A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eri-thon is now on ChicagoNow!


I recently got a great offer to blog for Chicago Now, a platform for Chicago bloggers to share their thoughts, finds, and posts.  My focus will be on Chicago fitness opportunities, unique running routes, Chicago races, and other healthy lifestyle options for Chicagoans.
What does this mean for Eri-thon?  It means that most of my posts will now be over at my Chicago Now blog.  You can also like  Eri-thon on Facebook for updates.  There’s also the option to subscribe to my Chicago Now blog via email so you’ll get an email every time I put up a new post.
I’ve been blogging here since January 2009 and I love every single comment I’ve gotten, every single person I’ve met through my blog, and all the encouragement you’ve given me.  So I’m hoping you don’t mind that my URL is changing a bit. 
So, follow me over to Chicago Now and stay up-to-date with me as I explore what Chicago has to offer. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Burgers & Beer 5K Race Report

What’s the best way to end a Monday?  How about with a 5K race?

To read the rest of this post, come on over to Chicago Now!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Running Surprises

Things I discovered last week while working out:

1. How difficult it is to run an additional half mile after running 5.5 and then sitting on a train for 40 minutes. 

Monday night I did 5.5 miles with my running club then ran home from the train station so I ended up with a total of just over 6 miles for the night.  But, ugh, let me tell you how difficult it is to run an extra half mile after sitting on a train for 40 minutes.  Embarrassingly difficult, actually.

2. The ease of grabbing a strength workout from a pile of options

Tuesday I went down to the gym in my building and did some of my PT exercises and then did a strength workout.  I have a whole stack of workouts that I’ve built up by now so I just grab a paper out of the stack and do that one.  Easy.

3.  That sometimes you DO regret a workout. 

Broken Pedal

On Wednesday I was going to ride the upright stationary bike in my building’s gym but one of the pedals was broken.  Okay, irritating, but I’ll just switch to the recumbent bike.  Except for some reason the screen on that one wasn’t working so I had no way to adjust the resistance.  Still, I pedaled half-heartedly for the length of an episode of Supernatural on my iPhone via Netflix.  One of those workouts that left me more grumpy than refreshed.

4.  An idea for a weekend outing!


Thursday morning I met up with Emily for another 5ish mile run before starting the rest of my day.  While running we discovered the Festa Italiana was starting that evening!  I took advantage of this festival of food and drink on Saturday afternoon and it was wonderful. I highly recommend this neighborhood festival to my fellow Chicagoans! 

5.  Friday afternoons are busy gym times.

At least, the gym in our building seems to get busy on Fridays!  Jason and I went down there on Friday when I got home from work and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to get in my entire workout because someone was using the equipment I needed!  This is a new phenomenon.  Thankfully he finished and I was able to do the YTWL exercise.  Try it.  It will seriously challenge your shoulders and upper back.

6.  Emily!

I thought the highlight of my Saturday morning run was going to be the cool weather.  And then I thought it was going to be that I ran past a Harry Potter convention playing Quidditch.  But the biggest highlight was running to Emily on the lakefront path!  We ended up running together and, in the end, I ran 9.75 miles which is the most I’ve run since December 2011.  What a great morning!

7.  That it’s okay to skip exercises even if they’re on the list.

On Sunday I grabbed a workout from the stack and went down to the gym.  I did my PT exercises and then started in on my workout.  But after doing the squat and push-press exercise with the barbell I realized my right wrist was bothering me.  So, I skipped the push-ups portion of my workout.  I also swapped out the step-ups for some more PT exercises.  It feels pretty good to know my body and when I should and shouldn’t push it.  Doesn’t mean I always listen, but I try.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Runs and Slides

When I last left you I had spent my workout hours biking instead of running.

Well, on Thursday I got in a run.  An almost 5 mile run.  Before work.

Yeah, that is NOT my standard M.O.

But Emily and I agreed to meet up before work to get in some miles. 

So, at 6:00 AM we started out on what was originally going to be a 3 or 3.5 mile run.  But I think we just were enjoying ourselves so much that we extended it to almost 5! 

The only time I can get up and run that early is if A. there’s a race or B. I’m meeting someone.  Otherwise it’s practically impossible to get myself up and out the door before work. 

