Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just 'Beat It' You 'Smooth Criminal': Michael Jackson for Your Playlist

If you're like me and probably the rest of the world, you're shocked from this evening's announcement of the untimely death of Michael Jackson. So fast how it happened too--I read Jackson was rushed to the hospital and less than an hour later at my evening Spinning class, a friend rushed into class and asked, "Did you hear that Michael Jackson died?" Between Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, it's been a sad week for Hollywood and pop culture, and they all contained their own sense of shock value.
But commentary aside, it hit me during spin class to add a post about Michael Jackson hits (and maybe misses depending on how you look at it) to work out to. I'll be the first to admit his songs repeatedly land on my iPod--and I'll take it one step further and say that I ran my second marathon, first with a Walkman in hand, with a collection of Jackson through the years along with Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and some Blink 182 (for some angry running, as I like to call it). Something about those Jackson tunes made it easy for me to crank out those long miles while I was both singing along and reminiscing about my five-year-old self trying to moonwalk across the living room. And well, I just thought they were plain good at making those miles disappear.

So without further ado, here are those Michael Jackson hits that have enough of a beat to keep you moving during a workout. And maybe you'll even find yourself singing along like me. Consider adding some of these Jackson tunes to your workout playlist:

  • Thriller
  • Billie Jean
  • Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
  • Beat It
  • Bad
  • Smooth Criminal
  • Black or White--the intro to this one always got my legs pumping faster, but I'll warn that after a while my ears lost interest
  • I Want You Back--performed with the Jackson 5, this is my all-time favorite and I could hit repeat on this one way too often
  • ABC--performed with the Jackson 5, another one of those oldies but goodies
Find these songs and other Jackson hits at the iTunes store or purchase a CD or two online. Meanwhile I'm thinking of digging out that old marathon tape and seeing if it has those Michael Jackson songs hold the same kick as they did in 2001. I Want You Back definitely does--through all of my playlist updates, that one is never removed. To a candle that burned out too early, here's to thinking of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, on the treadmill or the trail. You certainly was not a one-gloved wonder but a moonwalking legend. Photo grabbed from AllardJanssen at flickr. Posted by Kate

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twenty-Six Thoughts About Grandma's Marathon

I came, I saw, I ran Grandma's Marathon 2009 from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minn. While I had plenty of tunes to keep my ears occupied during the 26.2 miles, my thoughts were wandering and attempting to pick up the scenery. Here's a run down of 26.2 highlights that stuck with me after I crossed the finish line of the 33rd annual classic.

1. I never heard the start gun go off. I hadn't even started listening to my music before runners around me where cheering and we were surging forward to the start line.
2. These runners were anxious to start. I've never jogged to the starting line before and usually don't start running until seconds before crossing the timing mat.
3. On a hot day, runners like the shade. Any spot a tree cast a shadow on the ground, runners moved over for the chance to be out of the sun.
4. The breeze off Lake Superior is chilling, but so refreshing when heat and humidity is stifling. I was so thankful to feel a few of those while running although I definitely wished for more.
5. Knife River around mile 5 was a popular spectator spot and really scenic too. I wished I had my camera to take a picture.
6. Hooray for short port-a-potty lines. I didn't even wait 5 minutes before I made my pre-race pit-stop and still had plenty of time before the race started.
7. If you're not careful the pace groups--or maybe just those gunning for 3:40--will swarm you on the course and at the hydration stations.
8. Volunteers and spectators are awesome. Not only for coming out to support the runners but for handing out fluids and ice, cleaning up our messes, and turning on hoses to cool us down.
9. I was only too happy to see family at mile 16. I was surprised that my in-laws, including grandma-in-law, risked traffic to drive up that far to see me and that I spotted them on the course. I didn't expect to see them until after mile 20.
10. Oh how I needed more fluid stations than what was provided. On a hot day, I could drink something at every mile if it was available. I made the mistake of sucking on a Jolly Rancher at mile 18 thinking a water stop was right around the corner. I didn't realize it wasn't until mile 19 that water stops started every mile--before that they were stationed roughly two miles apart.
11. I'm loving these smaller races, where the number of runners doesn't top 10,000. More manageable start, less fighting to pick a place to stand, ride a shuttle to the start, drop off your gear and find it at the finish, not feeling cramped running the entire 26.2 miles.
12. The scenery. I'd run Grandma's again just to run next to Lake Superior and see the still blue waters and lush green countryside.
13. Need a rival for Heartbreak Hill in Boston? You can't miss Lemon Drop Hill at mile 22, which will leave your legs screaming at you and wishing that the finish line was four feet away and not four miles down the stretch. The only redeeming news is that a photographer was positioned on the hill, which motivated me to continue running rather than give up and find a shot of me walking at after the race.
14. Gotta love a race that has a guy dressed up as a grandma--grey wig, flowered dress and pearls--running by.
15. And one that has runners trucking along regardless of the temperatures!
16. It's not a good sign though when you have to run to the side so two ambulances can make their way up the road for hurt runners. I spotted one runner on the side of the road being helped by the medical team and an ambulance driving up the road and later saw another ambulance but no runner. The Star-Tribune in the Twin Cities reported that 36 runners needed to be taken to the hospital.
17. Or when you see a photo of the winner at the finish line collapsed in a wheelchair. Mary Akor topped the women for a third straight victory but the heat and humidity left her depleted after crossing the finish line.
18. I have millions of race shirts but I feel like I really earned this one--I had to wait to cross the finish line to receive my Grandma's swag and had to survive that heat. As tempting as the medical drop-outs were, I was really hoping not to use them.
19. Ode to Kara for the Kara-obsessed runners we are at Fit-Ink! Turns out Kara Goucher's younger sister Kendall ran the Garry Bjorklund half marathon that kicks off at 6:30 a.m. on the second half of the marathon course. She's fast, too!
20. The male winner, Christopher Raabe, made running in the heat look easy. His action shots show a calm, cool and collect runner who's cruising to a fast finish. The crazy part is that Raabe not only beat his competitors by nearly 3 minutes, but this was only his sixth marathon and he ran his personal best.
21. Ice cream and strawberries at the finish line? This is my kind of race. I was totally craving ice cream in the later miles, telling myself I'd beg for Culver's when the event was over.
22. Loved not having a clock at every mile to remind me just how slow I had gotten over the course of the race. I even stopped staring at my Garmin every few seconds to watch my pace taper off.
23. Did I really see a black warning flag at the water station at mile 21? Or was it 20? Either I was delirious or I saw the tell-tale sign of taking it easy because it was too warm for comfortable running.
24. Others say that Grandma's is a hilly course and not flat like say Chicago or even Marine Corps. Not true. The little rollers were a pleasant change in scenery and nothing too strenuous. At least until Lemon Drop and then you couldn't help but give your legs a break. Even on the downhill which was tough on the calves.
25. While I didn't partake because it was easier--and less congested--to be dropped off at a hotel for a bus shuttle to the start, some runners got to take the North Shore Railroad to Two Harbors. Talk about a unique ride to the start line. The train even gave us a send off, blowing its whistle as it sped south to Duluth.
26. Bagpipes, cheerleaders, bands. The route wasn't short of entertainment either. That bagpiper though, he looked like he was boiling in his tartan kilt.

