St. Michael’s Oktoberfest 5K

Last week on Thursday, my roommate, her fiancé, and I ran the St. Michael’s Oktoberfest 5K in Lincoln Park.  It was kind of a last minute decision, but it turned out to be so much fun.  The race started and finished near the entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the course looped around the zoo, with most of the running taking place on zoo and park paths.  The weather was just perfect for an evening run and it was amazing to me how many runners there were given that the race took place on a Thursday night.

Upon entering the race, we received a t-shirt, Oktoberfest mug, and several small samples of sport-related items such as Power Bars, Sport Beans, sport creams, etc.  My favorite part of races is the goodie bag!  After race completion, there were so many treats for finishers including bananas, coconut water, bread, granola bars, apples, and much more!  I was so impressed with the amount of post-race refreshments the people at St. Michael’s provided.

In addition to the race-site refreshments, there was a post-race party at Ranalli’s in Lincoln Park.  Each runner got to enjoy some free appetizers, and even a free Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest beer! It was so fun just hang out and meet new people who are interested in the same things that I am.

This race was so well-organized and one that I will definitely consider doing next year!  Below is a picture of us…so happy!

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It’s the Playoffs!

Throughout the summer, I have been playing in an adult kickball league (yes, they exist!) with a lot of my friends from college.  I went to the University of Dayton for my undergrad and when I moved to Chicago, I found out that UD has its own kickball league.  Naturally, my friends and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show off our awesome skills on the field, so we formed a team and joined the fun!  Below is a picture of our fabulous team!

After several Wednesday night games (some wins, some losses), we have now entered the important part of the season…the playoffs.  Last Wednesday was our first playoff game and we won 12-2!   Our team captain is very competitive so I am always terrified to do something wrong.  I typically find a spot way in the outfield where the ball never goes so I don’t have to touch the ball.  🙂   I am more interested in making sure that my shoes don’t get too dusty than making sure I am good at kickball.  I will say that I am pretty good at the whole kicking thing though.  I got on base twice last game!

Probably the best part of kickball is all of our college friends getting together before the games to hang out and catch up.  We all enjoy having this time of the week to unwind and have some fun.  Sometimes college seems like just yesterday.  🙂

Playoff game #2 takes place next Wednesday night.  Hoping for another win!  Oh, and if your are really interested in adult kickball…check out WAKA – The World Adult Kickball Association.  Hooray!

 

From Chicago to Cleveland and Back Again

This weekend I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a friend’s wedding, so I was able to have a change of scenery for my weekend run.  A bunch of us stayed downtown at the Ritz Carlton (thank goodness for the discounted rooms!), so I used MapMyRun to come up with a running route that would allow me to see some of the sights that Cleveland has to offer.  I ended up running with a few of my friends and we were able to see a lot of great things, including Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

I was really surprised how easy it was go get around in Cleveland.  It is not nearly as crowded as Chicago, and the streets and sidewalks are so clean!  I will say, though, that Chicago has a far better scenic lake view than Cleveland.  Something about Lake Erie just isn’t the same as Lake Michigan.

This weekend also reminded me how important it is to take time out of my busy schedule to enjoy life’s great moments with my friends and family.  My mom’s side of the family all lives in and around Cleveland, so I ended up getting to spend some time with them as well during my trip.  Even with the stresses of the first week of school, I was able to enjoy myself and forget about all the work for just a little bit of time.  I hope you all are finding time for yourselves amid the start of a new school year. 🙂

 

Map My Run

Thought I would share with my blog friends a helpful running, training, and get-in-shape website and app that is just so great and FREE!  I use it quite often when I want to run in new places.  I do not always know where I am going in the city, so it is helpful for me to have a plan in mind and know exactly how far I will be running.

MapMyRun.com is an awesome site that can do many things.  First, you can use the “Map a Route” tool to draw out routes that you would like to take.  The site will tell you the mileage of your route and will also give you any important information you might want to know about your route.  For example, if there is construction on a road that you have used in your map, MapMyRun will let you know and suggest a better path.  The site automatically saves any route you create so you can share it with friends or come back to it later.

The great thing about MapMyRun is that it is not just for running.  Routes that are mapped can obviously be used for walking, biking, rollerblading, and the like.  MapMyRun also has a bank of routes to choose from that other users have created and mapped in your area.  There are several great bike paths and trails that I have discovered from viewing these already-created routes.

