Thursday, May 29, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday

1. My race list off to the right hand side of my blog is not up to date. I'm having trouble updating it right now and haven't tried anything to fix it yet. So if you are wondering what my upcoming race schedule looks like:

These are only races that I have currently registered for. And yes, I do keep a spreadsheet.  Also on the actual spreadsheet are possible races and the amounts I've paid for each race. This is the only way I can remember what is going on.

2.  This month I've been trying to focus more on my triathlon than running long and running half marathons. Although the half marathons have been creeping in, which is good because if you look above on my race schedule, I have a half marathon followed by a triathlon. I've been trying to double up my long runs/half marathons one day and bike/run bricks the next day to prepare.  Although I am planning on taking the half marathon in June very easy (with a possible 10 min run/1 min walk ratio to keep myself in check so I don't race it). My goal is the triathlon, not the half marathon. 

My bricks have been going very well, surprisingly. I don't like them. I don't like running after cycling because my legs feel like they are barely moving and I feel like I'm just stomping my feet, but I keep telling myself that my triathlon run is only a 5k. Only a 5k. I can run a 5k. I haven't been swimming too much at all. Wish I could go more but it gets pushed to the side. I use my shoulder as an excuse too. Whether it's a valid excuse or not, I'm not sure. I can swim, it doesn't hurt to swim, I won't dislocate my shoulder swimming (it's the backstroke move that I can't do).  BUT, it tires out my shoulder and I'm more prone to dislocate it doing other things later in the day after swimming (which HAS happened). So I know I can swim. I have been swimming occasionally. I rented a wetsuit, which should come tomorrow.  I know I can handle the swim. I just need to not panic like I did at the last triathlon I did. Luckily, it's in Naperville at Centennial Beach, which is a man-made beach and not as scary as normal open water lake swimming! Although it was much scary than the pool. I'm hoping my experience doing a triathlon will help me not panic.

3.  Also, if you look at my race schedule above, you will see that I signed up for the Venus De Miles 64-mile bike ride! Yikes!  My cheap road bike is going to be so pissed at me when it finds out!  So I ordered a cheap cycling jersey and have been getting on the bike a bit more, trying to ease into some longer rides. Right now, I'm only up to 16 miles but I know I can do 20-25 (which I plan to do this weekend). Of course, I've been only my bike anyway due to the triathlon.  So, you might see me running on the trails and in the neighborhood... but you also might see me masquerading as a cyclist! (Side note: I ordered a different cycling jersey because this one isn't the greatest looking one! I just haven't received it yet).  I took this picture just to send it to my boyfriend and not for public viewing but ... I'm a blogger. There are no secrets! Even if I look like a dork!

Happy running! Happy cycling! Happy swimming!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicago Spring Half Marathon


Ok, I'm not running all the races. I didn't even sign up for all the races. But when opportunity knocked for the last two half marathons, I ran them.  The first unplanned half was earlier this month with the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon.  But since I did a half in March and April, I'm pretty much "half" trained. I'm not "fast half" trained but I can still cover the distance and not die so that's a plus.

The second half that was unplanned was this past weekend with the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. A lot of my friends got into this one when they had a free discount code but I didn't sign up because I was originally planning on being in Seattle this weekend and didn't want to take the free entry from someone else.  Anyway, I was able to get a bib on Friday (not telling you how to protect the innocent).  So I decided to go ahead and run it. Although the idea of sleeping in was appealing...... I decided that getting up at 4:40 a.m. was more fun.
True picture of me in the morning
The race started in a location that isn't typical, north of Millennium Park near Wacker along the lakefront.  They had indoor bathrooms (although only 3 stalls) so that was nice.  The corrals were very crowded to start and I had no idea how many people were signed up to do this race.
(Photo credit: Carol M. from the FNRC)

Derek, Me, Julie, Lynn (L-R): In the starting corral
The course itself was down the lakefront path going south all the way until about 47th street. It was an out-and-back course. I generally dislike out-and-back courses but I'm beginning to like them. Say Wha!?!  It's because there is so much to look at! You get to see the leaders and all the fast runners coming back when you are still only on mile 3.5!  Then you get to see some or all of your friends either before or after you turn around (if you are lucky). I missed most of them this time. The path was just too crowded with people and part of the turn around, you were a bit separated.  But it's not so bad lately. 

The day before the race, I thought about trying to "race" it even though I knew I wouldn't PR.  I got a 2:09 on the half two weeks before.  But the morning of the race, I knew I would change that plan. My knees were bothering me a bit all week.  When I started running, I felt the knees and they were telling me to not do this to them.  I decided that I would just run easy and enjoy the run. 

