Category Archives: Workout Wednesday

Race Recap: Sarasota Music Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I did a race recap for you guys. Probably because it’s been a while since I’ve run a race. If you care to read back as to why I took a little hiatus from running you can do so here. Now it wasn’t entirely because I briefly crippled myself as a result of my own stubbornness, but that may have had a little something to do with it.

The truth is I was really excited to be able to run year-round when we moved to Florida until I quickly realized that you really can’t do anything outside in Florida from the months of May-October. Let’s just say I have a new respect for air conditioning professionals and if I could I would purchase stock in cinder blocks and tile.

After boredom set in with my gym routine, I signed up for the inaugural Sarasota Music Half Marathon in February and was excited to have something to focus on after the holiday season. And then I realized that this race would require me to train THROUGH the holiday season. And then I realized that people who live in Florida don’t hibernate over the holidays. Instead, they rock their spandex and swimsuits right on through those holidays and into the New Year. As a Midwesterner I was thoroughly offended by this concept.

But I sheepishly got outside and ran with the rest of the spandex-clad Floridians, feeling every sugar cookie and piece of fudge along the way. And I will say, if you want to avoid the New Year’s resolutioners, just come down to Florida where no one takes any time off.

It’s pretty amazing how much more enjoyable races are when you run them healthy. I was a little nervous because I got hit with the plague a few weeks ago and really didn’t get my long training runs in, but when you combine perfect running weather, palm trees, gulf breezes, girl scout cookies and a solid brunch, it’s hard to find anything to complain about.

So here’s my mile by mile recap.

IMG_9271.JPGMile 0

Highs-giggling at runners with ear warmers and gloves to protect them from the frigid 55 degree with a high of 78 weather we were in for, watching the sun rise over the start shadowed only by palm trees and walking to the front of the starting line because apparently no one wanted to start by the 5:00 mile marker.

Lows-so only providing 20 Porta Potties for 2,000 runners may have been a little aggressive but no harm done.

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Mile 1

Highs-The Ringling Bridge. Literally. I was nervous about running a race with elevation but the marching band at the top of the Ringling Bridge helped to distract me from the crazy first-timers who were pacing at 6:30 1 mile in.

Lows-dead rat on the running path and no one in front of me raising a hand.

IMG_9289.JPGMile 5

Highs-This view. And knowing I didn’t have to climb that stupid beautiful bridge again for the rest of the race.

Lows-none. Feeling alive at five.

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Miles 7-9

Highs-Getting sprinkled with holy water (do you genuflect during a race?), exploring the bayfront and seeing a part of Sarasota I’d never traveled by foot before.

Lows-fewer spectators and forcing myself to run past the bloody mary bar because I was still feeling good with my pace.

IMG_9273.JPGMile 10

Highs-Girl Scout Cookie Station. Enough said.

Lows-Winding through a very pretty, albeit very twisted Selby Garden path on legs that only wanted to go in a straight line.

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Miles 11-13.1

Highs-Feeling familiar IT band pain and realizing I only had two miles to go.

Lows-Feeling familiar IT band pain and realizing I still had two miles to go. And not realizing how much more excited the lady in front of me was in the chute.

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IMG_9276.JPGPost Race

Highs-Best post-race party I’ve experienced in 10 or so races. Beer. Bagels. Bands and the Sarasota Bay. Doesn’t get much better.

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Remind me to tell you about our decision to finalize our wedding registry that afternoon and then stop by the greek festival on the way home instead of taking a nap or stretching like a normal human. Greek food makes everything better.

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Running in a humid climate

Hey remember when I used to run outside?

I don’t.

OK so I do remember it, but I also remember it being much more enjoyable. I was back in Illinois a few weeks ago and got a chance to run on the trail near my parents house. The weather was perfect. I could actually breathe. And for the first time in a long time I remembered how much I love to run outside.

To be honest, I can probably count on both hands the times I’ve run outside since we moved to Florida. If it’s not the heat it’s the humidity. And the humidity is usually preceded or followed by a pop-up thunderstorm that comes out of nowhere. We’re talking nowhere folks. This morning as Finn and I attempted to go out for our morning walk the sun was shining. The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it started pouring.

