Friday, June 29, 2012

The Daily Feed: Sites We're Searching 6/29

The Hayward track four years ago today. Credit: Schmuelick
I've been waiting for Friday to arrive all week. TGIF! Hooray for the weekend! But the last thing I'm doing is jumping for joy.

I couldn't wake up to run with Liz this morning, something I'm sorely regretting hours later even with the extra rest, and I may have mistook the ache in my leg for more than what it is (after three weeks worth of bum runs I'm almost scared to have a good day). I missed the swim practice with my neighbor that we purposely planned for after my run. I'm staring down one heck of a crazy training schedule while worrying about the seven hour drive to Northern Wisconsin I'm going to be making tomorrow. And there's a storm brewing outside my window that's made the sky as dark as dusk--and it's only 11 a.m.

This might sound crazy but I started cruising around online to help me find a happier place--basically by living vicariously through others. And here's what helped lift my mood:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Strike Out ALS 5K: Where Baseball and Running Mix

Running the warning track at the 2011 Strike Out ALS 5K
I’ve walked three miles (or what felt like it) in the pouring rain to watch the Home Run Derby. I’ve scoured the internet for tickets to a face-off between the Cubs and the Yankees—and then begged and pleaded for a friend to sit in what could be Wrigley Field’s worst possible seats. I’ve biked from Chicago’s North side to U.S. Cellular Field to finish the Nike Rock ‘n’ Run 5K steps from the outfield. I’ve read more baseball-themed books than I can remember—Campy, the story of Brooklyn Dodger Roy Campanella, is currently on my nightstand. I’ve run around the warning track of U.S. Cellular—and up and down its ramps and steps—mere days after getting cleared to run post-stress fracture.

I love baseball almost as much as I love running. So when the two come together as they do at the Strike Out ALS 5K, it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to go. Even if I barely arrived before the race started (yeah, I completely underestimated the traffic). Even if I didn’t know what my legs would do after not running since April (it was July). Even if it was hot and humid and not letting up as day turned to night. Even if part of the course involved running two loops around the ballpark’s parking lots (some might be turned off but I was too happy to try running again to care—and this year’s course promises to be different).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yes! Bart Yasso Runs Chicago...Today!

The one time I did see Bart in Chicago with Team World Vision.
Sheesh! Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer for Runner's World and the man behind those Yasso 800s we love to hate, is everywhere today. Everywhere close to home, that is.

I've joked that I'll miss Bart by a day when he's been running in the Windy City, but this time I have no excuse. Even if I don't run today (I'm following orders and not running until Friday to help my ailing leg), I can't miss the twice-in-one-day opportunity to see one of running's most recognizable names, especially when it's an open-invite for both. Actually, I take that back. I can miss it if I read the times wrong like I've already done with Lululemon's track workout--I swear it said 6:30 p.m. when I looked at it last night but it was at 6:30 a.m. And where was I? Sleeping.

Being that I've already missing both of the Lululemon events--the Rush and Walton store hosted Bart last night at their fun run and this morning for a track workout that I'm sure included Yassos--I have one last chance to catch Bart in Chicago. He'll be in Lakeview tonight to hang with the Luna Chix at Universal Sole's Wednesday Women Fun Run. I'm drilling it into my head now: run at 6:30 p.m., talk at 7:30 p.m., run at 6:30, talk at 7:30.

Maybe he can offer me a healing mantra for my leg? Or advice on pushing through the pain like he's has to do in races? Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Equinox Lets Freedom Bling

Everyone loves a sale. Credit: ell brown
Stinky workout clothes where the stench won't disappear no matter how many times they toss in the washing machine and get sprayed with Febreze? Exercise gear that's more out-of-fashion than in? Running shorts and shirts that aren't as well-equipped to battle the heat wave that's predicted to happen later this week as you thought they'd be when you bought them? Gear that you wouldn't want to be caught dead in unless you were at home and you knew that Tony Horton and Shawn T wouldn't care what clothes you wore for their workouts?

