The BibRave Chicago Summit and Rock ‘N Roll Half 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 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!

It may surprise some of you, but favorite part of being a BibRave Pro is not the opportunity to try different brands or races, but the community of people that I have connected with across the United States and world. 🙂 I love that we all run different paces and live in different places, but we all share a love of running, writing/blogging, and encouraging others.

What made the weekend of Friday July 19th-Sunday July 21st so special, though, was the opputunity to hang out with some of the fellow pros and staff in real life. 🙂 Our slack channel is great and a source of nearly daily chuckles for me, but there was nothing like that weekend of real life fun and chuckles. 😛 So without further ado, let’s dive into my experience at the BibRave summit weekend, from group runs to the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon!

Friday July 19th

Started off the morning with a super hot team run, but it was awesome. It was nearly 90 degrees at 10 am when we all went running. We all met at Washington Square park and then ran 4 miles as a team. I ran to the park, though, so I ran about 7.5 miles total for the day.

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We ended the run with a little swim in the lake, although I’ll be honest, I never jumped in. 😛 I knew I was taking the “L” home and didn’t want to sit on the train in my soggy clothes. haha

A few hours after the group run, we went as a team to the Rock ‘n’ expo to pick up our packets. My husband joined as well, even though he’s not on BibRave. 😛 We got some cool swag and took some goofy photos.

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Then it was time for the Orange Carpet dinner, one of my favorite events of the weekend. The dinner took place a City Winery in the west loop of Chicago. I had always wanted to go, but had never been. 🙂 We all put on as much orange as we good find, hung out as a team, had some tasty snacks and delicious wine. I probably had more wine than I should have, but it was worth it. 😛

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Saturday July 20th

After the City Winery event and an unintentional late night, I accidentally overslept my alarm to make it to the team shakeout run. I’m THE WORST. 😦 I woke up 15 minutes before the run was supposed to start. :/ I know all the people that did the shakeout run had a blast! 🙂 I decided to just take a rest day to rest up my legs for tomorrow’s half marathon.

We then went to the Cub’s game as a team for an afternoon game. I love that we all wore our BibRave summit t-shirts- we definitely stood out at the game with our sea of orange. 😛 I could not resist still wearing my Cubs hat. It was still crazy hot out, so I made sure to chug water the whole time and was grateful we sat in the shade.

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After the Cub’s game I went back home to finish my homework for my summer class. It was due that evening, so I was cutting it close post-Cubs game. Crisis averted, though. 😛 Due to my homework, I missed the team podcast recording event post- game, but all the Pros that went told me it was fantastic. 🙂 I opted for an early bedtime in anticipation of waking up at 4 am for tomorrow’s half marathon race. As many of you already know, Rock ‘n’ Roll was somewhat of a goal race for me, but I knew with all the hot weather I needed to adjust my goal, event hough I’m stubborn and I did not want to.

Sunday July 21st

Race morning started very early- around 4 am. I had to make sure I ate breakfast this time, so I would not repeat the fueling mistakes of last year’s rock ‘n’ roll race. Although, not much could have been done to overcome my lack of training going into that race. haha. Anyway, I had some bland oatmeal and dates and checked the weather as I ate. Thankfully, the weather showed race morning was going to be cooler than the nearly 100 degree weather we had experienced the previous two days, but the humidity was crazy high. I realized I probably needed to adjust my goal of sub 1:30, but I really did not want to.

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Around 5:50 am my husband and I jogged over to the start line so I could make it for a BibRave photo/ pump up chat. I easily found some of team BibRave because orange is not exactly a color that blends in. But not knocking orange- I love it! 🙂 I then made my way into the A start coral with my husband and we met up with my friend Jeff. I also saw Katherine Switzer in the corral near us, but was too shy and starstruck to say anything.  Soon enough the 6:30 am race time arrived and we were off!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already know my thoughts about the race, so you can skip to the end of those post. lol. If not read below:

I was disappointed with my race result, despite the PR. 😦 The only thing that made me smile on race day was hearing so many people cheer for me, running with friends, and hanging out with friends post-race. From the BibRave corner just before mile 6, to the Heartbreakers and 3Run2 cheer squads around mile 7, I know without those crews I would not have had much fun. Also shoutout to Lydia, my summer internship mentor and fellow Chicago runner who got this awesome photo of me around mile 7 (before I started struggling).

