Monday, January 31, 2011

Fit-Q: Is Chicago Really Going to Get a Blizzard?

I should be happy that the snowstorms have skipped Chicago this winter. While the powder dumps have found Atlanta, New England, New York City, D.C., Colorado and Utah, I have yet to witness a storm that shuts down the city. I take that back--I have yet to witness a storm that garners enough snow for me to break out my snowshoes. Even the snowfall the night of the Lunar Run wasn't enough.

But this time the snow is supposedly coming. Round one is expected tonight, then round two--the larger one--is predicted for tomorrow night, and we're supposed to wake up Wednesday to a white winter wonderland. The talk around town is that Chicago's going to get one its biggest snowfalls ever! But I'm ever the pessimist and thinking that this 3-inches-per-hour really isn't going to happen.

So here's the deal. Guess how many inches of snow the Windy City will actually get with the survey below or in the comments section. And if Chicago really does wake up Wednesday to an epic snowfall, how are you going to spend your snow day?

Three More for the Feed

Well, it looks like I spoke too soon for today's Daily Feed. Because when I needed a writing break this afternoon--let's just say my fingers stopped working--I stumbled across three more Feed-worthy links. Here they are:
  • Fit Bottomed Girls' Kristen just made my day--she's training for a triathlon. I love it when someone tries a tri!
  • Chelsea Clinton made news when she got married last summer, but I have to say I expected her to be hitting the airwaves for a pending pregnancy before this
  • Here's a contest I wish I knew about before the winner was already selected. Even if the giveaway is over, you'll find a solid review on some Yakima gear.

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 1/31

I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing that I'm back to the grind this Monday. I crossed off items from the weekend checklist, got in my workouts even though it took a little kicking and screaming to get it done on Sunday, and caught up with friends--something that commonly falls through simply because we've both run out of time. But my computer was on the fritz--AGAIN!--and I'm praying it behaves this week, my internet connection randomly went out too many times to count, and instead of feeling fresh for the week I'm already dragging. While I haven't found the secret to perking up my energy stores, my eyes did perk up to a few bits I found online during this morning's random browsing session. Check it:
  • If you're eating lunch at your desk today, head over to Be Present's website to save on some shopping. From 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. mountain time, shoppers can save 20 percent on their orders just by entering the code lunchsalebp.
  • You'll find Lindsey Vonn on the cover of FITNESS magazine's February issue, but The Ski Channel shares some of that interview here. Don't discount picking up the magazine either--Vonn lists her favorite flat belly tips and more.
  • Aw...looks like Ryan and Sara Hall are both running victory laps after impressive finishes at their races this weekend. Go Team Hall! Ryan finished second in the Houston Marathon, while Sara won the 1500m at the Millrose Games.
  • Looks like a storm is a-brewin' in the Midwest. Weather predictions are calling for Chicago-style snowpocalypse, which means I finally might be able to drag my snowshoes out of the closet for the season.
  • Just in case Chicago really is blanketed in snow Wednesday morning, why not get in your run tonight at Universal Sole's Puma FAAS Predictor Run?
  • Or if your running technique's not up to par, grab one of the few spots left for Thursday's Good Form running clinic at Fleet Feet Sports Chicago. It'll change the way you run--even if you've gained all the speed you're going to get and harnessed a technique that works for you.
What news or links caught your eye today?

Photo grabbed from Paolo Signorini at flickr.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Run a Race Where It's Potentially Warmer Than at Home

Chicago runners know what's up when the mercury dips below freezing--they head south. Sure, we'll still take in those training runs on the Lakefront Path and the city streets--trust me, I've seen plenty just in walking to and from the gym where I prefer to hide out from November to March (and even beyond). As for racing, we all know the way to keep up with that at the start of the year is to head south, and plenty of us--me excluded especially since I barely got myself out the door for Fleet Feet's lunar run last month--do just that. But the question is: what race can you run?

