Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weekend Fun

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas!  I had a great long stretch of a weekend with friends and family.  I wish every day could be like those days.  I was ridiculously happy, couldn't stop smiling like a weirdo and saying Merry Christmas to anyone that was there...facebook, text messages, emails, in person.  I guess the Christmas spirit really took hold of me this year!  Haha!

My Christmas weekend started on Thursday (even though I still had to work on Friday).  I had taken the week off of running (5 days) to rest my hip (trying to be proactive and not let a hip pain get worse), so I didn't participate in my normal Thursday run group.  It happened to be the day of "winter storm Draco"...and even though we weren't going to be hit hard, it was windy and I was kind of glad I wasn't running anyway.  But there were a few brave souls that showed up.  Afterwards, we had a holiday party with my run group, the F'N Runners.  It was a great turnout and we had a gift exchange.
Behold...the F'N Runners
Kelly, Maggie, Derek, me...part of the Thursday night run crowd!
Friday was uneventful.  Saturday, I had the Sugar Cookie Shuffle fun run with the F'N Runners.... We went to the hilly trails of Hickory Creek Forest Preserve (Schmuhl School) and I did 5 miles.  Some of them did more and started earlier but I didn't want to push too much since I took the whole week off of running.  After the run, we headed to Starbucks for a cookie exchange.  Saturday afternoon/evening, I had a family party with some extended family.
Sugar Cookie Shuffle
Sunday I took my nephew for a workout at the gym.  He said he wants a six-pack by summer but he only does crunches/situps.  I showed him plenty of ab moves and thoroughly kicked his ass.  It was fun!  Afterwards, I tried to finish off Christmas shopping, but ended up buying gift cards.  Sunday night, I had a date and it went very well, which was nice for a change.  I was all smiles afterwards, which carried into the next day.

The next day was Christmas Eve.  I went out for a solo run and just ran "easy".  I was going to do speedwork that day and only do 3 miles but opted for a peaceful run with some thinking and decided to do 5 miles instead.  I didn't want it to be a "stressful" speed run. lol.  But I did do a 9:30 avg pace for 5 miles, which was pretty good for "easy".  Christmas Eve was our big family party at my Aunt and Uncles house.  Lots of good food involved.  Sunday was a small family party with just my parents, me, my nephew and my goddaughter.  We went to see The Hobbit and had dinner.  It was very nice.

I got a few new running things like knuckle lights since I run in the dark, a moji massager which will be great on my IT band/hip area right now (among other things), some running shorts, running pants, money (for running stuff??)...anyway, I made out like a bandit.  :-)

That just about sums up my holiday!  I love spending Christmas with the family and the couple of little kids we have in our family.  In fact, kind of funny.  My 11 year old cousin got a cell phone and entered in my number.  Later that night I got a text that simply said..."I lov u".  It caught me off guard since I didn't have that number programmed in my phone.  Then I realized who it probably was and yes, it was my little cousin. lol.  Glad I don't have an overprotective jealous boyfriend or something!

I will be trying a cross fit class this week and I'm pretty excited about that.  Other than that...just trying to figure out what I'm doing on New Years Eve since I was invited a few different places.

How was everyone's Christmas? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Santa Hustle Cedar Point

This past weekend was the Santa Hustle Cedar Point that I got "talked into" doing by Susan from the FNRC.  Really, my only hold up was financial and since she traveled to do the River Run in September with me, I owed her one.  And it was an easy decision since ... #1- I love to run, #2 - I love Cedar Point, #3 - I knew my friends in Cleveland were also doing it.  It's always an easier decision when you know other people doing it too.

Susan and I headed up to Sandusky on Saturday morning and arrived around 3:30, which was a little later than anticapated for a few being me getting pulled over by the state cop in Ohio about 3 minutes after I started driving.  I actually had no idea why she pulled me over because I wasn't speeding, had my seat belt on, etc.  Turned out she said I "failed to move over for a public safety vehicle."  That's a first for me.  I guess it's a law in Ohio (and who knows, maybe in Illinois too) that you have to completely switch lanes when a cop is on the one side of the road stopped.  I moved "half" over in the other lane and slowed down.  She was being a .... well anyway, she wasn't going to let me go and it's probably because she hates people from Illinois.  Hell...some people in Illinois hate people from Illinois.  Anyway, that wasn't going to ruin my weekend.

Susan and I checked into our hotel and then went to grab my nephew.  My brother and nephew live in Columbus and since Tony (nephew) was going on Christmas break and coming to Chicago, it saved my parent's money by having my brother drive up to Sandusky so I could get him.  I was just hoping the girls wouldn't mind hanging with my 18 year old nephew.  My brother wanted to drop him off Saturday because he said he wasn't "driving on football Sunday."  After getting my nephew, we went to pick up our packets.  Soon after picking up our packets, Jodi, Kim and Missi arrived from Cleveland.  They picked up their packets and we headed out to dinner and afterwards some drinks...after taking some pictures with Santa at the hotel.
Me, Jodi, Kim, Tony, Santa, Susan, Missi
Some "carbs" the night before... (Susan, Kim, Me)
Susan and I stayed at a hotel about 4 miles away because the host hotel (where the run started) was booked.  But Jodi, Missi and Kim all were staying at the host hotel.  Our hotel was only about 10 minutes away and much less crowded and was pretty comfortable, so I didn't mind at all.  Our hotel also had cool little bracelets that were our keys to our room (see my wrist above).  Very cool!  You just scanned it over the lock and it opened!  New technology!

At the hotel later than night, Susan and I tried to decide what to wear.  The weather was forcasted to be about 50 degrees with a 20% chance of rain.  I pretty much brought clothes with me to run in temps around 30.  I don't know what I was thinking and started to freak out.  I had 1 pair of pants and some long sleeve shirts, a jacket, gloves and ear warmers!!  lol.  I did NOT need that for this race!  Susan had capris that were a little big on her and she gave them to me.  They fit and I decided that was a much better option than pants!  Susan also gave me a run shirt earlier in the day (because she thought it was my birthday haha) which said "I run for me".  I loved it and it was a t-shirt so I decided to wear that since it would be 50 degrees.  Some how I inherited run clothes for that race!  Thankfully!

The morning came.  I told Susan that I was going to walk outside and see the what it felt like.  So 5 mins after waking up, with my jammies, no shoes, not even brushing my hair yet...I stumbled through the hotel and out the door.  I have no shame.

It felt pretty nice already so I opted to not run in my santa shirt and go with the short sleeve Susan bought me, along with her capris she gave me.  She also made tutu's and even though I was slightly concerned about adding additional width to my already larger midsection...I decided what the hell.  It's not every day you can wear a tutu.  We went to eat breakfast and headed to the hotel. We met up with the rest of the girls and took lots of photos.  All of my photos are stolen since everyone was taking pictures, there was no reason to get my phone out too.
Pre-run. Classic Santa shirt photo (Me, Kim, Jodi, Missi, Susan)
I lined up with Kim and Missi but knew I wouldn't start running with them.  I was just wanting to enjoy my run and a PR wasn't my goal for this race (even though I always try my best during a run).  The run started and it wasn't too crowded, which was nice.  My nephew had planned to be around mile 12 on the way back to cheer us on and take some photos.  I wanted to start out comfortably and not too fast.  Clearly though, I don't know what that means and my first two miles were 9:08 each!  I snapped this photo on the way to Cedar Point.
Santa run, cookie station ahead and Cedar Point sign...I couldn't resist!
There was a small hill leading over the water into Cedar Point but it wasn't bad and I've been running hills lately.  I felt really good for the first half of the run.  I did get warm right away and heard other people complaining about how hot they were in their santa shirts.  I was glad I opted to wear the t-shirt with my santa sock arm warmers.

As I ran into the park, I just couldn't stop smiling (inside).  I LOVE amusement parks and I LOVE Cedar Point.  I think running around the outside of the rides for a while and looking around was a huge distraction from the run.  I think I was like a kid in a candy store for the first 6 miles!  I also kept trying to slow up my pace a little because I felt I was running too fast to maintain for a half. But part of me thought, well, if you feel good...just run.

