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Marathon Training: Week 1

Week 1 is in the books. Boom, baby!

The week started off with mine and hubby’s anniversary, and instead of completing the short run on the plan I opted for wine and cheese :) But what can I say, anniversaries only come around once a year!

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary, Hubs <3

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary, Hubs <3

I love being a yoga instructor (for oh so many reasons) because I’m able to attend way more classes than ever before, AND I get a killer workout each time I teach yoga sculpt. Physically speaking, I find vinyasa yoga to be¬†perfect for stretching and lengthening, yoga sculpt fulfills my cross training/weight training needs and running is my¬†cardio = a delicious recipe!

This week I taught 4 sculpt classes and ran 10.7 miles. Didn’t get all of my miles in but with the 4th of July, our wedding anniversary, Hubs’ birthday and family in town – I’m still going to count this week as a win :)

I ran my first 4 miles on my own and then looped back to the house to grab the pups and Hubs for the final 4. We had a grand time, and Rocky used his bookbag (to carry his and Millie's water/tire him out) and it was a success!

I ran my first 4 miles on my own and then looped back to the house to grab the pups and Hubs for the final 4. We had a grand time, and Rocky used his new back pack¬†(to carry his and Millie’s water/tire him out faster because he’s so strong!) and it was so much fun…just had to try and outrun the mosquitoes…they were awful today!

After today’s 8 mile long run I finally succeeded in linking my Garmin GPS watch via Bluetooth to my phone which in turn uploads my data to Strava. I’m so excited to be connected with the #AMR community there!

It's a long story, but basically my laptop's software is so old that it's no longer supported by Garmin Connect...so I got crafty with the Bluetooth functions on my phone and Garmin Forerunner. Thank goodness our internet connection was strong today!

It’s a long story, but basically my laptop’s software is so old that it’s no longer supported by Garmin Connect/Strava by proxy…so I got crafty with the Bluetooth functions on my phone and Garmin Forerunner. Thank goodness our internet connection was strong today! I made it through the Bluetooth pairing process by eating a min bundt cake and orange juice with a Lemon Lime Nuun post-run. So tasty!

It’s also possible Hubs sent a picture of my super sexy compression socks + Birkenstock sandal combination to my best friends. God bless them, they’re the only ones who could convince me during college that striped socks and Mary Jane shoes were a fashion no-no. I tried to rationalize this look too, but they weren’t falling for it ;)

Oh you know you love compression socks to give your legs some love after a long run...and who doesn't want some extra arch support from Birks too? I may be a fashion emergency ;)

Oh you know you love compression socks to give your legs some love after a long run…and who doesn’t want some extra arch support from Birks too? I may be a fashion emergency ;)

I’m really looking forward to training Week 2. Many more miles, yoga classes and sculpt to come – let’s get this body moving!

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I Joined a Running Club!

It’s true, at long last I’ve officially joined a running club. This summer/fall I’ll be joining the Naperville Running Company on Saturday mornings for marathon training long runs. I’m so excited to have a group of folks to run with! While the pups make great buddies for shorter distances (I limit their long runs to avoid overheating), it’ll be nice to run next to someone who can answer me when I talk out loud. It’s possible I talk to the pups while running (“What did you see? Is that a chipmunk? Please don’t lunge that way. Oh, goodness!”), but it’ll be refreshing to hold an actual two-way conversation.

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Hubs is a great running buddy too, but I think the idea of a 14+ mile long run is as alluring to him as walking over hot coals ;) Although he’ll be training for and running his third half marathon this upcoming January, so I’ve started calling him my favorite¬†Reluctant Runner. He maintains that he doesn’t like running, but he sure is a strong athlete for someone who doesn’t enjoy it. Maybe if my friends and I can keep convincing him to sign up for races he’ll one day like it…that may have been my evil plan all along!

The NRC’s first group run is this upcoming Saturday morning, and I have to say I’m a little nervous. I’m not scared of meeting new people or carrying on a conversation (that is if I can still talk and breathe at the same time a few miles in :) ), but what if they totally kick my little solo-runner booty?¬†As someone who’s always turned to running for quiet, introspective time – will I like running with a ¬†group?

