Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Taking the plunge

That's right, I'm taking the plunge to entrepreneurship! You may have noticed recently that my posts have been lacking and that's because I've been beyond busy with leaving my job, starting a new venture, and applying to business schools. I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I kept waiting until the "right time." Until I saved up enough money, was experienced enough, or got a business degree. Well, I figured out that the right time to take the plunge was when I had enough courage to do so. As I was applying for other jobs recently, I started to evaluate what I really wanted out of my career, and I realized that what I want to do does not currently exist in the job market. Therefore, I'm creating the job that I want. It is risky, scary, and could be a disaster. But it also could be a success, and that exciting possibility is what will keep me motivated over the next few months.

Unfortunately, starting a business takes a lot of work and therefore this blog is going to suffer. I don't plan to stop posting, but it will be more infrequent and I won't be able to engage with other bloggers as much. You would think that I'd have more time for blogging since I'm working from home and not commuting, but I've realized that I'm busier than ever since I left my job last week. In addition, I am still working part time for Argonne to finish some projects, which is great because it will serve as a buffer between getting a full-time paycheck and scrambling for a paycheck with a startup.

So what's the new business? It's a blog! Kind of. Nuclear Undone is a project to educate the public about nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation issues. I'm using my blogging and social media experience and nuclear engineering education to write articles that break down these complex issues so that everyone can understand them. Nuclear Undone will start as a blog and eventually turn into more. I hope to attract consulting opportunities and sponsored posts.

I'm excited for this next step and I hope you'll continue to follow my health and fitness journey during entrepreneurship and business school!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Swirlgear review and discount!

I am always looking for new products to try and share with my readers and it's always great when I can write about local companies. Swirlgear is a Chicago-based start-up run by women that provides functional, cute, and affordable running clothing for women. I've actually been an ambassador since this summer but I decided to wait to write this post because the gear I reviewed is more for the fall/winter. A great perk for my readers is that you can use code 1035 at checkout to get free shipping!

In the pictures I'm wearing the Pink Running Hoodie and Black Shorts (size small in both). I actually took this outfit hiking in Wisconsin and it was perfect! The hoodie is unique because good running hoodies are hard to find. It is stretchy with a good fit with thumbholes and even a pony tail hole (see below). I haven't tried running with the hoodie up yet because it hasn't been cold enough, but it seems like it would stay in place because it's secured by my ponytail. I also like the half-zip for ventilation when you get hot. If you don't love pink like me, try the camo color!

I'm not in love with the shorts for running because they are too long for my taste. They worked for hiking and other sports, like kickball. I'm hoping the new line will have more options for running bottoms, like spandex. Tank tops will also be in the new line that is supposed to come out soon!

I'm excited to be a Swirlgear ambassador and tell my readers about a great women-owned company. An even better, Swirlgear supports Bright Pink!! In fact, if you make a purchase this week (until Oct. 31), you will get 10% off and 10% will be donated to Bright Pink (use code "Pink" at checkout). Bright Pink is the only nonprofit that focuses on breast cancer prevention and education and I ran the Chicago Marathon to raise money for Team Bright Pink!

Support my marathon even more by buying some awesome running clothes this week! 

Disclaimer: I am a Swirlgear ambassador and receive a discount on clothing plus commission from sales. However, this post is not sponsored and all opinions and text are my own.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hot Chocolate 15K winner and swag

Congrats to Katie of Live Half Full for winning the free race entry to Hot Chocolate 15/5k. She's going to do the one in Chicago on Nov. 3 with me! There's still time to register for Chicago but do it quickly because the race is selling out! Use code HealthyfitMUG to get a free travel mug when you register. You can also get awesome swag on the race website, like the super soft shirt I'm wearing below. My personal favorite is the ear warmer, a must for Chicago weather!

The Hot Chocolate 15K is just two weeks away and I don't really know how to train or prepare for it after the Chicago Marathon. My ankle was still bothering me last week so I didn't run and did Bikram yoga and crossfit instead. My ankle feels better now and my muscles/joints aren't sore anymore so I'm going to try to do a shorter run this week, about 5 miles, and then a longer 8-10 mile run this weekend. Next week, I'll have to take it easy on crossfit workouts so I'm not sore on race day. My time for the 15K last year was 1:18:52 and I want to beat it!