I hope I can run before work with Emily more often.  It was really nice to have my workout out of the way.  Even if I was pretty tired by the end of the day.

And speaking of getting up early to run with friends, Kim and I ran together on Saturday morning.  We did 8 miles.  This is currently my 2012 distance record!  We were in Guttenberg, Iowa to play on the river.  But first we wanted to get in our run.  So, at 6:30 AM we stepped outside into cooler temps than I’d felt in a while.

Our run went really well and I didn’t feel sore during or after.  And post-run there were drinks.

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Although, after trying 9 different kinds of bloody marys I have decided I’m not a fan.  Chocolate covered cake balls, though?  Those I like.  They make a pretty good bloody mary chaser.

So while it was a pretty good day for running (and drinking) it wasn’t that great for playing in the water.  Luckily the rain that showed up post-party went away and we managed to get to the beach for a bit.

Originally I wasn’t too gung-ho on the whole beach thing because it wasn’t that hot outside.  But then someone said there was a slide set-up on the beach.  Now THAT sounds like fun.


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We then proceeded to spend the rest of our beach time in the water since the river was warmer than the air temperature! 

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This week I’m going to focus on getting in three runs and more strength sessions than I have been doing lately.  And doing my PT exercises.  Can’t forget about those!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Would Ride 500 Miles

Okay, maybe not 500 miles.  But how about 126? 

Yes, between Sunday morning and Tuesday evening I rode a bike 126 miles.  I did 61 miles on Sunday and 65 miles on Tuesday.

Have I gone crazy?  Nope, I just like seeing what I can do.

Sunday was the first ever Illinois Venus de Miles bike ride.  I had SO MUCH FUN!

Several other Chicago Running Bloggers decided to become Chicago Biking Bloggers for the day. Specifically (from left to right) Lauren, me, Kelly, MacKenna, and Amanda.  Thanks to Kelly for the photo.

I hung with Kelly and MacKenna for most of the ride and while both my Garmin and my bike computer tell me I averaged about 14.5 MPH, I think that must be because of slowing down for stop lights and rest stops.  Because every time I looked at my bike computer I was doing better than 16 MPH and even managed 20 MPH for some decent stretches. 

Unless I was going up a hill.  Dang, hills are hard.  But flying on the downhills?  My favorite part.  Especially when I hit 30 MPH.  At one point I shouted, “I’m going faster than the speed limit!”  The speed limit was 25, by the way.

The rest stops were well stocked with all sort of yummy food.  And there were a lot of rest stops.  Every 10-15 miles or so.  Perfect.  I’m still figuring out what and when to eat when I’m riding my bike.  Eating little bits of things every so often seemed to do the trick and I felt strong the entire ride.

The course was gorgeous.  Full of trees and back roads and mansions.

I could have done with fewer traffic lights but the scenery mostly made up for it.  There was only one spot where we missed a turn and ended up on a really busy street, but there were enough of us that I didn’t feel too unsafe.

I admit, I was a little hesitant to sign up for this ride because of my experience with how crowded the L.A.T.E. Ride was.  Another “leisure” ride?  No, thanks.  But this wasn’t that way at all.  We had plenty of space and I was able to go as fast or as slow as I wanted. 

When I turned the final corner I was actually a bit sad to be finished.  But, a wonderful post-ride party awaited.  A taco bar?  Free cocktails, wine and beer?  Gourmet ice cream sandwiches?

Yes, please!  And, just like the course, it wasn’t too crowded.  Well, actually, there was a line for the free facials and mani-pedis but that was it.  I highly recommend this event and can’t wait for next year!

So, that was the first 61 miles.  Tuesday I borrowed a mountain bike from a member of my running club and joined Kim for her birthday gift to herself: riding the entire Lake County Des Plaines River Trail.  31ish miles from the Wisconsin border to the border of Lake County and Cook County.  All crushed limestone.  And hilly. 

We rode the first 31 miles (plus a bit more) and then stopped for lunch at Red Robin.  The second 31 miles was a lot tougher.  My right knee was sore and my lady bits were REALLY tired of being on a bike seat.  Still we persevered and finished the entire ride. 


However, I think I need to take a break from the bike for a bit to let certain parts of my anatomy recover.  Good thing I won an entry to the Chicago Half Marathon!  That will give me something to do! 