I’m pretty sure the answer is YES! I’ve been looking for a BRF (Best Running Friend – Thanks AMR for that term) for a while, but it’s really hard to put yourself out there to meet someone new. I practically feel like it’s dating all over again (which I was never really that experienced at seeing as Hubs and I started dating when we were 18). So I’m putting on my big girl running panties (metaphorically speaking, because who really wears anything under compressions shorts anyways, I ask you!) and am taking the plunge. I’m really hopeful a running group will help me accomplish a few things:

  1. Make running friends (you know, someone who doesn’t look at you like you’re crazy when you say you’re actually looking forward to your long run!)
  2. Deepen my understanding of how to run farther than I ever have before (I’m pretty sure my max distance up to this point is 14 miles, and I can’t wait to see how much farther I can go)
  3. Keep me accountable during training (especially given all the rain we’ve been getting this summer!)

Away we go!

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Running: The Forward Motion that Soothes the Soul

In the months leading up to a race¬†I focus my time and energy on training, nutrition and sleep. I devour¬†Runner’s World Magazine the moment it arrives in the mail and I foam roll until the cows come home. After long runs I look super sexy in my tall, hot pink compression socks and Birkenstock sandals – unapologetically breaking every rule of fashion I’ve ever learned. But preparation for the Michelob Ultra Chicago Spring 13.1 race was anything but routine. In the months leading up to it¬†I faced¬†what seemed like one hardship after the next – many of which¬†focused around familial problems that didn’t immediately involve me but impacted¬†me emotionally all the same.

And when I thought things couldn’t get worse, the scariest obstacles involving health complications arose.¬†In April our¬†recently adopted pup, Rocky, became incredibly sick and nearly died on his way to the veterinary hospital – despite only showing symptoms of illness just hours earlier. We’re so thankful he pulled through, but it was an emotional roller coaster to be sure, and it was just after Millie Pup underwent scheduled, routine surgery that same week.

Then, just a week later, my dad suffered end stage heart failure and was in the cardiac ICU for close to two weeks – the words ‘heart transplant’ were used liberally, which was heartbreakingly scary. I spent that time with my family in Florida, and thankfully my dad’s¬†treatment via pacemaker is going well¬†and he’s back home recovering. Without the support of Hubs, family & friends and my fellow yoga teachers (who so selflessly covered all of my scheduled yoga classes), I don’t know how I¬†would’ve made it through.

During this time I tried to practice yoga and run whenever possible to maintain emotional and mental health – and the physical benefits don’t hurt either. Whether it was a quick 3 miler to outrun the tears that¬†seemed to always be at bay or a 7 mile run under the hot, humid Florida sky – it didn’t matter. Anytime I laced up my shoes I knew I could just focus on my breath, listen to my footfalls and for a few blessed moments forget about all of the heaviness of the past few weeks¬†and just feel the lightness of my limbs moving through space.

Hubs and I signed up to run this race together, and in hindsight I think it was a blessing. Some might think that a training schedule on top of everything else that was going on might feel overwhelming, but it was the running that helped keep me strong, focused and looking forward. While not every scheduled run was completed, it provided a routine in which to find comfort. Falling into my running shoes was akin to the warm embrace of an old friend.

Before we knew it race day¬†was nearly upon us, and Hubs and I needed to decide if we were going to run the race at all. Most training manuals would tell you, “Heck no!” – not with our lack of training and emotional baggage¬†– but it didn’t take long for us to realize that we had to run.¬†What better way to move forward personally then physically moving our bodies.¬†Those 13.1 miles symbolized our ability to regain control and find¬†our equilibrium once again. And most importantly, we’d do it together as we’d been doing everything all along.¬†Lifting one another up when times are tough (or when the miles are long) and celebrating together when the fog lifts and the sun shines through (AKA finally seeing the finish line).

Going into race day we decided it didn’t matter how quickly we covered the course; we had already won. By making it to the starting line, we’d put all of our proverbial baggage in the rearview mirror and felt lighter than we had in months. The 13.1 miles instead were a celebration, and reaching the finish line was just the cherry on top. While the physical race had its challenges – they were nothing compared to what we’d already overcome. In yoga we like to say that you can do anything for 5 rounds of breath. Well, I’ve decided that in running, you can do anything for two + hours…it’s all relative :)

So who wants to see how much fun we had on race day? I’m not sure if Hubs would classify the last 5 miles as fun per-say…but I think a good time was had by all :D

The race started right in downtown Chicago, so we scampered by The Bean for a quick pre-race shot. I've never been there before without hoards of other people. That's what arriving downtown before 6am with getcha!