Have no fear, there are plenty of races--and cool places--to mark on the calendar before it's really time to return to running this spring, or keep your season going when others around you are hibernating. Check these out:
  • Walt Disney World Marathon. The 2011 race occurred at the beginning of January--you can find race results by clicking here--but you can mark your calendars now for next year's race. The 2012 edition runs January 5 through 8, complete with a 5K, kids fest, relay (new in 2012), marathon, half marathon, and Goofy Challenge where you run the half and full marathon races. Registration opens March 15.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon. You don't have to wait until spring or 2012 to run on the Disney property, at least if you're female. With a new date and registration still open, you can head to Orlando at the end of February for this half marathon, 5K and kids races. But you have to hurry and not just because your training days are limited. This Feb. 25-27 race weekend is nearly sold out with the half marathon 96 percent full and the 5K at 75 percent full.
  • ING Miami Marathon. You'll have to wait until next year to add Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami" to your running playlist; runners just took over Miami this weekend (click here for marathon results and click here for half marathon results). Typically held the last weekend of January, south Florida definitely provides a welcome haven for those looking to escape cold weather and run a flat and fast course. And if you get a head start on 2012 registration, you can get a bargain too: A registration blitz begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 8 where the first 200 registrants pay $27.50 (half) and $40 (full), the next 200 pay $33 (half) and $48 (full), and all others pay $38.50 (half) and $64 (full).
  • Houston Marathon and Half Marathon. It's safe to say that this race will be garnering a lot of attention next year when it hosts the U.S. Olympic Trials. It was already echoing that sentiment in 2011 when it hosted the USA Half Marathon Championships on Jan. 29, followed by the other races on Jan. 30 (click here to view results). The 2012 edition will be held Jan. 15, and it's a special one at that--the race will be run for the 40th time.
  • Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans. You don't have much time to make plans or start training, but if you've been keeping up with your running this winter, you might want to test your race skills in the Big Easy. With a race day of Feb. 13, it's not during Mardi Gras, but consider it a pre-party complete with a post-race concert performed by Bowling for Soup (remember 1985?). And if you and your mate want to run--maybe a little Valentine's Day surprise--but aren't ready for the distance, race organizers have just the thing: a two-person relay.
  • The Sedona Marathon. Known for its red-rock beauty, Sedona is a sight to marvel at even when you're not there to run 26.2 miles. But this Feb. 12, you can let this scenery carry you through the mental rough spots of the race while warm weather motivates you through the rest.
See? It's easy to escape that cold-weather clime when the weather sours. Even if it requires more planning for next year than taking action this year, that only means more time to scour for travel deals, get training and knock your PR out of the park. Nothing wrong with that, right? And these are just for starters. For more races to run, check out the marathon calendar at What races do you plan on running--or did you run--this winter?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From Forecasts to Fitness

Hey, Chicago! If there's one thing Amy Freeze is known for in the Windy City it's predicting the weather. From marathon to game-day forecasts, you'll find Freeze on FOX TV (for now, if you caught this story in Jan. 28's Sun Times), showcasing her skills as the Chicago station's Chief Meteorologist. But this Saturday at Fleet Feet Sports' Piper's Alley location, Freeze puts the forecasting aside to focus on fitness nitty-gritty. Freeze and her trainer John Hall will be motivating others as they share their fitness stories and the journeys taken through fitness.

Whether you need some motivation to get active this winter or you have yet to jump-start those New Year's fitness resolutions, prepare to learn, listen and work out at this free seminar that gets underway at Fleet Feet, 1620 N. Wells, at 10 a.m. After hearing a few of Freeze's accomplishments--running a relay from Madison to Chicago, climbing to the top of the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center, paddling the Shoreline Marathon, to name a few--all while juggling demanding jobs as weather woman, mom of four and wife, you'd be hard-pressed to return home and sit on the couch all day. Add in dynamic stretches, ways to work out in the winter and tips to build a strong core courtesy of Hall, who recently helped Freeze shape up through diet and exercise (if you thought she was fit before, she's even more fit now!), and you're set with an arsenal of fit tips to take 2011 by storm. 

For more details and to RSVP, check out or call 312-587-3338.

