A Trip to CHI Town

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a week since we went to Chicago for New Years. Luckily we went last week, and not this week or I don’t think I would have been brave enough to venture outside. Last year we spent New Years Eve at home, which was nice, but this year we wanted to do something more exciting. We decided we’d take a trip to Chicago, since neither of us had been there before and catch up with some of Darren’s friends. We drove in on Monday, spent Tuesday touring the city and drove back home on Wednesday. It was a short trip, but it was nice to get a mini vacation in after the holidays. The only downside was that it was freezing! Remind me to make my next visit to Chicago during a warmer season.

First night in Chicago

First night in Chicago

Buses, trains or walking. Something I'm definitely not used to

Buses, trains or walking. Something I’m definitely not used to.

A cold and snowy Navy Pier visit.

A cold and snowy Navy Pier visit.

No trip is complete without a lighthouse!

No trip is complete without a lighthouse!

Beautiful skyline

Beautiful skyline

And of course, a visit to the Bean!

And of course, a visit to the Bean!

We also visited a bunch of restaurants/bars.

  • Yokozuna
  • Bar Toma
  • The Signature Lounge (John Hancock Center)
  • Harry Caray’s Tavern
  • Mullen’s Bar & Grill
  • Sluggers
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant &  Brewery

We barely touched the surface of Chicago, but I know we’ll be back again to explore such a great city!


Have you been to Chicago? What was your favorite thing to see/visit?






Colorado Take Three

Two weekends ago, Darren and I took our spring vacation. After such a long winter we both needed to get away. It’s no surprise that we decided on Colorado and with plane tickets under $230 a few months back, it was easy to twist his arm. Since we’ve been to Colorado not once, but twice, we wanted to make sure we got a chance to see what we’ve missed. I also had a list of things I was hoping to check out, and well, I wasn’t disappointed.

We flew in on Friday and did the whole downtown Denver thing. We checked out the Rialto Cafe, Uptown Tavern and the Hornet Restaurant all while catching up with D’s friend from college. Nothing too exciting, but we were exhausted. I’m pretty sure I was asleep during dinner.

16th Street Mall

16th Street Mall

Saturday we got up early and headed up to Boulder. It was a beautiful day, so we were able to enjoy the local Farmer’s Market, hiking up the Flatirons, and do a little shopping. The Flatirons were absolutely amazing. The path up the mountain was perfect for a little morning hike. And while we weren’t fully prepared, I could see us doing a lot more hiking up there.

So, so neat

So, so neat

My hill workout for the day

My hill workout for the day

Looking down on Boulder

Looking down on Boulder

Once we finished up around Boulder, we headed south to Golden. I really didn’t know much about it, other than the cool sign in town and it’s the home of Coors beer. But I had to get a picture of the sign, it was on my Colorado Bucket List.

Welcome y'all

Welcome y’all

Shortly after our drive through we headed towards Red Rocks and made a quick visit to see one of our favorite places.

So much beauty in Colorado!

So much beauty in Colorado!

Denver is hidden behind Darren's shoulder, you almost miss it

Denver is hidden behind Darren’s shoulder, you almost miss it

With all of our exploring we were starving and headed back to Denver. We checked out TAG Restaurant, Osteria Marco and caught a live band at Appaloosa Grill.

Sunday morning I was able to sneak out for a few miles and run with Courtney through Washington Park. It was my first time there and I loved it, seriously so beautiful and full of runners all shapes and size. Reason number 5,937 to move to Colorado. We caught up, got 5 miles in and even saw an eagle in the middle of the park, how cool.

Next up on the tour of Colorado was a trip to Colorado Springs. I had heard that the Garden of the Gods was something to check out, but I had no idea how amazing it would be. The pictures I took can’t even describe how breath taking it was. If you’re ever in Colorado and have a few hours to explore, check this out.


Simply amazing

Natural beauty

Natural beauty

Pikes Peak in the distance

Pikes Peak in the distance

If checking out these views doesn’t relax you, then I don’t know what will. While we were in Colorado Springs we checked out a local brewery, Trinity Brewing Company. The strangest thing was that there were no TV’s but the place was packed. It’s great to see that people still enjoy each others company and don’t need to be glued to technology.