But yesterday morning there was a break in the heat so I headed out for a run as the sun was coming up, knowing that as soon as it did I’d probably pass out on the side of the road. I got four miles in and was pretty happy with it. And along the way I thought about the various mental and physical adjustments you have to make when you run in a new climate.

Don’t try to be a hero.

Who cares if you limped ran through 26.31 miles last October. When it comes to running, weather can be a huge factor. One that makes every training session unique. I’ve had days where I felt energy like never before, only to bonk 2 miles in. And I’ve had days where it took everything in my to agree to 1 mile only to breeze through 4. There are so many factors that come into play when you are running outside you can’t possibly meet your expectations every time. As the most covered song by bloggers and 5 year-old girls alike says, “Let it Go.”

You can walk if you want to. 

I say this even though it still kills me to actually do it. I’m as competitive as they come so even on runs by myself I try to justify reasons I can’t stop to catch my breath or stretch my legs. Human bodies are pretty special, but even they take a little time to acclimatize to changes in weather and environment. If your body is telling you to slow down, (and we’re talking really telling you not just whispering from 500 yards behind you telling you) stop and walk for goodness sake. The reality is that you still have to make it home don’t you? Slow down and recover. No one’s chasing you. And if they are don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Kick it in a little more why don’t ya?

Wear a heart rate monitor.

Remember what I just said about slowing down when you feel like you need to? Well wearing a heart rate monitor can help you make that decision more accurately. Running may seem like a fairly physical feat, but if you’ve ever been out on a run solo and find your motivation lacking, you’ll quickly realize how mental the feat really is. Wearing a heart rate monitor well allow you to match the way you think you feel to how hard you are actually working. Seeing those numbers gets you out of your head and helps you have a more efficient workout.

Bring water.

Oh just bring it. Even if you’re too proud to. I used to play by the rule that if it wasn’t over 6 miles, I didn’t need water. And while that’s sort of true, (you should be hydrated enough to exercise for 45 minutes without water) when your running in high heat and humidity I think you should throw that rule into the ocean. Heat and humidity can prevent your body from releasing heat as efficiently so by the time you realize you are dehydrated it could be too late. If you don’t like carrying water with you, plan an out-and-back route where you can leave it halfway. It’s only cumbersome for the first few minutes but if you don’t have it, everyone you pass will look like a giant jug of Gatorade or the Kool-Aid Man and you’ll seriously consider tackling them.

Mix it up. 

So you’re not going to get the mileage you thought you were because of the weather conditions. Mix it up. Do a set of walking lunges. Throw in some body weight squats, high knees or butt kicks. Alternate sprinting and walking as you make your way back. Yes, people may look at you funny, but it’s likely that they are really just picturing you as the Kool-Aid Man because they are just as thirsty as you are.

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Workout Wednesday: Work out like a dog

Before I got Finn, I had two choices. 1) get a dog who could I could take on runs with me but who may be miserable and hyper throughout the day while I’m at work or 2) get a dog who could nap with me. I chose the latter and ever since Finn has certainly lived up to his side of the deal.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

In the time since Finn came into my life, I have trained for 3 half marathons, a full marathon and several other races. And while he doesn’t go on long runs with me, he’s a heck of a warm-up or cool-down partner. In fact, he’d be great for one of those 3-day fundraising walks if anyone needs a team member. He’ll even carry your stuff if you reward him with carrots. Kid loves himself some carrots.

What was I talking about again? Oh right, working out with your pet.

When the folks at DogVacay.com* reached out to me about my exercise routine, my first thought was

Nah. Not me. You guys probably want someone who can actually do a workout with their dog not someone who works out their dog then works out herself or vice versa.

But then they shared a pretty cool infographic with me and I realized one of my go-to workouts already incorporates a lot of the things that my pup does on a daily basis. That and I just really love a good infographic.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog

The circuit above is a great opportunity to change up your routine, which is just what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was at home for a quick visit. In fact, I wish I had seen this before I called up my trainer and asked him for a “quick workout” that day. If I had I may still have been able to breathe afterwards.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog, circuit training, fire hydrants, squats,

 

To get started grab a treadmill or a very hot Florida afternoon and complete the following:

  • 3 minute warm up jog (5.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 1 mile at a comfortable pace (6.2-6.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 30 second sprint intervals for 8 minutes total (20 seconds at 7.7+ and 2% incline, 10 second rest**)
    **you may just have to hop off the treadmill and let it keep running because these go pretty fast

You should complete roughly 3 miles or more depending on your pace.

