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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Loop de Loops

I didn't really want to go for a run last night. I thought about skipping a workout all together, but then my husband said he'd go with me. We decided to do the same loop I did on Monday except he'd do one loop and I'd do at least two. That would give him about a mile and a half and I'd get in at least three.

So, we leashed up the dog and went out for a family run. Jason was running faster than me. When he was running anyway. The outing didn't go so well for him. He was feeling dehydrated, his chest was hurting, and then his shoulder started hurting. I was sort of struggling, too. When he would stop to walk I would keep running and just circle back to catch up with him. It felt a lot hotter than it did on Monday and, well, I just wasn't really feeling the run. Even though I was running slower than Monday it still felt hard. At least I ran negative splits!

I think some of it had to do with the fact that I was ravenous when I got home from work last night. I find that how good I feel on my run is very dependent on how many calories I've had prior to lacing up my shoes. I still haven't figured out the perfect amount, though.

Anyway, I ended up taking the dog and finishing up the first loop while Jason walked home after a little less than a mile. I dropped off the dog and headed back out for my second loop. Part way through it, though, I decided to mix it up. My neighborhood is laid out entirely in a grid pattern so that made it easy to run up and down streets without getting lost. Also, I kind of wanted to avoid the old men I ran past during the first loop. They seemed a little too over-eager to say hi to a girl running in a skirt and tank top.

Overall, I did just under 3.5 miles. I admit, I was kind of hoping for 5, but whatever.

I did see some fun things, though. Like fire hydrants laying along side the road waiting to be installed. I'd never seen a fire hydrant that wasn't sticking up out of the ground. I almost went back to take a picture of them but, well, I was hungry for dinner.

I think my next goal is going to be to run up and down every street in my neighborhood at least once in the same run. I wonder how many miles that is....

Route:--Elev. Avg:620 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:07/29/09Up/Downhill: [+13/-13]
Time:06:30 PMDifficulty:1.8 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 74 F temp; 44% humidity
 74 F heat index; winds E 8

Distance: 3.44 miles
Speed:6.0 mph
Pace:9' 58 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 48+0' 505.5-0.5+3 ft
29' 49-0' 096.1+0.1-3 ft
39' 37-0' 216.2+0.20 ft
end9' 13-0' 456.5+0.50 ft
Versus average of 9' 58 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Upcoming Races

Image from http://www.runnershouse.com/

I know, I know, I just said that I was going to take it easy for awhile, but I do have a few upcoming races I plan to participate in.

The first race is one I'm not actually running. Instead, Kim and I are signed up to volunteer at the Elvis is Alive 5K. We don't have much information on this, but I believe we'll be helping out at a water station. And watching a bunch of people dressed like Elvis run by. Should be hilarious. That's on August 6th.

The first one I'm actually running is on August 15th. Kim and I are running the Rally for Autism 5K up in her neck of the woods. I'm pretty stoked about this race. Kim is faster than me and I always surprise myself when I run with her at lunch. I'm hoping that with her as my race buddy I can get yet another 5K PR. Maybe under 26 minutes??? Based on last year's results, there's even a small chance I could place in my age group. How wild would that be? The closest I've ever gotten in any race is 7th. Anyway, this is a small race and last year the second place woman in the 25-29 age group ran a 27:14. I've already beaten that!

However, if I wasn't running this race (and didn't have a ton of other plans for that weekend) I thought about flying out to Flagstaff, Arizona. Why? Well, my mother-in-law is participating in an American Cancer Society fundraiser. The goal? Ascending the 7 mile road to Snowbowl Ski Resort. Flagstaff itself is at 7000 feet above sea level. This road goes up even more. In fact, it's the road we drove up to go skiing for my first time last December.

My mother-in-law did this walk last year. Here's what she had to say:

Please feel free to donate money for my walk up SNOWBOWL ROAD.... or you can join me, family and friends for the climb of your life. I made it to the very top last year and it was an exhilarating experience -- all 7 miles are uphill with beautiful vistas along the way and at the top.

