Friday, September 2, 2011

iTunes 40 Free Songs from Lollapalooza

Hello, friends! I know some of you out there have iPods, iPads and the like. Hopefully, you're not running with an iPad on your back. It might injure you.

I have here a download code which I got at Lollapalooza this summer for 40 free songs on iTunes. I don't use iTunes, so I'm passing it along.

Obviously, the code will only work for the first person who uses it, so get those trigger fingers ready. Good luck to the quickest of them all! Also, I have no idea what artists or songs are on this collection. Let me know how you like it!

I'm excited to do a few more 5k runs before the cold weather comes around.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tribest Single Serving Blender / Grinder PB-250 (PBA Free)

For months, I blended my Shakeology in my beast of a blender. Don't get me wrong, the ikon Hemisphere blender by Breville is great. The jar is made of glass (no fear of lingering stains or smells) and the brushed metal looks sleek. It's a high quality appliance. However, it's a pain to clean on a daily basis.

I considered getting a Magic Bullet to make things easier. After doing some homework, I was won over by the Tribest personal blender. Tribest has a couple of different options for you depending on how many tumblers you want and whether you want to pay a little extra for a PBA-free set (which I would recommend... because, who really wants to drink PBA?). The model I purchased is below:
Tribest Personal Blender
This set comes with (2) 16 oz tumblers, (2) 8 oz tumblers, lids, an ice crushing blade, a mixing blade, the base which includes a powerful 200-watt motor and a recipe book. The ice crusher really does crush ice! I was concerned that it might not be strong enough, but it is. Just make sure not to overfill the tumbler.  What I like best is that you can buy replacement parts. So, if you are sharing this blender with several people, you can each order your own tumblers.

My typical morning Shakeology is about 5-6 half-moon ice cubes, 12 ounces of water, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a scoop of Shakeology powder. Put that into the glass, pulse blend it for about 8 seconds, and it's done. Twist off the blender cap, wash it out, and stow the blender in the cupboard. It's so much easier than taking apart my large blender, wiping out the jar and removing the neoprene O-ring to scrub out. I even keep the personal blender at work, so I don't have to rush in the morning while I'm getting ready and trying to catch the bus. It's the best purchase I've made as far as appliances.

At about $65 (on Amazon), it's a reasonable investment in keeping a healthy lifestyle on a busy schedule.Whether you buy Tribest PB-250 or another model/brand, owning a personal blender makes Shakeology ridiculously easy to drink.

UPDATE: I'm still using this blender at work almost every morning. It's lasted almost 2 years and has been a great investment. Couldn't be happier with it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Amazon - Running Shoes 20% Off

If you've been running on fumes (or at least your shoes have), it's a great time to get some new kicks.

Amazon has an extra 20% off running shoes orders of $75 or more through August 13, 2011.

Brands include:

adidas Originals
New Balance
Pearl iZUMi
Saucony Originals

That means if you buy at least $75 worth of shoes, you'll save enough to get a Nathan Shadow Pak if you haven't already. It's great!

Happy running.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Running Playlist

There's nothing that pumps me up for running better than the perfect set of songs. A fast beat, some guitar shredding and maybe some crazy vocals do the trick. So, what have I been listening to recently?

Some of the mainstream music on my playlist includes: Yellowcard (Rough Landing, Holly and Miles Apart); Paramore (Born for This and Fences); and Lady Gaga (Judas).

Mea Culpa Mea Culpa

But what delights me even more are some tunes by an indie rock band called The Kickback. While they have songs for all types of moods, my favorite songs for running include:

The Kickback - Roman Regret
The Kickback - Alpha Flight
The Kickback - Hate this City

Listen to these songs and more for free here. Check out their tour information and online store. Their next Chicago show will be at The Cobra Lounge on September 3, 2011.  

Fall Into Fitness 5k Run/Walk - September 25, 2011

Fall Into Fitness 5k Run/Walk will take place in Portage Park. This course will lead you through tree-lined streets similar to the ones in the Ravenswood 5k.
Website Link

This 5k run/walk is targeted to families and is very affordable. While other races cost from $30 upwards, the registration fee for adults is only $15 and there's even a discount family rate for up to 5 family members.