Are you doing another race this year after your fall half or marathon?

How are you preparing for it??

Disclaimer: I am part of the Hot Chocolate 15/5K blogger program and got a free race entry and sway for writing about the race. All opinions and text are my own.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Favorites

Favorite Group
NTC Lincoln Park Marathon CREW!

Favorite Workout
The Chicago Marathon!

(Thanks to Jessica for the pic)

Favorite Fall Recipe
Creamy Curry Pumpkin Soup

Favorite Video
Supportive vs. minimalist running

Don't forget to enter the Hot Chocolate 15/5K GIVEAWAY! Today is the last day to enter!

What were your favorites this week?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Chicago Marathon

Where to start?! Marathon race weekend was amazing and I'm kind of sad it's over. I had so much fun training with the NTC Lincoln Park Marathon Crew and fundraising for Bright Pink. I saw many familiar faces racing and cheering me on. Running 26.2 miles in my newest hometown and being a part of the Chicago running community has been a blast. Thanks to everyone who supported me during this journey and donated to Bright Pink, we raised a total of $1130.20!!!

I talked a little about going to the expo and having dinner with the NTC gals in my last post. So, I'll start with going to the expo again on Saturday. I didn't have much time to explore the booths on Friday so I went back to interact with the companies there and even made some new connections for reviews on my blog. Below are some of the highlights from the expo on Saturday!

I'm in the middle of reading Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run and he just
happened to be at the expo! Scott is a vegan and elite ultra-marathoner.

I stopped by the Swirlgear booth to say hi! I'm an ambassador so use
code 1035 for free shipping on awesome women's running apparel.

I relaxed for the rest of Saturday and got to bed early. I slept well until I woke up in the middle of  the night nervous and unable to fall back asleep, pretty normal for me before a race. I got up in the morning and made my usual rejuvelac blended with Vega Pre-Workout Energizer and spirulina. I also ate a Mark Bar on the train on the way to the VIP Chicago Endurance Sports resort, co-hosted with NTC. I loved this "resort" because we met up with the whole NTC crew and got private gear check. (Race-day security was pretty strict and they were searching bags upon entrance to the park so not having a bag going in was great.)

NTC Lincoln Park Marathon Crew before the race! So proud of these ladies!
We headed to the corrals and I even ran into my friend from college, Caiti. The race start is always fun, there's so much energy in the crowd! I started with the 4:00 pace group and kept with them until about the half. The first half I felt great and running through Lincoln Park was energetic. I saw all of my friends spectating around mile 8 and again just before the half. Ryan was with them and gave me a coconut water. It's much better than the gatorade served on the course.

My first half time was 2:01:59 so I was on pace to hit my goal of around 4:00. But then I hit a wall around mile 15 and slowed down drastically. It was very similar to the wall I experienced in the 20-miler three weeks ago. My legs felt like concrete and my ankles (especially the left one, which is swollen today) hurt. I eventually had to walk because I was barely picking up my legs. I'm not sure if this happened because I didn't put in enough mileage during training, didn't rest enough, or was too stressed out from work the week before (government shutdown....). I felt like my nutrition was good so it could have been a number of other things.

I saw my friends Grace and Gerald in mile 17 and Ryan with the rest of our friends in mile 20, who encouraged me to keep going (and gave me another coconut water). I ate some bananas and the rest of my gels. I still walked a little but I managed to (slowly) run the last 5k. Part of the reason was because my crossfit endurance coach Jon ran with me for a little bit. Big thanks to him! I needed the push!

I almost started crying when I saw the turn onto Roosevelt and then thought I might give up on that darn hill, but I finished that last 200 m strong and got my medal! Total time of 4:34:26, which is slower than my original goal but still a 20-minute PR from my last marathon in 2010! Overall, I'm happy with the race and the overall experience of training for and finishing this marathon.

At the CES/NTC resort after the race...4:34:26 PR!
Favorite signs

  • Ryan's leaderboard (below)
  • Grace's boost of start power (below)
  • "The Government can't run but you can!"
  • "Run fast, The Walking Dead premiers in just a few hours!"
  • "Run fast, the Kenyans are drinking all the beer!"

