Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Posts this year: 100!!
Race Recaps: 13
Event Recaps: 6
Product Reviews: 4
Blog Affiliations: 5
Most-viewed post: MESTRENGTH Product Review and Giveaway
My favorite post: Magnificent Mile Half Marathon Race Recap
Hardest post to write: Pro Compression Product Review
What I'm most proud of on the blog: The fact that I stuck with it, even if there were rough patches or times I didn't write as often as I'd liked. I've started blogs before but they never last more than a couple days; this one is four months and counting! It runs parallel with my new-found love of racing: I'm learning how to make a commitment to something that really matters to me.
What I'd like to work on in the new year: Posting more regularly. I've had a lot of excuses in 2014, and I know the start of 2015 will be a little rocky too (until we get the puppy better trained), and I want to start *making* the time to write, not just *finding* the time. That's an important distinction to me, and as I start to prioritize this wonderful new "personal time" I finally have, blogging will be taking a huge leap forward in the list.
Thank you all for reading, for commenting, for pushing me, and for inspiring me! It's been a fun ride so far, and I can't wait to keep moving forward with y'all in the new year! Be safe tonight, see you next year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
Total mileage (since starting the hobby in April): 134.5 miles
Month with the most mileage: August (51.87 miles)
Month with the least mileage: July (4.17)
Longest run: 13.1 miles
Total number of races completed: 20
Number of 5k races completed: 15
5k PR time: 29:08 (A Race for Maggie's Place)
Number of 10k races completed: 2
10k PR time: 1:02:19 (#Run10Feed10)
Number of 15k races completed: 1
15k PR time: 1:52:32 (Hot Chocolate 15k)
Number of half marathons completed: 1
Half PR time: 2:44:40 (Chicago Women's Half)
Oddball distance races completed: 1 (Fort2Base 10NM)
Favorite race this year: Honestly, a tough pick. Probably a three-way tie...
- Brookfield Zoo RunRun for the Conservation Fund
- Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5k
- A Race for Maggie's Place
Least favorite race this year: Muddy Monk Thriller 5k
Accomplishment of which I am most proud: Besides actually starting the fitness hobby in the first place, it's easily running my first half marathon with my dad. I didn't meet my goal time, but I finished the race (and so did he) despite soaring temperatures, minimal training, and a lack of properly-fitted shoes! I proved to myself that I can complete 13.1 miles, and now I'm itching to do it again!
Primary goal for next year: To be more consistent. To actually *train* instead of just running when I feel like it.
Speaking of training, tomorrow I'll be posting a look back at my experience with cross-training this past year, including fitness classes and nutrition, before wrapping up my Year in Review with a look at my blog's performance in its first year! See you tomorrow!
Thursday, December 25, 2014
We had a modest Christmas here, since the big "present" was the puppy last week... But I still got a stocking full of healthy treats and a fancy new heart monitor from my dad! This monitor will be fantastic for helping me better gauge the intervals in my Zumba class playlists, to help maximize the effect of interval training.
Thank you to my parents, my husband, my brother and his fiancee, my new friends at work, and everyone else who has helped to make my December the highlight of an already wonderful year!
Stay tuned next week for my Year In Review posts, looking back at some of the highlights of the past twelve months and reflecting on the many ways I have grown!
How did you make your Christmas special? Any particularly exciting gifts or events?
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Once again I have failed to gain the consistency I had wanted in my blogging - though as usual I am convinced I have a "good excuse.". This time it is my adorable puppy keeping me from my keyboard, and quite literally! Since we can't pull up the carpet in the basement, we aren't taking Kaalia down there until she's more reliably trained, so I spend most of my time upstairs supervising her. Thankfully she is learning quickly, and I anticipate having a little more freedom soon!
In the meanwhile, despite giving up running/gym time to take care of Kaalia, I've still found some Zumba opportunities and am working on some new routines to premier in the new year! I'm also testing some products which I will review in the coming weeks. Work is becoming a reliable routine and I'm finding a nice groove. Once the puppy training wraps up, I think I will FINALLY be ready to make my fitness lifestyle a real priority.
