weekend

The Big 2-0 + Taco Fest 2.0

What the heck is up you guys?

Don’t mind me, I’m just riding the high from running a casual 20 MILER yesterday!

I know this kind of mileage is chump change to many marathoners but man…never in a million years did I think I would run three and a half hours straight and not want to die.

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Since the CARA 20 Miler is designed to simulate the actual race, the event didn’t start at 6:30 like it usually does. We were placed in waves and mine didn’t end up starting until 7:00 on the dot. Unfortunately my pre-race stretching occurred on Lake Shore Drive after being involved in a fender bender — but luckily everyone was okay, my friend driving was not at fault, and we still made it to the race on time. It definitely made for an entertaining beginning to the morning.

The run was a point-to-point route, so we started very far north and ran along the lake for 20 miles with little diversion from the path. I haven’t even driven that far along the lake.

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As you can see, we started in a huge pack — the 10:30 pace group — but by mile 17 (above) it was every man for himself. The weather was absolutely perfect for a run which is probably why I was flying until mile 16. Besides two 2-minute walking breaks + one trip to the bathroom, I crushed that 20 miler! I did find out that at mile 16 I become mean and cranky though. My friend was trying to make jokes to push me to the finish line and I was not having it haha. Sorry Jaeson!

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The thing I’m most proud of is how far I’ve come since my post a few weeks ago. Remember, the one where I was a blubbering idiot because I couldn’t overcome that wall at 13 miles? Well I made that wall my….well, you know.

Don’t think it was EASY though. I definitely wanted to collapse at the end. Which is exactly what I did.unnamed (23)unnamed (34)

Thank goodness the kind folks at NovaCare were there to stretch us out. I definitely took advantage of that treat — and Bethany found me! Sorry if I wasn’t forming full sentences at that point, lady 🙂unnamed (24)

It was almost 1pm by the time I got home and all I had eaten that day was half a banana pre-race and two Gus during, so I was cranky, grumpy, and in need of some serious food. Enter: the Chipotle burrito. I haven’t had an actual burrito from there since high school but I was not messing around with any burrito bowl nonsense. I needed that tortilla like a bee needs pollen.

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That thing was gone in five minutes.

I spent the next three hours jumping between icing my knees, showering, and sleeping. I honestly felt drunk for a few hours until Megan called me and reminded me that it was the last day of Taco Fest on the main street right by my apartment so even though I felt like a zombie, I threw on a decent outfit and was out the door.

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I remember going to Taco Fest last year like it was yesterday. Such a crazy thing to think about how far I’ve come. I was volunteering at last year’s CARA 20-miler before I met up Megan for the festival and now here I am, 365 days later, having run it. Can you say goal-crushing?

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I had a Grapefruit shandy (because I couldn’t find my beloved cider), a crispy chicken taco (definite favorite), and of course tried the lobster taco. They had so many cool creations there — fries topped with pulled pork and cheese was tempting me like whoa — but I wasn’t sure how my stomach would handle any craziness. So I stuck to the delicious basics.

And just because I wanted to end the night on a really nutritious note, we walked to Dairy Queen and got blizzards before watching the Keeping Up With The Kardashians season premiere. What a full day.

Question:

  • What’s the farthest you’ve ever run?
  • Do you have any street festivals near where you live?
  • Tacos: fish, chicken, beef?
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What to do about failure: a heavy dose of self-compassion + a sprinkle of commiseration

This weekend I had a setback.

Between a fitness project I’m working on (that I’ll share more about soon) in addition to marathon training, I haven’t been running as much as I could be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely running a lot, but I could have another short run day added in the mix if I really tried. It hasn’t been affecting me terribly, and even though it’s been tough as hell I figured that since I already ran 16 miles I was clearly on the right track. Fast forward to this past Saturday morning for our 18-miler and I was a wreck. An absolutely wreck.