Entry Fees

Age BracketPre-RaceRace Day
Adults (ages 18+)$15$20
Youth (ages 6-17)$8$10
Seniors (ages 60+)$8$10
Family Rate (up to five members) $35$45
Children 5 and underFreeFree

Proceeds will go toward providing health care for the indigent who are treated at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center.

Register by mail, in-person or online.

Friday, July 1, 2011

SkyRise Chicago - Tower Up!

Climb Chicago's tallest skyscraper for a good cause! Walk, jog or run up 2,109 steps to SkyDeck Chicago at the top of the Sears Tower. If you're not very light on your feet, you can try for the hand-cycle category using stationary hand cycles calibrated for resistance and time to match the stair-climbing experience.

SkyRise Chicago
Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower, begrudgingly)
Sunday, November 6, 2011
7 a.m. to 12:00 noon

You can register as an individual or form a team. Proceeds from fundraising will support the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's (RIC) in their patient care and research. Registration details.

RIC is the nation’s #1 ranked provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world and is the leader in research and development of the most cutting-edge treatments and technologies in its field.  Through aggressive medical protocols, RIC guides the patient care process toward a better patient outcome – involving repair, regeneration, and recovery of brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal function. More about RIC.

I'm excited for this new challenge. Stairs are definitely a completely different monster.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Insanity - Elite Nutrition

Grilled salmon, asparagus, red onion and whole grain pasta

One of my favorite dinner options for Insanity. Instead of honey mustard on the salmon, I added some fresh lemon, garlic, french herbs and tossed in a few capers. The grilled red onion gave the dish a bit of sweetness, the asparagus was crisp and green and the whole grain pasta was filling. Grilled the salmon about medium and came out perfect. Only takes about 15 minutes to whip up. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shakeology Tropical

The new flavor of Shakeology was announced at Summit. It's pink. It's tropical.

As soon as it's for sale, I'll order some and let you know how it is. Also, if you're interested in trying a free sample of Chocolate or Greenberry, go to my Shakeology page and send me an email. Limited to the first 5 people who contact me. Or just wait until Tropical comes out.

Whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Run That Tune

It's been a while since I went for a run. My mp3 collection is in need of some major revamping. I need your help!

What's on your playlist? What songs or albums get you pumped up for running? The best suggestion will win a free copy of Lady Gaga's album Born This Way [+ digital booklet] which is downloadable from Amazon.

I realize I may be in the extreme minority of runners who are iPodless. However, I'm really digging Amazon Cloud Player. It lets you play your songs through a browser or Android phone and allows you to easily create playlists from your downloaded content.

Check it out! And don't forget to toss some song titles out there. Thanks.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Beach Volleyball League

Summer is here (kinda?) and so is beach volleyball! I'm excited to start up a new season next week. I don't know any of my teammates, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of level of play they're at. It is a rec league, so fun is the most important part anyway.

North Avenue Beach, Chicago, IL

I joined my first beach league last year and had an awesome time. Since I wasn't able to form my own team, I signed up as an individual player. Only 2 people on the team knew each other, so we were dubbed Team Indy. Interestingly enough, although we lost a couple of the first games, we ended up sweeping the number 1 seed team in the finals and making it to the Championships! It was a grueling last game where we lost the first match, won the second match and lost the third match by 1 point! Still pretty good for a bunch of strangers!

View from Castaways at North Ave Beach

If you haven't signed up, hurry up and check out what's available at In addition to volleyball, they have a variety of other sports including dodgeball, outdoor soccer and even cornhole.

Play hard. Summer isn't here forever!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chobani Greek Yogurt

Chobani ruined Yoplait for me. It really did.

I've tried Oikos, Athenos and Chobani Greek yogurts in that order. Oikos was tasty enough. I liked that Athenos has the yogurt separate from the fruit. But after having Chobani, I'm sticking with this pony.
Chobani Greek yogurt
Chobani has a whopping 14 grams of protein and is 140 calories. It does have 20 grams of sugars but the best part about Chobani is that it's not overly sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend mixing the fruit and yogurt fully before eating. The yogurt itself is considerably less sweet than some other brands. But, as I'm older now, that is what I like about it. It tastes more natural and is incredibly creamy and satisfying.

By comparison, Yoplait light yogurt only has 5 grams of proteins, it does have fewer calories at 100 and 14 grams of sugars. But compared to Chobani, it just tastes artificial and isn't as yummy.

