All Hail the Tax Refund

I like to think I have a few average/above average skills in life (running, dancing, swimming, eating chocolate). Unfortunately, saving money falls nowhere on this list. You can imagine my distress when my fiancé gave me the “we need to start saving money for a wedding” talk.

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Me. In cat form. After the savings talk.

In his defense, this is the large wedding of my ‘dreams’ and not the courthouse option he proposed. So just like that, I watched more dollar signs dance from my account and into the black hole of wedding savings.

I was feeling rather bummed about the limited number of races I could afford this summer when I received everyone’s favorite spring surprise:  the tax refund. Right after this puppy landed in my bank account, I began my race registration extravaganza. I may have had a few bookmarked. Work hard, play hard right?

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Here is my new, improved, bigger, badder 2015 race schedule:

  • Shamrock Shuffle, Sunday, 3/28:  Holy smokes! Less than 2 weeks away!
  • Rockdale Ramblin Run, Saturday, 4/11:  Their slogan is “Toughest 10K in the Midwest”. Last year, I was joking about this claim, but the first hill shut me up REAL QUICK. Small, well organized and challenging race.
  • Team Megan 5K Run, Saturday, 6/6:  A sweet teenage girl from my hometown was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Proceeds from this run will help support Megan and her family. If you’re interested in learning more about Megan’s journey towards a full recover, visit her dad’s blog. (Just make sure you have a tissue or two. The strength of this young lady is certain to leave you teary-eyed and speechless.)
  • ET Batavia Triathlon, Sunday 6/7:  Experience Triathlon always puts on a good race. This will be my first Batavia tri, and I’m looking forward to it.
  • Esprit de She, Sunday, 6/14:  Hey Ladiessss! First time I’ve ever signed up for an all women’s event. This is a sprint triathlon located in downtown Naperville. So close to home, I couldn’t pass it up!
  • Racine Ironman 70.3, Sunday, 7/19:  Sweet baby Ironman jesus, please let me survive this race.
  • Naperville Triathlon, Sunday, 8/2:  Loved this race last year, and I’m really excited for round 2.
  • Chicago Marathon:  Obviously I signed up for the lottery, folks. Now it’s the waiting game, and I’M WAY TOO IMPATIENT. I’m going to blame my nail-biting on my Chi Marathon anxiety. Please hurry, April 28, and put us all out of our misery.

I’m hoping to sneak a few other races in here and there (when I stumble upon some extra moolah that won’t be confiscated by my fiscally responsible fiancé to be used for practical purchases).

Please remind me of the following if I start to complain about my busy schedule and tired muscles:  photo 3

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday! Halfway to the weekend. XO

 

Happiness

This past week, I threw myself a real pity party. Ever have one of those weeks, where nothing major happens, but everything seems to be a big fat disaster?

Yesterday, as I embarked on my first run in the sunshine and slightly ABOVE FREEZING temperatures, my outlook changed. Two miles in, I deemed March 7 to be the best day ever. (Confession- This is my first outdoor run in a long time. I have such respect for all of you brave, winter marathon training souls!)

Obligatory first outdoor run selfie. I'm even squinting from the sun. Glorious.

Obligatory first outdoor run selfie. I’m even squinting from the sun. Glorious.

I started to think about how cool it is that such little things can bring so much joy in life. Then, I made a list of the random awesome things that make me happy:

1. Long runs with my CARA group: Waking up at 4:50 every Saturday morning from June-October doesn’t seem ideal, but my running friends make it worth the wake up call! We’ve had more laughs before 7am than most people have in a day.

Pre 20-miler 2 years ago

Pre 20-miler 2 years ago

2. Summertime:  No snow, less layers, more sun and way more fun. There’s a little beach club in my hometown that we frequent in the summer. Nothing makes me happier than floating around on a pontoon boat all darn day.

Isn't she cute?

Isn’t she cute?

3. Spending time with family/friends:  Life would be far less enjoyable without them. Fun fact- My mom and her sister married brothers, so I have 3 cousins at every family gathering. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

The ladies of the fam! (+ baby Finn)

The ladies of the fam! (+ baby Finn)

Gal pals!