We finished up the weekend back in Denver, checking out REI and of course D Bar Desserts. For the first time, I left the entire vacation up to spur of the moment decisions. I usually need to plan everything, but I’m glad I didn’t this time. The only bad thing was that I didn’t want to leave. Every time we go out to Colorado, I want to move there more and more. Hopefully we’ll be out there in the next two years.

Have you ever checked out any of these Colorado hot spots? Where else in Colorado do you recommend to visit?


A Weekend in Austin

Two weeks ago, I spent a short weekend in Austin. The plan was to meet up with fellow bloggers/runners from across the states and run the 3M Half Marathon. I flew in Friday morning, and by the time I made it to the hotel, I noticed an unwelcome guest had invited themselves on to the trip…the flu. Because my hotel mates weren’t arriving until later I spent the day curled up in bed trying to make myself better for the rest of the weekend. First day of exploring the city turned into a major fail.

Once Courtney and Luke arrived, we went out for a bite to eat, hoping that food would make me feel better. We checked out Dog and Duck Pub, and had I felt better I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Saturday I still wasn’t feeling my best so I took the morning easy. Once I was good on my feet we decided we’d try to get as much in as we could. First stop was the expo. It wasn’t big, but it was perfect on my wallet. Dollars spent=$0.

Expo time

Expo time

Afterward we headed down to the lake. We hung out at the dog park that didn’t require leashes…perfect puppy borrowing opportunity. Not only did I see some adorable pooches, but I scored some pretty good pictures of the city.

Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

After driving around and taking in the views of the city, we stopped at a running store and then headed out to a late lunch. We stopped at Abel’s on the Lake and met up with Courtney’s sister and boyfriend who both live in Austin. I highly recommend eating here. Everything on the menu looks great. And yes, it over looks the lake.

Sisters and me

Sisters and me

Afterward we checked out more of Austin and met up with Courtney’s dad who was in town for the race. Seriously such a nice family. By this time it was approaching dinner, which meant it was time for our pre-race dinner! We went to Melissa‘s house and met her boyfriend Brad and Paula, who were also running 3M the next day. It was a great dinner filled with talk of running, travel, and friends.

3M Ladies

3M Ladies

Following dinner we headed back to the hotel and as soon as we were asleep, race day appeared. Post race activities included spending lunch at Abel’s on the Lake, again. (Yes, it really is that good) We were joined by Sam and Jared, who were awesome race spectators.

Austin crew

Austin crew

The afternoon concluded with a very long and delayed flight back to Ohio, but I left Austin with great memories. It was a weekend full of a beautiful city, a wonderful race and awesome friends. I’m definitely looking forward to my next trip to Austin.

Also, check out the bag we got from 3M, products you’ll actually use!

3M Swag Bag

3M Swag Bag

3M Half Marathon Recap

It’s taken me a week and a half, but I finally have my race recap of the 3M Half Marathon. This race was a different experience to me in more ways than one. I had a lot of factors, some on my own terms, that made this weekend a challenge. But for once, my emotions and my personal experience had no impact on my overall thought of the race. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Before I dive in, let me catch you up. I was in Austin Friday through Sunday, and I promise a post of my visit will appear soon. During this time I was lucky enough to have a bit of the flu. So. Much. Fun. And my training? Non existent.

Sunday morning was race day, and since the race started at 6:45, wake up was at 5:00am. I was sharing a hotel room with Courtney and Luke, and somehow we had a pretty smooth morning. Nerves weren’t too much of an issue, but I was starving. We were out the door by 5:30 and headed downtown to find a parking spot. There was some wind and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees from the previous day. Coming from Ohio, 40 degrees in January isn’t bad, especially considering it’s in the single digits now! We were thankful that it wasn’t raining. All week there was a good chance we’d be running in pouring rain.

We got in line at the port-a-pots, dropped off our bag and made our way to the start. We were part of the few crazy people wearing shorts, everyone else was bundled up in cold weather gear. I won’t lie, this made me feel tough, or maybe completely stupid.

Right before bag drop.

Right before bag drop.

Courtney and Luke were way up front. I stood by the 2:10 pacers knowing it wouldn’t be a fast day. Just before we started, my stomach turned. I already knew it’d be an interesting race, but my new race plan was to make it through without embarrassing myself.

