Swedish Days Lopp 5K Race Recap

What’s Swedish Days?! It’s a really cute little week-long festival in our neighboring town, Geneva, held every summer with street vendors, lots of food, a little carnival, musical entertainment… and now a new 5K event put on by a great local running store, Geneva Running Outfitters called the Swedish Days Lopp 5K Race.

I found out about this inaugural race through our local running club and had a nice little coupon making the race just $30. I loved that the race was so close to my house and along a route I know very well along the Fox River. It also came with a T-shirt and post-race pancake breakfast.

This was my first race of the year and in 9 months. I typically don’t run 5K events because they are so short, but have missed testing myself. My heel still has its moments, but isn’t so bad that running on it hurts. It’s usually first thing in the morning or when I have been sitting for a long time and am not walking with good supportive shoes or flip-flops.

Race packet pickup was the afternoon before at the running store, or early race morning at the event. If you go the day before, I recommend parking around the streets north of the store because most of Swedish Days events and traffic are south of the main drag where the store front is. The goodie bag was filled with tons of great coupons and offers from the local stores and some have no expiration date which is a nice bonus.


The next morning, I planned on leaving my house at 7:15 and ended up leaving closer to 7:30 which ended up being perfect since I was only 10 minutes away. There was a commuter lot with a path and quarter mile walk downhill to the race start at 8:00am. I was suprised that not many people used that lot because it was so easy to get in and out of (my secret spot for next year!). Before the race I snapped this quick picture and kind of wished I had a few friends running with me.


There were only about 300 people participating in this inaugural race which was good because the start was a bit tight as we started running onto the course and over one of my favorite bridges. We had to still share the space with cyclists and pedestrians who were not part of the race, so there were a few dicey moments as bikes carefully made their way past a few narrow places on the path until the running crowd started to space out about a half mile in.

I felt great the first mile and had a hard time judging if I should have been running faster, or holding back a little bit since we were running mostly downhill to run along the river. I’m used to really holding back for those much longer races and I like that laid back running strategy… maybe one reason I’m not a fan of the faster 5Ks. Here were my splits (you can guess what happened):

Mile 1:   9:17.53 (much better than my 10 min/miles)

Mile 2:   9:07.43 (not bad!)

Mile 3:   9:34.99 (oofta! uphill?)

Unofficial Time:   28:17.10 (Happy! My goal was to go under 30 minutes)

In the second mile, I really felt great. There was a lot of shade as the temps and humidity were starting to creep up there. There was also a water station just after the first mile and I thought I would definitely not need water. (famous last words).

The turnaround was at a pretty little spot over by some Japanese gardens and then back across the river. By the time I hit the water spot, I thought… WATER! YES! So, I walked through the station quick and started picking up the pace to finish strong.

But, suddenly I wasn’t feeling so great. I actually started feeling light-headed, so I stopped to walk and slow my heart rate. I also remembered that I could just slow down my running pace!!! DUH!  Has it really been that long since I ran a race? And so the goal was to keep running until the finish even if it was a much slower pace. I stopped one more time on a really hot part of the course and then decided it was hotter walking there than just plowing through slowly and getting back into the shade again.

By the time I finished, I was having a harder time breathing and was glad I slowed way down. Looking at my splits, though, I didn’t really slow down as much as I thought I did. I thought I was closer to a 10 or 11 min/mile!

Race volunteers were handing out bottled water at the finish and I walked in the shade to try and cool off. Even the slight breeze wasn’t helping much. I bumped into a running acquaintance, Tom R. and his friend, Sarah and we spied a snowcone machine in the distance!!! The snowcones were the BEST! I’m not one for usually eating junkfood after a race, but the ice cooled me off quickly. (p.s. check out and read Tom’s book in this link!)


The pancake breakfast after the race was wonderful! I took my car and drove it a few blocks over to the church that provided the meal. Instead of just having a buffet type of breakfast, there were 2 people taking orders for Swedish pancakes. You could have your choice of Sugar/Cinnamon, Blueberry or Lingonberry with two sausages and coffee or juice. I intially ordered one sugar and 2 blueberry, but was glad they made a mistake giving me one of each. Next year it’s Lingonberry all the way!


