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Walk with Me: Old Friends and Family

Some people like to chat over a cup of coffee, but I’ve long known that my most honest discussions happen on a walk.

A recent study showed that in fact this is because when speaking while side by side we feel less afraid to share emotions than when staring directly at someone.

I suppose you can avoid their reaction if you aren’t sure what it will be and of course take a moment to compose yourself before responding to big news.

The last week afforded me endless hours of opportunities to communicate and my soul feels as though I’ve been standing under a waterfall. I’m thoroughly refreshed. So while others have their online coffee dates, I’m going to do walk and talks around here to catch you up on life!

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

While I do truly love Orlando, it’s a beautiful city with so much happening, but I miss having people around who have known me for longer than a hot minute. It simply feels like they know the real me, from my weird insecurities to my goofy laugh to my need for both time together and alone.

CHICAGO
First stop Chicago!! Two of my college friends moved to Chicago in 2003 and I was beyond thrilled to connect them at the time when they were both new to the city. I loved the both for their own great qualities and they’ve become great friends, which means it’s super easy to see them both when I visit!
IMG_4768Jess is that friend who inspires me in ways she probably doesn’t even know. During our walk along the lake front I realized again just how amazing she is…the woman who moved to New Zealand for a year without fear. The woman who works her ass off to afford a great condo in Chicago AND amazing trips around the world. The woman who adores people and believes in the more the merrier {thank goodness that’s how I met her!}. Friends in ChicagoAmy is that friend who reminds me why I love being a strong independent woman. During our 13.1 mile race we chatted here and there, but mostly just knew we were there for each other and having a good time. Even in college there was never a competitiveness to our relationship which I feel can happen with so many women, we didn’t need to push each other because we both knew the other is always doing her best.

I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. ~G.M. Trevelyan

Corey is one of those fast friends, you know the kind you meet and instantly connect with! We’ve now had a chance to meet up in Houston, NYC and Chicago thanks to our shared running love and city moving for jobs. I assume our next meeting will be in another random city.CoreyandMeKANSAS CITY
Since my parents actually live outside the city now, I was over the moon that my childhood friend Caylin took the day off work to pick me up at the airport and then spend time together.During our walk we did what we both do best, philosophized about the crazy people in our lives, talked about work and goals and dreams and her adorable new man. Running in WaldoIn fact we were so busy talking non-stop I didn’t even get a selfie! BOOOO. But I did of course snap some shots during my run of the great neighborhood…yeah I do miss this city and of course wish I’d had more time to see more old friends.

COUNTRY LIVING
Tuesday through Friday was spent out in the boonies soaking up the love of my parents. Between four wheeling, food and shopping I managed to get in walks with both of them as well.

First yes I was waiting by the window just like a pet who knows someone will be home soon to give them all kinds of love...it’s good to remain so excited to see your parents. We followed that up by a family trip to the bookstore, yup that’s where my love of reading comes from and as it turns out they don’t have a whole lot of bookstores in a town without a stop light or grocery store. Waiting by the windowHalf Price Books in Kansas CityI helped them move in to their house in August and wasn’t sure what it would feel like to stay there. I mean I was no longer going back to my childhood home…turns out it’s all about the people who live there because I instantly felt at home once again.

Thoughts come clearly while one walks. ~Thomas Mann

Though admittedly different as we never once rode four wheelers in the city during my childhood! Though when I asked for old clothes I think I may have wound up in all my old things.fourwheelinAnd I used to be able to walk out the front door to run…now well not so much. Which is why I loved that they were happy to drive in to town one afternoon so I could run on the Katy Trail while they enjoyed soaking up the sunshine and walking. {see I think everyone should walk and talk!!}KatyTrailFamily

Do you like to walk and talk?

When was the last time you visited a far away friend?

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Will Travel with Food

Sometimes I wonder what the airport security must think as my bag rolls through the x-ray filled with food, powders and pills.

I’ve often dreamed they are going to pull me aside and ask me to taste the white powder in a plastic bag, which I then refuse to do because darn it CALM magnesium is meant to be diluted in hot water. Next they’ll inquire about the plethora of pills no longer in bottles and I’ll try to explain they are probiotics and digestive enzymes and spirulina to all help my digestion which is whacky when I travel.