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I felt like the Tin Man, in need of oil at my “hinges.” My hip flexors felt so tight that I was barely bending my legs with every step, and with each additional mile it felt worse and worse. I wasn’t sure whether I was just tired, going through typical running pains, hitting a wall, or if I was actually hurt, so I kept pushing. I could tell after the first four miles that it was going to be horrible. When we hit mile six I wanted to vomit thinking that we were only 1/3 of the way through. I even thought about stopping at mile 10 and running with a slower pace group, but I kept pushing. We finally hit a point where I was close to lululemon and I just knew I had to stop. I awkwardly slipped out of line with my running group at Oak Street Beach, ran under the bridge, and came up to my store. I had completed 13 miles instead of 18 and I felt like a complete and total failure. I knocked on the door of lululemon (the store wasn’t open yet) and the second my manager opened the door I just started crying. I was more frustrated than I’d been in years. I’m in the home stretch of training and I can’t even hit the marks? 18 miles shouldn’t be impossible. I know that 13 miles is where I hit my wall. WHY didn’t I push through it? Where was my discipline?

My coworker was quick to reframe my thinking: where was my compassion? Compassion for myself? Marathon training is hard. My body probably has no idea what I’m doing to it and what the end goal is. And while I could definitely take the short runs more seriously instead of pounding through the long ones and using those as my markers for success, I have to just move forward and not wallow in the fact that I ended my run a few miles early. So I didn’t spend another minute mad at myself this weekend. I got over it and celebrated the fact that 13 miles, a HALF MARATHON, is pretty common in my life these days. And that’s incredible.

So I spent the rest of the weekend doing what I do best: EATING.

Tuna melts with Mom at our favorite spot:

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A family BBQ in the suburbs complete with Billy Joel radio, pineapple margaritas, and every grilled vegetable on the planet:

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Late morning Sunday wake-up call with peach french toast on our deck:

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Roasted tomatoes from my mom’s garden:

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And a bit of quiet reflection on my porch swing as I enjoyed the 80+ temps we got this weekend:

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The verdict? There is nothing wrong with my life, even though I didn’t run 18 miles this weekend.

20 miler, I’m coming for ya. Just have to work on these Tin Man hinges first.

Question:

  • Did you struggle during training with your first marathon?
  • How do you stay disciplined with running with everything else you have going on?
  • How are you spending your Labor Day weekend?

Weekend Happenings: 16 miler, Pizza Pizza, and Ready For Fall

Well this weekend was a doozy.

For starters, I ran my longest distance ever. I popped out of bed surprisingly early on Saturday morning and met up with my CARA group to attempt what I thought was an impossible 16 miler along the lake. The first 12 miles weren’t too hard, especially since I ended up running next to an awesome girl named Brigitte and we ended up talking the entire time. But the minute I hit the half marathon mark (my longest distance to date) my body hit a wall and it felt like the next three miles would be insurmountable. I’ll tell you — having Brigitte there saved me. I wouldn’t have even come close to finishing without her. She talked to me the entire time and I even stopped talking back the last two miles but she kept on gabbing, trying to distract me from the pain. And in the end, I was so happy I kept going — I thought the runner’s high after 8 miles was strong…but aside from feeling like I was having a stroke, the high I had the rest of the weekend after the 16 miler was crazy! Such an incredible feeling.

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I ran home and did the typical runner things (including my first ice bath, which I definitely did wrong and didn’t put any water in the tub), hoping that I would be able to function for the rest of the gorgeous weekend instead of hobbling around my apartment like a 90 year old woman.

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Legs up the wall is a true life saver, even when your hip flexors are so tight that you can’t even straighten them. The foam roller is going to be my best friend this week.

The rest of Saturday was spent at the beach, eating pizza, and playing Heads Up with some of my friends who drove in from the suburbs to enjoy the gorgeous weather — it really was the most perfect day of the summer.unnamed (14)

I met Spencer downtown later in the night for some rooftop cocktails which in hindsight wasn’t the greatest idea after a double digit run, but I’ll rarely turn down an invitation from friends.

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Sunday was the definition of exhaustion. I had to work at the store but since I hadn’t really rested since my long run and day/night on the town I was pretty loopy. Luckily the shift flew and I was able to meet Megan out for dinner for her birthday today! Megan and I just realized that we’ve been friends for 10 YEARS now — the fact that I’m old enough to have a decade-long friend is only slightly terrifying but it’s crazy to think how much we’ve been through together. Never in a million years in freshman-year French class did we think we’d be living just across the street from one another in the city.

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Oh, and we ate more pizza and beer. I think that was the theme of my weekend (never an unwelcome one).

