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? 

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Motivational Monday #6 & post-collegiate running

Good afternoon friends and happy Monday!  🙂 For those of you who have not run yet, but are planning to (myself included) I have some Monday running motivation coming your way!

Before starting this post, I had just gotten back from 3.5 hours of nutrition classes and as I laid out all my human anatomy notes to start a study session I thought to myself “I wish I was running now instead of studying, I feel unfocused anyway”. Now, I was planning for today to be a rest day as lately my goal has been at least 3 days of running per week with 1-2 days of cross training and rest days as needed. After yesterday’s run I thought I’d need a rest day, but today my body is telling me just the opposite. I am craving a good, mind clearing run down by the lake and through some crunchy leaves. So I am going to listen to my body today! I know that I will not have a productive study session unless I run first. This quote I found on Pinterest shares what I am feeling today more eloquently than what I just said above. Maybe it will also inspire some of you wanting to run right now to just get up and GO! I will be doing that as soon as this post publishes. 🙂

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what running is like for me now after 4 years of collegiate XC running

It has been so weird this year to not have a college cross country season to train for and instead of running 50+ miles per week I am lucky to run 15-20 miles per week now. I’m in such a different place than last year with harder classes, a commute to and from class, and a part time job, but I will always be a runner. I think I just thought I would continue to run a lot of races post college and have more time to train than I do right now. In college I just had to attend class, study, go to mandatory cross country practices, and work 10-15 hours per week (but it was on campus work study so I could do my homework). Also, I was not expecting to get such a nasty case of IT Band tendonitis after my first half marathon in June. Since my injury healed in August, I feel like I have been struggling to get back into long distance shape for the last two months (but again this is coming from a girl who was used to running 5-10+ miles at 6-8 min/mile pace nearly everyday in college).

I have so many running goals that I have yet to achieve and I do not want college to have been my prime running years! In fact, yesterday, my boyfriend and I were even talking about how we’d like to run the Chicago Marathon next year if possible even though we will both probably still be working part time jobs and still in school. I think since we are volunteering at the Chicago Marathon this Sunday and watching his mom run that will really inspire us to pursue the goal of running it in 2015! It would be my first marathon and my boyfriend’s second. Regardless I cannot wait for Sunday!

Right now, though, I just want to stay healthy and IT band tendonitis free. I had four wonderful years of injury free DI college cross country running (although track is an entirely different story- a lot of injuries there) and for that I am grateful! For now my running goals are simpler and that is ok. I just want to get out there as much as possible. Currently, I run for the stress relief,  a break from studying,  beautiful scenery, and the fresh air. I will jump back into the racing scene later this fall or next spring at the latest.  Well, have a great Monday everyone. It’s time for me to lace up my shoes and run. 🙂

What are your current motivations for running (or working out in general)?

Rice, veggie, and bean bowls & Monday motivation

Hello friends, I’m back! I hope you all had a lovely labor day, week, and weekend. Sorry for the 1.5 week hiatus- school, studying, and more hours than I anticipated at my part time job have been keeping me busy, but regardless that’s no excuse. I’ll TRY to update this blog at least once a week from now on! 🙂

Today, I wanted to share my  go-to quick week night dinner (or lunch) recipes. As many vegetarians already know, convenience food is OFTEN tailored to meat eaters. And yes, I know this is not completely true as there are veggie burgers, chickenless nuggets, faux hot dogs, and microwave vegetarian meals. Yet, just like their meat counterparts, vegetarian convenience food CAN high in sodium, calories, fat, and somewhat low in nutrients. Also, vegetarian microwave or convenience meals tend to be pricier than meat based convenience meals. So what’s a hungry vegetarian student who is trying to balance a part time job, attend class, be a part of school activities, and study all the bones in the human body to do? Okay, okay that last part about the human bones is specific to my nutrition course work, but you all get the picture. 😛

During the week busy and hungry vegetarian students need nutrient dense, healthy, quick, and budget friendly options for dinner so they do not turn to veggie convenience food all the time. Considering black beans are one of my favorite foods I hope it comes as no surprise that I used black beans in this recipe I am sharing with all of you. You could definitely use other types of beans you just may need to use different spices than I used then.

