Friday, August 25, 2017

Fall Races in Chicago + Running Recovery

Are you looking for extra motivation to run this fall? I'm sharing a list of twenty upcoming road races in the Chicago area in September, October and November. This post also includes recovery tips that I'm planning to try to ease back into running.

As I mentioned in this post, my relationship with running has changed significantly over the past year since baby C joined our family and I'm still working on getting back into a regular routine. I'm one of those people that doesn't enjoy humid/hot weather for working out. With 60 degree mornings and September around the corner, I have fall on my mind this week. Running in the fall is my favorite time of year to register for a few races. I'm hoping signing up for a race or two helps motivate me to get back out there.

My favorite Chicago area race options are listed below. If a race is schedule outside the city of Chicago, the location is noted next to the registration link.

September Races

Run Mag Mile 10k and 5k - Sept. 9
Naperville Trails Half Marathon {Naperville} - Sept. 10
Brookfield ZooRunRun 5k {Brookfield} - Sept. 10
The Great Pumpkin Run Chicago {Oswego} - Sept. 16
Bucktown 5k - Sept. 17
Chicago Half Marathon and 5k - Sept. 24
The Halloween Hustle 5k {Elk Grove Village} - Sept. 30

October Races

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5k - Oct. 7
Ditka Dash 5k - Oct. 14
Scarecrow Scramble 5k {Lisle} - Oct. 14
World's Largest Corn Maze Run {Spring Grove} - Oct. 15
Pumpkins in the Park 5k - Oct. 21
Monster Dash 5k, 10k and Half Marathon - Oct. 21
Pumpkin Spice 5k - Oct. 22
Frank Lloyd Wright Races 5k, 10k and Youth Mile {Oak Park} - Oct. 22
Chicago Costume Dash - Oct. 28
Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k - Oct. 29

November Races

Hot Cider Hustle - 8 Mile Run and 5k {Wheaton} - Nov. 4
Turkey Trot/Turkey Day Run 8k and 5k - Nov. 23
North Shore Turkey Trot 5k and 10k {Highland Park} - Nov. 23

I'm considering signing up for the Bucktown 5k, Chicago Costume Dash, and/or Hot Cider Hustle. All three would be new races for me. Since I am trying to run on a regular basis again, it's going to be important for me to prioritize recovery this fall. Three ways I'm planning to recover from runs and other fitness activities include:

1) Staying Hydrated

I carry a water bottle around the house when I work from home, and fill up a large bottle every morning in my office. It's difficult to recover from running or other workouts when your body isn't hydrated! Re-hydrating yourself immediately following a run or workout is also important to promote muscle recovery.

2) Incorporating Active Rest Days

I wear a Fitbit Alta everyday and try to keep track of my steps to make sure I'm getting 10,000 per day {or more, if possible} on days I'm not running or doing another workout. Active rest days are important, especially for someone like me with a desk job.

3) Using PROcure Epsom Salt Gel

I find myself much more sore than usual from running since I haven't been working out on a regular basis. PROcure recently sent me a tube of Epsom Salt Gel to try. This gel includes safe, guilt-free ingredients and helps with aches and pains. I appreciate the fact that the gel is free of fragrance and so easy to use, versus taking the time for a salt soak/bath - I have a 9 month old baby who just figured out how to army crawl. The faster I can get relief the better!

PROcure also offers Bruise Remedy gel. This offers a new way to think about First Aid - and if you're like me and bruise easily, this is going to become a staple in the bathroom cupboard.

You can find PROcure products at Walmart in the First Aide Aisle, or online at Amazon. Click here to check out the PROcure coupon page.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

3 Days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy is the most beautiful and scenic place I have ever visited. I flew into Rome and traveled by train to Cinque Terre, spending two nights in Vernazza and one night in Monterosso al Mare. This post includes a recap of how to spend three days in Cinque Terre.

