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F^3 Lake Half Marathon [A Race Report]

Well, well, well…SURE, I’ll run a half on the Lakefront in Chicago…in JANUARY…during a POLAR VORTEX.  To be fair, the high for the day was about four hours prior to race start time (10:00am).

I spent my early morning (after sleeping in!) enjoying sipping some coffee and doing some blogging.  Around 8:45am, I started getting dressed and we took off toward Montrose Harbor.  No lie, I’ve never participated in a race that started this late in the morning.  I was beginning to get hungry!  Since I haven’t found a good food to nom on before any kind of run, whether it be long or short, I just don’t eat before taking off.  I have successfully completed 14+ miles without food, so I figured today wouldn’t be any different.  I realized it sort of WAS different, since I usually run earlier in the day.  Much earlier.  Like hours earlier.  Ahhhhh.

When we finally arrived and found parking, which was about a half mile from the race start, we realized that it was FIVE MINUTES until race time!  My emotions were teetering on the fact that I didn’t feel prepared, but that it was a chip-timed race, and I wasn’t *racing* it, anyway.  I could waltz over the start line five minutes after they began the silly thing if I wanted to.  Luckily, they started the race in waves.  There were parts of the path that would’ve been just downright frustrating having to deal with everyone at once.  The best part about being late?  SO MANY PORT-A-POTTIES!  Not ONE was occupied.  This isn’t to say that I took my sweet time and chose the cleanest one with the most TP in it, but it was nice to not have to stand in a line.  The first wave had taken off before I even got near the start line; the second wave took off just as I finished up and was ready to go!

Despite my ridiculous timing, this race was clearly extremely organized!

As you can see, it was REALLY tight at the beginning!  Everyone was running right on top of each other, stumbling over patches of ice and mounds of snow.  We even stopped completely at one point; for what, I have no clue.  They had shoveled and cleared the entire route before the race, but the WIND kept blowing more and more snow onto it.  I just concentrated on people’s feet in front of me.


Meanwhile, Harry took some really wonderful pictures!  Welcome to #Chiberia!

The first half was pretty nice!  I sloshed through mud, shuffled through snow, and slid ever-so slightly over icy patches.  I kept the pace extremely easy, as I was just treating this like a long run.  I tried to pick up a tempo, but I eventually hit more snow and ice, so I slowed back down.  My feet started to ache from all of the bouncing and dodging around people and winter elements.  Up top, I was burning up!  I had put on two layers, knowing that the temperature was going go drop quickly.  I was ready to turn my back to the sun. The wind eventually started blowing HARD, nearly knocking me over into the oncoming race traffic.  It felt nice.  :P

I hit the turnaround and thanked several volunteers for being out there.  If I was freezing my tooshie off while running, they must be absolutely frigid!

Eventually, I started getting REALLY tired.  Why?  I’m assuming from running in ankle-deep snow and sand (SAND!  Sand had gotten up there, too!) and from dodging puddles.  I took a GU (see above about me eating and running…this goes for DURING, as well) around mile 7, as I felt my tummy turning over itself.  When I say that I “took a GU”, I mean “chewed a GU slowly over a mile”.  Now I had a GU-cicle in my tummy.  Great.

Miles 8-12 were really just me putting one foot in front of the other.  Times were tough.  My feet were muddy and freezing, and my legs were heavy!  I kept saying “I’m not of my body, I’m not of my body”, attempting to control the mentally enduring portion of this run.  I did not want to stop for anything.  I saw so many people walking, which mentally messed with me…taunted me…“You know you want to walk, Tiffany…it’s only a long run…you can stop if you want…”; with which I would fire back with“NO, I don’t care, I can’t stop…I’m not of my body…”

I finally got to mile 12 (after successfully watching every tenth of a mile tick-tick-tick away…*le sigh*) and I got excited.  Hooooray, food is near!

Harry was settled about .15 of a mile from the finish line.  Of course, I looked stupid-happy to see him.  I looked forward to the finish line and smiled at every camera I saw.  There’s definitely nothing more humbling than running that far in that weather, in those conditions. Unless you were volunteering that day.  Then you win.  :)

Harry found me grabbing food and water.  I was trying to show him that there were ice cubes in the water…you can see what I suspect as frozen snot.  *le blush*


 Aftermath mud!