Pomegranate, blueberry and pineapple are my favorite Chobani flavors. I have yet to try some others like vanilla, lemon or honey... but I'm sure they're all great. Give it a try :)

Nike Free TR Fit Women's Shoe

The moment my feet flew out of my Reeboks while trying to jump in and out of plank position, I knew I had to change my shoes for Insanity.

Looking to get some cross trainers, I headed to Dick's Sporting Goods. They had about 8 or 9 different women's cross trainers, half of which were bulky and the other half which were the typical slim-looking Nike types. I tried on 2 different pairs of Nikes and decided to give Nike Free TR Fit a try.

Nike Free TR Fit

At around $85, I'm assuming these are called "Free" because they are extremely light and provide very little barrier between you and the ground. While I love how they fit almost like a glove, I am not too thrilled about the lack of shock absorption. I knew going into it that this would be the case, but I decided to see whether it was a good trade-off for now slipping around during In and Out abs.

The good news is that these shoes stay put! The bottoms are extremely pliable as you can see from the cut pattern. The opening and tongue tie closely around the ankle for minimum movement. Not too crazy about how they feel laterally. During suicide drills, I can feel the distinct point where the soles meet the sides of the shoes.

The slightly even less good news is that my arches were beginning to ache in the middle of the workout during Plyo. It may be that I need to adjust from the cushioned shoe to the more natural shoe. I've heard some people do Insanity barefoot. That's something I haven't tried, but I feel like this is close to it.

The slightly better news is that these are great during Cardio Recovery. The rubber soles are perfect for the deep lunges and other poses.

I was thinking of returning these and trying some other shoes, but the pros outweight the cons. Also, I really love the colors. I give these shoes a 7/10. I wonder how long they will withstand these workouts... but for now, they keep me from smashing my face.

Insanity - Day 13: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

Call me crazy, but I get excited for this one. It has you go all out. P90X threw in Ab Ripper X every other day. Insanity has you do Cardio Abs once a week. I think I'm pumped about improving in the abdominal area. Still struggling by the last couple of minutes, but I find that digging in and holding the C-sit really helps build those muscles.

High heart rates during Cardio and intense toning with the abs. It's a great combo for some recovery drink, a shower and an early bedtime!

Insanity - Day 12: Cardio Recovery

Technically, Cardio Recovery should have been Day 11. However, my schedule worked better with Recovery on this day. So, let's run with it.

Believe it or not, Cardio Recovery is curiously difficult. There are still some moves I can't hold. Why is that? Sometimes cardio workouts can be easy to "fake" or get through by flailing around rather than truly engaging your core. With Cardio Recovery, though, you are having to get into deep positions and go through slow, methodical movements. Like yoga, it can be a bit challenging in the beginning. Of course, that's where the value comes in.

The happiest part of Cardio Recovery for me is being able to develop my Warrior 3 pose. For as long as I did Yoga X, I always had an extremely difficult time holding still. It may be that I was tired from the previous 40 minutes of yoga... or maybe because my core wasn't strong enough. Now, though, I'm getting the hang of it!

Moderate heart rate levels since it is a recovery day. My muscles are definitely enjoying the stretch.

Insanity - Day 11: Cardio Power & Resistance

Power & Resistance is right. I take the most breaks during these drills. Between belt kicks which really work the glutes and quads and the hit-the-floors which make me literally want to hit the floor... I'm spitting sweat all over the place.

I've noticed an improvement in hurdle jumps during this particular workout. I think it'll prepare me for improving my switch kicks during the next Fit Test.

Heart Rate monitor says I was up to 198 bmp. It definitely felt like it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Insanity - Day 10: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

To quote Tony Horton, "I am ricketty right now!" This stuff is intense every single day. Judging by how much I sweat after just the warmup, I don't know that I'll ever necessarily get used to it.

Back side of my shirt
In and Out abs (oddly sharing the name of an awesome burger joint) are tough towards the end of the workout. Because my left hip flexor is sometimes tight from running, I have some issues with jumping back to plank from a crouching position. This time around I was able to jump back a few more time than I had before.