Ideas or suggestions for what you'd like to see in the new year???
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
WE ADOPTED A PUPPY!
Finally! It's been about a year since our old dog, which my husband had owned for 18 years, passed away of a sudden stroke. There have been many reasons to postpone finding a new pet, but now there are no more excuses: I live close enough to home to come let her out until she's housebroken, we don't have any vacations or travel planned, and the house is (sort of) in well enough order that we don't have to work too hard to puppy-proof.
So without further ado... Meet Kaalia, the latest addition to our family!
Friday, December 12, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014
This month, though, the changes have led to a situation that should finally allow me to settle a bit. In fact, I may finally be able to establish one of those fancy "work-life balances" about which I've heard tell! I started a new job on Monday - one that's barely five minutes from home, and won't require more than a typical 40 hour work week. With this work schedule, I'll have so much more free time to work on my personal life.
I'm going to start small, to set the foundation before building up to bigger dreams. First, I'm going to focus on my training in the new job. It's a bit different from my past work experience, but so far I'm learning quickly and enjoying the tasks. Once I'm in to my groove there, my fitness lifestyle will get a chance - I'll be able to start using my gym membership to establish better fitness habits, and I'll have more time (and less travel) to start teaching Zumba Fitness classes again! I'll also be able to craft a little more, and I've got some great ideas that I just can't wait to make happen!
And of course, through all of this, my husband and I will have so much more time to connect. My old commute could take hours each day, and on top of long hours on the job, we rarely had time or energy to do more than watch a movie together or maybe play a quick game. Now, we can actually schedule date nights and have more fun together. I've had a tight, stressful schedule for the vast majority of our marriage; it'll be wonderful to finally have a chance to connect again.
All in all, it should be a revitalizing, encouraging month. I'm taking Michael Jackson's advice and making the change - which started with the job change. It'll be fun to see where this takes me!
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Blogging became a sort of accountability, while at the same time opening a doorway into a bigger community. I was putting myself out there, in a way I had never expected I would, and I wasn't sure if it was a good idea. Now, though - I'm thrilled I started this blog, and I'm excited not only by where it has taken me already, but by all the opportunities it has yet to provide. Since the previously mentioned post already covered a lot more of my blogging motivations, I'm not going to rehash everything here. Pop over to that older post to read all about it!
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Since I don't have a makeup bag to share, here's a quick glimpse into the crazy collection I've amassed over the years:
11/24: Favorite Blogs
As with any "favorites" prompt, it's hard to choose. I honestly don't think I have any "favorite" blogs; I love so many of my fellow bloggers, and everyone puts out some great stuff! For this prompt, I'm choosing instead to direct y'all to one of the blogs that most inspired me to start my own blogging hobby: SuzLyfe. Suz is a blogger who always gives it to you straight - she's fearless and honest, and that right there has earned so much of my respect. She's also a great writer, and always has something interesting to discuss. Following SuzLyfe earlier this summer inspired me to push myself a little further in my fitness goals, and ultimately gave me the courage to start posting my own writing. She continues to inspire me to push myself and to BE myself, and I look forward to establishing a stronger bond with her as a peer!
11/25: Old Photo of Me
11/26: Note to Someone
Thank you for EVERYTHING. There have been times in my life when I didn't think I was going to make it through - but you were there for me, you stood by me even if you couldn't be there physically, and you kept me going. The life I have today wouldn't have happened if I didn't have you as my best friend. I'm so lucky to know you, and I can only hope I've helped you half as much as you have helped me over the years. I love you like family, and always will, even if we have half the country between us! Can't wait to see you again, hopefully soon!
11/27: What I Look Forward To
I'm a dreamer, and a very hopeful person, so I'm always looking forward to something. Right now, I'm looking forward to starting my new job on Monday, which will give me a much better work-life balance so I can continue pursuing my hobbies. I'm also looking forward to next year, when I turn this year's life progress into a more refined, well-oiled life machine. I'm looking forward to my next race with my friends, and to the completion of my big crochet project (more on that later). Tomorrow always brings something new and exciting, and I'm always ready with open arms! Bring it on!