MapMyRun also allows users to keep a log of their foods/calories as well as keep a record of activity over time.  I use this feature to try to keep me on track so I can see my “physical fitness over time”.  Sometimes I cheat on the diet part…especially when it’s donut day at work! 🙂

Another reason I love MapMyRun is because you can add people as your “friends” just like Facebook, and then they can see all of your maps and activity and you can see theirs.  Friends can also post words of encouragement and likes/dislikes about routes you post.  I find it helpful to have friends on the site because it keeps you accountable for actually exercising!  I need all the help I can get sometimes!

The iPhone app is very similar to the website and is very easy to use and dependable when you cannot get to a computer.   Below is a video tutorial for beginners if you are interested in learning more about MapMyRun!

Mud Wars Chicago!

Yesterday some of my friends and I participated in the first annual Mud Wars Chicago at Northerly Island.  Mud Wars is a 5K run with lots of mud and several different obstacles to navigate throughout the course.  Some notable obstacles were the monkey bars over a pool of water and wooden fences to climb over..

This was the first “extreme” run that I have ever done, so I really didn’t know what to expect going into it.  My friends and I were a little disappointed with the lack of organization at the race site.  First of all, when we arrived, the line to check in was a mile long (not even kidding).  We waited in line for almost two hours and were not even halfway to where we needed to check in.  Since we had pre-paid for this race, all we needed to get from the check-in point was a bib number.  We decided that it wasn’t worth waiting another hour for so we just hopped in the race without numbers and didn’t look back.

Once we were off and running, there were so many people and no course officials to regulate, so most of the obstacles were backed up and we ended up standing and waiting at each obstacle instead of running the whole thing. I would post a link to the website, however it has been shut down as of yesterday evening.  After reading some reviews on Yelp, it turns out there were many more problems than just the disorganization.

My friends and I did have fun because we were all together and sharing in the ridiculousness of the race, but we would have liked to see more organization from the crew in charge.   After the race, we jumped in the lake to clean ourselves off and today has been spent trying to get the mud out of the washing machine!

Below are some pics!

                  

Outer Banks Vacay

Hi Blog Friends!

Thought I would post about my recent vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  For anyone who has not been, the Outer Banks provide one of the most relaxing vacation spots I have ever visited.  My family (including aunts, uncles, cousins, EVERYONE) rents a house on the beach every year and just spend the week together.  We hit the beach in the morning, the pool in the afternoon, and great restaurants at night!  My brothers, cousins, and I also enjoy a good karaoke sesh from time to time. 🙂  Below is a picture of some of the group…did I mention my family is obsessed with pyramid pictures?  Not so cute and fun when you’re 25 years old.

Here is one of me with my brothers.  We look better with tans. 🙂

To add in some running stuff to this post, I was able to explore some new terrain on my runs in NC.  There is a beautiful bike/jogging path that runs for miles and miles along the main road of the islands, so running on that was awesome.  I was able to see many different places, including the Wright Brothers National Monument in Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  SO COOL!  I also did some beach yoga (Kristen – that’s for you!) and we played a very intense family beach wiffleball game.  I recommend an Outer Banks vacation for families who are looking to relax and spend quality time together.  My family is scattered all across the country, so it is always so nice to have this one week a year to just hang out. 🙂

My Running Life

Welcome to my blog!  Some would say I have a pretty active lifestyle.  I have been a runner ever since I can remember.  My dad is an avid runner and he was there when I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in 7th grade – a world-crushing moment for 7th-grade me.  He suggested trying cross country, I reluctantly agreed, and have never looked back.  I should mention I only joined on the promise of new shoes. 🙂  Anyway, I ran all through high school and college and continue to run today, though not nearly as fast!  I have run 2 marathons, and too many 1/2 marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks to count.  The picture below is me during the Cleveland Marathon in May of 2011.

A suburbanite and country girl all my life, I have recently become a city girl!  I moved to Chicago in June and so far I love it (minus the commute home from Judson during rush hour!).  I spend my mornings running along Lake Michigan and my nights eating back all the calories burned at a new great restaurant.

In my blog I will be sharing some of my Chicago running life with you (races I run, fun places to exercise, etc.), but I will also share some other athletic (or just fun) activities that I embark on in the future.  This summer I am on a kickball team and a sand volleyball team, so stories from both of those should provide you with lots of laughs on account of I am only coordinated enough for running, and not much else.

I hope you enjoy reading all I have to write about.  Please feel free to leave questions, comments or anything else!