Category Archives: Run

The Perfect Running ‘Do for Short Hair or Bothersome Bangs

I’m still in the process of growing out the dreaded pixie cut, but my hair is too long in the back for my typical long run ‘do of just pinning the bangs back.  Hair hanging on my neck = unhappy, neck-sweaty Lauren after several miles in the summer sun.

So what’s a girl to do?  I like headbands, but the little whispy pieces that fall out of them in the back drive me insane.  My bangs just need to grow out already!  In the meantime, I did what any social media addict would do.  I Googled like crazy, in search of a solution.  And lucky me… I found it!

Braided bangs!

They stayed in place for 4 miles, and let me tell you, they are not going anywhere.

The shocking part?  Before yesterday, I didn’t know how to french braid or attempt this style.  I turned to the lovely ladies of YouTube for help.  There are many, many hair tutorials that show the process, but I found these two videos to be the most helpful.

To get an idea of how to create the style:

To learn to French braid:

I did not braid the way the girl in the first video does, but used her other tips and suggestions.  I braided as is shown in the second video.  Best of all, it took less than 5 minutes and kept my hair from driving me crazy.  Success!

Spill it. Do you have a favorite running hairstyle?  Do you just throw it back in a ponytail?  Is there a hair accessory you can’t live without on your training days?



Filed under Run, Training

Jogging with

Week one of Half Marathon training is in the books!

Check out my snazzy new headband I won on Susan's blog! (

Our long run today was 3 miles.  Because I’m still building back up, 3 miles actually did feel long-ish.  Goose and I headed out at the same time, but the plan was that I’d stick with him as long as possible and then just run my own pace.

Yeah.  Goose is speedier than I thought.  I kept up with him for all of a half mile.

When I made it back to the house, he was waiting there with something special for me!  (Please note that he wasn’t that much faster than me.  He bought it last night.)

A little iPod shuffle!  Last night I was talking about using a running playlist for the first time in a long time.  I found, and I think it’s about the best website that has ever existed.  It sorts songs by beats per minute, which it aligns with a running pace.  For an 11:15 pace, it suggests 137 beats per minute.  Although those are pretty difficult to find, there are some really fun songs at the 11:12 pace!

I am so excited to pick a workout playlist and get running.  I’m hoping it will make me  better at pacing and distract me from the speedy clip I’m hoping my legs will maintain.  (Hush, all you speedy friends, you.  11:12 is a speedy clip for me for 13.1 miles!)

So, tell me. Do you run with music? What do you use to listen to it? What are your favorite workout songs?


Filed under Run, Team Challenge, Training

“Just” a Half Marathon

Something dawned on me today.

This is the first time in my running career I’ve ever been training specifically for a half marathon.  I’ve run plenty of them, but it’s always been a training run for something else.

2008 Chicago Distance Classic - I have no idea what I'm doing in this picture.

It’s strange, because I think the half marathon is my favorite race distance.  It’s long enough to be a challenge, but short enough (good grief, did I just call 13.1 miles short?) that training for it doesn’t entirely take over your life.  You can rock your long runs, take a nap, and do something fun with the rest of your day.

Several times when I’ve been in full-on marathon training mode and loathing my long runs, Goose has suggested I knock it off and train for half marathons.  I tell him it’s a good idea, then finish marathon training, cross the finish line, and somehow find myself signing up for a big goal all over again.  (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.  Finish lines are like crack.)

2009 Chicago Rock & Roll Half Marathon - this is such a fab screen grab.

I actually think I could crank out a pretty decent time if I trained specifically for a half, tapering at the appropriate time and peaking at race day.  My current half marathon PR is 2:38:41.  I don’t want to put any pressure on my recovering self, but I really want a sub-2:30 in Vegas.  Not only would I then be able to cross two things off my 30 before 30 list in one swoop, I think it would make for a pretty satisfying comeback.

Disney Princess Half, 2011

So I’m going to go ahead and go for it.  9 minutes is a pretty sizable PR, but hey, dream big right?

What is your favorite race distance?  Also, please tell me about a time you set a PR in a big way. Help me believe, baby!

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Filed under Run, Team Challenge

Running Together

Goose and I never run together.  Ever.

I mean, we tried a few times when I first started running.  We had just started dating and he didn’t say no to me nearly as often back then.  It didn’t really work, though.  For one, Goose had an awful habit of running on a slight angle, so he almost always ran into me.  But the bigger reason is that we have totally different running styles.  I am slow and steady, and Goose’s style is more “if I run faster this will all just be over.”