You know you need some new duds--or you welcome every excuse in the book as a reason to buy more. But the problem is, you're not exactly in the market for buying said gear at full price (it's all about maximizing the dollar, right?). Welcome to the "Let Freedom Bling" sale that runs June 25 through July 8 at The Shop @ Equinox. As a way to celebrate Independence Day, customers can save up to 50 percent off fashion and performance apparel and accessories at all of the Chicago Equinox locations.

The Shop @ Equinox is known for offering top-of-the-line fitness-focused apparel--remember the Nike gear we gushed over? This summer the Shop has new lines available like Mercer & Taylor, an exclusive women's fashion collection that includes breezy woven tanks and blouses in silky, lightweight fabrics; and Bordeaux, another exclusive women's collection that features super-soft tees and tanks great for basics and layering. And there are tons of other designers gracing the shelves, too. The question is: How much can I buy to refresh the closet without breaking the bank? 

Photo grabbed from ell brown at flickr.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Water-Logged...I'm [Watching] Swimming

We'll be watching swim starts all week. Credit: WhyOhGee
This week is almost like my second Christmas. Nah, make that my third Christmas; the second one comes during the first week of the Olympics. It starts with the opening ceremonies and then I’m glued to the TV every hour the swimming events are on—prelims, finals and all the story clips in between. I’ve annoyed roommates with my antics (just ask any of the friends I lived with in 2000 during the Sydney Games). I’ve filled many a VHS with coverage—and refuse to tape over them. If I’m lucky, I think I could still dig up my tapes from 1992 when I first recorded the swimming races. And I’ve studied many a film, much like a football player would to study his opponents, yet I did it to pick up tips and teach myself better technique.

But prime time coverage for the swimming Olympic Trials? This year is just too good. So what if it's the result of amplifying Michael Phelps to near-God status and beefing up a rivalry between him and Ryan Lochte (I've already been reminded too much tonight)? It sure beats missing the trials because they were televised on tape delay on a random Saturday afternoon, lumped into other sports coverage.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fit-Pic: Gettin' Cheeky With Shawn Johnson

How would you like to work out with an Olympian? And not just any Olympian but one with a gold medal and two silver medals in her cache, plus a Dancing With the Stars disco ball? If you're a Cheeky girl (or lucky enough to be invited by Nike, in my case), then you got to sweat with gymnast Shawn Johnson, Nike Training Club trainer Marie Purvis and On Your Mark's co-owner Emily Hutchins in Lincoln Park on Saturday morning. Or maybe it was more that you were sweating and aching and taking your functional training to new levels--they made the NTC workout look easy, which I assure you, it wasn't.

A sore calf may have sidelined me from the start (twisted it yesterday when I got a taste of Shawn's workout drill pack that'll be released on June 29), but the 60 seconds of skate skiers I did got the blood pumping. And it gave me an excuse to take pictures--and notice that Shawn never stopped moving! I guess that's what happens when you're used to training all day almost every day? Or maybe she was just exemplifying the #maketherules theme of the day--we were there to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, after all, and preview the NikeFuel House.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fit-Pic: Wetsuit Warriors

It was sunny. It was hot. It was Friday afternoon. Normally a description like this would warrant a trip to the beach. A lazy trip to the beach--to nap, to read, to catch some sun, to maybe dip the toes in Lake Michigan.

Not for a group of triathletes. Forget skipping out of work (or being fortunate enough to have half-day Fridays Memorial Day to Labor Day) to bum a boat ride, crash on the beach or get a head start for home. They were armed and ready to swim and run--all in the name of the kicking off the 30th anniversary of the Life Time Chicago Triathlon, which has seen a few name changes in its 30 years (Bud Light, Mrs. T's, Accenture...). And they did it in their wetsuits--I'm sweating just thinking about it.

Nothing like a little warmup in the Millennium Park water feature.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Title IX Sweat Session with Nike

Trust Nike to create an event that is...
a. not to be missed unless you're out of town for the weekend.
b. drool-worthy.
c. worth skipping the Saturday morning sleep you could be getting.
d. as intense--or not--as you want it to be.
e. choose-your-own-adventure fitness.
f. a celebration of sport on an important anniversary.

I think Title IX is following me around this week. A few hours ago I was emailing athletes who benefited from Title IX and researching its impact on sports. Then I hopped in the car and drove five hours only to have Title IX reappear shortly after I sat down at my desk. My sister called and my multitasking phone call included me scrolling through Facebook and finding this almost-open invite.