Finally the food…mostly I’m sure they roll their eyes wondering if I think I’m heading to the dessert.  Little do they know on this particular trip I am in fact headed WAY out in the country to my parents new house. Closest grocery store 30+ miles…panic ensues.

All right it’s not quite this bad…but only because I didn’t think of it first.Food travel kit - click for ideas for planning healthy travel snacksSource i415.photobucket.com

No really, I always travel with a few specific things. First because something happens when I board a plane that throws all hunger logic out the window and makes me feel the need to eat. Maybe it’s the snacks they pass out or just hearing the rustle of wrappers from others.

Travel is food for the soul. – Love this quote…but food is food for the soul too!!

I’ve just decided that if I’m going to eat I’ll do my best to make it healthy. So I always have an apple and some Blue Diamond nuts on hand (especially the dark chocolate almonds, which give me both that satisfying crunch and a little sweetness…heaven).Blue Diamond Dark Chocolate almonds

And no all this planning doesn’t feel like a burden. I have just learned over time that I can either plan ahead or get caught in a stomach rumbling situation which leads to making less than stellar choices and to feel my best while traveling, I have to keep my food on track (thank you wonky digestion for that).attitudeLonger flights involve attempting to bring meals here are a few easy ways I’ve done this:

Sweet Potato: Ok I know you are going to think I’m kidding with this one, but I’m not! On a super long flight where I need something to hold me over, I bring a tupperware container that I’m ready to toss with a steamed sweet potato, shredded broccoli and topped with tahini. It tastes great and doesn’t have an overwhelming smell for those around me.

Veggie Wrap: I prefer to do a salad when I can, but a wrap is a super easy way to shove a whole bunch of veggies in to something you can actually pick up with a little less fuss when crammed in to the middle seat.

Ideas for healthy travel snacks you can pack in the car or on the plane with no mess

For the rest of my trip, you know every Vega sport piece is in my suit case shoved inside a shaker bottle and each of my little in flight snacks also serve as a good tool for snacking during the day if I’m going long stretches between meals at either a conference or on the go press trip.

Are you a snack planner for traveling or do you wing it?

Any must haes in your bag?

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This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond, all planning and eating are my own.

Learn to Breathe Better While Running

Spring is finally here!!!

Runners everywhere rejoice, until they move on to complaining about how suddenly it’s become harder to breathe due to all of the pollen and soon humidity!

Let’s dive in to things that can help improve your breathing on every run whether it’s Spring, Summer, Fall or more of the dreaded winter.
Tips to Breathe Easier While RunningCAUSES OF BREATHING ISSUES
If I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me that they can’t figure out why it’s so hard to breathe while running…I’d probably buy a couple new pairs of running shoes.

So what is it that actually makes it hard for us to breathe?

  • Fitness – We develop more lung capacity as we train
  • Speed – Many runners start out too fast and the body isn’t yet ready for that speed or simply requires more oxygen to maintain that pace (in other words, slow down!)
  • Exercise-induced Asthma – If you find yourself wheezing or struggling to breathe, check with a doctor to see if this is the case, they can find options to help!
  • Allergies – Checkout 12 more tips to manage spring allergies for runners >>

WHY IT MATTERS
Maybe you’ve always had a hard time breathing or you never thought much about improving your breathing…so why should you care?

  • Perceived effort – We’ve talked about how running is a mental sport and each time your breathing becomes labored your brain immediately begins warning you to stop.
  • Decreased fatigue – Muscles run on oxygen, that’s one of the reasons trainers used to spend time measuring VO2 max. It told them how much oxygen muscles were receiving and therefore gave them means to improve. Better breathing means getting more oxygen flowing to your muscles as the workload increases.
  • Improved performance – As noted above with less fatigued muscles you’ll be able to run farther and faster! You’ll also see below how Budd Coates swears it reduces injury, which means more consistent training and once again that leads to improved performance!

Run better during allergy season with these tipsHOW TO BREATHE
Once you’ve got your allergies under control and have ensured you are running at a pace that is manageable, there are still a few more tips and tricks to improve your breathing while running.

Chi Running says to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as though blowing through a straw. This keeps the flow slow and steady.
-- This method I’ve used for ages and find that it feels the most natural. It prevents us from taking big gulps of air through our mouth which leads to over breathing and sometimes hyperventilation.