Moments of inspiration
  • Blind runner surrounded by a 3-person support team
  • Guy running with a prosthetic leg
  • Seeing my friends on the sidelines
  • Finishing!

After the race

I got my stuff from the race resort, changed into my Five Fingers, and ate some food from the buffet. I also ran into some of the NTC girls and we all hugged each other. So proud of everyone! I headed home where Ryan was waiting for me with a burrito, I pretty much ate the whole thing in one bite. I then took a glorious nap on the couch and then headed to NTC for the post-race party. It was great to see the girls after the race and we even got some swag bags with champagne, race bracelets, chocolate, and a framed photo of the crew (same one as above), and free medal-engraving. I also bought the Nike half-zip long sleeve in neon power! Training with NTC was seriously amazing and I couldn't have found a better running community in Chicago. All the NTC Lincoln Park programs and classes are free so you need to check it out!

Grace and Gerald came over in the evening and we had a glorious takeout sushi dinner with wine. Then we watched the season premier of Walking Dead and I went to bed and slept like a baby!

What now?
It's the Monday after the race and I'm sure that I feel the same as other people who just finished their biggest race of the year. I feel accomplished, satisfied, very sore, and little depressed that the journey is over. There's so much build up and now it's done! I've made a lot of friends training and I hope that I continue to see them. But "training" isn't over yet! This week is important for recovery. I'm getting a massage tonight (Groupon is the best), and then plan to do spinning and Bikram yoga in the next 2-3 days. I'll get back to crossfit later in the week but take it easy. Eating healthy and drinking fluids is important also to replenish!

The next race/goal
Now is a good time to set your health and fitness goals for the rest of the year and next year. Maybe you want to do another marathon? Or tackle an ultra? My goal is to do some halves and even a 5k next year and try to get a PR.

I'm also giving away a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15/5k which is in Chicago November 3. It will feel great to fly through a shorter race and end the running season before winter kicks in. Click here to enter and you can use the free entry for ANY city, 5 or 15k. You can also use code HealthyfitMUG to get a free travel mug with registration. I did the race last year and it was great. Plus, I was able to run super-fast because I had been training for a half last fall.

What were your favorite signs/moments during the race?

What are your health and fitness goals moving forward?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Marathon Training Log: Week 18

This is the end of training week 18 and the Chicago Marathon is TOMORROW. I've been carbo-loading for over a week, drinking plenty of fluids, and tapering my workouts, I think I'm ready. It's so exciting to be at this point after months of training and I'll be elated when I cross the finish line tomorrow.

Training and running with Team Bright Pink has been a great experience and I am so grateful for everyone that has supported my journey, both financially and otherwise. You are helping support educate women about their breast and ovarian health and allowing high-risk women to have a support system. There's still time to donate and support Bright Pink and my 26.2 miles!

Monday - Bikram Yoga
I started the week stretching and repairing my body with yoga, something I usually do on Sundays but I was out of town. 

Tuesday AM - CrossFit WOD
Pre-WOD: 3 rounds: 10 x 60% 1-rep max back squat (135 lbs)
6-minute AMRAP
10 hand-stand pushups
30 double unders
Then, 3-minute rest
1 mile run
Score: I didn't really count the rounds in the AMRAP because I was just practicing the movement. I did run the mile in 7:56, not bad for an easy day!

Wednesday PM - CrossFit Endurance WOD
8 x 200 m run with 2-minute rest
Coach and I talked some race strategy too!

Thursday AM - Spinning at R3
Spinning makes my legs feel great and is a good workout to stay in shape but not tire your legs from pounding on the pavement.

Friday and Saturday
Went to the expo with the NTC Lincoln Park Marathon Crew and felt like VIPs. There were photographers and a camera crew following us and people were like "those are the Nike people." I cannot even explain how much fun the marathon crew has been and how many perks we've gotten, for free!! Below are some pics from the expo.

The NTC LP crew then went to dinner at Osteria Via Stato in River North. And we had a special guest! Elite runner Joan Benoit Samuelson was there to pump us up for the big day! (She's the one standing with the short gray hair.) Joan is seriously a running legend. She won gold at the first women's marathon at the 1984 Olympics and she still holds the American women's record for the Olympic marathon. The best part is that at 56, she's still a runner, and way faster than I am!