About mile 6, I noticed the distance between my garmin and the course markers were a little off (up until that point, they seemed right on).  That threw me a little since I knew that the 5k course in Chicago for the Santa Hustle was short and people were complaining. I knew some of my friends had some time goals at this race and didn't want the course to come up short!  And for some reason that started to really throw me off mentally.  I tried to ignore it and keep going.  Near a turn around about mile 7, I saw Kim and we waved.  She wasn't too far off from me at that point.  I thought we should just run together but I wasn't going to be able to catch her.

During mile 7, I just really felt like I was losing my pace a little and was getting a little tired.  I felt my stomach was doing crazy things and I wanted to stop and walk.  (I had some female issues which were causing some cramps).  I'm sure the guys all just left this conversation...

I told myself that if I was going to stop, I wasn't going to stop to walk before mile 8 (according to my garmin).  So I waited and mile 8 came and I stopped to walk.  Unfortunately I decided to stop AGAIN during mile 8 to walk when I came up to a gatorade station.  2 walk breaks in one mile...after that fantastic first half, I started getting a little discouraged.  At this point, I told myself to just keep running and not worry about time since time wasn't your goal anyway.  I felt like I was moving soooo sloooooowwwww!  At this point, my fascination with the park ended and I wanted to get out as soon as possible.  I wanted this run to end.  I wasn't feeling well and completely struggling.

At mile 10, I texted my nephew to tell him I was at mile 10 so he knew when to expect me around mile 12.  I saw that he sent me a nice message telling me "You're doing good, keep it up and smile!"  That made me smile a little but seriously, I just wanted to be done.  I ended up walking once more after mile 11 and then decided that was enough walking for the race. There was a HUGE headwind going over the bridge on the way back!  I mean...if I wasn't struggling enough!  But I knew I was almost done and just kept going.  Nothing else to do but keep going.

Soon after, nearing mile 12, I happened to spot Kim up ahead.  I figured I wouldn't be able to catch her though.  However, soon after, she started walking and in fact, kind of bended over and I thought she might be sick.  I ended up catching her and asked her if she was ok.  She started running with me and told me her back was hurting her.  I guess it was good I saw her because she started running faster, which made me run faster.  She told me seeing me helped push her to finish that last mile strong, and I told her it really helped me too as I was really struggling.  We saw my nephew at mile 12 and he snapped a photo of us (it's still on Susan's camera).  He ran about a half mile with us but that was enough for him (not dressed for running).  Kim pulled ahead as she chatted with someone and I just couldn't run any faster to try to keep up with her.  Finally we crossed the finish line!  The time said 2:05 (which would be a PR).  I wasn't sure as my garmin registered the course short.  Everyone else I knew said their garmin registered short too but Susan asked the race director and he told us it was a certified 13.1 course.  Running the tangents in the park may have made the course come up shorter.  Usually they measure by the shortest distance but because it was in an amusement park, I can kind of see how you could run differently than they measured.

So I will go with it.  A last minute end of the year half marathon PR!  2:05:15!  That was  a PR from my previous half in Cleveland, Ohio in September by about 4 minutes.  Even if the course was a little short, it was only about 0.1-0.15 short and I still would have PR'd.

My splits were (according to my garmin):
Mile 1-7: 9:08, 9:08, 9:13, 9:22, 9:26, 9:38; 9:35
Mile 8-13: 9:50, 10:21, 9:57, 10:23, 10:22, 9:45

Clearly you can see where I started to struggle and just never really recovered.  I still need to work on starting slower and finishing stronger.
Course from my garmin of inside Cedar Point
The whole course map from my garmin

My favorite photo from the day. Me and my giant nephew Tony. When did he get so big?

The girls... (Susan, Jodi, Me, Missi, Kim)
Kim and I were waiting for the rest of the girls...and we decided to have some fun.
I told Santa he had a rough job.  He agreed.
I really enjoyed this course and this run overall.  You can't put me in an amusement park and not have fun!  This combined my two favorite things... running and amusement parks.  It almost can't get better than that!

I probably won't post until after Christmas.  I was dealing with some slight hip pain after running for a little over a week and decided it's a good time to rest it since my next race isn't until the end of January (the F^3 Half Marathon). I'm only resting for 5 days though and doing some stretches for it. I'm hoping it works.

I also have a pretty busy week/weekend ahead.  Today is a holiday lunch with work, tonight I'm making my Pizzelle cookies, tomorrow I have a holiday party with my run group, Friday I'm making more pizzelles, Saturday I have a cookie run with my run group and then I have a family party with extended family, Sunday I actually have a date...gasp! (I'll admit...I'm kind of excited since it's not a blind date), Monday I have Christmas with my Aunt/Uncle/Cousins, etc, Tuesday I have a low key Christmas with just my parents, nephew and goddaughter.

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead, weekend and Christmas!! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Speed Work in Disguise

Thanks everyone for the comments regarding my 5k last weekend. I was pretty proud of myself for trying to get out of my "comfortable" zone while running and keep pushing even when I felt like walking.  Of course, it's a little easier to push when you have someone running with you - specifically FOR you.  You don't want to let them down or show them that you are a I will just typically hang in as long as I can.  And I really wanted a 5k PR.

As I've said in a recent post, I'm all about trying to improve myself right now.  In my personal life as well as running.  My marathons are over and I have time to focus on me.  As I also stated in a recent post, I'm trying to incorporate weekly speed work, weekly hill work, and an easy run (and a long run thrown in there if possible but that's been about every other week lately)...It's ok, they are still there and I'm still building everything up.  Not forgetting about my long runs but my weekends have been hit or miss so I'm squeezing them in every other weekend right now.  Come January, I will try to get a more scheduled routine down.

Yesterday, I decided to join a couple of friends in Palos Hills for some hill work.  Hills are considered "speed work in disguise".  You typically take hills a little slower but it makes you stronger and really helps you "fly" on those flat runs!  I'm not really sure how every surrounding area is all flat but Palos has all these hills!  This is also where I did my spring marathon training!  (I also don't know how I did 16 miles on these hills!).  Anyway, I met my friends Becky and Christy and their forgot his name for a 4 mile run on these hills. (Since typing this, I looked up his's Mike, lol)...  Julie decided to come with me too and I was glad to have her. Christy and her friend are SPEEDY people!  like 7:30's or something (I don't know, it's just fast).  Becky is more of a 9:00 min miler but can be speedier if pushed.  Julie and I are around the same pace 9:30-10:00 average.

Taken post-run but I felt a photo was needed.
Mike, (front row L-R) Christy, Becky (back L-R) Me, Julie
We were going to run the 4-mile turkey trot route.  The problem is that I'm not familiar with the route.  I've only run this turkey trot once in 2010 and it's all on the streets.  I'm sure if I got a map and studied it, I could figure it out.  Anyway, we had decided prior to the run that we would do the 4-mile route.  Somehow when I got there, I was asked if we wanted to do 4 or 6 miles.  Um...I know these hills and 4 sounded good to me!  But it was decided on averaging the distance to 5 miles.  Ok...I'll suck up the 5 miles.

As soon as we started and I got to my first hill (I hate this hill and it's not even the biggest), I regretted this run. I'm a huge baby when it comes to hills!  I wanted to just stop and quit and I wasn't even 1/4 mile into my run!  Well, for this reason, this is why I want to do hills once a week.  I need to get over the "I want to die" feeling on hills.  Also, frustratingly enough my garmin didn't even pick up signal for over a mile so I couldn't tell how fast we were going.  I figured that was probably a good thing considering I knew we were going too fast for me!  lol.  Again, I was just going to hang in there as long as possible.  I know I should take the hills a little slower but well...  oh well...

Becky was trying to hide the pace from me at the beginning but I caught on that we were going between 9:20-9:30 avg pace per mile.  Yikes!  In the spring, I could barely keep a 10:30 pace on these hills!  Of course, I'm in better run shape now so that pace made me happy.