Part of my problem in the past several months is that I'm not enjoying my long runs. Negative thoughts creep into my head, which is why I do better when running with others.  I'm not always running with others and needed to figure out how to get my positivity back while doing long runs. Otherwise, I make myself miserable, I stop to walk, I basically hate about half of the run.  I wasn't always like this and wanted to get back to loving running.  I have been trying to practice keeping negative thoughts out of my head but haven't been 100% successful, although I'm getting a bit better.

This time around, I decided to enjoy everything around me. I slapped some hands of children on the sidelines, I stopped at mile 3.5 to use the bathroom before I peed my pants (TMI?), I focused on how GORGEOUS the weather was that day for the run. I admired the beautiful skyline of the city that I live in. Honestly, Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities! I love running on the lakefront on days that have clear skies and gorgeous weather!  I was going to take a few photos and thought about it but just didn't want to mess with my phone. Luckily for me, Amanda from Too Tall Fritz did!  Thanks Amanda for letting me "borrow" your photos!

I pretty much just repeated over and over how wonderful the city is, how beautiful the day was, how lucky I am to be able to run when others can't.  I didn't have to force it, it just came. And even though my legs were tired (I did just do 3 half marathons in 1 month, and 4 within 2 months), I felt good.  I kept my walking to a minimum. I walked once at mile 9 and once at mile 12.  In all honesty, I thought about stopping a bit more during that last half but I kept playing the "get to mile ___ and then you can walk." And I'd get to the next mile and figure that I'd see if I could go a bit longer. Then I'd play the "mile marker" game again. lol. 

And just to be fair, I kept repeating to myself "I want to find my run-happy pace. I want to find my 'Melanie' pace!"  What is a "Melanie" pace, you ask?  Well, it's my friend Melanie from See Mommy Race. And while Melanie trained for her spring marathon and ultra marathon, she trained for a good majority of the long runs alone. She found a comfortable pace for her and just did the training. She was running happy.  I wanted to be able to do that like Melanie! I wanted to find my run-happy pace (aka my Melanie pace)!  So that's what I tried to do on this half. Since I'm not going to be PR'ing these half marathons right now, I'm working on other things and positivity is one of them.  It can be your best friend during a long run or race! So thanks for teaching me about running happy Melanie!
The medal (photo credit: Nicole F.)

Not getting away without a picture of me and my love!

Susan, Me, Nicole

The group I went with L-R back: Marty, Ryan
L-R Front: Lynn, Julie, Melanie (!!), Me, Derek
I finished with a time of 2:16:17.  Not my best, not my recent best, not my worst.  It's about right where my half marathons have been lately when I'm not racing.  So I'm happy with my time. I'm happy with my effort, I'm happy I kept my walking to a minimum (although I'd rather not walk at steps), I'm happy with finding my Melanie pace!

Now I can rest... for 3 weeks.  Where I have a half marathon (Michelob Ultra 13.1) followed by a triathlon (Esprit De She) back-to-back in one weekend.  Although I have been training for this. Like doing a bike/run brick the day after this half I just did to prepare.  I can do it! 

Run Happy!

Friday, May 9, 2014

First Midwest Bank Half Marathon

At the last minute, about Wednesday of last week, I decided to run the First Midwest Bank Half Marathon on Sunday, May 4th.  This half marathon is a local one in the Southwest Suburbs of Palos Heights.  It's practically a back-yard half marathon for me, only about 20 minutes away from home.

I was pretty excited to run this half for a couple of reasons:

1. My cousin Nick and his sister Gayle were going to be doing this one as their first half marathon. 

2. Many of my Yankee Runner friends and my Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club friends do this race so there will be lots of friendly faces around.

3. It's a very easy out-and-back course that I've heard is all flat!

4. There was going to be perfect running weather that day, so if I wanted to push my pace a bit, that was the half to do it. Flat, out-and-back, and perfect weather.

5. You can park within a block of the start line!

I've actually wanted to run this race for a couple years now. I first heard about it in 2012 but the Illinois Marathon was the week before and I didn't want to double up (even though many friends did). In 2013, I ran the Mini Marathon (half) in Indianapolis, which is the same weekend as this Palos one.  This was the first year since I've known about the race that I was able to do it.