Now as a forewarning, the following recipe I am sharing is not super glamorous and may even be bland in some of your options. I personally love turmeric and garlic powder together, but feel free to substitute any spices you’d like. As a side note, toping with salsa and/or using cilantro are also both wonderful additions to this recipe! Benefits of this recipe: It is quick to prepare, easy to make for yourself or a few people, a complete protein, high in fiber, and the vitamin C in the peppers should help you absorb the plant based iron in the black beans more efficiently.

Rice, veggie, and bean bowls

ingredients:

1/3-1/2 can of black beans (or any canned beans you like)

1/2 cup-3/4 cup frozen sweet peppers or frozen mixed veggies

1/2 cup jasmine rice (or any kind of rice)

turmeric & garlic powder (or any herbs or spices you want)

optional: whole wheat wraps

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1. Rinse the jasmine rice using a mesh sieve. Then, cook the rice according the package directions.

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2.  While the rice is cooking, microwave the desired amount of peppers or mixed veggies with a tablespoon of water and covered with plastic wrap or using a covered microwave safe dish.

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3. Also while the rice is cooking, rinse the 1/3 can- 1.2 can of black beans and then cook in the microwave for approximately 3 minutes or on the stovetop, also covered. Store the remaining black beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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4. Once everything is thoroughly heated/cooked mix the rice, black beans, and veggies together in a bowl.

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5.  Add the turmeric and garlic or any spices you want. Sometimes I also eat this mixture in a whole wheat wrap topped with salsa for a bit of a heartier meal. Both the bowl and wrap are delicious and quick options so give them a try! 🙂

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P.S. Here’s some very late Monday motivation. Use it to motivate you for tomorrow morning’s run (or tonight for those of you who are evening/night runners). I went on a lovely run this morning and while it was extremely hard to get out of bed early after working Sunday night I was so glad I did! I’ve been trying to keep up with morning runs so I do not use work or studying as excuses to prevent me from running later in the day.

I  got up, ran, and finished all before 8 am and  had plenty of time to eat and shower before for my 45 minute commute to my 11 am class! I love how morning runs make me feel, what about you guys? Today’s motivation is one of those “reasons why I run posts” and this one seemed especially fitting.  🙂

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What is your go-to quick and easy vegetarian weekday meal (or meatless Monday meal for those non vegetarians out there)?

Motivational Monday #4: Don’t let the weather stop you

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had wonderful weekends. I had a great one, but it went by way too fast. :/ I went home Friday morning to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family (we are from the same home town) and then I had a family reunion on Saturday in Wisconsin. It was a busy weekend full of boating, time outside, bonfires, bags, and eating (of course)!

Unfortunately between Friday and Sunday, I only ran yesterday when I got back to Chicago. I am upset with my laziness now that my IT band is healed. I The weather was not even rainy like it is today so I had no excuses (although weather is a poor excuse). I had busy days with my family and my boyfriend’s family, but I could have woken up early to run! I thought for today’s running motivation I thought I’d pick a quote to remind us that the weather is never too snowy/rainy/windy/bad enough to skip a run (plus there’s always the treadmill :P).

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I hope all of you have excellent runs or workouts today and do not let the weather stop you. It could always be much worse than rain. MUCH. WORSE. It could be the polar vortex with a balmy high of –15 degrees. Remember that when you think of skipping today’s work out.

I am still  trying to take it slow so I don’t reinjure my IT band, but two days in a row off of running (unless I am cross training) are no longer part of my plan. I’m aiming to get back to running 5-6 days per week and cross training on the 7th day or taking a rest day when needed. Today calls for a 4 mile easy run this evening. I am running in the evening to give myself 24 hours between consecutive runs. I do not worry about run timing except after a recent injury. I am hoping to get up to 5 miles or so without IT band pain by the end of this week.

