General physical fitness.

Happily Running in a Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex 13 (I’ve lost count…) has settled into the Chicago area. In the middle of summer. I could very easily complain about the cold weather (like I literally just had to get up and close the windows so my hands wouldn’t be too cold to type) but it’s made for  some PERFECT running weather! After my awful 10 miler on Saturday, I was a little anxious about my next couple runs. Well, I worried for no reason at all. They were wonderful! Yesterday, I had an easy 3 mile run on the training schedule. I started off faster than I meant to but I was able to not just keep my pace up, but get faster! And I lied about the weather a little. Today was perfect running weather, yesterday was 71 degrees and 91% humidity. Not ideal. but check out these splits!

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This morning, in 55 degrees and 65% humidity, I ran a 5 miler with (at least for me) even better times!

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An 8 minute, 25 second pace for an entire mile!? Yes! I promise, I’m not sharing these to brag, I just would’ve never thought I could accomplish something that “athletic”. I’m amazed that my body is capable of running a mile in less than 8 1/2 minutes after already running 4. 10 year old Megan would have been a very different person if she knew she could someday do that!

Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the weather, or if I’m finally getting back in shape, but I’m feeling strong. And I like it. I did go to yoga last night for the first time in a couple months. I know it helped loosen me up. More stretching will be in order in the future. It’s probably just the endorphins but I’m so excited that all the hard work is finally beginning to pay off!

Any other runners taking advantage of this cool weather streak?


Life is busy, training is good.

It’s been an insanely busy week! Wednesday we went to the Taste of Chicago to see AWOLNATION after work, Thursday I worked all evening, Friday I work a full day, then went to see Red Wanting Blue at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Yesterday, Saturday, I ran, then spent a good portion of my day driving my husband and his car around in an attempt to get a passing emissions test before his plates expire. (Not successful, btw). In the midst of this, I got my act together and did a lot of things really well, and a few things not so well. Let’s start with the good.

At the Taste!

At the Taste!

Wednesday morning, I got up early and went to the gym for a weight lifting session. I spent about 45 minutes there and felt like I got in a really good workout. The best part was being able to increase the weight on two of the leg machines I use. I can really see the progress of my weight lifting, just once a week, and I suddenly have defined muscle in my shoulders, legs, and my stomach is flat for the first time since I was 15! I should take some pics to share. If you’re trying to lose weight, you really need to be lifting weights. The times that I do are the times I see myself getting fit and toned.

Thursday, I was physically just tired. I decided to listen to my body and get more sleep and take it easy that morning. I skipped my 3 mile “hard” run. I felt a little bad about it, but I was really careful all week to stick to my meal plan all week (I even packed salads to bring to the concert!) so I knew that skipping one workout wasn’t going to mean gaining 2 lbs this week, nor would it throw off my marathon training completely.  It’s didn’t. What really could have thrown off my marathon training was what I did Friday, and what happened Saturday…

Friday, all day, I was craving my favorite candy, Jr. Mints. So I skipped my afternoon snack and had a box of them instead. Not great, but I didn’t give up my entire “diet” either. I had my normal dinner later that evening and a healthy breakfast the next morning. Back to Friday night. The short story is that I went to a concert, had 3 drinks (and the first one was very strong), didn’t get to bed until 2am.

Saturday, I woke up at 6 so I could run at 6:30. It was supposed to thunderstorm, but hadn’t started raining yet so my running group still met for our 10 mile run as planned. As soon as we started it began to rain. It got harder, then lighter, then harder, but never stopped. I ran 10 miles in the (sometimes pouring) rain, on 4 hours of sleep, hungover. It was miserable. At one point (mile 8) I could’ve walked faster than I was “running”. But I never did stop, my times were terrible, the rain messed up my phone (hence the two pictures below – did you know water can “press” buttons on your phone and stop your Run Keeper? Neither did I.), but I kept going. I’d read in Runner’s World magazine just Friday night that it’s good to train tired, hungry, in the rain, the heat, etc. because it forces your body to adapt to non-ideal conditions. I’m curious to see how my runs this week go now.

First half of my 10 miler

First half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

Second half of my 10 miler

You can see how, although slow as molasses, I did alright the first 6 miles. I was at least consistent. Miles 7 and 8 were my worst. I think at mile 9 I saw lightening and got my pace back up out of fear fo my life. Technically, my only goals yesterday were to finish, and not get struck by lightening. Check, and check. I win!

Anyone else get a long run in this weekend? In the rain? (Are you sick of the rain as much as I am!?)

Been a while…

It’s been a while… I’ve missed writing. Work got crazy, eating got outta control, running was miserable, exhaustion set in, then we built a fence and had a big ol’ 30th (birthday party. I still have “extra” projects I’m working on and I can’t quite seem to get into the groove of a new schedule. So that’s why I haven’t written. Why on earth would anyone want to hear my whining and groaning about life circumstances? Well no one would. So I kept my mouth shut. You’re welcome.