And for 0.2 to cover the entire race distance in thoughts. The sweet reward after finishing: a trip to Betty's Pies in Two Harbors. Sorry folks but for me a race wouldn't be complete without a restaurant stop on the way home (Weber Grill calls my name each year in Chicago). I offered to show my support group the race start and after we wandered out of the finish area and back to the car drove north to Betty's Pies, famous in Minnesota for its multitude of homemade pies. But it was the huge basket of fries and a hot fudge banana sundae that caught my eye and made their way into my stomach. Yum and thank goodness I had a good calorie burn beforehand! Posted by Kate

Monday, June 22, 2009

To Grandmother's House I Go...

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go....The sad but honest truth is that phrase kept reverberating through my head over the weekend--that tune I probably picked up as an nine-year-old playing my first notes on the piano or reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. But as much as I try to whisk that thought out of my head, I know I can't because it's so true for the weekend I had. I drove over the St. Croix River and through the North Woods (well, partially at least) to get to Grandma's house outside Duluth, Minn. But I wasn't just going to visit Grandma--Grandma Lutter, pictured with me at left, is actually my husband's maternal grandmother but I consider her my grandma as well especially considering that all of my grandparents are deceased--I was also running Grandma's Marathon, a 33-year-old 26.2-mile classic that runs from Two Harbors to Duluth along Lake Superior. I'll spare you all the other grandmotherly references that popped into my head while running or thinking about what to write, but the one that stuck with me was running to grandma's house as I ran from Two Harbors south to Duluth--and if I kept running south I'd hit grandma's in nearby Cloquet.

But anyway, for years, Grandma suggested I run the Grandma's Marathon held each June. And contrary to my belief, it's not named after all the grandmas in Duluth or any other random association you can think of with grandmothers and running--I was asked if my grandma was running the race and if there was some local legend associated with the name--but it received it's name from Grandma's, a restaurant chain local to Duluth and one-time major sponsor of the race that also happens to have a location steps from the finish line. However, each year I'd have a different excuse for why I couldn't run. Once was that the race was already filled--people would request mail-in entries in January and send them back the same day they appeared in their mailboxes to snag an elusive spot into this 9,500-runner race. Another time I ran the Boston Marathon in April and knew my legs couldn't handle another 26.2 miles only two months later. Another time I have to admit I was discouraged by the strict adherence to the USATF no headphone rule, which thankfully was repealed in December by the USATF. And then last year I was at my brother-in-law's wedding so even if I wanted to run, Grandma wouldn't be home either. But when Grandma reminded me about running the race this year, I didn't have an excuse, and the idea of running was all too appealing. I hadn't run a marathon since December and basically took a break from running altogether until a training run with Liz in early April, entries were still available in April thanks in part to the race embracing online registration, I needed a challenge to get me back on my feet, and the idea of running along Lake Superior sounded way too pretty. So after dragging my feet, I finally signed up for the race at the beginning of May and gave myself an event to look forward to come June 20. Little did I know at the time--or maybe I was too excited to sign up and have a late spring marathon on the calendar that I didn't really factor in other events on my event schedule--that I'd be giving myself an interesting taper for this race with a 100-mile bike ride less than two weeks before (June 7's Udder Century) and an Olympic-distance triathlon (June 14's Motor City Triathlon). Then when spring, or the lack thereof, threw us for a loop in the Windy City, I found my training compromised because I simply didn't want to run in the cold and rain or I was too pooped from other activities to hit the trail for a distance run.

Was I crazy to be running this race with only a 10-mile race under my belt, a bonked 12-miler, a 6.6-mile run at the end of a triathlon, and my only endurance hours spent on a bike and an elliptical? Yes! But I gave myself the goal of being conservative while running, not going too hard, listening to my body when I had enough and all of the things I probably ignored any other time I was marathoning. And away I went, driving up to Minnesota two days before the race and then arriving at the expo to pick up my packet on Friday afternoon. As for how I would feel, I was trying not to think negative thoughts although they continued to pop into my head. Think back to Liz's rundown before Boston and all the phantom pains and weather woes. Will my left heel quit hurting me? How are my legs going to feel Saturday and did I rest enough? Am I going to survive to mile 20 after little training and more cross-training? Is it going to rain or will it be too hot? Was I going to get blisters again (I ran more than half the California International Marathon in December with blisters covering my feet)?

By the time race morning arrived, the weather was my only concern. It was bright and sunny--pointing to a great day for a race--but one look at the thermostat and this runner was wishing she was going to the beach and not to a marathon. The start was in the mid-60s and listed the high at 80-something in Two Harbors and 75 degrees in Duluth. The fleece jacket that was a mainstay in my wardrobe all spring came with me to the start but I quickly stuffed it into my sweat bag and hung out in my race clothes--tank and compression shorts--before the start.

I managed to miss the starting announcement but we were off before long. It's never a good sign when you've already cracked a sweat one mile into a race and still have 25 miles left to run. Or when you can start to feel a blister halfway through and hope it doesn't pop while you're running. Or knowing that you can't continue to hold the pace you had kept because it's just too darn hot. But at least that crowds are Knife River around mile five, mile 16, the Lester River, along Superior Street and in the Canal Park area. I got to see my cheer team at mile 16--a total surprise to me since I expected to see them in the later miles in Duluth--and made sure I was running past, but my energy fizzled shortly after and all I wanted was to walk and get fluids. As rough as it might sound, I was definitely in love with the scenery. Green countryside, a clear blue lake, the bright blue sky--you couldn't ask for better race conditions aside from a cooler temperature.

