Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ridge Run 10k Race Recap

This past Memorial Day, I participated in the Ridge Run in Beverly.  This race holds a special place in my racing calendar because it was the second run I ever completed in my running "career" and I try to do it every year if possible.  I did the 5k in 2004 and have done either the 5k or 10k every year since then except two (last year being that I did the Soldier Field 10 mile run instead since I've always wanted to run it and they are on the same weekend).

Why do I love this race besides the fact that it's the second race I ever did?  Because I love the community support you get.  This is a local race (a neighborhood next to where I grew up and my parents live).  The whole neighborhood gets really involved in supporting the runners...they get out their hoses and also many families make their own water stations.  Typically on Memorial Day for this race, it's HOT and HUMID!  Typically, it rains the night before and is about mid-80's for the race!

This year it was raining when I woke up.  And as I was driving to the race, it got increasingly worse!  But the temps were only about 50.  I thought, "Oh well, maybe rainy and cooler is better than hot and humid!"

I got to the race, walked a couple blocks to the start, hit up the port-a-potties, and waited under a tent like everyone else.  I went to this race alone but knew some of the Yankee Runners would be around.  I found one before the race and we chatted for a bit.

Runners waiting under a tent

The rain

By the time we went to line up for the race, the rain had virtually stopped!  Just a light drizzle.  I'll take it!  My previous PR was two years ago (I never run 10k's) and was 59:49.  My goal was to beat that time.   While running the first mile, I passed a few other Yankee Runners and chatted them a bit.  But I had a goal in mind so I politely wished them luck and off I went.  My first mile according to my garmin was a bit too fast, around 8:50...but it came up short according to the mile marker and I think I passed the actual first mile at about 9:10.  That's still good. I just wanted to come in under 9:30 pace.  During the second mile, we ran up a hill.  I walked up part of it (Seriously Amanda??).  When did I become such a hill wimp!  And in mile 2!  I started running and mentally beat myself up for that.  I still did good in the second mile pace wise.  I really started getting winded around mile 4 (really??).  I walked at a gatorade stop briefly but knew I had a goal in mind.  I had to keep running!

Beverly is slightly hilly.  And it seemed that we kept running up the hills.  I was wondering when our downhill would be!  I knew it would come in the last mile or so.  I was really hot, wearing a t-shirt and pushed up the sleeves. It was so humid.  But I knew I just needed to keep running.  Looking at my time, I knew I'd only come in maybe 2 minutes ahead of the PR.  Secretly I wanted more.  BUT...a PR is a PR.  And I finished...with about a 2 minute PR.  My new PR time is 57:53, a 9:18 pace.  I'll take it.

I also planned on doing a double this day for Ragnar training.  About 8 hours later, I headed out for a short 3 mile run in the neighborhood. My legs were tired and my butt muscles were sore!  I wanted to die and knew that a good reason for this was the fact that my first run was a race and I won't be racing Ragnar.  But all 3 miles got faster so I was pleased with the final outcome. 

Lastly, right before my second run of the day, I did a little gardening. I DO NOT have a green thumb so I did the bare minimum!

Planter Boxes

Veggie Garden

This weekend is my nephew's graduation from high school and Derek and I are making the trek to Columbus for the weekend.  My parent's are flying in so they can get back to the restaurant business faster.  Should be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to a little time away!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Are you following me?

Are you following my blog?  Are you a reader only or do you comment?  I love to hear from you so if you read, leave me a comment!

I was reading YOUR blogs but life got me busy for a while.  I'm trying to get back. I follow YOUR blog?  Would you like me to?  Is your blog on my blog roll?  Leave me a comment if you would like to be on my blog roll or if you would like me to read your blog!

In other news, I went to see my old personal trainer Mike yesterday.  I started training with him in April (tax day) of 2011...right after my ex broke up with me and I wanted to get some changes going in my life.  I was also going to be training for my first marathon soon and figured personal training would help me get stronger.  It was the best decision I made back trainer ended up being an avid marathon runner!!  I trained with him from April through November when he left.  Which means, he helped prepare and encourage me for my first marathon!  I think that's why I did as well as I did that first time and felt so great!  I was conditioned pretty well.  I was also Mike's first ever client so he has a soft spot for me!

Mike left the gym I was at in November 2011. I was transferred to someone else for the remaining sessions (though January 2012) and then stopped training.  I figured I could do it on my own.  And really I could.  And at times, I did.  After dislocating my shoulder several times, that has become my excuse for not doing things (strength training) as much as I should.

Mike messaged me on facebook the other day...because we are facebook besties!  (not really)... and asked me how things were going.  He said he's noticed my injuries lately, wanted to know if he could help get me stronger.  Really, I do want his help.  It's the money that is the issue.