Hopefully Nike doesn't mind that I've borrowed their signage.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Can You Name Rock 'n' Roll Chicago's Headliner?

I think I'll run 13.1 miles before a concert. Credit: NVitkus
You've heard them on the radio. You've probably worked out to their hits like "Good Girls Go Bad" and "You Make Me Feel." You might even use their fast-paced dance beats to power you through a run. They're Cobra Starship, the Billboard Music chart-toppers who've taken their dance-pop sound on tour with Maroon 5 and Fall Out Boy. And now they'll be headlining the finish line concert at the Xsport Fitness Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, July 22. 

If you've run a Rock 'n' Roll race, whether it's a half marathon in Virginia Beach or a full marathon in San Diego, you know that the event wouldn't be complete without the finish line concert. In fact, it's part of the draw--even when you're like me and my friends who slept through the Virginia Beach concert thanks to an early morning, a hotel room off the boardwalk and two half marathoners who could barely walk with leg (me) and back (my friend) issues.

I might not remember who performed at that race, but Rock 'n' Roll headliners lately have included Bret Michaels, Cheap Trick, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Sugar Ray and Switchfoot. I might be too lazy--and cheap--to hunt down tickets to see their concert performances (I'm the one who thinks about attending practically the day before they're in town), but count me in when all I have to do is stick around the finish line to watch them live, and I've heard their songs on the radio.

A marathon, a half marathon, a mini marathon that's capped off with a concert by a Billboard chart-topper? Yes, please! And even better that registration is still open for the longer (13.1) and shorter (roughly 3 miles) distances.

Photo grabbed from NVitkus at flickr.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Should've Been in Duluth

Kara runs the 2008 NYC Marathon. Credit: matt semel
It's been a while since we last broadcasted our love of Kara Goucher here at Fit-Ink, but that's not to say we've forgotten about her or loved her a little less. I admit, we missed getting giddy in January for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials when she finished third and qualified for the Olympic team. But I wasn't about to miss another Kara moment when I caught word that she'd be in Duluth for Grandma's Marathon weekend. Except, I did. Again.

Liz might be the Fit-Inker who can cheer Kara from behind like she did in Boston or interview her over the phone or spend five minutes with her at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago expo. I'm the one who probably starts to sound like a crazy stalker (I swear, I'm not!). Suspecting that she's pregnant. Hawking the news boards to find out when Colt was born. Reading her blog updates. All because I've watched meet-and-greet opportunities slip through my fingertips at the cost of other races. When Kara ran RnR Chicago in 2009, I was pushing through some nasty headwinds at the Steelhead 70.3. And now today when Kara ran the U.S.A. Half Marathon Championships--she won and set a course record--I was picking up my packet for tomorrow's Motor City Triathlon in Detroit.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wetsuit Dash

Let's go wetsuits. Credit: brentzooka
The Jim Gibbons 5K was last night (I love that race and the fun festival afterward!)--the run. The Bike to Work Rally at Daley Plaza was this morning--the bike. Now what about triathlon, or mainly swimming? Life Time Fitness has an answer for that: a wetsuit dash. News of the event landed in my inbox last night. And, well, I couldn't help but get excited for a kick-off to the 30th anniversary celebration surrounding the Life Time Fitness Chicago Triathlon, whose Olympic-distance event closed to general entry earlier in the week.

If you're a triathlete who needed a reason to call off work for the day, or skip out early, this is it. If you pass by Millennium Park this afternoon and see several wetsuits, this is it. If you're at Ohio Street Beach and watch a throng of wetsuit-clad runners march onto the sand, shed their shoes and take a swim, this is it. If you see trolleys full of triathletes, this is it. It's the Life Time Fitness Chicago Triathlon kick-off complete with wetsuit dash getting underway at noon and ending around 5 p.m. at Park Grill Plaza, 11 N. Michigan Ave.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stitch a Flag for Team USA

