From Polaroid to PR: Week Three

For the next five weeks, I’m working with NTC Chicago to achieve my New Year’s resolution of running a sub-1:50:00 half marathon with the help of Nike Master Trainer Kate Hiipakka and our crew. The date is set for May 18th, and I’m using Fab Fit Chicago to keep me accountable during my training. Check out my first post here. Let’s run!

Friday: 45 minutes on the stationary bike

So, this wasn’t my plan when I woke up in the morning. I was set to go to a track workout with my NTC PR crew and Annette, and I was really excited to work on sprinting and sets, something I haven’t done since high school track. HOWEVER. Life intervened in the form of last minute tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert in Rosemont, and sometimes you’ve just gotta say yes to life and table the training for a night. This workout wasn’t very high in intensity, but I broke a (tiny) sweat and thoroughly enjoyed the Miley Cyrus concert. It was everything weird that I thought it would be and more, and the people watching was superb. #wecantstop #andwewontstop

Saturday: 6.62 miles at 8:48/mile

With a friend visiting me this weekend, I knew it was going to be rough squeezing in a workout between late nights and Miley Cyrus concerts, but I carved out an hour on Saturday afternoon for a long run. I’m honestly pretty amazed that I maintained this pace because one hour before I was running, I was inhaling four slices of pizza (and hangover cereal) at Homeslice. I have been blessed with an iron stomach and it’s something that I don’t take for granted after hearing about how finicky some people have to be with their pre-race meals. It was a beautiful day by the time I finally got out around 2pm, and I played a mental game of “Beat the Bus” to motivate myself to keep tempo while going down Clark Street (in “Beat the Bus,” I try to keep pace with whatever bus is driving the same route as me, with stoplights and bus stops to throw in some variety). It was a strong run and I felt great afterwards. Definitely not hungry, though.

Sunday, Get Strong/Get Lean Workout with Gina’s Crew at ENRGI

Oof. Daylight Savings Time plus an already-late night made it questionable that I would even be getting out of bed at the appointed meeting time, but somehow I got to Starbucks to meet the crews. Once again, I ate immediately before working out (a bagel and oatmeal with all the toppings- I was starving!) and I’m pretty sure every single girl there laughed at me at some point for being a little loopy and obviously sleep-deprived. Our workout was mercifully a short one, at right about 30 minutes, and we rotated between “Get Lean” sections led by Kate on the treadmills, cycling bikes, and the floor and “Get Strong” sections led by Gina with weighted barbells. I made it through the workout and could immediately feel my shoulders- Gina had us doing lots of bicep curls, upright rows, and pushups that I just haven’t done lately, and I know I’ll be feeling it on Monday. Upon coming home, I immediately flopped into my bed and didn’t get up for approximately three hours. I don’t regret this.

Monday: 6.07 miles at 8:48/mile


Stop me if you’ve heard this already: I had a cross-training day planned for today, but when I heard the high was going to be in the low fifties on Monday, I knew immediately I needed to swap that out for a run outside. You do NOT take good March weather for granted in this city, y’all. Although I will confess to hitting snooze a couple of times, I made it out the door by 7:01 and fit in a nice six miler through downtown (I was nervous that the route I usually take to the lake would require me to build an ark to cross the puddles). I felt really tight during most of this run, and weirdly, not as great as I did on Saturday after eating half a pizza… but, it was still a good pace for me and I only wish I could have done the run when it was even sunnier in the afternoon.

Tuesday: NTC Barre with Gina

I was up at 6am on Tuesday, mentally arguing with myself that I needed to sleep more after an exhausting weekend and staying up too late (for me) on a Monday to watch The Bachelor and hang out with friends (Juan Pab-NO, amiright?), but luckily I quieted those voices pretty quickly and made it to Gina’s class at DePaul’s gym. As I’ve mentioned before, Gina’s barre classes are more high-intensity that the traditional pulse, pulse, and pulse some more barre classes. Today, we did sets of three exercises, repeated three times; each set involved both cardio, strength, and an active recovery. We also used a BOSU ball and weights, something we lacked during her classes at NTC Lincoln Park. Let me throw a few exercises at you: cross-jacks, squat jumps at the barre, row/plank hop combination, squat to overhead press, raised hip bridges with weights, side jumps over the BOSU ball, OH MY. I. Was. Sweating. Gina has such a positive attitude that I actually feel guilty if I’m not at least attempting the Level Three moves, and her music choices are spot on. Let’s put it this way: I jogged on my way to the gym for the workout, and I walked on the way back.

Wednesday: NTC with Kate

One thing about Kate, she really wants to give you a full workout no matter how little time you have. She led us through segments of four minutes, alternating between two exercises every thirty seconds. I was doing pretty well until the end, when we alternated mountain climbers and side-to-side speed skater jumps. Those absolutely killed me, in a good way.

Thursday: 4.79 miles at 8:50 with Nike Running Bucktown

I heard about this event earlier in the week and signed up kind of on a whim. The Nike Running Bucktown shop is literally two minutes walk from my new job, and I’ve been meaning to go to one of their runs anyway. So when they emailed me that they were going to have a special Nike athlete “come out of hibernation” to cheer us on and congratulate us for running through Chiberia, it was a no-brainer. The store was packed to the gills, and I have to say that the one thing that jumped out at me right away? There were BOYS at this run. I love the Nike girls, but it was fun to see some members of the opposite sex for once.


We split into groups of three or five miles to run around the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhoods. It was a great change of pace (ha!) from my usual lakefront or downtown runs, and the guys kept us going at a pretty good clip. And whaddya know, when we burst back through the Nike doors, Bears running back Matt Forte was there to high-five us! He spoke about his foundation and how we could sign up to join his team for the Shamrock Shuffle, and then graciously took a few pictures. My friend Heather and I unfortunately missed him before he was whisked away for an interview with the Tribune, but hey, this counts, right?



Overall, I’d say this week’s training was about being flexible. My plans changed a lot over the course of the week and even day-to-day, but I rolled with it and still got in my workouts. It’s a good feeling! Now I just need to stop eating out for every single meal and I’ll be good to go…


Next week’s training plan:

Friday: Barre at Barre Bee Fit

Saturday: 7 mile run solo

Sunday: Elevated Workout with Gina’s Crew at AIR Fitness

Monday: Cross-training (probably Spin)

Tuesday: 4-5 mile run

Wednesday: Not sure yet- either a run or cross-training- but this is the date of Fab Fit Chicago’s SWEATWORKING event! Have you registered yet?

Thursday: NTC Barre with Trista


How’s your training been this week? Have you had to readjust any workouts when last minute plans spring up? And will I see you at Sweatworking?

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

3 thoughts on “From Polaroid to PR: Week Three

    1. Thanks Kristin! It was rough at some points (Sunday morning…) but I always felt better after!

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