Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fit-Pic: Maiden Voyage

Do you ever have those days where whatever you're trying to say just doesn't want to come out of your mouth the way you want to say it? Imagine that and you'll reach my current situation, but it's with words and not speech. So while I'm hoping to find my words on my run, I leave you with this picture.

These shoes are about to make their maiden voyage on the Lakefront Path. They're clean, they're shiny, they're springy, they're not tread upon. Their only downfall: They were already laced and too tight for my left foot's pleasure. But my lower half is liking them and I've only padded down the hallway. And the pain I've been feeling in my right leg--a result of the beating I've been giving my body as it gets used to running more than once a week? Gone.

Here's the hoping I can knock out the six miles I was dreading earlier and regain the words I've been desperately searching for all day. But in the meantime, can you name the shoes I'm running in, pictured above?

Shoes provided by Fleet Feet Chicago.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fit-Pic: Finish on the 50

Now that's a way to finish a race: at the 50-yard line on the grass at Soldier Field. More than 12,000 runners made that a reality this morning at the Soldier Field 10 Mile, Chicago's way of welcoming Memorial Day Weekend. To borrow a phrase used by Fleet Feet when it promotes the race, did you finish on the 50? 

Time to go enjoy the rest of the three-day weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Random Stuff You See While Running

Never expected I'd see musicians while running today.
Lately my Wednesday runs have been more entertaining than I'd expect them to be. It's not like I'm running at a set time and see the same people, but it's more that my helter-skelter schedule is about as varied as the people and things I see on the lakefront. Take last week...or the week before...or the week before that. Every Wednesday I've had to run. Yet every Wednesday I've been on the path at a different time, running different mileage, and noticing different things that make me feel like I've escaped into a virtual Highlights for Children puzzle where you have to select the items that are out of place. What I spied may not have been out of place--after seeing Speedo guy time and again I'm convinced that anything goes on the Lakefront--but it was enough for me to remember it an hour later and forget about the distance I had to run. Here's what I saw:
  • A fire truck and a Univision news truck at North Ave. Beach. I've heard that fire trucks and police vehicles patrol this beach area, especially on summer's hottest holidays, but I never expected it tonight.
  • Don't people work? It was 4:30 p.m.--in my defense, my self-employed schedule let me skip out early today only to be back online later--and there were tons of people on the beach. And they weren't there to play volleyball in one of the summer leagues.
  • A very convincing ultramarathon trainee. If he wasn't training for an ultra, he sure looked the part with his hydration pack, compression socks and very focused expression.
  • A singing duo. Oh yes, north of the boathouse, south of the bridge, two musicians were singing and strumming their guitars.
  • Someone who looked exactly like an editor that I know...who knows, maybe it was her?
  • The freshly paved portion of the path just north of Fullerton. I should have photographed the fresh blacktop that covered what was a twisted ankle waiting to happen, but I was too excited to be running on it.
  • What's with all of the backpacked runners? I spied a girl running with a backpack, the drawstring type you get at races, and then right after that I spotted a guy who looked like he was sprinting to meet someone and just happened to be toting a backpack, too.
  • A guy who was wearing one of the most unconventional-looking running outfits I've seen in a while. His outfit: what looked like swim trunks and a striped, loose-fitting tank (but not at all like a singlet). I can only assume that he planned this run because he had Newtons on his feet. 
I know I'm not alone in watching people on the trail during the run--I remember Runner's World tweeting about stuff seen on the run. What have you seen while running?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Silver Screening of "Miles and Trials"

Celebrate women's running at the Miles and Trials premiere.
Wendy Shulik, a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker with a passion for running, has filmed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and countless races around Chicago. She's lugged camera supplies across the country. She's trailed female runners to Grandma's Marathon and the California International Marathon. She's gathered hours of interviews and film footage. It's all been part of her dream to share the story of female runners as they shoot for their goals of competing at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials for the 2012 London Games, held in Houston in January. And the finished product will be Miles and Trials, a documentary film that takes nearly 50 hours of film about women's running and showcases female runners as they train for and try to qualify for the marathon trials.