Somewhere between my discovery of a medicinal concoction that solves my can’t-breathe-when-I-run-faster-than-10-and-a-half-minutes-per-mile dilemma, the acceptance that working will always suck no matter where I do it, my husband’s new commitment to try to stress less at work, and a random surge of new “fighter” attitude, I’ve become my normal self again. Maybe I was just subconsciously freaking out about turning 30 too? I wasn’t, but everyone acts like you should, so maybe deep down I did? Who knows.

Anyway, my marathon training has been going so, so well. I’ve really set my mind on just what I need to do each day in training and taking one decision at a time. I know next week I have to run 3, 5, 3, and 10 miles on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but I’m not thinking about that yet. I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight and when I need to wake up for yoga in the morning. If I start dreading my 5 mile run Tuesday morning, I’ll get overwhelmed. I’ll think about that Monday and simply do it. Just do it. Nike knows what’s up.

My actual runs having been challenging but good. I’ve found that if I take 5mg generic Zyrtec before I go to bed at night (I cut a 10mg pill in half) and have two puffs from my inhaler about 15 minutes before I run, my lungs are happy and I can enjoy my run. I tried the whole 10mg of Zyrtec at first, but I was too groggy the next day. All day. I could hardly stay awake at work. 5mg is just enough. I also have a sinus irrigator that I’ll sometimes use in the afternoon if I’m starting to get a sinus headache later in the day. Within 30 minutes, head aches is essentially gone and I’m not taking ibuprofin non stop.

Today I ran 8 miles at the butt crack of dawn. Literally. Okay, not exactly literally – dawn doesn’t have a butt crack. But you get what I mean. It was insanely early. I had to work at 8 so I woke up at 4:30am and left the house a little before 5 to run my normal Saturday trail at 5:15. Honestly, I loved it. I love waking up early in the summer. “The sky’s awake. So I’m awake!”

The first few miles were rough. They always are. By the time I got to about 3 1/2 miles, I started to feel pretty good. I got stuck by a train for 4-5 minutes at mile 5, but I got right back into my groove when I started back up again. I finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes to the cheering and applause of my 40-person running group that was just huddling up to begin their run. Embarrassing and fun. My splits were fantastic and I finished a lot stronger than I thought I would. It probably helped that I stopped for a few minutes. And that the weather was perfect. 60 and sunny! Still, I feel way more confident coming off a good longer run.


Lovely negative splits.

Lovely negative splits.


In addition to running, I’ve also been doing yoga once a week and weights once a week. The strength, balance, and core strengthening has really helped my running too! Someday, I’ll have to post on just my cross training. I actually bought my husband and myself tennis rackets. Hopefully my cross training will include tennis pretty soon too! Currently, I’m trying to figure out when I can fit in one more day of weight training into my week. I have a few clothes that don’t fit right now because I’m not as lean as I was this winter. I know I can get there, I just have to do it!

Eating… I go through phases. I’ll be good for a couple days, then eat a couple handfuls of dark chocolate chips. Better than my ultimate vice, Jr Mints, but still not great. I’m learning that since I run/workout in the morning, I really need to have more protein in my breakfast (cereal is not an option!), a morning snack on days I run more than 5 miles, and a large lunch with lots of veggies. My afternoon snack just needs to hold me over til my early (5 – 5:30) dinner, which is the best meal to have carbs for my workout the next morning, and then if I need to nibble at night, I should have a little chocolate, and a lot of fruit. I know these things, but do I implement them? Course not. But each decision, every day, every week, I get closer.

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m going to try and stay more on top of writing throughout the rest of my marathon training at least. I know that several people have commented on how motivating my blog is. That is such a massive compliment. I really never thought of myself as an encourager or motivator. I’m very flattered. And I’m trying. Thanks for sticking around.

Happy Monday! (For real.)

I feel like I don’t have a lot of time to post… my husband’s on his way home and dinner’s in the oven (yes, at 10pm). But I got my butt in gear today and I’m so proud I must share!

6:30am: 2.5 mile run. Absolutely awful. My legs were dead weight. I forgot to stretch after my fantastic and fast 5 mile (say that 5 times fast…) run Saturday morning. Then we walked around Lincoln Park Zoo, and to the beach. I have pictures of that. It was fun. Maybe I’ll share later this week.

7:30am: Quickly showered, ate cereal for breakfast and got ready for work.

9:00am: Worked an easy 4 hour shift. Had a protein bar at some point.