The first mile was rough, we ran straight into the wind and everyone was still pretty close together. Once we got closer to the second mile, things started opening up and it was a little brighter out. There were a lot of water stops along the way, probably every 1.5 miles, which was perfect because that meant a lot of bathroom stops. My stomach held up pretty well, but I kept myself at a slower pace. I was averaging 9:58 pace per mile. I knew that if I kept it slow I had a better chance of making the entire distance. My goal was just to finish the race now that I had been able to start it.

I made it to mile 5 without any problems, I had been drinking a sip of water every couple of minutes and I hadn’t felt hungry enough to use any Sport Beans yet. At this point, I made a precautionary stop at the bathroom. And then I spent 10 minutes waiting in line. 10 minutes! Any chance of a good time was now gone. I then made the smartest decision of my entire race. I would no longer check my watch and I was just going to enjoy the experience.

My favorite thing about running new or out of town races is that I have no idea where I am, I just follow the course, check in at the mile marks and take in what’s around me. Austin is the perfect place to do this. We ran through industrial areas, housing developments and shopping areas. Each section was unique in it’s own way, something I saw throughout the weekend visit.

I managed to keep a decent pace going until mile 8. I started to do the walk jog thing, running more than walking. The course was pretty easy, and mostly down hill. Even a small incline was nothing and I kept my feet going in the right direction. Around mile 10 I started to get really hungry, and realized I hadn’t snacked all race. I started popping Sport Beans and was quickly back up to my normal self. I was even greeted with some Lemon Lime cup of Heaven shortly after this, which gave me a sign that I could do this. I only had three miles left. What I didn’t realize is that these three miles had hills.

All downhill, until the end

All downhill, until the end

It happened to be move in weekend and the University of Texas, so instead of running through the campus we ran around it. Which wouldn’t have been bad if there hadn’t been hills with false summits. This also caused us to hit a strong head wind right at the finish. But instead of letting that ruin my finish, I went with it. It was tough, but what race doesn’t make you work.

I finished those last couple of miles with heart and gratitude. I looked around and saw the most beautiful views of Austin (still kicking myself for not taking a picture). I was finishing my 10th half marathon in under two years and running in my third state. I had run the race without checking my Garmin every two seconds, I wasn’t stressing about my splits, and I wasn’t nervous if I’d miss my PR. I was happy that the friends I had running on the course were doing amazing things. I was enjoying the 40 degree, beautiful Sunny weather. I was running, something I had separated myself from for the past couple of weeks. I was back doing what I loved.

Lucky number 10

Lucky number 10

Official Results:

Time: 2:36:27

A hard earned medal

A hard earned medal

I finished far from my PR and breaking 2:00, but I was ok with that. I had an amazing experience that I couldn’t have enjoyed more. Not every race is going to be perfect or even good. You encounter those tough courses, race plans, and injuries to make yourself stronger. I’ve run 10 half marathons and at least three other 13 mile runs during my marathon training. That distance can bring something different each and every time.

I honestly have no complaints about this race. It could have very well been the perfect race. The start went smooth, water stops were plentiful and the spectators along the course were wonderful. The grab bag was packed with great items, the t-shirt was unique and the medal was neat. This is a great race to PR and I would completely recommend this race to any runner looking for something fun. I plan on coming back down someday to run 3M again. And there is no doubt that I will be breaking 2:00 on those same streets of Austin.

13.1 on 1.13

13.1 on 1.13





Rocky Mountain Love

Over the weekend I finally took my vacation for the year. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with stress completely smothering me. The plan was spend Thursday to Monday out in Colorado, split up the time between Vail, Steamboat Springs and Denver. Due to a snow storm that came through and our lack of experience driving snow covered mountain roads, we had to unfortunately cut out Steamboat and head back to Denver. It was a wonderful trip filled with beautiful views, relaxation and enough food and drinks to keep us happy until Thanksgiving. My personal favorite day was Friday, which was filled with running in the mountains, shopping, and a spa day. Who wouldn’t enjoy that.

Rather than dive into all the details, I’ll share some of my favorite pictures from the trip. The best part, I didn’t get altitude sickness this time! Win for me. We did however travel to Breckenridge, which is at 9,600 feet. I felt a little lightheaded, but I luckily beat the altitude this time around. I’m still in love with Denver, and cannot wait until I can call it home…one day.