I sound like a broken record harping on the heat, but when I recount the race, that's about the only thing that stands out in my mind because it really was that hot. I think I must be jinxed when it comes to marathons: Chicago 07, Chicago 08, Grandma's 09, and even Boston 08 was a little on the warm side at least for my comfort. But the black flag at mile 21, warning to slow down and drink plenty of fluids, was a little too reminiscent of Chicago 07 when runners were being pulled off the course and the marathon was canceled. Granted there were no buses and we could continue running but I knew that black flag wasn't good for those of us still plodding along.

The last five miles clicked by. Running past the mansions along Lake Superior, refueling at every water station, climbing the infamous Lemon Drop Hill while rocking out to what I consider motivation by The Killers, before I knew it I was at mile 25. But ugh, that last 1.2 miles was rough and felt like the longest march to the finish ever. It also doesn't help when your Garmin reads 26.2 and you don't even see a finish line banner. Yet at 26.32 by my watch's calculations, I crossed the finish line. Slower than I would have liked but faster under the conditions I endured. I just wish I could have sprinted a little faster at the finish or skipped a walking break earlier so my time was a pinch faster--I'm really good at finishing just seconds into the next minute.

Greeted with a finisher's medal, carnation and T-shirt shortly after crossing the finish, I now can say I ran and survived the 33rd running of Grandma's Marathon. It was a day that even Grandma called one of the hottest Duluth will see all year. As she said about her first marathon-watching experience, "Been there. Done that." I echo the sentiments although I think I'll be back to this race again. And maybe next time it'll be a little cooler. Pictured about is me and Grandma Lutter after cleaning up after the race. Posted by Kate

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Take a Spin with Dad

If you're like me, maybe you're stumped on what to get Dad for Father's Day on Sunday. Searching for a way to spend some extra time with Dad while enjoying what's been predicted as a good weekend (finally!)? If Dad's a cyclist--or if you like to ride and make plans to catch up with Dad later--then you want to head up to Highland Park for the Blood, Sweat and Tears ride. This annual ride is in its 7th year and has a host of new perks for riders including a new venue, new date and a 5-mile route for families. As long as you have two wheels to go riding, you can't lose.

Registration for Blood, Sweat and Tears runs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 21 at the Highland Park Train Station at 1800 St. Johns Avenue. You have your choice of distances ranging from the 5-mile Family Fun ride to longer routes of 20, 45 and 62 miles. The ride benefits the Illinois chapter of Team in Training and it's asked that all riders donate $35 to participate. But with that $35 you'll find rest stops along the routes stocked with food and drink, a chance at winning some great prizes in a raffle, and if you're one of the first 500 to register, you'll score a goodie bag loaded with items from the event's sponsors including a water bottle, workout towel and coupons. Some items up for grabs in the raffle include a 2009 Schwinn Le Tour road bike, a Vision Quest performance test with Robbie Ventura, a Vision Quest Retul bike fit, an entry to Taste of Vision Quest, a Vetta cyclocomputer, a 3-month membership to Equinox, artwork by Andrea Feldmar, 2 dozen Carol's Cookies and a Target gift card.

For those fundraising for TNT and riding, they can score a ride with Robbie Ventura, the 2009 VIP at the Blood, Sweat and Tears. If you're one of the top 20 individual contributors to the event, you'll get to ride with Robbie, maybe even pick his brain a little before he heads across the Atlantic to begin his work commentating at the Tour de France. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Deena Kastor Can't Get Enough of Chicago

Deena Kastor at the 2007 Boston Marathon
Sigh. Sometimes—okay, A WHOLE LOT of the time—I really love my job. Today was one of those days. I got to have coffee with Deena Kastor this morning. She had just finished a workout on the lake path and was beaming with post-run endorphins, sipping water and laughing about the delicious Hawaiian burger she and her husband Andrew had cooked up and polished off a couple nights before. Mostly, though, she was thrilled to be talking about her marathon comeback—the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 11. She was full of tips, wise insights and good old-fashioned motivation. For more good stuff and the full interview, click on over to my write-up at TOC.

Photo by Ambibro (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Liz

Monday, June 15, 2009

Race Report: U.S. Women's Triathlon Series in Naperville—Great Race, But Blah For Liz

As regular-ish readers know, I’ve had the very good fortune of writing mostly happy, rah-rah race reports. I’ve been blessed with a string of awesome, awesome luck and fast days (for me) for a full year now. But yesterday brought me back down to earth, yesterday humbled me, yesterday was a reality check. I did a sprint distance tri in Naperville, race number one in the U.S. Women’s Trek Series. The all-women race had just over 1,700 competitors—many of them first timer triathletes. The vibe was all feel-good and pumped up, especially because we were treated to mostly sunny skies after a very rainy, cold, day-before. But yeah, it wasn't a good day for me. (For a different perspective on the same race, check out the post I did on TOC's site.)


The good news
: I didn’t freak out! For me, this is a major victory. I’ve had a meltdown in the water before and it’s not fun. I felt chill during the whole swim. I’ll take it!
The bad news
: There were at least 50 women in my wave and because the swim was in a smally quarry, we couldn’t help but kick and claw at each other. As usual, I waited for the rest of the group to take off before easing into my Zen place–stroke at the back of the pack. But we were turning so much (six buoys to maneuver) that I never got into a rhythm.

The good news
: I had no trouble finding my bike. I’d done a really thorough walk-through before the race and I spotted my landmarks in the race and found my spot on the rack with zero problems. And I ran the whole time.
The bad news
: I have a tendency to feel VERY hyped during transition: heavy breathing, racing heart, etc. Today I’d planned to focus on getting my heart rate down and feeling calm and collected. I think this backfired. My focus on chilling was so successful that I totally extinguished my racing fire. The transition took me almost five full minutes—double my T1 was in the 5x bigger, more crazy, circus-like Chicago Tri last August. Ummm, note to self: do not remove wet suit in a slug-like state. Do not take extra time to debate wiping feet with towel. Decide in advance if you’re going to wear socks or not. Etc.

