Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Shamrock Shuffle Recap

Hello long lost blog friends! My weekend was anything but relaxing, but it was still a good one. If you're here for the goals, there's here, just at the bottom of the post :)

As soon as I left work on Friday I scrambled on over to Navy Pier for the Shamrock Shuffle packet pickup. The expo was actually not as chaotic as I expected, and there were some great companies there-- Nuun (one of my favorite hydration choices), an awesome used shoe vendor, other race companies and more. Soooo this happened:

Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon registration was $15 off if you registered on site, plus a free tank. Annnnnnd my new shoes haven't arrived yet so naturally I justified buying another new pair of running shoes. In my defense, they were only $60 (they retail at $120) and in my size and style. With 3 half marathons this spring/summer, I'll certainly need them! Guess I'm pretty invested (mentally, physically and financially) in this running thing. WHO AM I?

Saturday kicked off with my dreaded 10-miler. Ten is just a big scary number, and even though I've run this distance before, it is still such an obstacle in my mind, especially because I was running this one solo. I blame the double digits. Despite getting a later start than I wanted, I actually felt pretty solid for the first 7.5 miles. I even had an awesome tailwind heading south on the Lakeshore Path.... which naturally turned into a vicious evil headwind as soon as I turned around to head back North. Real talk: I legitimately considered riding that tailwind south until I finished out my miles and hopping an Uber back home, but I convinced myself that the headwind was actually making me a stronger runner. Who knows if that's actually true? The last 2.5 were not pretty, but I even surprised myself by maintaining my 9:50 pace (wut?!) and finishing out as strong as I could. 10 miles? Check!

The rest of Saturday was spent cashing in on my Chipotle bribery meal, followed up with some froyo for good measure, and then spending far too much time and money in Target. Seriously, if you are able to leave Target without spending $50 more than you planned, I salute you. However, if you haven't downloaded the Cartwheel for Target app yet, you must! You can add instant coupons to your account and scan it at the register. I saved $11 for basically doing nothing at all.

Sunday morning's 7am wakeup call was actually not terrible, so my roommate and I moseyed on downtown to meet up with our friends before the race. The weather report called for a high of 60, but unfortunately the race start was only 33. With a race of this size (40,000 runners!) mucho signage and logistical planning is needed to keep things from dissolving into chaos, and, unfortunately this race was a bit chaotic. There was just not nearly enough signage pointing to gear check (there were three separate ones, and not really close together), and the corrals had such narrow entrances there was no way everyone could enter (there was a huuuuge line) before they closed. We ended up hopping a fence to get in, but made it with a few minutes to spare. We were off!

None of us actually planned to run together, but I spotted Lauren (my normal long-run buddy) right behind me about a half mile in, so we decided to try to stick together. I clocked our first mile in the high 7's (WHAT THE WHAT?) but we relaxed into a more comfortable 9:20-9:30 pace as the race continued. My legs had been sooooore when I woke up, but running actually felt pretty good... for the first 3 miles. The fatigue started to rear its ugly head around mile 3, but I just tried to push through as much as I could. Lauren and I weren't too chatty, but it was still good to have someone to run with! The only "real hill" of the route was of course during the last mile, and I just channeled my dad who is the hill master: "just keep chugging, just keep chugging." As soon as we crested the hill, the finish line was in sight. Lauren told me to go ahead and I trucked it as fast as I could. My goal was to be under a 9:50 pace, and... I did!

Who would've ever thought that on the heels of a 10-miler, I would be able to crush my goal?! For fun, I looked up my time at last year's Cinco de Miler (my first 5-mile race). I shaved almost 2 minutes/mile off my pace!:

Needless to say, today is a much deserved rest day. Now if only I could avoid the bottomless pit sense of hunger that follows my long-run weekends.

On with the goals!

Fitnasty for Life

Accountability check on last week's goals:

1) 10,000 steps a day. CHECK.

2) 100 ounces of water a day. CHECK.

3) 7 hours of sleep a night. No, epic failure. 

4) Beat my pace goal for the Shamrock Shuffle. HELL YES CHECK.

Here's what's on tap this week:

1) 10,000 steps a day. Yes, again. I need to make this a habit, especially on my non-run days (Monday and Friday). BTW-- if you have a Fitbit, let's be friends! My email is carolyn[dot]baumgarten[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Minimum 6 freggies a day. I've definitely not been as diligent with fruits and veggies since the conclusion of the Chicago Achievers Project. 

3) 7 hours of sleep a night. I mean it, self.

4) No skipped runs. I haven't gotten in a full week of 5 planned runs in a few weeks, so it's time to get serious. Less then 4 weeks until race day and it's time to get serious!