Yesterday, for 15 minutes, all of that changed.

We ran together.

And I loved it.

My “ease back into running” schedule called for just 15 minutes today.  Goose, confident that just 15 minutes was doable, decided to join me and we cranked out 1.33 miles.

We capped off our Sunday with some outlet mall shopping and an incredibly delicious dinner at my parents’ house.

While I was doing all that, racers at Steelhead were anxiously awaiting news about the swim.  For 3 hours, they waited.  Because of a small craft advisory, the swim was cancelled.  Participants did a time trial bike start, then just biked 56 miles and ran a half marathon.  I obviously wasn’t there, but a friend of mine sent me a few text message updates from the start. (My phone was also a flutter with friends, letting me know they were thinking of me today.  Thanks guys. You know who you are, and you rock.)

I have to admit that I’m a little relieved that I wasn’t put in such an angsty situation for my first half iron distance race.  It doesn’t take away the sadness that I couldn’t continue my training, but it does present a little bit of a “silver lining.”

Besides, I think there might be a really fun comeback race in my future.

How did you spend your weekend? 


Filed under Life, Run

Tiny Run!

On Monday nights, some of the girls from my Girls on the Run team meet up for an informal run club.  I look forward to seeing the girls, but I haven’t been able to run with them for the last two weeks.

I was giddy all day long yesterday in anticipation of a teeny little run.  My legs were itching to go.

And they did… slowly.  I ran 1.5 miles around the track, alternating laps of running with laps of walking.  So really, I ran .75 mile and walked .75 mile.  My joints bothered me a little bit, but not enough to keep me from my goal of 1 – 2 miles.

It would be really easy to be frustrated right now.  Two and a half weeks ago, I was going out for long runs over two hours long, usually after a short bike ride.  Now, 1.5 miles feels like plenty.  How is it possible for that to happen so quickly?

But instead of getting down, I am choosing positivity.  I’m grateful that I am able to start running already, even if it’s just little runs.  I’m glad my swim felt amazing over the weekend.  I’m looking forward to getting my groove back, little by little.  Because a little is a whole lot better than nothing.

Do you believe in the power of a positive attitude?  What do you choose to be positive about?


Filed under Run

How I Became a Runner

Sometimes, when I take a step back, past-Lauren hardly recognizes the person I am now.  When I really think about it, I’m still somewhat alarmed by the way I feel about running.

Just now, I was thinking about how excited I am to try my first run back (maybe a mile or two) tonight.  And I remember that ten years ago, you couldn’t have paid me to run two miles.  And here I am with four marathons under my belt, itching to get back to training after some health-mandated time off.

How did I get here?  Let’s go back.

My first athletic endeavor was Mansfield Youth Soccer when I was just six years old.  I played soccer for the three years we lived in Massachusetts — kindergarten, first, and second grade.  Honestly, I was no good.  Even for a little kid.  My mom used to put big clippy bows in my hair and I’d get them stuck in the net when I played goalie.  Mostly, I liked snacktime and playing with the other kids.

Thirsty little soccer player.

I love that photo of me playing soccer because I can pretend I was this intense little kid, watching the game, dying to get back in.  That’s not true for one second.

When we moved from Massachusetts to Illinois, there was no more co-ed soccer for little kids.  I told my parents I thought it was stupid that I’d have to play with all girls and promptly decided to quit.  (I make good choices.)  I took dance class, and I suffered through gym.  That was about it.

When I was in high school, my dad and aunt started running marathons for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.  I thought they were incredible, and I loved cheering them on at the races.  Spectating at marathons was exciting and fun.  I was in awe of everyone running.  I was also convinced that they were all super-human and I could never be like them.

Go Dad!

I was still getting pep-talks from my dad to survive the mile run in gym class.

In college, I’d occasionally sign up for a 5k and just hobble my way through it pathetically.  I didn’t train at all, which made running 3.1 miles kind of a nightmare for the girl who never worked out.

And then Goose’s brother ran the 2006 Chicago Marathon.

Since I hadn’t grown up idolizing him as I had my dad, I couldn’t make excuses anymore.  If Nick could do it, so could I.  On that day, I decided I was going to run the 2007 Chicago Marathon.

I ran for a few months without telling anyone, and when I was sure I could do it, I told my parents.  They took me shopping for my first real pair of running shoes, and the rest is history.  I joined Team in Training.  Goose and I did my first “I’m a serious runner now” race, the 2007 Shamrock Shuffle.

