Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fit-Pic: Make It Count on Leap Day

Plenty of Leap Day's have come and gone on my calendar, and I couldn't tell you what I've done for any of them. Except for today. But if I'm not careful, it's going to get fuzzy because the whole stream of events from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. is starting to feel like a dream. Thanks to Nike, I know I'm not dreaming and I got one heck of a Leap Day. 
How can you pass up a picture with Staley the Bear? Even if you look a little too giddy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Workouts Make Everything Better

I need an escape to the pain cave.
Tonight's workout will be my saving grace. I've had plenty of bad 24-hour periods where it feels like nothing is going right from the clock turning to quickly to emails going unanswered and my tiny computer-screened office world just felt a little smaller. You could even say that I had a bad week in July 2010 (how could I forget?) when I disappeared from Fit-Ink to tend to a broken air-conditioner during the hottest week of the summer, search for my wedding ring after it slipped off into Lake Michigan during an open water swim--learned my lesson to never wear it near the water ever again!--and thought I was going to severely hurt myself should I have opted into racing Ironman 70.3 Racine with a threat of thunderstorms and heat working against me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Coming to Grips with Winter Running

In or out? Treadmill or track? Shorts and a T-shirt, or your best assortment of winter layers? If you're going to run in the winter, where do you opt to get 'er done?

This winter might be the exception to the rule--I know I'm breaking my running habit left and right, shocking myself every time in the process. I don't run in winter. I don't race in winter. I'm lucky if I even look at my running shoes in winter. If those three assertions aren't enough to spell out my disdain for winter running under normal circumstances, that is, when the wind is whipping off the lake and the temperatures feel even colder than they actually are and we're buried under snow (that's my definition of winter Chicago normal), then I'll say it again: I'm not a winter runner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fit-Pic: Wishing I Was Here

Thursday, Feb. 23 at Arapahoe Basin Credit: Arapahoe Basin/Kimberly Trembearth

If I created a Fit-Pic for every time I saw powder skiing that I couldn't partake in, I think I'd rack up more posts on Fit-Ink in the winter months, especially when other works gets in the way and I abandon this site more often than I'd like. But then again, if you're not a skier, you hate snow and you despise cold weather, it's a good thing that I don't.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Flatlanders Can Train to Ski

In a little more than a week, more than two months will have passed since I last skied--New Year's Day, Park City, Utah. While I wish that wasn't the case, especially every time I hear word of a snowfall out west, I'm almost as disappointed about my loss of ski shape. It's long gone, with practically no hope of revival. I can swim, bike and run all I want--and have been since Jan. 2--but it's not quite the same on the quads, calves and core.

Ah, but that's what I thought until I spoke with Nancy Fudacz, director of performance training at Chicago's East Bank Club. I've been approaching the whole training thing, or lack thereof when it comes to something ski specific, all wrong. She talked to me about how to train a flatlander (me included thanks to pancake flat Chicago) for skiing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can Lance Make Ironman Go Live?

Lance rides 2010 Tour Down Under. Credit
Only Lance is good enough for live TV? What about Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander, the Raelert brothers, Mirinda Carfrae, and all the other professional triathletes and age-group qualifiers who have graced Kona's Ironman World Championship stage?

If this post starts to not make sense, it's because I'm a bit enraged from reading this Bloomberg article--and thank you Timex Sports for sharing. It's not the article itself and not even that the World Triathlon Corp. is trying to capitalize on its biggest asset--having The Lance Armstrong race triathlons and finish second in his first 70.3 race--to gain live coverage of the infamous 17-hour event that takes place on Hawaii's Big Island in October. It's that Lance can have such a draw on the sport, and that Comcast's NBC network might actually agree to a live airing.

Triathlon is not all about Lance Armstrong. Sure, it's cool to follow him at the races--I'm 100 percent guilty of checking his progress in Panama two weeks ago--but I didn't go to just to see his name. I looked at all of the pros, men and women, to see how they stacked up in swim, bike, run, and how several finished a 1.2-mile swim in under 20 minutes, a feat that seems near impossible (ah, currents).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why I'm Suddenly Addicted to Mashup Music

Photo: agius at flickr
When it comes to some aspects of technology, I'm not shy to admit that I'm behind the times. I don't have a Kindle, a Nook or an iPad. My iPhone isn't even two years old--and of course it's the most ancient one of them all. My computer isn't using the latest operating system, and I often ignore the system updates once or twice before actually allowing them to go through.