The race started in downtown Chicago, so we scampered by The Bean for a quick pre-race shot. I’ve never been there before without hoards of other people. That’s what arriving downtown before 6am will getcha!

The race provided FREE photos courtesy of Athlinks - how sweet is that?!

The race provided FREE photos courtesy of Athlinks – how sweet is that?! A big shout out to Another Mother Runner for their tips on looking fly on race day and for hours of entertainment via podcast during training runs!

I'm pretty sure I'm about to shout "HOLE!" here ;) While running to the finish on the lake front was fun, the splintered cement made for interesting foot navigation.

I’m pretty sure I’m about to shout “HOLE!” here ;) While running to the finish on the lake front was fun, the splintered cement made for interesting foot navigation.

What happens when your dogs eat the water bottle holders off of your running belt just before the race? Why you carry your Powerade and gels, of course! ;)

What happens when your dogs eat the water bottle holders off of your running belt just before the race? Why you carry your Powerade and gels, of course! ;)

Wahoooo!

Wahoooo! We made it!!

Why yes, I did indeed wear my medal for the rest of the day!

Why yes, I did indeed wear my medal for the rest of the day!

The following day I went for a short recovery run with the pup dogs, and I finally got to wear my brand spanking new sneaks.

The following day I went for a short recovery run with the pup dogs, and I finally got to wear my brand spanking new sneaks (along with my uber cool¬†tall socks – the ticks are mounting an attack in our area and these bad boys are necessary!). I picked up a pair of ASICS (my favorite running shoe!) and my first ever pair of Newtons (hello forefoot running), while I was at packet pick-up (Fleet Feet – you get me every time!). I didn’t want to wear them pre-race and risk doing something wonky to my feet, but boy did they feel amazing when I finally took them out for their inaugural jaunt :D I had to take a picture while they were still clean…it doesn’t last long on these trails!

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Introducing…Rocky!

In March Millie Pup officially marked her first anniversary as a House. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. It feels like just yesterday that she looked like this and was small enough to tuck under my arm…

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Our little 5 month old pup!

Now she’s a big, strong running machine. She’s 15 months old and¬†70+ lbs to boot!

And like most runners, she's really good at the post-run nap ;)

And like most runners, she’s really good at the post-run nap ;)

Recently though it seemed like something was missing…and by something, I mean someone. The time had finally come to add a second pup dog to the House family! It took a few months and many meetings with potential pups, but we finally found the perfect addition. While I wanted to bring each and every dog¬†we met home, it was really important to us that our newest addition¬†meet the following qualifications:

  • A great buddy for Millie – a¬†must!
  • Active and ready to run – duuuuh ;)
  • Sweet disposition and a happy go lucky, “lab” attitude

And when I laid eyes on Rocky, I knew he was the one we’d been waiting for. We found him through an amazing labrador rescue group, Great Lakes Lab Rescue, and I can’t tell you enough¬†how lovely it was to work with them. Patty made the entire process streamline, and after reading our application she called within an hour proclaiming that she had just the pup for us. And boy was she right!

Mr. Rocky at Dupage Animal Control

Mr. Rocky at DuPage Animal Control

This is Rocky’s profile picture from the DuPage Animal Control. He’s 10 months old, and he’d been surrendered by his previous owner to the shelter 2 weeks prior. This sweet pup was neglected in his old¬†home. He was kept in a crate for 8+ hours during the day and only let out to eat and take bathroom breaks. He wasn’t exercised, and fluid built up on his elbows from all of the hours spent lying down. It’s called a hygroma (I’m learning all sorts of new things!), and thankfully it doesn’t seem to hurt him and we’re already working on treatment :)

When he¬†was allowed out of his crate, his owner would muzzle him because he was “destructive.” But if anyone’s every known a 10 month old pup they know that they’re more puppy than dog, and everything within grasp is a potential chew toy. Add lack of mental stimulation and exercise to the mix and it’s no wonder he was interested in chewing everything. I’m thrilled to report that in the two weeks he’s been with us he hasn’t destroyed anything of significance (minus one minor incident with a book, ha!), and he’s one of the sweetest pups I’ve ever met.

We have some work to do in the training department, but we start our first class on Manners & Self Control tomorrow night :)

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It’s amazing what two weeks of love, exercise and training can do for a pup’s appearance. I think we have a happy boy on our hands!