I have to admit to being a cheapskate with race fees and wanting to find the biggest bang for my buck since races have been getting more and more expensive. This one definitely gave us a great race for our money and I’ll be back next year… and I’ll be encouraging some of my friends to try this challenging, but beautiful course, too!

Anyone want to join me?!

Love and xo,


I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew (an idiom one too many)


Running Gods… I get it now! Please let me HEAL!

It’s time for me to come clean. With all the talk about goal setting the end of 2015, I had ultras on my mind for this year! I was pumped up as I ramped up my distances.

BUT (can I increase the font x100 here?)

I did it too fast and now I’m paying the price. I bit off more than I could chew.

It’s been 3 weeks since I decided to stop running because of my plantar fasciitis heel pain in hopes of healing what turns out to be an injury that takes forever and a day to fix.

The only thing I haven’t tried, yet, is acupuncture, physical therapy (ugh) and a cortisone shot (bigger UGH). I just ordered a foot wrap to help with healing, too.

Now I need more patience on the…. shall I say it… heeling end?!

This morning I woke up at 6 am and looked outside to see the most gorgeous sunrise. And I cried (over spilt milk). I’m depressed because I can’t run.

It’s my favorite time of day to go out and meet up with my running friends, or even just take Mr. Leo for some alone time. (He’s hating not running, too).

What happens when I don't run Mr. Leo!

What happens when I don’t run Mr. Leo!

I miss running terribly. Seeing all the instagram, facebook and blog posts has me running in the opposite direction… not the kind of running I want to be doing.

As I write, I’m sitting here thinking that my butt is huge and I’m flabby because I’ve skipped working out this past week while eating buttered popcorn and chocolate chip brownies to cheer myself up, simultaneously realizing how incredibly stupid this is because now all the hard work I’ve done is going down the proverbial drain.

It occurs to me that I’m focusing on the wrong plan and that’s causing me to be sad because of something I cannot do.

Perhaps it’s time for me to adjust my sails. This is just a big bump in the road and I need to get over, around and through it. The challenge and desire to do more has always been there and now it’s a different injury I will conquer in time.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m the crazy person who loves to run for hours and hours and hours, but right now it’s not possible.

Sometimes when we focus on something for an exceptionally long time, we miss the big picture. Click To Tweet

Instead of a lot of running posts, you’ll start seeing me focus on strengthening my body and healing it so I can run again. While it’s a far cry from those ultra runs I love, maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

Every cloud has a silver lining… as a runner, you know I’ll go the extra mile to get back on track. I think yoga and strength training need to take up a permanent residence in my cross-training regimen, so I’ll be SLOWLY bringing those into my training plans on a more regular basis.

I also need to really buckle down on making healthier meal choices (Racing Weight). I can’t give in to my bad habits of the past.

So, I’m officially deciding all plans for ultra’s this year are on hold. In fact, I’m not planning one single official PR race at all until I can fix my body. None. Zero. Zip.

I have one race that I have my heart set on, but if I get to that point in July and I can’t cut the mustard (not the cheese… I know what you were thinking! LOL!), I will go out and sleep on a cot rain or shine, pour margaritas all night and later sangria’s the next morning while handing out pickles and boiled potaotes all night long to my fellow Ultra Badass Babes!

Please. Please. If you take just one thing away from my post here today, be patient with your training. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t chew off more than you can swallow.

Last but not least, have you ever had to completely change your goals for the entire year before? (and bragging rights goes to the person who know how many idioms I used!)


The Reinventitude Wish List & Gift Guide

To be honest, I don’t really need anything.

But, if I had to create a wish list, everything I would want for Christmas is running, biking, swimming, or outdoor gear! Forget the jewelry (ok, I can’t lie, I’ll happily accept bling, too).

wish-wishes-make a wish-make a wish foundation

Here are a few things on my wish list worth considering for the female sports enthusiasts in your life!


I’ve been running long enough now and have tried several different hydration systems from water stations only, hand-held bottles, fuel belts, and now a hydration vest is in order!

I’m a self-proclaimed pack-rat and so being able to carry anything I might want for a… say… 6-hour run could cause me to want a little storage space. My saddle bags won’t cut it!

Here are two options I’m eyeing and dreaming about.