On the way out, there is a giant hill that we get to run down!  It seemed to last forever!  I knew though that we would hit this hill going up when we turned around.  During spring training, I could never run all the way up this hill.  It's enormous!  I would run up part, walk up a part, and continue running up the end.  When we got to the turn around point, Christy stopped us to yell at us give us a pep talk about the upcoming giant mountain (true story, it is)...


We chuckled at this but I thought it was good because Julie told me as we were running down that hill that on the way back, she was walking up it.  I thought Christy heard her but she didn't!  So I laughed and turned to Julie and said, "Guess we are running it!"

Sure enough, because of Christy's pep talk, we all ran up that whole hill!  My first time ever to run up the whole thing!  :-)

And in true runner form...when we got to the point where we could cut it at 5 miles and go back to the car or loop back around for 1 more mile (the same mile as our first mile), Christy asks, "So do we have one more mile in us??"

Now I could have really gone to the car at this point but I figured what's one more mile.  So my 4 miles of hills ...turned into 5 miles...which turned into 6!  It was hard but totally worth it.  And since my garmin was screwed up, I estimated and it came to a 9:50 pace for the 6 miles.  Not too bad for me and my arch nemesis...hills.

About 5 miles of the 6 of the hills...
 This weekend I've got a half marathon, the Santa Hustle Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.  My friend Susan wanted one more half marathon this year (I guess the 2 marathons, the 1 ultra, the several halfs and numerous 5k's weren't enough! lol).  We decided on this half marathon because I have friends that are also doing it...among them is fellow blogger Jodi.  I'm just going to run this half for fun.  I've had enough pressure with runs lately. lol.  Plus we may be wearing Santa gear and tutu's...just saying.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jingle Bell 5k - Race Recap

(Sorry...I tend to get long winded in my race recaps!)

Yesterday I participated in the Jingle Bell 5k in Kankakee.  This run was a schwaggle deal in November and a bunch of my run group decided to do it for the fun and festivities (and of course, with the promise that we would go to breakfast afterwards).  I, of course, decided to jump in since it was only about $15 for the schwaggle deal.  

Initially I wasn’t planning on racing this 5k.  In fact, I didn’t think about it at all.  I just signed up to join my Frankfort/NewLenox Running Club since we always have so much fun together (seriously, so glad I met them last Christmas!) About 2 weeks ago, Kelly asked me if I wanted her to pace me for a 5k PR.  I told her that if she wanted to run for herself, I wouldn’t mind.  She simply said, “I’m asking you if you would like me to run with you to try to help you get a PR.”  She knows I’ve been itching to PR my 5k for 2 years now (since the 2010 Tinley Park Turkey Trot).  Last year I only did one 5k (the 2011 Tinley Park Turkey Trot) and didn’t PR and was HUGELY disappointed.  This year I ended up signing up for a bunch of 5k’s due to “peer pressure” by this new awesome run group and still always ended up short from a PR.  I can make excuses as to why I didn’t PR my 5k last year or the series of 5k’s this year but the main thing is…you have to work for it.  And for various reasons, I didn’t/couldn’t properly train for 5k’s (injuries, marathons, etc).  

Here is a list of my 5k times since last year:

PR: Nov. 2010 Tinley Park Turkey Trot - 27:55

Nov. 2011 Tinley Park Turkey Trot - 28:19
Feb. 2012 Cupid’s Chase – 29:05 (After this one, I resigned to not PR’ing my 5k this year)
June 2012 Jim Gibbon’s – 29:03 (it was about 90 degrees this day)
June 2012 Short Run on a Long Day – 30:09 (gun timed, also about 90+ degrees)
July 2012 Stars and Stripes in Tinley – 31:34 (seriously…it was 90+ degrees again and I felt like I was going to faint after finishing) 

**At this point, I was DONE with 5k’s due to the excessive heat this year!
 Nov. 2012 – Tinley Park Turkey Trot – 28:47 

As you can see, I was "5k happy" this year.  Not really happy but with the exception of the Cupid’s Chase, I ran them for “fun” with friends and they were mostly all local races.  The heat killed me this year and then it was serious marathon training so I let it go. Since my last Turkey Trot in November, I realized I need to “work” for a PR and started speed training.  

Yesterday’s 5k came after only 4 weeks of speed training and I wasn’t thinking about a PR initially because I didn’t feel ready.  But since Kelly offered to help me, I decided to not waste the opportunity of having some help with it.  

The week prior to the run, I actually got nervous about it.  I kept going through all the ways I could possibly “try” to get a PR… “Maybe if I start my mile 1 at 9:05, then work to a 9:00, the 8:55…  Maybe I could barely squeeze in this PR…barely!... Maybe!  I was not particularly confident but then Kelly told me that I could do more than I think I can do.  Seriously best advice ever!  Because really, I needed to stop stressing and just run my best.  I needed to push past my comfort zone (which I don’t like doing) and just run.  I had to believe I could do it.  And since my initial thought was not to try for a PR…it would just be icing on the cake if I got it. And really, no big deal if I didn’t. 

The day started out with cold and rain.  I was not happy but decided not to worry because it was only a 5k. 
Gloomy, rainy morning
We were fortunate enough to be able to wait inside in a gym since it was a small, local race.  Everything was organized and packet pickup went very smoothly.  We all had fun hanging out and checking out the fun outfits we all wore!  This was the first time I actually dressed up for a run (except the green sparkle skirt was worn for the Shamrock Shuffle earlier in the year).  I even got to take a photo with Santa!!

Some of the pre-run FNRC

Melanie, Becky, Me and Jill (L-R)
I decided to join in the spirit of a Christmas run

I forgot to tell Santa what I wanted for Christmas

My friend Don looks better in a skirt than I do!
Finally it was time to head to the start line.  Surprisingly enough, it stopped raining (only a very light mist).  The race was gun timed, which I’m not a fan of because I like an exact time but I only started 10 seconds late so it wasn’t a big deal.  About ¼ of a mile into the race, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to run fast anymore!”  But there was no way I was going to tell Kelly this!  She’d probably kick my ass.  So I just pushed along.  Part way through the first mile, Kelly told me her garmin was clocking us wrong and showing like a 12+ mile pace (she says 16 min pace in her recap…I don’t remember and it doesn’t matter really, lol).  Anyway, she was showing a wrong pace and I looked down at my watch.  She asked me what mine showed and I said, “Mine’s wrong too, it’s showing an 8:10 average pace”.  I thought I was running about an 8:50 pace and DEFINITELY not an 8:10 pace.  Sure enough, when we got to the first mile, I glanced at the time on my watch and it said 8:10.  Whoops…   And Kelly looked at me and nervously giggled and said, “Your watch was right. And I’m failing again as a pacer! 
We decided to bring it back the second mile a little so that I wouldn't completely burn out by the third mile since we had a little wiggle room.  Really, I was thinking more of a 9:00 pace but the second mile ended up being 8:43.  A friend was able to snap this sweet action shot just after mile 1.  

After mile 1
I was trying to take some nice even breathes to prevent getting a side cramp but I just felt like it sounded like heavy breathing (and everyone hates a really heavy breather! Lol).  I was getting a cramp in the side of my neck near my collar bone (which happens to me sometimes) but was able to push that out of my mind.  Also, Kelly was trying to have me expend the least amount of energy possible during the race and was trying to have me not weave too much and not talk at all.  Of course, she would tell me to not weave and then I would do the opposite, lol.  If I tried to mutter a short phrase, she “ssshhhh-ed” me (“Sssshhhh!!  No Talking!”).  I would giggle inside and just keep running.  

During the second mile, there was some “off road” course and I got a little nervous.  I wasn’t sure how much of this there would be and well…I didn’t want to trip because I was tired.  It wasn’t too bad though and a nice change.  There were also a few uphills (pretty minor but still)… and when I saw the first one, I groaned.  Kelly gave me some encouragement to get me up the hill and of course, I managed it fine.  It was also funny as we were near a kid and he saw us and kept sprinting ahead as he didn’t want us to pass him.  Kelly and I both chuckled at this.  I’m actually not sure if we ever did pass him.

