Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2019 review

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 BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

After not making it to the start line for the 2018 Shamrock Shuffle due to illness, I was excited to not only receive an entry for the 8k race, but to make it to the start line healthy 🙌🏻 I also convinced my husband to run with me as per usual 😉 Well, not with me, with me, because he is a lot faster than I am! As I previously mentioned, my training has not been stellar with my busy student schedule and I’m still easing into hard training post injury. I only did two fartlek workouts going into the race and I averaged 15 mi/week. My goal going into the race was to have fun and run 7 min miles. I was definitely surprised with my race result to say the least! I ran 33:15 (6:42 pace) for the 8k, which is not too shabby for such low mileage and little workouts. My BibRave friends and I decided not to enter the team competition, so I accepted a place on the Recreational Oiselle IL team and our team came in 1st! The results are age-graded, so my time did not put me on the scoring team (top 4), but it was still fun to run on a scoring team like the good ‘ol cross country days.

My Garmin was not working, so most of the race I had no idea of my pace and just tried to maintain a “comfortably hard” pace. Plus, I found myself distracted by all the race views and reminiscing on when I ran the same streets for my first marathon last October. 🙂 Anyway, when I hit the 5k in 20:39, I realized I was running sub 6:40s, even though I thought I was running 7 min miles. Then, I got a side stitch around mile 3.5 and slowed down considerably (or so it felt) 🙃 I am not sure if it was the oatmeal and dates I ate 1 hour before the race start (I usually need 2-3 hours to adequately digest) or my lack of training, but I told myself to jut try and hold on for less than 1.5 more miles, despite the pain.

Chicago Road Runners, a local running club, snapped the picture of me below trying to focus through the side stitch pain. lol. I was able to bring it home and only add 8 seconds per mile to my pace, so I am proud of that. And I’m seriously proud of what I was able to do in this race considering my circumstances. I think with hard work and consistency, I’ll be able to chase some of my upcoming (and lofty) running goals! 🙂

I have my sights on a sub 30 minute 8k in future years and I know I have to put in the work to achieve that goal. I cannot just coast by on 15 miles per week! Although, Ashlyn is helping me train more seriously and consistently starting now (Do I really have to do 400 meter repeats this week? :P) So hoping that helps me achieve my goals at my half marathons in May and July-do not worry there will be a blog post all those in the near future 😛

Other race notes:

-Expo/packet pick-up: The packet-pick and expo were held at the McCormick Center, which was coincidently the same weekend as a Comic-Con. So it was crazy crowded 🙃 experience at the expo last Saturday was fine, though. I was able to pick up my packet and swag, chat with some brands, and force my husband to take the below picture with me. He loves when I make him take pictures 😛

-Parking/transit: The race starts at Grant park and parking can be both challenging/expensive, so I recommend public transit, biking, or running to the start. My husband and I walked/jogged to the start line, since we live pretty close to downtown.

-Gear Check: This race had gear check, so I was grateful to be able to warm up in layers and then ditch my warm-ups at gear check. Although, after the race it took gear check over 10 minutes to locate my bag…that was frustrating and an unusual experience. Usually my experiences with gear check are smooth. I found out the worker just put my bag in the wrong section. I got a little short with the workers because I was chilly post race and I feel bad, but sometimes we are not our best selves post-race when we are hungry. Or maybe that’s just me?! I doubt whoever worked the gear check reads my blog…but if you do I am sorry for being short about my misplaced (and later found) bag. It was not a big deal!

-Start line: Unlike the Chicago Marathon (which also starts at Grant Park), it was super easy to get into my corral. That experience at the Chicago marathon was kid of stressful, I will not lie! I barely made it to the back of my corral (C) at the marathon. But at the Shuffle last weekend it took less than 5 minutes to get into corral A. I noticed a lot of corral jumping and lack of regulation at this race. It was stricter at the marathon. All around me there were people who should have been in corral D, but were in A with my husband and I. Oh well, though 🤷🏼‍♀️

-Swag: The swag this year was SWEET! I am obsessed with the hat. Although, I wish I did not need to run in such a warm hat now that it is the beginning of April, but also at least my hate is cute🤣I’d be fine waiting to wear it again until next winter, though 😛 We also received dry-fit short sleeve tops that I plan to rock all spring and summer. The medals are AWESOME (see above!). Mariano’s had a lot of free post-race eats at the finish as well. I took everything I could hold from mixed nuts, to fruits, to granola bars. I was grateful that they had a lot of vegan options. I actually forgot my post-race beer somehow 😭 But, we did get oat milk cappuccinos with my sister-in-law after the race, which made me feel better. haha.

-Post-race/Meet-ups: After the race we had a nice little BibRave met up in Grant Park. It was so fun to hang out with Mark and Ben again. And to meet Melissa for the first time. She even brought her dogs and they were the cutest! I missed Zenaida this time 🙁 Maybe we can photoshop her into the picture below? I love that BibRave connects me to so many amazing runners across the country, but nothing beats actually hanging out with them in real life 🙂

I also FINALLY got to meet Amanda (not me 🤣) in real life after becoming Instagram friends, so that was awesome. I cannot wait to hang out and run more of the same races!

Overall, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was an awesome race! It is flat, fast, and it’s such an obscure distance, it is almost a guaranteed PR. The swag is worth it and I love how everyone gets decked out in shamrock and green attire. It is the race that signifies that start of the Chicago racing season and one that I plan to run again!

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle this year or in previous years? What did you think?

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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

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-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

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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 won the lottery!

The Chicago marathon lottery that is!

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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)

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(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.)

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(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.)

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(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! 🙂

 

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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!

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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?