  • SALOMON S-LAB ADV SKIN3 – I tried this on when I was in Minnesota and visited a local running store. It was so comfortable to wear and lots of space for a jacket, phone, gels and more without any bouncing.


  • ULTIMATE DIRECTION WOMEN’S ULTRA VESTA – I just want! All those pockets and features built just for women speak to me and my running heart.Plus the colors are fun!



My gluteus maxima are the trickiest to keep warm, even though they have the most fat (go figure). I’m on the lookout for a new pair of tights to keep me warm and here are two options I am considering.

  • NORTHFACE WINTER WARM TIGHTS – I love that they have a little pocket in the back waist band and are designed for colder winter runs.

warm tights

  • BELLES CLOTHING PANELLED SKIRT – I cannot tell a lie. I already have this! I met the owner, Kristen, at the beginning of the year and LOVE her boutique clothing line designed for active women. I didn’t think about it until now, but since it’s a wool blend and super stretchy, I am not going to hesitate to try this on a run to keep my buns warm over my running tights. It should do the trick in those 10 degree and colder runs. Oh, and they’re having a sale right now! Visit them on facebook, too.

panelled skirt


  • Goretex ASICS GT-1000 4 GTX – Road Runner Sports is one of my favorite resources because of the large selection and the fact that I can road test shoes for 90 days and return them if I’m not happy (hasn’t happened yet). I also love Geneva Running Outfitters because I get a running club discount and they have such great personalized service!

gortex shoes

Or another pair of my favorites ASICS GT 2000’s:


Swim Suit

  • Speedo – For all the years I’ve been swimming, Speedo has always been my go-to compared to the other major swim suit competitors because I feel like it’s the one suit that will always hold me in and together through the toughest workouts. AND, it’s nice to know they’ve upped their cute factor, too. There are several new designs that I love!


iPod Nano with Yurbuds – Because mine is lost.


bungee leash

  • Huma Gels – All natural fuel for those long runs. So very tasty!
  • Balega Socks – I love Balega and have been using them for several years now. They don’t slip and always feel comfortable. The link is to the Merino Hidden with natural fibers to keep you warm in the winter!
  • Momentum Leather Wrap – just gotta have! I love that you can switch out the sayings so easily. Their Motivate Wraps are also comfy enough to workout in and their Footnotes are great for anyone who wear athletic shoes with laces!
  • A Road or Tri Bike – Ok, so you can’t put it into a stocking, but this is something I’d need a lot of help picking out and figuring out what I really would want or use the most. I used to have Scott Waimea tri bike, but apparently it’s considered vintage now!


  • Free Race Fees for A Year!
  • No injuries
  • At least one PR
  • Lots of fun on the trails
  • Making new run friends
  • Have another year of FUN running!
  • … and world peace

What’s on your wish list this year?

Secrets to Professional Looking Selfies Outdoors

Do you just stick your camera out in front of you and say ‘Cheese’ when it comes to selfies?


Recently, I’ve had a handful of people ask me who my photographer is and let me just tell you, this cheap-skate, bargain-loving, Mama Runner has hired… myself.

I went for a gorgeous snow run yesterday and my 4.5 mile run took almost an hour and a half because I thought it would be a great opportunity for some amazing pictures, but also to share with you how I get some of the usual shots I do. (Follow me on Instagram for more ideas).

If you’re new to the selfie, a picture of yourself using your camera, the most helpful tip is to use the forward facing camera (most of the time) so you can actually see yourself in the photo!

Here are some of my biggest photography selfie secrets to help you think outside the box.

Your Voice Is Key

I have a Samsung Galaxy 6 phone with the capability to use voice activated photography!

I can just say the words ‘Smile’ or ‘Cheese’ at my phone and it’ll take a photograph without me having to fiddle with the photo button. It works great because you can easily take several photos from far away (more on that later).


I believe you have to download an App for the iPhone to use voice commands with the camera. Curious to know who might use this and what you think of the ease of use on the iPhone.

The Angle

Straight on is… well, boring.

When you approach a place you think is photograph worthy, it looks completely different to you in person than it will on a two-dimensional window because you are able to take in your entire surroundings.

Think about the angle you want to shoot the picture from. It could be from a high or low vantage point and sometimes coming from really low or really high angles completely change the look for the photo… and certainly the background.

