"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places." Roald Dahl

Monday, June 13, 2016

May Running Report

In May I ran 60 miles... that was not an increase from last month... but I'm still alright with it. My pace is still holding strong and I've been adding a lot of strength training and cross training; think volleyball, biking, walking, etc.

Weather is getting warmer and I've moved to a new neighborhood.   I'm excited to get out there and explore a bit while I seek out some new favorite running routes.  Here are some pictures of my May runs below... 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pure Barre + Yoga

Last weekend I took a small hiatus from running and tried two new workouts: Pure Barre 
and Candle-lit Yoga.

They were both pretty amazing. 

Pure Barre: 

This one was hard. Way harder than I anticipated it to be.  And that is exactly why I think I might go back again.  The hour flew by because even though you are doing such small movements, the pace is quick, the instructor was lively and helpful, and every 5-7 minutes or so you moved on to a new phase of the class.  I was also sore in a way that I didn't know was possible.  Not the big muscle kind of sore that you get after crossfit, but a small kind of sore that is everywhere.  I mean, everywhere.  And it's less overwhelming, but proof that you did, in fact, work every single tiny muscle in your body.

We had a great group of girls that tried it out together and the instructor (far left) was the sister of my friend!  Such a fun morning that was capped with some delicious mimosas.  If you're ever in Chicago, head to Pure Barre River North or Streeterville.  It's the place to be!  

Also, if the crazy klutz's that are my sister and I can do it, I promise, you can too! 

Gratitude Yoga's Candle-lit Class: 

This was a Sunday vinyasa class taught by an old acquaintance from high school.  The focus of the class is "gratitude" and it was really wonderful.  I'm a hard sell with yoga classes and rarely am a repeat customer.  I would definitely go back to this class.  It's the perfect way to end your weekend on a high note.  I felt stretched, peaceful, and happy walking out of there; ready to face the week! 

This year is all about exploring new ways to stay fit and so far I'm on a roll! Have any other ideas for me?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Running Report

In the month of April I ran 70 miles!  

That's about 5 more miles than March and about 25 more miles than February.  Overall, my goal is to increase my mileage and stay consistent with my workouts.  I was hoping to hit 80 miles, but with two weeks of travel and a busy schedule it just didn't happen.  That's just going to have to be OK for now. 

In addition to running, I've been adding in a lot of abs and plyometric workouts and I can tell!  My average per mile pace has dropped significantly.  I've always been about a 9:45 min per mile runner.  This past month my average per mile pace was 8:45-9:00 minutes per mile!! I don't think I've ever run that fast.  And these runs weren't short - there were three runs over 7 miles in a span of three weeks.  

I'm finally starting to feel like I'm making some progress!  Now let's see if I can keep the momentum going...

Here are some pictures from my April runs in Chicago. 

I also got a few runs in during my trip to NC.  Loved the weather and sunshine down there.  Didn't love the pollen quite as much, but I dealt with it. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Grandest of Canyons

Before we headed back to Scottsdale from Sedona, we took a small detour to the Grand Canyon.  Neither of us had ever been there - it would have been a shame to be so close and not see it.

It was breath-taking.  Simply awe-inspiring. Warning, there are a ton of pictures below.  I couldn't choose any to leave out.

One last thing about the Grand Canyon... If you ever go, please don't sacrifice your safety for a good picture.  I can't tell you how many people I saw climbing over barricades and stepping way-too-close to the edge just to get a good picture.  It was so scary to watch.

I also looked it up.  12 people accidentally die each year at the Grand Canyon while trying to get a good picture.  Don't be that person - the picture is so not worth it.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Arizona Getaway: Sedona Food, Lodging, and Attractions

The first stop on our trip was Sedona.  It's a cute little touristy town about 2 hours north of Phoenix, which makes it a fairly easy drive from the airport.  We landed at about 10am, grabbed our rental car, scarfed down some lunch and hit the road.

Orchards Inn 
We arrived in downtown Sedona around 1pm and headed to our hotel, the Orchards Inn.  This hotel was amazing!  (I am not being endorsed in any way for this review).  It's right smack-dab in the middle of downtown, easily walk-able to everything, the rooms are cozy and comfy, and the views from each individual patio are absolutely breathtaking.  It's also reasonable priced - you know I like that!

Cowboy Club
On day 1 after a day of travel and our first hiking adventure, we needed food.  Dinner was a necessity at that point so we walked across the street from our hotel to the Cowboy Club and sat at the bar.  I read many blogs about the authentic southwest ambiance of this place and it did not disappoint.  It was a real trip back in time with cowboys serving you and country music coming through the speakers.   Bellying up to the bar and eating bison was the perfect way to end our first day of adventures. The food was alright - not amazing, but pretty decent.  I think the cool vibe is what brings most people in.