Mile 3 came and I thought, “Just one more mile.”  I saw that my garmin clocked me at 8:43 for mile 2 and I thought that as long as I didn’t start walking like I wanted to, I would make my PR.  I was much more ahead than I ever thought I would be at this point.  Mile 3 was mostly ok…I knew I was almost done.  I saw my friend Jill and told her good job.  Then I looked at Kelly and made sure she wouldn’t yell at me for talking! Lol.  She would say some things to me over the course of the 3rd mile and I just stayed quiet.  I was just focusing on keeping running as good as I can.  

Kelly told me that I could set the pace for the 3rd mile and I just thought to myself that I wanted to run a nice even pace.  Kelly told me that she wanted me to start “picking off” people in front of me to have a goal during the last mile (and probably for some distraction).  I actually thought I really didn’t care to pick people off but since I wasn’t aloud to talk…well…  haha!  I just didn’t want to die and about mile 2.75, I had that slight feeling like I could throw up.  Huh…interesting feeling while running.  Never got to “puke speed” before (as Maggie dubbed it later).  Luckily I didn’t throw up and then we made the last turn for the final 0.1 stretch (thank god!).  Kelly told me to run as fast as I can to the finish, then looked at me and said, “Oh, you probably are!”  That made me smile and I decided to do what Kelly said and “tried” to pick it up as much as I could.  My last mile was 8:31 (and I knew from watching my garmin) that I did push it and speed up the last ¼ mile of the 3rd mile as my average pace decreased a few seconds.  My last 0.1 showed a 7:37 pace.  My final garmin time was 26:12…but my official race time is 26:22 for an average pace of about 8:30!  And I knocked 1:33 mins off my 5k PR!  Wow!  Maybe I am capable of more than I thought!

The course pace results from my garmin.  Does everyone that runs "fast" have a pace chart this uneven??  lol
When I was finished, I again had that "It would be nice to throw up" feeling but I managed to keep it at bay.  Everyone that had already finished congratulated me on my time!  I saw Jill finish close behind me and then waited for mostly all my other friends to finish before heading inside for some food.  

The race had a pretty nice spread of bananas, granola bars, cheese, chicken soup, pizza, hot chocolate!  I grabbed some granola bars and a slice of pizza and hot chocolate.  Delicious!  I knew we were going to breakfast afterwards but I really wanted that pizza and here is why...after the Illinois Marathon, I was told there was pizza.  But due to the 10k and half marathoners, when I got up there, they ran out of pizza!  I was so disappointed so THIS is why I wanted to eat this pizza! lol.  We hung around for the awards and several of my group got age group awards as well as my friend Susan winning 1st overall female! (Can she get any faster!).  Amanda won 1st in her age group, Maggie was 1st in her age group, Nicole won 2nd in her age group, Kate won 1st in her age group....  Way to represent F'N Runners!!  I came in 6th in my age group (which is Maggie's age group now that she had a birthday and is old like me ....just kidding Maggie!).  I'm pleased with 6th place since that's the best I've ever placed!  I checked later and it was out of about 36 females in my age group.  Not too shabby!

FNRC award winners (L-R: Kate, Maggie, Susan, Nicole, Amanda)

Post-Race FNRC

Kelly and I after the run.  Thanks again Kelly!!
All in all, I had a fabulous time!  The run was well organized.  The post run food was awesome!  Being able to wait inside was also a nice plus!  And I just had tons of fun with my fellow F'N Runners!  (Minus that whole running thing!)  No, really, I had fun then hindsight!  With my nice new 5k PR of 26:22!  Now THAT is going to be tough to beat!  But I like a challenge!!  :-)

Big thanks to Kelly for the running support!  And for everyone else that gave me encouragement and inspiration!  To say I was happy and excited yesterday would be a HUGE understatement!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2012 Goals - Recap

Yes, I know the year isn't over yet.  I could wait until the end of the year to give a recap on how my goals this year went but I've come to find out that I'm actually not a very patient person.

I haven't even pulled up my 2012 goals list in probably 10 months and pretty much forgot at least half of what was on there.  I was anxious to check it out and see how much I did accomplish and what fell by the waste side.  You can read about my excitement for the 2012 year back in January HERE!!  I was pretty excited about it!  After all, I said this year was going to be "my year!"  Um... yeah, ok.'d I do???  I give 2012 goals!

2012 Goals
1. Make at least 1 recipe a week.  I live alone and cooking isn't always the first thing on my list.

- NO!!  This lasted about 5 weeks.  Goal major fail!

2. Do my daily stretching and knee strengthening exercises.  Since my doctor visit, I have become lazy and haven't been doing his prescribed exercises to help my knees, hips, IT band and hamstrings.

-  NO!! This did not happen during the first half of the year at all...which contributed to all the injuries I had this spring while training for the IL Marathon.  During the second half of the year, I've gotten somewhat better at the stretching aspect but it needs much work.  And since the Chicago Marathon, my stretching has gotten bad again!

3. Take my vitamins daily.  I have not taken my multi-vitamin since the marathon!  I also need to take iron pills (since I'm borderline anemic). Right now, I should be taking vitamin C also.
- NO!! This also did not happen as discussed in May when I found out I had some major anemia and vitamin D deficiencies.  Since May, I have gotten much better at taking my supplements (I mean, it was really absolutely necessary!  I could barely function properly). My goals are not looking well so far.

4. Stop drinking pop.  My stomach feels much better when I'm not drinking any pop, especially diet coke!  Also, drinking pop ends up interfering with the amount of water I drink (see #5).

- YES/NO!!  I actually accomplished this 100%...all the way through the end of April when I ran the IL Marathon!  Then I splurged on pop...and well, the rest is history.  During the summer, I tried stopping again, but ...I'm back to it.

5. Drink a minimum of 6 glasses of water a day.  I've really been slacking on my water!  I used to be one that drank water all day long!  Now it's hard for me to get in the min. 6 glasses every day!  Especially since running the marathon, I think I got burned out on drinking water!

- NO!!  This was also a major fail while training for the IL Marathon during the first part of the year (Yes, I did everything wrong while training for it), which also contributed to my injuries while training for this marathon.  I've also improved on my water consumption.

6. Track all the miles I run this year.  I started using and I'm really excited about this for some reason!

- YES!!!  FINALLY something I actually did this year that was on my goal list!  I've been tracking my daily miles on as well as a spreadsheet by my FNRC group.  These do not match up (which is bothering my OCD-ness) but all-in-all, it comes out pretty close.  Almost to 1,000 miles for the year.  This is the first time I've tracked my miles and it's rather interesting to see.

7. Get a PR for my half marathon in July.  My old PR was 2:13+.  Right now, I'm just going to shoot for under 2:10.  Due to training for my marathons, I don't want to injure myself with pushing too hard with going for a half marathon PR that's too tough.  Any PR will be acceptable for this!  Ultimate goal PR for a half is to get under 2 hours!  Maybe I'll shoot for that next year (although it's really hard not to try for it this year!).

- YES!!  I didn't have high hopes for ANY PR's this year after the way my first half of the year went.  And I had decided if I was to PR nothing, I would want to at least PR the full marathon, which is where I ended up setting my sights.  And sure enough, when you stop thinking of PR'ing...  I PR'd my half marathon at the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland, Ohio on 9/9/12 by about 4 minutes!

8. Get a PR for a 5k.  My quickest 5k time was 27:55 (Nov 2010).

- (????)  The year is almost over and I had given up on a 5k PR since I couldn't do any speed training until recently.  This doesn't mean I don't try my hardest but I typically don't run 5k's so hopes weren't high...and the summer was too hot for me to PR my 5k anyway!  But...I have one 5k left (Sunday), so we shall see about this one.  Yes, it would make more sense to do this blog post after but like I said...I'm not patient.

9. Get a PR for a marathon.  I'm planning on doing the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in April and also the Chicago Marathon again in October.  I'd love to PR for both but especially for the Chicago Marathon since that was the first one I did last year!  My goal is to get as close to 4:30 as possible.  Ultimate goal is to break the 4:30 mark.

