The Struggle is Real

Why hello. Hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend! Isn’t it wonderful to be riding and running outside?

Saturday morning, I had just about finished my 30-mile ride when I got flat tire. A teeny, tiny shard of metal pierced it, and within seconds, it was completely flat. Womp.

Sitting on the edge of the road, I started to think about all of the unexpected things that happen when training for a half Ironman. Although my fellow triathletes have been amazing resources in answering my questions, there are some things that you have to learn on your own. Unless, of course, you read my below list of tri training struggles (and some tips)…

*You will feel exhausted all the time. This is mostly true for me during the week. After a long workday, I accidentally fell asleep after my run and swim. Daniel had to wake me for dinner at 9pm!

*You will be hungry every second of the day. Just typing the word hungry made me hungry.

*Wipeouts happen more than you expect. No matter how many times I ride my bike, every so often I forget to unclip my shoes. In my most recent wipeout news, I made a wrong turn and was heading straight for a lake. Instead of calmly unclipping my shoes, I FREAKED THE F OUT and fell right on over. As an added bonus, a large group of canoers witnessed the whole fiasco!

*Assume that no one sees you when biking or running. Be particularly defensive when training around busy roads, but also be aware of others on a trail. You’ll be shocked at the amount of people that have no idea you are behind them until you scare the sh*t out of them by announcing yourself. 

*Ladies- You will have a love, hate relationship with your bike. Somedays, your saddle will seem like the devil himself. You will have bruises in places you don’t ever want bruises. What happened to the good ole’ beach cruiser seats?

*The foam roller will be your new BFF. Your body will be in a constant state of sore, so rolling around on foam is necessary.

*Buy these products- you will thank me later:

  • Swim- Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs and anti-fog solution for goggles
  • Bike- Anti Chafe Chamois Butt’r (Chafing is zero fun, chafing caused by your bike seat is hell.)
  • Run- Body Glide (I shower in this stuff! It is great for preventing wetsuit rash as well.)

Hope you’ve learned a thing or two at my expense. Consider yourself warned, my friend.

Have a great week! 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?

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!

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

Monday Motivation on Tuesday

I had the best intentions of making ‘Monday Motivation’ a thing. But then I fell asleep, sitting straight up, with my computer in my lap. Monday + Life:  1, Meredith:  0

I thought I’d share some recent adventures that have motivated me to get my booty in shape…

  • Volunteering at a half marathon, in the frigid month of January, can actually be fun. On Saturday, I volunteered at the F^3 Half Marathon with my running friend, Christine. The sun was shining (whaaat?!), and it wasn’t unbearably cold. We rocked the mile 4/10 Gatorade station and screamed words of encouragement to the 2,500 runners. (It appears cheerleading was good for something!) There was the cutest 5-year-old in our group. I’m pretty sure he now holds the record for most Gatorade given out in one race (although he dropped about as many cups as he handed out due to his little mittens). Even the fast runners slowed a bit to say hello and take the drink he was offering. It was so darn cute. We received lots of ‘thank yous’ from runners as they passed, and it made volunteering in the cold well worth it. The event made me miss racing like crazy (c’mon spring!), and I rekindled my friendship with the treadmill on Sunday.
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Took a quick break from filling cups to pose for a photo.

  • I’ve fallen in love and found my newest obsession. In this post, I shared my interest in Computrainer class, a cycling class that allows you to train on your actual bike. I’ve now survived two classes and already feel much more confident on my bike. I know that I’m getting stronger with each class, making it worth every penny. It appears cycling is a male dominated sport, as I’ve been the only gal in class both times. Sadly, this makes it really hard to avoid coming in last place win the race.  I’m coming for ya next time, bros!
  • I can’t move my arms. Or my shoulders. Or my back. The fiancé and I decided to do some strength training on Sunday. I’m such a sucker for cardio that I avoid weights at all costs. He’s been hounding me to change my ways, and I think it’s finally working. (Only took a few years.) Here’s a quick back/bicep workout. We did 3 sets x 10 reps of each exercise:
    • Curls
    • Pull-ups (on weight-assisted machine)
    • Deltoid Flies (on Deltoid Fly machine)
    • Lat Pulldowns (on Lat Pulldown machine)
    • Lower Back Extensions (on Low Back Extension Machine). I held a 25lb weight, but increase/decrease weight as necessary

Onto another week of running, riding and strength training.

Thanks for reading! XO

Mile 27

October 12, 2014 will go down in the books as one of my favorite days of all time:

  1. I ran 26.2 miles.
  2. I got engaged.

I feel obligated to tell you about this day. I mean, what running blog doesn’t include a Chicago Marathon recap (even if it’s 3 months late)?