Photo courtesy of Amy Freeze and FOX Chicago. Note: this was updated Jan. 28 and 30.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

What have I gotten myself into this time? Initial thoughts lean toward good-for-the-body, muscle-toning, sweat-soaking fitness dialed to the nth degree. Second thoughts spell disaster when I have to stick to a plan, work out with intensity but not under my watch, and swap my sweat sessions from evening to morning for two weeks at the start of February. It's nothing extraordinary by any stretch of the imagination, just me being intrigued for my next big thing. Some people have New Year's resolutions yet I seem to be making a February resolution. I signed up for the next round of CorePower Yoga's BootCamp.

The sales pitch finally worked. I could read the newsletters, see the instructors' T-shirts, hear the announcements about BootCamp starting soon, but until a week ago, the interest level didn't stick. Maybe it was the direct ask--Megan, who teaches the yoga sculpt class I'm religious about attending, confronted me after class one day wondering when I'd try BootCamp--that finally tipped the scale. That and finally having a two-week period where the camp would be held at the studio closest to my house (I don't do well with distance even if I am a runner, cyclist, Ironman), a start time that wasn't at the crack of dawn (I also don't do mornings after too many swim practices that started at 6 a.m.), and the inkling that camp might be less crowded than 9:30 a.m. class (I'm not a huge fan of crowds especially when I have to weasel a spot for myself to sculpt). Combine those and something clicked and I was sold, reserving my spot sight unseen.

When it comes to winter workouts, I secretly must love gravitating toward fitness challenges. In 2009, I was determined to test myself at Taste of VQ, wavering until what felt like the last second to enroll and then feeling the trepidation of a kindergartener on the first day of school in the hours before my first CompuTrainer ride--it was the 40-minute fit test, I swear. Last year, I didn't have specifics aside from increasing yoga attendance and racing--if you could even call it that--half marathons and marathons with minimal mileage under my belt. And now there's this.

The sample class I attended on Monday--more because it worked into my regular routine than to actually assure I was committed)--had me hooked. Two days after the fact and I'm still sore--it hurts to pull tops on and off--but I like workouts that inflict pain. Apparently I also like attention, perfection and challenge while I'm sweating. Each boot camper gets a coach for the duration of the program to help encourage and support you through the workouts. The coaches watch you with a keen eye and nudge you into place when a triceps press is out of alignment or your shoulders aren't stacked over your hands in plank. And then they challenge you to push yourself to the next level--lift your knees higher, quit cheating on your belly-drop push-ups (that was me), curling your biceps with heavier weights. Don't quote me--my mind shut off after our three cycles of 10 or so moves--but it's designed to change your body, enhance your yoga practice and improve muscle performance. Judging from the sample class, I have a lot to work on.

That means I'll really have to focus for two weeks starting February 6. Classes run Monday through Saturday--after orientation on Super Bowl Sunday, Sundays are rest days--mornings from 7:15 to 8:15 a.m., 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. on Saturday. That's the Gold Coast schedule anyway, the others are too early for my taste buds, but you can check with your local CorePower Yoga of choice to find out what's on tap.

Has anyone tried BootCamp? What should I expect?

Photo grabbed from CorePower Yoga.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remembering a Fitness Legend, Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne 1961We woke up yesterday morning to the news that Jack LaLanne had passed away at age 96. To many of us, that doesn't mean a heck of a lot when you're groggy, half-listening and barely watching the TV (that would describe me...who was brushing her teeth in the bathroom with the TV on as background news when I heard). But if you did a little research, like me, then you'd learn that Jack LaLanne helped mold fitness into the activity it is today. And the more I dug, the more I learned about his developments that were ahead of his time. Fitness TV before the era of workout tapes and DVDs. Introducing women to weight training. Creating workouts for the physically disabled. Working out and watching his food intake on a daily basis into old age, which likely helped him look far less than his 90-plus years. And on. And on. And on.

It's sad that it took his death for me to realize all the cool ways Jack LaLanne inspired us to get fit, but I guess you could say that it's better late than never. Reading about him in memoriam not only inspired me to stick with my Monday night workout when I really didn't want to, but it also became my topic for this week's Buzz article. Check it out here--all the ways LaLanne shaped fitness as we know it.

