Author Archives: Erin @ Loop Looks

About Erin @ Loop Looks

A Chicago Loop Girl Goes To Work

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.33.51 PM

Ravenswood Run 5K Race Report [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

In another interesting display of what happens when I stop focusing on running and start focusing on strength training, I managed to finally beat my 5K personal record at the Ravenswood Run 5K last Sunday.

Of course, I also hadn’t raced a stand-alone 5K in over two years, so there’s that.

Anyway, I got a last minute free entry to this race from a guy in my running club who had won it in a raffle but was unable to use it. There was another guy in a similar situation so I snagged that one as well and shared it with Emily who as gracious enough to drive us to the race and figure out the parking situation.

Neither of us had ever run this race before but I knew a lot of people running it and a friend of mine who I trained with for the Chicago Triathlon last year lives near the race and invited  us over for brunch. Never one to turn down a free race or free food, of course I said yes.

I was admittedly surprised at how large this race was considering it’s a “neighborhood” race. I suppose, though, that it’s a neighborhood in Chicago which has as many residents as some small towns.

By the way, I’m in a video of the start of the race. Just look for the girl in a bright neon green tank top and a black hat.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.33.51 PM

Oh, there I am. In fact, other than a picture that I took with some friends post-race this is the only photo of me since my usual race photographer (aka my husband) didn’t join us.Ravenswood 5KI met all these people through blogging. Gotta love bloggers!

Anyway, after a warm-up jog with Emily and a few port-a-potty trips it was time to herd like cattle into the start corrals.

Considering I hadn’t raced a 5K other than as part of last year’s two sprint distance triathlons, I had no idea what I could or couldn’t do. I decided to go out hard and just see if I could hang on.

Well, I’ll tell you, while it netted me a PR, it also netted me some of the worst positive splits I’ve ever had. I think my first mile was just over 7 minutes while the other two were more like 7:45. Ouch. I finished in 23:24 which means I knocked a little more than a minute off my two-year-old 5K PR. I fully admit that’s crazy considering I have done zero 5K specific training.

However, my legs STILL feel shredded. Of course, it didn’t help that this week was my heaviest week in my current training cycle. I’m sure combined with that 5K my legs are going to be screaming for mercy for awhile.

The race overall was very well organized, if a little bit more crowded than I enjoy. And apparently I totally missed the cinnamon rolls at the finish line. Dear blogger friends, why didn’t you make sure I got one of those?? Oh well. Free brunch with my Live Grit friends will just have to do.

Now I admit that I’m intrigued about specifically training for a 5K. Do I dare try something like Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K training program interspersed with my strength training? Or do I just leave well enough alone and keep doing what I’m doing?

april-shopping-summary

April Shopping Summary

Shopping

Hey guys! It’s time, once again, to take a look at items that joined my closet this month. Once again I was able to only purchase items either with store credit or with dollars I earned from doing survey stuff. I’m doing really well this year!

april-shopping-summary

Jeans | Top | Black Jeans | Purse

I fully admit it’s silly to pay money for jeans with holes in them, but I keep seeing the look on people online and in real life and, well, I like it. So, since I had some Old Navy cash and there was a sale I scooped these up after seeing them on Bri. They’re lighter in person and tighter on my calves and ankles than pictures but nothing I can’t handle. They’re just the right amount of destroyed and for the price I really couldn’t beat it. I haven’t worn them on the blog yet but I am actually wearing them as I type this post.

The top (seen here) was also a good price thanks to my Le Tote membership and I still have some credit left from being an ambassador (and people signing up using my referral link). Speaking of which, I have three more free Tote codes to give away! Leave me a comment if you’re interested. Anyway, this top will be a replacement for one that I’m taking to the consignment shop.

The black jeans (seen here) are also something I’ve seen on almost every blogger under the sun. I purchased them during the last Shopbop sale since my current black jeans are fading. These are also tighter in the ankle than I was expecting and they don’t conform to my shape like everyone said they would, but it’s not worth returning. Now I just hope I can keep them from fading.

Finally, the purse was something that Le Tote recommended to me and I decided to give it a try. It has pockets on both sides which is perfect since I need quick access to my phone and my work ID. We just changed offices and now we have to use our ID to get into the building. I hate having to dig for it so having it easily accessible via the pocket is perfect. I have two purses I’ll be taking to consignment, too, now that I have this one!

Also, during the Shopbop sale I ordered these booties but, alas, they didn’t work out. The sizing was odd and they just felt too big around my ankles. So, I’ll just stick to my TOMS Cheetah wedges when I need a pair of tan booties. I’m wearing those today, too. In fact, two of my coworkers like them so much they ordered pairs for themselves!

