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Running Nina

running around chicago


October 31, 2010

After much deliberation I decided to move my blog over to blogspot. I find it much more user friendly for both myself and my readers.

Along with the new platform, I formulated a whole new blog concept. H


Head over now and get reading! Don't forget to follow the blog and follow me on Twitter! (see the right hand colum for links!)

Who I Am & Why I Run

October 25, 2010

I can tell you Who I Am by telling you Who I'm Not.

I'm not a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, or any of that. I love chicken, pork, hot dogs, and medium rare steak. I eat whatever I want and whenever I want, but I listen to my body. If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm not, I don't eat. In fact, I just ate a slice of cold pizza for breakfast...at10:30am. (I woke up at 630 with my boyfriend, made him breakfast and lunch, came home, and fell back asleep for an hour until 10.) This said, I also don't eat Twinkes and Lunchables, etc. I used to eat pure junk and now I eat much healthier than I did before. I love yogurt with granola, peanut butter, and bananas for breakfast. I have an addiction to Jimmy John's for lunch. Dinner is always up in the air as I work 4 nights a week until 8 or 9 and the other 3 nights are with my meat-and-potatoes boyfriend.

I am not an expert. I have not been running since I was a kid, I wasn't in sports until college when I was on the dance team, I am still unsure of many things training wise. I can't offer sound advice, but I can surely tell you what works for me and remind you that every person is different. I've only raced in a 5k, 8k, 10 miler, and half marathon. The thought of running a full marathon scares me, but I will be running the Chicago Marathon one day and I have a plan to run an international marathon the year I turn 30.

I'm not a cycler or a swimmer but I very badly want to participate in the Chicago Sprint triathlon in 2011. I don't even know the first thing about buying a bike or how long it might take to swim a mile, but I want to do it. I'm a dreamer, always have been and always will be. The dreams that I really want I turn into reality.

I'm not a serious athlete, I skip more of my running days than I actually run. I am a person who enjoys running. I listen to my body and I think that if I forced myself to run every day I am scheduled to run for that mileage I might not enjoy it anymore.

I'm just your average person, out running on the lakefront path.

I run because running is my time for me and my head. Yes, I have my iPod with me but only a few songs actually capture my attention, the rest are just there to be there. I don't use my iPod for races though because I much prefer the sounds of the people volunteering their time to cheer all the runners on.

I run because it feels good to power myself and be in charge. No group fitness classes to follow along with, no needing to count sets and reps, no personal trainer handing you weights and telling you what to do. It's just me. I control my workout, I can go at my pace, I can alter my 5 miler to a 7 miler or vise versa if I feel like it.

I run because I want to. Not because I have to (ok, maybe some days I *have* to).

I run to keep healthy, not to be in shape. My family has a bad history of diabetes and other medical conditions that can be kept under control by maintaing my weight.

Lastly, I run because, well, I like to.

Gear Essential: Garmin Forerunner 305

October 14, 2010

Perhaps the most important item for me and my running is my Garmie. Ahem, Garmin Forerunner 305.

It works off of GPS so you turn it on and go. No need to calibrate at all.
The big display makes it easy to read with a glance.
The "Lap" button is awesome. I can 'lap' every mile (or whatever distance I choose) to see my time splits and pace per mile.
The mile alarm feature is perfect for telling me when to press the lap button. No need to constantly look at my watch, just listen for the beeps and press lap!
When you plug it into your computer you get to see a little map of your route!
There is a tab (on the computer) to see your results and splits. Makes it easy to see progress.
It comes with a heart rate strap so you can also see your heart rate and calories burned. I don't use it but it's good to have if I want to.
Most of all it is super easy to use and that is always an important factor!

I'm FREEEEEEEEE! Nike Free, that is.

October 06, 2010

I went shopping for new shoes a and decided on the Nike Free 3.0 shoes.

(Super lightweight and comfortable)

Nike Free 3.0 are the closest shoes to barefoot running that Nike makes. They say that they are the closest thing to barefoot running but I've heard others say that there are more minimal shoes out there. Looking at the Free selections I saw Free 3.0, Free 5.0, and Free 7.0. I asked what the differences were and the sales associate told me that the 3.0s have the least cushion and the 7.0s have the most cushion. Obviously 5.0s have a cushion level between the two. I asked to try on the 5.0s and 3.0s.

(I love the bottom details.)