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Now that I truly got to enjoy a full summer weekend I’m completely ready for fall to be here. I keep my apartment on the chilly side so I can hang out in a sweatshirt and sip coffee in the morning like it’s going to be a fall day anyway, so I just need nature to get on the same page as me. Let’s just keep winter far, far away, shall we?

Questions:

  • What did you feel like the first time you ran a crazy-long distance?
  • Are you ready for fall or still savoring summer?

Responsible Weekend Sandwich

Do you ever feel like your personality can do a complete 180 on a whim?

This past weekend pretty much felt like that for me (as most weekends tend to do…)

We’ll call it the “Responsible Weekend Sandwich.” Lot’s of calorie-laden, lethargy-inspiring decisions sandwiched by ultra-healthy behavior. If I had to title a book about my everyday life this would have to be it.

It all started responsibly enough. I worked a fun seven-hour shift on Friday, headed to CorePower for a sculpt class at 7:15, made a healthy meal (sweet potato nachos FTW!), and went to bed at a decent hour. I think I even had a glass of water with my meal. Big, healthy things happening over here. Including these muscles:

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Who wants to meet up in a dark alley?

Thennnnnn came the meat in this “Responsible Weekend Sandwich.” Aka Saturday. Aka I overslept, skipped my morning long run, got in a car and drove to Tinley Park for a day-long alternative music festival, and subsequently drank 120 oz of beer. Yes, I did the math.

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Between the heat and the 10 hours of non-stop music, it’s really no feat to have had six 20-oz cups of beer. But thinking back on it today it makes me want to punch myself in the face. That and the Pringles. So many Pringles (they were on sale, I don’t want to talk about it).

The “meat” was the best part of the weekend. 10 hours of seeing some of my favorite bands live? I can’t even tell you how happy I was! Do you think I can convince the guys of Smallpools to lease an apartment with me?

Waking up Sunday wasn’t as bad as anticipated — and I was able to get to work and have a kickass time. I was tired by the end of my shift but some friends from the store convinced me to grab dinner and I knew I would be much more likely to eat vegetables at a restaurant than I would at home. So we headed to Doc B’s for giant salads.

IMG_5629Black Tiger Shrimp Salad: Field Greens & Avocado Vinaigrette, avocado, peppadew, red onion, jicama & feta

Is anyone else a HUGE fan of jicama in the summer?

And now, to metaphorically slab the sprouted grain piece of bread on my Responsible Weekend Sandwich, I just finished up journaling. Yep, goal-crushing over here.

Question:

  • Any jicama recipes you’re willing to share?
  • Do you often get caught in a healthy or unhealthy “sandwich” of sorts?

Weekend Happenings: there’s a carrot in my taco

Happy Memorial Day, folks! I hope you’re starting your day with some exercise, followed by a big ol’ cookout and time spent with friends and family.

I’m grateful to live in a country where people have fought for my freedom. I was just watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and on this particular episode they went to Myanmar. It’s unbelievable the restrictions and censorship that still exist well into the 21st century. I definitely take liberty for granted sometimes, so it’s good to stop, pause, and remember those who cared so much about defending freedom that they died.

The weekend started early with our Girls On The Run Community Impact Project. The girls decided to raise money for PAWS by hosting a bake sale during their lunch periods. I went to the school early Friday morning to drop off cookies and help set up

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Impressively enough, the girls raised $430! I’m thinking there were some overly-generous parents, otherwise there may be some new cases of diabetes at that school. However it happened, it was exciting to see how into it the girls got. We’re hoping to go to PAWS this week to drop off the check and really show the girls how to impact their community from start to finish.

Friday night was low-key because I had to be up early Saturday morning and lead run club for the store. My alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning and I immediately started thinking of all the excuses I could come up with to skip the run. Alas, I was feeling to mature and responsible so I was out the door in ten minutes and on the path.

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Even though it was early in the day, it was hot as hades. Within the first mile I was sweating like a chicken on a rotisserie. My running partner had some sage advice for me that I’ll definitely remember next time: “If you’re not cold when you leave the house for an morning run, you’re going to be too hot.” Preach, Tommy, preach. I felt like an Amish woman covered from head to toe, and was not pleased.

The only solution was to 90s-it-up and tie my jacket around my waist. High-fashion rolling, that’s for sure.

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I’m so happy that I womaned up and completed the run. The best part about running groups is they keep you going, that’s for sure. I know I would have walked a portion of the 7 miles due to the heat but, being the competitive spirit I am, I didn’t want to in front of the other runners. Success.