He offered to give me my same old rate (which is a good one) that I had at the old gym.  Mike now works for himself.  We scheduled a date and I met up with him (yesterday) for an assessment.

My assessment went pretty well.  He took my height, weight, measurements...ok, these could be better but it's a starting point.  He had me do a step test, then took my heart rate.  My heart rate is always really low (good) due to all the running so that was an easy test...I passed!  Haha!

We took a situp test and a push forward test, those both went well.  I did more situps than I thought and he said my core was stronger than I thought it was.  I did a squat test and he was impressed and I did great on that!  Sweet! I'm passing my tests!  Until the dreaded balance test.  I failed miserably.  Beyond miserably.   I have no balance and should be shot!  He even gave me another try.  Nope.  Failed!  Oh well, no one is perfect!!  Not even me!

He also made mention that my right leg (quad/thigh) is 1.5 inches larger than my left and that is really a big difference.  Weird!  My right calf is 0.5 inches larger.  He is wondering if there is a correlation with my larger right side and all my injuries.  He would have thought my left side would be larger for overcompensating for my right side injuries.  He is going to do some research on this and get back to me.

I decided to train with Mike but only 1 day a week.  I would love to do 2 days but this is all I really can afford for now.  Plus it gets hectic with my running and training schedule.  I told him maybe I would reconsider in the future weeks.

So that's the main news for now.  That and that Ragnar is coming up SO SOON!!  I've only done 1 double run.  I have a 10k on Memorial day and I'm thinking that will be a good day to do a double run.  That's my plan for now!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Necessary Breaks

I haven't blogged since my Indy half race recap because I was on a semi-running break.  I didn't necessarily need a break physically, just more mentally.  Training for the half marathon, which then didn't go quite my way, took a toll on me mentally.  I love running and I want to keep loving running.  Which means that sometimes, you need to step back, focus on other loves, and then return.  Usually upon a running return (a small one, not a long one due to injury), your body feels better and your mind feels better.  You can't wait to get out.  You feel good!  If your lucky, the weather is perfect!

So I took a few days off, mostly an entire week.  But I did run one Thursday run group of course!  And I ended up doing a double run that day since Ragnar is sneaking up on me!  So I did an easy 3 in the morning and and easy 3 in the evening. My first ever double run day.
F'N Runners ... we are a fun group!

But I wasn't just sitting at home doing nothing!  I found a new love!'s not as strong as my love for running but it definitely is fun and great cross training.  Cycling!  (Note: don't say biker around a cyclist!  They will have your head!).

I had a mountain bike that I didn't properly take care of.  It's difficult to ride, the gear changer wasn't working, and my tires were flat.  Derek helped fix up my mountain bike as best he could.  It's so rusted, the gear shifters still don't work but he fixed the breaks and the tires.  But to ride that bike for even a mile is a HUGE effort!  And from past experience riding a friends road bike, I know road bikes are SO MUCH EASIER to ride!  But they can be really expensive. At least the really good ones.  I don't want to spend $500 or a few thousand dollars on a bike.

I decided to buy a cheap one online.  Sure, it won't be the best or the fastest but it will be better than riding my mountain bike!  It came in last Friday and Derek picked it up from my house and put it together so I could use it for a 16 mile bike ride in Joliet the next day!  I ended up riding 20 miles that day and felt really good.  The ride was really crowded (2,000 people signed up and it was free), so most of the time, I was going pretty slow.  But I have taken the bike out several times just in Derek's neighborhood (since the bike is living at his house for now).  I can't wait to take it to the trail and ride a bit faster! 
Picture of my bike...from the website
Hm...not sure how the dear boyfriend feels of our pictures put up on a blog but ...whatever.  I'm a blogger.  Therefore, I blog!  We went for a bike ride the other day and "happened" upon a small waterfall.  Perfect opportunity to get some cheesy photos!  I love them!

Candid shot
My road bike is the first white one.  I won't turn this blog into a cycling blog but you may hear more stories regarding my cycling adventures!

Combining running and cycling...I have signed up for the Tinley Park Duathlon in June.  It's a fun race (from what I hear) and not super serious.  It's a 2 mile run, 11 mile bike, 2 mile run.  Not too bad.

BUT...what else did I do?  I signed up for the Naperville Triathlon in August (again!).  This was the triathlon I signed up for last year but dislocated my shoulder 3 weeks before and therefore couldn't do it (due to the swim).  It was going to be my first "real" triathlon (I had competed in one of those indoor small ones early in 2012).  I was really disappointed when I couldn't do it.  And also, I had no consideration that I could do one this year after dislocating the shoulder twice in February.  But after going to the gym last week and swimming 750 meters, I realized that maybe I could do the triathlon which is a sprint and only has a 400 meter swim!  The triathlon was really expensive since it's fairly late in the registration process but I almost felt like I had to do a come-back for missing it last year!  Redemption tri!! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mini Marathon Indianapolis 500 - Race Recap

Last September while doing the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland, Ohio, my friend Susan mentioned that a group of us should sign up for the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon.  It's one of the biggest half marathons and a portion of the course is around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Susan didn't end up signing up for it after all because since last September, she has been an ultra marathoner and was trying to qualify for Boston...which she did the weekend or two before this race.