Little by little, I accumulated all those races you see on the tab above.

Now, running is just something I do.  It’s something I miss when I can’t do it, and something I do for me.  For fun.  But every once in a while, it’s nice to look around and realize how far I’ve come.

What’s your running story?  How did you get to where you are today?  Were you always a runner, or did something inspire you to become one?


Filed under Run

Spectator Support

I consider myself pretty lucky that after all the crazy races I’ve tackled, I still have plenty of family and friends willing to come sit for hours and cheer for me at my most important races.

Goose comes to almost all of my races.  He doesn’t really show up for 5ks or training races like the 15k I did last weekend, but more often than not, he is there.  I cannot tell you how much it matters to have supporters there on race day.

At my last marathon, I had a list down my arm to remind me to look for spectators at certain mile markers.

See the marker?  I loved looking down at my arm during the race and knowing that I only had a few miles until I’d see someone again.  It’s amazing how much a familiar face and a little cheer can mean during a race.

I actually started my endurance career as a spectator, cheering for my dad at his many marathons.  Going to cheer at a race soon?  Here are some tips to help your spectating run smoothly:

  • If you’re heading to a race to cheer for someone in particular, have a plan.  Know what they plan to wear and tell them where you will be.  Be as specific as possible, including mile marker and side of the road.  At especially big races (the Chicago Marathon has 45,000 registered runners!) it can be difficult for you to spot the runner, and easier for them to spot you.
  • If the race has runner tracking, sign up for text message alerts about the runners you are there to support.
  • Make sure your cheers are positive… but never say, “You’re almost there!”  A well-meaning spectator said this to me around mile 16 of a marathon.  Nope. Not almost there yet.  When you’re really tired and questioning your own sanity, even mile 25 of a marathon might not feel like “almost there.”  Stick to things like, “You’re so strong!” or “You are awesome!”
  • Cheer for everyone!  Some racers don’t have spectators, but they still need some love.  Cheer, cheer, cheer.
  • Make sure you eat and drink. At especially long races, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the athlete you’re supporting that you forget to take care of yourself!  You’re out there in the heat for hours, too.  Stay healthy!
  • Bring signs and have fun!


I am arming myself with cheerleaders for Steelhead.  Think it’s too much to try to put someone at every half mile marker on the run course?  That way, I can get excited when I see the mile markers on the course, and then in just half a mile, I’ll see a friendly face.  Too much?

I’m also selling my miles for the race.  Please consider making a donation and sending me a little note of encouragement for your mile.  Goose will put everything together for me to keep me going on race day.  (I borrowed this fantastic idea from another SoleMate!)  If you already donated, but haven’t chosen your mile yet, please shoot me an e-mail so I can add you to the list.

Do you like to cheer at races?  What are your spectator tips?

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Filed under Bike, Run, Swim, Triathlon

Best Holiday Ever: International Mud Day!

Today is International Mud Day.  No, seriously.  What an awesome holiday!  If you want to celebrate, too, here is a list of 30 activities to do in the mud.  (Thanks to Pigtail Pals for the link!)  Okay, the list is meant for children, but can you think of a better holiday to act like a kid?  I sure can’t.

To celebrate, here’s a look at the best thing I ever did in the mud: Muddy Buddy 2010 with my cousin Kurt!

Kurt and I dressed up like Lucy and Charlie Brown.  It was pure awesome, and there aren’t nearly enough photos documenting the fabulousness before we were entirely covered in mud.  Check out the awesome bike, too!

Mud. Lots of it.


Who wants a hug?

Oh so pretty.

Do you like to get messy/muddy?  How will you celebrate International Mud Day?


Filed under Life, Run

Is a Running Buddy Right For You?

Since I started running consistently in 2006, I’ve run on my own, with a team, and with friends.  I find that certain goals, moods, and types of runs lend themselves better to running with a friend, while others are better suited to solo runs.

