Saturday, June 29, 2013

Win a Summer Running Kit!

Just one of the items in the Ultimate Running Kit.
Now I know why I avoid gear-focused websites like Gear Junkie and The Gear Institute. One visit to Gear Patrol this morning (how have I not stumbled upon it before?) and I'm lusting over sunglasses, shoes and compression socks. What's worse is that Gear Patrol's ultimate summer running kit, complete with a head-to-toe look and all the running accessories one could need, isn't even designed for me, a female runner. It features the best performance gear of the season for guys--it's the gear the guys behind the site are wearing.

But even so, this gear-obsessed gal wants it anyway. Like the 110% compression socks, the Oakley sunglasses, the Timex Ironman trainer, the Ultimate Direction hydration vest, the Strava app--and I'd take the New Balance clothing and K-Swiss shoes if I could get the female version. Good news for me and other gear-obsessed runners out there: We have a chance to win it!

110%, the company that makes the Overdrive Compression Sox featured in the kit, is giving away the items curated by Gear Patrol to one lucky winner. All you have to do is enter here. And even if you don't win the grand prize, 10 entrants can score 110%'s Overdrive Sox, a recovery tool that's great for when you "want to boost circulation and muscle repair," according to Gear Patrol. I'm sold on the Overdrive alone--compression socks are paired with sleeves that can hold ice inserts in all the key spots, arch, toes, ankle, calf and shin.

OK, so our odds can't be great for winning the grand prize (I swear I never win anything involving chance), but the chance of winning is still too good to pass up. Right? Enter to win by clicking here.  

Photo grabbed from 110%.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Stop and Shred on Chicago's North Shore

Oh you North Shore ladies (and guys, too!) are so lucky! You have yards, awesome architecture, bike paths that aren't so packed with people you could easily hit someone, and massively sized gyms (OK, downtown Chicago's not too bad on that one but you won't find a Life Time). And starting today when the doors open at 300 South Happ Road in Northfield, just off I-94, you'll even have an awesome spot to exercise that's become a favorite among the downtown dwellers.

Opening today, June 28, is a third outpost--and first outside the city limits--of Shred415, a kick-butt workout if I've ever seen one. You hit the awesome Woodway treadmills (I'll save that for another discussion) to run for 15 minutes--or walk or jog if you can't move your legs faster or have an injury. You hit the floor for strength and core training for the next 15. You run again, pushing pace and incline, for another 15. You hit the floor again for the final 15 minutes of class, hoping that your boy doesn't give out in the process. There's a reason I named it one of the toughest workouts in Chicago--for guys. I live right around the corner from Shred's Old Town location, yet I think part of the reason I don't visit more often, in addition to traveling and being injury prone lately, is that I'm tired, torched and twitching--well, my muscles are. But wait, those are my usual signs of a good workout, so my justifications for not going are null and void.

When you think about Shred415 is a dream workout even if you don't consider yourself a hardcore athlete. It's there when it's raining or cold or so hot that you can't bear the thought of running outside. It's there when you only have an hour of "me" time and need a workout that'll shed pounds...and fast. It's there when you don't want to head all the way into Chicago--the city is so far away, this coming from a girl who lived in Evanston for five years--for a fitness fix. Now hopefully you'll get hooked before the classes get so crowded you're wait-listed.

Have you tried a Shred415 workout? What'd you think?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Run on Vail's Trails

I'm no stranger to running around Vail, Colo. Thanks to an unseasonably warm winter in 2012, I ran almost as much as I skied that April, exploring the path along Gore Creek and checking out some hiking trails on the north side of I-70.

But there's way more to running Vail that just the route I took from West Vail into Vail Village. That's child's play compared to the trails that are covered with snow most times I'm at the mountain--the ones that are open for hiking, biking and trail running in the summer months. Try running those and you're dodging tree roots, creating dust clouds, killing your quads on the downhills and catching your breath on the uphills.

Had I known that before running the 10K Spring Runoff at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail last weekend, I may have reconsidered registering. I would have been better suited for the Vail Pass Half Marathon, which was basically 13.5 miles entirely uphill, even though I could barely run 10 miles two weekends ago. But the scenery in the mountains makes any trail run worth it, even if you're sucking wind like me (those Colorado trail runners can RUN!). These pictures are only part of the race's excitement--I'll have to capture the rest when I'm hiking because I made the wise choice to run light.

