Monday, December 23, 2013

Marathon Fever?

When I did the Fox Valley Marathon this September and had a rough time, I said I wasn't doing the Chicago Marathon or the Lakefront 50K that I signed up for. 

I toughed out the Chicago Marathon in October but said I didn't really want to do the Lakefront 50k I signed up for.

I did the Lakefront 50k in November and had the best time of all three...but swore I would never do another marathon ever in my life. 

I swore up and down that starting in 2014, the most I will ever run again is a half marathon. I was so confident of that fact that I told my boyfriend that he could slap me in the face if I signed up for anything more than a half marathon after 2013!  He actually recorded it for proof.  Maybe he knew something that I didn't?

Up until December 22, 2013, I was (at first) 100% confident in that statement, then slightly less confident but pretty sure (maybe) that I wouldn't do a full AT LEAST in 2014.

Then came December 23, 2013.  After weeks of hearing everyone talking about marathon training starting up right about NOW, I had an epiphany that I NEEDED to do a fall 2014 marathon.  Where did this come from?  What changed from last week to this week? 

Ok, saying I wasn't going to do a full EVER AGAIN was probably jumping the gun a bit.  But saying I wasn't doing to do one in 2014 was definitely reasonable.  My goals for 2014 included getting stronger, more physically fit, and losing weight.  I need to do these things to be a better runner.  And it's hard doing the marathons when I'm not in shape to do them.  And I know from experience that I CANNOT lose weight while training for a marathon. 

I was making my spreadsheet of the races for 2014 that I've already signed up for and ones I'm considering.  While looking at this list, I felt something was missing.  I have a couple triathlons planned, a duathlon, some half marathons.  But ONE THING was missing. The one thing that defines me from others.  Or the one thing that brings me closer to others!  A marathon. I was missing a marathon in my 2014 race schedule and I didn't like the feeling.  Am I being dramatic?  Oh yes, definitely!  But marathons are dramatic!  And so are marathoners!  And I didn't feel "complete" without doing a marathon in 2014.

And there came my obsessive search for fall marathons in 2014.  I have a one almost definite and some other possibilities.  And I'm excited!  SO EXCITED.  And yes, I will prepare my face for that slap!  And I will have a smile on my face!  Because I'm a marathoner!  ... And I enjoy pain?? 

Have a Very Merry Christmas!  And a Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santas, Santas, and more Santas!

This past weekend was the Santa Hustle 5k in Chicago.  I wouldn't normally plan on doing this race but my coworker told me she wanted to do it and asked if I would do it with her. Of course I said yes!  My coworker is not a runner but she thought this seemed like fun.  I just warned her... "Just so you know, it's in December and it might be really cold! If we sign up for it, we are doing it!"  She said she will do it. 

Needless to say, the temps for that day ended up being cold.  The high was supposed to be 20 but the low was supposed to be about 10.  I gave her some tips on what to wear.  We also had 5 other coworkers sign up for it so it was going to be fun.  Also a good way for me to get to know a few of my coworkers since I'm relatively new to the office.

Not gonna say much about the run except that, yes, it was cold.  At first I dressed in 3 thin layers but then decided to add an extra 4th layer since I knew I would be walking much of the run.  I also wore, 2 pair of socks, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of thin gloves (I need better gloves), a neck/face warmer, headband for my ears, and a santa hat.  The santa beard went with me too, I just didn't have it on my face.  I was actually just about perfect for the run.  The sun was out and only my finger tips were a bit cold for a while.

Let's just look at some fun pictures of the race!

Me before the run

My crazy coworker Elise that I ran/walked with

Photo bombed by the abominable snowman

Conrado, Kelly, Kristi, Me

This photo speaks for itself

Post Run - the whole gang (Bottom L-R: Brian, Kristi
Top L-R: Conrado, Me, Elise, Monika, Kelly)

This coming weekend...I will be seeing more Santas!  I signed up to do the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Indianapolis on Sunday, December 15.  The reason?  Derek signed up to do it right after my Ultra.  I never wanted to run again at that time.  So I waited to see what I wanted to do with this half.  I would go either way.  So did I want to cheer and spectate?  Or did I want to run?  Well, at the time, not knowing how cold it would be and I was feeling better a few weeks after the Ultra, I decided to sign up for it.  My 6th half this year (I think??).  And the end of the 2013 race season for me.  Luckily, I think it's supposed to warm up to about 30 degrees (for a high) this weekend.  It will seem like a heat wave!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pure Barre Class Review

Honestly, when did it become December?  Anyway..