And not only do he and Millie get along like they’ve been lifelong buddies, but he’s an incredible runner! He settles into the run quickly and runs with great efficiency. Sometimes he looks at me mid-run and I swear he’s thinking, “So when are we really going to start running?!” Meanwhile, I’m huffing and puffy down the trail ;)

Rocky and Millie <3 It's puppy love!

Rocky and Millie – It’s puppy love! <3

While the blog name won’t be changing, it might be more appropriate to call it Run with Pups¬†– ha! :D I’m so thrilled to have found a playmate for Millie, and he’s already proven to be a big love bug who not only enjoys runs but is a pro-snuggler too. What’s not to love?!

Here’s to many happy runs together!

Spring Training…Commence!

Spring training is officially underway!

Our first long run was a very muddy experience - but so much fun!

Our first long run was a very muddy experience – but so much fun!

Hubs and I are running the Chicago Spring Half Marathon in May, and we’ve logged a full week of training thus far. I always enjoy our runs together. It’s the perfect time to touch base, encourage each other (especially when my legs feel like lead!) and share the feeling of achievement after each run. We trained for and ran a half together in 2013 leading up to our wedding, and I’m so thrilled to be running together again!

It's possible Millie trudges through each and every mud puddle - which means it's bath time!

It’s possible Millie trudges through each and every mud puddle – which means it’s bath time!

Millie Pup is also loving our training schedule (it’s her first running season!), as she joins us for nearly every run. So far she’s run up to 5 miles, and she still has an almost limitless amount of energy. She still had enough left in the tank¬†to turn a toilet paper roll into confetti this week…

It's a good thing she's cute!

It’s a good thing she’s cute…

I hope everyone’s spring training is going well!

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Disney Princess Half Marathon – Escape from Chiberia

Where’s the most magical place on earth? Why, I do believe it’s Disney World!

My best friend, T, and I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon this past weekend, and I’m so glad we planned to run this race together. We signed up waaaaaay back in early 2014 when registration opened, and it’s a good thing we did because it sold out in a matter of days. And now I know why…it’s an amazing race!

We flew down on Friday and went directly to the race expo to pick up our bibs. Characters were already waiting to take pictures with us, which of course we took full advantage of.

We picked up our race bibs and snapped a pic with Snow White - we're already starting to feel like princesses!

We picked up our race bibs and snapped a pic with Snow White at the expo center. Let the magic begin!

We spent Saturday exploring Epcot. I think we can say that we’ve now experienced all Epcot has to offer. My personal favorite? No shocker here, but it’s food centric ;) Hibachi dinner in “Japan” for our carbo-filled dinner. Delicious!

Sunday morning we left our hotel room by 4am to drive to Epcot where we hit an insane amount of traffic. I can honestly say this was the most stressed I’ve ever been before a race, mostly because I wasn’t convinced we’d even make it there on time. Lesson learned! Always leave even more time than anticipated, roger that :)

But we made it! Our support crew (aka our “princes”¬†– thanks, fellas!)¬†walked us as far as they could and then bid us adieu. T and I¬†then started the fairly long walk from the parking lot to the race start. But I have to say, corral M was where it was at. We had a group Journey-themed sing-a-long at the race start and were greeted by fireworks at the word “GO!”

Early into the race we snapped a picture with the Disney princes. It was so worth the wait! Where else can you find that many princes in one place? Hubba, hubba!

Early into the race we snapped a picture with the Disney princes. It was so worth the wait! Where else can you find that many princes in one place? Hubba, hubba!

This race is easily the most entertaining 13.1 miles I’ve ever run. Everywhere you turned¬†you were greeted with¬†characters, music, aid stations…and we can’t forget everyone’s stellar costumes! Any time we started thinking about how tired our legs were becoming, we’d distract ourselves by looking around at the surrounding costumes. Some people seriously stepped up their costume game!

Running into Magic Kingdom!

Running into Magic Kingdom!

We dressed as Ana and Elsa from Frozen. T¬†found us some sweet Sparkle skirts and capes¬†which we complimented with Frozen temporary tattoos and running tanks. I did break¬†the cardinal rule and ran in something I didn’t practice in, but the skirt and cape were so comfortable – I didn’t have a single issue!

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Once in Magic Kingdom we ran towards Cinderella’s Castle – perfect time to pull off onto the sidewalk for a selfie!