I'm not always very good at expressing my emotions so this may be the first time my mother-in-law reads this but, I was so proud of her for doing this! I want to be able to do it with her next year. I may even see how much of it, if any, I could run! But, until then, I'll support her from here and ask that you think about donating money, too.

After August 15th, I'm planning to do the PAWS Run for Their Lives 8K again. I did this one last year and it was a lot of fun. I believe this one is on September 27th.

Finally, I'm still waiting to find out when and where the Golden Apple 5K race is. Last year it was the first weekend of November and the start was less than a mile from my house. If that's the case this year, I'm totally doing it again.

So, yeah, I'm definitely sticking to shorter distances for awhile.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dog Tired

Last night I went for my first run post-half-marathon. That's right. I went over a week without running. Craziness!

I thought my first run back would be sluggish. Although, as I laced up my shoes, I was itching to get going. I decided to take the dog with me for part of my run. I figured if I ran slow then she wouldn't get too tired. If I was running to fast, she would slow me down.

We walked around a bit so she could, ahem, clear her system, then we took off. I decided not to get too far from the house so that I could drop Trinka Deu back off if she started to lag behind. Also, they're doing major construction on some of the streets I cross on my usual route and I wanted to avoid that.

Interestingly enough, I've never really run around my neighborhood. I hate doing loops that go by my house because I was always afraid I'd be too tempted to stop. Out and backs are my bread and butter of running. But last night I did one loop around part of the neighborhood and realized I'd gone almost 1.5 miles. Interesting.

I dropped the dog off and decided to run the same loop again to make for an even three miles.

I don't know if it was the new route, the fact that I took over a week off, the short distance or the (very) short break to toss the dog back in the house, but I ran some awesome negative splits. I felt speedy. I didn't feel worn out. And aside for some slight foot pain on the bottom of my right foot (it may be time for new shoes), the run felt fabulous! I wasn't as dog tired as I thought I'd be :-) I was sweaty, though. And, yes, I did just post the photographic evidence. Although it was overcast and I felt one or two raindrops, the air temperature was over 80 degrees and, as always, humid. Sweat city!

I'm still debating what I'm going to do in terms of running. My long-term goals are to keep lowering my 5K time, get my 10K time solidly under an hour, run a sub 2-hour half-marathon, and, of course, run (or run-walk) a marathon. Which to tackle first? I don't know. But I do know that I think I need to just run for the sake of running for awhile. Last night reminded me that sometimes you just need to get out there and enjoy it without any predetermined goals. You know, run like you were a dog :-)

Route:--Elev. Avg:620 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:07/27/09Up/Downhill: [+16/-16]
Time:06:13 PMDifficulty:2.2 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 82 F temp; 47% humidity
 82 F heat index; winds SW 13 G 22

Distance: 2.97 miles
Speed:6.3 mph
Pace:9' 28 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 51+0' 236.1-0.2-3 ft
29' 28+0' 006.3-0.0+6 ft
end8' 59-0' 296.7+0.3-3 ft
Versus average of 9' 28 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Napa to Sonoma Half-Marathon Race Report

Click to see this full size. Holly and I are in the middle, in pink, with our arms raised.

I apologize for the belated race report. Almost a week after the race I'm just now sitting down to write about it. Hey, a girl's gotta enjoy her vacation, too!

I suppose, though, you could have always read Holly's report which is really good. In fact, I'm totally tempted to just link to hers and call it a day. But, I suppose I'll give my take on the race, too :-)

For those of you that don't know the history, Holly and I have been online friends for at least 5 years. However, we'd never met each other in person. We started running about the same time and, although Holly had to deal with a knee injury and surgery, we decided last year that we were going to run a half-marathon together in 2009. We chose the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon because it's close to her and it's in a part of the country I love to visit. I was also able to convince my parents to take their annual wine country vacation with me at the same time. They rented a fabulous house for us all to stay in and were absolutely wonderful about coming out to cheer for us at the race.

My mom even offered to cook us a pasta dinner before the race, but Holly and I already had plans to attend the pre-race dinner at the Nicholson Ranch Winery.