Some of the FNRC before the race
Short and sweet, I wanted to get under 2:10 if possible.  Even though that's still a bit off from my PR time of 2:03, it would be my best time in a year.  I felt it was do-able as I ran a 2:13 in March at the Get Lucky half.  I hung out around the 2:10 pacer but everyone was so mushed together that I was also around the 2:06 pacer. When we started running, I realized I was near a couple of my running friends and we were all hanging by the 2:06 pacer.  Also, the 2:06 pacer was Joe, who leads the Yankee Runners and I knew him so I thought this might work well.  I decided maybe I could push myself a bit further and decided to try to stick with the 2:06 pacer. If worse came to worse, I could fall back and run with the 2:10 pace group.

My garmin didn't pick up signal until mile 3 and then it was so off, I really wasn't using it. I told Joe that I was just going to stick with him and not worry about it. He would pace me (he is the pacer after all).  It was nice to chat a bit with some of my friends from the Yankee Runners that I haven't seen all winter!

Around mile 5, the pace (which was a bit ahead of what we should have been) started catching up to me. I fell back just slightly from the pace group but they were right ahead of me.  I thought I would just try to hang right behind them for as long as I could.  At mile 6, I realized I never took any fuel.  I've been trying to get away from eating Gu and trying to eat "real food", so I brought a Picky Bar recommended by Kelly and a back up Gu (just in case).  I've eaten the picky bars before running and I like them so I thought I would try it during the half to see what happens.

Well at mile 6, I was struggling a bit with pace and realizing I haven't fueled yet (I normally do around mile 5), I opted to go with the trusty Gu instead of the picky bar. It was more for comfort since I was just a tad "off" during my run.  I hit the turn around and saw a fellow FNRC member Tiffany and started running with her. I was feeling a bit tired but was really trying to hang in there with my pace as best as possible. After a few moans and groans to Tiffany, I felt my second wind coming on!  And I have to say, I really do run better with people that by myself. I find it easier to just push myself.

Running with Tiffany
Tiffany ended up slowing up a tad and I decided to just keep running by myself.  My goal was to try not to let negative thoughts creep in and try to stay positive. I've really been struggling with this the past year.  I seemed to be doing pretty ok at this so far. However, by mile 9.5, I got a cramp in my side. I tried to "run it out" which usually works, just keep running and take some deep breaths.  It just didn't work.

I stopped to walk a minute at mile 10 and that's where my run just crapped out. I tried to keep running but my legs were tired and the cramp wasn't going away. I stopped to walk at least 4 times from mile 10 to the finish (maybe more).  Tiffany caught up to me at some point and I ran with her for a bit more but pulled ahead again. I just wanted to beat the 2:10 time!  I hadn't seen the 2:10 pacer yet and up until mile 10-11, I could still see the 2:06 pace group way ahead. I knew I was in the middle. I wanted to keep going. 

It was mile 10.5 and I thought that maybe eating part of the picky bar might help.  I broke a piece off and stuck it in my mouth and proceeded to... try to chew. This is why I just stick with Gu! I can't chew while running long distance. I just kept trying to get that piece of the bar down and it took forever. I wasn't sure I'd get it down and finally I did. I decided to put the rest of the bar away. It's clear I have trouble chewing while distance running (not a new phenomenon for me anyway).

Finally the finish line was in sight. I thought there was no way my legs could sprint to the finish. They were shot. My recent half marathon and maybe helping at the Ultra and the IL Marathon were finally catching up to my legs. But the final straight away came and people were cheering and my legs just took off! Not sure how that happened!  I saw the clock and it said about 2:10:20-ish when I crossed. I thought I was about right over the 2:10 mark by only a couple seconds. I didn't think I started 20 seconds behind the start line. 
A friend captured my sprint to the finish photo!
I felt slightly defeated that I couldn't get under 2:10 when I was so close and thought the last walk break about 12.5 is why.  But I knew I should be happy with my time as I was only a few seconds off.  Word came that you could print out your results so I went to the table and ... low and final time was...

.....2:09:54!  Ha! Not a PR but I made my goal. I'm glad my legs were able to sprint to the finish line!  And yes, those seconds really did make a difference to me. Overall, I felt glad for the push I gave my race.  I'm far off from PR running but I'm headed in the right direction.  It gave me a bit of confidence back that I can push myself and I'll be alright.

Me, Gayle, and my cousin Nick

Cheesy finisher photo!
Afterwards, I tailgated with the Yankee Runners. And they know how to tailgate right!  I had a burger and some other goodies!  Yum!  Thanks for the invite Yankee Runners! 

In my opinion, this half marathon is a bit pricey for the Southwest Suburbs.  But I had such a good time I think I would be willing to fork over the cash again to do it. It is so much fun with so many of my running friends. The out-and-back course allows you to see people for a good portion of the race!  I did so much smiling and waving to friends and cheering while running, that was my favorite part!

