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The records of some crazy (but mostly enjoyable) adventures undertaken in the name of happiness and health.


2010 - Year in Review

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:13AM by benheld 0 Comments -

I've been wanting to write this post for a while.  As we go into a new year, I wanted to take the time out to reflect on all that 2010 brought me, especially in the areas of activities and health.

Last February, my friends and I went to a park where we could rent snowshoes.  It was a wonderful experience,  that I totally enjoyed.  Below is the picture of us against the Chicago skyline.

In March, I visited my parents in Hawaii and tried snorkeling and kayaking for the first time.

In April, I ran my person PR of 34:16 minutes in a 5K for Earth Day.  (I'm not that fast, but I enjoy running anyways.  :-))

In May I ran United's Run for the Zoo in Lincoln Park:

In June and July, much of my energy went into doing entertaining and having fun with friends.  Some things we did were go to a 3-day music festival, throw a Chicago Style going away party, throwing a Christmas in June Half-Birthday Party, a fancy backyard dinner party.  My girlfriend and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary over the July 4th weekend, and went to New York.  The picture below is dancing at the music festival.

In August, I ran/biked the Muddy Buddy, and went on our annual vacation to a cabin in Michigan.  Below, is my muddy buddy Scott and I after the race:

Fall was fairly uneventful.  I held another formal Fall Dinner Party in the September, did a Bootcamp that I utterly despised (sometime, I'll write a blog post about why), turned 26 in October, and then the holidays hit.

December was a whirl-wind, but I did manage to get one more race in, the Rudolph Ramble 8K, ran it in a snowstorm--seriously!

And that was 2010!

Overall, I had a great year.  Some positives were that I had so much great times with friends and family.  I kept up with a fitness routine, even when things got hectic.  I feel proud of the races I ran, although I want to make sure to do more this year.




Whoohoo! Winter Break!

Tue, 12/28/2010 - 8:07AM by benheld 0 Comments -

My vacation days don't roll over at work, so I treated myself to a "Winter Break" this week.  It's all 100% me-time to go do things on my own.


Today's plan:

Run in the Morning

Grocery Shopping

Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Afternoon



Tour my Home Gym!

Tue, 12/21/2010 - 12:21PM by benheld 0 Comments -

While searching for an apartment, space for a home gym was on the top of our checklist.  We found an apartment that we fell in love with, but it didn't have that ideal space for a gym (out of the way!)  Instead, we utilized the detached dining room as a gym, office, "library", and second living room.  It's not only a great place to work out, but it's also a great place for playing video games, hanging out, and working.

Feel free to look through some of the ways we made it work in our space.

Also, I'm curious to know how you fit your fitness equipment into your overall home--especially if you're living in a small urban space like me!  :-)


It's Official: I'm Registered!

Tue, 12/21/2010 - 10:02AM by benheld 0 Comments -

I've been running consistently for more than a year now, and have decided to finally take the 13.1 plunge.

Next June 4th, I will be finishing the longest race of my life to date.  (It sounds monumental when you put it that way!)

I decided to register for the 13.1 Half Marathon because of the timing, location, and the price.  (It's only $65 if you register before January 5th!)

Now I have some serious motivation to continue to build my base cardio throughout the winter.


Treadmill vs. Road Running - An Op-Ed

Thu, 12/16/2010 - 11:45AM by benheld 0 Comments -

First off, let me re-hash what is said in a million, zillion other places:

Treadmill Pros:  Enhanced Safety, Indoors, You can watch T.V., Control of Environment (A.C., heated, etc.), "easier"

Street Pros: Burn more calories, change of scenery, exposure to sunlight, "harder"


Everywhere I've looked on the internet, it seems that the general scientific consensus is that treadmills are easier.  So WHY do I have to run at a slower pace on the treadmill, and am constantly tempted to cut my runs short?

Because for me, it's all mental.  When I'm running outside, I might challenge myself to run a little faster until I get to that tree up ahead.  And I'm so far away from home, I have to run back otherwise I'll be late for work.  On the treadmill, I constantly find myself looking down, and thinking, HOW MUCH LONGER?!?  Music and T.V. watching isn't as interesting as being out in the world, people watching, looking at different houses, birds, and sometimes just getting immersed in my own thoughts.