1:00pm: Got groceries at Meijer where half of my grocery list just happened to be on sale! Buy 10 for $10 and 11th item is free! (Mushrooms, peppers, Larabars, Annie’s organic mac and cheese, bagged lettuce, low sodium black beans, Greek yogurt, and canned salsa verde  in case you were wondering)

1:30pm: Picked up Domino’s pizza to stash in the freezer because I had a 50% off everything coupon. A few times a year, the owner passes them out to local businesses to use for lunch hours only. I had 2 pieces of the Pacific Veggie pan pizza while out running errands.

2:00pm: Household essentials shopping at Walmart. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. You know, the fun stuff.

2:30pm: More grocery shopping at Aldi. Finished off my list there. I only spent $90 for all of our groceries for the week and a lot of that is snack food that will last another 2 weeks!

3:00pm: Unpacked everything, cleaned out the fridge. Sprayed the ants that had gotten into the house. Watered flowers. Took a little break.

5:00pm: Cleaned, chopped and packed most of my fruits and veggies for the week. I’m cooking dinners, having salads for lunch, and snacking on fruit instead of candy this week. No excuses now! (Follow me on Facebook to see the “before” picture and get other between-post updates!)


6:30pm: Prepped BBQ Bacon Meatloaf for dinner. Cleaned up the kitchen.

8:00pm: Yoga! Holey Moley am I out of yoga-shape. Fun story – A couple old guys came into the class 40 minutes late and starting chatting about how they were boys so they couldn’t do some of the stretches. I asked them to stop talking, please. To which one responded “I’ll stop talking if you stop talking.” Yes, they were correct. They are boys. Hilarious.

9:00pm: Put dinner in the oven and wrote a bog post.

On top of all that, I did some dishes, and did 3 loads of laundry. Granted, none of it’s put away. That’ll be tomorrow’s task. It feels so great to have some energy and motivation back!

How was your Monday?

Switching It Up (No, Not My Job)

It’s days like today that I wonder how I ever did it all when I worked full time. Holy cow things were busy! I had to bring my car in to get a nail taken out of one of my tires and a patch applied, I finished the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, took out all the trash in the house,got groceries, made a scrumptious dinner, and even worked for a couple hours. Whew!

The scrumptious dinner was a recipe I made up. Meatloaf marinara, herb roasted red potatoes, and green beans. All this for 434 calories! Yes!

Meatloaf marinara, herb roasted red potatoes, green beans.

Meatloaf marinara, herb roasted red potatoes, green beans.

This morning I had my typical cereal for breakfast and sandwich for lunch. For a snack, I had an Annie’s White Cheddar Single Serving Macaroni and Cheese cup. Even after all that, and subtracting 100 calories for overeating yesterday, I still had enough calories left over (with 4 to spare!) to eat the rest of my flurry from last night. I am full full right now. It’s so satisfying to lose weight at a slower pace. I’m eating more, working out regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. I highly recommend it!

This morning, I got in a good workout at the gym. All week I had been planning on going to the gym today because it was supposed to rain all day. The rain had passed by the time I made it out of the car shop and I could’ve ran outside, but I decided the gym would be a good break from my normal neighborhood run. After a 1/4 mile walking warm up, I ran 2 miles on the treadmill. 3/4 of a mile at 7 mph, then next 1/4 mile at 8 mph. And repeat. It was faster than I would have challenged myself to outside and it was really hard, but I’m glad I did it!

While I was at the gym, I wanted to do a few things that I couldn’t do at home. So after my run I spent 15 minutes on the stair machine. That’s about when I realized how out shape I had gotten in my month or so of slacking. I’ll get there! Next was weights, I did a few leg machines, really focusing on slow movements. A few minutes of abs and my workout was complete. All together, I burned 440 calories (net) in my hour at the gym today. I’m glad I moved my workout indoors today. It was a nice change in routine!

Anyone else move their workout indoors today? How’d it go?

A Good Start

Someone needs to go back to Kindergarten for calendar time… Yesterday I announced that in exactly 7 months I’d be running my first full marathon. In exactly 7 months, I’ll actually be at my sister’s wedding. Whoops! Equally as exciting, but not the same thing. The 2014 Chicago Marathon is actually on October 12, making it less than 7 months away! Okay, that’s still a ways away, but I’m sure time will fly (whether I’m having fun or not).

Today I felt pretty motivated about my workout. I had a great day at work and when I got out, it was a lot warmer out than I expected it be. I hadn’t really planned any workout per se, I just wanted to do something. There’s no avoiding it now, I’ve gotta stay in shape! I decided to keep it simple and go for a run in the ‘hood. (AKA South Hammond). You can imagine my excitement when I realized that there was no more snow on the sidewalks! I took off fast and kept on going. If weren’t for a midrun phone call, my pace would have been just over 9 minutes per mile. I ran 3.15 miles total in 30 minutes on the dot. Not too shabby! Especially since I was once again experiencing asthma-like symptoms.