Gal pals!

4. Adventures:  Last year, I surprised Daniel with skydiving for his birthday, and we had a blast. I love a good adrenaline rush!

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5. Shark Week:  Don’t even rain on my pity party parade and tell me it’s not real.

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Just holding a 6ft. shark. No big deal.

6. Sweets, all the sweets:  Frozen yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, I don’t discriminate.

7. Pup pics:  Daniel if you’re reading this, there is no underlying I want a puppy meaning.

8. THIS Video

9. Vacation:  Disconnecting from work and life for a few days is so refreshing.

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Punta Cana, you sexy beast

10. Cubs Games:  Win or lose, the beer is always cold.

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11. When you ‘like’ my blog posts (shameless. plug.)

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things” 

What makes you happy?

Monday Motivation on Wednesday?

Oy vey! Sometimes 8 hour workdays become 12 hour workdays and Monday motivations become Wednesday motivations. I’m still trying to squeeze in workouts before or after the fun long days. Busy days have left me even more excited for tomorrow’s run!

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Yes, yes it is.

Here’s this week’s workout schedule:

Monday:  Rest

Tuesday:  1 hour spin class

Wednesday:  Dream- 40 minutes cycling. Reality- Nada, nothing, 0 miles, big ole’ goose egg. Can’t win ’em all, right?

Thursday:  850m swim + 4 mile run

Friday:  1000m swim

Saturday:  1.5 hour CT class

Sunday:  6 mile run + strength

To end on a happy note, I’m so pumped that it’s supposed to be 40 degrees next week! If you live in the burbs, don’t be alarmed if you see a gal running in her swimsuit. Just kidding. Kinda.

XO

Look, Mom! A Food Post!

My mom’s response to my first-ever blog post:  “Great start for your blog Mere! Will there also be recipes? Bahaha, I crack myself up!”

What can I say? She knows me.

I have zero cooking skills. In all honesty, I’ve only master one skill surrounding the science. It’s what I like to call, “dodging the cooking bullet.” Example:  *Collect all ingredients to begin meal. *Cook noodles *Come up with something VERY important to do instead of cook the meat *Say things like “Ohhh, shoot! I completely forgot I need to take the laundry out of the dryer right now. Daniel, can you take care of the chicken?” If it was acceptable to eat salad and sweet potatoes every night, I would die happy.

There is one exception:  The power breakfast sandwich. So delicious and so easy. It has just the right amount of carbs and protein to keep me going through a long run but doesn’t weigh me down.

What you’ll need:  

  • 2 egg whites
  • Feta cheese
  • Hummus (I love Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus)
  • Sandwich Round or Bagel Thin
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

Got everything? Good!

1. Scramble the egg whites. When the eggs are almost done, toss in some feta cheese. I like to use a few spoonfuls. WHY IS FETA CHEESE SO GOOD?!

Hmm. This doesn't look very appealing, but I swear it's good. Next goal:  work on photography skills.

Hmm. This doesn’t look very appealing. I swear it’s good. Next goal: work on photography skills.

2. Toast the sandwich round. When done, spread some hummus onto each side.

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3. Throw the eggs, spinach and avocado on top of the hummus and bread, and you have yourself a yummy sandwich!

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Enjoy! Have a great Saturday! XO

Let’s be more like the Naked Lady

Did I get your attention? Muhaha.

The other day while entering my gym’s locker room, I made eye contact with an older woman getting out of the sauna…buck.ace.naked. I quickly looked away, embarrassed that I glanced up at the wrong second. But the woman just smiled and headed to her locker. I realized that this lady could care less that I noticed her. She was 100% comfortable and confident in her own skin.

