Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

A couple weeks ago, I took my group run (with the help of Jill) to a neighborhood that has a pretty decent lights display. It included the "Christmas House". My pictures do not do this justice but it was spectacular. One of the best houses I've ever seen.  We ran past it on this past Tuesday night as well. The guy that owns the house also plays Santa from December 15-23 from 7p.m. to 9p.m. For Free! How nice is that. There was a long line when we stopped by on our run on the 23rd, since it's the last day! We talked to him a couple weeks ago and he is super nice. He sits in a sleigh in his driveway. It's pretty cool. Of course my run group had to take a photo in the sleigh!

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holidays!

His garage!

My Thursday night run group!

Me and my friends Julie and Jill!
Photo from this past Tuesday night (Derek, Me, Melanie, Jill)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Valpo Half and Schaumburg Half Recap (+ Pickle Juice Review!)

Well it appears as though I will never get to those race recaps from the half marathons I did in November!  So I will briefly update you!


I did the Valparaiso Half Marathon on November 9th! It was one week after my Ultra that I completely struggled with and the last thing I wanted to do was run a half marathon. I was pretty much OVER running at this point. But I won this entry and it's SO HARD to pass up a free entry to a half marathon!

I drove down with Julie, Melanie, and Julie's son Jimmy.  It's always so nice to do far away races with others. 

L-R: Melanie, Me, Julie, Jimmy
You can read Melanie's recap of this race here.

The course was very flat. There were aid stations every 2 miles almost like clockwork. The beginning and end were out and back with the middle being a square. This would actually be a very good half to PR (if the wind stayed to a minimum) since there are not a ton of turns and it's pretty flat. I think with how open the land area is, however, there is potential for it being a pretty windy run most times.

For me personally, I started out hating the run...but then I literally yelled at myself a couple miles in that I like running.  "Remember Amanda, you like this. You like running!"  And it worked temporarily!  The wind died down. There were a good amount of spectators considering we were in the middle of nowhere.

I did see COWS!!  I took a picture of these cows. After, a woman said something about it "not being like in Chicago!"  Then a guy said, "Oh! You are from Chicago. I was wondering why you were taking a picture of the cows!

It's not every day I run past COWS!!
I finished in 2:21:16. Clearly I wasn't racing it. But considering I just got done doing my full marathon (PR) on Oct 19th, and my ultra on Nov 1st, I wasn't looking for anything but running a half, having fun, getting a medal, and going home. Bonus...I saw COWS!

Oh and I forgot to mention the post-race food! Wow! I have NEVER seen a spread like that. I didn't even get to everything. There was chili, cookies, pizza, ice cream, apple cider, doughnuts, nutrigrain bars, someone said there was spanish rice. It was INSANE! I was so full when I left!  Definitely worth the zero dollars I paid for it. But it's really only about $40 or so for this half anyway. So even though it's out in the middle of nowhere and Indiana races can be less than stellar, this was a pretty good small Indiana race!


I waited to sign up for this race until after my full marathon in Grand Rapids. This turkey trot half has been on my radar for a couple years now but since I'm always doing a race on Thanksgiving morning, I never want to venture out for another race the Saturday after Thanksgiving!  Since I was on cloud 9 after my full marathon, I signed up for it!  Then of course, you know how I felt after the ultra and was regretting the decision of doing these 2 half marathons the same month!

Again, just lacing up my shoes and planning on running for fun and a medal, I drove down with my friend Sharon and another run group member Cheryl that I had just met. It's about an hour drive so again, nice to not be alone!

Many of my other run group friends got suckered decided to do this race as well so it was a whole lot of fun to see so many people I knew there!  A few even came to just spectate! So awesome of them to cheer us on!

FNRC representing!

L-R: Susan, Me, Nicole
Susan was going to be a pacer with the 2:15 pace group so I hung with that pace group for the first 6 miles or so. I just wanted "feeling" that pace though and slow moved behind them after that. It was nice catching up a bit with her though.

This course was on Busse Woods trail which I've never been to but have always wanted to check out. My thoughts on the course (from what I remember now) is that there are definitely a few hills. But if you are from Kalamazoo, Michigan, I guess it's flat as a pancake (Yes, I was talking to someone from Kalamazoo around mile 10-11).  Mostly, yes, it is very flat. But there is a giant hill that we run up twice. Plus one or two other good size hills. Nothing too extreme though. There was a lot of ice that day but luckily it really only affected us in the beginning and in a few spots throughout.  I remember thinking the area was "peaceful". It seemed like a very nice trail! I wish I lived closer to check it out a bit more often.

Even though it was icy in some spots, it was an unusually warm day compared to how it had been the week prior. I'm really glad I wore 1 layer and wasn't over dressed like some people! I was still warm and unzipped my long sleeve a bit!

I guess I was supposed to see an Elk Pasture. I didn't. Some people said the Elk weren't there, others said it was very far away and you could barely see it. Periodically I kept thinking I needed to look for the Elk but then would forget and focus on running.