I organized a box in my home office a few weeks ago, and found the short travel journal I kept on trip to Italy a few years ago. Keeping a travel journal is a good way to remember details and highlights of big trips that can easily be forgotten. I have traveled to Europe three times and kept a brief journal on each of those trips. K and I spent three nights in the Cinque Terre region of Italy, three summers ago. We flew into Rome, saw the sights, got adjusted from jet lag, ate pizza, and stayed overnight. The next morning we traveled by train to Cinque Terre. We visited four of the five villages of Cinque Terre on this trip: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Manarola. It's easy to travel between them, as the villages are connected by train.

Day 1

{View of the harbor on the hill above Vernazza}

We arrived in and spent the most time in Vernazza - this is Rick Steves favorite village in Cinque Terre, and I completely agree. Vernazza is very charming and filled with scenic views of the ocean and hillside vineyards. We stayed in a small room on the main street of Vernazza, hosted by Ivo Camere. The accomodation was simple but lovely, with a mini refrigerator and stunning window view of houses on the hill. What more do you need than a simple room when you spend all day and evening exploring? Ivo himself meets you at the train station to show you to the room. Find the details on Trip Advisor.

After exploring town to get settled in, we found ourselves hiking up a tall flight of stairs to a restaurant with a beautiful sunset view of the water - Al Castello. Honestly, I have had much better Italian meals, but the view was gorgeous. My favorite part was a small glass of dessert wine at the end of the meal with complimentary "dunkable" cookies {look for SciacchetrĂ  wine}.

Day 2

The second day was our {first!} wedding anniversary and we spent it on an adventure hiking through the hills above Cinque Terre. But first, coffee. We found Il Pirata della Cinque Terre up the hill past the train station in Vernazza. It has a pirate theme which made me skeptical but it's a must stop! They offer amazing pastries and iced cappuccinos. I'm only sorry we didn't make it back for dinner another night - our waiter raved about the homemade cannoli. The restaurant has excellent reviews as the #1 rated restaurant in Vernazza {per Trip Advisor}.

We hiked from Vernazza to the village Monterosso al Mare. It's a steep hike at times, with beautiful views of the coast. The hike took us around 2 hours, including stops to check out views like the one below. This is the most northern trail in Cinque Terre, and the most difficult. When we visited the region, most of the trails were still closed from the mudslide in 2011. Several are still closed as the paths need to be re-built.

You can also get up close and personal with local vines on this hike, perched high above the villages.

We ended up getting caught in a crazy rainstorm at the very end of the hike, which would have been treacherous on the steep stone path further up. We ran to the closest restaurant and shared pizza for lunch while the storm passed. Later, meandering back to Vernazza by train, we stopped for a cappuccino in the village of Corniglia and briefly walked around town. The day ended with a lovely dinner outdoors at Gianna Franzi, located on the main square/plaza in Vernazza near the harbor.

Day 3

The third morning started with cappuccinos and a view at Bar Ananasso in Vernazza. K normally doesn't drink coffee but he makes an exception in Italy.

Monterosso is the only Cinque Terre village with a traditional beach. A few hours were spent there with rented umbrellas. K reminds me that I refused to swim in the Mediterranean and lounged on my chair instead. What can I say, the water was chilly :)

We spent the afternoon wandering the village, including the beautiful water views walking along the boardwalk. I found Monterosso to be the largest and most touristy of the Cinque Terre villages, but still charming with gorgeous beach views.

We stopped for focaccia pizza, sampled olive oils in a local shop, and had gelato. While wandering Monterosso, we stumbled on a beautiful a lemon grove and walked a short trail called Valley of the Lemons {Valle dei Limoni}. The village was known for its lemon groves for centuries and still produces lemons today. Lemons are grown in valleys to give the trees additional access to water and protection from the wind. {source} If you can find the Valley of the Lemons trail I highly recommend it. It was a lovely and extremely quiet inland walk. 

We ended our third day with a visit to the village of Manorola. A walk through town around the harbor led us to a park at the top of a hill and a late afternoon glass of wine and bar snacks at Nessun Dorma, with an unbelievable view of Manorola.

I wish I could dine outdoors on a patio like this on every vacation. This view of Manarola now lives in a frame in the entryway to our home and I look at it everyday. I loved our time in Cinque Terre and hope to visit again someday.

After Cinque Terre, we traveled to Florence, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland and Germany, including Frankfurt and Berlin.

Looking for more travel posts?