What are my readers up to? Are you currently doing Insanity or thinking about starting it up? Week 1 was brutal and Week 2 has been equally brutal... not gonna lie. Loving it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Insanity - Day 9: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

One thing that has amazed me about Insanity is how it seems to take up less time than P90X. Many of the workouts are under 60 minutes, so that's the main reason. However, even on days like Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs where you're working out for about an hour, you don't feel like you are. Everything is so fast-paced that time seems to fly by (except when you're doing plank work, haha!).

My only criticism so far is that I feel like the stretches are a bit too rushed. I like to inhale and exhale slowly and get deep into my stretch. Shaun T is a bit on the hyper side. He does stress that warm up and stretching are the most important parts of the workout, though, so that's a good reminder for those of us who are just ready to jump in. If I don't get used to the quick stretching, I may start pausing the DVD and do my own thing.

Pure Cardio is tough all the way through, but it's becoming one of my favorites. These days are like combining Plyo with Ab Ripper X. Crazy stuff. Because of the high level of intensity and movement, I've been sticking to VERY small amounts of water during the water breaks. Too many times was I having to stop my floor sprints because my stomach was full of water.

Cardio Abs is going great. I'm still having a bit of trouble getting through the final couple of moves without taking breaks, but I know by the end of Insanity, I'll be able to do them perfectly.

My "fear" of Insanity has dissuaded, and I'm happy to say that I am enjoying this level of fitness. I've been working out hard enough to know when I can push harder and when I should take breaks. Insanity has helped me get more in touch with my strengths and weaknesses.

Insanity - Day 8: Cardio & Power Resistance

I think I found my most challenging Insanity workout. The combination of cardio moves such as high knees and hit the floor and then power moves such as squat jacks, vertical jumps, belt kicks and V push ups makes the first half of the workout mighty hard.

Typical post workout sweat
My quads and hamstrings are toning up quite a bit. If you play any sports that are heavy on leg work, you will benefit from this workout in particular.

I'm on the road this week, so it's been difficult to have 5 small meals a day. I've had to stick to the typical 3-square meal option (and I can't cook anything since I'm staying at a hotel). So, I've noticed a difference between this week and last week. When I'm eating smaller portions throughout the entire day, I have more energy and feel less drowsy after meals. If you're doing Insanity, stick to the Elite Nutrition book! Or at least try it. It works great in conjunction with the workouts.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Insanity - Day 7: Rest Day

Insanity gives you a rest day, but I decided to go climbing on my rest day. It was kind of a rest from cardio I guess. I can't keep still!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Indoor Wall Climbing - Vertical Endeavors

My first time wall climbing was just a few months ago. It was an awesome time! I was excited to go back today.

Vertical Endeavors is located inside the Lifetime Fitness facility in Warrenville, IL. The entire place is huge. There's workout area with stairmasters, basketball courts, showers and lockers, salon, spa, juice bar and the climbing wall section. There's probably more stuff I haven't discovered, but it is pretty inclusive of just about anything you want to do to your body.

The staff at Vertical Endeavors is nice and clearly into climbing. On your first visit, you sign a waiver and go through a short orientation on how to properly climb. There's an auto belay section as well as a section for bouldering and leed climbing. The entire space is huge. Very cool.

The walls are labeled and numbered according to difficulty. The higher the number, the greater the difficulty. A 5.6 is supposed to be pretty basic, but I've had trouble with a particular 5.6 that is just out of my reach. Each hold is labeled with a color. If the 5.6 is marked yellow, then completing that course would mean you only use the holds marked with yellow tape. On the difficult walls, I just used whatever holds were available.

Auto Belay
The auto belaying system is pretty cool. It is on a hydraulic system that has a minimum resistance of 40 lbs. As you climb up, it's almost like you're slightly buoyant. When you're ready to come down, you just let go and it releases you slowly back to the ground.

Bouldering is where you traverse laterally. You're free climbing, so you're not allowed to go any higher than shoulder height (to minimize injury from falling). I like bouldering because it works the core and obliques in particular. It's kind of fun to try different holds and swing from side to side.

By the end, you're all full of chalk dust and sweat. Wall climbing is an excellent workout. This particular place is great for all levels. It's also an awesome alternative for kids to get exercise. There's a positive vibe throughout the whole place which I really enjoyed. If it tells you anything, I purchased the 10-visit punch card and will be going back tomorrow morning with a different group of friends.