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I know I am too hard on myself, especially because I met my B & C goals, but not my A goal. My C goal was to have fun. My B goal was a PR. And my A goal was sub 1:30. Maybe I should have adjusted my A goal given the hot weekend and humid race day weather, but I was fairly confident it was within my reach based workouts, especially on hot days the last two months. I should have known it was a bit of a reach goal because I was injured until early 2019 & my training has only really picked up the last few months… Here is a look at my 2019 running going into the race:

🔹January : 14 mi
🔹February: 32 mi
🔹March: 73 mi
🔹April: 54.5 mi
🔹May: 140 mi
🔹June: 200 mi

I know I fared better than many others in the heat/humidity on race day, but I’m competing with myself -not others. And if I’m being honest I fell short 😫 I held onto 1:28 pace until nearly mile 10, but then I felt very fatigued, overheated, & I stepped off the gas. As a future dietitian, I admit I probably should have taken in a gel during the race and not just water, so that was mistake number 1. But then I also mentally gave up around that point- I tend to give up/step-off the gas once running gets painful & that’s exactly what I did yesterday. In my training, I’ve had the same issue on hard workouts days, which I primarily do alone. Some people are good at grinding out repeats solo & it’s a great skill to have, but it is for sure a weakness of mine 😅 I sometimes miss my HS/college team because even if we weren’t always the same pace, we did the hard workouts together & that helped motivate me/push into the discomfort zone that you need to go to on workouts sometimes to get better at running. It helps you race stronger 💪🏻 All the more reason I should join a team! But a few weeks after this race, I can say I am likely joining a team- more on this later! 🙂

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So, my takeaway from this half marathon is that I need to work on my toughness in workouts/races even when I’m in pain 🙃I’d love to do more hard workouts with others to help me push the pace, but I also need to work on it during solo efforts. But also a 1:32:11, 3rd in my age group, and a nearly 2 minute PR on a hot/humid day is not so bad. I know a sub 1:30 is in the bag on a more favorable day weather-wise! I can walk away from this race knowing that I learned a lot of important lessons and that all I can ask. Also, shoutout to my husband who was not fazed by the tough weather whatsoever and ran a 1:15:01 good for 57 second PR and 2nd in his age group. But also certain on a cooler day I bet he could run closer to a 1:13 half marathon!

After the race we had fun hanging out with old and new friends over beers in the post-race party. I realized that there was no sense in being upset, my race was over, and no one had a stellar day. It was so fun to meet friends like Matt, Naomi, Austin, Todd, and Jeff for the first time, as well as hanging out with older friends like the BibRave Pros and Michael.

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After hanging out the post-race party for a while, my husband and I made our way home to shower and eat breakfast. We missed the rain! Once the rain died down we headed to Public House for a little BibRave Pro post-race party. It was low-key, but fun to see everyone before they headed back home (I was the only Chicago resident at the BibRave Summit haha).

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I am so grateful for team BibRave for an awesome Summit weekend! And special shoutout to Knockaround sunglasses , Aftershokz , and Rock ‘n’ Roll for sponsoring it! 🙂 I cannot wait for the next summit!

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Did you run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago half marathon this year?! If so, how did it go for you? 

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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!

 

My top 3 favorite things to do during the Christmas season in Chicago…so far

Hello friends! Happy holidays and Merry Christmas! I am (once again) sorry for the blogging hiatus. The beginning of December was busy for me with finals exams and getting everything in order for my graduate school transfer in January. Yet, in between the craziness my boyfriend and I took a break to decorate. We bought most of our decorations during a 50% off sale at Michaels during the first week of December! It’s not much, but we hope to accumulate more Christmas decorations throughout the years!

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(Our small tree and stockings)

So, now my news that I promised last blog post: I am not continuing my study of nutrition in the spring. While I did decent on my final exams and in my classes, I realized that the dietetics field is not for me. I want to pursue teaching and become a high school teacher. It would also be cool to coach cross country! Starting in January I will be working on a master’s of education degree. I could not be more excited! I will never, ever lose my passion for nutrition and healthy eating though. This will continue to be a blog about vegetarian food/recipes, running, and random musings from my life.

Well, now onto what this blog post is really about-Christmas! In between work shifts, workouts, and post finals relaxing I have had some time to enjoy Christmas time. Today I am going to share my three favorite Christmas activities  in Chicago…so far. I say so far because this is my first Christmas in the city, but certainly not my last! These are activities that a perfect for students or people who are on a budget!

1. The Christkindlmarket

It’s a tiny German market located on the Daly Plaza.  I have already been to it three times! The admission is free, but you could end of spending a lot of money if you are not careful.  😛 There are tons of booths and tents full of German toys, decorations, trinkets, and food. Some of the things are very pricey (they have $1,000 clocks and $100+ beer steins), but I managed to find an adorable Santa ornament for only $10! The food booths are full of a variety of things from the delicious smelling spiced pecans to bratwursts to Nutella filled crepes. They were giving out samples of some of the food items too. I also noticed that there were several vegetarian options, which surprised me.

I did not try any of the food, but I did try the hot spiced wine and it was amazing! For $7 you get wine and a mug, which you get to keep. You do not have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the market. I only spent $17 between my three trips for the ornament and spiced wine. The other two times I just looked around. I recommend visiting this market if you have not and are in town. It stays open through Christmas Eve! 🙂

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(The giant tree, spiced wine, nutcracker display, and my Santa ornament)

2. Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park zoo

This is another event with free admission! If you want a souvenir, a snack, or something to drink you have to shell out a bit of cash, though. The spiced wine at Zoo Lights was only $6. I am not sure about the prices on snacks, beer, or hot cocoa.  Zoo Lights was cool and fun! I loved everything from the Christmas music and light show to the ice sculptures. My descriptions and my pictures cannot do Zoo Lights justice. You will just have to go and visit it for yourself! 🙂  If I’m not mistaken it even stays open past Christmas for a week or two.