Photo grabbed from Wikimedia Commons and by Cliff Riddle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Sale I'm Not Shopping...Yet

Is it almost summer yet? Winter definitely doesn't have its advantages when you're feeling trapped indoors in the Windy City. Skiing? Not here. Snowshoeing? Not enough snow, or any at the moment. Skating? I'm starting to sound like a whiner, but I'll pass on the tourist trap at Millennium Park. So what happens when I spend too much time inside? I go shopping!

Here's a sale that I accidentally stumbled upon earlier today: Patagonia's offering 30 percent off a closet full of winter gear. The sale's only good for two more days, until January 26, but that's plenty of time to do some damage to the wallet. My first browse sent me lusting already, plotting my next excuse to justify such purchases. You see, I'd have to not only rationalize for myself but for my husband, who's likely had one too many run-ins with my crazy collection of coats and shoes.

What's on my radar? I'll tell you.

The Down Sweater hoody, which would cost $175 instead of the usual $250. I'm drawn to the color, the warmth (at 800-fill down), and the qualities that remind me all too much of a The North Face primaloft jacket that went from purchase to return last winter after I nabbed a TNF Nuptse-but-not at REI's annual sale.

The Torrentshell jacket, down to $83.30 thanks to the discount. I know I should just buy a can of Nikwax to refresh the waterproof layer to my older shells, but sometimes I'd rather just buy new. And this would be my new addition to replace the leaky jackets.

The Nano Storm, coming in at $209.30 instead of $299 and making my husband a happy camper. His ski jacket has seen better days--it sheds, it absorbs water and it bears a tear--but he constantly resists when I attempt to replace it. Maybe this time he won't.

Ah, who said Christmas had to end in December? Some of my favorite shopping days come in January! And that's even more true when I don't have to pay for shipping (it's free for orders over $75). Get on over to to exercise those shopping muscles before it's too late.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's the Deal with Winter Triathlon?

When you live in a cold-weather climate like me, it's not exactly easy to go swimming between November and March. Some will definitely argue that I'm nuts for making this assertion, but it's still one that I'll stand by thanks to a lack of desire to freeze in a pool when it's already cold outside. That and I'd prefer to play in the snow when we have enough of it--which, by the way, does not seem to be happening this winter as most of the storms are skipping Chicago. But there is a way to play in the snow but still feed my triathlon fix, not one that I'd necessary consider for myself but I'd watch others compete. It's name? Winter triathlon. It's trifecta? Run, bike, cross-country ski--all on snow.

I think I'd be too terrible to try it. I'm far from an ace on nordic skis. My mountain biking doesn't get much, if any, snow practice. And I'm usually on the treadmill or elliptical instead of treading through the snow, unless I've donned my snow boots and need to hustle to an indoor class. But that doesn't mean that you can't give it a shot. I lay down the basics in this story I recently wrote for Check it out here! And stay tuned for more Buzz stories...when I'm not writing here at Fit-Ink (sob!), chances are I'm over there.

Photo grabbed from Scott Sine and USA Triathlon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fit-Pic: Skiing with a Gold Medalist

Skiing at Squaw Valley USA, site of the 1960 Olympics: cool. Skiing spring-like conditions when I technically should be sitting at my desk: cooler. Skiing with gold medalist Jonny Moseley: priceless.

And that's still true when you catch an edge and slide halfway down an icy, hard-packed, crusty run that caught me by surprise. I laughed the whole time, even though it's definitely a bit embarrassing to fly right past an Olympian and bad-ass skier. I'll share more details later, but had to share the photo first.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fit-Pic: Hey Hey, Powder Day

What a difference a year makes. Last winter, Vail was begging for snow. When I visited in late February, the locals said we couldn't have timed our trip better because the skies finally poured much-needed white powder onto the mountains. Now skiers are practically wading in the freshies. Bruce Ruff enjoyed a blue sky powder day at Vail Mountain, making fresh tracks after the recent 10-inch snowfall

Here's my question: What run do you think Ruff is skiing? While it's definitely not easy to tell--and I honestly don't know the answer--the trees in the background coupled with the slope could be a giveaway to those who ski Vail regularly. I keep thinking I've seen those trees before, except I can't pinpoint where on a mountain that has 5,289 acres to ski. My suggestion: Faro or Ouzo that spill into the Game Creek Bowl. Challenge it!

Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts and taken by Jack Affleck.


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