Well, it’s time for me to grocery shop and then go to a coffee shop before my run tonight.  My boyfriend is going to read for his summer class and I am going to read for fun since I’m finally done with my summer class! 😛

What kind of run or workout do you have planned today?

Vegan banana nut energy bars & Monday running motivation

Good morning everyone! Today I wanted to share a recipe for my favorite homemade energy bars, but first here’s a little Monday running motivation for all of you (myself included) who still need to get a run in today. 😉

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Now after that wonderful picture, back to the recipe. I make a batch of the vegan banana nut energy bars nearly once a week for my boyfriend and I. I’m not going to lie there’s rarely even a crumb left by the end of the week. I woke up and made a quick batch this morning because I wanted to make sure they were ready in time for my boyfriend to bring to his class later today as a snack. They are relatively cheap to make, tasty, vegan, full of pronounceable ingredients, filling, and semi-healthy (as long as you only eat one or two at a time 😉 ). I adapted the recipe from the banana oat energy bars in The Runner’s World Cookbook on page 47. Here’s a link to the original if you do not own that cookbook (http://www.runnersworld.com/recipes/make-your-own-energy-bars?page=single). Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Vegan banana nut energy bars

yield: 16 bars

ingredients:

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 cups of oats

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup cashews (or any nut/seed)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or any nut/seed)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 inch glass baking dish.

2. Mash the banana in a mixing bowl. Then add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix together.

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3. In another larger mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

4. Add the raisins, cashews, and sunflower seeds to the flour mixture.

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5. Add the banana/sugar/oil mixture to the flour/nut mixture and mix until combined.

6. Pour the mixture into the greased glass baking dish and spread until even.

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7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Allow them to cool completely before cutting into bars.

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I hope all of you enjoy this recipe and have a great day today! As soon as I publish this post I’m going to do my IT band exercises and go for a short run, fingers crossed that my IT band stays pain free!

What are your favorite energy bars, homemade or store bought?

Motivational Monday: running is a gift

Good evening friends! I hope all of you have had amazing days and were able to get a run or workout in. 🙂 Today was a day off of running for me. I’m still slowly building my mileage back up and being extra cautious so I do not reinjure my IT band. For the last week this has meant only running 3-3.5 miles every other day. :/ It is better than nothing, though! Here’s a really cool pin I found on Pinterest to motivate and remind all of us to never take being able to workout or run for granted.

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This really hit home for me because returning to running after an injury is tough- you feel out of shape, overly cautious, and slow. You curse any minor ache or pain and even question why you are returning to running. Then you REMEMBER. You longed to run when you were hurt, you were envious of your friends who were able to run, and you were antsy and sort of cranky. You NEEDED to run. So now today, tomorrow, and anytime you run, dedicate your run to your past injured self, to all of those currently injured, to those who can’t run, and never take running for granted again! Running is a gift. 🙂

my running plan this week and my last run

I know I will be thinking of that quote anytime I run this week. This week I’m going to try two days in a row of running and one day of rest or cross training in between. I’m going to stay in the 3-4 mile range though. I’m getting antsy because I long to train for a race and to go on long runs again, but at least I am back to running! I am so grateful to be back and that my third case of IT band problems was my shortest (knock on wood that I stay injury free).  I will continue to stretch and/or do a yoga routine before AND after my run as well as IT band rehabilitation exercises, pushups and core every other day.

I am looking forward to my next run and I hope it is as wonderful as my last run with my boyfriend on Sunday! Nothing (so far) beats those views below on a run.  I am so happy to live in such a runner and fitness friendly city with my boyfriend who loves to run as much as I do. 🙂

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Well, I hope you all have wonderful nights! I have to study a little more for my exam tomorrow and then I hope to have some time to read or watch Netflix. This probably means I need to stop writing this post and watching the Extreme Couponing marathon on TLC… I’m a dork, I know! 😛

What has been motivating your runs and/or workouts this week?