Tonight, runners, film fans and anyone who's curious can catch a glimpse of Miles and Trials, the project Shulik has been pouring herself into for more than two years. A trailer of the documentary will premiere at the Indie Incubator Film Festival. Held at Mother's Bar at 26 W. Division, the doors open at 8 p.m. for this free event. Not only do you get to watch highlights of Miles and Trials, which is expected to be released in full during summer 2012, but you can also check out the rest of the film festival. All of the films showcased at the festival are up for the "Best of the Fest" award, which is decided by a judge's panel and awards $250 to its winner.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sweat Session with SELF Magazine

From the 2011 Workout in the Park, courtesy of SkirtPR
Grant Park is no stranger to hosting fitness events. If you live in the Windy City, how many times have you passed the park on a weekend only to see it scattered with event tents, and not the kind that signal a music festival or Taste of Chicago? Probably a lot, especially this time of year. And typically right around this weekend, Grant Park would be ready to play host to an old favorite, SELF Magazine's Workout in the Park, which was held at Butler Field last year on May 21.

One problem: NATO is coming to town and the Workout in the Park won't be in May but in June. I can't blame NATO entirely, even though it is the obvious choice given that businesses in and around the Loop are shutting down Friday through Monday and many workers have been granted a three- or four-day weekend. If the NATO conference wasn't about to take over Chicago, literally, I'd assume that SELF's mobile exercise-y event would most likely stick with the weekend that has worked and not be pushed to later date (especially considering that San Francisco kicked off this year's festivities on May 5 followed by New York City on May 12). But it happened and there's nothing we can do about it except hope that a June 2 date means a greater assurance of warmer, workout-friendly weather.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Many Hours 'Til the Army 10-Miler Closes?

The 2010 Army 10-Miler winner. Credit: Steve Sanderson
There's something that fascinates me about the Army Ten-Miler. It's not a hometown race. It starts near the Pentagon and offers a tour of Washington, D.C. It brings several speedy runners, including those in the military, and has Shadow Runs around the world so active-duty military can participate. It's usually on my friend's race calendar and she's invited me to run it on more than one occasion (race conflicts, travel logistics, injuries and lack of entries have kept me off the course). But that's it: I'm intrigued because I have yet to run it, 8 years after I first tried and failed because I was an hour too late to the registration portal.

The Army Ten-Miler is one of the District's most popular races and with its 30,000 runners, it's earned the distinction of being the third largest 10-mile race in the world and the U.S. Army's premier event (according to this 2010 information). But those 30,000 spots go fast. They were gone in 6 days in 2009, 35 hours in 2010 and then had a new registration process in 2011 that didn't make these bibs quite as hard to come by.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fit-Pic: Running It Forward

How'd you like to call this bus home for 18 days? It's not unheard of...if you're in a band touring the country. But take the 8 ultra-runners whose faces smile from the bus's sidewall, and a crew that includes a dentist and the bus driver and you've got the Run It Forward group that's driving and running the 2,400 miles across Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Farmer's Market Fresh

When you don't live in a summer-all-the-time climate (hello, San Diego, Miami and Honolulu), you wait anxiously for this moment. The day when the local Farmer's Market opens for the season. For me, that day came today. Three blocks from home, the street shuts down, the tents go up and the produce, flowers, crepe truck (a new addition last year), and other edibles come out.

Not only does the market opening signal summer's arrival, but it also means less shopping at the grocery store, especially the produce section. Starting today, my fridge fills with the local market items, some of which I'd have a hard time finding elsewhere. It's at the market where I bought my first kohlrabi and tried my first tiny strawberry. It's at the market where I find rhubarb, corn and cabbage for less money. It's at the market where I'm inspired to get creative in the kitchen and experiment with the food finds.

I may have kept the shopping to a minimum today--I almost bought all of the items at left plus leeks and herbs, but only went home with asparagus--but I'm certainly excited for the weeks to come. My weekly menu only gets better from here and my mouth is already watering from what I didn't buy today. Is it wrong to get this overjoyed from a farmer's market? I hope not.

What do you love about your local farmer's market?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bump, Set, Spike for The Journey

It might be an Olympics year--my favorite kind of year--but I'm about to sound really stupid about a sport primarily highlighted during the Games. I'd like to think that I watch a lot of Olympic sports except volleyball's not one of them. Beach volleyball, a little, but only because Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor and the gripping men's competition in Beijing were too exciting not to watch, and they often played between the swimming coverage. But indoor volleyball, no. It's no one's fault but my own--I think I'm still scarred from the weeks of volleyball we had to play in high school gym class where I whacked someone on the head two courts away and knocked his hat off (an embarrassingly true story).