11/28: Places I've Traveled
Over many years as an athlete, I made it all over the country for tournaments and games... But usually I only saw the fields and the hotels! My family often vacationed in either Niagara Falls or Virginia Beach, but the most interesting place I've traveled is easily China. I was fortunate to spend some time overseas in a study abroad program, and during my trip I was able to visit both major cities and tiny western provincial towns. Writing about my time in China could easily be a week's worth of posts, so I'll just show y'all a small assortment of pictures, and if you'd like to know more, just ask!
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
I've got it all planned out, right down to my ideal space designs and class schedules. I know where I want to be located, and how I'm going to find instructors; I'm even planning special events for different times of year. I have years of experience as a manager, as an administrator, as an athlete, and as a fitness instructor. I have an ambitious "full-fledged" version of the plan, and I have several compromise plans in case the absolute dream proves to be insurmountably difficult to achieve.
The only thing I don't have is the money.
And isn't that always the catch? So many people say "do what you love", especially in the age of the entrepreneur. Heck, I just finished working for a tech start-up that was built from the ground up, and is filled with young people who are doing something they love. But an equally large number of people believe you should "love what you do" - by which they usually mean, accept that having a dream job is only reserved for a small portion of the population, so when you are lucky enough to have a job, you should appreciate it for what it's worth.
I don't want to have to accept the "love what you do" mentality, because I have for so long lived in that world where kids with ideas get a head-start from wealthy or well-connected parents or spouses. I've watched so many friends and acquaintances find a way to live their dreams, and I've noticed that is very rarely done completely on their own merit. There are always people who are fully self-made, but they are the rare exception. From my experience and observation, you have to be well-connected prior to starting on the path to your dream job.
For someone like me, that's not a personal reality like it is for the people around me. And that's very frustrating. I stand amid all those "do what you love" voices, but they don't understand that it's not so easy for everyone. I have to work a daily-grind job to cover my expenses, and that leaves little time to pursue those methods of start-up capital that, while available and often in sufficient quantities, require a lot of effort to acquire. If I had 40 hours per week to focus exclusively on making my studio a reality, and didn't have to worry about real-life concerns like bills, of course I'd find success. I have plenty of passion and energy, plus the intelligence and personality to rally support for my cause. What I don't have is the safety net - and sadly, I am starting to accept the possibility that I never will.
That said - my dream is my dream. I'm taking the steps I can to get closer to the industry, to get more involved and more organized, and to build a personal database of knowledge and experience that can help propel me into success when the time is right. I'm not going to let the odds against me scare me away from something I want so badly. Not everyone in my life believes in my dream, and while that's sometimes hard to accept, in the end the only belief I need to push forward is my own.
So I'm going to keep pushing forward. Wish me luck!
Friday, November 21, 2014
I could write about any number of very positive events, many of which had a profound effect on my life, but I think the number one thing on that list would have to be the decision to bring fitness back into my life. It's a big "best thing" with a lot of facets, but I can say confidently that without having made that decision, I would be a lot worse off than I am right now. And I'll warn you now, this post is gonna be a long one...
Having been a high-level athlete for the majority of my life, it wasn't like choosing a fitter lifestyle was a huge life-changing overhaul like it can be for many people. The focus was more on returning to a place in mind and body that I had previously lived, and only after stepping out of that life had I realized how much a part of me it had been. A couple years of overtime work grind and hundreds (maybe thousands) of commuter hours had taken their toll on my health, and it was starting to show. I wanted that old life back. Badly.
So I did something about it. The first part of the decision started right around New Year's, when I made the choice to be a little more conscious of my food habits. I bought a better blender, and started experimenting with smoothies to help me eat more fruits and vegetables, and to this day I'm still using that blender constantly. I'm also avoiding purchasing snack foods, and focusing on eating meals instead of mindlessly nibbling. While not all of my food choices are based on a healthy mindset, I am definitely doing much better than last year, and I'm proud of most of my day-to-day eating decisions.