I think a big reason why some people have trouble keeping a good running program is that they use the treadmill way too much.  Of course it gets boring, of course you are grabbing onto those handles when you're getting tired (bad form!), of course you always have up-to-the-minute metrics on how you're doing.  (BTW, I use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone to satisfy some of my data-hunger needs).  So if you've been stuck on the hamster wheel for a while, I'd encourage you to get out there, and try a short run outside.  You might surprise yourself how much you enjoy it.


Photo found on Flickr.  SashaW.  http://www.flickr.com/people/sashawolff/



Running an 8K in a Chicago Snow Storm (And Having a Blast!)

Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:31PM by benheld 0 Comments -

An onimous e-mail was sent to me on Saturday night, regarding the race I've been sooo pumped up to run:

<span><span style="color: #53ac18; font-family: Trebuchet MS,Verdana,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;"><span style="color: #53ac18; font-family: Trebuchet MS,Verdana,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: x-small;">DUE TO THE FORECASTED WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR SUNDAY,

For the safety of our participants, volunteers and crew, the race directors and/or the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago may reduce the course length and/or move/modify the course due to weather conditions on race day. Further, the number of entries available for sale on race day may be limited or closed. Please be prepared for harsh weather and open to any changes that must occur for your safety on race day.  Your understanding, flexibility and support are greatly appreciated. As always we look forward to serving you at this and any of our other races.

-The Staff of the Rudolph Ramble 8K</span></span></span>

Being smart and adventurous (or overly-optimistic and fool-hardy :-P)  I drove to the lakeshore at 7:30 a.m. through snow and poor visibility on Sunday to get my Rudolph Ramble on and to run with other ridiculous and fool-hardy people.  Everyone was shaking and freezing as the snow came pouring down, the wind was coming right off Lake Michigan, and there were several strange holiday themed costumed runners trying their best to jump around, chatter, and warm themselves up. I picked up my race packet, and headed right back to the car to warm up.  All of a sudden, BANG! I thought someone had hit my parked car, but it turned out that the wind was so strong, it had picked up one of the promoters tents (Think of the kinds of tents that are at racing events, pretty big!) and it rammed into my car before floating out into the street.  There were plenty of people trying to help catch it, and a few cars that had to slow down carefully not to hit it.

I was so relieved when the race actually started!  I thought, at least I can warm up a bit.  It was idyllic listening to Christmas music on my iPod, the snow pouring down, and all of us runners in a huddle making our way through 5 miles of lake front.  I was soo proud of myself to finish not only be doing the longest race that I've done to date, but that it didn't feel ridiculously hard--even in a giant snow storm.  All that training is really paying off!  Some of my Christmas music playlists that really got me going were:

Sleigh Ride (Ella Fitzgerald)

Holly Jolly Christmas

All I Want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey)

Jingle Bell Rock (Newsboys)


Anyways, the run has inspired me to get outside running this winter.  I wouldn't do it all the time, but it was fun, and I was surprised I could just keep my eye out for ice without worrying too much about slipping.  AND it has inspired me to continue to work on getting better with running.  I did that 5 miles in 57:49!  AND out of the 2,118 people who registered for the race, only 1,034 people actually went out and ran it in the snow storm.  I was one of the few, the proud, a true Rudolph Rambler.  :-)


Here's a photo I took after the race--thank god it was a race and not a beauty contest--LOL.  :-)



Let it SNOW!!

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:20AM by benheld 0 Comments -

Snow finally hit Chicago this past week, and I was STOKED.

I think I'm probably one of the only Chicagoans who was jumping up and down with glee when I spotted the first flakes.  The first thing I thought was I've gotta go SNOWSHOEING!

I rented snowshoes last year several times, but I actually got two pairs of my own over the summer--I won them through an employee recognition program at work--they're the Atlas brand.  They seemed pretty comfortable, but I'm going to have to find a way to get a tighter fit on them before I can try snowshoe running.  :-)

I got them out of their packaging on Sunday morning, and headed to the North Branch Cook County Forest Preserve to utilize their unpaved trail system.  It felt sooo good to feel the cold fresh air in my lungs, my body temperature heating up, and just to be out in beautiful mother nature.  While I was out, I saw a few hikers, some x-country skiiers, and a couple horseback riders!  No other snowshoers though, and a few people asked about how to get started snowshoeing.  (You pretty much just strap them onto your boots and go!  No need for poles unless you're doing big inclines)

Winter wonderland at the forest preserve:


Running on the treadmill right now because things are a little too icy out there for street running--it gets soo boring though!