Your turn! What are your goals this week?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Few of my Favorite Things: Running Gear

One of the intimidating parts of starting a new sport is figuring out what items you actually need to get started. Heck, when I first started running (in high school), I was wearing those super trendy in the early 2000's Adidas tennis shoes with the 3 stripes on the side. Imagine the difference I felt once my dad took my to buy my first pair of real running shoes! 

I thought it might be fun to start a new little series about my favorite things. I'm kicking it off by talking about my favorite running gear:


I wore my old shoes to the ground-- literally. Look at how the treads are completely gone! I can't say enough good things about the Saucony Ride 6s (my old pair were the 5s). They're definitely the perfect running shoe for me! But really and truly, if you haven't been professionally fitted for shoes at a running store (NOT Dick's or Sports Authority), you're doing yourself a disservice! Once you know what shoes you like, then you can buy them for cheaper online :) Can't wait for my newest shoes to arrive!

Sports Bra

If you're like me and have been particularly - ahem - blessed up top, you know that finding a good sports bra can be a real challenge. I'm loving Moving Comfort's Maia bra-- it's available up to an E cup and this sucker really keeps me, as Stacy and Clinton would say, "locked and loaded." Yes, they're expensive (about $60), but totally worth it. If you've got smaller girls and don't need such serious levels of support, well, I hate/envy you.


I love love love Old Navy's activewear line. not only is it cheap, the pieces are really high quality. And their crops don't fall down which is my absolute biggest gripe about workout bottoms. I also have a pair of fleece-lined leggings from The North Face that have single-handedly gotten me through the sucky winter weather. They cost about 80 bucks, but were TOTALLY worth it and they kept my legs toasty through many <10 degree runs.

For tops, my friend Sam got me a really cute breathable Nike tank (above) that has appeared on this blog many a time. I didn't used to care about wearing breathable fabrics on top, but my life has forever changed now that I'm used to the magic of dry fit. 


Shot Bloks are by far and away my favorite fuel. They're easy to transport, and I don't find them completely disgusting even when it's 90 degrees out and they've been in my pocket (unlike Gu which... gross). I love pretty much all of the "red" flavors- Cran-Razz, Black Cherry, Mountain Berry, and haven't had an issue with the caffeine contents in any of the flavors. Also, Nuun is my favorite for hydration. It gives you that burst of electrolyes without all the sugar (or calories) in Gatorade. The price seems a little steep (about $6-8 for the tube of tabs), but if you think of it like buying 10 sports drinks, it becomes more reasonable. I'll drink this before I run, or I'll bring a tab with me on long runs and drop it in my water bottle when I refill at the mid-run mark. 


I'm obviously obsessed with my Garmin Forerunner 10. It was very reasonably priced, as far as GPS watches go, and it gives me just the right amount of information without being too overwhelming. My only nitpick is that it sometimes take a little while to pick up the satellites, but otherwise, it's great! Bonus: they're available in fun colors :)

I also really love the Shoedometer app for logging shoe mileage. You can add multiple pairs of shoes if you rotate, and it'll let you know when you're getting close to needing a new pair, depending on how much mileage you like to put on your shoes. Super easy to use and better than guessing on when I'll need to replace!

What are your favorite running accessories? I'm always on the lookout for new products to try!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rise and Grind

How was everyone's weekend? 

Mine was spent running 9 miles on Saturday morning and then eating an amazing brunch, obviously. Neither Lauren nor I were really feeling this run. Miles 1-5 were just roughhhhh, but after we stopped for a Shot Blok break at mile 5, I think both our moods picked up. Man, I needed that sugar! After much whining and complaining, we managed to power through and knock out the full 9 in a 9:58 pace! Then this happened:

Heaven in a bowl.
I was tethered to the couch alllll day on Sunday until I finally peeled myself away from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives long enough to run 4 miles. On a scale from 1-10, my desire to run was approximately a -3. Especially when I looked at the weather and saw that it was "feels like 14." WHAT THE HECK, CHICAGO? I have no idea how I pulled off a 9:07 pace because that is by far my fastest 4-miler ever.

I polished my nails in the springiest color I could find in hopes of ushering warmer weather. So far... it's not working. The highest high this week is only 44. Sigh.