All in all, this was an absolutely fantastic, fun, well-organized race!  From packet pick-up, which had been situated in several locations all over Chicago a week out up to race day, to the traffic coordinators and volunteers.  Plus, they had nifty Finisher’s medals and 1/4 zip long sleeved race shirts!  The hat was a gift from Harry.  D’awwww.

Did you run in F^3 (EFFING FREEZING FROZEN) weather?

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What Makes Me Feel Beautiful

I love food, I always have and I always will but over the last few years I’ve had to revamp my entire diet because of the worsening of my severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a recent diagnosis of Celiac Disease.  Foods that I had always eaten with no distress were now enemies to my digestive tract.  At first, I felt helpless to my conditions but through diet and exercise (as well as finally finding the right medication) I’ve been able to lessen my symptoms and it’s been my inspiration for getting creative in the kitchen!

My fitness journey began my senior year of high school, when I laughed at the idea of people who exercise for fun.  Me? Work out? That would never happen, but after taking my first Cardio Kickboxing class, I was hooked!  I loved the post-workout rush of endorphins seeping through my brain, creating a happiness that was like no other.

That happiness though was soon clouded with a vision of what it meant in my mind to be “fit.”  My only idea of a workout was cardio, and lots of it.  I would hit the gym, hop on a machine for 45 to 60 minutes in attempts to burn as many calories as possible and call it a day.  I wasn’t trying to become faster or stronger; I was, like many women in America, just trying to be skinny.

After forcing myself to finish Shaun T’s cruel and unusual punishment of Insanity, I had reached a plateau for working out.  I was NOT going to complete the program again and I did not want to go back to being a Cardio Bunny.  Through classes at my local gym, I found HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  I liked the idea of a super speed work out that got me just as sweaty in a shorter amount of time but I was still using the elliptical like it was my day job!  I would lift a few weights here or there but it wasn’t a focus or goal of mine.  The elliptical would continue to be my go-to-workout program.

Then, after a herniated disc injury, I saw a personal trainer to learn how to workout without causing pain or further damage to my back.  His first question left me dumb-founded, “What are your fitness goals?”  I just sat there, I had none.  For me, working out was something I did to maintain my weight but in that moment, I decided I needed to have a better purpose for getting my sweat on.  I decided I wanted to become stronger and increase my muscle tone.  During my senior year of college I was introduced to weight-lifting and fell in love.  Now, my typical workout is a combination of lifting/strength-training with HIIT moves in-between.

I have never felt better about myself, my body, or fitness level since I started lifting.

Lifting weights has boosted my confidence and appreciation and love for my body.  Self-love and body-love are two things that I think majority of women struggle with and I want to help them overcome those struggles.  I’ve stood in front of the mirror and picked myself apart or felt guilty after indulging in a sweet treat before, but why?  Because society tells us women that in order to be beautiful we must be stick-thin, super tall, wear makeup, and not lift heavy things.

WELL, I DISAGREE, be your own kind of beautiful.

To me, being beautiful is being happy.  What makes me happy?  Eating carbs, plates full of protein, spoonfuls of peanut butter, spending time with loved ones, wearing pink, sunshine on my face, loving my body as it is and no longer picking it apart, looking in the mirror and smiling at what I see, appreciating my body and all that it does for me, lifting weights, body weight cardio, staring in the mirror super sweaty at the gym and being proud of my progress.

Everyone’s definition of beautiful will be different.  Some people ask me why I want my arms to be muscular or what’s the point, girls don’t lift, and I smile and say, because it makes me feel beautiful and happy, and for me, that’s good enough.

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Inspired to Run

Kristy is a native Minnesotan, who has been teaching high school German for the past 11 years. Extremely committed to her profession, Kristy travels to Germany each year for a month with students. She has a passion for travel, food and adventure!

A beginner in every way, it took Kristy until her early 30′s to begin running and it created a new-found inspiration and love for being active. Her very first race was a local 10k just 3 months after starting to run! This race opened the flood gates and Kristy completed her first 1/2 marathon in 2011 and ran the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon in 2012. She is committed to running at least one race every month, and has already registered for 3 more 1/2 marathons in the coming year.

While Kristy is new to the sport of running, she has enjoyed cycling, swimming, downhill skiing, snowboarding and yoga for many years.

Join Kristy while she shares her journey through pit falls, and trial and error towards better fitness and a leaner, healthier body at

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