I used their handy treadmill to test them out and the 3.0s were much more comfortable so I went with those. It didn't hurt that I liked the style and colors better too! I was advised to ease into them for a few weeks, doing one run in them and then another in my old shoes. I did 3 runs in these guys before I did a run in my old shoes. All three runs required me to stop multiple times to stretch my calves but they were also the fastest runs I've done in months! (At least outdoors.) Half marathon day was coming up and I didn't want to stop a million times to stretch so I put on my old shoes and went out for a 4 mile run. My knee started to hurt almost right away so I did 2 miles and decided that I would just have to make sure to warm up and stretch plenty before my half. No way was I going to last 13.1 miles in my old shoes.

(Look how much they allow your foot to move!)

The morning of my half marathon I stretched my legs pretty well. Down dogs, hips, thighs, and calves. I was worried about running 13.1 miles in shoes that my legs and feet weren't adjusted to. Turns out I had no reason to worry because my calves and legs were great! My glutes got pretty sore but a quick stretch fixed that. Running was so comfortable, aside from my right shoe being tied too tight, and I was so happy that I didn't have to stop to stretch! Nothing is worse than having to stop and stretch 6 times within the first 4 miles!

(The design on the bottom is made to allow your feet to move and use muscles you don't normally.)

Overall, I am absolutely in love with Nike Free 3.0s! I plan on scouring the internet for a pair or two at a cheaper price but if I can't find anything I'd gladly pay full price for a few more pairs to have once these reach their max.

(Made of mesh to allow maximum breathability. That means less foot sweat!)

Next Race: Hot Chocolate 15k

September 20, 2010

The day after my half marathon I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k race.

For $55 I get a sweet zip up technicial jacket, a goody bag of chocolate, and to enjoy a post race party full of chocolate in all different forms. And the start and end lines are 2 blocks from my condo. That is probably the best part!

I've already got my bib bumber, 4383! Training starts tomorrow. I'm using Hal Higdon's training program, but will most likely be a little bit modified to fit me and my body.

November 6th is the day! And since 15k is about 9.4ish miles I am thinking I can finish under 1:35. Let's doooo iiiiiit!

Random Rant

September 17, 2010

So this has nothing to do with running but it does have something to do with foods that I eat...I just need a place to rant right now!

I work in a hotel and they provide free lunch and dinner for the employees, which is really nice and a great perk. Except that 90% of the food is food I do not eat or it is pretty much inedible. There are some great meals, such as Deli Sandwich day, and the hamburgers and hot dogs are pretty good so long as you eat soon after they are placed out. A salad bar is also offered every single day.

This past week has been Employee Appreciation Week so they are putting the favorite meals in the lunch room. (There was a survey going around a few months ago asking what your favorite 3 meals are.) Today was my favorite, Deli Sandwich day. I got my email last night that today for lunch and dinner would be Deli Sandwich day. I was excited because I knew I didn't have to packa  lunch or buy a lunch. Come time for my break and I mention how excited I am to make my own sandwich and I am informed that the chefs this morning decided to make MEATLOAF and FRIED CHICKEN instead. Um...WHAT?! Upset that I wouldn't be eating dinner I grabbed my bottle of salad dressing to make a salad...only to get down there and see that the salad bar has not been replenished from lunch..meaning everything has been sitting out for 6 hours. No thank you. I go across the street and spend $8 on a sandwich and chips.

First off, how incredibly horrible to just up a decide to change the menu for the day 2-3 hours before lunchtime. All the employees were expecting deli sandwich day, not nasty meatloaf, overly fried fried chicken, and the world's worst mashed potatoes. Had I known it was not deli sandwich day I would have brought my own lunch. Second, (not that I ate the food) but while I was eating nearly everybody walked in, looked at the food, made a face, and walked out. The people who dished out some food ate a few bites and tossed the rest. One girl didn't even eat anything! It's just incredibly annoying to have to deal with. I mean, deli sandwich day is easy for the chefs, they just put out a bunch of food without having to do much of anything, but then they decided to actually make food...at least put some effort into it!

I don't eat fried chicken. I don't eat meatloaf. I am super picky about mashed potatoes. I love salad but at least refill the nearly empty containers! I suppose I'll just bring lunch in every single day that I work from now on.

Lessons Learned from my First Half Marathon

September 15, 2010

Having just completed my first half marathon here are some things I learned.

1. Whatever your goal time is, add 15 minutes to it.

2. Do not eat anything outside of what you normally eat the day before.

3. Get a quick 30 minute massage for your legs about 3-4 days prior. Trust me.

4. Make sure you get to the race with plenty of time to check gear, use the bathroom, stretch, warm up, and find your correct start corral.