The Race

I woke up right before my 4am alarm. I set roughly 80 alarms on race mornings, but I’ve never slept through a single one. I guess nerves are good for something. After showering in body glide and putting on my race day best, I headed to the CARA Compound at the Hilton. (Yet another perk of training with CARA. A warm place to gather and REAL restrooms are the bees knees.) I met my favorite running buddies, peed about 20 times (TMI?) and then we were off!

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Now that’s a bunch of good looking runners right there.

The last few minutes before race start sparked some intense emotions. I couldn’t decide whether to jump up and down from the excitement or pass out from the nerves. Fortunately, I regained my sanity after crossing the start line (some may beg to differ…) At the beginning of every race, I can’t stop smiling. (There’s something to be said for doing what makes you happy, right?!) A fellow runner sensed my excitement and ran towards me. She told me that she had run 30+ marathons and that the one thing she learned is to take it all in. Admire the neighborhoods, high-five the little kids. If people ask you what your time was, you just smile and tell them you had fun. I believe she’s part of the reason I had a great race. Thanks, little running angel.

I won’t bore you with the mile-by-mile details, but here are some highlights:

  • Miles 1 – 10: The glory miles. I felt awesome and was averaging a 10:20 pace. I ran with a friend who has lived in the city for many years, and he so kindly pointed out each neighborhood as we passed through. (Thanks, Jeff!) Boystown is one of my favorite spots in this stretch. Love the fun entertainment!
  • Miles 11 – 15:  The ‘holy crap! I still feel okay!’ miles:  This part of the race was still enjoyable. I passed the half-marathon point under my goal time and still felt pretty darn good.
  • Miles 16 – 20:  The dark ages, part 1:  The crowd was thin and the roads were quiet. It was during these miles I began to question why I had signed up for such torture a second time.
  • Miles 21 – 22:  CHINATOWN:  This is second to Boystown on my neighborhood love list. Cheering crowds and dragons, oh my! The energy of this area gave me the little boost I needed.
  • Miles 23 – 24:  The dark ages, part 2:  My leg hurts. I think I have a stomach cramp. I’ll just walk through the water stop, and the next one. You get the point…
  • Miles 25 – 26.2: The ‘let’s get this sh*t over with!’ miles:  By the grace of the Running God’s, I ran into my good friend at mile 25. We had lost each other for the majority of the race but were able to finish together. We encouraged one another to tough it out. It felt SO good to cross that finish line.

I finished the race with a time of 4:41. ONE minute away from my goal time. Until next year, Chicago Marathon…

The Engagement 

After slowly exiting the race, I met my boyfriend who told me we had to meet my cousin and mom…in Millennium Park. Now, that would be great on any other day besides that I HAD JUST RUN 26 MILES and was starting to get hangry. All I could think about was lunch, which apparently worked to his advantage. Once we made it to Millennium Park, he insisted we head to the bean. ‘Really, now you’re making me climb stairs?’ When we finally ran into my cousin and mom, I noticed my cousin had her video camera. I thought, ‘Wow! she must really be excited that I just ran a marathon.’ So clueless. She then asked to take our picture by the bean. As I started to walk away, I was pulled back to see my fiancé on one knee. These pictures tell the story much better than me. Photo cred to my wonderful cousin, Erin.

Smiling away...thinking about lunch.

Smiling away…thinking about lunch.

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Thanks for reading! XO

Monday Motivation

Chicago winter and my Christmas cookie withdrawal have left me in such a funk. I can barely drag myself out from under the covers in the morning. Putting on a swimsuit and strutting my white bod around LA Fitness is nearly impossible. Yes, of course I wear goggles and a swim cap to up the sexy factor. Bundling up to run, while looking like Randy from A Christmas Story, doesn’t sound like much fun either. It’s a lose, lose situation. Anyone else been feeling this way lately?

Exhibit A

Last week, I gave myself a stern talking to. The motivated me told the lazy, cookie-eating me to get a grip and ditch the excuses, “It’s too cold to train. I’m too tired…” until forever.

Enter:  Endure It (an endurance club offering coaching and classes in Naperville). On a whim, I emailed Coach Sarah regarding Ironman training, and we had our first meeting this evening. She offered to conduct a custom bike fitting and invited me to attend a complimentary Computrainer class this weekend. Allow me to geek out for a sentence or two… The Computrainer is a machine that hooks to the rear wheel of your bike and stimulates the variables of an actual course. As you ride, you watch a screen in front of you that tracks your progress and the progress of others in the class. Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition! If I’m alive after class on Saturday, I’ll share my thoughts.

After talking races with Sarah and the other coaches, I became all giddy about this summer’s events. It was exactly what I needed to get me back on track. Tomorrow’s gym bag is already packed.

Can I get an amen?!

Can I get an amen?

Thanks for reading! XO