So it comes as no surprise to me that I only recently fell in love with mashup music (and hopefully, I'm even referring to it correctly). And not just for listening, but for exercising. I'd heard of the mashup at least a year ago, and I always promised myself that I'd explore this genre--if you call it that, again, I'm no expert on music terminology--more. Except I never did. Until last night. I guess you could say that I've disadvantaged myself by not watching Glee. Oops.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Look Who's Running the Shamrock Shuffle: It's Abdi!

Abdi chats with Carey Pinkowski (barely visible) on Jan. 31.
Carey Pinkowski got his wish. Or at least he sort of did. The executive race director for Chicago's Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and the Chicago Marathon wanted three-time (soon to be four-time come the London Olympics this summer) Olympian Abdi Abdirahman to run the streets of Chicago at the 2012 Chicago Marathon. That's what Pinkowski expressed when Abdi was in town on Jan. 31 to help kick off the opening of the marathon's registration. Abdi has run the Windy City's marathon before--it's where he PR'd with a 2:08:56 at the 2006 race--but asking to do it roughly two months after running the Olympic marathon is a tall order, even for an Olympian.

But no one ever said that the marathon's sister race, the Shamrock Shuffle 8K, known by many as the race that kicks off Windy City running season and previews a small portion of the marathon course, was off the table. And according to yesterday's news, it's not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Go Polar Plunging

A Louisiana Polar Plunger
Maybe you're fearless. Maybe you can tolerate cold weather like a champ. Maybe you're one of those people who can run straight into Lake Michigan in June when most others have to inch their feet in. Maybe you want to do something for a worthy cause but you don't run, you don't climb stairs, you don't swim long distances in the open water, you don't....

But if you can reserve time on Sunday, March 4, there is a cause to come out for at Chicago's North Avenue Beach. It's a 12-year tradition that involves taking a dip in Lake Michigan when the water is most likely frigid, maybe even a little wavy, and most definitely going to shock your system (but hey, that's where bragging rights come in!). It's the Chicago Polar Plunge, benefiting SCC/Special Olympics Chicago.

"The Polar Plunge is the top fundraising event of the year for Special Olympics Chicago," said James Sheahan, President of SCC/Special Olympics Chicago. "The day is a fun and inspirational event for those attending. But more importantly, the Chicago Polar Plunge helps to change the lives of over 5,000 Chicago-area Special Olympians, by providing much of the funding necessary to provide year-round activities, programs and events for our athletes. It is a tremendously important event for Special Olympics Chicago and its athletes and families."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Venus de Miles Lands in Chicago

Put pedal to the mettle on July 29. Credit: koocbor on flickr
Tell me about a bike ride, namely anything that doesn't involve Chicago's city streets or the Lakefront Path, and I'll want to ride it. Tell me about a bike ride that I don't have to drive to Wisconsin for and I'll really want to ride it. Tell me about a bike ride that's not too far from home, has a Colorado connection, and happens on a weekend where I'm usually looking for something to do, and I'm hands down riding it.

The name of such a ride? Venus de Miles. VdM is a Boulder-based women's cycling event--I knew I recognized it from the get-go from poring over calendar pages of Rocky Mountain Sports--and it's expanding to the Chicago area to bring female riders their first-ever all-women's road bike ride on Sunday, July 29. Teresa Robbins, VdM's founder and race director, says that Illinois was a natural choice for expansion. "When we were scouting areas to host another ride we fell in love with Lake Forest and the possibilities the route has to offer," she says.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A New Rule for a Yoga Studio?

L is for locker and losing clothing, kind of.
After attending a yoga class this morning, I think I have a suggestion for another rule to add to the list of guidelines posted around the studio to make it a pleasurable environment for all. Adjust your clothing BEFORE taking to your mat and entering the studio space--even if it means slipping in late.

I've seen some strange things in my two-plus years of regular yoga practice. Passing wind, oh-so-embarrassing for the tooter. Low-cut tank tops that reveal a little too much cleavage. Shorts that look like underwear. Shirtless guys who should maybe reconsider flashing their man boobs. People who don't heed the request to leave gear in the locker room and shoes at the front. Cell phones on the studio floor and texting during class (seriously, didn't you go to yoga to either get a workout or escape life's stresses?).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Top 10 Workout Songs for February

Weather got you down? Tired of slogging away on the treadmill to the same old tunes? Opting out of bundling up for the outdoor runs (that would be me)? Maybe it's your workout playlist that needs a few trade outs to get you motivated. But if you're like me, remember I'm the one who keeps songs on her running playlist for years, you might not know where to start.