- YES!!  I PR'd the Chicago Marathon by about 9 minutes!  As much as I didn't get closer to 4:30 (official time was 4:44:54) and I was slightly disappointed about that...I'm just so happy that I did manage to have a good marathon with a PR.  With some changes, next fall's marathon will be mine!  (Not Chicago btw).

6. Another goal which shall remain nameless....this is for me only...I know, it's like a cliff hanger!

- Um...probably not a good idea to leave a goal nameless...I can't remember what this one is!!  Let's just say I accomplished it then!  Haha!

I also listed that I wanted to do a triathlon.  I did accomplish this goal but not the way I wanted.  I did an indoor triathlon in February and was signed up to do a sprint triathlon in August ...when I dislocated my shoulder 3 weeks prior and therefore, couldn't compete.  But the indoor triathlon counts.  And I placed 2nd in my age group (first ever age group award).  I'll list this as a success.

I saw a bunch of February goals too that I listed.  Ugh.  I wrote about my iron in that post and how I'm constantly tired and my arm gets numb.  WHAT WAS MY PROBLEM!  Why did I not pay attention to this more and waited all the way until May before finding out that my iron was so low I almost needed iron injections!  Note to self:  listen to your gut.

Interesting.  Some goals I didn't accomplish but they are things that can always be worked on.  I strive for progress...not perfection.  And what turned out to be a crappy race season in the beginning of the year (due to injuries, the excessive heat, etc)... turned into a pretty great race season by the end!

4-mile run (11/22/12...Poultry Predictor Turkey Trot)
10-mile run (11/10/12...Chicago's Perfect 10)
Full Marathon (10/9/12...Chicago Marathon)
Half Marathon (9/9/12...River Run Half Marathon)

...Hm...Looks like there is room for another PR.  What do you think?  PR in September. PR in October.  2 PR's in November.  Missing December...

Again, there is always room for improvement, and as I said in my last post...I'm working on it.  Life would be pretty uneventful if you had nothing to work towards!

(I also desperately need to update my upcoming races list!!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Working on Improvement

"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got."
- W. L. Bateman 

It's a new week and even though my issues from my last post are still not resolved, and probably never fully will be for any of them, no point in dwelling in the past.  I will just say as far as my car window goes, from my experience, I would not ever recommend Gerber Collision and Glass.

Moving on to the post I wanted to write last week but couldn't due to my personal issues.  Did you read the quote above?  How true is that quote?  Whether it is about losing weight... "I can't lose weight.  Let's eat half the container of ice cream."...or anything else in life, in order to see changes, you have to make changes.  

I'm trying to make changes to be a better runner (and better in general, depending on the change).  I want to be a faster and better runner.  I may not be as fast as some of my friends (that run 7 min miles!)...but what do I have to do to be better than where I am now?  I want to be a better version of me.  There are a couple of things I'm implementing right now, which I have no doubt will help me in the future.

First, I'm trying to re-lose some of the weight I gained in the last 2 years.  Losing weight will help me in running but also be better for me in my every day life.  For those that don't know, I originally lost 90 lbs from 2007-2010 but have since put back on some of it.  I'm still down about 65 lbs from the original 90 but I'm not happy about the weight I've gained back.

I'm taking it 10 pounds at a time.  So right now, I want to lose 10 pounds.  I've lost about 7 pounds so far.  I'll move to another 10 pound goal after that.  A few of my run friends made a "secret" group page on facebook with some of their friends and we are all motivating each other and encouraging each other daily.  It's good motivation because even if I have an "off" day, I'm inspired by how well they are doing and it encourages me to get back on track.  

Of course, sometimes when you are me and are out of don't go shopping for a few weeks and your fridge looks like this...

I had no food in my fridge!  It helped me be able to clean it out though and wash all the shelves!

After shopping...the life of a single person...still kind of empty.
In my defense, I have a really large fridge!

Another thing I'm working on to help improve my running is speed work.  Mag Mile Runner's facebook page listed a great link to a runner's world article which explains the difference between tempo runs, intervals, and fartleks.  Therefore, I won't go into detail on the explanation on if you would like to know, check out the article.

I've flirted with one or two tries at speed work in the past but that's all it was.  For one reason or another, I couldn't maintain doing it every week.  Usually it was because I was newly coming off an injury and didn't want to risk re-injuring myself.  Another reason is because I just didn't really understand it or know how to accomplish it.  

One of the reasons I didn't understand it is that I don't know what paces to run for my speed pace.  Since I was recovering from my injuries from earlier in the year, my pace has been changing all year.  Now that I've been successfully injury free since the summer (knock on wood), I can tell more what pace I run at for a normal pace.
Now that I know my normal pace, I've been reading articles and asking friends about my speed pace.  In the article from Runner's World or other articles, it might say to improve for "this distance", run your fast pace 10 seconds slower than your 10k pace, or if you don't know your 10k pace, run "comfortably hard".  Here are my problems with that sentence.  I don't know my 10k pace.  I haven't run a 10k in a couple years.  I ran an 8k race this year but it was the day after running my 16 mile training run, so that's not accurate either.  I have a few 5k's under my belt this year and 10 mile runs and half marathons.  But as I said before, my pace was changing all year.

So I moved on to the part about running "comfortably hard."  I hate that phrase!  lol.  For me, hard and comfortable do not belong in the same sentence. If I'm running hard, it's not comfortable.  But since I'm trying to move forward, I had to suck it up.  Kelly advised me to try my first round of 400 meter intervals without my garmin in order to base my paces on how I'm feeling while running them.  Doing that helped give me some sort of start for my paces, my speed pace vs. my recovery pace.

Since then I have done a speed work run every week.  I'm consistently trying to do them on Monday's, depending on my weekend runs.  This seems to be working out well for me.  I've done 2 rounds of 400's, one attempt at a tempo run, and last night I tried some fartleks because I was going to be running with someone who never does speed work, and I felt this was the easiest way for us to stay together during the run.  I think he quite enjoyed himself actually, even though he says he doesn't like running fast.

I'm also trying to incorporate a day of hills as well.  That proves a little more challenging as I run in the evening during the week and can't hit up the hilly trails.  I've done 2 weekend hills recently, the 9.4 mile run at Waterfall Glen on Black Friday and one last Saturday with the running store in the area, Running For Kicks, at Swallow Cliff for 6 miles.  I will try to do hills once a week, even if that means driving to Palos Hills and running on the streets there on a week night. Although I'll be honest, doesn't look like hills are in my future this week but that's ok.  Maggie and Kelly were talking about doing weekend runs at Schmuhl School (aka major hills) after the holidays at a later start time than some of our other run groups go running.  They all run at the butt crack of dawn (technical term) and the three of us don't have kids and therefore can sleep a little later.  

Swallow Cliff Fun Run 12/1/12
I also have a 5k this Sunday in Kankakee.  It's kind of a far drive for a 5k but there was a Schwaggle deal some time ago and many of my FNRC group decided to do it and then go out for breakfast afterwards.  In fact, some of my group confessed they only signed up for the run as an excuse to go out to breakfast with the group!  Haha!  That's the way the F'N Runners roll!  I, of course, jumped on board.  Should be entertaining as I know a few of us (including myself) are going to look crazy in some of our Christmas run clothes.  I have bits and pieces and have to try it all on and see how crazy I'm going to look!  I'm a little scared of that!  Haha!  Kelly asked if I wanted her to try to pace me for a PR that day.  I was a little hesitant because that means I'll really have to push myself and I'll probably be miserable!  But I couldn't turn down the offer!  I'm not good at being uncomfortable while running...and running "fast" for a long period of time is really hard for me to get myself to do.  But that's what I'm trying to get better at with the speed work.  Not sure if I'm ready to get that PR of mine but I will sure as heck try!  And if not, there are always other 5k's! would be a nice way to round out my year!  :-)

Friday, November 30, 2012

What a week!

First...did you see my guest post on Running Kellometers blog from the other day?  If not, go check it out!  I'm kinda famous!  ;-)  Thanks for letting me be a part of it Kelly!