I headed down with my friend Becky and checked into our hotel.  From there we went to the expo and picked up our packets and checked out a few of the vendors.  We were waiting to meet up with Jodi and a few of her friends but traffic issues were causing them to run behind.  We had 8:00 dinner reservations but Jodi and her group got to the hotel after 7:00 and were heading to the expo at about 7:45.  Becky and I decided to head over to the restaurant to grab our table and wait for the rest of the group.    Jodi and her friends made it and after all the introductions, ordered dinner.

During dinner, Jodi tells me she would like to run her own race instead of pacing me.  The original plan had been for Jodi to pace me to a sub 2-hour half.  I will be honest, I was a little disappointed just because it was the night before the half.  But I told her it was fine as I understood she is still trying to get her sub 1:50 goal.  After dinner, Becky and I went back to the hotel and got ready for the next morning.  I was talking to her about the checkpoints (where you were able to track the runners during the race) and one of the checkpoints was the "Brickyard".  I had NO IDEA what that was so Becky decided to explain to me what the Yard of Bricks was.  If you don't know, I suggest you google it.  It would be much better than having me try to explain it to you!  :)

The next morning, Becky and I drove down to the race.  We met up with Jodi and her friends in a hotel to use the bathrooms.  I was starting in a different corral then the others and Becky walked me there. I wished her luck and got into my corral.  Since I struggled with heat and dehydration at the Illinois Half Marathon the weekend before, I decided to carry a throw away bottle for this one.  There are aid stations but if I'm trying to run fast, I'd rather not have to stop at the aid station for water (as I haven't mastered...or come close to mastering...the art of drinking and running). The temperature was a tad warm for my liking (about 60 degrees) but it was supposed to be overcast and so I was hoping that would help me out. 

After a moment of silence and some other various stuff, the race started. I was in Corral F but I crossed the start line only about 4 mins into the race.  Not sure what kind of corral start they were using!  The run was a bit crowded in the beginning (after all...there were about 40,000 people registered!) but it wasn't that bad. I didn't want to try to do too much weaving in the beginning as I thought playing the beginning a bit on the conservative side (although still on pace) might be a better plan for me.  I didn't want to waste too much energy weaving around people.

The first two miles were right on pace but the air felt really humid and I was struggling already to run at that pace.  I kept trying to put that out of my mind but after having an even rougher 3rd mile (even though I pulled the pace up by the end of the 3rd mile), I was struggling even more.  I basically gave up on the idea of getting  my sub 2-hour half at that point.  I didn't make the decision lightly but I could tell I was already starting to "hate" this half marathon because I was struggling to keep a certain pace.  I didn't want to hate this half marathon.  It was in a city I've never run in (or been in).  We get to run around the race track.  I wanted to enjoy myself.  I didn't want to be miserable the entire half marathon, not get my goal, not even PR, hate everything about it, feel like crying at mile 10.  I mean...what a miserable way to spend 2 hours.  I shouldn't hate running.  So I decided to "give up" on my goal at this half and just run for fun.

To tell you the truth, at points, I wasn't even having fun while trying to run for fun.  I did walk often as well, definitely more than I needed to but I really just didn't care.  But I mostly had fun.  And I really was glad I wasn't racing when I saw the entrance to the speedway!!  We ran a steep downhill and then right back up a steep uphill!  I actually kind of giggled in a weird, manic "I'm happy I don't have to run fast up this uphill" kind of way.  And even though I'm not a huge race car fan (although did go to the local track often as a child), it was really cool to be running around it.  You could see other people's excitement too.  And of course I did take a few pictures.  We ran around the track from miles 6 through 8.5.

Entering the speedway

Running on the track
Running over the "Yard of Bricks"
I'm glad Becky told me what the year of bricks was so that I wouldn't be wondering why a bunch of people stopped running to kiss them!  Haha!

After leaving the speedway, around mile 9, I was getting a phone call.  I wear bluetooth headphones and listen to music from my phone so the phone was ringing in my ear.  My first thought was this... "Who is calling me?  Must not be a facebook friend because everyone knows I'm running a half marathon this morning!"  I obviously wasn't going to answer it and didn't even pull my phone to look at it.  However a few minutes later, I thought I should text Derek in case he was worried about me because I knew my splits from the checkpoints had slowed drastically.  I wanted to let him know I was ok.  I actually never sent the text to Derek because when I pulled out my phone, I noticed I had a text from Jodi, which I thought was strange.  And equally strange that it was her that called me.  She texted that it wasn't her day and asked where I was.  I told her not to worry about me, that I was just running for fun and at about mile 9.5.  She said she was at mile 10 and she would wait for me.