Allergies or poor form? Tips to improve your breathing while running from @runtothefinish #runchat

Meditation runners say to use what you learn in your practice by keeping a slow and easy breathe pattern. In other words, try to focus on your breathing and let it be natural.
-- I have actually found this to be really helpful! I think about how calm my breathe is during yoga and try to replicate that feeling when my lungs begin to burn during speed work.

Running on Air from Budd Coates provides one of the best systems I’ve heard of and in fact tried. While it does take some practice and concentration at first, it can certainly make breathing easier for runners who struggle with this and of course make you faster by delivering more oxygen!

You need to read the book to fully understand his system, but at the highest level it is as follows:
Breathe in for 3 steps and out for 2 steps.

Tips for managing your breathing:

  • Start the run without a focus on breathe. Let your body get in to a natural rhythm.
  • Distract yourself with music if necessary to stop thinking about your breathing (this is often the best way to find a rhythm!)
  • Don’t spend the entire run focused on it. Just as you check in with your form, check in with your breathing.
  • Do breathe exercises when not running to increase your lung capacity! You could cross train with swimming or do moves like Cat/Cow from yoga.

Do you focus on your breathing?

Have you ever tried to change your breathing style while running?

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Chicago Spring Half Marathon Race Review

Are you ready for this…

I didn’t PR. WHEW now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about why this race was still an absolutely awesome day.

Friends. Friends. Friends.
IMG_4722Really the reason I came to Chicago was these two ladies (friends since college!), the race was a nice bonus and finding out I might just be able to help Amy hit a PR by pacing her was the cherry on top.

I’ve said before that I love the folks who manage the 13.1 series (I met them while living in MIami)  well it’s now managed by Lifetime Fitness and I did notice a few changes all of which I think make it even better.

13.1 CHICAGO OVERVIEW
If you are considering this race, here is my standard pro and con list! Hopefully it will give you a feel for the race and you can decide if it makes the cut for your race calendar!Chicago Spring HalfPRO 

  • Run along the bike path
  • Amazing, spectacular views
  • Post race food: eggs, sausage, pancakes, dole fruit and of course beer tent since Michelob Ultra is the title sponsor
  • Post race: also gave away little potted peonies
  • Wave start: great to help try and spread out the 5000 half marathon runners
  • Aid stations: Plenty of stations which were all well supported
  • Photos are included (not sure if this is every city, but it was in Chicago)
  • Fair spectator support. If you have someone watching it is an out an back so they will probably just see you the 2 timesdoityourselfflow

CON

  • Course can get crowded, just the nature of running out and back on the bike path
  • Definitely arrive early if you need a porta potty and to find parking since it’s downtown
  • Medal is still fine, but not as cool as it used to be
  • No race day packet pick up
  • And…that’s kind of it, I didn’t see many downs on this one

Run Chicago Medals

OUR RACE
Official finish: 1:57:45 | AVG HR 155

Amy’s goal was just sub-2…but what can I say I knew she could hold the pace and so I’m super happy that we ended up with a 2 minute PR for her.  As always I enjoyed running along side someone on race day and we surprisingly even found ourselves chatting here and there (yup that’s how I knew she could hold the pace).
IMG_4745My HR was a little higher than I would have liked at this pace, but still a really solid training day and not such a hard push that I can’t keep doing with speed training the next few weeks and may…just maybe go for a PR in June. That is 100% weather dependent.

Quick run down!
Our biggest concern all week had been the weather, which kept calling for storms.

The storms held off, but the humidity was high and for the Chicago dwellers the 70 degree temp by mid-race was warm. In fact, I probably would have only pushed my PR attempt if it was about 20 degrees cooler.

We started off and I was just enjoying the scenary, I doubt it would ever get old to have the Chicago Lakefront path as your backyard.

My first not awful run selfie!! I was channeling my inner Dani who always does this in races. I managed one and couldn’t do any more!IMG_4734The path has a few more hills than I expected and once again made me wish I had more for training, but mostly I was just taking in the views while listening to everything around me.

Race day is the only time I usually play music for an entire run, but my iPod was low and I figured it was far more important to have it for the finish than the start!

As we made the turn around and started heading back, we both noted our faces starting to feel really warm with the lack of wind and yes, thank you humidity (why does if follow me?!). Chicago Half MarathonThe breeze had died and I knew if it stayed like that we might slow, but then we rounded a corner at mile 10 and suddenly with the water the temperature dropped 10 degrees and it was like getting a fresh set of legs!!!