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The views always keep me going too. Chicago comes alive in the summer.

I took the whole weekend off of work and made the most of it. After some stretching and icing, I made breakfast and then Megan and I sat outside on our porch in the sunshine.

unnamed (5)Scrambled eggs, strawberries, and a Kodiak cake.

Later we walked to the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival to enjoy that classic festival vibe: free music, expensive beer, cheap clothes and jewelry, and fried food.

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We enjoyed some cinnamon-sugar mini donuts, 312s, and live music. Even though it was a No Doubt cover band (I do NOT like Gwen Stefani) it felt like the official start of summer. And that felt great.

Dinner was out in the Wicker Park neighborhood where I met up with some of my coworkers. Big Star is known for its margaritas and summer patio scene, so when you venture out there, you can expect at least a two hour wait.

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We waited about an hour and a half for our table and then immediately ordered a pitcher of margaritas and some snacks.
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The guacamole and margaritas are my favorite things at Big Star, but since it was a long day and I was hungry, I tried a few of their tacos. I’d had the fish and pork shoulder taco before, but this time I tried some newbies:

  • Taco de panza: crispy, braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion, cilantro
  • Taco de pollo pibil: chicken thighs steamed in banana leaves, achiote and citrus marinade, pickled red onion, cilantro
  • Taco de zanahorias: mole spiced carrots, chipotle date yogurt, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almond, cilantro

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I loved the chicken and pork, but the carrot one (on the far right) as extremely underwhelming. The waitress said it was her favorite…further proving that I will I never be a vegetarian. Nothing can compete with meat.

After a busy weekend, I made a last-minute decision to go home and spend some time with my family. I tried to stay away for awhile but I just like those people way too much. So I had a lazy Sunday, capped off with a movie I’ve been wanting to see.

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I feel like everyone can relate to this movie somehow. It definitely struck a chord in my heart.

Questions:

  • What’s the longest you’ll wait for a table at a restaurant?
  • How are you celebrating Memorial Day weekend?

Weekend happenings: Mother’s Day in Madison

This past weekend my family and I took a mini-vacation to our home-away-from-home: Madison.

We lived here for three years when I was a kid so every once in awhile we take the two hour drive to the capital of the cheese state and get our farmers market on (because Madison holds one of the greatest Saturday morning markets in the country).
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We ended up with some asparagus and tomato plants, plus my own personal loot:

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Lemon poppyseed bread, honey sticks (a childhood memory from this market), and six-year-aged white cheddar cheese. I tried just about every cheese sample in the place and settled on this. It will definitely go well with the fig jam I have waiting for me at home.

I was disciplined enough to hit up the hotel treadmill in between the market and church. This is a rarity for me when I’m on vacation, but it just goes to show that I’ve been bit by the running bug hard again. A quick four miles where I increased my pace slowly from 9:13 to 8:20 every mile or so.

Me and all my friends!

Me and all my friends!

On Saturday night we went to my mom’s favorite restaurant, Louisianne’s, a lively cajun restaurant hidden below a quiet Madison street. The minute you descend down their dark velvet staircase you’re transported to New Orleans, live music and all.

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It was quite dark inside, but we split a bottle of sauvignon blanc, crab puffs, and all sampled each others entrees: crab cakes and cheesy artichoke toasts for me, steak for Steve, Cajun andouille and seafood pasta for dad, and Hawaiian swordfish for mom.

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Dessert was a dream. We all got different dishes (indulgence at its finest…) and shared. Normally I’m not a fan of sharing food, but when everything is equally delicious, I absolutely love getting to try it all. And this is the case at Louisianne’s–everything is outstanding. The highlights for me were the frozen peanut butter and key lime pies.

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Mother’s Day itself was all about Sue, so we slept in, enjoyed a slow continental breakfast at the hotel (aren’t those the best?) and did a little more casual driving down memory lane throughout Madison. We walked around our old preschool (correction: I was carried)…

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…ate some insanely delicious Mexican food at our old stomping grounds, Pasqual’s:

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And ended the trip, of course, with a trip to the best custard stand of all time: Michael’s. Their turtle sundaes are topped with salty, roasted pecans, a taste I remember distinctly even though I ate them regularly decades ago. I’ve been unable to find a turtle sundae just as good ever since so every time we’re in town we stop by.