The good news
: No flats or mechanical difficulties! My bike (go Smokey!) was a lean, mean, fighting machine with no hiccups. I was riding fast for some segments, and it felt really good.
The bad news: Despite the above description, my overall bike time sucked. It was my slowest pace in ANY tri I’ve done. Considering I’m coming off the high of completing 100 miles, this is hard to swallow. Kate and I were riding last week and she gave some words of encouragement, along the lines of, “It’s short and you know you can push it!” Well, apparently my legs don’t know that yet. They scream whenever I turn into headwind or encounter a hill. I WANT to push through, but inevitably my pace slows to a snail-like crawl and suddenly I’m moving in slow-motion, bringing down my overall average pace. This is actually worrisome. I’ve put in a lot of hours on the bike but I still feel like a total novice. With running, I know if I’m pushing past my limit and I can gauge my effort accordingly. With the bike, I give into the voice that says "uh-oh" when I come upon the the hard stuff—my legs burn and I give in, believing I'm not strong enough and not up to the challenge. I’ve always known cycling is a weak spot for me, but never has it been exposed so disappointingly. Yicks.


The good news
: I found my stuff in the transition area and slid into my pre-tied running shoes, totally fine.
The bad news:
I knew my bike time sucked so I was definitely feeling bummed. I needed to just move on. You can’t run well when you’re on the verge of tears because you had a bad bike. Get over it! Toughen up!


The good news
: I was passing people the whole way. The beginning portion wandered along a shady brick trail and I found myself feeling very lucky to be running in these lovely environs on a beautiful summer morning. So, not all gloom-and-doom, people! Also, after getting passed on the bike, it was cool to pick off some women.
The bad news
: It just wasn’t clicking like I typically find it does on the run, the pace I naturally fell into was slower than I'd planned, and I didn't have the spark I needed to turn it up a notch. About a mile from the finish I saw another girl from my wave running a couple hundred yards ahead. We had stood next to one another in the bathroom line and again at the swim start. She passed me on the bike. I wanted to catch her so badly. I got within a few feet of her, but just couldn’t seal the deal in the last tenth of a mile. She looked strong and sprinted ahead, high-fiving a little girl standing on the sidelines, and I didn’t have the legs to surge past her, I just let her go. She finished three seconds ahead of me (yes, I looked it up). It was that kind of day.

I promise to shake off the experience and come back a happier person by the next post. You gotta have bad races to appreciate the good ones, right? For now, I'm dealing with those blah-race demons. Photo grabbed from andy_tyler at flickr. Posted by Liz

Friday, June 12, 2009

Make It a Motor City Weekend

Detroit often bears the brunt of the jokes, jabs and jeers. At least this year--and last--anyway. A mayor who lands himself in jail, car companies going for broke, a downward spiraling economy (thanks GM, Chrysler and Ford) where businesses that have been up and running since my family moved to the Detroit suburbs 20 years ago have shuttered their doors, a busted real estate market (again, thank you cars). The city even landed itself at the top of the Forbes Most Miserable Cities list--as No. 1 in 2008 and No. 7 in 2009--and ranks high among the list of least-fit cities and the 10 worst cities for men and women.

As much even I jab the Motor City--once saying that the downtown should be burned to the ground a la Chicago Fire of 1871 and rebuilt--it's not always that bad. Last week I was asked to share some reasons to road-trip to Detroit this summer and list any events or sights that shouldn't be missed, and I didn't have to lie through my teeth to provide an answer. And if you check out this week's Time Out Chicago, you'll see that someone else found a reason to visit the Motor City and enjoyed his time there. In fact, I found a completely different reason to travel there this weekend. And it doesn't involve saving on sales tax, which is more than 4 percent less per dollar than Chicago.

It's the Motor City Triathlon, an event I discovered on an event calendar last year when I promised my parents I'd visit over Father's Day and was looking for something to do. And now one that I would add to my calendar annually. First because the price can't be beat in comparison to Chicago area triathlons--$50 if you register early, only $75 if you register a few days before as I did last year--and second because it's a small race limited to only 1,000 participants. Location is key, held on Belle Isle, a small island in the middle of the Detroit River that's easy to drive to and full of picnic spots, places to run and swim, and a bike lane. And even with its label as a fat city, Detroit still knows how to bring out the triathlete competition. Lots of fast men and women--fancy bikes too--among the Olympic competition and lots of first-timers in both distances. And for me, it's a good gauge to see where I need to improve for the rest of the season: more open water swimming and sighting, faster bike and dismounting, bonking on the run. Plan on the race taking place the second or third weekend of June every year--it's not to miss if you're a triathlete in Detroit.

Speaking of other Detroit happenings not to miss, I wish I had more to list than I actually do. I'm a total homebody when I visit, mostly because I'm there when the weather isn't so hot or I can't find a companion to follow in my crazy adventures (my husband doesn't go with me all the time). But another event coinciding with triathlon weekend this year is happening on the Detroit River, paid for by Canada but enjoyed by both Windsor and Detroit onlookers. Red Bull brings its aerial show to the Detroit River this weekend, with trick planes racing through a course on the river and darting in and out of pylons and looking like daredevils in the sky.

Now the Red Bull event is only going to fuel your endorphins and rev your engine to get out and active, but if you meet up with the Downtown Runners you'll expend that energy and then some. The group meets on Tuesday nights and runs between four and eight miles before quitting for food and drink. Then they're out and about at the races on the weekends. Or for more local running events, check out You won't find a calendar as full as Chicago, Denver, Southern California or New York--where there's at least one event happening every weekend--but if you feel like driving across southeast Michigan and exploring new towns when you run then you can keep racing all season.

As for cycling, I wish I could figure out the rhyme and reason to pedaling in the Detroit area. And all I can note is that cycling has definitely become far more popular in the suburbs where I grew up. It's a regular occurrence to see cyclists pedaling in packs past my parents' house--something I never saw as a kid or even 10 years ago--and pedaling the roads that used to only see cars. If you want to check out a website with more Michigan cycling info, head to