I really dig Vertical Endeavors. The only downside is that it's not very close to my apartment. But it's worth a trip out there every once in a while. Give it a shot! Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Insanity - Day 6: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

Here we go again. This cardio circuit went a bit better than the first time around because I knew what to expect. Once I was past the warmup and into the stretching, I was getting sweat all in my eyes and up my nose and all over the floor. This is ridiculous. Who does this?

Definitely saw improvement on my suicide drills, heismans, butt kicks and mummy kicks but the 123 and mountain climbers are still tough. The second part of the workout where we started doing pushups, ski abs and in and out abs was particularly difficult. The workout ends with jabs and uppercuts which utilize almost all the muscle groups. By the end, there's barely any strength left to lift the arms much less use them to punch. It's definitely a burn all the way through!

A few more of these, and I'll be ready for another fit test!

Insanity - Day 5: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

Did Shaun T really put "pure" in front of cardio? And did he really have to mention how scared he was of this workout? Haha!

Today was a really good day for me. I've been noticing that my appetite is increasing as I'm going through the program. I'm following the nutrition guide as closely as possible and keeping in line with lean meats, veggies and nutritious snacks. I started drinking a full serving (rather than half) of Shakeology and that has made a huge difference in my energy levels throughout the day. So, now that I have fueled my body, I am ready for these workouts.

Pure Cardio reminds me a bit of Plyometrics in P90X. It's intense and gets the heart pumping. It's also very difficult to master in the beginning. I took lots of breaks, which is fine, and struggled with a few moves such as Switch Kicks. I decided to modify them by doing ball kicks instead of jumping from leg to leg. I think by doing it this way, I will work my way of to proper switch kicks.

Cardio Abs are sort of like the Ab Ripper X of Insanity. Amazingly, I was able to get through most of the moves without pausing. I say "amazingly" because I haven't kept up with ab workouts in a while. I liked the different moves Shaun T incorporates into the C-sit. One of the slight shortcomings, in my opinion, of Ab Ripper X is that the obliques are not focused on very much. Cardio Abs definitely works them out.

During my stretches after Pure Cardio and even Cardio Abs, I felt my body sinking more and more into that groove. My soreness was not there and even my left hip flexor (which has been extremely tight) is beginning to loosen up and feel a lot better. I think the intimidation factor is decreasing and my motivation is getting stronger. I hope your's is, too!

Pure Cardio is giving Plyo a run for it's money! Data here.

Insanity - Day 4: Cardio Recovery

The name Cardio Recovery didn't really ease my apprehension about pressing play for a 4th day in a row, but I did it anyway. While this workout was low (or lower) impact, it was still challenging.

Is he recovering or getting ready to keel over?
I liked that it incorporated yoga stretches and still worked various muscle groups. Although my heart rate was not through the roof, I was dripping in sweat by the end.

Honestly, there were some poses I couldn't hold. It reminded me of the first week of P90X when I could barely get through all of the vinyasas and balance postures in Yoga X. But I know time and consistency are all I need to be as successful with Insanity as I have been with P90X.

While still a good workout, the recovery was definitely well received. I had been feeling sore since Day 1. Must be doing something right! Here's my heart rate data.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Insanity - Day 3: Cardio Power & Resistance

I really understand the need to eat 5 small meals throughout the day now. Drenched in sweat! Slightly less cardio and more focus on power with pushups and squats. Tough cookies. Data here.

Insanity - Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

I'm so tired, I'm just gonna link the heart rate data. No explanation for now.

Insanity - Fit Test #1

Insanity has you do a Fit Test every 2 weeks throughout the 60-day program so that you can track your progress. I decided to follow both the exercise and nutrition guides as closely as I can. Here are the results of my first Fit Test...

Insanity Fit Test #1 reminded me of when I started P90X and couldn't do jack! Back to square one. These moves are definitely advanced and will take some getting used to.

I wore my heart rate monitor and found that my bpm were not as high as when I go running or do plyometrics. This is because I was on the floor half the time. Here's the heart rate data.

Switch Kicks were horrendous for me! I had to step in between each kick rather than "switch" from kick to stand to kick to stand.

Power Jacks were a bit more familiar for me but started to burn after about 10 of them.

Power Knees work the obliques as you're supposed to do them at super high speed.

Power Jumps were similar to Jump Knee Tuck in Plyometrics. These are really tough.

Globe Jumps are definitely an area for improvement. I'm looking forward to increasing that number next time around.