My next phase in the "get healthier, get fitter" decision was to find a job related to health and fitness: I started working as a physical therapy assistant. Truthfully, I lucked into the job - a local chiropractor was looking to replace his former assistant, and though I had no formal training, he was impressed with my athletic background and my willingness to learn. He took a chance on me, and for a few months I was deeply immersed in the world of physical therapy and rehab. I learned a lot about body mechanics, got a lot of hands-on time with patients, and realized I could happily enjoy a career in the fitness industry. I started studying for personal training certifications as an adjunct to the information I was absorbing at work. I also pulled the trigger on a long-time desire to get my Zumba instructor's license, which I earned in late April of this year. I also added a Zumba Step license a few months later!
Perhaps the most important part of the decision process this year was entering my first race event. I was inspired by my father, who had chosen to live a fitness lifestyle almost a decade earlier, and by one of my physical therapy patients who was a prolific endurance athlete and an absolute joy of a person. Team sports are tough when you're handling an adult life, especially a busy one; an individual sport, especially one you can train for alone, presented a way for me to stay competitive and push myself without having to match up my schedule with that of a team.
I decided to try something fun and low-pressure for my first event. I also wanted to do more than just run at an event, because I knew I needed more cross training and would struggle without a set goal. Thus was born my decision to enter a mud run: a mix of distance running, interspersed with obstacles to challenge me in other ways, while also breaking up all of that distance so I don't have to actually run 5k straight up my first time. I started working more on my arms, since they've always been my weakest area, and I pushed myself to run around the neighborhood a little more often. I didn't train as consistently as I'd wanted, but I still rocked my first run and NAILED the arm-intensive obstacles!
Thursday, November 20, 2014
I've mentioned before that my husband makes the world's best burger. We stay very simple: meat, cheese, bun, ketchup, sometimes avocado, and occasionally we'll get fancy (and fattening) by throwing some mac'n'cheese on it too. There's something so heartwarming about biting into the delicious layers... Bonus if it's just coming off the grill as I'm walking in from work!
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Fortunately, my decision was actually made for me: my running bestie Mary has been sidelined for some injury rehabilitation, and she graciously gifted me her entry to the race. I took this news with mixed emotions, since running with her would have been most of the fun! But of course, a little rest now prevents a much worse injury later, so I was happy that she is looking out for her health. Plus, as my network of running friends is growing rapidly, I had the feeling I wouldn't be totally alone come race day.
I had to wake up pretty darn early to get there for the 7am start - or so I thought. It was a very cold morning, so I was glad I had laid out my clothes the day before, including extra layers, so I wasn't in panic mode at some ungodly hour. Even leaving with what I thought was enough time, I was still rushing (thanks Chicago traffic) to get to the start corral in time. I rushed through bag check, and hustled straight to my assigned corral, which was advertised to close at 6:45.
And then, I waited.
Not just the 15 minutes to the gun, but for an additional half hour after the first runners had crossed the starting line. I watched dozens of people just push straight up to the front, many of them slipping into earlier corrals, but somehow I was never able to find those holes in the crowd. Well, "crowd" is maybe the wrong word. "Massive throng of people" is the best way to describe this starting chute. Goodness gracious, it was sheer insanity! But there were massive video screens showing live footage as well as highlights from Twitter and Instagram - and MY PHOTO was featured on the big board! It was pretty cool, I totally felt like a celebrity! Having some friends with me would have helped make the mess seem a little less crazy, but as it was, I amused myself and chatted with other people around me until I finally got to start running!