Ok, I've been sitting on this post for the past 2 days but I just can't get my head together today to finish it.   So this is all you're getting.  Sooo sorry!  I'll be back to my normal self next week.  It's been kind of a rough week personally for a few reasons.  One I can't talk about.  The other was coming home from work to find this...

Yeah, that's my car. With the side window smashed.  I just stood there for like 5 mins staring at it while another woman from the train kept repeating "Oh no, that's just awful!"  Thanks lady, I wasn't aware.

I called the police department and a cop came to file a report.  Nothing was missing so it was just probably some stupid teenagers.  There was glass across the way where another car must have been so I'm thinking I may not have been the only one this happened to that night.

I tried to keep things in perspective because it definitely isn't the worse thing that could happen but it was hard because I was so angry that people are such idiots, I just could not stop shaking (my hands, legs) from anger for the rest of the night.  And it was a rest day.  Things like this always happen on rest days, I should not have them anymore.  Then I called my mom and just couldn't take the pent up frustrations any longer and just started crying on the phone. I have a tenancy to do that to my poor mom...

So on top of my other "problem" which cannot be mentioned and which I am trying to completely forget about (because the best way to deal with something is to completely ignore the problem...right?), you just feel like calling it quits.  Until...the next day is your Thursday night group run that you are partly responsible for organizing and it turns out like THIS!!!

Thanks for lightening up the photo Maggie!  It was really dark before your tremendous computer skills.

Kelly and I are in charge of the Thursday run groups but Kelly has been studying for a huge exam (which is tomorrow)....therefore, I was the group leader this week.  And it was our biggest week since we started our Thursday's in February 2012!  This wasn't even all the people either (missing a couple in the photo).  I think we had about 19 people and one dog!  I'm so happy with the way this group has grown!  I had so much fun chatting with my current run friends and some new friends that just joined the group that day!  Our friend Becky made some delicious cookies for after and then a few of us met up for a drink and some food.  I indulged a tad with 2 cookies, spiked apple cider, and some fried pickles.  Yes, this was my dinner and I'm not afraid to admit it.  I mean, the cookies alone took like 5 minutes to eat, they were so huge!  I resisted taking some home, which I'm sure was a smart idea!

I was in such a good mood after this run and our post run gathering.  There are times when your runs suck and there are times when you just need them to survive life.  I wish I could bottle that feeling!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend Round Up

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Mine is pretty traditional.  Every year we switch between my Aunt's house and my parent's house.  This year was my parent's year and I love that for a few reasons.  It's closer to me (about a 15 minute drive) vs. my Aunt's house which is a good hour away.  I also love my dad's cooking.  He cooks relatively healthy, we always have and there is no use of butter or anything like that.  But do not be fooled!  The food is incredibly delicious!  In fact, there was hardly any left.  We had turkey which he cooks on the grill, garlic/dill mashed potatoes (no cream or butter), plain green beans, the most delicious homemade stuffing.  I took a little mashed potatoes and turkey home with me.  My Aunt does make pie and it's completely full fat!  She makes pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  I'm not a fan of pecan pie but LOVE pumpkin pie.  I do know how to make a good low fat pumpkin pie but I don't want to step on anyone's toes so I just leave it and suffer the fattening consequences.  I will say that I have a pretty hilarious family (it's my dad's side that comes) so it's always a pretty fun time.

Thursday morning, how could I forget, was the Pilcher Park Poultry Predictor in Joliet.  As far as turkey trots are concerned, I never used to do them before a few years ago.  I never would run after August, after the Rock N' Roll half marathon.  Well, times have changed and I've done a few different turkey trots around Thanksgiving.  I love to run ON Thanksgiving so I feel better about all the food I'm going to eat.  This year I opted to do the Poultry Predictor.  The run was inexpensive and the point was to predict your finish time.  The people that came the closest would win a pie or turkey (they probably gave out 40+).  So it doesn't matter if you are the fastest or slowest, you only win if you come closest to the predicted time.  Sweet!  I might finally win something!  You couldn't use your garmins or any watches.  There were no clocks on the course or at the start/finish.

I met up with a bunch of F'N Runners.  Our F'N Runners were actually scattered all around and several different turkey trots but since there are so many of us...we still managed to round up a nice size group at the Poultry Predictor.  And we mostly all wore our shirts too so it's always fun to see us out on the course.

F'N Runners at the Poultry Predictor

The temps were pretty decent that day.  It was going to be a high in the 60's and was probably about upper 40's for the run (I can't remember now).  I predicted a finish time for me at 38:25.  That was about a 9:36 pace.  This run was a 4 mile run and I felt that that pace was slightly challenging but not impossible. The run was through a nature preserve and a rather beautiful area to run in.  It was a little difficult trying to figure out what pace I was running and there were no indicators of the distance we traveled throughout the run either.  I kept thinking that I didn't want to run too fast or too slow because...A. I needed to finish the run and.. B. I wanted to come close to my predicted time.

I actually really enjoyed this run.  I liked the "rustic, old-school" feel it had.  I liked the fact that I could win a prize even though I wasn't the fastest.  Turns out, I was way ahead of my predicted time.  I came in at 37:02 (predicted was 38:25) for an average pace of 9:15.  I was very happy with that time.  It's actually a 4 mile PR for me.  I've only done 1 other 4 mile run and it was last years turkey trot in Palos.  I was having knee trouble and ended up at about 44 minutes.  In fact, a couple days after last year's turkey trot, I tried running and ended up walking 2 miles home in tears because of my knee pain and took 3 weeks off until I found out it was runner's knee. lol.

Anyway, I did not win a pie but my friend Becky did!  She was only 2 seconds off of her predicted time!

Friday, I headed out to Waterfall Glen in Darien to run the 9+ mile loop with friends.  There were Yankee Runners, Frankfort/New Lenox Runners, Bloggers, etc.  It was nice to meet a few different people.

Black Friday Waterfall Glen Group
I ended up running with my friend Julie and Jill.  As soon as I started and I hit the first hill, I wanted to turn around and go home.  But I trudged along with my friends, we chatted, they gave me advice on some issues I'm having personally and we tried to make sure we were having fun!  I love Waterfall Glen but's rough!  And we went the easy direction of the loop.  The opposite way is harder. It's a hilly run almost from start to finish and with the loop being 9+ miles, it's a pretty good distance to do for hills.  The last (and only) time I was there, I did my 20 mile training run for the Illinois Marathon here.  We went the easy way loop first and the hard way loop second, and I almost cried at mile 15 when yet another giant hill came up! lol.  I was really glad to only be doing one loop this time.  And during this run, my friend asked me, "You did your 20 miles here???"  Yes.  That is all.

Elevation Chart from my Garmin at Waterfall Glen

The 9+ mile loop at Waterfall Glen.  I like loops... lol
The run ended and I was happy again.  I was going to Columbus, Ohio that weekend to see my nephew.  Can I tell you how NOT fun it is to run a hilly 9.3 mile loop and then sit in a car for 5.5 hours??  I got out for gas and could barely walk. In fact, at my brother's house, they asked my I was walking like I had an ear of corn up my butt....that's true, they did ask me that! lol

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!! (and First Marathons)

I wanted to first say thanks to all of you that commented and gave me suggestions on my Speedwork post.  I think besides that fact that I'm just not a "fast" runner, I also don't want to injure myself and I get nervous running faster.  Any little ache or pain afterwards and I'm wondering if it's a beginning of a stress fracture and maybe I should stop speedwork. lol.  I did attempt another round of the 400 meter repeats the other day and they went well, although very inconsistent.  Practice.

Next, I want to apologize for not keeping up on all of your blogs as of late.  When there was a few new employees at my work (including a new boss for me), on top of some major deadline strings, as well as no computer at home...well...blogs were the first thing to go.  I love reading them though so will try to incorporate them back into my life a little bit.

Third, my friend Reen completed her first marathon and I wanted to direct you all over to her blog to show some support!  I've "known" Reen a long time on these blogs because we are both Weight Watcher alums...which is how our two blogs met.  Reen has done both an amazing job on her weight loss journey, keeping it off, starting to run, and now completing a full marathon!  So proud of her!  Please head over to her blog and read her race recap of her first marathon!

Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving Day and weekend.  I will be spending Thanksgiving with my parents.  My Aunt, Uncle and cousins will be over.  My cousin Angel and Brent just adopted a 3 year old boy (after a long hard road of disappointments and struggles), so I'm happy to spend some time with the new family!!  And there will be pumpkin pie...which I LOVE!!!  I will be turkey trotting Thanksgiving morning.  I also have a 9 mile run at Waterfall Glen planned with my run friends on Friday.  After this, I will head over to Columbus, Ohio to see my nephew and spend some time out there.  It appears to be a busy (but nice and relaxing) weekend for me.  Enjoy your weekend. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Speed Work

It's Friday!  I'm pretty excited about that, although I really don't have any plans other than a 9.4 mile run tomorrow morning with my Yankee Runner marathon training group.  I haven't seen some of these people since the marathon so I'm pretty excited to go even though they are making me get up at the butt-crack of dawn.  Other than that run, I may go see the new Twilight movie. I'm not a HUGE Twilight fan but I did read all the books because my cousin had them and since everyone was talking about it, I wanted to see what the big deal was about.  The books are of course better than the movies but since my friends usually ask me to go see the movie, I do since it's nice to spend some time with them.

The other day I was talking to Kelly about speed work.  I'm not a fast runner.  I've never been.  I also say my "fast" pace and my "regular" pace aren't too far apart.  In the beginning of this year, I was going to try to attempt speed work and then I started getting some of my minor injuries.  Since my injuries were almost back to back to back, I laid off the speed work.  When I recovered from the injuries, I laid off the speed work for a while to make sure I stayed injury free.  When I felt enough time had passed, I threw one track workout in and tried a few fast intervals another time.  But even with reading other people's reports on speed work, I have a hard time incorporating it into my run life.  Then it got close to my 3rd marathon (Chicago in October) and I laid off the speed work again.

I think enough time has passed after the marathon and I'm not currently training for a particular race that maybe I can start incorporating some speed work into my training.  But where to start?  I'd basically like to PR my 5k time.   My current PR is from 2 years ago and I think that is crazy!  I didn't train for that run.  I was sick as a dog.  I figured the course must have been short but it's in my neighborhood and I've run it many times, and's not short.

Kelly told me to start with running 400m intervals.  400m intervals are short enough that you can handle the faster pace since you know you will stop soon.  She told me that you should be pushing hard but not as hard as 5k pace (I think I have that right... lol).  She also said that the first 400 shouldn't be my fastest and the last interval shouldn't be my slowest.  She said it's supposed to be hard. If it's easy, you aren't pushing hard enough.

I told her I was unsure what my "fast" pace should be (and that I know all about the McMillan pace calculator thing).  She said to not look at my garmin for the first time and try to run the 400s as consistent as possible by running by feel.  Then afterwards, look at my splits and see how consistent (or not) I was. 

I had planned to run on the busy street (because it's dark) which from my house out and back is 4 miles.  But as I started running, I realized this might not be the best path for speed work because I may get stopped by lights or cars so after my first speed interval, I started running back into the neighborhood so I wouldn't have that problem. I also don't like to attempt speed work in the dark because it's very easy to step wrong or trip since visibility is low.  I tried to keep my splits as consistent as I could but I was running by feel and so I wasn't sure how well I was doing at that.  I had set my garmin up for interval training and was using the beeping to tell me when to switch from one to another.

This is what my 400 splits looking like by running by feel:

Speed: 2:07, 2:07, 2:06, 2:08, 2:11
Recovery: 2:30, 2:32, 2:36, 2:31, 2:32

I was shocked when I looked at that.  I did fall off slightly at the end but since I was running "garmin-less", not bad at all!  Even my recovery intervals were very consistent!  I was pretty thrilled with that because I actually pride myself with knowing how to run by feel and how to listen to my body while running so I can adjust accordingly.  By the way, can I tell you those 2:00 minute speed intervals felt like 4:00 minutes and I kept thinking I was missing the beeping on my garmin to tell me when to switch!  lol.

Now, I kept saying that it was only 400's, and that's true.  It's a short distance and not at all what running a 5k at that pace is like (which I know).  But I have to stop saying "only" 400's.  The thing is, I have to start somewhere.  I can't just jump into running 8:30 pace for 1 mile followed by a small recovery.  I mean I could run an 8:30 pace for one mile, but that would be it for me!  I'd probably be running 10:30's after that!

So I started with 400's. I guess I should do 400's again next week.  When should I switch to 800's?  I also think the paces were right on with what I want to run right now.   8:30 pace for my "fast" pace and 10's for recovery.  I'll check the "chart" to see what the suggestion is also.

So thanks Kelly for helping me attempt some speed work!  Your help was appreciated!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Perfect 10 & Turkey Trot

Last weekend I had two races.  I never race (or even run) two days out of the weekend.  However, I had signed up for the Navy Pier Perfect 10 months ago and this happened to fall the same weekend and my Tinley Park Turkey Trot 5k.  At the last minute, I decided to sign up for the TT and compete in both, figuring I'd try my best on the Perfect 10 (10 miles) and run easy the next day at the Turkey Trot.

Perfect 10
The Perfect 10 had a 10k and a 10 mile run.  The 10 mile run was supposed to start at 7:30 and the 10k run was supposed to start at 7:45.  I carpooled with a few F'N Runners from my house to the race.  It took us no time at all to get there and we arrived at 6:30, an hour before the run.  Since most races are not at Navy Pier, we just all wanted to make sure we got there and parked in enough time. 

The weather that weekend was supposed to be warmer than it had been.  In fact, it was supposed to be in the mid-60's Saturday (which apparently was drastically different than the weekend before when I was on vacation but a bunch of my friends did the hot chocolate run).  I decided to wear shorts and a t-shirt (with arm sleeves).  I almost wore a tank top but deciding we would be by the lake and it might be windy, I stuck with the short sleeve shirt.  We were able to wait inside Navy Pier, which was a nice change but decided to take a walk outside to see if we even wanted to wear the arm sleeves we all had.   We stepped outside and it was windy and cool so we decided to keep them on instead of gear checking them to be safe.  We had someone snap our photo.

F'N Runner Carpool Group
(L-R: Kim, Melissa, Me, Maggie)
About 15 minutes before the 10 mile run was supposed to start, there was an announcement that both runs would be delayed 30 minutes (10 mile starting at 8:00 and 10k starting at 8:15).  At first we thought we heard it was parking related.  After the run, they said on their facebook page it was because a vendor didn't show.  Whatever it was, we were all a little irritated.  If it was parking related, people should have been more prepared and gotten there early.  I have little patience for people that don't think. 

While waiting, I realized I was hungry.  I had eaten oatmeal before I left around 5:15, and a banana when I got to Navy Pier (around 6:30).  I figured for a 10 mile run, I really wouldn't need much else.  But now the race wasn't supposed to start until 8:00, which didn't make my stomach happy.  It was growling a little and that was making me nervous.  I tried to calm myself down, it's only a 10 mile run. I live even if I'm a little hungry.  I had brought only 1 GU with me for during the run, around mile 5.

We set out to the start line and I lined up in the 9:00 minute pace group because it was right there.  My plan was to PR, which I figured should be relatively easy barring no major issues.  I only ran one 10 mile run, which was Soldier Field in May this year and due to iron issues, my time wasn't great for me and I came in at 1:44+ (10:29 pace).  I knew I could probably do a 10:00 pace for an average.  To push myself, I wanted to try for a 9:45 pace which would bring me in at about 1:37+.  I did a half this year and averaged 9:53 so I thought this might be doable but still challenging and not easy.

The run started and about 30 seconds in, my garmin completely looses satellite (it wouldn't register even a wrong number).  I don't know why as I usually get satellite at Navy Pier (I've run down Navy Pier when running after work sometimes).  Luckily I'm not hugely dependent on my watch like some people and am pretty good with rolling with unexpected things during a race.  However, my garmin didn't resume any satellite until almost mile 2 and it was wrong until at least mile 2.  This was only a problem because I didn't really know how fast I was running. 