Move your camera around while looking at the selfie to see what the background looks like from that vantage point. Or, move your head… climb a tree or on top of the hill or rock to see what the vantage point might be. Or, crouch down to examine your surroundings before you decide where to put your camera.

I love ground shots. Here’s one from where I just leaned up my camera against the side of the basketball hoop pole in my driveway.


INKnBURN Wildflower Tech Shirt – My favorite!

Use What’s Around You

You could be in the middle of the desert and still come up with an unusual way to prop up your phone! (I’ll show you in a minute).

I’ve been in the middle of a forest and used branches, vines twisted around sticks, rocks, the lucky fence find, a bridge railing, and even your car or water bottle. You have to be a bit of a McGuyver sometimes, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.


I had this great double bridge on both sides of the road as a prop. I just rested my selfie stick on one bridge to take a picture of myself on the other side of the street!

Here’s the resulting photo of me across the street:


Just a few years ago, this would not be possible. I actually used my voice to yell ‘Cheese’ across the road and it took the picture!

Take a Selfie Stick

I don’t carry a selfie stick with me on 99.9% of my runs….  But, with snow or group runs, it’s a great tool. Here’s how I carried it Clint Eastwood style in my gel holster!


“Go Ahead. Make My Day!” – Clint Eastwood

The stick allows you to get in more of you and your group… and you can also use it as a prop even from those high and low vantage points.

Here is an instance where I just left the stick on the ground to help hold my phone in place. This is what I would do in the desert, too. You could find a sand dune and leave your phone at the top of the hill while you run to the bottom. Either leave it on the sand angled down, OR, take the straight end of the stick and stick it into the ground! Or look for a rock or cactus to help with propping.


Fancy and exciting, right?! LOL!

This angle with the stick on the ground produced the photo below!


Take Several Shots

It’s always helpful to take several shots. Move your body, head, arms and sometimes the angle of the phone, too. Thanks to modern technology, you can figure out which one or two poses you want to showcase from the comfort of your home just a few minutes later.

I think a lot of people are surprised at how many ‘takes’ it takes to get the right shot.

Most of the time I get pretty lucky and can get the shot in 1-3 tries. But, then there are the times that I’m there for what seems like forever and I just about give up. I shrug it off and hope for great help with my photo editing software later on.

Set The Timer

Did you know your camera phone has a timer?!

I just figured this out earlier this year! It comes in very handy for those running shots when your ‘Cheese’ comes out at the wrong time or it can’t be heard from far away on a noisy street or area.

There’s usually a settings function on the face of your camera phone and you can look for the timer which is usually set to ‘Off’.

Check it out and start playing with it!


Here’s where I used the timer to be able to count to myself when I needed to be ‘there’ for the shot. I only needed to take 2 shots to get this.


I love the snow kicking up in this shot! I think I also used the Sports Mode.

This is the first time I tried this kind of shot before and truthfully, I’d love to keep trying this to get an ever closer shot of the bottom of my shoe. However, running finally called my name and I hoped for the best 🙂

Double Check The Background

When I first learned photography, one of my teachers said to get rid of the trash… literally.

How often have you accidentally photographed a trash bin in a picture?! Now that I’ve mentioned it go back and look at your photos and start counting!

The telephone wires, the sign on the side of the trail, the garbage on the side of the road, someone walking behind you, a cluttered background, a house on the side of your ‘scenic’ photo all detract from a potentially great photo.

Here’s a side-by-side-example of moving from one side of the path to the other. It’s not a selfie, but you get the idea!


Nice power line in the background, huh?!

Scope Out The Best & Practice

So, where do you go from here?

Get on Instagram. Scope out some of my favorite accounts, or do some searching of your own for the great photographers in the hobbies and interests you love the best to snag ideas. If you’re a runner, follow running accounts!

Once you have a few fun ideas, take some time on your next outdoor run or activity and practice, practice, practice! You’ll take a ton of bad shots, but you’ll also snap some brilliant ones, too!

If you’d like to learn more and stay in touch, sign-up for an email from me whenever I put together a new post. To be fair to you if you’re a new reader, I want to warn you that I’m currently in a 30-days of blogging challenge (Nov/Dec ’15) and have 13 more days left, so sign-up and feel free to just delete the posts that don’t sound interesting to you in the next 2 weeks!