Immediately following that circuit, grab a mat and complete the following, alternating leg and arm exercises as you go and trying to rest as little as possible.

  • Body weight squats (see infographic for proper form)-20x
  • Pull-ups-20x
  • Walking lunges-20 on each leg (40 total)
  • Push-ups-20x
  • Fire hydrants-10 each leg (20 total and yes you will look and feel silly)
  • Back Extensions-20x
  • Donkey kicks-10 each leg (same position as fire hydrants only you will kick leg up and back)
  • Planks-1 minute

Do this circuit three times, four if you’re crazy. Then throw in a down dog for recovery sake and call it a day.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

* I was in no way compensated for this post but that’s not stopping me from telling you if you have pets and are looking for a qualified person to watch them while you are away rather then boarding them, be sure to check out DogVacay.com.

Have a great workout!

 

 

Workout Wednesday

It’s been a while since I did a Workout Wednesday post so I figured I’d enlighten you today.

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I’m sure you all have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all my free time lately. No? Oh that’s right you probably don’t have time to sit around and consider what I’m doing with my time but lucky for you I’ll tell you anyway.

I’m trying to make a living of this whole housewife thing but in just over 10 days I’ve determined that I really suck at it. The boxes are long unpacked, the cabinets organized and one can only rearrange picture frames so many times before she feels the eyes following her across the house. My name is Sarah and I completely suck at free time. This move has solidified the fact that I am at my best within a tight timeframe. Give me 3 hours before a big party and man can I crank things out. But if I’m faced with too much time on my hands, I can be just about as unproductive as they come.

Now I know I’m barking up the wrong palm tree as I will be begging for days like this when I’m back in the 9-5 world but in the meantime I’m going just a little bit crazy. I have managed to make a few friends at the dog park, though. Human friends for those of you assuming my only conversations are with canines recently (most are).

I do venture out beyond our local dog park each day. I may or may not have visited SuperTarget 3 times in 4 days last week. Not completely out of the realm for normal Sarah but bordering the line of excess. In an effort to curb spending and get out of the house, I’ve been getting to know people at our new gym. I’m typically not one to strike up a conversation during a workout, but when the only responses you’ve had all morning were head tilts and barks, you take what you can get. I suppose the same could be credited for this lengthy blog post as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd, puppy,

After several months off from working out with my trainer, I’ve been feeling the proverbial wrath after each workout.  In fact, my triceps and pecs are fatigued just typing on my keyboard and my butt is entirely way too sore for this squishy of a chair.

So today I’m going to take you through a basic ‘warm-up’ that Matt and I do before we begin lifting. I don’t have any pictures because I was too busy trying not to let my legs burn off but it’s pretty straightforward. Try it and you too can get a body like this, farmer’s tan and all!

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Start with one mile on the treadmill or 5 minutes on a spin bike keeping your RPM above 100. If you don’t have a display on your spin bike, try to keep your heart rate above 140 the entire time.

Continue your warm up in an open fitness studio or free corner of your gym. Repeat the following body weight exercises without resting:

  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)
  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20 
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)

Congratulations, you’re ready for your workout now. Or if you’re like me, you’re ready to go home.

And to help out with that post-workout thirst or recovery the next day, I’ve been making my green juice on repeat lately.

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Easy Green Juice

  • 1/2 Banana (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/4 C chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 apple, peeled
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • Big bunch spinach and Kale
  • 1 tsp honey
  • fresh ginger
  • Ice

Add first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend. Plop in a fun straw and drink up!

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Have a great workout! I’m off to Target.