Airport Mesa Sunset 
After a few hours of hiking we headed to Airport Mesa to take in the sunset.  This is supposed to be one of the best places in the country to see a sunset.  It was amazing and if you're in town, please go check it out!

In between hikes we needed nourishment and a great place to rest.  My friend had recommended Oaxaca for Mexican food and her recommendation was spot on.  It was reasonably priced and the food was very good!  It's also a short walk down the street from our hotel, right in downtown Sedona.
For our second and final dinner, we went to Mariposa.  After driving by the restaurant on our way to Airport Mesa we decided we had to give it a shot.  The food was phenomenal.  Our waiter was so nice and helped us pick drinks to pair with the food that we chose.   The latin-american themed dishes were so good.  Had we stayed another night, I just might have convinced my sister to go back again.

Downtown Sedona 
Make sure you take some time to walk around downtown Sedona.  There are adorable boutiques and shops that sell everything from turquoise jewelry to Arizona wines, wooden furniture and wonderful art and photography.

The area is also full of yoga studios, spiritual healers, psychics and palm readers.  If you're into it, this is the perfect place to give it a try.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Arizona Getaway: Sedona Hiking

This post is dedicated to the hikes we tried... Another post is coming soon to cover our food and lodging thoughts.

Day 1... 

Cathedral Rock: 
Length: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Very Difficult (with a scramble)
Verdict: We definitely should have researched this and prepared a bit more.  It was a tad scary and far beyond our hiking skills, however, being the daredevils that we are, we did it anyway.

This hike may have been short, with some really sticky parts, but I am so so proud of us for battling through until the top and I can say that the views were absolutely worth it.  Don't believe me, take a look at the pictures!

Day 2...
Day two we got even more ambitious with the hiking...

Bear Mountain:
Length: 5.2 miles with 2000 ft. elevation change
Difficulty: Very Difficult
Verdict: Once again, completely and utterly unprepared, but we survived and it was pretty darn amazing!

This one was tough!! I wore my fitbit and on this hike it registered a climb of 150 flights of stairs. Wowza!  Luckily, my sister and I are fairly athletic so we were working hard, but able to complete it.  It was seriously breathtaking - in the beautiful way and in the way where you are actually fearing for your life a bit, depending on the part of the trail.  I will recommend it, but I will warn you - it is tough! Give yourself lots of time and bring lots of food and water.  When we set out it was about 45 degrees and it got hotter as we climbed.  I cannot imagine doing this in the summer heat - it would be brutal!

After: this is our "holy cow, we hiked that" pic :) 

And more from the top... 

Huckaby Trail 
Length: 5.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Verdict: Totally capable and prepared.  It was so fun!

This one was pretty easy, had a tiny bit of elevation changes, but it was a leisurely hike from start to finish with amazing views that brings you along the river.  It was a great way to shake out our legs after our crazy morning of climbing and descending.  

Devil's Bridge: 
We had heard so many amazing things about Devil's Bridge, but because of our timing and the snow, it was closed while we were in town - so disappointing!! I will be returning to conquer this one.  If you are out there, please try this one for me!

Hike House:
We owe a lot of our information and prep to Hike House in Sedona.  We stopped by on our way out the first day and they gave us all the info we needed to make sure we stayed safe and packed accordingly.  Stop by and say hi! They were so nice and talked to us amateurs for about an hour with no appointment.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Arizona Getaway

Back in February my sisters and I escaped from the brutal winters of Chicago and Boston for some fun in the sun in Arizona.  It was a much needed trip full of long chats, hiking, sunshine, and lots of outdoor adventures. 

My baby sister is more into "active" vacations, while my older sister is more of a beach bum.  I, thankfully, straddle the two happily.  To make sure we all got something we wanted, we planned the trip with two parts.  

Part 1 - 3 days in Sedona, Arizona (with a detour to the Grand Canyon) 
 Part 2 - 3 days in Scottsdale, Arizona 

It was perfect!   

We started in Sedona and we were (not so) pleasantly surprised with their 30 degree weather.  We left Chicago and Boston for warmer temps, remember!  Nevertheless, we were determined to have some fun, layered up, and explored anyway. 

I'll have a full run-down of my Sedona and Scottsdale recs and favorites coming soon, but here are some highlights to hold you over. 

More details coming soon!