I took a lot of walking breaks. At first, I was upset with myself for not pushing, but then I realized I had a LONG way to go still, and it was important to ease up when the pain started. Taking the opportunity to enjoy course amenities, I got some great footage of one of the several cheerleading groups throughout the race! They added some excitement and fun to a course that was rapidly growing stale. After recovering a bit, I was able to run a couple more miles before taking another short walk, then I finished strong with a quick stride across the finish line! My realistic goal was to finish in two hours (knowing my hip might act up) and my stretch goal was 1:45, so I was VERY pleased with my time of 1:50, which is my 15k PR. Not just from my first actual 15k race, but also from my extrapolated predictions, taken from my two previous longer races. So, yay despite the walking!
After the race, I met up with Nancy, who I met at a previous race, and we hung out in the post-race festival for a while. The temperature kept dropping, especially as the wind picked up, so it wasn't the most enjoyable setting, but we still enjoyed each other's company! Our friendship is blossoming and I was so happy I had the chance to find her in the post-race craziness. And it really was crazy - even worse than the pre-race! Swarms of people trying to keep warm, trying to get their goodies, trying to find their friends... All of the photo opportunity areas had massive lines, as did vendor booths and the massive merchandise tent. We chose to wait for the backdrop photo spot, and while we were waiting a course photographer snapped a shot of us with the big screen in the background, which was a cool bonus.
Organization: For the hordes of people this race pulls in, they did a remarkable job of keeping things moving and communicating clearly. Gear check was a snap, they had TONS of volunteers (here and throughout the event) which kept lines virtually non-existent. Corrals were well-marked and easy to understand, and the announcers throughout the day were very clear-spoken, which eased a lot of potential confusion. Aid stations were well-staffed and easy to access, the course was very clearly marked, and despite the massive amount of people moving through it, the finish line area and medal hand-out kept some momentum with only minor clogging. The post-race area was a bit of a mess, but that was because they labeled areas for runners to reunite with their friends after the race - really a pretty nice idea. The hot chocolate lines moved quickly and efficiently as well, once you were able to wade through the giant crowd in the runner meet-up area.
The Course: Starting in Grant Park and heading straight into the heart of downtown is a great opening stretch for any course. It's almost entirely wide roads, though some of those roads go through some tunnels that smell awful! Once you're back out on the upper streets, though, the scenery is gorgeous, and having the full street closed made a high-entry event much less congested. After about two miles, though, the race hits Michigan Avenue near Grant Park, and travels south for a few miles. This got very boring, very quickly. Thankfully, the return path went down the lakefront - but NOT on the Lakefront Trail, thank goodness! There's no way this many people would ever have fit on that narrow thing. Instead, the course stuck to driveways around McCormick Place. The worst part of the course, though, was going UNDER McCormick: it was almost pitch-black, especially after coming out of the bright morning, and the terrain was gravelly, uneven, and full of hidden potholes. Dangerous much? I'm very surprised (and fortunate) that I did not sprain an ankle down there... Anyway, overall the course was fantastically well-marked, spacious, and despite a lack of interesting scenery, I'm very impressed with this route in this situation.
The Swag: I can't actually speak to the big selling point on the swag - the hoodie. Mary's only condition for gifting me the entry was that she get to keep the jacket, and from what I could see (and hear) that was a pretty good choice. I got to keep the medal and any little freebies I could snag, plus she sent me the drawstring bag from the event as well. The bag was a little on the cheap side, but the hoodies looked lusciously warm and well-fitted, and the medal is a pretty sweet piece of bling! I was disappointed that the post-race party was so... not full of freebies? Maybe I am just too spoiled after the #Run10Feed10 a few weeks ago, but I kinda expected to see more sponsors with cool giveaways in the party area, especially considering the cost of the race.
The Bottom Line: I'm glad I had the experience, but I wouldn't pay for this race in the future. WAY too many people, especially in the start corrals and the post-race party. It's just too much to take, especially as one of the first truly cold weekends of the year. Definitely worth experiencing once, just not worth the price for a repeat.
Since about 90% of Chicago runners were likely at this event, let me know YOUR thoughts! Did you love it? Hate it? Find the massive crush of people simply too maddening? TELL ME!