Amy started to note her’s were feeling like jelly…so without being obnoxious, but knowing her PR was so close I just celebrated the milestones and then started playing my favorite game…”CATCH THAT GUY”.

I’ve realized if I focus just on the clock in the final miles, I will also focus on everything feeling hard, but if I pick out someone a little way ahead and make my goal to catch them then it gives me a short term goal, focus and drive.
Chicagoland race seriesSo we did…we caught him right as we entered the list .5 of the race, which is the only bizarre part of the race. You turn off the path suddenly, run through a parking garage, through a hole in a chain-link fence, over some speed bumps and out of the garage where you need to be aware you are leaping off the curb and turning immediately left to hit the finish line.

Overall we held a really consistent pace right between 9:00-9:10 for every mile, which is definitely the best way to do it! It felt like a fabulous training day for me, no knee pain, and thus far I feel great the next morning…wishing I had time for a  run before the airport actually!

THE NITTY GRITTY
I’ve started reporting on these to answer some questions and yes so I can remember later! IMG_4762IMG_4761
FUEL
Pre-race -1 tbsp peanut butter on slice of sourdough | 1 SaltStick tablet, 3 spirulina tablets
During - Vega Energizer + Vega Electrolytes + 3 pieces dried pineapple
After – 2 pancakes, small green juice, big veggie and egg breakfast about 3 hours laterspeedracerGEAR
Pre-Race: HOKA One One Clifton shoes, Lululemon shorts, The North Face shirt, CEP compression socks, TomTom Runner watch, Flipbelt, ShowerPill

Post- Race: We call this the thank god for a hot shower look and fun Champion jacket.IMG_4726I think practice races are hugely important and enjoying race day is important and I love that this weekend turned in to both. I was originally really excited to attempt a PR, but as many of you who follow on Instagram know the last month just made that unrealistic.

Anyone else have races this summer?

Have you ever raced in Chicago? (If so, favorite one?)

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Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries–Dairy Free Summer Snack

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Every time an article tells me to use fruit for dessert, I find my eyes involuntarily rolling in to my head. What can I say, dessert for me involves chocolate.

This tends to happen again when I come upon the next magazine article for a day of clean eating which is always filled with DAIRY. I won’t go down my list of all the reasons why being dairy free (most of the time) has served me well, you can read about it here.

Instead I’ll say, it’s definitely forced me to rethink food and that has been a very good thing! While I may not call fruit dessert, I definitely call it a fantastic snack and since my sports nutrition friends keep pushing me to up the protein, I took that to heart with this healthy summer snack recipe!

Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries
Dairy Free Frozen Yogurt Covered Blueberries - A healthy summer snack
Ingredients
- blueberries or other fruit of choice
- Silk Dairy-Free yogurt flavor of choice (I choose strawberry)

Directions

  • Place fruit on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • Pour yogurt in bag and squeeze out (I did this so I could make little frozen drops of yogurt too, like dippin’ dots!!)
    OR use a toothpick to dip each berry
  • Place on sheet with space between so they don’t stick together
  • Place in freezer for about an hour to fully solidify, then you can enjoy or transfer to baggies for quick grab snacks later.

Not only is this easy, but it was actually really fun. I’d totally do this with the nieces and nephews to get them excited about a fruity snack. A serving of this dairy-free yogurt has 6 grams of protein, non-gmo, lactose free and no carrageenan (big for me as I realized this is an issue). Dairy Free Yogurt Covered Blueberries - Healthy At Home SnackServe it up Ideas
A. Cereal (who needs milk). Ok my close circle knows that I am OBSESSED with cereal. I am usually snacking on a combo of gluten free options from Love Grown Foods and Chex…this basically just made that even better!!

B. Kabob. Group setting?? Try putting all the blueberries on a kabob stick, dip, freeze then you can serve sans messy hands!

C. Dots. Make the dippin’ dots as noted above with a variety of flavors, so you get lots of colors, then just serve along side the fruit.

Get more dairy free ideas from Silk on Instagram and my Dairy Free Pinterest board.

Read more: food intolerance in athletes, 17 protein packed post workout smoothies, learning intuitive eating

Do you consider fruit dessert?

Do you change your snacks during the summer?

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