And what city would be complete without a few reward spots to refuel after an intense--or not-so-intense--day of exercise. That's how my mind works, at least. Some of my favorites--at least of the ice cream variety--include The Dairy Mat on Woodward in Birmingham and Ray's Ice Cream on Coolidge Highway in Royal Oak. If you dare to order a double scoop at Ray's, the servers will persuade you to order a single because even the single scoop is huge; Fat Elvis (banana with a peanut butter swirl) is my kinda post-race recovery snack. The Dairy Mat is my answer to Dairy Queen-like treats, except here I can get fat-free fro-yo and save on calories. OK so I don't really save on calories since I order a Flurry--their answer to the DQ Blizzard--packed with Reeses Pieces and sometimes peanut butter too, but at least I made a cut somewhere. Now for hearty eating, you have to try Redcoat Tavern, also on Woodward but in Royal Oak, with its burgers that are to die for. You can choose from a huge list of toppings to build that unique burger, or eat it plain. Whatever you decide, opt for the Piedmontese beef burger--one of the leanest cuts of meat around and waistline friendly--and don't skimp on the fries or onion rings, they are delish. Other made-in-Detroit favorites include Coney Island--American and Lafayette seem to be the faves but I've steered clear of hot dogs (aside from Hot Doug's in Chicago) after too many at the MS150--where you can get a chili-topped dog or amazing chili fries, Middle-Eastern fare--I was once told the Detroit area had the largest Arab population outside the Middle East--and Little Caesar's pizza. While we won't go bragging about our pies like Chicago or New York, Little Caesar's is one of those Detroit treats that you love or hate or deal with when you crave pizza and have no other options. I will say though, it tastes pretty darn good after a triathlon--I scarfed some down after last year's Motor City Tri without thinking twice. Geez, I just made myself hungry but if I ate all this I'd need another workout. Maybe I'll just have to space out the food favorites this weekend. Or bring a bit of the Motor City back to the Windy City come Monday. Photo grabbed from MiRea at flickr. Posted by Kate

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Red Rover, Red Rover, Will Summer Come Over?

Dear Summer,

How are you? How did the winter treat you? It was pretty brutal over here between days where the temperature didn't crack zero and wind chills that made me think I had moved to Alaska. And we didn't even get enough snow to play in--I only snowshoed along the lake once and the novelty wore off when it was freezing after the next slight snowfall. We couldn't wait for winter to end--well, aside from the ski trips to Utah and Colorado that made the cold bearable--but boy did it drag on this year. Did you notice the same?

I was just thinking about's been awhile since we last saw one another. We definitely should get together soon as there's a ton to show you around here. That and I really love to hit the Lakefront Path and ride my bike regularly--get in some midweek sweat sessions without wearing the same cycling jacket I thought I'd buy just-in-case last season and have now found myself wearing it every time I get out to ride when the weather is halfway decent.

But I'm really missing our time spent on the beach. Come on, don't you remember sneaking out there, or even to the pool deck, at the first sign of sun and warm weather in May, even April? My arms have barely seen the light of day this year as they're always snuggled under a fleece. And now I'm asked weekly if I'm sick because my face is looking so pale, especially for this time of year. I'm not even going to mention the rest of my body and how it's missing its summer glow.

I know I should be thankful that I can run without rising at the crack of dawn to hit the path before the heat becomes unbearable, but even that's difficult to do when it rains or sprinkles nearly every day, usually when I'm about to change and go. And then when I do get out, I look at the boats in the harbors momentarily wondering why so many are on shore only to realize that it's the sunny, warm days that bring out the boat traffic. How about the swims in the lake? I'm really having a hard time swimming laps in the's difficult to log a mile without getting bored, or I'm constantly fighting for a lane to use. Or what about the triathlon training programs that are supposed to start open-water swimming this weekend? I think my lips would turn blue.

So summer, I'm really wondering when you might make an appearance this year. We're really getting antsy for your arrival. I know I would like to forget about wearing my heavy fleece for at least a few months. And I'd like some consistent weekends lounging in the sun catching up on my reading after a morning bike ride. Or maybe even get a run when I'm so sweaty it looks like I jumped in the lake before heading home. Any luck? I really don't want you to show up again in October. I don't think I could handle a third hot Chicago Marathon. I'd like to enjoy your company when the beaches are open, the grass is green and the trees are full of leaves instead.

Miss you,

Photo grabbed from Flipped Out at flickr. Posted by Kate

The Today Show Melts Me

It's rare that three of my dork nerve centers go off simultaneously. But they did this morning, in a triumvirate of nerd-ness:

1) Watching The Today Show This is embarrassing, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for Matt, Al, Meredith, Ann, Natalie and the rest of the gang.

2) Wedding stuff I think women are hard-wired to melt a little when it comes to weddings. Which is probably why the Today Throws A Wedding series—where viewers vote on every aspect of a couple's wedding, from the dress to the cake to the honeymoon locale—is so successful that they seem to roll it out a half dozen times a year.

3) Running I don't know why it gives me such joy, but I love to run, I love to read about running, I love to watch runners, etc. (Well, there could be worse vices, I suppose.) Anyway, one of the finalist couples (vying to have their wedding paid for and documented by NBC) featured on this morning's ep, Leigh Daniel and Nick Cordes, is a pair of super-accomplished Midwest runners with a little Chicago connection. As reported by Chicago Running Examiner Brenda Barrera, the Ohio-based couple coaches running at Ashland University. Leigh ran a 28:46 and finished 9th overall at the 2004 Shamrock Shuffle. Nick ran a 2:20:32 at the 2003 Chicago Marathon. Anyway, if you're as much of a nerd as I am, you can vote for Leigh and Nick by clicking here. Posted by Liz

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fit-Fact: Eat Your Veggies

How often did you pass on the veggies on your plate as a kid? Or how many times did Mom tell you to finish your veggies or tell you dessert was a no-no as a result? Well it looks like eating those veggies wasn't just a ploy on Mom's behalf. Sure, we know about the antioxidant powers of certain fruits and vegetables, and how they're a lot better to put on our plates than processed foods we'll crave in a weak moment in front of the vending machine. But it looks like Mom is right once again, and all of the coaxing and prodding at the dinner table to clear your plate of veggies wasn't for naught.

Take the colorful produce aisle at the store, chock full of carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli and beans. Those vegetables are screaming to get into your blood stream, not just to make the blood vessels flexible thanks to the antioxidants, but to help ward off cardiovascular disease. I read a Twitter feed by Women's Health that caught my eye--that a daily one-serving increase in veggies can decrease your risk of heart disease by 4 percent. And for heart disease being a top silent killer among women, my eyes lit up. Yes, it's hard to cram some of those fibrous foods into your system, but if there's a health benefit involved, why not trade the chips and ice cream (my downfalls) for some carrots and cucumbers, or beans and lentils, which are known to decrease heart disease?