Perfection is just over those mountains

Vail Village

Beautiful snowy views

Oh, just some snowy roads

Breckenridge in all it’s beauty

Do we look like Coloradans?

The most beautiful view in Denver

Someday, home sweet home

Have you ever been to Colorado or been in the Rocky Mountains? Did you take a vacation this year?

The Big Easy

Last week I spent some time down south, New Orleans to be exact. Most of my time was spent at a product safety conference, but I was able to break away the day before things started and a spent a little bit of time touring the city. I’d never been to New Orleans, and I had never traveled alone for a work trip. Nervous? Slightly, but still excited to check out why everyone loves the city so much. I flew in Monday late afternoon and was able to spend about an hour walking the streets of the French Quarter…

St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square

Mississippi River

French Quarter charm

The city had a lot of character, and characters. I didn’t want to stay out too long. Tiny blonde, walking by herself in a new city? Probably not a good idea. But I was glad to experience a little bit of the New Orleans scene.

Tuesday morning I was up and out the door of my cute hotel by 8am. I was ready to take on the streets, when all of a sudden I started melting. The temperature and humidity were both 85, hello sweat fest! I sucked it up and headed north until I made it to the famous Bourbon Street….

Bourbon Street

So empty and clean

After snapping a picture, I headed back and finished my mini tour by foot with a little over 1.5 miles logged. Not a lot, but a decent run, with my pace near 8:30 and a constant battle of stopping and starting back up at stop signs.

The majority of my time was spent inside a nice air conditioned ballroom, learning about rules and regulations. But I was able to try some Louisiana cuisine with gumbo and jambalaya. The best thing about the south…sweat tea 🙂

I’m glad I got to spend a quick visit in the Big Easy, I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but I definitely want to check out the historical factors of the city. New Orleans is also on my list of the 25 challenge. Who knows, the next time I’m down here I may be running 13.1 miles through the French Quarter.

MDI Week Two

Last week was almost an embarrassment to my training schedule. I originally had high hopes of packing in the miles, but in the back of my mind, I knew traveling would dominate and put a back seat to my running. Lucky me got to visit the home of the Cheeseheads, three days in Wisconsin, and just an hour outside of Green Bay. Tuesday through Thursday I spent sun up to sun down in meetings. I traveled between Milwaukee to Oshkosh and back down to Milwaukee again. I spent a lot of time learning from the president of the company and hearing what our customers thought of our products. It was an insightful week, but lacked running. Being on my feet or in the car the entire time, wore me down, and I was left with no motivation or time to run.

I was fairly disappointed with the amount of running I didn’t do. However, I was able to score some Packers gear during a five hour wait for our delayed flight. (Thanks United for a horrible experience!)

Decisions, Decisions


So this week I plan to get things back on track. Race schedule shows the Park 2 Park Half Marathon this Sunday. I have yet to make a decision on this race, but it’s coming close to crunch time if I want to run or not. I’ll have to see how this week goes and if I’m able to get in some long runs, I’ll take a shot at another 13.1.


Has travel ever changed your training schedule? How do you balance traveling and running?



Platte River Race Recap

Yesterday’s post explained my love affair with Denver. Today I’m excited to share my first experience of an out of state race. To catch you up to speed, I had a minor set back on Saturday when I had the joy of feeling full altitude sickness. We drove into the mountains, and a combination of curvy roads, altitude change, and dehydration caused me to be out of commission for 2-3 hours. I still wasn’t feeling up to par by Saturday evening, but I knew if I stayed in bed all weekend, I would feel even worse.

This is where I started to panic. Weak as can be, I was somehow supposed to run a half marathon the next morning. How is this even going to happen? I honestly regretted the race and trip at this point. I was pretty sure I wasted time and money just for me to end up sick. Darren wasn’t going to let me waste any more time. So after driving all over to find me food and drinks I could keep down, I was finally able to get out of the hotel and we kept the night low key, and I made sure to over hydrate.

Sunday morning came, it was race day! Good morning to an early wake up call, nervous stomach, and over thinking. Luckily I was feeling better, at least I thought I was, I always feel like a train wreck race mornings, mostly due to the nerves. One less thing to stress about was the weather, it was perfect, almost too good to be true. A little bit of sun, a little bit of a chill, and not a drop of rain or snow in sight!