In other news, it was 90 yesterday.  And it was my Thursday run group night!  I thought it was pretty hilarious to look at the "before and after" photos from my Thursday run group. Last Thursday (5/1), it was colder and we were bundled up.  This Thursday (5/8), it's the hottest day of the year so far, with temps about 90!

Thursday run group 5/1

Thursday run group 5/8
 Gotta love Chicago!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

April in Review

Ugh...this year is moving by too fast. But hopefully (HOPEFULLY) we will get some warmer temps soon. Honestly...


Running Miles: 86.01
Swim Distance: 1,750 yards (2 swim days)
Crossfit Days: 0 (I haven't signed up for any more)
Strength Training/Cross Training Days: 6
# of Workout Days this month: 19 (63.3%)

Running: My running mileage was great with a total mileage of 86.01 for March.  I'm doing the 1,000 miles per year challenge and the average you would have to run per month to acheive that goal is 83.33.  I was desperately behind due to the crappy (running technical term) weather the first few months of the year. But every month was more than the first and so I'm happy to at least make the 83+ goal this month.  I'm not too worried if I don't make the 1,000 mile challenge but it's fun to work towards something.  I think one reason I got the 83+ miles this month was due to helping out at the Ultra (where I ran 14+ miles) and at the IL Marathon in Champaign where I logged 11 miles.  Plus, I had the half marathon in Las Vegas for another 13.1.  Not sure what May is going to hold for me...I need to train for my triathlon in June so you might see a few more bike/run bricks instead of huge long running miles.

Swim Distance:  My goal was to swim at least 4 days in the month of May, which isn't even a ton!  But alas, as with the other few months, I only logged 2 swim days. Some how the month just gets away from me and it's easier to put shoes on and run out your front door, then heading the 10 mins to the gym... I guess... No excuse really.

Crossfit: I haven't resigned up for any crossfit sessions. I really liked it but I don't know. It's easy to get out of a routine, I guess. I'm thinking of signing up for one month of Pure Barre though.

Strength Training/Cross Training: This category includes all things not running. So biking, swimming, walking, ab work, etc.  The month I did a bit more biking than usual, a few bike trainer workouts and a few outdoor ones as well. I have a triathlon to prepare for in a month so I need to get out there as much as this weather will allow. 

# of Workout days this month: It seems to be a trend. Every month that contained 30 or 31 days, I miss 11 days of working out. So I tend to stay around the 63-64% of working out for the month.  I'm mostly ok with that. My body likes it's rest days and frankly, I do too. It's hard getting home after 6:00 p.m., working out and not getting home until about 8:00 p.m., still have to eat dinner and shower. Before you know it, it's time for bed. But I really haven't gotten into the habit of waking up early to get my run in before work. What can I say...I like my sleep.

Weight Loss - I did horrible with eating for about 2 weeks surrounding my vacation. I haven't been to my weight watchers meeting in a few weeks.  I plan to go Saturday.  I've been a bit better with the eating thing this week and stepped on the scale yesterday for a preview, and I'm only up about 1 pound.  Hopefully that's the case when I weigh in on Saturday.  Then it's time to buckle down again. I still have about 20 pounds to lose!

So...I'm running the First Midwest Half Marathon (aka the Palos Half) on Sunday. This came up at the last minute for me (Wednesday).  It's a very local half in the Southwest Suburbs.  My dad asked if I had any upcoming races so when I told him I was running this, he asked if I was in half marathon shape.  Um... excuse me!  lol.  I did a half in March and a half in April and I've been trying to keep my long run mileage at around 10 miles more or less so I'm ready to do half marathons whenever I want!  So yes, I was a bit offended and taken aback by this statement (because I'm weird, not because he meant anything by it).  I also have a half marathon in June, July and August so I have to stay in half marathon shape. Of course, I'm not in PR shape but I'm trying to inch back towards it.  My PR is 2:03.  My half in March was 2:13.  My goal at the Palos Half will be to try to get under 2:10.
Get Lucky Half in March - Recap Here

Las Vegas Half in April - Recap Here
 In other news, my friends ran the Illinois Marathon (which I briefly mentioned above).  It was much hotter and sunnier than they would have liked but really, they all did a great job!!  I did help Jill from about miles 17.5 to 24. Then I went back to help out Amanda with the last 3 miles of the marathon. 

Half Marathoners, Marathoners, and helpers at the Illinois Marathon
If you would like to read their awesome recaps of the marathon, check them out here:

Too Tall Fritz - badass...4th marathon in 21 days!
See Mommy Race - redemption marathon from her first one last year!
Jill Runs - Her first marathon! Go Jill!