Need some help selecting from the produce aisle? Try these three vegetables that are rich in antioxidants and can help set your ticker on the right track.
  • Broccoli. Full of flavonoids, a power-packed antioxidant, this shrub is rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, selenium and copper. Plus it's full of nonsoluble fiber that will help clean out the intestines and absorb nutrients.
  • Kale. Rich in more flavonoids and nonsoluble fiber, you'll also find calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C as stand-out nutrients.
  • Carrots. With a one-two antioxidant punch--carotenes and flavonoids--carrots also pack in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin E, manganese, selenium and copper.
But whatever the choice, variety is key. The different colors signify different combinations of nutrients. And try to stick to fresher products as they'll have more nutritional properties than something that's been on a shelf a few weeks. Photo grabbed from cellissimo at flickr. Posted by Kate

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cross It Off the Life Goal List: 100 Miles. Done.

Riding a century has been on my life to-do list since I got into cycling last summer. Considering that at this point a year ago, riding a cruiser bike while donning flip-flops was the extent of my cycling experience, I have come a long way. Literally. And Kate has played a major role in this (thank you!)! She helped me get comfy on my road bike last summer, patiently riding up and down the lake path on early morning rides. And she helped me through a couple of longish rides the past two weekends, giving me the endurance and mental strength to attempt 100 miles. And, she encouraged me to join her and her husband on The Udder Century Invitational 2009, despite my doubts that I could finish it. I'm pasting my TOC blog recap below (all mention of "friends" is Fit-Inker, Kate, and her very awesome—nice, funny, athletic—husband), or you can click here to read it.

I came, I rode, I ate: The Udder Century

Four cups of coffee.
Two bottles of Ensure.
Three and a half peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Two chocolate chip cookies.
One orange wedge.
One bag of trail mix.
Two pretzel sticks.
Four cups of lemonade.
Ten cups of water.

It may sound like a picnic lunch for a kindergartner and her grandparents, but no…this is the stuff I ate to fuel myself through the Udder Century Invitational 2009 in northern Illinois yesterday. I feel a little queasy recapping this feast of bland-sounding snacks, but they tasted absolutely delicious during my six-and-a-half hours of cycling. And trust me, you need lots of energy to power you through 100 miles.

The weather forecast for Sunday 7 was bleak: scattered storms, rain and wind, depending on whether you’re an or follower (I tend to believe whichever one gives me better news). And as I drove an hour outside of the city to Union, Illinois with two friends in the early morning, the darkening clouds and splattering rain on the windshield didn’t bode well for our 100-mile aspirations. The Udder Century also has 31-mile, 50-mile, 62-mile and 75-mile course options, so we decided we’d see how the weather played out and make the call on how far to go on the road. Fortunately, the rain didn’t hang around long. By the time we’d knocked off 18 miles and scarfed down the first PB&J sandwich, the rain eased up and we knew that barring any major issues, we’d go for the full distance.

I was more than a little anxious before this event, having only ridden two longish rides (42 and 63 miles the last two weekends) in my life. But since I got into cycling last summer, “Complete a century ride” has been on my life to-do list, so there I was. I’m biking regularly and running and swimming, so I’m fit, but I didn’t know how my body (quads, lungs, brain) would react to 100 miles. Fortunately/happily/amazingly, the distance isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. The kind folks of McHenry Bike Club, who organize and host the ride each year, set up rest-stops manned with volunteers at roughly 20 mile intervals along the course, so participants can take a break every hour or hour-and-a-half—stretching legs, re-applying sunscreen, guzzling fluids, eating, etc. (They also host a post-race pasta party.) I quickly adopted the strategy of thinking only to the next stop, and not how many miles stretched beyond it.

And the riding itself is pretty mellow. I chatted with my friends as we pedaled along, keeping a a nice clip for the duration of the ride. That said, they are stronger, speedier cyclists than I am, so inevitably I’d fall behind on hills and whenever we encountered headwinds. But we’d meet up at the next rest stop and all set off together again. And I didn’t mind the parts where I rode alone–there was beautiful farmland to look at (lots of cows!) and there were other cyclists passing or slowing and there were signs alerting us to turns in the course. Plus, after a month of dodging folks along the lake path, it felt wonderful to just ride. The terrain is pretty flat with some rolling hills, until the last 20 miles, where there were many hills—most of them steeper than those elsewhere along the course. My legs were fried, but it was a blessing to encounter them on the home-stretch—when I knew I was finishing the miles no matter what.

At the end of the ride, my odometer read 99.9 miles. (Kate's read 102.8, go figure, we rode the exact same course!) You know what you do when that happens? You ride a couple of laps around the parking lot (much to the confusion of the other cyclists happily disembarking from their bikes) and cheer when you hit 100.0 miles. Then you go inside, put your feet up, and swear off PB&J for a couple of days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Marathon That's Hard to Resist

Who said you can't find free races? Whether it be related to a down economy--can't we blame everything on that these days?-- or a maybe a generous race director, there is a free race, a marathon even, taking place in the Seattle area this weekend. Yes, it might be a little late to be jetting off to the Pacific Northwest in time to reach the start line of the Green River Marathon by Saturday morning, but if you're in the Seattle area, or heading there for the weekend, and want a race to run, this could be it. Or just plan ahead for next year as the Green River Marathon's website says that the race is always free thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and their donations. Even the $12 race T-shirt is at cost.

The 13th annual Green River Marathon kicks off at 8:30 a.m.--or 7:30 a.m. for the official early start if you need more than five hours to complete the 26.2 miles--and travels from Kent to Alki through the trail and park system. You'll follow the Green River as it winds toward Puget Sound and Alki Beach and you can spot the Olympic Mountains in the distance. I'm reading about the terrain wishing I wasn't running a marathon in two weeks or had the means to show up at tomorrow's start. Plus the 26.2-mile course is sanctioned by the USATF, so you can qualify for the 2010 Boston Marathon if you reach the qualifying standard.

If the 26.2 miles isn't for you, or you're not quite there yet this early in the season, the other popular option is running the relay with some friends. Divy up the miles however you'd like, even if it means getting 26 people running a mile each. Talk about a fun way to spend a Saturday. Check out more details at the event website or at the Runner's World post I spotted this morning. Photo grabbed from the Green River Marathon. Posted by Kate

Future Tour de France Champion?

It's time to pull out the bike trailer, add a tyke seat over the back wheel and start thinking about the Tour de France 20 to 25 years from now. It's official: Lance Armstrong is a proud papa again. Girlfriend Anna Hansen gave birth to a baby boy who announced himself to the world last night via Twitter. Last night, Armstrong's Twitter feed read:

"Wassup, world? My name is Max Armstrong and I just arrived. My Mommy is healthy and so am I!"