P.S. I love this new tech shirt from INKnBURN! They come out with new limited-edition designs all the time. I ordered an XL (I normally wear a large) so I could layer under it and it’s worked perfectly for temps right around freezing!


TMI Tuesday: Successful Snot Rockets

Can you blow out a kickin’ snot rocket when needed mid-run?!

If you think you’ll gag reading this… stop now. 🙂 LOL!

Today I’m linking up with a few other bloggers for TMI Tuesday and immediately thought about discussing a funny little skill I rather pride myself on.

I know…


Don’t worry, I will not demonstrate with any pictures. Just Google it. I’m sure you’ll find enough to be disgusted over on your own! In fact, Runner’s World actually made a rated-G video to show you how to do this.

I think I’m venturing into male dominated territory here, so if you’re a man and want to critique my skills with your own nuggets of wisdom, by all means, I’m game!

Blowing your nose without using a nice pretty handkerchief or disposable tissue is something most guys probably master at a young age. I just spent the weekend with my nephews and brothers-in-law who let them fly during our family boot hockey game. My boys tend to also utilize their sleeves from time to time… which this Mama vehemently abhors! (insert disgusting face here)

In fact, you know those fancy handkerchiefs worn in the breast pocket of a suit? Those were orginally meant for women back in the old-fashioned days where chivalry abounded. My sweet husband still carries one on occasion to offer up when needed! #hemakesmyheartflutter

But, ladies, let me tell you… The men do not carry handkies for us on those long, nose-sniffling winter runs where colds seems to be more prevelant and the mucous runs freely.

You are on your own!


When I started running 4 years ago, I was a bit embarrased to try it on the trail. But, eventually, I worked up the nerve on a particularily clogged up day with nary a kleenex in sight and made it happen.

There is some technique to it and it does take practice lest you leave evidence of your attempt on yourself, or worse hit an innocent bystander, or even more worse… a fellow runner and hopefully a friend who might forgive you. NASTY!

So, I thought I’d give you a few tips so you can become a Professional Snot Rocketeer one day!

Pre-Launch – It doesn’t really work if you just have a little sniffle. You have to be pretty congested to get enough to come out all at once. Make sure you scope out the trail in front of you to give yourself space, or just stop momentarily staying to the side of the trail if you’re with friends so you don’t get in the way.

Launch Countdown – Turn your head to the side and over the front of your shoulder. It works best if your launch side is over the same shoulder. You’re pretty talented if you can rocket ‘goofy-style’ without misfiring on yourself. Place your knuckle or finger on one side of your nostril making sure there is a good seal. You want all the airflow to go out the rocket side.

Blast-Off – Take in a big breath through your mouth, close it, and forcefully blow out to get those boogs on one side to fly to the moon, not on your shoes, in one hot shot! If you did it right, you won’t need a little sleeve action to tidy up. Then, just repeat with the other side.

And that’s it! Of course practice makes perfect, so bring a tissue with you just in case.

Are you a good Rocketeer?!

If you want to read about other TMI topics in the blog linkup, just visit Marcia’s Healthy Slice here.

Mojo Monday: What’s Your Glass Ceiling?

Ok, to be honest, I’m not feeling it. #missingmojo

It’s day 14 of the 30-day blogging challenge and I have a half-dozen half-finished articles that I started writing and just don’t have the heart to tidy them up for you to read.

There are great ideas in there… I think.

So I’m going to ad-lib a little bit here. I may trip up and I may turn out something accidentally interesting without editing too much!

Here goes.

We arrived home Saturday night to the cleanest my house has ever been before going on vacation. Ahhhhh… what an amazing feeling.

Don’t be decieved, though, 24-hours later a bomb has gone off in my house!

clean house

I couldn’t go to sleep and went to bed incredibly late knowing my alarm was going to jolt me awake at 6:30 am to catch the morning group run hosted by my friend, Karen, aka Trading In My Heels and local running club.

Interestingly, I had a dream I was breaking out of prison and got tasered to the hard cement floor just as the alarm went off… how does that even work?! Can anyone interpret dreams?