Speaking of bright colors, I finally pulled the trigger on my next pair of running shoes! I've been running in the Saucony Ride 6s since September (I previously wore the Ride 5s) and I really love 'em. I used to experience toe numbness while running, but now it hardly ever happens. I use an app called Shoedometer to track my runs so I'd know when to replace my shoes, and I'm nearing the 300-mile mark on my current kicks and the treads are definitely showing some wear and tear. In order to have time to break them in before the Nike Women's Half (one month and 3 days away!!), it was time to bring these new pretties into the rotation:

BTW, if you already have a favorite pair of running shoes, check out for AWESOME deals-- like 50% off retail! Of course they had every Saucony shoe except mine... but definitely check it out and hopefully you'll have better luck than me.

And that concludes this week's photo-dump. If you don't already, follow me on Insta and you can feast your eyes on all of my pitiful attempts at photography and shameless daily Garmin postings.

On with the goals! 

Fitnasty for Life

First, time to be accountable for last week...

1) 100 ounces of water a day. Er, I did this probably 5 out of 7 days.

2) Complete 4 out of 5 runs. Check! I was THIS close to bailing on Sunday, but dammit, I did it.

3) 10,000 steps a day. I did this 4 out of 7 days. But I got 27,000 steps on Saturday with my 9-miler!

Here's what's on tap this week:

1) 10,000 steps a day. Seriously, I need to get back on track, especially on my non-running days (Monday and Friday). 

2) 100 ounces of water a day. Yes, again.

3) 7 hours of sleep a night. My sleeping patterns were pretty horrendous last week, thanks, in part, to a 3:50am wakeup call when I was in NYC. But the trip was a great success AND I even managed to squeeze in a quick lunch with this pretty lady:

My lovely friend Ashley who recently moved from Chicago to NYC. Come back, Ash!
4) Beat my pace goal for the Shamrock Shuffle. I wrote down a 9:50 pace for next weekend's 5-miler, which really shouldn't be a problem. Here's a fun fact, though: I've never ran a race at a <10 minute pace. The race is on Sunday after Saturday's scheduled 10-miler, so fingers crossed that I have a good running weekend!

Your turn! What are your goals this week?

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Divergent Five

I'm dedicating today's Five on Friday to Divergent because it's my blog and I'll fan-girl if I want to. MAJOR SPOILERS (both book and movie) AHEAD. You've been warned.


Overall? I really liked it. The cityscape, the visual effects (well, some were lackluster, but most were good), Dauntless Headquarters, the simulations -- they did a pretty great job. Seriously, I am wowed at their ability to translate such a crazy dystopian vision into sometime-in-the-future Chicago that was simultaneously realistic and out of this world. I feel like I had chills the whole movie just watching the storyline unfolding right in front of me.


The casting? If you've talked to me in the last 12 months, you know I have major beef with Shailene Woodley being cast as Tris. There are so many ways that Shailene fails to fit Tris's physical characteristics from the book, which have a major impact on how she is portrayed and perceived throughout the series. Tris is supposed to be short, pale, blonde, thin and wiry, flat-chested... and Shailene is obviously none of those things (well, she's thin). In my mind, Dakota Fanning would've made the perfect Tris.

I'm also questioning the choices for Christina, who is supposed to be tall and athletic. Instead they cast someone petite and seemingly inept at anything physical... which begs the question, how are viewers supposed to believe that Movie Tris (much bigger and less wimpy than Book Tris) fights so hard to stay above the line during training, and Movie Christina, who is tiny and not athletic, is in la-la-land over Will and somehow cruises through the process? In my mind, Christina should've been someone young Gabrille Union-esque.

Also, Peter is supposed to be blonde (in my mind he was somewhere between Malfoy and Sam "Trouty Mouth" from Glee), though the portrayal was dead-on.

Despite the creative liberty taken with the casting, I think all of the actors did amazing jobs with their roles. Ashley Judd was so heart-breakingly perfect, and what is there to say about Four and Eric? Except Christina. Sorry, I'm not buying it.


Misses? As with most movies adapted from books, there were a number of creative decisions that depart from the storyline of the book. Edward getting stabbed in the eye with a fork, for example, was a major event that I'm sad didn't make it into the movie. I think showing that would've really illustrated the dog-eat-dog world that the trainees lived in (both during training, and in their free time). Not to mention, I think this is going to have major ramifications later on, when Edward comes back wearing an eyepatch and leading the Factionless.

I don't care that they cut the family visiting scene and replaces it with some weirdo unloading cargo scene. I'm willing to let it slide that Jeanine was involved in a bunch of scenes that she wasn't involved with in the book. Though Four's discovery of the transmitting serum (versus Caleb telling Tris about it when she visits Erudite HQ) seems far too convenient. Also I'm sad Four and Tris didn't "go public" after the final test like they do in the book. 