 

The art of unplugging

So I’m back in the city after several days visiting friends and family at home. If you read my last post, and by read I mean just looked at pictures, you have a pretty good idea of how most of the weekend was spent, laughing with friends and family, celebrating and lots and lots of food.

darcy's pint, birthday, cake, going away party, friends, family, greater swiss mountain dog

There was also this little religious holiday called Easter in there as well. The weather was gorgeous this weekend so we spent most of our time outside, hunting Easter eggs with halloween buckets, playing soccer and taking Finn to the park.

easter, egg hunt, boys, swiss mountain dog, easter egg hunt, tulips

I spent little to no time on social media or even with my phone in my hand. Perks of being with most everyone you connect with in person, I suppose. My nephew is on spring break this week so I stayed a few extra days to hang out with him and procrastinate packing. I didn’t even manage to bake anything this weekend and why would I when I have a mother who does it better?

If you want to know how much of this cake I helped with then remove the white chocolate shavings and robin eggs. Remove those and you still have a pretty ultimate chocolate cake.

ultimate chocolate cake, birthday cake, easter cake, bird nest on top of chocolate cake

Ultimate Chocolate Cake 

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 3/4 tsps baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 C butter
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C buttermilk
  • cocoa

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 inch cake pans. Dust pans with cocoa.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda and powder together.

In a stand mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add cream and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. Add chocolate and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients into wet alternating with buttermilk.

Pour evenly into two cake pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool on racks. Don’t skip this step or your second layer will crumble into pieces and you’ll have to rebuild it with extra icing. Oh darn.

ultimate chocolate cake, birthday cake, easter cake, bird nest on top of chocolate cake

Ultimate Chocolate Icing

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 3 C sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 C plus 2 TBL evaporated milk

Melt chocolate and butter together. In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, vanilla and evaporated milk. Add melted chocolate. Beat until icing thickens. Cool to room temperature and then ice cake.

ultimate chocolate cake, birthday cake, easter cake, bird nest on top of chocolate cake

You’ll have to forgive me for posting a cake like this on Workout Wednesday but let me tell you, eating a piece of it is a workout in itself. And doesn’t everyone deserves a cake workout every one in a while?

The answer is yes.

 

 

 

Workout Wednesday

Please excuse my absence this week. I guess being at a company for 5-plus years makes for a pretty busy final week.

Speaking of finals, I decided that this last week of work feels a lot like college finals. The springlike weather (let’s not even talk about the snow we had yesterday), finishing up those big projects before a much-needed break, the anxiety that comes with realizing that your break actually consists of finding a job and the celebratory drinking. Ok, so I think we can all agree the drinking will never be on the same level as college finals but you get the idea.

And the packing. Don’t even get me started on the packing. Let’s just say my next few Workout Wednesdays are going to look a lot like this.

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I’m going to try my best to continue to post regularly but please forgive me if I’m off schedule for a few weeks. I am a self-proclaimed packing procrastinator. Heck, this post alone is proof of that.

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But I’m wearing my marathon shirt as a reminder that I can do hard things. That and it was the one on the top of my oh-so-messy workout clothes to pack pile.

Sincerely,
Sarah ‘almost to graduation’ Murphy

Farewell Chicago: Running in the city

Switching up Workout Wednesday this week to bring you the first in what will probably be many installments of my farewell tour of Chicago. It is about running so I guess it can count as a Workout Wednesday post as well.

sweet home chicago banner, farewell tour of chicago, chicago skyline banner

When I first moved to this city 6 years ago, I made a Chicago bucket list. Back then, I expected to only be in the city for a few years so I made sure to do all the touristy things I could in the time I had. From boat cruises to sky decks, Chicago dogs to deep dish pizza, I’ve explored and eaten my way through Chicago in an effort to check things off my list.

And yet here I am 6 years later with a list of things I still want to do. Chicago is a pretty awesome town. I could probably spend another 6 years and still not cover it all. I’ve fallen in love with so much in this city.

I know I’ll miss the food, the culture and especially the people, but one of the biggest things I’m going to miss is being able to run in the city. It may sound trivial but running around this place is how I got to know it. It’s how I familiarized myself with the neighborhoods. It’s how I came to love the culture and the people who make it up. It’s how I found new restaurants, how I met new friends and how I learned to push myself both physically and mentally in ways I never had before. Chicago made me a runner and I’m not sure I’ll be the same without it.