If you're in Chicago, are you going to be watching or racing tomorrow?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Favorites

Favorite lunch
Vegetarian Orzo Salad

Favorite Dinner

(I ate the one mushrooms, not beef, obviously)

Favorite book
What Alice Forgot

Favorite video
The 8 Stages of Marathon Running

What were your favorites this week?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hot Chocolate 15K GIVEAWAY!

Hey everyone! I'm excited to announce that I'm part of the new Hot Chocolate Blogger program! The Hot Chocolate 15/5k is "America's sweetest race" and in several cities throughout the year. I ran the 15k last year in Chicago and had lots of fun and got a great time. The best part about the race is that you get hot chocolate and sweets after! The race in Chicago will be on November 3 and the rest of the cities/dates are listed below. Use code HealthyfitMUG when you register (any city) to get a free travel mug with your swag bag!

As I said, I ran the race last year and enjoyed it. It was a chilly November morning but I flew once my legs got warmed up. I beat my goal of 1:20 by finishing in 1:18:52, that's 8:28/mile pace! Definitely one of my faster races and a PR since I haven't run a 15k before. I like the distance because it's not quite a half marathon but more challenging than a 10k. The 15k or 10 mile race distance is probably my favorite. You can also do the 5k of course!

Besides getting chocolate at the end, the technical hoodie in the swag bag is also one of my favorites. It's perfect for wearing to Blackhawks games! I'm wearing a size small, for your reference. The cities and dates for the upcoming Hot Chocolate races are listed below.


I am giving away a FREE ENTRY to the Hot Chocolate 15/5k in any city (listed above). Use the Rafflecopter app below to enter. If it doesn't work, simply say so in your comment below and I will manually enter you. At a minimum to enter, you must leave a comment telling me which city you will run in.

You can also get extra entries by tweeting this post and tagging me @lenkakollar and @hotchocolate15k and by following the Hot Chocolate 15/5k on Facebook and Twitter and me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and BlogLovin

You have until Friday, October 18 at midnight to enter and then I will pick a winner using the app. Anyone can enter this giveaway but you must be able to provide your own travel and lodging to the city that you choose to do the race in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recipe: Vegetarian Orzo Salad

I helped out my friend, Emily, with some yard work this weekend and she fed me this tasty orzo salad for lunch. I liked it so much that I made it again this week and wanted to share the recipe with all of you! I don't eat pasta often, but when I do, I put lots of veggies in it. This orzo salad has just that and it makes a perfect lunch or side dish. Plus, I'm carbo-loading right now. Thanks Emily!

1 quart water
1 1/2 cups dry orzo pasta
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
Goat cheese (optional)
Avocado (optional)

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. honey or agave nectar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 gloves garlic

Cook orzo according to package directions. Let cool and place in a large bowl. Mix in all of the other ingredients, waiting to add the goat cheese and/or avocado until serving. Mix the ingredients of the red wine vinaigrette in a food processor until smooth. Pour over the orzo mixture and mix in. Leftovers can be put in the fridge for up to a week (this recipe makes a pretty large batch). I like to set it out at room temperature before serving so it's not too cold.

Do you steal recipes from your friends?

Have you ever added goat cheese or avocado to pasta?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Marathon Training Log: Week 17

The Chicago Marathon is one week away! As you know, I'm running with  Team Bright Pink and this is your last chance to help support breast and ovarian health education for women.

Donate here!

Week 17 was the start of tapering but I didn't do as well because I got too sore from Tuesday's squats. I have have to be extra careful with workouts this week. My last long run of 9 miles felt good, I'm ready for 26.2!

Monday AM - CrossFit WOD
Max Power Clean: 85 lbs.
Run 2 laps (about 700 m)
30 power cleans (55#)
Run 1 lap (about 350 m)
15 power cleans (55#)
Time: 8:49
Felt great today!

Tuesday AM - CrossFit WOD
Pre-WOD: 10 x 60%, 65%, and 70% of 1-rep max (135 lbs)
Overhead squats (35 lbs)
Knees to elbow
Lateral bar hops
Time: 7:30
The 30 squats in the pre-WOD killed me! And even though I used a light weight for the OH squats, my hamstrings were pretty sore for a couple of days.