Suicide Jumps are aptly named. These work your core as much as they work your legs.

Push-up Jacks. Seriously? As if regular push ups aren't hard enough.

Low Plank Oblique is nitty gritty. This is another move I plan on crushing next round. It definitely killed my sides.

I'm glad I didn't skip the Fit Test. It's important to gauge yourself, especially through a strenuous program like Insanity. It definitely gave me an idea of how hard I have to push and what my limitations are. It also reminded me to keep a towel nearby because these exercise sessions are perspiration city!

Nutrition - Pro Oats

After my 6 mile jog down to Oak Park, I ran into a convenience store for some water and a banana. Hidden in the corner, I saw Pro Oats. It caught my eye because one of the meal options in the Elite Nutrition guide for Insanity included a "pro oatmeal" which has you add whey protein. Pro Oats already has the whey protein in it, so that cut out step number 1.

Pro Oats
I followed the instructions on the bag to mix 1/3 cup of oatmeal with water and added a "splash" of soy milk. This tasted pretty bland and was not all that. The next time I had it, I mixed closer to 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of soy milk, added a dash of cinnamon and a bit of salt. This was much more satisfying. I guesstimate my recipe was about 450-500 calories while the original recipe would be closer to 300. My math is awful and I am not a nutritionist, so don't quote me on that!

The bag cost me $5 and has about 7 servings. That's not too bad considering what's in it. It also comes in a peach flavor. I'm not sure whether I'd buy it again because it is almost like an instant oatmeal - finely chopped. I will have to try out making old fashioned oatmeal and adding my own whey protein to compare before I declare a winner. BUT, this was definitely an interesting find.

If you're curious as to what soy milk I buy, I only ever get Pearl Organic Soymilk by Kikkoman. It tastes AWESOME! It's way better than Silk or those other imitators and hators. Jewel used to carry it without fail until recently. It may be easier to find at local produce marts. I like the creamy vanilla flavor. There is also chocolate (it's ok), green tea (looks pretty gross and tastes a bit weird), and original (it's ok). If you've tried soy milk and hate it, try Pearl just one time. Do it for me! It might change your mind.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Heart Rate Monitoring - Plyometrics

Holy cow! I knew Plyometrics was my favorite workout because it was intense, but I had no idea how intense it can really get! According to my heart rate monitor, the plyo workout results were astounding.

Total calories burned:  1070
Average heart rate: 171 bpm
Maximum heart rate: 203 bpm

See my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor data here.

Ravenswood 5k

May 1, 2011 - What a gorgeous day to enjoy a run! It was sunny, yet cool. This was a nicely laid out course through some tree-lined streets. Part of it took us along some busy roads, but for the most part, it was a relaxing run.

After the race

I really liked the yellow tek shirt design (although I wore my blue Puma outfit for visibility among friends in the crowd). I was thrilled about Mizuno being one of the main sponsors since I was sporting my Mizuno shoes. Absolutely love them.

This race had a lot more participants (~3000) compared to the previous week's 5k, but it was not overly crowded. Everyone seemed to place themselves well within their anticipated pace.

One thing to note for future reference: make sure to check the Brown Line schedule ahead of time! The trains weren't running until 7:30 am, which didn't really allow for a timely arrival for an 8:00 am race. I ended up taking a cab (and so did some other friends of mine). All in all, it was a great time.

Crossing the finish line

Time: 25:28
Overall Place: 652/2954
Division Place: 44/328

Improved my time by 18 seconds!

5k for Earth Day Run/Walk

April 23, 2011 - This was my first official 5k of the year! The course took us around Humboldt Park starting at the boat house. The weather was a bit chilly and windy but not too bad overall.

Time: 25:46
Overall Place: 79/459
Female Place: 13/282

Heart Rate Monitor Data!

I was happy with my time since my goal was to get below 26 minutes. There weren't a ton of runners on this course, so it was a perfect time to get rid of my running jitters.

After the race was the Green Living Expo. My sister had her Beachbody booth set up with samples of Shakeology and Recovery Drink. She also brought along numerous DVD workout programs and other products such as vitamins, supplements and snack bars. It was great being there with her to share information with others interested in learning different ways to become and stay fit and active. Thanks to everyone who came out.