An Enjoyable Vacation is Awaiting You Very Soon

Fri, 12/03/2010 - 9:40AM by benheld 0 Comments -

Our Thanksgiving vacation ended up being a little less action-packed than the plans below outlined were.  Although it was nice to just have some more down time at home.

On Wednesday night, we ended up ordering sushi, and these were our fortune cookies! It was like they must have written them just for us.

Jenn's was:  "An enjoyable vacation is awaiting you very soon."

Mine:  You constantly struggle for self-improvement and it shows.

We had a good laugh over how apt those fortunes were!



Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful.  Some close friends of ours hosted a potluck Thanksgiving. They just recently had a baby, and asked my girlfriend and I to be the "gay parents".  Basically, the concept is that just like god parents, we've committed to being positive influences on her life. We've seen visited quite a bit, and she's the cutest two month old in the world.


I'm in love with the Christmas holiday.  I even cheated a little bit, and started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving (gasp!)  So I was happy to finally let my holiday spirit loose on Friday.  We decorated the entire apartment, and set up our tree, all while listening to Christmas music and movies.  After we were done with the decorations, we headed out to watch Harry Potter 7.1--it was a pretty good movie.  Almost ranks up with HP3--almost.  :-)


Saturday, I made sure to plan time for my long 50 minute run.  For the most part, I felt good the entire time--kept an average pace of 11:30.  I think a big part of why I haven't been improving my running as much as I could is a feeling like I need to be faster now.  Instead of working my way towards being the best I can be.  I took a major step this week towards getting out of my comfort zone.  I signed up for a 8K!  I know it's not much, but I've done a quite a few 5Ks, and 10K always feels a bit intimidating.  I thought, 8K--that's something that I can do.  And if I can do an 8K, it probably won't be so much a leap to think I could do a 10K.  I guess I just need baby steps.  On my long run, I also took this picture in the park, and thought I'd share.

Sunday night was just awesome as we went to The Girl and The Goat--Stephanie Izzard the Top Chef Champion's restaurant.  It's super fun, delicious food, and we actually got to saw Stephanie Izzard while she was "expediting". Jenn wanted to go introduce ourselves, and tell her how much we were enjoying the food, but I kinda chickened out. Maybe next time.

I was sad to see our stay-cation go by so quickly, but we entered the week feeling very relaxed and rejuvenated.  I should mention one of the main activities we got sucked into last weekend was doing a 1000 piece puzzle.  Ri-donk-ulous, but we were up until two in the morning working on it.  LOL.


So, What's My Game Plan?

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 3:04PM by benheld 0 Comments -

I putz around a lot, especially when it comes to working out, for a while, I would just wake up, and decide if I was going out for a run, do some yoga in my kitchen (the most convenient place in our apartment to do yoga, since I don't need to move any furniture around), hop on the treadmill, or do a fitness dvd.  The downside to this is it's a bit un-focused, and I tend to do things that I'm better at because they are the things that make me feel most comfortable.

I'm trying a new and novel approach though, as of late.  It's the weekly, "What's my game plan?" planning.  Each week, I think about what's on my work and social calendar, and then come up with my work-outs each day.  I also have an "larger" picture in mind though too.  Currently, my goal is to run for 60 minutes straight, and I've been increasing my long weekend runs by 5 minutes at a time until I get there.  So here's this week's game plan:


This is my second week of "game planning", but it seems to be helping me to get a bit more focused on both my goals, and getting that pesky strength training in (for whatever reason, it's not something I've been very good at incorporating).


As a fun side-note, my girlfriend and I decided on a Staycation over this holiday week.  Whoohoo! There's so much fun stuff to do in Chicago, it's not like we needed to go anywhere else.  :-)  Our itinerary:


Chicago Thanksgiving Parade in the Morning

Potluck Thanksgiving with Friends at Night



Putting up Christmas Decorations, Watch Christmas Movies, and Listen to Christmas Music

Go see Harry Potter



Shedd Aquarium in the Morning

Massages at Thousand Waves Spa in the Afternoon

See "Book of Liz" at the Chemically Imbalanced Theatre at Night



Daley Plaza Christkindlmarkt - Hallo Gluehwein und Haribo!

Dinner at Girl & The Goat (Stephanie Izzard's new restaurant)


It'll be fun and action-packed.  That may be my next blog, plus an update on how that 50 minute run treated me.