The 10K Spring Runoff started in the heart of Vail Village (and wouldn't you know, the exact spot where I had stopped documenting my last Vail run) and headed east toward the Golden Peak base.

If you look really close, you can see me in the blue tank top, sporting my media team gear since I couldn't run with them Saturday night at the Balmoral 5K.

This is the Golden Peak ski area and those huge mounds of snow were even larger during the ski season when they were making snow and filling the terrain park. If you squint (or click on the image to make it a little bigger) you can see three runners beneath the right snow lump. On the left is the tunnel under the skiable terrain that we ran through near the start of the run to reach an uphill climb and then we ran through it again near the race's end. And that uphill climb? You can see it by the clump of trees on the right--and it doesn't look, or ski, nearly as steep as it felt climbing up.

That tunnel I was referring to? It's just behind those trees. And again, if you squint you can see some of the trail speedsters (not me) about to run under the Riva Bahn chair lift.

Some of the pretty mountainside and real estate that I don't remember seeing in the race's final mile (I'll blame it on being too focused running toward the finish line). You can barely see me, but I'm slowly but surely running down the dirt path.

More of that pretty mountainside I was talking about, and some of those speedier runners making the final stretch of dirt look easy.

 Phew, I finished! Heat, winding trail, dizzying downhills and all.

The trail's aftermath: dirty legs. Check out that awesome sock line!

Have you run the trails on Vail mountain? Which ones are your favorite? Did you run the 10K Spring Runoff? You probably finished faster than me!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fit-Pic: The Mountain Games 10K Spring Run-Off

It could be muddy, it could be snowy, it could be wet. Anything goes at the 10K Spring Runoff at the GoPro Mountain Games at Vail. That also applies to the course's design, which wrapped up, down and across the lower half of Vail Mountain.

Whether you're sloshing through mud and wearing warm layers or you're brushing dust from your eyes and sweating from the start, this race has one constant. It sure is picturesque.

And I thought the Vail Pass Half Marathon had a pretty course, judging from the mile I walked along it. Less mileage doesn't compromise the views, nor is it much easier on the lungs (that's my argument anyway since I ran the 10K and my husband ran the half). Stay tuned for more on these races, I'm still catching my breath and adjusting to the altitude.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fit-Pic: Vail Pass Half Marathon

And this was only the start of Saturday's festivities at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail. Runners toed the line at the annual 1st Bank Vail Pass Half Marathon, a race that makes you earn every one of those miles underfoot. For starters, you're running slightly more than your typical 13.1 miles of a half marathon: it's designed to be 13.7 miles, according to the race description, and today's route is 13.5 miles, according to the race announcer.

You're already at 8,225 feet above sea level when you start running at Golden Peak, and you're climbing your way to a 10,600-foot finish at the top of Vail Pass. Lung burn, quad burn, all-out aches and pains. Yeah, you gain bragging rights--and the excuse to do nothing but lounge around the rest of the day--when you finish this run.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fit-Pic: Rooftop Yoga

How's this for a morning workout? 

A view of Lake Michigan, overlooking Lincoln Park, the sun beaming down and 20-something (my best guess) yoga mats spread across J. Parker's rooftop. That's how you do yoga, thanks to a partnership between Equinox and Hotel Lincoln (1816 N. Clark). 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top 10 Songs to Sweat to: June 2013

Running with Music
Whether you're running, pushing through bootcamp, spinning those cycling legs or awakening those muscles, good tunes can up the fun factor. Some might argue otherwise when it comes to running (ah, the purists), but I need some fun on my run and music is my go-to. It lightens the mood...makes time fly...pushes you to work harder, run faster, lift heavier, stretch deeper.

Apparently I'm not the only one who likes fun workout tunes, especially when the days grow longer.  When Run Hundred, the web's most popular workout music blog, shared its latest top 10 workout songs, they were all about fun. We were all about listening to eclectic tunes in the winter, but the shift to summer is also changing the mood on the radio and in the gym (maybe because we don't have to be trapped indoors most of the time?). I'll let you speculate.

Here's the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred.

Want more for your playlist? Search the free database at where you can browse the song selections by genre, tempo, and era to find the music that best fits your workout.

Have some songs you'd want to add to this list? What songs are you currently loving during a workout? 

Photo grabbed from Chris Hunkeler at flickr.


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