the Illinois Marathon (or Marathon relay, half, 10k, or 5k)? What other races are you running this spring?! 🙂

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year

Happy New Year friends!🎉 I hope you all had an amazing night…whether that involved drinking and dancing until dawn or snuggling up on the couch with loved ones and wine or a warm beverage.🥂 I fell into the latter category, but no complaints there! 😛

2017 was definitely a rough year for me, but it had some awesome moments too, especially my wedding!💍I reflected briefly on my run yesterday, so I am not going to reflect here. Rather, I want to leave 2017 behind and run straight into 2018 with a fresh perspective and clean slate.

running into the sunset

Who’s with me?!🙋🏼

I strongly believe that you should set goals year round and not wait until a holiday to start working toward them…BUT, with that being said, New Year’s Day is a perfect time to sit down, write out your new or ongoing goals, and come up with an action plan for accomplishing them!

So where to begin?!

Well, people do not meet their goals without a system of accountability or a way to track their progress toward their goals. Another reason that people do not meet their goals is because they make ones that are TOO ambitious for the given time frame. Although, I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing to set SOME lofty goals. I think it’s good to dream big, but to also have some smaller more attainable goals. 🙂 I have a good mix of both for 2018 and some of them have been a goals of mine for a while, as indicated on my goals page!

BRRRR negative wind chill run.jpg

To hold myself accountable this year, I am going to do a minimum of 4 check-ins on the blog. I will check-in during the spring (March), summer (June), fall (October), and winter (December) and more times if needed. Some of the goals below are specific to certain events in my life (i.e. my first marathon in October), so I will only check in with them when it makes sense. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals! 🤗

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals💃

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

6. Run my first 10k race

7. Run a trail race of any distance

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

10. Join a running group or racing team

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

14. Take my vitamin everyday

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

What are YOUR top 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂



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.🤔

lake views run

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

40 minute IT band

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

3 miles

-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 ).

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

-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.

christmas eve run

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?! 😂

Workout Wednesday #1: IT band strength & balance routine for runners

Good afternoon friends and fellow runners! 🙂

If you have been following me here for a while (or even if you haven’t) it is no secret that I’ve struggled with IT band issues on and off for years. IT band injuries are tricky because they are often a result of weak hips, glutes, and hamstrings and they are not something you can detect on a scan. Occasionally, weakness in other areas can cause pain in the IT band (i.e. your back or calves). Furthermore, tightness in those muscles, running on uneven surfaces, poor running form, or running the same route (i.e. the same direction on a track) may also contribute to IT band pain.  If you are interested, you can read more about my IT band injuries here and here.

After successfully kicking IT band injuries on both sides (at different times) and also having recurrences years later, I’ve figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and strong. I’ve undergone physical therapy, spent many hours with the weight room/foam roller/resistance band, and missed countless college track seasons and post college races to figure out that I need to do WEEKLY strength, balance, and flexibility work to stay strong. When I get busy and/or lazy on those workouts, that’s when I have IT band flare ups.

Here is an example of the type of strength and balance routine I do to get stronger during AND after IT band troubles. Be sure to modify the weights, reps, etc. to match your goals and fitness level- I shared mine just as a starting point. This is about a 40 minute workout for me, but may take you longer/shorter depending on reps, weights used, and rest between sets. I typically do strength training 2 times per week and more often (up to 4 times per week) when my IT band is bugging me. For flexibility, I do yoga (usually on YouTube, but occasionally at a local yoga studio) 1-2 times per week. If there is interest, I can continue to share my  strength workouts! Down the road I may even share some of my running workouts…

Disclaimer: I AM NOT a medical professional and you should see one if you have any pain in your IT band or anywhere else. Furthermore, you should also check with a medical professional before beginning any exercise program.

40-minute-IT-band-strength-balance-workout-3663502467-1513800011493.jpgWhat do you do for IT band rehabilitation? Did you find this workout helpful? Comment👇🏻 Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or workout requests!  I have also added this workout to the new Black Bean Queen Pinterest



I won the lottery!

The Chicago marathon lottery that is!


Sorry, if you were hoping it was the $$$ kind of lottery…no, I cannot buy you a Ferrari or fund your child’s college education! 😜 Honestly, getting in the Chicago marathon feels like a million bucks, even if this prize is only worth $195… of my own money…oh wow, that’s awkward I almost forgot I pre-paid for this race! 😂

Running the Chicago marathon has been on my running bucket list since I graduated from college and moved to Chicago in 2014, but for many reasons it has not happened yet. Between graduation in 2014 and now I’ve only entered the lottery one other time- in 2015- and I was not chosen. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because I spent most of 2015 injured and would not have been able to train adequately once I was healed up in the middle of the summer. I’ve been at the marathon every year since I moved here to volunteer and/or cheer people on. And before 2014 I used to watch the live stream on TV!

A look back at my Chicago Marathon experiences over the years:

(L: Volunteering at the first water stop in 2014 with my now husband/ R: Hanging at the post-race party in 2014 to congratulate my now mother-in-law for finishing)


(In 2015 with my now husband after the race. He PRed in his first Chicago and second ever marathon. He’s hoping to run well under 3 hours in 2018! I also volunteered at the first water stop in 2015 with my now mother-in-law.)


(In 2016, after the race where my now husband proposed! See more about the proposal below. I volunteered at the first water stop again with my now mother-in-law and sister-in-law and he ran.)


(2017 was the only year I did not volunteer at the first water stop. My husband and I just watched my mother-in-law run and we did a 7 mile run in between all of the cheering.)

Looking forward to Chicago 2018:

In 2018 I’m ecstatic to finally be the one racing and not watching! The Chicago marathon holds a special place in my heart because it is where I got engaged in 2016! 🙂

The brief story (maybe I’ll share a more detailed version in the future :P): After the race and in the post-race party, my now husband told me he wanted me to buy him beer, so I started walking toward the vendors. He then jogged up behind me and said he wanted to join me in buying the beer…but then he stopped me, got down on one knee, and proposed! 🙂



The only bummer is that this year my husband he did not get in the race, despite running a fast enough time to automatically qualify him (although he did not run a marathon in 2017, so his time is over a year old, and maybe that’s why he did not get in). I was hoping for us to be together for my first marathon, but at least he can still watch me! :/ We are both avid, passionate runners and our relationship started in high school (2009) because of running and it continues to be one of the greatest sources of joy in our marriage. We are looking into other marathons for him to run instead of Chicago or he could be a charity runner. He’s being an awesome sport about it and is genuinely happy for me!


So, what am I going to do differently the rest of 2017/in 2018 to ensure I make it to Chicago  2018 healthy and strong?!

  •  Work on hip/glute/IT band/core resistance band and body weight exercises pre or post run 2-3 days per week
  • Yoga on my own or in a studio 1 day per week
  • A longer overall body strength session 1 day per week
  • Build up my mileage slowly
  • Race to gauge where I am at in my training (5ks and a half marathon are already on the race schedule, more TBA)
  • Get a coach in the late spring. My husband and I know a lot about running, but I want the expertise of someone who has run several marathons and has Boston qualified. I already some ideas in mind! I want someone who can help me reach the goals below.

What are my A, B, and C goals, as of now, for the Chicago marathon in 2018?!

  • C Goal: Finish…it is my first marathon after all!
  • B Goal: 3:30 or faster (Boston Qualify)
  • A Goal: 3:15 or faster

Are any of you joining me at Chicago in 2018?! If so, what are your goals?