Ultimately, I finished this half in 2:19:44. I was super thrilled it was my last big race of the year! Rest and recovery time!

11 half of the year done! (along with a full and an ultra)
A new thing I did try at this race though was pickle juice from the Pickle Juice Company!  They were the good folks that supplied the pickle juice for the Grand Rapids Marathon. They were kind enough to send me a box of some samples!  I received some of the sports drink bottles and some of the slammer shots!  I brought both with me but decided on just bringing one of the slammer shots while running since I forgot to bring my run belt!  I was able to fit the slammer shot in the small little tiny pocket of my pants! I was shocked it fit but thrilled so I could try it.  The pickle juice is supposed to help with cramping due to the sodium among other things.

Slammer shot in my right hand and sports drink in my left
I did try the slammer shot sometime during the race, I think around mile 9. I was unsure when to take it versus when to take my Gu so I or never! The slammer shot was a tiny bit much for me to take at one time. I ended up drinking half of it and closing it up to store for the rest of my run. They have a nice screw top so it's super easy to carry it with you even after you use some.

About mile 10, I saw my friend Lauren again. She was a bit ahead of me but it looked like she was cramping or something was wrong as I saw her stop to stretch. When I caught up with her, I asked if she was alright. She said she wasn't sure if it was a cramp in her hamstring. So I offered her the rest of my pickle juice because, it couldn't really hurt at this point. I was hoping it would help. In the end, I don't think it was a cramp as much as overworked hamstring or something.

What does it taste like?  The only two times I tasted it were at the Grand Rapids Marathon and this slammer shot during this race. To me it tastes just like pickle juice! So when you aren't used to just drinking pickle juice while running, it may seem like a bit much at first!  But I'm sure after getting used to taking it, it doesn't seem so extreme! I happen to love pickle juice so not too much of a problem for me!

(Don't worry Pete, I haven't mailed a sample out to you yet, but I will!)

So I want to that the Pickle Juice Company for providing me with some samples!  I would love to try this more while training next year for my next full marathon. It might really be beneficial with the longer miles (15+)!  I may host a giveaway for a few of the samples as well! I would love for people to try it and tell me what they think, particularly for those that have cramping issues!

*Disclaimer: I was not paid to provide my opinion on the Pickle Juice Company's products. They provided me with samples of the products for review but the opinions in this blog post are all mine!

Monday, December 1, 2014

November in Review

It's December! Where is the year going?  Let's see how November shaped up!

November in Review

Running Miles: 79.84 miles
Strength Training/Cross Training Days: 11
Cycling Miles: 0 - My spin classes don't show bike miles and I did do 1 class so there's that!
# of workout days in October: 19 (63%)

Running Miles: 79.84 miles. Not bad. My goal is always 83.33 miles a month because that's what averages out per month to reach 1,000 for the year. But I am a bit ahead of that. I just don't want to leave too many miles on tap for December. I'm trying to slack! (Yes you read that right!).  I'm running but trying to take a bit of a break. I think I need it mentally.  Probably because that Ultra just did me in this month!  And on top of that, I did have 2 half marathons (which I still need to blog about) this month as well.

Lakefront Ultra 50k - Nov 1st
Valparaiso Half Marathon - Nov 9th

Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon - Nov 29th

Strength Training/Cross Training Days: 11!  That's a far cry from the one day I squeezed out last month. There's a good reason for that. I bought a 1 month unlimited (which got changed to 5 weeks unlimited) to Pure Barre. I was trying to squeeze as many days in as possible but still run and still rest. It's hard with work though.  I went to Pure Barre 8 times this month, The Dailey Method 2 times, which is a new studio that opened up, and I went to 1 spin class. I'd ideally like to go to spin class more often but they don't have many times at my gym that I can make so I'm not sure. I have 1.5 weeks left at Pure Barre but also bought a 5 week unlimited at The Dailey Method to use when Pure Barre is finished! Hoping to strengthen this core of mine!

At The Dailey Method (I'm on the left and Meghan is in the middle in the gray)
I will have to do another Pure Barre review and when I start going to The Dailey Method, I will have to review that and give a comparison of the two.  They are completely different from what I saw (which is a good thing).

Cycling Miles - Again, no cycling miles. It's winter. I did do 1 spin class but they don't say how far we've gone.  I will have to get my bike trainer and bike together and start riding that. But I need to get a thingy (technical term) that tells you how far you've gone. I don't have that yet.

# of workout days in November - 19 out of 30! Hey, not bad! It's because I was squeezing in the barre days and not just sitting on my butt when not running. But I still like my rest days so I need to get those in too. It's an important part of my recovery and not injuring myself.

I'm hoping for lots of fun stuff in December. And that doesn't necessarily include running. I am doing the Jingle Bell 5k in Kankakee In December but that's the only race I'm scheduled for.