While on the treadmill, the aforementioned situation got me thinking about body image. I think it’s something that many women – myself included – struggle with now and again. I’m no expert on the topic, so I’m not going to get into the way society has molded our vision of the perfect body or the issues with Barbie being an unrealistically proportioned skinny B. I am, however, going to share 5 things I try to keep in mind for maintaining a positive self image:

  1. Get off the scale. Actually, just throw it away. Seriously. Get rid of it. I haven’t owned a scale in years, and I never will. At my lowest weight, I didn’t feel my best. I made poor nutrition choices and was tired more times than not. Eating right and gaining muscle may add a few pounds, but it’s good weight. As long as you feel healthy, weight doesn’t matter.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. So guilty of this one.  Although I’m all, “I’m going to eat pizza and drink wine and ignore the hot bods on the Victoria Secret Fashion Show,” I end up blurting out annoying comments like, “Oh em gee look at her abs. Her arms are so skinny. She had a baby how many months ago?!” Chances are, we’re not going to be VS models when we grow up. We should spend less time comparing ourselves to others and more time appreciating ourselves.
  3. Eat right, don’t diet. Every once in awhile, I declare that I’m going to go on a diet (read:  Enter calories into My Fitness Pal for 1/2 day until I accidentally eat some chocolate and stop calculating my food consumption.) I’ve found that eating clean is a far more sustainable way of life. Eat clean (fruits, veggies, lean proteins) and you’ll never have to diet. Plus, you’ll feel better too. I promise.
  4. Set a fitness goal. My races are what get me out of bed in the morning; I’m rather unmotivated to workout without them. Set a new goal by signing up for a 5K, a fun run, warrior dash, etc. Training will increase both your strength and confidence in your abilities to conquer your new goal. Added bonus- It will feel so awesome to cross that finish line.
  5. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I need to remind myself of this quiet often. Allow yourself some cheat days and chances to indulge. As my friend Drake once said, ‘YOLO’. (Did I really just say that?) Life’s too short to deprive yourself of delicious cookies. Like yourself and your body, cookies and all.

Now, we may not parade around the locker room like my friend, but I hope these tips were useful!

Thanks for reading. Have a great Sunday!

Monday Motivation: Time to Train

How is it already Monday? You sneaky weekend!

Although half Ironman training doesn’t officially begin until March, I’m starting to step up my training game. It would be a real shame to croak during my first official week of training due to poor preparation. I’ve decided to begin sharing my weekly workout schedule because A) If nobody knows, it didn’t happen B) I might need each of you to hold me accountable for my claims C) Some of these plans may help you meet your own training goals.

Monday:  1 hour CT class at Endure It! Naperville

Tuesday:  Strength + 4 mile run (Daniel’s plans for my strength training torture are still TBD. Chest and tris were part of Sunday’s workout, so we will focus on back, bis and abs.)

Wednesday:  1 hour swim (I pull my swim workouts from this wonderful blog. She hasn’t posted lately, but there are a million archived workouts to try.)

Thursday:  5 mile run

Friday:  REST!

Saturday:  1.5 hour CT class at Endure It! Naperville

Sunday:  1 hour swim + 4 mile run

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Can’t. Stop. Sharing. Motivational. Quotes. They’re just too good not to share!

Hope you have a good week! XO

WTH Do I Wear?

…And I’m not talking about your Valentine’s date wardrobe.

I want to share a little secret about triathlon get up. Ya’ll ready for this? You wear one outfit the entire race. That’s right, you can rock the exact same outfit for the swim, the bike and the run. Am I the only newbie that had NO idea this was the case? (If the answer is yes, let’s pretend I never asked.)

Before my first triathlon, I would have guessed that I wear a swimsuit, cycling shorts and a top, then running shorts and a dri-fit tank. But guess what…

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Transition times matter and count towards your overall race time. Costume changes don’t make for speedy transitions. Have I blown your mind yet?

There are 2 options for race day fashion. Either one can be worn under your wetsuit, should one be necessary for the swim.

  1. Trisuits, 1 Piece:  These are one piece suits that typically zip up in the front. As a positive, one doesn’t have to worry about their top riding up. Everything stays in place the whole race. The negative? Having to strip down to go to the bathroom. I believe that most, if not all, experienced triathletes let it flow on the move, and bathroom breaks become a non-issue. But I’m just not there yet. I don’t want to pee on my fancy new cycling shoes, okay?!
  1. Tri Kits, 2 Pieces:  Tri kits are comprised of tri shorts and a tri singlet. Unless you’re part of a triathlon team that requires you to wear matching shorts and singlet, you can mix and match as you choose. Added bonuses:  These make bathroom breaks a heck of a lot easier and can be a less expensive option. If you have a tank that you want to wear for the race, pair it with some tri shorts and BAM! you have your race day outfit. I’m partial to the 2 piece.