My original running plan was to go 8 and maaaaybe 10 miles which would really push my limits since I’ve only run two 6-milers since my marathon at the end of September. Either way, I prepared by fueling with a new all-natural, no chemicals, creatine supplement I’ve fallen in love with (and would never have guessed been good for distance runners), filled up just one water bottle from my fuel belt and took a puff from my inhaler.

When I arrived, there was a handful of runners – kind of nice seeing this new Sunday group grow in size. And started recognizing a few faces from previous runs.

It’s been really hard for me to feel like I fit in to the club since I joined a year ago because I tend to get to know people really slowly.

I signed up for their coaching program over the summer, but because I had to miss so many of the runs early in the season, I never gel’d with any of the pace groups who clearly had ample opportunities to settle into their routines and training plans.

We started out kinda fast but within a mile settled into a more comfortable 9:35 pace. We also had a nice little group of people who planned on several different mileages, so they peeled off one-by-one. Finally, we started out for the last 4 mile loop and I would only be going 2 of them to finish up 10 whopping miles!!!  WOOHOOO!

But then, Karen said something to the affect of ‘you’re a big sissy loser if you don’t just do the last loop with us and go 12 miles’. And so I said, “WAH WAH, I don’t have anymore water and didn’t bring any fuel with me.” So Karen replied, “Suck it up, Buttercup. I have fuel for you in my pocket. Here. Quit your whining. You’re doing it”

Well, damn.

Ok, so it didn’t really go down like that. (See Karen? I CAN lie! And then come clean. LOL!).


She was actually really, really encouraging, as usual, and offered me a gel with a place to stop for water. Truthfully, I felt great and didn’t really put up much of a rebellion.

With about a mile left to go, it got really quiet. There were just 3 of us left and I think we were all counting down each tenth of a mile left until we could finish.

And then I said, “Well, if we’re going to go 12, we might as well go 13.1 and make it a half-marathon, right?!”.

Suprisingly, Karen & Rob were both thinking the exact same thing. It’s the same line of thinking that makes us run past our house 5 times so our GPS will say the right distance. We all know there is no such thing as a 5.79 mile run. There just isn’t. Am I right? Or am I right?!

So we did it. We finished a half-marathon just because.

No, it’s because we felt good. We were having fun! And, the group was just an awesome collection of postive and happy people you want to be around.


I also realized that making the leap from 6 miles to a half-marathon used to be a HUGE deal for me. Just 3 years ago it was impossible for me.

But I broke that glass ceiling. It almost seems too easy to go 13.1 miles because I am no longer wrestling with the barriers in my own mind wondering how and if I could ever do it.

Wow. Lightbulb moment.

How many other ways am I setting up barriers for myself? What other glass ceilings could I break in order to experience life at a different level?

I’m game for learning and breaking my own paradigms. #gotmymojoback

What seems impossible to you, but you’re wanting to go for anyway?


The Holiday Training Game Plan

What’s your game plan for the upcoming holidays and the new year in terms of tackling your goals? If exercise is important to you, do you have a training game plan?

I am not a big fan of setting New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer to focus on working specific life goals or races I want to run throughout the year. Those milestones have their own timeline and often don’t fit neatly into the constrains of a particular calendar year.

And, as you may remember from my “Kick-Ass” post earlier this week

There's no better time than RIGHT NOW to just do it! #setgoals Click To Tweet

This is going to be short and sweet. I’m leaving a few things up to having you guess what I’m up to for several reasons and will share later in January (remember? I love games!).

But, I’m down to the wire and need to set up a very specific training plan of action, so I thought I’d share it here and then let you all guess what crazy idea has been concocted 🙂


It’s going to be tough for me to get this cranked out because of the holidays, weather and my own battle with the dark winter days (and loving my warm bed on the coldest), but I’m determined to be able to complete this… and I won’t be alone in this endeavor!

I know I won’t follow this perfectly. I never do.

There are a few training goals I want to accomplish within this game plan:

  • Run at least one 20-22 mile day (or 4.5 hours max)
  • Workout at least 6x a week
  • Core abdominal workouts include light weight-lifting 2x a week

Living an EPIC life starts with making the decision to try.

What’s on your list of EPIC living? Have you decided?!