Perfect weather!

How could you not relax driving towards this on the way to the race?

We got to the race early, and I took my first steps in the parking lot. My pace was slow, but I wanted to shake my legs out. I decided to wait until race day to do any running. If I had a bad run on Saturday, I knew I would worry about it right until the start and even during the race. I took my spot in wave 3 (2:15 and above) I wanted to make sure I’d start with a comfortable pace and wouldn’t try any 8:30 miles.

Ready to go!

The race started off at a good pace, and I quickly found a comfortable spot. With every turn the mountains were in the background, almost surreal. There were many times in the first mile that I still couldn’t believe I was out in Denver running a half marathon. Am I crazy?

Quickly after mile one we headed to a paved path which immediately made for a very tight run, there was even one point where we were stopped and walking because there were so many people. Water stops were every two miles, which I made sure to take full advantage of. I was already thirsty before the first stop, and I knew staying hydrated would be key to making it to the finish line.

The first couple miles I spent figuring out my pace, checking over my body to see how I felt, and trying to find my place in the crowded path. I decided beforehand I would take some Gu at mile 4 and 8. Well, it must have helped because when I got to mile 5, I was at a 9:30 pace. Whoah! Slow down and don’t get ahead of yourself.

Miles 6 through 9 I kept a pretty even pace. I stopped at all the water stops and took my Gu at mile 8. At this point in the race I felt comfortable, my body felt good, my pace wasn’t too quick and I was just taking in the moment. The wind started to pick up, but I tried not to let it get to me, and I kept pushing on. I even passed people, something I have rarely done in a half. The course up to this point followed the Platte River and we had multiple bridges to run over and under. Including a few that shook and reminded me of running at Bur Oak. There was even a dirt path next to the pavement that gave provided some relief throughout the race.

Right around mile 10 the path opened up a bit and I could tell we were getting close to the finish and into the city. The sky also darkened at this point, and it became a race to get to the finish without getting caught in a storm. Lucky mile 11 came and I started to cramp. I knew by this point I was a little dehydrated and my pace started to slow. I started checking my Garmin about every ten seconds. Throughout the race I had been on pace to PR, and like always I knew it would come down to the last two miles.

Mile 12 finally showed up and it was the mile I had been dreading the entire race. There was a “small” hill right at the finish. This hill lasted what felt like a half mile and once everyone made it to the top, the wind took full force. I was blown around multiple times, I started to think I was going to get blown off the bridge and wouldn’t make it to the finish. Coming down the bridge, I knew I was close, and as we turned the corner I could see the balloons at the finish line. My first thought was, “OMG, it’s finally here! Just keep moving, and the cramps won’t kill you” I was so excited for this moment!

Fact: I never remember the finish to a race. I get into a weird sprint the last 50 feet and black out everything. But, I actually remembered this one, and I was thrilled to see Darren on the side, taking pictures, so of course I had to smile. I glanced at the clock and saw 2:16. I missed it. But….Garmin said 13.2, and by my calculations for a 13.1 race, I got a PR by a few seconds. WHAT!!

Couldn’t have done it without him

Here I am, in Colorado, running my first half of the year, and I ran a PR for 13.1 miles. I never even dreamed this would happen. Throughout the race I knew I had the chance of getting close, but after the last two miles, I gave up the idea of finishing strong and just wanted to finish. I don’t even know how it happened, but I felt great during the entire race. Even with cramps at the end, I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I was relaxed, and just let my legs lead the way. I was so excited to say that I finished and I had half number 5 under my belt. Half number two in the 25 challenge was in the books! I ended up placing 727/1421 of all the lady runners, and 64/110 in my age group. Not bad.

This race was exactly what I needed to jump start half marathon season. I fell in love with the distance all over again, and I can’t wait to enjoy so many more this year. Colorado, not only did you give me an amazing experience, but you’ve given me a whole new meaning to the words, I love running.


Up next is the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon in Gambier, Ohio. Molly will be dominating the race, and I’ll be celebrating my birthday! (and running of course)

The Mile High City

This weekend was absolutely incredible, and I cannot wait to share my experience of the race and Colorado. As much as I’d like to start with the race recap, I just haven’t found the right words to explain it. But the city, oh how I’ve fallen in love.