Linking up with Fran’s budgeting bloggers

Red shell top with denim jacket, white jeans, and leopard print flats

Twice as nice

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Spring

As I mentioned on Monday, this past weekend I went to brunch at a restaurant in my neighborhood (thus accomplishing at least one of April’s goals). I met Sarah from Windy City Wanderlust at The Publican where we had some tasty eats. I’ll let her blog about the food so be sure to follow her blog so you can find out more!

Anyway, we then wandered over to the Randolph Street Market and on the way we stopped to take some outfit photos. Of course, I always forget to check the settings after Jason uses the camera and this time was no exception. So, sadly, I had it on manual instead of automatic. Which meant that the background is perfectly in focus but the foreground (i.e. me) was not.

blurry-outfit-photos

However, I liked this outfit so much that I recreated it to try again. And, it’s not really cheating because I did wear it twice last week!

Red shell top with denim jacket, white jeans, and leopard print flats

Top – Le Tote (same) | Jacket – Langford Market (similar) | Jeans – LOFT (same) | Shoes – Steven c/o Shopbop (similar)

Plus this time you get bonus Chewie cameos!

Anyway, when I wore this outfit to work I showed up to a meeting and the first comment was “Wow! You look spring-y!” Well, I suppose that’s appropriate since it’s spring and all.

IMG_8607

IMG_8048

Inspired by a blogger

Office Appropriate Outfits - Spring

When you’re trying to come up with what to wear what do you do? Well, if you’re me, you turn to one of your favorite bloggers: Jen!

She wore her olive green pants with an adorable printed top, a gray cardigan, and her brogues. I thought about wearing one of my striped tops to echo the eyeglasses print of her shirt, but in the end I went with plain white and a necklace.

IMG_8048

Cardigan – Old Navy (similar) | Top – Gap (similar) | Pants – The Limited (same) | Shoes – Sperry (similar) | Necklace – The Limited (similar)

I’ve been thinking about replacing my black and white striped short sleeve tee. I’ve had it for years and I think I want something with a slightly thinner stripe and that fits a bit more loosely. Is it silly to want to replace a perfectly functional piece of clothing because your tastes change, though?

IMG_8039

Oh, random tangent – do you watch Chicago PD? If so, you might occasionally recognize my neighborhood! Two weeks ago they were filming inside the physical therapy office that’s less than half a block from where I took these photos! Chicago Fire used to film in the building next door to my apartment, too. I’ve yet to see any of the stars of the show but I do see the film trucks!

Just one of the many reasons I love my neighborhood. Other reasons include the dog parks, the restaurants, and the ability to walk so many places. Like the dentist. Which is where I went while wearing this outfit. I lead an exciting life, right?

797px-John_Singer_Sargent_-_Carnation,_Lily,_Lily,_Rose_-_Google_Art_Project

SIA: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Style Imitating Art

Welcome to Monday! You know what that means. It means we put the weekend behind us, no matter how enjoyable it was. And mine was very enjoyable. I had brunch with Sarah of Windy City Wanderlust, visited the Randolph Street Market, ran my fastest 5K ever, and spent an entire afternoon at the dog park watching Chewie get in his first kiddie pool adventures of the year.

Which is why I’m happy for an easy blog post today! It’s Style Imitating Art time and for this round Salazar chose John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose.

797px-John_Singer_Sargent_-_Carnation,_Lily,_Lily,_Rose_-_Google_Art_Project

My first thought when I saw this painting? This looks SO MUCH like a friend of mine’s two daughters it’s a bit uncanny. Apparently, though, since this painting was done in 1885 and features the daughters of a friend of Sargent’s, either my friends’ daughters are reincarnated or they’re time travelers.

Anyway, Salazar chose this painting because the flowers, the greenery, and the sentiment bring to mind spring flowers and longer summer nights. I’m looking forward to wearing something pink. Or maybe white. We’ll see!

Remember. if you want to participate all you have to do is send a photo of yourself in an outfit inspired by this painting to 14shadesofgreyblog@gmail.com by Monday, May 2nd.

P.S. We had a late addition to the Tiffany glass dome interpretation which I’ve added to the original post. You should go check it out!

IMG_7103

Carmel Half Marathon Race Recap [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Last weekend Jason and I drove to Carmel, Indiana so I could run the Carmel Half Marathon. I knew a few other people from Chicago who were running the full marathon and since my in-laws live in Carmel and I’ve already run a half marathon there before (back in December), I figured hey, why not?