The 7-pound, 5-ounce, 20-inch boy is named Max. He joins half siblings, Luke (9), and 7-year-old twins Isabelle and Grace, whose mother is Armstrong's ex-wife Kristin Armstrong.

It's been a busy year for Armstrong, who returned to professional cycling when the season kicked off in January. Then after breaking his collarbone at the Vuelta de Castilla y Leon in Spain, he recovered to race last month's Giro d'Italia as part of Team Astana. And now he's gearing up for July's Tour de France. Hopefully he won't have to deal with too many sleepless nights with Max! Photo grabbed from Armstrong's Twitter feed. Posted by Kate

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Keep the Doughnuts at Bay on National Doughnut Day

I don't know about you, but every time I pass a Dunkin' Donuts and catch the enticing aroma spilling out the door from the sweet treats, I want to stop and splurge. It's pathetic actually because I justify my latest workout as allowing me clearance to fill my stomach with doughnuts. I know it's awful and that I'll pay the price both in empty calories, still being hungry and needing to eat more later, but those doughnut scents are almost too much for my nose. And on National Doughnut Day, which happens to be tomorrow, the temptation is even more alluring since Dunkin' Donuts is giving away free doughnuts with a beverage purchase and Krispy Kreme is also serving up the treats for free.

But I keep remembering a little tidbit Liz told me last week after we finished up a run along the Lakefront: Doughnuts are zero-calorie foods. Not that they don't count on the calorie intake, but that they offer nothing nutritionally to benefit you or an empty stomach. So much for filling up on sweet dough--I'm just as healthy noshing on nothing or maybe even a stick of margarine. Doughnuts, laden with refined flour, sugars, saturated fat, are one of the worst processed foods out there according to an article that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune and a nutritionist's nightmare.

Now while I may not be celebrating National Doughnut Day in the proper fashion, I found another treat to feed my sweet tooth. And a healthier, more nutritional one at that. Jamba Juice just introduced a new smoothie to its line-up, perfect for summer and paying homage to one of my all-time favorite fruits, the blackberry. Meet the Blackberry Bliss: a concoction of blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberry sherbet, plain sorbet and apple/strawberry juice. Some might argue that it's just as sugary as a doughnut, but at least there's fruit involved, and it'll fill you up for more than a few minutes. Yum. And the good news is that you can save a dollar each time you purchase the smoothie by checking out the word of the day at and saying that word when you order a Bliss smoothie at your local Jamba Juice. Stay tuned for more exciting happenings at Jamba's summer site, which promises to "make summer more blissful." Photo grabbed from raspberrii at Flickr. Posted by Kate

Note: I'm not bashing all doughnuts; I've read about a company called Holey Donuts that offers healthier options. Check out a review of them here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Get Your Run On

If you need a little prodding to get out the door and go for a run (ahem, me), you can't make any excuses today. Instead the day is nearly calling to head outside, or hit the treadmill, running on the first ever National Running Day.

Cities from New York to San Diego are getting into the running spirit with events celebrating running and its healthy benefits. Not that you need an event to attend to move those legs--one of the important aspects National Running Day organizers want you to remember is that running can be done anywhere, anytime--but there are fun runs taking place in metropolitan areas across the country.

Minneapolis parks are hosting fun runs tonight at 6 p.m., Chicago has a fun run kicking off from Grant Park at 6 p.m. and more events in the suburbs, Boulder has a party at Avery Brewing Company, and parks around New York host fun runs throughout the day. And if you're fortunate enough to be running through the streets of Manhattan you can meet Deena Kastor at the Mighty Milers event at Icahn Stadium from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or in Central Park at 6:30 p.m.

Walkers are invited to join the fun as well. National Running Day is all about moving and keeping active with friends, family or solo. Check out for more details. I'd write more but I'm going running! Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fit Food: Chew On This...

Kate and I are nuts over nuts. Which is why this new study using almonds caught my eye... Chewing them 25 or 40 times before swallowing led to significantly more unsaturated fat than those who chewed the almonds only 10 times before swallowing, according to findings presented last week at the 17th European Congress of Obesity in Amsterdam and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Chewing 40 times was found to suppress hunger and elevate the feeling of fullness more than 25 chews. Furthermore, two hours after consumption, hunger levels were higher and fullness levels were lower after 25 chews than after 10 and 40 chews, according to researchers. Okay, so, two takeaway: nuts = good, chewing your food thoroughly = very smart! Photo grabbed from at flickr. Posted by Liz

Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Stay Busy This Month

While I'm still having a hard time believing that June is here and we've already crossed off five months to 2009, I'm excited to get the summer season underway. OK, so the weather around here might be telling me otherwise--yes, it's June 4 and I'm still wearing a fleece jacket--but I'm hopeful to be spending more time outdoors and splashing in the lake very soon. That and my mind is reeling with events and things to do now that I don't have to be cooped up indoors or bundled up all day. So here's my list of 30 activities or things, in no particular order, to consider this month, one for every day:
  1. Kayak. Last time I got seasick, but I'm hoping that a cruise on the Chicago River, especially one that includes a fireworks display, has me feeling better.
  2. Cycle a century. I did my first 100-mile bike ride last June and figured I'd follow it up again this year at the Udder Century on June 7. Only problem is that the weather forecast isn't looking so hot--I'm a fair weather fan on my two wheels--so I've been second-guessing myself all week.
  3. Travel to a race. My sister wouldn't like this suggestion as she didn't like my proposition to visit her and race the California 70.3, but it is a great way to spend some time away from home, get in a workout and race, check out a different venue, and then relax. I'm doing that in a few weeks when I head to Detroit for the Motor Çity Triathlon. Swimming the Detroit River--trust me it's not as bad as it sounds--cycling around Belle Isle, and then a trail run to cap off this race that put me in my place last year when I wasn't prepared for distance. And then it's R&R with my parents.
  4. Plan to run a relay. This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the 30-plus hours Liz and I spent in a van together with 10 teammates at the MC200, a running relay that started in Madison, ran through Milwaukee and finished at Montrose Beach in Chicago. This year's MC200 starts next Friday--and some teams could be seeking some extra legs, thanks to teammate injuries. Ask around and you could find a team to join at the last minute or gather some friends together and plan to run a relay later in the summer or next year.
  5. Bootcamp on the beach. After my Memorial Day workout on the beach, I'd be psyched to spend another morning or evening getting my butt kicked in the sand. The training exercises, sprints and drills are just what I need to change up my daily workout--and it's the one time I don't mind getting covered in sand.
  6. Train for a triathlon. I'm wrapping up my list of favorites around the Midwest (stay tuned) but in the meantime, check out this enticing goodie bag for race participants at the Big Foot Triathlon.
  7. Start training for a marathon. The big news around here is that training programs for October's Chicago Marathon kick off this month. A true sign of summer is watching the pace groups parading up and down the lakefront on Saturday mornings.
  8. Or better yet, run a marathon. Well, it's a little late to be signing up for 26.2 miles unless you've been training all spring or have been consistently running long distances, but I'll be crossing this off the to-do list in a few weeks when I head to Duluth, Minn., to run Grandma's Marathon. I didn't know until yesterday that the race was named as such after a popular restaurant chain, but I've had my grandma-in-law suggesting I come up and run the race year after year. And this year I'm finally following through.
  9. Swim in Lake Michigan (or an open water spot near you). The waters around here are still chilly, with temperatures in the low 50s, but pretty soon I'll be able to swim my laps in the open water. Far less tedious than laps in the pool, good practice for triathlons, and easy on the legs after miles of pavement pounding and road riding.
  10. Conquer fixing a flat. This is definitely a goal I have for myself because after more than three years, going on four, of cycling I still have yet to fix a flat tire successfully. I've watched the videos, looked at step-by-step photos and read instructions, but I'm definitely in need of practice.
  11. Bike to Work. This one isn't applicable to me since I can walk 5 feet down the hallway from my bedroom and be at work, but for those Chicagoans who El it, bus it or car it to work, switch it up for a day on June 19 and bike it to the office. The city's annual Bike to Work Day also features fun events and a party in Daley Plaza complete with breakfast and T-shirts for participants.
  12. Apply sunscreen. May was actually the month for melanoma and skin cancer awareness, but with sunnier days promised--I hope--in June, it's really the time to heed this advice. I'm probably one of the worst proponents of this, but I've watched my husband fry himself on accident while we're out on our bikes all day. Not only does he complain about wearing a T-shirt tan all summer, but you fear something worse could develop. Or take all the racers at April's Ironman China who fried in the 113-degree heat when the sunscreen they applied in transition didn't contain SPF.
  13. Take a walk. It doesn't matter where or for how far, but when it's nice outside, do you really have an excuse for not moving those legs? Try walking to the store to pick up groceries or talking a walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
  14. Enjoy the longest day of the year. Coming at you June 21, daylight will be at its prime which puts playtime at its max.
  15. Get busy with watersports. If you're living in a four-season climate, there's only a short time-span to squeeze in those water activities before they have to wait 'til next year. Pick up windsurfing or sailing close to home when the weather is right and you'll be able to have many more adventures on the water.
  16. Celebrate Great Outdoors Month. Enough said: Get outside and play.
  17. Celebrate National Running Day on June 3. This first-ever event celebrates running with events around the country. Check with your local running group to see what might be going on close to home.
  18. Head to a farmers market. Nothing like fresh-from-the-farm produce to nibble on all day long. Asparagus and rhubarb are currently on the menu at my favorite stand and strawberry season is just around the corner. Yum!
  19. Or grow your own garden. Some of my friends already started planting in May, but that doesn't mean you can't start now. The harvest time may just be a little later than those early bird gardens. There's nothing like stepping onto the patio for fresh veggies--it sure beats waiting in line at the grocery store, too.
  20. Eat some fish. June marks National Seafood Month so why not pile on the healthy omega-3s with some wild-caught salmon. It's one of the best fishes to add to your dinner plate thanks to its powerful omega-3s, lower calorie and fat counts (compared to meats) and protein prowess.
  21. Drink milk. Get your upper lips ready for milk mustaches during National Dairy Month. Not only is the calcium found in many dairy products good for you and your bones, but it'll help your wasteline too.
  22. Go for a scenic run. Around here, you can find organized weekend runs that trek to a historic site and back. Take the Fleet Feet Historic Runs and the Trestles and Vessels on June 7. The five-mile journey will take you to the Goose Island area, Old Town Triangle and along railroads that once served the city's industrial corridor.
  23. Consider a camping trip. This is on my to-do list since my husband has time off from his busy schedule later this month. We love escaping the city to go hiking, see the stars and explore. Our campfire cooking could use a little work, but that's another story.
  24. Scale to new heights with rock climbing. Talk about a quick way to give you Michelle Obama-like guns, and a fun adventure. I've gone indoors a few times and had my arms screaming at me by the end, but there's even more adventure outdoors--no marks tagged to get you to the top. Check out Devil's Rock State Park in Wisconsin for a Midwest climbing spot.
  25. Mountain bike. Take a break from the road riding and hit the trails. It's a bumpy, hilly adventure that will most likely get you covered in dirt, but a fun challenge trying to hop logs, make tight turns and pedal faster to keep others from catching you.
  26. Learn how to adventure race. Whether it's all-day or all-week, adventure racing tests your strength and skill in a variety of disciplines. Learn more about the sport at an introductory session at a free seminar at REI Chicago on June 10 at 7 p.m. Check your local REI store for more events like this.
  27. Treat Dad to a day outdoors. With Father's Day quickly approaching, plan a special day with Dad either at the beach, at a ball game, picnicking in the park, going for a run or a bike ride, or sunning at the pool.
  28. Eat your fruits and veggies. So June is also National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables month--treat your body right and stock up on some of that farm-fresh or garden-fresh produce.
  29. Set a goal for a race. If you have your eyes set on a good performance at an event later in the year, why not start putting in key training hours now? Or at least decide how well you want to perform come August or September so you see that time when you cross the finish line.
  30. Try a new class at the gym. While it's not a way to get outdoors, you'll find tons of new ways to get the blood moving through the body at the gym. At Equinox, check out the new conscious movement classes like PowerNap+ or Budokon, or at Crunch, tone your body with Beach Body or Barre Assets.
I'm getting excited already about the month ahead. Writing out this list just made me more eager to get outside. Time to get moving! Photo grabbed from thirdcoasthomes at flickr. Posted by Kate


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