It was also nice to walk around and sample different food and drinks from other vendors. I am pretty sure I will be hunting down those select stores that have hummus made by Salsas Vallarta. The kalamata hummus and the feta & spinach hummus were delicious! Same goes for the mangosteen flavor of Honest Tea. Thanks again!

Nathan Shadow Pak

This waist pack has a mesh, gusseted pocket that expands to hold even large smartphones (I have an HTC HD2) and still have plenty of room keys, money, and other essentials. The sides have reflective silver tabs and on one side is an I.D. card which is meant to hold vital information in the event of an emergency. The strap is adjustable on both ends of the middle clasp. There are two notches that slip over any excess strap if you have to adjust it for a smaller waist.

Nathan Shadow Pak
With all of the running I've been doing, I was considering getting an iPod Shuffle instead of using my phone as an mp3 player. But even though the Shuffle would have been a no-brainer, that still did not solve the problem of running without my phone. I switched gears and decided that I needed to find a way to make running with my phone more convenient. Reviews about the Shadow Pak raved about how you can't feel it when you're running and that it barely moves. This is exactly what I wanted because I did not want to wear my phone on my arm. It's the size of a brick.

I have gone running with it twice. The first time, I must say that I ended up wearing it high on my waist under my shirt. It shifted around a bit more than I expected. The second time, I wore it very low on my hips over my shorts. Along with pulling the straps tighter, this placement worked better. I think it just didn't help that the material of my shorts was smooth. All in all, I'm happy with this pack because it allows me to bring all my important things with me. I hope to find the perfect way to wear it so that it doesn't ride up to my waist. I'd give it a B+ until then.

Garmin Runners Watch

Garmin FR60 with foot pod
Heart Rate Monitor/Running Watch, Chest Strap and Foot Pod. The Garmin FR60 connects to the foot pod through the ANT+ seamless wireless link which tracks your distance and speed, both indoors and out. Using advanced accelerometer technology, the foot pod collects and sends precise data about your movements, gathering distance and speed data.

Choosing a runner's watch was serious business. Reliability and ease of use were important to me. For a long time I struggled with deciding between GPS tracking capabilities versus wireless foot pods. Although I liked the idea of GPS, I was aware that sometimes GPS signals drop or are poor depending on the location. My gut told me to go with the foot pod instead. After reading and re-reading reviews, I was almost set on buying a Polar watch. Although people said the foot pod was extremely light, I didn't like the idea of wearing something the size of a beetle on my shoe. Adding to the fact that the price tag was over $200, I began looking at other brands. I'm sure it's a top of the line watch, but it was a bit out of my price range.

The Garmin FR60 seemed like a sensible purchase. The foot pod is incredibly tiny. It's about the size of an almond in its shell. It's so small that I already lost it and, luckily, found it in my drawer. I haven't calibrated it, but it seems to be accurate with regards to distance. I have yet to link data from my watch to the computer, but I have been able to log in a few workouts. I'm happy with the features so far but still have lots to learn.

What I like about the Garmin FR60 the most is how comfortable the chest strap is. I actually fell asleep with it on for a short nap. It is thin, smooth and flexible. Just like the foot pod, you really don't know it's there. The watch itself is not very bulky either and is relatively low key.

As I continue to use the watch, I'll update my review. So far, so good.

Mizuno Running Shoes

Neutral shoe ideal for medium to high arches. Lightweight, breatheable, cushioned and extremely supportive. Elastic bands on the side of the tongue keep it in place and create an almost spooning or cradling effect around your foot. Its upturned toe helps to propel you with every stride.

Mizuno Wave Creation 12
This is hands-down the best shoe I've ever worn. On my quest to find the right running shoe, I tried on every brand at every store I could find. Finally, I stumbled upon Finish Line and saw these. They were the most expensive ones on the wall. I figured they might be a little better than the rest but instead I was blown away. After slipping them on, I asked the sales associate if I could run around the store for a few minutes. He said go for it. I had forgotten I was wearing a gray cotton shirt. Within 5 minutes, I had pit stains and a smile on my face. They were really nice about the sweat.

Combined with really great colors (thank you for not being pink), I fell in love immediately.

In fact, I had been struggling to get an 8 minute mile for the past few months. On my very first go with these on, I made a 7:15 minute mile. A week later, I ran again and averaged 7:30 min/mi. These are my shoes. All I have to work on now is proper training!