IMG_7109

My mother-in-law was nice enough to pick up my race packet on Friday since we weren’t going to get into town before packet pick-up closed and there was no race day pickup. I personally find that a bit annoying but I understand that, being the second largest race in Indiana, doing race day pickup is a hassle. So, thankfully I was able to have her do it for me.

The funny thing is that when talking about the race the night before my mother-in-law commented that at least the course would be flat. I just laughed. Compared to Chicago, Carmel is SUPER hilly. I learned that during the last half marathon I ran there!

IMG_7083

Welcome to the bottom of a hill. At mile one. 

i won’t go into a ton of details about the race, except to say that I wished there had been more aid stations and that, while I didn’t beat my personal record that I set in Florida, I did run a 1:49:11 which is my second fastest time.

IMG_7103

The race is nice but, to be honest, I think I had more fun at the Caribbean Christmas Half Marathon I ran there in December. The course for this one was hillier but they did share at least two hills. When I realized I was going to have to run those same hills again I definitely cursed out loud! I think I just prefer smaller events. Although the Carmel “Championship Weekend” was very well organized, had lots of goodies at the finish, and most of the amenities of a big race, I felt it was lacking the “fun” vibe I got from the Caribbean Christmas Half. But, considering the two people I knew who were running got PRs in the marathon and both qualified for Boston, I’d say that this race could be your good luck charm!

IMG_7127

When my trainer asked me what I did over the weekend and I said I ran a half marathon he said, “That’s pretty awesome that you can just go kill a half marathon in the middle of power lifting training and just the weights back up two days later.”

Honestly, I really enjoy this mixture of endurance running and strength training. But, I’m also looking forward to taking a slight break from long runs for a bit. I don’t currently have any other races on the schedule and I’m a-okay with that.

Although, if you don’t run a half marathon it’s a bit more difficult to justify hitting up two different breweries. Especially when Union Brewing is within view of the finish line!  Gotta earn that beer (and Instagram bragging).

IMG_7152

IMG_7031

The almost perfect gray jacket

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Spring

I’m always on the lookout for jackets or blazers or what have you that can elevate a casual look from super casual weekend to less causal work but still be comfy.

I thought I’d found it with this jersey fabric jacket from Le Tote and, while it looks awesome in the photos, it has some weird shoulder pads going on that seem to be making my shoulders look really broad.

IMG_7031

Jacket – Le Tote (same) | Scarf – gift (similar) | Tank top – Marshall’s (similar) | Jeans – American Eagle Outfitters (same) | Shoes – MIA (similar

The shoulder pads seem to be part of the design and structure of the jacket, though, so it’s not like I could just snip them out.  Which is too bad because this jacket is super comfy, has pockets, three-quarter sleeves (my favorite!) and is otherwise perfect. In terms of comfort level It’s more like a sweatshirt than a jacket and that’s a-okay by me.

Actually, to be honest, I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling like a marshmallow on toothpicks lately. I have to wonder if my shoulders are actually getting broader or if it’s my imagination! I mean, I have no problem with them getting broader but it does mean I might have to rethink some of what I wear.

Or not. I’m still undecided.

IMG_7042

Linking up with Work Clothes, I Suppose

tiffany-dome-in-chicago-1024x681

SIA Round Up: Tiffany Glass

Style Imitating Art

It’s time again to share all the outfits people created using this week’s art inspiration: the Tiffany glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center.

tiffany-dome-in-chicago-1024x681

First up, we have Jen’s friend Stephanie.

20160414_075140

Can we talk about the umbrella for a second? It’s a green dome shape! Could that be more perfect for this inspiration? I think not. And then the blues and blacks all together do a great job bringing in the other colors of the glass. Amazing job, Stephanie!

Next we have Jen, with some amazing jewelry!

jenSIAcollageTiffanyDome

Those earrings are perfect for this! And paired with all black (and her killer new haircut) they make quite the statement. However, she says in her post that the earrings are really heavy. Go weigh in on what you think she should do with them!

Salazar says she chose her blouse and skirt to echo the intricacy and strong lines of the dome, and her necklace has a zodiac sign on it, to echo the zodiac signs on the top of the dome.

salazar

She says she doesn’t much like it as an interpretation but that she loves it as an outfit. I like it for both!

Then we have Mike, whose original suggestion about choosing something to honor National Library Week lead to me to choose the Tiffany dome in the first place!

Tiffany Dome SIA Photo

I really like the black and blue combination. And, hey, he brought in the green with his porch carpeting. Got to love it when the scenery helps out!