Friday, July 27, 2012




Or is it irony?  I admit, I’m not always clear on the definitions.

Regardless, here’s why it’s on my mind.

After reading lots of race reports and blogs about running and racing in the heat, I noticed a theme:  nausea.  Many runners report feeling nauseous when running in hot weather.

Ha! I thought.  That never happens to me!  Except at the finish line of races when I’m pushing it really hard. 

Well, I’m sure you know where this is going.

I ran on Monday night when it was in the mid-90s and incredibly humid.  Seriously, it felt totally disgusting outside.

I have no idea how fast we were running because my Garmin didn’t get a signal until a mile into our run and even then I’m a little suspect of its results.  I thought we were definitely running significantly under 10:00 minute miles although, perhaps in the heat, it just felt like it.

I managed 4 miles with my legs slowly feeling like lead.  And, strangely enough, even though I was sweating like crazy and taking sips of water from my water bottle, I still had to stop and pee at mile 4! 

The last 1.5 miles felt like a death march.  And we when had to stop at a red light at an intersection a quarter mile from the finish I had to double over and put my hands on my knees to calm down my stomach.

Yep, I felt nauseous.  I was so happy that run was over. 

I ran again on Thursday evening and just did 30 minutes around some nearby neighborhoods.  I explored some new streets and found a park with a statute of Christopher Columbus.


I ran through Little Italy and mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon.  I discovered a no-man’s land of empty lots and boarded up buildings somewhere in mile 2 which subsequently led to that mile being my fastest (sub 9:00!). 

I was dripping sweat and was hopeful that the sprinkle of rain would turn into a full-fledged downpour.  No such luck.  Instead I took a quick shower when I got home hoping to cool off.  It kind of worked. 

Last year I would have thought a 30 minute run wasn’t worth my time.  Now I know better.  All runs don’t need to be long to be useful. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vacation Exploring

This past week I was on vacation in South Haven, Michigan.  If you haven’t been to any of the towns in southwest Michigan along the lake you are definitely missing out.  Normally when we go there we stay a little further north near Grand Haven.  But this time we enjoyed a house on the water that was awesomely enough also near some fun trails!


The Van Buren Trail, a 14 mile long “unimproved” trail, was about 1 mile from where we were staying. And just what does unimproved mean?  Well, as you can see from the photos, it’s not paved or covered in crushed limestone.  Basically, they mow the grass.  There are some tracks from vehicles but basically you’re running on grass and dirt.  Considering I normally run on asphalt or crushed limestone, this was a fun experience for me! 

I only did about 2 miles on the trail itself.  Considering it was mid-morning, the sun was out, and the trail isn’t very shaded I thought I did pretty well running almost 5 miles total. 

Jason and I did a 2 mile run/walk together one day and explored the main road we were staying just off of.  It’s definitely a rural area but basically that means country roads with very little traffic.  Something I miss when it comes to running or biking in the city!

And speaking of biking, my mom and I rented bikes and explored another trail in South Haven, the Kal Haven Trail.  This trail is 33.5 miles long and runs from South Haven to Kalamzoo, Michigan.  It’s mostly crushed limestone and varies from wooded areas to open fields (at least on the parts we rode on).  Since it’s a rail-to-trail trail it’s also nice and flat ! 


We did about 6 miles on the trail and then rode around downtown South Haven for a bit. 

On my last full day of vacation I hit the Van Buren Trail one more time in the opposite direction.  I discovered a fork in the trail with a sign that indicated you could get to the Van Buren State Park.  I headed down that way but didn’t make it to the park.  And, now, looking at the map, this part of the trail isn’t even labeled. 


The highlighted route is the one I took

Regardless, even though it wasn’t a super long run (just under 4 miles) it was really fun to explore.  I took a slightly different route on the way back and ran some more country roads.



And when I wasn’t exploring?  I was laying on the beach, watching the sunset, or trying my hand at kayaking.  Oh, I also attempted stand-up paddleboarding (being demonstrated by my nephew in the photo below).  How did I do?  Well, I learned my sense of balance isn’t as good as I thought. 


Overall it was a lovely vacation and I got in a great mix of active and inactive outings.  I’m really looking forward to going back next year and exploring some more!