My latest kick on my quest to become bigger and better...( and better?) is to improve my core and overall fitness/strength in general.  I need to improve my core muscles.  I need to help my lower back muscles.  My lower back still bothers me sometimes since I hurt it at the end of August.  It's definitely tolerable and manageable but it's there.  And I notice it most when I'm trying to do core work.  But it's there when I'm running and it's there when I'm sleeping.  Also, it's no secret that a stronger core improves your running. 

Enter Pure Barre.  It's the new latest craze.  It's not so much a craze in Chicago yet as they are just starting to pop up.  What is Pure Barre?  You can go to their website and read all about it.  But in uses a ballet bar and incorporates moves from ballet and pilates into their classes focusing on small isometric moves to target the areas you are working.

They built a studio in Orland Park about 20 minutes from my house.  The classes are pretty expensive and even though I wanted to try it, I'm cheap and hate paying "up the butt" (um...) to workout when I can do it for free or go to the gym that I pay monthly for.  They offered 2 free classes in November but it was the day after my Ultra Marathon and I didn't sign up for it because I really wasn't sure how I would be feeling.  Disappointed at missing my opportunity for a free class, they offered another one on December 1st!  However, this wasn't the traditional class.  It was an "Intro to the bar" type class.  Even though I wasn't really sure what to expect with this class or how much hands on work I would actually be doing, I decided to go and give it a try. 

My main concerns were that some of the moves would hurt my knees (which hurt all the time anyway) or that I wouldn't be able to do stuff due to my shoulder injuries and my back.  I know there are modifications to most things but honestly, if I have to modify more than 1 or 2 things, I get frustrated and think...what's the point! 

I was pretty nervous to go to this class.  I knew people would be wearing all these cute clothes and looking all good and I'd be in a run shirt looking all shabby. (Yes, this is a fear of mine!).  I was also nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it.  But I need to get toned and stronger so ... in I went!

Since it was a free class for first timers, about 1/2 the class was new which put me slightly at ease.  There were also some repeat members.  The owner was there and also 2 other instructors.  Normally there will only be 1 instructor but they wanted to make sure we would get enough attention and make sure our form was good.

She spent about 10 minutes talking about the class and what we should expect. Then we got right into it.  The first thing we did was some pilates/ab work.  I was slightly uncomfortable in my back doing one of the moves but I did it anyway (knowing it was something I used to do).  Maybe that wasn't the right thing for me to do but I didn't want to make a spectacle on one of the first moves!  And the ab work was challenging.  But I did most of it and my abs were sore!  We went by the bare next but she had us remain on the floor sitting on our knees.  Well there is no way I can do that with my knees so I asked for a modification and luckily she had one. 

Anyway, we did all of the moves, some of it was difficult.  Some of it was easy.  Some of it was difficult to figure out what we were working and exactly what to squeeze but the instructors were pretty good and trying to help everyone out.  My shoulder was never really an issue except a little with the side planks and I'm so weak, I can barely do push ups anymore.  My back was only an issue that one time.  My knees were so-so, I could feel them but usually they were ok.  The squats aren't really deep so I think that saves my knees a bit.

I didn't take any photos and it's a bit difficult to run through the moves.  Like I said, some of it was pilates and push ups and planks, etc.  Some of it was on the barre with moves that resembled the slight ballet squat and leg back thingies (technical term), some of it was using your arms and a small round ball or light weights. 

The verdict:  The next day every piece of muscle we worked on (mostly) was sore.  I felt my abs, my obliques, my butt, and my triceps, so much so that I didn't want to get up from my desk at work.  I think that's a success!  All areas I need to target. 

My problem: I'm cheap. I have a gym membership.  I run outside.  Maybe I can google a video and do the moves at home?  Maybe.  But I probably won't be as successful.  They offer a first time client special of 1 month unlimited for $99.  Actually a really good price considering 1 class is about $20.  They have 2 night classes available and weekend class (and early morning classes) that I am able to attend.  If I ordered the month, I would like to go 3 times a week for the entire month. 

I think I might look online this week and see what I can find.  Otherwise, I think I might cough up the $99 for the unlimited month and get my money's worth.

Have you heard of Pure Barre?  What do you think?  And would you spend the money?