2018 in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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? 

 

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year: spring check-in

Hello friends! Happy Easter (if you celebrate)! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Sunday. Mine was busy because of work, but now I’m happy for some time to relax. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, my temporary teaching job ended last week, so I acted quickly and snagged two part time jobs. Both of the jobs are at places I adore and are perfect for this somewhat “limbo” phase of my life. I’m still figuring out what my next steps are, but I have a really good idea what they will be and will share when the time is right…

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In the meantime, I thought the 1st day of April was the perfect time to check-in with my 2018 goals. This is mainly a way to hold myself accountable, so feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing bores you 😛 If not, I appreciate your support by reading and commenting! I’d love to know if you set goals for 2018 and have accomplished some of them, so feel free to share with me too!

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals check-in #1:

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

9 times out of 10 I have accomplished this goal since January! So that feels good. 🙂 Just knowing that I shared this goal publicly with all of you made me think twice when I wanted to slack on stretching and rolling 🙂 Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles 😱

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

Not doing well with this goal…I’m at once a week when it’s a good week. When I was teaching I barely had enough time to fit in my runs, let alone my strength workouts, but this isn’t optional for me or I will get hurt. 🙁 Strength training at least twice week, focusing on hip strength, is my top goal moving forward. 

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

Also not doing great with this goal for the same reason as #2…BUT now that I am done teaching and working two PT jobs that do not require outside work (i.e. lesson planning, grading, etc) I will be able to better fit in the “extras” that enhance running training. Yoga will be my second top goal moving forward. However, I have done yoga twice in the last week for what it’s worth.🤷🏼‍♀️

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

Not accomplished yet 😉

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)

Same as above. I’ve only done one 5k in 2018 and no half marathons yet. My first half marathon is the Illinois half marathon in less than a month!

6. Run my first 10k race

Same as above. My first 10k will be on June 3rd at Run for the Zoo

7. Run a trail race of any distance

Not accomplished yet 😉

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

Accomplished sooner than expected. A few weeks ago, I won two months of coaching with Heather Szuba of McKirdy Trained and it could not have come at a better time! I’m at a new phase in my life where I can prioritize my training a bit better than when I was teaching. I can already tell this is going to be huge for my running and so far I love working with Heather. I can’t wait to see where working with her takes me! 🙂 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet 😉 Since one of my new jobs is at a running store, I think it is time for me to finally do more group runs or join a team. Stay tuned…😜

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet 😉 Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far 🙁 On the bright side I am an extremely fast reader, so I am confident I can still accomplish this goal!

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.

Partly accomplished! 🙂 Last I checked this blog has over 1,060 subscribers, so it has grown a bit in the last few months. My Instagram is also over 1,000 followers, but I am not at my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest goals yet. I’m concerned less about actual numbers and more about connecting to even more awesome runners, fitness enthusiasts, plant based eaters, etc. 

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

Working on this! One of the best things I did to help me with this goal was buy 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal. I love starting a new week with one of the lists. Thanks to Connie of Constantly for the recommendation! 🙂

14. Take my vitamin everyday

I was really good about this in January and February, but fell off the wagon during March. It’s a new week and month, so time to be better about taking my vitamin again! 😛 

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

Working on this goal! We got in a bit of a rut cooking the same old favorites the last few months..BUT we just bought the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and I flagged some of the vegetarian/vegan recipes to make over the next few weeks. Plus, I still need to make a bunch of the recipes from Oh She Glows Everyday, which we bought a year ago. So ideas are not the problem 😛 One way that has helped us in the past has been by turning it into a date night to make a new recipe. I highly recommend this tactic for any couples out there who keep making the same things or go out to eat for many meals. 

Are YOU accomplishing your 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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. 😍

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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!

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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!

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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…

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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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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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.

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(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!

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(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.

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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!

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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.🤔

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

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

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

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

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

-Thursday December 14th: REST DAY

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

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

first run back

-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

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

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

2 miles in the dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m an Ambassador?! Take 2!

I know it’s super late…but I have an exciting announcement!!!

Just when I thought the end of 2017 couldn’t get any better, I received the news that I got another ambassadorship! 😱 I’m just as surprised as you are! I guess more than my family members and the friends that I beg to read this blog are interested in Black Bean Queen. 😂  I’m thrilled! 🙂  So…drumroll please! In addition to my ambassadorship with Bibrave, I am going to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador!

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If you don’t already know: sweat pink is a community of thousands of fun, fitness minded people that was started by two awesome, fitness loving women: Jamie King and Alyse Mason Brill.💪🏻 They founded Fit Approach seven years ago and it has since formed several different communities for people, brands, and companies that love fitness and fun, including Sweat Pink!

As a sweat pink ambassador, I cannot wait to connect with and learn from awesome fitness fanatics, fellow runners, influencers, bloggers, and brands! 🙂 I have a feeling 2018 is going to be an awesome year here at Black Bean Queen and I am thrilled to have you all along for the ride! 😊

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