5. If you want to slow down, tell yourself to make it to the next lamp post. Keep doing that over and over again as needed.

6. If you feel like you are going to vomit, it's ok to slow down and walk for 30 seconds.

7. Dilute the Gatorade with water. It goes down easier. (At least for me)

8. If your name is not printed on your bib or it's not very big, write your name on your arm or leg for spectators to see. They will shout things to you such as "Keep it up Nina! You fucking got this girl!".

9. Enjoy reading the signs people have. You'll have a laugh at some of them and it will make running 13.1 miles easier.

10. Smile. You never know where the cameras are.

11. Smile. You are running a half marathon. 13.1 miles. You are doing an incredible thing and your body can do it. Be proud.

12. Get a full body massage the next day or 2 days after. Trust me, it's worth it.

13. Don't drink too much water early on. You'll have to stop for a bathroom break later and you won't want to!

13.1 Enjoy the post race party. There are often free massages and tons of samples to have.

Half Marathon? Complete!

September 15, 2010

Sunday was finally the day of my first half marathon! I didn't come in under my goal time but I wasn't too much over either. No matter my time I'm very proud that I did it and ran it all except maybe a quarter of a mile.

I woke up at 5am and got dressed and ready and enjoyed a bagel thin with peanut butter and banana for breakfast. It was really early for me so I didn't finish the entire thing...it was too much! Then at 5:45am my mom and I headed out the door to catch the bus to start. By 6:05 there was no bus and nothing was in sight so we hopped in a cab with some other runners and split the fare. Thank goodness we got in the cab when we did because getting there was a nightmare. They closed all the streets 20 minutes before stated so we had to go all around to get there. We finally got there and I had just barely enough time to meet my friends, use the bathroom, and get to the start.

I knew the second we started it was not going to be an easy run for me. My stomach was not feeling good and I was already tired. By the time we finaly came across some bathrooms, after mile 3, I had to stop so we jumped over the barrier and ran into the restrooms. Of course nothing happened, so out we went, jumping back over the barrier and started running again. The next time we came across a bathroom was at an Aid station a little after mile 5 and my stomach was hurting and cramping so we stopped and waited in line. I kneaded my stomach to help get things going along but again nothing. So again I ran out, grabbed a cup of water, used some GU, and got back on the road.

I started to feel a bit better around mile 7 because I knew the turn around was coming up and once we turned around it was only about 4 miles left. Except my energy was so low that the 11min/mile pace I was running felt like a 9min/mile. I made my friend go ahead and told her I'd be fine on my own for the last 4 miles. She left me with some words of encouragement and I kept on going at a pace I could maintain. I somehow completely forgot my Garmin so I had no clue what my pace was like until I could see the clocks at each mile. I knew I was going slower than I wanted but I knew going faster wasn't an option unless I wanted to burn out. I think that I started too fast, but again, I really don't know since Mary had the Garmin, not me.

I ran the entire race, walking thru aid stations, until mile 10. I took 4 short walk breaks and one quick stretch break. I didn't want to stop or slow down but I really felt I needed just a small break so for my 4 walk breaks I walked only 2 lampposts(which were nearly right next to each other at this time) and my stretch break was for a small cramp I started to get in my left leg. Around mile 11 I got a small second wind and for a bit I was passing people, it felt good but then I felt like vomiting so I took one of those little walk breaks. I got a cup of water at the last aid station and told myself this was it, it's all running, there is no point in walking at this point. I ended up walking once I think in the last 1.5 miles but then I saw the 12 mile marker and said I better pick it up and finish strong.

I pulled the last of my GU out of my pocket and swallowed the rest of it and looked forward and just ran. 3/4 of a mile to go. 1/2 a mile to go. 1/4 mile to go. I saw the last turn. I saw my friend's sign. I rounded the corner. I saw my mom and my friend who immediately started cheering me on. I kept running and saw the finish line. I so badly wanted to run faster but I just couldn't get my legs to go faster. I eyed the clock and picked a time and told myself to get across the line before and I was right on time. Then came the water, banana, granola bar, cookie, and medal! I was done! I ate my cookie, took my finisher's photo, and met up with my friends. Mary came in 9 minutes before me and I felt a little bad because had we not stopped to use the bathroom, for my sake, she would have finished under our goal of 2:10. And if I hadn't been slowing her down the majority of the race.