Run Hundred comes to the rescue again this month, releasing its list of top 10 workout songs for February. With the Grammy Awards arriving this weekend, and several artists performing at the music show, it seemed all too perfect to download a round now, watch the Grammys and download another round on Monday for a fully loaded playlist. That and I need to get reacquainted with some of the artists up for awards (like Adele).

Here's the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred, the web's most popular workout music site.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Suspension Attention

One of the 300+ TRX moves. Credit: campdarby at flickr
I've been obsessed with TRX for a looong time. Probably since right around the time Fit-Ink started when the suspension training system debuted on The Biggest Loser, and I watched week after week as Bob Harper introduced new routines to the competitors. Not that I fall in love with every piece of fitness equipment seen on the hit TV show--though it might come close. Except now I've used a lot of the equipment--the Spinning bikes, the ViPR tubes, the ropes--before I see it on the show.

But TRX Suspension Training is still one of my favorites. It's challenging in ways I didn't think possible. It's applicable training to several different sports as demonstrated by these workout suggestions. It's still topping the charts as a good workout by training professionals. It's easy to store and doesn't require too much space for set-up--and you can do it just about anywhere. It's not your usual functional fitness and it's tough to get bored. Oh yeah, and it makes me sore and sweaty--and fast. When that happens, I know I'm getting a good workout and that I'm growing stronger in the process.

The funny thing is that I didn't realize until now just how helpful it could be for ski conditioning. I've harped on it a million times: I don't live near the mountains and I'm not about to drop everything and drive up to Wisconsin to ski on glorified hills. My only hope to stay fit for ski season is by doing any and every workout imaginable that can work its magic off the slopes. Except why didn't I think to try TRX sooner? Good question that only has an excuse-filled answer. After reading what I wrote about TRX at, I think I better take my own advice. My core, balance and flexibility--for starters--will thank me. I know it.

Photo grabbed from campdarby at flickr.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hours Away from Closing

Everyone wants to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this year. Everyone wants to register early (well, you kind of have to). Everyone wants to say they crossed the finish line at least once at this Windy City 26.2 miler.

Me included. I swore I wouldn't--I have an Ironman to race not even a month before the October 7 marathon--yet I found myself near hypnotized filling out the information on the registration screen last Thursday. Option one: register Tuesday night at launch event and be entered into raffle to win a hospitality pack. This would have been the smart time to register. Option two: register Wednesday at noon when the official registration opened to the public. Still, I said no. Option three: read a warning that the race will close soon and then register. There's no logical answer to why I chose option three aside from some stray thought telling me not to sit out. Unless I could call it the Abdi effect, meeting 2012 U.S. Olympic Team member Abdi Abdirahman, rubbing off a day and half late. I guess that's how your brain acts when you've run the same fall event 12 years in a row?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Biggest Loser's Excuse-Ridden Annoyances

Is it just me or is this season's cast of The Biggest Loser more annoying than inspirational? I've never heard so many whines, excuses, behind-the-back talk or mean comments in all the seasons I've tuned into the hit weight loss show. For a show that's supposed to celebrate weight loss and taking that leap toward a healthy lifestyle once and for all, it seems lost amid a bunch of BS, for lack of a better word and all too appropriate, and petty arguing during week 5's episode.

Usually by week 5, I've identified at least one favorite, that one person who I want to take it all the way to the finale. Tara, one of the Curlee sisters, Antone. But this season, I have yet to find that person. Instead I find myself plugging my ears, or pushing the mute button, in hopes that I can drown out the contestant complaints. Here's what's irking me the wrong way:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicago Marathon: By the Numbers

From the archives: 2005 Chicago Marathon finish line
You’ve seen the email reminders. You’ve spotted the social media talk from Facebook to Twitter's #cm12 to #chimarathon to whatever else gets the word out about the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. But if it hasn’t been emblazoned into your brain yet, or you need one more nudge to mark it on your calendar, commit to a race and get off the couch to train, here it is. Registration for this Chicago classic, to be held Sunday, October 7, opens today at 12 p.m.

Not sure if you’re ready to pull the trigger and race through the starting gates when registration opens? Run your eyes across these figures for more details about this Windy City marathon that either spur you to sign up or make you run for the rafters. I’m going with the former—you’d think that after 12 years of running, I wouldn’t need the nudge for No. 13, but I do. Dangling a hospitality ticket in front of me at Tuesday’s special launch event wasn’t enough to do it, but maybe this is.


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