I am, however, pretty annoyed at the way they decided to re-write both the destruction of the computer transmitter and especially the scene where Four almost kills Tris. The fact that they placed this scene in front of an Erudite audience (rather than in the private control room, as it happens in the book) completely takes away from desperation and re-connection they're supposed to have in a near-death moment, and instead turns it into an unevenly matched fight that the Erudite just watch from afar. And the fact that Tris and Four inject Jeanine with a serum and get her to destroy the computer transmitter... no, just no. Everything about this is wrong and I dislike it.

Scenes that were dead on? The scene where Tris tries desperately not to shoot Will, and then has to do it anyway (though I do wish Will had a slightly more prominent role). And then Tris's mom getting shot in the very next scene and HOLY COW so many emotions. Shailene redeemed herself for me, just in those two scenes.


I would like to own every pair of side-paneled leather pants that Tris wears throughout the entire move. And her leather jacket.

What'd you think of the movie? Any big plans this weekend?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Currently (abridged)

Making : myself get back on a normal routine. Not tomorrow. Not next Monday. Now.
Cooking : boneless pork chops and asparagus.
Drinking : good ol' fashioned water.
Reading: nothing. But I just finished The Fault in our Stars and it's completely deserving of the praise.
Wanting: a vacation. Preferably somewhere tropical.
Looking: for the perfect sundress for many upcoming events this spring/summer.
Playing: my old John Legend Get Lifted CD.
Wasting: too much time watching reality tv.
Wishing: that wine qualified as a fruit.
Enjoying: leaving the office when there's still daylight.
Waiting: for the laundry fairy to come fold all my clothes.
Needing: a new book to dive into.
Wearing: high school sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Unapologetically.
Noticing: that I could really use a good mani/pedi (but that I'm holding off on until I enter the 150s).
Knowing: that this much is true:

Feeling: content.

[inspired by Keira who was inspired by inspired by Sydney, who was inspired by Pip]

Monday, March 17, 2014

Falling Down

Fitnasty for Life

Let's just get down to it. I fell off the wagon last week. Many long days and a mid-March blizzard (oh Midwest, you fickle beast) led to missed runs, and then *cough* an entire bag of Smartfood Popcorn consumed over the weekend. And pancakes. And lots of wine. And chocolate chips. C'est la vie.

This week is definitely going to be a challenge due to some work travel today and tomorrow, but that doesn't mean I have to throw away an entire week of eating and working out. I'm making it my mission to focus on the little things that I can control, and to get back to my regular routine as soon as I'm back in Chicago.

Here's my game plan:

1) 100 ounces of water a day. Yes, this was a goal last week. No, I didn't do it every day. Today's a new day.

2) Complete 4 out of 5 runs. I only did two of five last week. Ugh. On the plus side, one of those two included 8 miles at a 9:38 pace. Who the heck am I?!

3) 10,000 steps a day. If I'm being honest, I've been seriously slacking on steps lately. Especially when I'll be in NYC for 2 days, I have no excuses to not walk a lot!

Your turn! What are your goals for the week?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Accountability Check? CHECK

Weigh In Wednesday

Last Week's Weight: 165.4
Current Weight: 163.6
Change: -0.8
Total Loss: -64.4

Sixty-second accountability check: I am dangerously close to the 65lbs lost mark and officially less than 14lbs from my goal. Also, this marks 5 weeks in a row of losses, which is my best streak in MONTHS. Unfortunately this week is no less busy than last (perhaps crazier, even), so apologies in advance for the sporadic blogging.

However, let me quickly fill you in on this morning's workout. I couldn't run (because March blizzards are all the rage in Chicago), and when I went to do my Jillian DVD, I realized I'd lent it to a friend. So what do I do? Oh, just complete the entire 3rd week of Ripped in 30 by memory. I'm not sure if that's hilarious or sad, but let's go with hilarious.


How was your weigh in Wednesday?

Monday, March 10, 2014

It's About Time

Long time no talk! Yes, I dropped off the face of the earth last week. It's crunch time on a project at work, which means the last two weeks have been a lot of 11+ hour days. Between that and half marathon training, my days have looked something like this: run, work, TV, sleep. Ah, the exciting life of a grownup!

Anyway, this past weekend gave me time for some much-needed R&R. My friend Lauren (HI LAUREN), who is also training for a half marathon, and I met up on Saturday morning for our 7-miler. Neither of us has ever run with someone before, but we're on a pretty similar training schedule, so we decided to start doing our long runs together. It's been awesome! Our paces are pretty similar, and gabbing makes the time go by so much faster. Too bad we're terrible at planning routes so our 7-miler turned into an 8-miler. But even with the extra unplanned mile, we killed it on pace. Last week's 6-miler was around a 10:45 pace, and this week's 8 was at 10:01-- speedy for this distance for both of us!