Raise a flag, wave a flag for Flag Day. Credit: braveheartsports
A month's worth of groceries for an athlete: 15 stitches. A full set of weights: 1,600 stitches. Starting blocks for the USA Swimming Team: 125 stitches. A month of prepared meals for an athlete: 40 stitches. The stitches aren't priceless as the Mastercard commercial might suggest, but they do help to put a symbolic value on the fundraising needs of Team USA in an Olympics year and make fun, social and virtual. Each stitch costs $12, a small price to pay for helping to weave together an American flag that will accompany the U.S. Olympic Team to London this summer.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) launched this creative fundraising program on April 18, back when the London Games had 100 days until their opening ceremony. Nearly 60 days later, more than 10,000 stitches have been made to Raise Our Flag, which helps equip Team USA with some of its training essentials. When you get as excited as I do for the Olympics--please don't ask me to choose which one I like more, winter or summer, because it's tougher to decide every year--you can't help but love the chance to be more actively involved than simply watching on TV and following the results online.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What You Didn't Know about the Chicago Women's Half Marathon

Freihofer's Run celebrates women runners, too. Credit: michaelstyne
I might be making a bit of a broad assumption but when you're a runner, a triathlete or an endurance junkie, it's tough not to get excited about a new race that lands on your radar. I know I've been giddy over Ironman St. George (or maybe I was more freaked out by its intensity) and Ironman New York City (even though I still have no desire to pedal the Palisades Parkway or bounce between New Jersey and New York in a single race). I was thrilled to read about the now defunct Lakeshore Marathon--a spring marathon for Chicagoans on the Lakefront Path that disappeared after 2005. In the last year, I've heard about several new events landing in Chicagoland from the Zooma half marathon in Lake Geneva to the Run for Your Heart 5K that was held indoors at McCormick Place, and from Fort2Base with its unique nautical mileage to the upcoming Big 10K and Chicago 10K. And I've often registered for a newer race instead of a mainstay, especially when one is closer to home than the other or most cost-effective.

That last thought is something I could totally see myself doing with the inaugural Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5K on June 24. It's in Grant Park--far closer than the triathlons I considered in Pleasant Prairie and Lake Geneva. It's new--as you can tell from the use of inaugural. And as far as half marathons go, it's pretty affordable--$65 for the half and $35 for the 5K.

But we took the thrills and chills for the Chicago Women's Half one step further and dug up the facts that you may not have known about the race. I never would have known No. 3 until someone told me. Here's why you'll want to get excited for this inaugural 13.1-miler through the Windy City.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Got Soul--And Sole? Share Your Shoes.

Sadly that's only one section of my shoes.
A closet overflowing with shoes? Mine is. Got a new pair of running shoes but have yet to recycle, or toss, the old ones? That’s me. Ready to clear space to make room for more trainers whether they be for running, cycling, fitness, hiking…you get the idea? Definitely.

There’s a simple way to free up space and do a good deed: donate your shoes. For me, that’s often easier said than done. I’ll choose the shoes, drop them into a shopping bag and then shove the bag into the closet instead of marching directly to the running store where the shoe collection bin awaits (I have better luck donating food at a packet pickup). But getting the heads up to bring my used shoes to a race and donate them there? I can do that. And I don’t have to wait long since the upcoming 13.1 Marathon on June 9 offers the opportunity.

Allstate Insurance Company and Give Your Sole, a non-profit organization that has been collecting moderately used shoes at races and keeping the donations local since starting in 2009, are making it possible to donate your shoes this weekend at the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Marathon in Chicago. The shoes that are collected, between those donated at the finish line festival and at packet pickup during the week, will be donated to Breakthrough, a local organization that provides shelter, meals and other services to homeless men, women and children in the city.

I don’t know why, but knowing that my shoes could potentially pace around Chicago, just on different feet, makes me less sad to part with the shoes that helped me qualify for Boston, or finish my first triathlon, or trudge through the Muddy Buddy mud pit and across the Beachpalooza sand. So does knowing that I can donate the shoes off my feet at the 13.1 finish line and receive flip-flops to wear home. And so does knowing that I can hand off my shoes to Chicago Bears’ first-round draft pick Shea McClellin (who says you can’t get a little pro-athlete star struck?). McClellin will be the first to tell you that he's not a runner--his mom ran cross-country but he affirms that trait didn't rub off on him--but he's been donating his used football cleats to his high school for years.