Dinner consisted of several wonderful salads and pastas, bread, and two yummy desserts. Of course there was wine, too, but Holly and I decided to abstain. During dessert we listed to the Kimi Puntillo, the author of Great Races, Incredible Places. She shared a slideshow of photos of some of her favorite races while she talked about what it was like to run them. Running in Antarctica? How about on Mt. Everest? The Great Wall of China? She's done races on all three and many, many more. I'll probably check her book out of the library at some point.

After dinner we headed back to the house to prep for our 4:30 AM wake-up! I laid out all my gear and I thought I'd be too excited to sleep, but I managed. Well, after I teared up a little bit thinking about how this day that we'd been planning for since freaking October 2008 was finally here.

When my alarm sounded at 4:30 I jumped out of bed, dressed, and ate my standard English Muffin with peanut butter and cranberries. We drove to the shuttle bus lot and watched the sun rise on our ride to the start line. I think we must have been one of the first groups to arrive as there were hardly any people milling about.

That quickly changed, though. And, before we knew it (and after a trip to the port-a-potties) we headed to the start line. We decided to hang out with then 10-11 minute mile group to ensure we wouldn't go out too fast. Check out this line of runners waiting for the start:

The first hill was killer. Half a mile straight up. And although what goes up must come down, we spent most of the race conquering hill after hill. I mean, take a look at the elevation chart as reported by Holly's Garmin:

Other than that first huge incline, those hills were sneaky. I was not prepared for sneaky hills. In fact, although our plan had been to stick to 10:00 minute miles or faster, we only hit that on the second mile, which was mostly downhill. My body naturally tried to speed up but Holly kept reminding me to reign it in lest I be too exhausted to finish strong.

We chatted as much as we could. We laughed at funny shirts. We enjoyed being cheered for by random strangers. We hammed it up for the race photographers. I'd never seen so many photographers along the course and I took advantage of it.

But, at mile 10 I hit a wall. I started having trouble breathing just like I did the last time I ran 13 miles in training. Holly was awesome, though, and talked and walked me through the gasping-for-air episodes. I don't know what it is about mile 10, but we both hit a wall. I tried hard to fight it off but it slammed down on me anyway. I think I must have a mental block about mile 10. The lack of shade and the sun beating down didn't help things, either.

I have to say, though, that the other runners in this race were totally awesome. There was so much camaraderie. Holly and I kept leap-frogging these two women who were running for the big Crohns and Colitis charity team. "Go girls in pink!" they would yell. "Go girls in orange!" we would yell when we passed them.

Click to see larger. See if you can find Holly and I in the middle of the pack.

At one point we were trudging along and a guy ran up next to us. He took he headphones off his head and held them out. "Can you hear this??" he asked. We shook our heads no. "It's Pink Floyd! They're singing 'run run run run'!" We all smiled at one another and off he went.

Sometime during mile 12 I realized we were running behind the school were we'd parked the car what seemed like eons ago. "Hey!" I shouted. "We're right by the car! Should we just head over there now?" The ladies running in front of us laughed and said, "I can't believe you just said that out loud!"

And when we crossed the finish line, holding our hands together and high above our heads, I screamed with happiness. The announcer yelled our names as we sprinted.

Our goal was to finish strong and we did. Sure, there were quite a few walk breaks in there (during which Holly informed me I walk super fast) but at the end of this race I felt better than I did when I finished my first half-marathon. Granted, my time for this one was 7 minutes slower than my first one, but I was able to smile and, instead of standing around dazed, I was able to navigate my way through the food and water (post-race watermelon for the win!) and even manage to pose for some great post-race photos.

After collecting our commemorative wine glasses and checking out a few free goody booths (more post-race than at the pre-race expo, actually), we walked back to our car. On the way back to the rental house we talked about how good the pool would feel. We were so excited about the pool, in fact, that we barely manged to get off our shoes and Garmins before jumping in. Hey, running clothes are essentially the same material as swimsuits, right??

Pizza, chilling, and later, napping followed suit.

My goals for this race? Finish and have fun. I have to say I accomplished both. As much as I wanted the race to be over while I was out there, a part of me never wanted it to end. I already miss Holly and the California wine country. Who's up for another one?

P.S. If you want to see ALL the photos, both race and vacation, check them all out here.