UPDATE: Mike wrote me to say that since this outfit wasn’t his original idea, he wanted to send me the original once he had the chance to take pictures. The original plan? Show off all the colors represented by the dome! I say he did a great job!

mike-sia

Next up is Kezzie with her brooch which is lovely addition to her outfit!

SIA 18-4-16

Also, her dress is adorable! I wouldn’t mind having it in my own closet.

Finally, we have me with my abstract take on stained glass patterns.

IMG_7060

see the full outfit here

Thank you everyone for participating! I was thrilled to share a piece of Chicago architecture and maybe one of these days I’ll be able to go take pictures with the real thing!

In the mean time, stay tuned for next week’s choice!

IMG_7064

SIA: Tiffany Glass

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Spring · Style Imitating Art

If I was a good little blogger I would have actually gone to the Chicago Cultural Center and taken today’s blog photos underneath the Tiffany glass dome that inspired them. However, I am not that good of a blogger so instead you get photos that we took right before we left town for the weekend.

IMG_7064

Top – The Limited (similar) | Cardigan – Van Heusen (similar) | Jeans – Paige c/o Shopbop (same) | Shoes – c/o Fibi & Clo (similar) | Purse – Le Tote (same)

IMG_7075

I chose this top because I thought both the colors and the pattern did a nice job echoing the colors and the idea of the stained glass window. I chose these shoes because I liked that the embellishment on the toe was reminiscent of the figures of the zodiac inlaid in the dome.

I wish I had been able to make to the Chicago Cultural Center and get some photos, though. But with my husband working in the suburbs, the only time we would have been able to go would have been on a weekend. And considering this past weekend consisted of a whirlwind trip to Indiana so I could run a race and Jason could race his car, well, it just wasn’t going to happen.

Trust me when I say I certainly don’t plan my life around my blog!

Speaking of which, I’m writing this post at 9PM on Sunday night which means it’s almost my bedtime. And after this weekend I definitely need my beauty sleep!

IMG_7060

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 7.53.37 PM

Big But Boring [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

I think I mentioned in some past post I that I recently started a new strength workout on the advice of my personal trainer. I only meet with him once a week but he helped me figure out what weights I should be lifting for the rest of the week. And how did he do that?

Well, he recommended that I try a program he’s used in the past called 5/3/1:Big But Boring. Funny name, right? Well, he got it from here and he says he’s gotten great results with it.

The key, though, is knowing your one-rep max on the following: deadlifts, standing shoulder press, bench press, and back squat. Those can be difficult to figure out on your own so we spent two sessions finding out.

In case you’re interested, my one-rep deadlift is 235 pounds, my one rep bench is 100, squat was 165 and shoulder press was 70. Yes, my upper body is weaker, I know.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 7.53.37 PM

Anyway, with this plan I’ve been doing the same strength moves with each workout. On Mondays I do the key move: back squats. I then do what are called assistance exercises and my trainer suggested I do front squats and laying leg curls.

Tuesdays I workout with my trainer so he can spot me on bench presses. I then do an assortment of tricep, back, and bicep exercises.

Wednesdays are cardio and I typically do 30 minutes of high intensity interval training on the treadmill, stairmill or a spin bike.

Thursdays it’s legs again with deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and some Captain’s chair leg lifts for good measure.

Friday is the shoulder press followed by another assortment of upper body stuff.

Saturday is cardio which, right now, means my long run. However, after I run the Carmel Half Marathon tomorrow I think I’m going to do another day of HIIT training instead. My body really responds to HIIT cardio, I’ve found.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 7.54.37 PM

Anyway, even though this is called Boring But Big, the workouts do change in intensity each week so it keeps it interesting. I like knowing exactly what I’m going to do when I get to the gym and I also like knowing exactly what poundage to use on each lift.

The strength gains are incremental so you do need to do this same plan for a few months to see results. But, you know, I’m okay with that. I’ve found that building muscle is really difficult for me but if this is what it takes then I’m all for it!

divider_image

This week’s workouts:

  • Monday – Lower body strength + 20 minutes HIIT on the stairmill
  • Tuesday – Upper body strength
  • Wednesday – 30 minutes HIIT on the treadmill
  • Thursday – Lower body strength
  • Friday – Upper body strength
  • Saturday – Carmel Half Marathon
  • Sunday – Rest

divider_image

Recipe of the week: One Pot Mexican Chicken Stir Fry

Made this for dinner this week and it was pretty tasty. I served it over rice and added sour cream. I also microwaved the broccoli for two minutes before adding it to the pan since I like it a little softer.

Here’s a hint, though: if your chicken lets out a lot of juice, drain it off before you add the peppers and the broccoli. Otherwise the veggies won’t crisp up!