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I’ve done countless races throughout my time in Chicago. Each unique and joyful. Well my Chicago marathon was anything but joyful at the time but looking back I’m joyful about it. Kind of.

running in chicago, chicago farewell tour, chicago marathon, running in the city, big10k, rocknroll half marathon, PAWS chicago

And while the races were fun, the runs I’ll miss most are the ones I did all by myself. There were no medals, no cheering sections or finish lines, but rather the simple entertainment of a jog through the city, never knowing what you’ll run into around the corner.

running in chicago, river path, lake michigan, shedd aquarium, navy pier

Here are 6 things I’m going to miss about running in Chicago:

running in chicago,downtown chicago, chicago farewell tour

1. The buzz of the city. Commuters, cabs, buses and trains. First dates, last dates, obviously not a date and wedding dates. Tourists, strangers, friends and random hecklers. There’s a buzz about this city that can best be felt on foot. And while you can plan on a ‘hey you runner,’ ‘looking good lady,’ or the occasional ‘why you always gotta be running away from me?’ I’m going to really miss the excitement of running around this city.

chicago riverwalk, farewell chicago tour, running in chicago, chicago river

2. The Riverwalk. Nestled alongside the area where the Chicago river meets Lake Michigan is the Chicago Riverwalk. You have to navigate traffic and stop lights to get to it but once you do, you have a clear path for miles and miles. Along the way you’ll see walkers and runners, kayaks and boat cruises, Trump Tower, the Wrigley Building and the Tribune. And if you’re me, you’ll be close enough to yell hello to some of your best friends for going on 20 years now…

chicago riverwalk, farewell chicago tour, running in chicago, chicago river

3. The Benskos. If you think I say hello each night when I run by then you’re crazy. Correct, but crazy. Don’t worry I don’t yell it. Just a quiet internal ‘What up Bensko family. High-five Ella!’ in my head. Don’t worry they won’t be too creeped out when they read this. As I mentioned we’ve been friends for quite some time now so they are used to it.

farewell chicago, running in chicago, lake michigan, navy pier

4. Lake Michigan. As if having a huge city and a river path isn’t enough, we’ve got a lake too. And a gigantic one at that. From Montrose to McCormick Place, most of my miles have been along the lake. I always tell people if you can get yourself to the lake path, you will have all the motivation you need to push yourself further in your workout. How lucky we are to have access to miles and miles of running paths alongside a beautiful city? I’ll miss you lake!

farewell chicago, running in chicago, lake michigan, shedd aquarium

5. Shedd Aquarium. I used to want to be a marine biologist when I was little. That was until I found out that they do far more than play with dolphins all day. I still think about that career path every time I run past Shedd. On Saturdays the line to get in goes on for blocks. On Wednesdays during the summer they have cocktails and jazz musicians. Chicago’s museum campus offers Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and Soldier Field all within steps of one another. And while I don’t recommend stopping in mid-run, it’s pretty cool to be among some of Chicago’s best landmarks on any given weekday.

chicago skyline, shedd aquarium, running in chicago, chicago farewell tour, running in the city

6.The skyline. It never gets old. Cloudy, rainy, sunny, dark. Chicago has the prettiest skyline of any city. And I’m not just saying that because I’m sad to leave it.

chicago skyline, shedd aquarium, running in chicago, chicago farewell tour, running in the city

chicago skyline, shedd aquarium, running in chicago, chicago farewell tour, running in the city

It’s hard to draw the line at just 6 things I’m going to miss about running in Chicago, but in the essence of time I’ll leave it at that for now. I do have a few things I won’t miss for those of you glass half-empty readers out there:

garrets pocorn, chicago, running in chicago, chicago farewell tour

The smell of Garrett’s popcorn at the end of a run. Oh that smell might seem enticing when you are walking around downtown and hungry for a snack, but just try to avoid it as you heavily breathe through your last mile in the loop. It’s impossible and it’s nauseating. Bonus points against the Subway bread smell across the street.

running in chicago, farewell tour of chicago, stairs, marathon, running in the city

These stairs. Don’t be fooled by the innocent look these stairs are giving you right now. They are mean, mean stairs. The kind of stairs you have to walk DOWN just minutes after completing a painful Chicago marathon in order to meet your family. I’ll never look at a set of stairs the same way again.

Goose poop. (not pictured)

I’ll be back with another installment of my farewell posts soon. Have a great day!