This afternoon, I wanted to experiment a bit to see when I start having symptoms and if anything lessens them. I’m going to try tracking this for a few weeks before going to a doctor because I’d rather not be on meds or have to use an inhaler. I’m also planning on doing some research on breathing and lung expanding exercises. With the popularity of natural medicine, there’s got to be something I can do without meds right?

Back to my workout, after my run I popped in a Pilates DVD I’ve had forever and did the 10 minute arm toning portion. Big problem. I’m totally inflexible and I my hand weights aren’t heavy enough anymore. So I guess that’s one little problem, and one good problem. I didn’t feel like it was that great of an arm workout, so I’ll be scouring Pinterest soon to find some 10-20 minute weight sessions. And I’ll be investing in some 5 lb hand weights.

My eating has been sort of okay lately. I haven’t been worrying about calories too much, just really watching my portions. I still have a major sweet tooth I need to deal with. But with training for a new job and an extra little side project in the works, I don’t really have the mental strength to focus on my sugar intake. I’ll get back there eventually.  Yesterday, I made a turkey breast in the Crockpot, roasted red potatoes, and a side salad for dinner. I even made my own dressing. It was delicious! Tonight’s dinner was “tacos”. I feel like tacos aren’t really tacos when you add beans and veggies to them, but my Mexican husband assures me that they can still be considered tacos. So we used flour tortillas, and added refried beans, taco meat (with my own seasonings instead of the packet), sauteed zucchini and corn, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), and medium taco sauce. I had two. Since I only had a bowl of cereal with almond milk for breakfast, and a banana with a blueberry muffin Larabar for lunch, I think my dinner was just right.

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I realize this may look fairly unappetizing, but I promise, it was fantastic!

All in all, a good start to the week! What meals do you have planned this week? Any suggestions for my asthma symptoms?

Thursday, Belated and Elated

Yes, I realize it’s Saturday and I’m just now posting about Thursday. I just couldn’t skip my scheduled Thursday post because my day was just that good! Let me get the boring stuff out of the way first…

Since I’m working part time now, and my husband is working extra, the deal is that I take care of everything in our home. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, finances, laundry, and basic maintenance. All he has to do is mow the lawn, snowblow or shovel the sidewalks when it snows, and help out with the occasional project around the house. (For example, we’re hoping to pretty up our landscaping this summer, I can’t do a lot of that on my own.) So I spent most of my day Thursday working from home, reconciling our finances, and cleaning the house. Honestly, most of those were things I did when I was working full time and I have no idea how I used to get it all done! I was exhausted, but the show must go on. With three hours left of my day, I decided I had enough time to get a workout in.

On Wednesday, we got another 4 inches of snow, but I still chose to run outside Thursday. I didn’t really have time to drive to the gym to run. I layered up (It was about 30 degrees out and cloudy) and stuck to the middle of the street. It seems that everyone had boycotted shoveling this late winter snow (oh well, it’ll melt in two days anyway) so that was the only bare ground there was. Luckily, 2pm seems to be a very low traffic time in my neighborhood. I’d love to say that I had a great run, but I didn’t. I keep struggling with asthma-type symptoms while running. And it’s not the weather because it happened in San Diego too. Anyway, I completed 3 very slow miles. And then I came in and did the 15 minutes of “yoga abs” from Bob Harper’s Yoga for the Warrior DVD. Holy moly. That was a tough workout.

After my workout I threw on some boots and a hoodie and ran some errands. Yes, I was that girl wearing leggings and boots in public. Shame, shame. It couldn’t matter, I had to get some groceries. You guys, I shopped without a list or even a plan. I walked through Aldi and grabbed a bunch of stuff I thought I could make into a few meals: cereal and almond milk, a frozen turkey breast, red potatoes, bananas, frozen green beans, whole wheat gnocchi, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, refried beans, tortilla shells, eggs, shredded mozzarella, Italian turkey sausage, and some healthy snacks. I just can’t get into a cooking groove lately, so I’m going back to the basics: meat and veggies, Mexican, Italian, cereal, sandwiches and salads, and maybe even (gasp!) a casserole. My husband was actually impressed that I planned to make a turkey in the Crockpot for dinner Sunday. And I was working so hard to make all these healthy, whole meals. I’ll have to keep you updated on how this all plays out.

After grocery shopping I had to get ready for the Imagine Dragons concert. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for almost two years, from the very first time I heard Radioactive play on my Pandora while running. We saw them when they came to Chicago a year ago when we were one of the lucky ones who got tickets to their second night at the House of Blues after the first night sold out in 2 minutes. I’m so glad we had the chance to see them at a small venue before they got huge last year! This time, we saw them at a sold out show at the Allstate Arena. It was a great show, although bands are always better at smaller venues. I probably even got a little workout in with my little bit of dancing around. (And all the extra walking when we couldn’t initially find our seats.) I have one grainy picture of my fantastic day to share:

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Cell phone lights twinkling like the night sky.