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(Dragon display near the entrance)

zoo loigths ice sculpture

(Ice sculpture of Olaf from Frozen)

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(Life sized snow globe)

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(Star wars snow globe)

3. Macy’s on State Street

My boyfriend and I went to Macy’s to look around and do some last minute Christmas shopping. The Macy’s on State Street goes all out when it comes to Christmas decorations. Each of the floors are decorated for the season and there are display windows you can view outside. I unfortunately did take many pictures, but the store is better in person anyway. I went again a few days ago with one of my friends just to look around, show her the Walnut room tree (she had not seen it before!), and get a cup of coffee. The café and coffee shop area was surprisingly a nice place to catch up! Macy’s on State Street is another place that you can enjoy without spending a lot of money.

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(Walnut Room Christmas tree)

Now, I know that I have missed several Christmas events/activities in Chicago  such as the Winter Wonder Fest, the annual Christmas bar crawl in Wrigleyville/Lakeview, holiday themed races, and the CTA holiday train. Hopefully I can go to those in the future. I’d also love to learn about lesser known holiday events around the city!

Well, have a wonderful day everyone! Take some time to enjoy some holiday activities/events with your families and friends. 🙂

If you are live in/near Chicago or visit it, what is your favorite Christmas/holiday activity to do? If you are from somewhere else,what is your favorite holiday activity to do there?

Tasty Tuesday #6: Brick’s restaurant review

Good evening, friends! I hope all of you are having a great Tuesday. Today I wanted to try something new and do my first ever restaurant review on this blog. Living in Chicago has given me nearly unlimited access to pizza, but I have made it my mission to find the best tasting thin crust and deep dish pizza places in the windy city. Did I succeed?

Today’s review is about Brick’s, a tiny little pizza place located at 1909 N Lincoln Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood (http://brickschicago.com/index.html). They have the best tasting thin crust pizza I have tasted in the city so far! I went there twice in this last week alone…Granted, I normally only go out to eat once or twice a month, but this was worthwhile exception! I went out to Brick’s on Wednesday for a date with my boyfriend, but then again Sunday with our friend from college who was in town. We decided he needed to try Brick’s too. He had his share of deep dish during his visit and was game for something new. He was not disappointed!

Brick’s is so tiny that it is easy to miss. The restaurant is located in what looks like a basement, but do not let that scare you away. Once you go down the stairs and open the door you are instantly in a dimly lit, but quaint and welcoming little restaurant. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables. They have a few small tables with candles perfect for couples and some larger tables and booths for groups. They usually have a game on the TV and some music playing in the background. It is noisy, but not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation. During both my visits this week our waitress was nice and checked on us often. All the employees were friendly in general.

The first thing I did during both my visits in the last week was order a beer. They have a pretty extensive beer and wine list. They also have a decent bar. What my boyfriend and I really like about Brick’s is that they have drink specials during the week Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday the Wisconsin beers were half price, so my boyfriend’s can of Schlitz was $1.50 and my bottle of Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge was $2.50. On Sunday, there was not any drink specials so we all ordered cans of Schlitz. You cannot really beat $3 cans in Chicago… It’s not bad for a “cheaper” beer either.

Bricks vegetarian pizza

For the date on Wednesday, my boyfriend and I tried the vegetarian specialty pizza (pictured above). We split a 14 inch, but had plenty of leftovers. In terms of pricing, the 14 inch was $22.95, so not too bad! Brick’s has several vegetarian specialty pizzas or you can create your own. They also have meat pizzas for those of you that eat meat. The vegetarian was amazing. It had green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and is topped with basil. It was perfectly crispy, but not burned. They did not go overboard on the cheese which was good. I like deep dish, but it almost has too much cheese…When I eat thin crust I like one that is easy on the cheese, crispy, and full of veggies.

When our friend was in town on Sunday, I ordered a 10 inch vegetarian pizza (again!). My boyfriend and our friend split one of the pizza specials: a 12 inch spicy pizza with pork and veggies. I cannot remember the exact name of the pizza. The 10 inch was $12.00 and the 12 inch was $18.50. I had leftovers on Sunday, but they did not. The leftovers were almost as delicious as eating in the restaurant. The leftovers were still crispy, not soggy. As a side note I cannot stand cold pizza, I always have to reheat my leftovers. 😛

Overall, both my boyfriend and I loved the vegetarian pizza.  I think he liked it better than that one with meat that he split with our friend on Sunday. Our friend enjoyed Brick’s too! It is not only a great place for a date, but also a fun place to hang with friends or to take out-of-towners to. The pizza tastes wonderful, it’s vegetarian friendly, they have a decent drink menu, weekly drink specials, and it won’t break your wallet. I highly recommend checking out Brick’s if you live in Chicago or if you are visiting. 🙂

I MAY have found the best thin crust pizza in the city, but stay tuned! I have many more pizza places to try. Maybe next time I’ll review a deep dish place!

Do you prefer deep dish or thin crust? What’s your favorite pizza place? Have you ever been to Brick’s?