I flew into Denver on Friday, incredibly excited, and nervous. Darren flew out earlier, picked me up from the airport and we made our way into the city. Unfortunately, because it was so late, they only place open was Hooters. Awesome. It actually wasn’t that bad, and the seafood was pretty good.

Saturday was by far the busiest day. With the race being on Sunday, we had a lot to get done in such a short amount of time. First up was the race expo to pick up my shirt and bib. There weren’t many vendors, but I found a great race belt from FlipBelt It didn’t move, and it held everything I needed, perfect for a small person like me.

Long sleeve tech tee, amazing.

Next we headed to the mountains, stopping at Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was absolutely breath taking. The view of Denver from the mountains was incredible.

Love, love, love.

And even more fascinating was the amount of people working out. Runners, cyclists, climbers, yogis. This was the place to be. I was a little jealous I didn’t have my running shoes on.

I can climb too! Well, just a few feet

After hanging out at Red Rocks for a while, we headed further into the mountains.

Colorado snow is better than Ohio snow

I started to feel the altitude change at this point and we decided to turn around. Perfect time too, the moment I stepped in our hotel room I was out for a good three hours. I honestly thought my trip out here was a complete bust at this point. I started to regret wanting to run the race, and making Darren come out here for a few short days. I even had a small moment where I didn’t even want to run, just stay in bed for the rest of the trip. But Darren forced me to get better so I could do a little early birthday shopping. Shopping can cure dehydration/altitude sickness. Fact. Lulelemon and REI were calling my name.

The rest of the night was pretty low key. We went out for some carbs at Strings, and then visited with some of Darren’s friends. All I could think about was how little energy I had and how terrified I was for the next day.

Sunday-Race Day. As much as I’d love to start right in, I have to keep you in suspense. Tomorrow I’ll have the recap, I promise it will be worth it.

However, the weekend wasn’t over just yet. After the race, we didn’t want to let the day get away from us, so we met up with blogger/runner Courtney.

First meeting IRL

We spent the rest of the day checking out the city, and trying some amazing restaurants, Vine Street Pub and d Bar Desserts. Seriously the best chocolate chip cookies ever. We spent the evening packing up and moping around about having to leave.

Monday we were off to the airport and back to the wonderful city of Cleveland. As much as I love Ohio, I fell in love with another city. Denver was absolutely amazing. At every turn you could see someone running, biking, walking, just enjoying the outdoors. There was so much more to do, but with so little time, we could only pick a few. I already have an itch to get back there. I’d even move out there in a heart beat. I’ve enjoyed my travels for work, running, and past vacations, but this place definitely called out to me. I can’t wait to go back!

Denver, I love you.

Hey Colorado!

Tomorrow I leave for the great state of Colorado! After 15.5 weeks I’m ready to take on 13.1 miles of high altitudes and a new adventure. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, as if my blog didn’t already show it. I’ve got my list of everything to pack, iPod is ready, and I’ve checked the weather about a hundred times.

I’ve had ups and downs in training, but I’ve come a long way. In no way am I expecting a PR on Sunday, but I don’t plan on just coasting through it. I’ll be running in altitudes that I can’t even imagine, and although the course is rumored to be flat, I guarantee it will be a challenge.

I’m excited to explore Denver and see this amazing city that so many people rave about. I’m even more excited to see things through a runner’s eye, find out why so many runners go out there to train. More importantly, how running in Denver will hopefully make running in Ohio much easier.

I’ve come so far, cutting down my mile pace by at least two minutes. I’ve used Gu on more than one occasion, and I’ve spent many nights with my foam roller. I’m back to the point in my running where I can just feel where a mile is. I’ve already run two PR’s this year and I haven’t even hit the peak of race season.

The greatest thing…

After running this weekend, I’ll be mentally ready to start training for my marathon. Every race this year is a challenge, and training for those wonderful 26.2 miles that await me in October.

I can tell myself to be cautious, to make sure I pace myself, drink lots of water and Nuun all weekend. But honestly, I’m going to enjoy it, soak up every single moment, and just do what feels right. I’m ready.