Official Stats:

Time: 2:20:41
Overall Place: 1224/2280
Sex Place: 724/1569
Age Group Place: 169/318

Route:--Elev. Avg:60 ft
Location:Napa, CAElev. Gain:-59 ft
Date:07/19/09Up/Downhill: [+508/-567]
Time:07:06 AMDifficulty:3.1 / 5.0
 63 F temp; 77% humidity
 63 F heat index; winds SW 3

Distance: 13.19 miles
Speed:5.6 mph
Pace:10' 46 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 49+0' 035.5-0.0-26 ft
29' 53-0' 536.1+0.5-52 ft
310' 14-0' 325.9+0.3-16 ft
410' 19-0' 275.8+0.2+9 ft
510' 31-0' 155.7+0.1-39 ft
610' 13-0' 335.9+0.3+16 ft
710' 12-0' 345.9+0.3-6 ft
810' 33-0' 135.7+0.10 ft
911' 19+0' 335.3-0.3+49 ft
1010' 21-0' 255.8+0.2-16 ft
1112' 05+1' 195.0-0.6+10 ft
1211' 27+0' 415.2-0.3-6 ft
1311' 12+0' 265.3-0.2+13 ft
end13' 36+2' 504.4-1.2+6 ft
Versus average of 10' 46 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

And I'm spent

The short of it?

Hot and hilly.

Official Chip Time: 2:20:41
Place: 1223/2278

Neither of us got a PR, but we had fun, lots of laughs, and supported one another the entire time. And that's exactly what I wanted!

Full race report coming later. Maybe after I finish enjoying my vacation! In fact, if you want to see some other photos of what I've been doing besides running 13.1 miles, check out Holly's blog!.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

California Runnin'


The picture above is of Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, California. And that's where I ran with Holly yesterday!

We did a nice easy run complete with a hill! My first real hill! And I killed that sucker! Granted, we were going nice and easy and we quit chatting while tackling it, but I still made it up with out walking.

Our plan was to go slow, which we did. But, we also ran negative splits! The scenery was beautiful and I really liked being able to see where Holly runs. And, of course, meeting Holly was great! Yes, this was the first time we'd ever met. I think we got along like gangbusters.

After our run we went to brunch, then off to shower, and then walk around Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is home to the Charles Shultz Museum and lots of fun Peanuts character statues. We took our pictures with a bunch of them. Aren't we cute?

Then it was back to the place I'm staying to have fun at the pool.

Today is the expo and pasta dinner. And tomorrow we race!

Yesterday's stats:

Route:--Elev. Avg:313 ft
Location:Santa Rosa, CAElev. Gain:+32 ft
Date:07/17/09Up/Downhill: [+173/-141]
Time:08:37 AMDifficulty:1.5 / 5.0
Weather:A Few Clouds
 51 F temp; 92% humidity
 51 F heat index; winds Calm

Distance: 3.02 miles
Speed:5.8 mph
Pace:10' 19 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 33+0' 145.7-0.1+29 ft
210' 18-0' 015.8+0.0+7 ft
39' 54-0' 256.1+0.2-23 ft
end11' 40+1' 215.1-0.7+19 ft
Versus average of 10' 19 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dinner Rush


Most likely by the time you read this, I'll be on my way to the airport to catch my plane to California. But last night I was rushing around trying to cram about 800 things into a few hours.

One of those things was doing a 5 mile run. Technically it was supposed to be a tempo run with one mile warm-up, three miles at 9:45, and one mile cool-down.

When I got home from work I immediately changed into my running clothes and then went to the kitchen to prep dinner. I was making meatloaf and knew it needed to cook for an hour. Perfect, I thought. I'll toss it in the oven, do my run, and be home before it's even finished.

Did you ever have to do those timed multiplication tests in elementary school? Ones where you would be given a sheet of equations (7x9=?; 7x25=?; etc) and you had X amount of time to complete them? I hated those. Something about having a time limit freaked me out. I think that's what happened to me tonight.

On top of feeling like I had to rush my run, I also forgot to eat a snack between lunch and running. I realized this half-way through mile one. So, combine feeling rushed with a lack of food and you have a recipe for a brain melt-down.