I’m not going to lie, I may have teared up a few times during this race. I always get choked up when I see the first female runner going towards the finish (how inspiring!!), but running in Disney with one of my best friends took me over-the-top on the happiness scale. This was T’s first half marathon ever, and I wanted her to have the best experience possible. We both looooove all things Disney. Our dorm room in college sported many Disney princesses :D So running this race together was very¬†appropriate. And I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly impressed I was by her attitude and running! Near the end of my first half marathon I was not a happy camper (you know those thoughts, “Why in the world did I decide to do this?!”), but T had a great attitude the whole time, ran hard and even finished the last two miles faster than the previous 11 all while sporting¬†a head cold. Serious champ status if you ask me! So I may have gotten choked up a bit when we saw the leading female runner (who went on to win the race in a costume – you go, girl!), when we saw Cinderella’s castle and when we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand <3

Once in Magic Kingdom we saw Woody and made a beeline for him. I think we were some of his most excited runners all day!

Once in Magic Kingdom we saw Woody and made a beeline. I think we were some of his most excited runners all day because he gave us a great welcome!

Next we ran through Cinderella’s castle (and by run I mean waddle because there were so many princesses, ha!) and then started our run back towards Epcot. It got a little warm near the end of the race, but some well timed clouds kept us fairly shaded. I was very thankful for¬†them!

We crossed the finish line holding hands and cheering¬†(woooo!)¬†which was short lived because we were almost killed by a man dressed as Olaf because he thought it’d be funny to take a bow (yes, you read that correctly) at the finish line. LITERALLY, at the finish line…when thousands of runners were coming up behind us¬†running the final stretch of the race…this man decided to be a ham and bow to the photographers at the finish. My dear sir, this is a terrible idea and we narrowly missed a giant runner pile-up. If you’re reading this…please, never do that again. I beg you!

Despite our near catastrophe at the finish line, we had a really incredible and fun race. It took us 3 hours to finish, but the time flew by. Our goal for the day was to cross the finish line having experienced all the race had to offer, and I can definitely say that we achieved that!

Thanks for all of your love and support, Hubs! And for driving us all around Disney to get to the race start ;)

Thanks for all of your love and support, Hubs! And for driving us all around Disney to get to the race start ;)

I also have to acknowledge the importance of cross-training in general. I’ve always been one of those I-only-run-ever-what-the-heck-is-cross-training kind of runners, but since falling in love with yoga¬†and weight training, I’ve seen the light. I had fewer training runs¬†for this race than previous races I’ve completed, but all of the¬†heated yoga and sculpt classes this winter definitely paid off. I have more strength in my upper body than I’ve ever had before, and I could feel myself better supported during the later miles of the race. Instead of allowing my body to sink in on itself from fatigue (think less princess and more hunchback of Notre Dame style), I was able to keep my core strong and allow my shoulders to relax¬†down¬†my back. I’m a convert – count me in for cross-training from here on out.

I would absolutely recommend the Disney Princess Half Marathon to fellow runners. I wouldn’t expect this to ever be a PR opportunity because of the crazy¬†number¬†of runners, but if you’re looking for a light-hearted, well organized and absolutely fun race…then this may be the race for you. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to get out of Chiberia in February? I actually have tan lines – can you imagine? It’s a miracle!

My personal favorite photo from race weekend. T and I made it home from the race and took the chance to hydrate, stretch and shower. This is what we came home to - the boys were passed out. Spectating is hard work ;) I kid, we love you guys!! <3

My personal favorite photo from race weekend. T and I made it home from the race and took the chance to hydrate, stretch and shower. This is what we came home to – the boys were passed out. Spectating is hard work ;) I kid, we love you guys!! <3

Yoga Under the Stars

Have you ever practiced yoga outside? What about under the stars?!

This weekend, Hubs and I joined our friends for a yoga class at the Adler Planetarium. What an incredible experience! We practiced in the Grainger Sky Theater, and as we looked skyward we were greeted with incredibly beautiful pictures of the night sky, our galaxy and much more!

Be had to snap a group picture before class began. Once we started practicing the entire room went dark. Practicing in the dark is an experience - especially for your balance!

Be had to snap a group picture before class began. Once we started practicing the entire room went dark. Practicing in the dark is an experience – especially for your balance!

While practicing I kept thinking of the magnitude of our solar system. I did some research, and I think this quote sums up my feelings perfectly:

“It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

What an inspiration place to practice!

What an inspirational place to practice!

And of course, we had to check out the view of Chicago from the Planetarium. What an incredible city!

Hubs and I being cheesy :)

Hubs and I being cheesy :)

I hope everyone’s Monday is off to a wonderful start!