Overall, I'm not sad or disappointed that I didn't finish of my goal of 2:10; I came in at 2:22. I'm incredibly proud of myself for doing a half marathon and finishing in a pretty decent time. I know I had an off morning, why, not sure, but I know I ate foods that I rarely eat the day before. That probably had something to do with my stomach issues. I just signed up for a 15k in 7 weeks and I'm aiming for 1:35. I learned a lot from my first half marathon and I'll take these lessons and apply them to future races.

Sports Bras!

September 06, 2010

Last week I told you all about tips for shopping for a good sports bra and I figured I'd tell you how I came across my new ones.

I started out looking online at various stores, pricing and reviews to get an idea on what would be worth trying on or not. I had some ideas and stores in my head so off to Niketown I went and once I found the bras I had been looking at I was turned off my the material. I hated it and it felt odd so I tossed those aside. I tried on a few more but I wasn't keen on spending $60 on a single bra so I passed. Then I stopped at Lucy and didn't find anything to even try on! Same with PH8 and everywhere else I went.

So, of course, I headed to lululemon! There I tried on the 50 Rep bra and the All Sport Bra.

We'll start with the 50 Rep.

I had to try on a few colors in my size because the first one I tried on was super tight all over and the next few were all much more comfortable, bigger armholes and the racerback wasn't so tight. I ended up buying the Citron/Coal combination in the middle of the picture above. Having worn this for a few runs now I really like it but after a while (over an hour) the racerback starts to dig in a little bit and it can end up being uncomfortable. Also, taking it off can be tricky, especially if you are super sweaty.

All Sport Bra

The All Sport Bra was amazing from the moment I put it on! It is similar to the 50 Rep, however the back has straps that cross and the rise is higher in front. This bra is definitely the most supportive I've ever owned, doesn't get at all uncomfortable, and because it's straps it is a lot easier to take off. When running I don't feel any movement at all! This bra definitely meets all the criteria for a great running bra. Thick straps, holds the girls in really well, the fabric is wicking, and it's super comfy. I thought that I was out of luck finding another one but I went into lulu again and there they were! They were restocked in some great colors so I picked another one up and I couldn't be happier! I will definitely be wearing this when I run my half marathon on Sunday! I definitely recommened this bra if you are looking to get a new one.

Grocery Shopping in Pictures

September 01, 2010

Today I went to Jewel because we desperately needed some groceries in the house. I took my big green lululemon bag and decided that once the bag was full, that would be it! Look at all those goodies! I did take out the bananas and bread from the bag so they wouldn't get squished, but they would have fit in there!

Loads of deals to be had here...I got all of this for a mere $40. Those 2 liters of club soda were .59 each! I LOVE club soda. Quaker Oat Squares were on sale, 2 for $4. Normally they are $4.90 a box. Peanut butter was 2 for $4. Dannon yogurt was 2 for $4. You'll also see apples, cucumber, avocado, and a 50/50 baby spinach and field greens mix. I got the avocado because I wanted to make some avocado spread a la Jimmy John's. So I got home, cut it open and tried to mush it...it didn't work. I think the main problem was that it wasn't ripe. That's what I get for not looking into avocados and making a spread so I'll be researching info and hopefully soon I will have my beloved avocado spread.


My mom purchased this bag a few months ago for $60 I believe. I couldn't believe it was such a low price, considering it's lulu and it's a huge bag. We traded the bag and a sports bra I don't wear last night, so now it's MY bag! Perfect for carrying everything for hot yoga and other items I need with me. And perfect for groceries!

Yogurt, granola, and bananas all mixed together is the best breakfast ever. Sometimes I even stir in some peanut butter for protein. YUM!

Peanut butter, deli sliced honey ham, provolone cheese, sub sandwich rolls, and Flat Out wraps for lunch time meals.


And some "junk" food, of course! I love pretzel thins.


And the sandwich I made for dinner tonight. Since I am still avocado spread-less I just lightly buttered the bread, added 2 pieces of provolone cheese, some cucumber, some greens, and then 2 hefty pieces of some honey ham from Trader Joe's. Super thick and super yummy! For a snack I just put a serving of the Oat Squares into a baggie, which I've already eaten!


If you find that you are spending too much at the grocery store or are often tossing spoiled foods, I suggest taking one large bag or two or three small ones and shopping until they are full. Don't use a shopping cart or basket, just put the items right into the bags, once full head for the checkout! I promise you'll be spending less and tossing out less!