Good news for runners who don’t live in the Windy City but are thinking about running another 13.1 Marathon later in the year. Allstate and Give Your Sole are continuing their efforts at the 13.1 races in Boston (Sept. 16), Atlanta (Oct. 7), Dallas (Oct. 27) and Ft. Lauderdale (Nov. 11). For more details, check out or, and then dig through your closet.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Buy Now, Race Later: National Running Day Savings

I could list the reasons for why I run—and why you’d love it, too. I could rattle off all the ways to run from the trail to the track, from the jog through the parking lot to the sprint during the race. I could name all of tonight’s fun runs or the running happenings I come across on a daily basis (hello, current addiction: Mezamashii Run Project) or the contests that I predict will appear on Facebook throughout the day or the races on my radar (hello, 13.1, North Shore, Run Home Chicago). I could—and often do—think running 24/7 from shopping about it, to planning race and training calendars, to attending events about it that aren’t races (speaking of which, Scott Jurek and Chris McDougall will be at Fleet Feet tomorrow night). But all of the above would be veering off topic from my uncreative, yet oh-so-true, headline.

Instead, I'm writing about something that you can do today without having to run. It's the buy now, run later option. And no, I’m not talking about buying the latest gear though I’m totally lusting after Saucony’s Daybreak tee.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Top 10 Workout Songs for June

Ready for a new playlist to rock your summer of workouts? Let's just say that my playlist could definitely use some updating, I found myself listening to tunes from 10 years ago during the Soldier Field 10. It's to the rescue with its top 10 workout songs for June. And unlike months past where old favorites have ranked among the favorites, this month has more new songs than it does old. Or so I've been told as I'm the one who has to listen to snippets of these songs before I recognize them.

The singles from Usher and Linkin Park's new albums are out—along with Pitbull's contribution to the Men in Black III soundtrack. Kelly Clarkson's “Stronger” returns to the top 10, but this time it's a remix that makes the song sound completely different, unless that's just me. And rounding out the list are some artists I know I recognize from earlier in the year where Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, and Cee Lo paired up with Wiz Khalifa, B.o.B., and Slaughterhouse.

Here's the full list of songs you might want to work out to, according to votes placed at Run Hundred, the web's most popular workout music blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fit-Pic: Adventures in SUP-ing

Stand-up paddleboarding. It looks easy, and when you ask someone about the degree of difficulty, they assure you that it's not tough to get started. But they fail to mention that it's about 10 times harder to stand up when the water is wavy, the current pushes you back toward the shoreline, and the inflatable board you're on is going to give more than the more rigid variety. That was day one.

Above is day two. Far easier to stand up when the water is calm and the current is not as forceful. SUP is fun--not that I doubted it. It's hard on the tiny muscles that often get ignored in other activities. I can feel it firing up my core and even my quads (a result of the death grip my toes have on the board). I could do it for hours--and I say that after walking off the back of the board and into the cold lake.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spin Cycles

The official start to summer. Wedding season. The longest day of the year. Graduations. Tons of races and sports celebrations like Boulder’s Walk and Bike Month and Chicago’s Bike to Work Week (who says you can’t carry over May’s cycling celebrations?). National Trails Day. Father’s Day. Yeah, that’s June. But what I didn’t know until someone told me is that the year’s sixth month does more than celebrate the men who are dads. The week before Dad’s big day has been named Men’s Health Week, but it turns out that the entire month of June is all about men’s health. Makes sense—and is only fair—with women’s health celebrated for a week in May. Who knew? Real Ryder Revolution did—and they’re suggesting that men come ride with them all month long.

I already got excited about Real Ryder Revolution last month when the newish indoor cycling studio in Chicago was offering a deal I couldn’t refuse (well, I really can’t refuse any fitness bargain unless I forget to buy it by the deal deadline, which is known to happen). But it’s not a good deal that’s the reason to ride at River North's R3—though until June 7 you can buy a 3-month summer unlimited package for $300. It’s the added bonus to all the sweating, strength-building and sculpting offered in every R3 class.


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