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All in all it was a quiet weekend spent with my family and nonstop eating, two of my favorite things. We’re lucky that even though my brother and I are both 24 years old, we’re still able to take family vacations together once or twice a year. Not to mention I should have no problem running my butt off this week with all the sugar I consumed! Good lord. (Worth it).

Question:

  • How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?
  • What’s your favorite part about hotel breakfast buffets? I’m a sucker for a good make-your-own omelet bar 🙂

Weekend happenings: hello, Spring!

There was a lot of sweating, a lot of pavement-pounding, a lot of celebrating this weekend.

It all started Thursday night with an event at one of my favorite studios, Sweat Chicago. They threw a St. Patrick’s Day workout/happy hour called “Sweat, Sliders and Brews.” The workout started at 7:45 and was followed immediately by food and drinks from Hopsmith Tavern (another place I’ve been keen on ever since I learned they have a giant Twister board in their upstairs bar). I’ve been to a handful of workout/happy hour combo events since I moved to the city, but nothing kicked my butt more than Thursday night’s workout.

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What was supposed to be a quick 45 minute workout turned into a hellish three-workout partner combo: A 15-minute AMRAP, an 8-minute AMRAP, and a partner chipper workout. Oh, and the warmup was a burpee contest (which I supposedly “won” but I must have counted wrong because I got 31 in two minutes and I swear to god I’ve never done more than 15 in a minute but hooookay). Needless to say it was a doozy. The chipper was fun because we got to choose how we broke up the exercises, so a lot of teamwork and communication was happening the whole time. We were matched with a partner we didn’t know, and while in typical ice breaker activities this is one of my biggest pet peeves, ever since I’ve become more comfortable in the fitness community in Chicago I think it was a great idea. I was paired with a really nice girl who had never been to Sweat before so I was happy to make her feel more comfortable and have fun with the workout.

After we finally finished, it was time to attack the food. My favorite part about fitness junkies? We know how to EAT. No rabbit food here.

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Buffalo chicken sliders, mini chili dogs, sliders, cobb salad chicken wraps, hummus, ranch, and veggies. Plus a post-sweat drink (beer never tasted so good!)

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We came. We sweat. We conquered.

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Other events the past few days included date night with my one and only (aka my best friend and the only man who will let me dress him up for a lululemon photo shoot and then make him buy me tacos).

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I did my duty and exposed yet another friend to the beauty that is Velvet Taco. Spencer is obsessed now too and we have a standing lunch date next Saturday. It’s kind of a big deal.

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I’m eating my way through their menu, so I tried two new tacos: the Annatto Shredded Pork (avocado crema, house shred, grilled pineapple, pickled onion, queso fresco, and cilantro) and the Rotisserie Chicken (white queso, roasted corn pico, cilantro, and smoked poblano salsa).

Since I plan on trying everything on the menu (except beef options) AND it’s officially March Madness season, I’m thinking I should start a Taco Bracket for this place. Right now the Tikka Chicken and the Rotisserie Chicken would be leading the pack, but I’ll be sure to go back and do further research.

Of course the weekend wouldn’t be complete without some St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. It was a bright and sunny day spent outside with friends. And although I almost ate a piece of pizza off the ground (that is not even remotely close to an exaggeration), I was one of the behaved ones. Check out that police blotter!

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The rest of the week I was busy chipping away at my #100milemarch challenge (which is going really well, by the way!) Daylight Savings + weather in the mid 50s all week made for perfect running temps. I ran almost every day last week and even though my legs felt like tree trunks through some of those miles, I didn’t regret a single run. I love my city when it starts to come alive this time of year.

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Bridge pic – can you tell it’s rush hour?

I even managed to snap a quick video of the beach just after the sunrise on my long run Saturday morning

Spring is in the air and you can feel it. It’s the perfect time to tackle those fitness goals you’ve been putting off since January, and definitely a great time to get creative in the kitchen. I know this is the time of year when my creative juices start flowing!

Questions:

  • Who wants to come visit me? I’m in the mood to host 🙂 If you visited, what’s the ONE thing you’d want to do in Chicago?
  • St. Patty’s Day — did you celebrate?
  • Outdoor running — is your town ready, or are you still buried by winter