After the first mile marker, I manually lapped my garmin and realized it was a 9:25 pace, slightly too fast for me to maintain for a long run.  I was immediately hot and rolled down my arm warmers half way through the first mile.  When I got to the second mile marker, I was still running sub 9:30's (as I manually calculated by the clock I passed).  During the 3rd mile, I tried to slow down.  It was hard to know exactly because my watch was still crazy so I had to just try to guess that I was running slower.  I think I was and maybe had a 9:40 pace for the 3rd mile (?). 

After than it got rough.  I was winded and having a slightly hard time breathing.  I have noticed some breathing issues lately in my runs but figured it was nothing.  I am also trying to not jump the gun and assume it's iron related like before, although it has been 3 months since my last test and they did lower my iron supplements the last time, so I'm thinking about having it retested just to be sure before it gets really bad.

With all that said, I started struggling a little before mile 4.  I saw a fellow Yankee Runner that I've trained for my marathons with around mile 4 and we chatted for a few minutes.  She asked how I was doing and I just shrugged my shoulders.  I didn't want to say that I was not having a particularly good run at that moment because I was hoping it would change and get better.  I just told her I was hungry and feeling low on energy but trying to hold off on taking gu until mile 5.  All of the water stations just said water but I realized that a few had powerade.  I didn't take any from the one station I noticed it from thinking I could just get it later (that was a stupid thought by the way).  I let my Yankee Runner friend go ahead (she was running with a friend and seemed to be doing good). 

I was starting to having tons of negative thoughts around mile 4.5.  I wished it was only a 5 mile run.  I wished I had just signed up for the 10k.  I thought how much I hated out and back courses.  I felt really hot.  I just kept trying to push out those thoughts.  It's only a 10 mile run.  I can do it.  Regardless, I should be able to PR.  Just keep running.  Your legs feel good.'s really draining to constantly be fighting with yourself in your mind while running!  Mile 5 came, I ran around the cone, and took a gu.  It was a new flavor that I had been afraid to try for a while (Cherry Lime) but it was really delicious actually!  Ok...second half was off to a good start!

I had wanted to walk now since mile 4 but had been trying to fight it and not walk for the entire race.  About mile 7 though, I finally caved and told myself that I could walk but ONLY for 30 seconds and I'd have to start running again.  So as the 30 seconds were up, I almost tried to convince myself that a longer walk would be ok, but practically screamed at myself to start running!  Hey, whatever you have to do to get through a run.  While running, I started telling myself, "You are doing great! Just keep running!"  lol.  Ugh...

This run was starting to not be any fun.  I couldn't wait until it was over.  Some around mile 7, we ran into the 10k walkers.  It pretty much wasn't much of a problem, thankfully (until the end).  Mile 8 came and I said only two miles left!  I tried to pick it up but really don't think I did much.  My watch was working but I had screwed it up somehow and it was pretty useless at this point!  Mile 9 came and I thought I could do anything for 1 mile!  And i just repeated that over and over..."You can do anything for 1 mile, you can do anything for 1 mile..."  Then I started thinking that it sounded strange and thought, "What can I do for 1 mile?  Can I rollerblade for 1 mile?  Probably although it would not be pretty.  Can I dance for 1 mile?  That sounds don't dance for a distance!"  Seriously, I was thinking all of this during the last mile!  My mind must have been going crazy!

And then there was Navy Pier!  I couldn't have been happier!  But to get there, walkers and tourists were blocking the path and I had to run up on the grass nearly missing a big boulder.  Then running into Navy Pier...there wasn't an area blocked off for the runners. So we were dodging tourists and walkers and runners that finished.  It was pretty awkward.  People were looking at us like, "What is going on here?"     But even after all that, I didn't mind the run in itself.  Yes, there were issues with the race that I would liked to have been different but overall it was ok.  I was just mentally struggling with myself.

Right after I finished, my friend Melissa saw me and came up to me.  I told her I needed some powerade and food now.  I was so out of energy and hungry at this point.  I met up with my other friends and we snapped a couple of photos.

The group after the run
Blogger meetup (we missed some people in all the chaos)
The medal
I was pretty disappointed in myself afterwards.  Yes, I knew I PR'd.  At the time, I didn't even care. I was disappointed that I knew I was off of the 9:45 pace (1:37+ time).  Although I thought I came in somewhere around 1:39-1:40.  I should have been happy with that.  It wasn't THAT far off my goal.  But I was disappointed in how miserable I was throughout the run.  I was disappointed in the fact that I allowed myself to walk (for that 30 seconds).  I was being incredibly hard on myself.  I want to be a "fastie" like some of my friends.  They run and it looks effortless.  It seems they have great runs all the time.  Now, I do know that that isn't true.  But I wasn't being the most logical person at that point.

My official time was 1:38:58 (9:54 pace).  I was shooting for a 1:37+ so I was only about 1.5 minutes off of my goal time.  Seriously not a bad time at all for me and I should have been happy with it.  I'm "ok" with it now and happy that I PR'd.  I shaved about 6 minutes off of the 10 mile time I had from earlier in the year, which means progress.  Can't be mad at that.

Tinley Park Turkey Trot 5k

The Tinley Park Turkey Trot 5k is a local 5k right in my neighborhood. The course runs right past my house and in fact, it's the 5k that I have my current PR on.  They have since changed the course and I wish they would have left it alone!  I was  able to walk from my house to the start line, which took me about 8 minutes.  I decided on shorts and a tank top, with arm sleeves for this race.  It was going to be a high near 70 Sunday and I didn't want to be hot like the day before. On the walk there, I was a little cold because it was so windy!  I just can't win! lol.

The day before, during the 10 mile run, around mile 7 I told myself there was NO WAY I was racing the 5k.  And I hadn't planned on it anyway.  I got there, looked around, had someone that I probably should know, come up and congratulate me on my 10 mile PR she saw on facebook.  She is apparently my friend on facebook but I couldn't remember who she was!  I think she may be a Yankee Runner that I train with for the marathon, but all bundled up with a hat, I couldn't figure it out.

While waiting to start, I saw a kid with this shirt on...

The crowd before the start
This is a small local race and there are kids, runners, spouses, older people, walkers, jogging strollers out there.  I placed myself slightly in the middle of the pack so as to not get trampled by the little kids.  The gun went off and off we went.  With all these people out there that don't typically do runs, and all these kids, there really isn't any race edicate (spelling??). It was really crowded with everyone bunched up for the first half mile and I was around a 9:30 pace.  I was still just planning on running easy but after we broke up a little, I noticed my pace had gone to around a 9:20 pace.  So I just decided to try to do my best.  Even though I figured I would not PR (since I've done no training to PR), I thought I would see how close I could get.  My 5k PR is 27:55.  All of my 5k's this year have been over 29 minutes.  So I thought I would be thrilled with anything in the 28's.

Man...I'm not a fast runner!  Trying to hold a slightly faster pace for me is so challenging!  How do you all do it?  According to my garmin, I was holding a pretty steady pace for the 2nd and 3rd miles.  After I crossed the finish line, I went to get food and then get a printout of my time.  My time was 28:47 (9:16 pace).  I was happy with that because it was a PR for the year...although not an overall PR.  Considering I ran 10 miles the day before, I can't complain.  My garmin said 9:20, 9:01, 9:02 for the first 3 miles.  Since it was just slightly ahead (probably due to weaving and stuff), it' s not entirely accurate but it gives me an idea of how my splits went.  I'm trying to figure out what I need to do in order to get a PR.  My PR is 27:55 (8:59 pace).  This was in 2010 and I ran this run very sick (so sick I almost didn't go).  So I have no idea how I did that back then.  I didn't have a garmin so I don't know my splits either.  I'm definitely going to figure out how to work towards PR'ing this for 2013.

So overall, 2 races in one weekend.  They went well even though I can be crazy sometimes.  My next race is the Poultry Predictor in Joliet on Thanksgiving.  It's a 4 mile run.  I'll talk more about this and my other upcoming races in the next post.

Anyone have any tips on getting faster for a 5k?