Wednesday PM - CrossFit Endurance WOD
2 x 400 m run on the 3:00
2 x 800 m run on the 6:00
2 x 200 m run on the 2:00
This was a good workout and I'm surprised how fast it went, because it took over 20 minutes. FYI, "on the 3:00" means that you start running the 400 at 0:00 and then run the next 400 at 3:00 minutes. So the faster you run, the more rest time you get. 

Thursday - Rest
Resting for my longish run on Friday!

Friday - 9 mile run
Ryan and I went to Noblesville, IN, for the weekend for a wedding so we went on a run around his hometown. Ryan actually biked next to me because he pulled his hamstring during kickball. I felt bad that he was biking slowly next to me but it was actually quite fun. We talked the whole way and Ryan even took me to his old stomping grounds, the high school cross country course! We did 9 miles total at an easy pace and my body felt good :)

Saturday & Sunday - Rest!

A lot of people have asked me about my homemade energy gels that I use for running, I finally posted the recipe last week!

What was your favorite/best workout last week?

Are you ready for the Chicago Marathon?!?!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Favorites

Favorite Workout
CrossFit WOD on Tuesday

Favorite view
Trump Tower at sunset
Follow me on Instagram to see more awesome pics of #chitown!

Favorite meal
Plant-based burrito bowl

Favorite blog
The Athletarian
I love her quirky personality and fun attitude!

What were your favorites this week?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Carbo-loading and Burrito Bowl Recipe

The Chicago Marathon is next weekend...which means I'm starting to carbo-load! Runners traditionally think of carbo-loading as a large plate of pasta the night before the race. But really, you should be eating slightly more carbs than normal the 1-2 weeks leading up to an endurance race. This does not mean over-indulging on multiple pieces of lasagna every night. Simply, add slightly more carbs to each meal than you would normally eat. Now, if you've been training for the marathon, than your diet should already have a lot of carbs to sustain the amount of training and long runs. So, you really don't need to add that much to your diet. 

The main difference for me has been adding more carbs to my lunches. I usually have a salad for lunch and don't include rice or bread. For the past week, I've been making an effort to add more carbs to my lunch and making sure I eat some at dinner too. In other words, the 1-2 weeks before the race is not the time to go on a diet or watch your caloric intake. Think of it as eating 10% more than your daily calorie needs in order to stock up for race day. Again, don't go overboard!

In addition, there are plenty of other carbs out there besides pasta. I prefer white rice because it is easy to digest and goes with anything. Other foods that will help you store glycogen include sweet potatoes, fruits, oatmeal, and maple syrup or agave nectar. If you're on the Paleo diet, don't be afraid to eat some white rice, even my crossfit coach says it's ok!

The 2-3 days before the race should be the heaviest on carbs. Don't necessarily each more than usual, just replace things you would usually eat (like protein) with carbs. Also, do not eat a huge meal the night before the race because you will be unable to sleep from digestion issues and will feel sluggish in the morning. It's best to eat your heaviest carbo-loading meal in the early afternoon before race day to give you plenty of time to digest. Then, eat a smaller meal, like leftovers from the big meal, around dinner time. You want to wake up feeling hungry so you can eat your breakfast and head to the race!

Recipe: Vegan Burrito Bowl

Cooked white rice
Black beans
Romaine lettuce
Fresh tomato salsa
Guacamole or chopped avocado
Chopped red pepper
Lime juice
Chopped jalapenos (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)

Use all ingredients to your own taste. 
Add everything in a bowl and mix! 
This burrito bowl is an easy and healthy way to carbo-load!

P.S. Don't forget about hydration! Make sure you're drinking enough water the week before the race. Slightly more than your recommended daily value but again, don't overdo it. Drinking something with electrolytes, like coconut water, is a good idea too.

How do you carbo-load before race day?

Don't forget to enter the Vega One Starter Kit GIVEAWAY!!

Also check out my chia energy gel recipe for race day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ellie Contest!

You know I love Ellie activewear for the gym and lounging my review posts here and here. They're holding a great contest where you can win an Ellie outfit and yoga DVD set! All you have to do is provide your email here to enter! Also, you can get 20% off your first Ellie purchase by clicking on the banner below.