When to Run With a Buddy

  • For long runs.  Running with a friend can make the miles tick by more quickly.  It also helps you keep long run pace, which experts say should be “conversational.”  Conversational pace means just what it sounds like — you should be able to have a conversation while you run.  In other words, no huffing and puffing and going all out.  When you’re chatting with a buddy, you automatically revert to conversational pace so you can chat!
  • When you and your buddy have a shared goal.  Maybe you and a friend have the same goal race, or you both are working towards a 5k PR.  If you run at similar paces, why not meet for a workout once in a while?  Meeting someone else will hold you accountable as you work toward the goal together.  (If you’re not at a similar pace, there’s no reason you can’t meet up and do your own thing when you arrive at your workout location!  You can chat over water and healthy snacks afterwards, and they still provide extra incentive for you to get there.)
  • Easy run days provide a great opportunity to run with a friend who is a little slower than you, while hard workouts might be a chance to run with a speedy friend.
  • Run with a buddy when you’re afraid you’ll skip your workout.  When you plan to meet a friend for a run, it’s a lot harder to find excuses not to do it.  Like I’ve said before, a little bit of guilt can always get you going!
When to Run Alone
  • You have a lot on your mind.  Running can be a chance to clear your mind and sort out things that have been bothering you.  Everything becomes a lot clearer after a good run.
  • When you want to see what you’re made of.  If the point of your workout is to push past your own limits and see what you can accomplish, run alone.  A buddy could hold you back or make it easy to go too hard, too soon.
  • If you’re training for a race that you’ll run alone, make sure at least some of your long runs are solo.  It can be a big adjustment to run alone when you’re used to having someone there to talk sense into you and encourage you when it gets tough.
Do you run with a buddy or do you prefer to run alone?  

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Filed under Run, Training

OMG. You too?!: My New Running Buddy & the Nutty 15k

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a running buddy that I can consistently keep pace with.  In fact, since Melissa and I crossed the finish line at the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2008, I haven’t run with anyone else for more than an occasional training run.  (Unless you count running with David Wallach for the 2009 Chicago Marathon, but we didn’t train together and you can hardly say he runs at my pace.)

And then the 2011 Girls on the Run spring season began.  One of my co-coaches was a girl I went to high school with, but didn’t know too well.  We had chatted about GOTR and a few teachery things, but that is about all I know of this girl before spring season began.  The more I stalked her blog and the more we chatted, the more we realized we have in common!  Including… RUNNING PACE!  (Okay, confession: Amy is a little bit faster than me, I think.  Or at least way better at holding a consistent pace. But that is a story for another day.)

Amy is training for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon on August 14, so last weekend, we decided to meet up for a long run.  Oh, how the miles flew by.  I forgot how amazing it is to get so lost in conversation that 3…4…even 5 miles tick by and you have no idea where they went.  We instantly decided to have more running dates.  Sure, sometimes I might have to go a little farther or she might want to run a little faster.  But even for a few miles, it’s nice to have a friend.

Enter Girls on the Run of Northwest Illinois.  When I found out that the Nutty 5k/10k/15k in Sycamore this weekend was benefiting them, it seemed like a no-brainer.  The 15k fit with my training schedule perfectly.  It wasn’t difficult to talk Amy into running with me, as long as we treated it like a training run, not a race.  As luck would have it, that was my plan!

Naturally, Coach Amy came over on Friday night so we could decorate tiaras and make inspirational notes a la Operation Beautiful for our shirts. (Well, and because I live closer to the middle of nowhere than she does, so she decided to spend the night.)

And of course, in true blogger form, we laid out all our clothes and took pictures of those too.

As usual, I filled my water bottles and put them in the fridge, and laid out all my gear right by my room.  As I was getting ready for bed, I realized my running shoes were sitting by the front door.  Oh well. I’ll walk right by them in the morning.  I thought.  And in the morning, I did exactly that.

We were about 10 minutes away from home when I realized I’d forgotten my shoes and turned the car around.

Eventually, we did make it to Sycamore and manage to get registered for the race.  They gave us amazing t-shirts, complete with a squirrel.

And we snapped some photos of our very fashionable ensembles (although apparently before we were decked out in our tiaras.)

This race was wonderful because it allowed me to practice all of my pre-race rituals with no pressure.  It was just a training run.  We were all smiles, cheering on other runners, and having a blast.  We thanked each and every volunteer, practiced our best princess wave at the people who commented on our tiaras, and chatted about life.  When I faded a little, I’d notice the note on Amy’s shirt.  You can do this.  And I kept going.  In her best teacher voice, Amy gave directions and kept me on pace.  I am absolutely miserable at keeping pace, and Amy is as good as I am bad at it.

This training race reminded me just how powerful positive thinking is during a race.  I felt best when we were cheering on the other runners and I wasn’t focusing on myself.  It’s amazing how much a little PMA can do!

How do you stay positive during races and training?  Do you have a favorite mantra?


Filed under Run, Training