There are some great brands (recommended to me by experienced triathletes) that offer both trisuits and 2 piece options. It’s really a matter of trial and error to determine what works best for you. Check ’em out!

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Sported the 2 piece at the Chicago Triathlon with 0 wardrobe malfunctions. That’s a win!

On an unrelated note, I hope everyone had a fun Valentine’s Day! Although I think it’s a cheesy holiday, my heart almost melted into a puddle on the floor at lunch. A big, bearded, tatted man and his daughter were enjoying a daddy-daughter date. He was allowing her to color his finer nails with crayons. When the server commented on the dad’s new look, he said “It’s Valentine’s Day”. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. 

Hope everyone has a great Sunday! Stay Warm! XO

World’s Best Protein Shake

Happy Sunday! Hope everyone is enjoying this heat wave of a weekend. You go, Illinois!

Saturday morning, I attended my first 1.5 hour Computrainer session. I came home from class exhausted. I had tired muscles (and a bruised bum, of course) and knew I needed to give my body some protein if I wanted to survive Sunday’s workouts.

I’ve never been a fan of red meat, and even chicken and turkey are a stretch these days. Protein shakes are a great alternative for those of us that dislike the common sources of protein but l.o.v.e. chocolatey delicious milkshakes. (Everyone?) Without further adieu, I present to you the world’s best protein shake:

Only 6 Ingredients. Now that's my kind of meal!

Only 6 Ingredients. Now that’s my kind of meal!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup Almond Milk; 30 calories
  • 1/2 frozen banana; 50 calories
  • 6 – 8 ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter; 95 calories
  • 1 tsp. hershey’s cocoa; 10 calories
  • 1/2 -1 scoop chocolate protein; 75 calories (may be more pending your choice of protein)

Total Calories:  260

We found the MuscleTech Phase 8 protein through online reviews. It’s a leaner protein, 1 scoop is 150 calories, and it’s delicious! It’s a generous size scoop, so I tend to only use 1/2 of a scoop. However, I do throw in more after a tough workout.

Once you have all the ingredients, toss them into a blender and mix until the ice cubes and bananas are fully blended. Then enjoy!

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend! XO

Current Love Affairs

Running seems like a pretty inexpensive sport, right? The only requirement is shoes (and if you’re the badass man on the lakefront path, you don’t even need those!) But somehow, like many of my fellow runners, I’ve become a product junkie. Yes, I absolutely need all 5 neon pink Under Armour shirts in my drawer. They make me run faster.

Here’s some of the gear I’ve been loving lately:

Shoes- Adidas Boost:  Before I began training for my first marathon, I wanted to find the perfect pair of shoes. I purchased and returned 4 pairs before being introduced to my new best friends. These shoes are light as a feather but still offer a decent amount of support. I purchased the Adidas Boost OGs (black with yellow trim). Thankfully, they grew in popularity and now come in pink. Ahem…

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Fuel Belt- SPIbelt: These are inexpensive, expandable and seriously awesome. I hate when belts bounce around during runs, and I don’t experience much with this one. SPIbelts with waterproof lining are a few extra bucks, but I would recommend spending the money (if you’re human and sweat).

Fuel- Clif Bloks:  I’ve never been able to stomach GU, but I’ve found Clif Blocks to be a great alternative. Sometimes I sneak one before short runs because they ARE SO DELICIOUS.

Shorts- Marika:  I wish I could rock a pair of Nike Compression shorts like the pros, but I just end up with a giant wedgie. Marika is the only brand I’ve found that stay put my entire run.

GPS Watch- Garmin Forerunner 220:  I won’t bore you with all of the fancy features, but I love this pretty thang. The watch has a pacing function, which is crucial for me while out for a solo run. I’m all over the place without it.

I could blab on forever, but I thought I’d leave you with my top five favs. Any gear that you can’t live without?

Hope you had a great Tuesday. We’re nearly halfway through the week! XO