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
This is a big one! I probably have several hundred dragon items: figurines, posters, books, pens, shirts, lamps, bowls, incense burners, you name it. My love of dragons came out of my interest in folklore and mythology, and spun wildly out of control! I have some really awesome pieces in my collection, but sadly there is not enough space to display even a fraction of the whole spread anywhere in my home. I'll figure it out sometime!
My collection of Star Wars toys, books, and memorabilia is pretty impressive, considering I cultivated it when I was very young. I am proud to say my collection is pure, too - completely dedicated to the original trilogy and the original expanded universe, long before those atrocious prequels. Much like my dragons, there's really no room to display my items (not to mention display is sometimes dangerous for some of my more valuable pieces), so the entire set is packed away neatly and safely in my parents' attic until the day comes when I can reclaim everything.
I'm not sure this really counts as a collection - more like specified, semi-organized hoarding. But it is one collection I DO have space to display! In fact, one of the requirements while we were home-shopping was an extra room to serve as a craft studio. It's a perpetual mess, but it's my sanctuary!
Honestly, I'm going to skip this one.
It's not that I don't have something to share. Quite to the contrary. I'm just not sure I'm ready to share some of those details in this forum yet. I've had a lot of little difficulties (doesn't everyone?) but I had a particular period of my life that definitely takes the cake. Someday, I will find a way to approach that discussion, but I want to be sure I can do it properly and with care.
So instead, I'll post that long-overdue race recap of last week's Hot Chocolate 15k! YAY FULFILLING PROMISES!
Monday, November 17, 2014
Nyx means "night", and she was definitely a goddess shrouded in shadow and mystery, which led to a strong cult following back in those old Grecian times. Her worship was never truly mainstream, but she was widely acknowledged as the mother of a host of spirits that included the Fates and the Hesperides, along with at least a dozen others like Dreams, Envy, Love, Friendship, Fear, and Misery. She was pretty much all over the board with her children...
Upon learning about the goddess, I started a lifelong pursuit of mythological knowledge, which turned into collegiate and post-collegiate degrees in religion and religious art - and it all started with just a name!
I chose to incorporate the name into my blog because it represents my soul better than any other title could: a complex mix of emotions and facets that come together to make a legendary figure! Plus, the wordplay of FitNyx vs fitness was just too good to miss!
The "Adventures" part should be pretty self-explanatory: I like to have adventures! The added advantage to using Adventures with FitNyx? I haven't branded myself into a corner, and can freely move about in the realm of general fitness or even general life without feeling like I am breaking my brand. The flexibility and freedom are pleasant comforts when sitting down to write.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
All of these things have, obviously, kept me from my computer. I know I set out to do this blog challenge thing, and I still intend to follow up with that as best I can - but it'll likely be done in weekly block posts. I doubt I'll have much time this coming week to write daily, and then Thanksgiving week will be spent in California - where I will be focusing on my vacation and not on a glowing monitor.
But for now, I can catch up a bit on some of the posts! Read on!
11/9: Best Physical Feature
My most recent photos may not show it, thanks to the lovely patch, but my eyes are by far my best physical feature. They change colors (cool right off the bat) but usually they are a deep blue, with a bright yellow sunburst right in the middle. Awesome.
11/10: A Few of My Favorite Things
- Bright, vibrant colors - especially clothing!
- Twirly skirts.
- Music. Lots of it, and in many different genres.
- My husband. Duh, that's why I married him.
- Banana-acai smoothies.
- Coming home to burgers on the (indoor) grill. My husband makes amazing burgers, and after a long work day, there's nothing better than opening the door to his gorgeous face and the smell of delicious dinner.
- A calf rub after a long run.
- Getting everything done with enough time to have some me-time. Happens less often than I'd like - but we're working on that!
- A great Zumba class: good music, high energy, big smiles, and lots of sweat!
- Buying my first home with my husband.
- Finishing my first half-marathon, especially since I ran it with my father.
- Heading down to my college's athletic center at midnight in November because my soccer team had just learned we'd made it into the NCAA tournament for the first time in history.