Sure it was hot out, but I don't think that's what really caused me to stop and walk after only 2.5 miles. I think I really psyched myself out about needing to get home before dinner overcooked and the fact that I hadn't eaten since 12:15.

Also, I'll be honest, I didn't pause my Garmin every time I had to wait to cross an intersection. And there was a TON of traffic tonight. I don't know what was up with that. But I'm not going to blame my lack of speed on that.

I was really hoping that my last run on familiar terrain would be a strong one. Not so much. Here's hoping that my next run will be better. How could it not be? Holly and I are doing it together! The plan is to do an easy 3 or 4 on Friday morning together. Then Saturday we'll rest up before hitting the expo and the pasta dinner.

The place we're staying allegedly has WiFi and I've hooked my Garmin up to my laptop. Therefore, I should be able to keep you all updated. Stay tuned!

P.S. Bones in Motion is being a PITA so most of my fun graphs and maps might not show up. Oh well. Par for the course for this run!

Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:07/15/09Up/Downhill: [+98/-98]
Time:06:24 PMDifficulty:2.6 / 5.0
Weather:A Few Clouds
 82 F temp; 47% humidity
 82 F heat index; winds W 17 G 24

Distance: 5.00 miles
Speed:5.4 mph
Pace:11' 03 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 44-0' 195.6+0.2+4 ft
29' 46-1' 176.1+0.7+10 ft
311' 43+0' 405.1-0.30 ft
410' 07-0' 565.9+0.5-7 ft
512' 30+1' 274.8-0.6-7 ft
end16' 40+5' 373.6-1.80 ft
Versus average of 11' 03 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'Arium Run

Kim took this and the photo below on her run a few weeks ago. I'm stealing them because it pretty much looked just like this today when we ran the same path.

Normally I do my three mile runs on Mondays. But I wanted to get one more run in with Kim before my race on Sunday. Since she does her three mile runs on Tuesdays, I just shoved mine over one day. Worked out well since I had my book club last night after work (by the way, we read Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. Anyone else read it?) and I always feel rushed when I run before book club.

Anyway, today we planned to go SLOW. We also decided to head south on the lake front path instead of north. I'd never been south so I was excited about that. Turns out that south takes you past both Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. And right on the lake. The sun was super hot so the wind blowing off the water felt really nice.

So nice, in fact, that our slow pace was still speedy. We're bad at slow. Although, I always feel bad because Kim is chatting away, asking me questions, and I'm over there huffing and puffing trying to answer and then never asking her anything back. But at least it keeps my mind occupied and I rarely think about how fast we're going. Today, though, I glanced at my Garmin (which was sort of behaving itself for once) and realized that we were hitting an 8:35 pace. Yeah, I asked to slow down. All the way to 9:00 minutes per mile on the way back! Whew.


I really, really enjoy running with friends. I never realized it until just recently. Which is why I'm so excited that I'm running this next half-marathon with a friend! Holly just made an awesome post about how excited she is for me to get there. Sure, I'm excited and nervous about my race but I'm mostly excited to do it WITH someone. Someone who I've known online for years but never met in person. Someone who gave me a reason to not only take a vacation but run in a place I never dreamed I would run. Someone who inspired me to run in the first place. I know she's hoping for a PR (personal record) in this race. While it would be fabulous if I got one myself I'm more excited to be doing something I love with someone I care about. And, yes, I truly believe you can care about someone even if you've never met them in person.

And with that, I'll leave you with today's stats while I go off to squeeze in the last little bit of core strength training for the week.

Route:--Elev. Avg:581 ft
Location:Chicago, ILElev. Gain:-3 ft
Date:07/14/09Up/Downhill: [+88/-91]
Time:11:42 AMDifficulty:2.0 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 77 F temp; 29% humidity
 76 F heat index; winds S 12

Distance: 3.01 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 14 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 32+0' 186.3-0.2-13 ft
29' 10-0' 046.5+0.0-7 ft
39' 00-0' 146.7+0.2+17 ft
end6' 40-2' 349.0+2.50 ft
Versus average of 9' 14 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com