Speaking of Speedy Gonzales, I had a 3-miler on the schedule for Sunday and it was pretty much the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I lazed around on the couch all day, then finally had to tear myself away from the riveting Oprah/Lindsey Lohan interview and just get 'er done. 

I set out and mentally planned on a slow and steady recovery run, but after cruising through my first mile in 9:01 (super fast for me), my competitive side took over. I was surprisingly not sore at all from Saturday, so I decided go to balls-to-the-figurative-wall and see if I could maintain that pace for a full 5K. And holy crap, I DID.

For perspective, my first ever timed 5K was the Santa Hustle in December 2012. I ran that 5K in 38:18, as 12:19 pace. I trained for that race and remember being pissed I had to stop and take walk breaks. And now, 15 months later, I've taken more than TEN minutes off of my 5K time and ran yesterday's in 27:44. That's insane to me! I'm certainly not a speed demon, but it really does make me proud of how far I've come in a sport that I used to loathe. I haven't actually put focused effort towards getting faster (beyond pushing myself and doing occasional fartleks), so I am really excited to see how I can improve once I start to focus more on speed after the Nike Women's Half :)

Onto the goals!
Fitnasty for Life

Honest progress report on the monthly goals front? I totally missed the 10K step mark on Friday. Ugh. Oh well, moving on from that with this week's goals:

1) Pack lunch every day for work. Between BOGO chicken and boneless pork chops, I don't have any excuses for eating well all week.

2) 100 ounces a day. I've been slacking on water a bit lately, so it's time to refocus. The good news, though, is that I actually haven't had pop at work in 2 full weeks! Not sayin' I'm never gonna have pop at work again, but I'm glad I was able to cut the habit.

3) Complete all scheduled runs. On tap this week: four 4-milers and an 8-miler. Bring it on.

What are your goals this week? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Marching Orders


And, more importantly, WHEN WILL IT BE SPRINGTIME?

If you're wondering what I did this weekend aside from complain about the weather, I ran 6 miles (for the first time since early November) and ate a lot of food. Evidence:

I ate the entire burger and maybe 1/4 the salad. I regret nothing.

But back to the weather, I actually really like the winter. But this winter in Chicago has been by far the worst one I've experienced since moving here, and maybe one of the worst I've ever experienced in my life. Also, enduring an arctic winter when you drive everywhere is one thing, but it's a whole different ballgame when you have to walk everywhere. Outside. And it feels like -6 out.

Basically it's been sub-zero since Halloween (well, it feels like it), and even the stores (except Target, God bless 'em) are hesitant to put out springtime clothing for fear of adding salt to the wounds. So, that's where we're at. All I'm sayin' is I have a summer full of fun events and traveling and I just wanna go sundress shopping and is that so much to ask?!

Fitnasty for Life

Moving on, I'm changing things up a bit today. Rather than focusing on just one week of goals, I'm going to focus on the entire month. If you're new around here, feel free to make goals however you like. I'm not the goals police :) And if there's any way I can help you, let me know!

Without further ado, the March goals:

1) WW 100 Mile Challenge. I love a good mileage challenge, and this one is pretty simple. You of course don't have to actually be a member of WW to play along, so check out the hashtag on Instagram and join in!

2) Complete 90% of Scheduled Runs. There are 3 "turning point" weeks in Half Marathon training, as far as I'm concerned: a) when the short runs are all upgraded from 3 miles to 4 miles. b) when the mid-week run bumps from 4-5 miles to 6 miles. c) when long runs hit 10 miles. All of these mean significantly more time on your feet and earlier wake-up calls to run before work. This week marks the 3 --> 4 milers turning point for me, but I've been feeling good on training so far. I crossed off all of last weeks runs (21 miles total!), so here's hoping I can hit 90% of scheduled runs throughout March. This means running 20 of my 22 scheduled runs. 2 down, 18 to go!

3) 10K a Day. 10,000 steps. Every single day. Can I do it?

4) Read two Books. I've seriously fallen into the trap of non-stop computering/iPhoning all the time. But in reality, I love to read! My friend just loaned me The Fault In Our Stars, so if the rumors are true, I look forward to ugly-crying my way through it.

The Reeses is [long] gone, but that fudge heart still
taunts me from my desk drawer on a daily basis.
5) No candy. I know I can do this, I just have to make myself do this. I think if I can build up a streak of saying "no" rather than saying "okay just one little piece," I'll be more empowered to say no, even after the month is over.