I thought it was odd that Jodi had finished and made it all the way back to mile 10 to run with me.  I knew I was going slower but didn't think I was going THAT slow!!  I saw Jodi and we started running together.  I asked her if she finished and came back or if she was waiting mile 10.  She had some calf trouble in the speedway and had stopped at a medical station.  Since I wasn't too far away, she decided it would be better to run with me than finish the run by herself.  I was happy with the company but also knew running with her would make me not stop again and I probably had picked my pace up just a bit at that point.

And to tell you the truth, I was really tired.  I kept thinking about stopping and walking.  I knew Jodi would if I wanted to because she kept telling me she didn't care about pace at that point, but I don't like to "wimp out" around other people. Haha.  So whereas I stopped about every mile for a few miles to walk without her, I ran straight through the last 4 miles since I ran with Jodi the last 5k.

Running with Jodi - about mile 12 maybe
Near the end, Jodi kept saying she couldn't see the finish line.  Finally she saw it and so we continued to run (because what else were we going to do).  She said, "There's the finish line."... and after a minute I said, "...and yet I can't seem to run any faster!"  lol.  My legs were heavy and I just wanted to be done.  And as always...all good things must come to an end.  We finished and got are goodies and headed to wait at the post race party for our friends.  Becky finished and PR'd.  I believe Jodi's friend Nikki PR'd as well.  Needless to say, I did not.  My final time was 2:14:56.  Funny thing is...there was right about my PR time from last year.  I wasn't disappointed in my decision to not race this half marathon.  There will be others.  Maybe I'll run one in the fall or next winter and try for that sub 2 hour half.  I want to lose a few pounds (still) and I can try speeding up a few longer runs.

Me, Nikki, Jodi

Becky and I
I took a few days off of running after this half.  I was mentally drained from running, running fast, looking at my garmin obsessively, etc. Two half marathons two weekends in a row definitely took their toll of me mentally.  My marathon training will be starting soon and so I wanted to take a least a week rest.  Well, I knew I would run today, since it's Thursday and my run group with the FNRC.  I also decided since Ragnar is in about 1 month, that I would do a double run today.  So I ran 3 this morning and will run 3 or 4 this evening with my group.  So much for my break.  But I'm not doing a long run this week.  I'll be joining a 16-mile cycling event instead.  Should be a good time!  My running will resume a bit next week since I do have to keep it up for Ragnar.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April In Review

Bye! Bye! April!!  How'd it go for me?


Total Run Miles: 72.31
Total Bike Miles: 31.95 miles + 3 spin classes (we don't have distance on our spin bikes - sad face!)
Total Swim Distance: 0 meters

My run miles were more in line with what I would typically do on a "non-marathon" training month.  I'm happy with anything over 70 miles.

My bike miles were just 2 long outdoor bike rides on 2 Sundays!  I really enjoyed them and can't wait to do more!

My swim distance is still 0 meters due to my shoulder dislocations.  I've been afraid to get back in the pool.  But while at my half marathon last weekend, I went in the pool at the hotel and tried a few laps and my shoulder felt A-Ok!!  Now I need a new bathing suit (since I lost/left mine at the gym in January) and I'm going to try a few laps here and there. I may just start out with 10-15 minutes.  I don't want to do too much too fast.  But I'm really excited to start swimming again!

I also do other things every once in a while.  I've tried a step class at the gym (I used to do these all the time at my old gym).  It was really hard on my knees and the class was just ok so I probably won't go back.  Yesterday, I went to a pilates class and a few weeks ago, I did my home pilates video.

My goals for May?  Well...I am going to try this weekend for that sub-2 hour half marathon once again.  I vowed while running last weekend at the half, that I was never (EVER) going to try again!  But I was grumpy, hot, dehydrated, and tired.  I'm over it.  Try, try again!

My other goal?  I need to work my core more.  I blame not doing things because of my shoulder but there are many things I can do that I don't need my shoulders for!  And I can do planks and pushups, I just can't do many of it right now.  But it's actually part of my rehab exercises.  I just haven't been doing them.  But a stronger core will make for a better runner.

One problem I'm having...I'm a heal striker most times when I'm running.  I've tried changing it but I am not really aware if I'm doing it when I'm running (or when I get tired).  I also don't want to just slam my foot down if I'm trying to hit mid foot.  Any tips or advice for running form?  I'd like to be more efficient in my running.