I might be less into volleyball than I am into swimming, skiing and running, as far as Olympic sports go, but a contest that Mizuno launched has me wishing I could pull a 13 Going on 30 number and wake up tomorrow as a teenager, and a volleyball-playing one at that. And if we're going all-out with the fantasies, I'd want to defy my family's genetics that err on the side of shortness. But dreamland aside, it's the contest that has me excited even without being a volleyballer.

Mizuno created The Journey, an online contest for young volleyball players, as a way to celebrate its partnership with the USA Men's and Women's National Indoor Volleyball team. The Journey encourages volleyball players to submit video diaries, photos and essays about how they've been shaped by the competitive sport. From this collection of inspiring stories, Mizuno will award a volleyball clinic to the grand prize winner's team in his or her hometown, conducted by a USA Volleyball team member. Entrants also have the opportunity to win Mizuno Volleyball footwear, apparel and accessories. All for sharing their stories of competitive drive and passion. If that's not inspiring for someone who has aspirations to earn a spot on the national team then I don't know what is.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Top 10 Workout Songs for May

I may have been ahead of the times when I got into those Soundcloud remixes a few months ago. From the looks of Run Hundred's top 10 workout songs for May, the month was meant for the remix. LMFAO remixed Madonna. Mord Fustang remixed LMFAO. Flo Rida and The Wanted got remixed with a more uptempo beat. I guess we all want fast-paced beats this month to crush PRs when we hit the pavement?

Whether you need a new workout mix or your race day playlist is begging to be revamped before your next big event (considering all the marathons, half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks and 10-milers happening this month, I'd say this is a likely assumption), you might find some favorites among this month's top hits. Here are the top 10 songs for May, according to votes placed at Run Hundred, the most popular workout music blog online.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It's Not Cinco de Mayo Until Cinco de Miler

Runner at the 2011 Cinco de Miler. Credit: RAM Racing
I’m a sucker for chips, guacamole and salsa. I’m also a sucker for races that I’ve never run—as if the Ravenswood Run was any indication. Combine these two factors and the Cinco de Miler on Sunday, May 6, sounds like my ideal race.

That would probably explain why I signed up for it months ago—and up until about a week ago I thought that the race was actually on May 5, the true Cinco de Mayo. Oops! But at least now I know I won’t be showing up at Montrose Beach on Saturday morning wondering why I’m not hearing tunes from the El Guapo band, smelling the breakfast burritos and churros that await runners at the finish line, seeing the piƱatas that can be cracked for charity, or fighting the typical traffic that occurs at the Wilson lot before races. Those are just parts of the post-race fiesta, minus that traffic situation I fear, that follows the five-mile race. There’s beer, each runner gets a cerveza on the house, and chips and salsa, the perfect complement to the margaritas consumed on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weather This Workout: Real Ryder Revolution

The group pain cave: Real Ryder Revolution Chicago
Has anyone else noticed that it’s been colder in April than it was in March? Granted I was traveling for half the month indulging myself in a strange mixture of sun, snow and plenty of temperature fluctuations, but the time I have spent in Chicago hasn’t exactly been the most pleasant. It’s rained. It’s been cloudy. It’s been cold. It’s been windy.

The worst part is that May isn’t looking much better. Sorry but I’m not swayed by the promise of 80 degrees later this week considering it’s accompanied by t-storms and more wet weather. For me that means more complaining about the weather, running indoors when the weather sours (rain, rain, go away), leaving the bike hooked up to the trainer and dragging myself to the gym. Basically, it's lots of indoor workouts. Problem is that my usual gets stale really quick—and my routine indoor exercises overstayed their welcome during the winter (it always happens).

So what’s a girl to do when she wants to ride her bike, but can’t, or won’t, go outside to do it? She heads to any indoor cycling class on the schedule--and Chicago's not shy on offering those with our own crop of Real Ryder Revolution, Flywheel and Spinning studios. Now usually that would involve a bit of a cash-flow problem for this Fit-Inker—I already belong to a gym and talked myself out of spending even more money in my already tight budget on fitness—but not this month. It’s National Bike Month and with it comes a ride that’s tough to refuse. Real Ryder Revolution is celebrating this biking holiday with a special unlimited pass for $150. And ride in the morning and get refueled with free bottles of Greater Than, a coconut water-based sports drink. Um, stop right there and sign me up.


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