Motivational Monday & What’s for breakfast: Oatmeal edition

Good morning, everyone! This morning I woke up tired, but luckily I am enjoying a delicious cup of coffee as I write this post.

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Thankfully, I have already consumed more than half my cup of coffee, so it counts! Smile with tongue out I’m tired because we had some bad weather here last night and my mom actually woke the whole house up around 2 am due to a tornado warning. We hung out in the basement for a while, but luckily everything was fine and no tornado touched down here. Unfortunately, I did not fall back asleep until after 3 am. I won’t let being a little sleepy get in the way of a good and (hopefully productive) summer day, though.  Here’s some motivation for starting your day off right:

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What’s for Breakfast?! Oatmeal Edition.

Now, let’s chat about one of my favorite meals of the day- breakfast! A healthy and filling breakfast is important to help you wake up, start your day right, and fuel you through the day whether you are at work, school, or somewhere else. A good breakfast will keep you going strong until lunch. I don’t know about you, but a bowl of cold cereal never fills me up and often leaves me hungry an hour or two later. Oatmeal, on the other hand, usually does the trick! You have a lot of options with oatmeal, but please, please stop buying that instant stuff! Not only does the instant stuff have a lot of sugar and sometimes mystery ingredients, it can get expensive over time, especially if you eat two or more packets at once. To make your own, you just need a canister of old fashioned oats and some toppings/ingredients you probably already have around your home. Personally, I almost always have sunflower seeds and raisins on hand so I can add them to my oatmeal for extra iron, a nutrient many of us fall short on, especially women and vegetarians such as myself. Today, I’m here to show you that Oatmeal doesn’t have to be gross or boring. I’m going to share some of my favorite toppings for oatmeal that are yummy, mostly healthy and definitely filling! Smile

For each type of oatmeal I typically start out with 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats (makes 1 cup of oatmeal cooked), but feel free to make more or less depending on your appetite. Cook with milk, almond milk, or soy milk instead of water for added calcium!

I’ll start with the oatmeal I am enjoying this morning, apple cinnamon oatmeal! Smile

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Apple cinnamon oatmeal: Halfway through cooking add one chopped apple to the oatmeal. Continue cooking. Top with cinnamon, raisins, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, or other nuts. Add honey or a tablespoon of brown sugar for extra sweetness if desired.

Dark chocolate oatmeal: After cooking add one tablespoon of dark chocolate cocoa powder and a handful of dark chocolate chips. Top with nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, or dried fruit is desired.

Peanut butter banana oatmeal: Add one tablespoon of natural creamy or crunchy peanut butter to the cooked oatmeal. Add one chopped banana. Top with cinnamon and a tablespoon of granola or grapenuts, and honey for extra sweetness if desired.

Peanut butter and dark chocolate oatmeal: Add one tablespoon of natural peanut butter to the cooked oatmeal. Mix in one tablespoon one dark chocolate chips. Top with raisins or dried fruit if desired.

Peanut butter and berry oatmeal: Add one tablespoon of natural creamy or crunchy peanut butter to the cooked oatmeal. Top with fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. Top with a tablespoon or two of granola for added crunch if desired.

Brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal: Add one tablespoon of light brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon to the cooked oatmeal. Top with raisins, sunflower seeds, or other nuts if desired.

Nutella oatmeal: Okay, okay this is not a very healthy option…BUT it is a good occasional treat! Add one tablespoon of nutella to the cooked oatmeal. Top with dried or fresh fruit if desired.

Nutella and peanut butter oatmeal: Like the previous option this also is not a very healthy choice- high in calories, fat, and sugar, BUT it wouldn’t hurt to eat every once in a while. Everything in moderation, right? Winking smile Add one half-one whole tablespoon each of nutella and natural peanut butter to the cooked oatmeal.

Have a great day everyone and I hope I inspired some of you to eat oatmeal today. Smile  What is your favorite way to eat oatmeal? I’d love more suggestions for oatmeal toppings, so feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section below!