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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Snowy Day

That was the view from my gym where I did a 3 mile treadmill run on Saturday. Why the treadmill? Look at that snow! It was coming down fast all day. Enough so that by the time you plowed a road or shoveled a sidewalk no one would know you'd done anything ten minutes later. Also, I wanted to get in some strength training in addition to a run.

I did my 3 miles on the treadmill in just over 29 minutes. The first mile was the worst. The second mile I ramped up the speed every quarter mile or so and then slowed back down for the last mile. Sort of like a tempo run, I guess.

I'm pretty happy I managed to get in a whole three miles on the treadmill. My last few treadmill attempts had not been pretty. However, this upcoming week brings a new challenge. Why? Well, you see, our cruise ship leaves today! Last time we took a cruise I ran once on the outdoor jogging track just to say that I'd done it. This time? I'm bringing the Garmin. I want to see what it does on a ship at sea.

Plus, the weather is bound to be better than that snowy scene up above :-)

See you in a week!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Here Comes Santa Claus

moar funny pictures

Happy Christmas Eve to those of you who celebrate! I've been fortunate enough to have Christmas Eve off work and school since at least 2002! The joys of working for government and then academia after college graduation. However, I've never quite been able to celebrate it the way I did this morning.

Last night I laid out my outfit for the group run this morning. Black tights, green long-sleeved shirt covered with a red long-sleeved shirt, red gloves, white fleece headband, and, the topper, my Santa hat headband! Jason was still asleep so I didn't ask him to take a picture. So, here's what you get:

When I went into the bedroom to grab something Jason asked sleepily from the bed, "When did you grow a horn?" I suppose in the dark it could be construed as such. However, I thought it was awesome! So much better than a full on hat that would make me overheat while running!

I met up with the running group at a local coffee house/bakery/deli. We had an excellent turn out! Although the sidewalks were super icy, the streets were fairly clear and the freezing rain the forecast called for held off until after we were done. There was quite the assortment of red outfits and Santa hats. But no one else had a Santa headband like mine! Lots of pictures were taken but I don't know when I'll see them. If I get them at a later date I'll try to remember to post them. I didn't get many compliments on my headgear, but I did get a lot of congratulations on my two 10K PRs in November. The results were listed in our latest newsletter which just came in the mail this week.

I started out running with a small group of "slow pokes" like me but lost them after half a mile when one of them slipped on some ice. I stuck with another member until he turned around at the one mile mark. The problem then? We were going a new route and I didn't know it! I tried to book it to catch up with the rest of the group which is why mile 2 was my fastest. I didn't quite catch up to them, but I managed to keep them in my sights for the rest of the run and I finished up right on their heels.

I'd brought my YakTrax but didn't wear them. There was only one super slick section of sidewalk where I wished I'd had them but I managed to get through it with only one almost-slip.

After running we hung out at the cafe drinking, in my case, Chai tea lattes and eating muffins. We had so many people we practically took over the place with our chatter and laughing. I loved it. I took off after an hour, ducked into Old Navy to grab myself a little something, and then I went to the gym! I mean, I was across the street. How could I skip it? One of the running group members was going to sit in the steam room. While that sounded heavenly, I didn't bring appropriate steam room gear. So, instead, I did about an hour of strength training.

A five mile run followed by an hour of strength training on Christmas Eve morning? I can't think of a better gift to myself.

Except maybe tormenting my dogs. Who knew a Santa hat headband could be so versatile?


Trinka Deu


Route:--Elev. Avg:629 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:12/24/09Up/Downhill: [+52/-52]
Time:08:07 AMDifficulty:2.5 / 5.0
 32 F temp; 75% humidity
 32 F heat index; winds E 8

Distance: 5.05 miles
Speed:6.4 mph
Pace:9' 20 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 45+0' 256.2-0.30 ft
28' 27-0' 537.1+0.7-9 ft
39' 17-0' 036.5+0.00 ft
49' 43+0' 236.2-0.3+22 ft
59' 24+0' 046.4-0.0-3 ft
end9' 00-0' 206.7+0.2-9 ft
Versus average of 9' 20 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Misery One Miler

I feel like I dropped off the face of the planet for awhile there. Celebrating the holiday with family and having house guests left me little time or motivation for running, going to the gym, or anything active. My mom and I had plans to go for long walks while she was visiting but the weather conspired against us.

The weather also conspired against my attempt to run just one mile as fast as I could for the Winter Misery One Miler. But, never fear! I did run. And it was pretty miserable.

My mom was awesome and offered to make dinner on Monday night while I went running with the running club. It was cold out, but the roads were relatively clear. However, I hadn't run in almost a week and my body just was not in the mood. My legs felt like lead. My lungs felt as though I had rubbed my face in cat (note: I'm horribly allergic to cats. Not just sneezing and itchy eyes, but my throat actually swells shut and my chest gets tight. Sort of like an asthma attack.). I didn't even take off my gloves and normally they are the first things to go after about a mile.

I fell behind almost immediately. I fought with my Garmin for almost the first half mile. As much as I wanted to go faster, I just couldn't find the energy. I was SO happy when the park that marks the 4 mile marker appeared out of the darkness. I was the last to arrive. I guess this just goes to show you how important routine is when running. My routine's been off for almost two weeks.

So, instead of running one speedy mile, I ran a slow, painful 5.5 miles (although, the Garmin indicates I only ran 5.1 but that's because it wouldn't find a satellite for the first few minutes).

My results for the Winter Misery One Miler? My fastest mile (out of 5.5) was 9:18.


And the temperature? A balmy 29oF.

You know what you need after a run like that? A nice, warm meal. Preferably prepared by someone else. My mom had a bowl of Orcecchiette with Roasted Broccoli and Walnuts (she also added chicken sausage) all ready for me when I got home. Yum! But a bowl of soup would have been good, too! Good thing I won Healthy Tipping Point's soup give away! My winnings came in the mail this week:

The swag included three cans of soup, a reusable bag, a pen, a notepad, and coupons. Awesome!

The running group is having a morning run on Christmas Eve starting at 8AM. We're all supposed to wear Santa Hats or red and green. I couldn't find a Santa hat, per se, but I did find something. I promise, there will be pictures. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside


The cold really wipes you out, doesn't it? And I feel like this year we skipped from shorts weather to freezing with very little time in between.

Yesterday morning I felt as though I'd been hit by a truck. If I drank caffeine it definitely would have been a double dose day. As it was, I dragged myself to work and managed to keep my eyes open. I debated running at lunch. With the windchill it was 6 degrees F outside. Running outside would either wake me up or put me into an afternoon coma. In the end, I decided to go for it.

We did the "short" three miler which still ended up being almost 3.5 miles. However, we went north on the lakefront path which we hadn't done in awhile. Turns out they're doing some construction on the bridge over the Chicago River. Part of the concrete sidewalk is missing so they diverted foot traffic onto the bridge itself. Running on the metal grates covered with plywood certainly is springy!

I let the guys go ahead and hung in the back with the other woman. The cold makes me sluggish and I wasn't in the mood to be speedy. Same reason I skipped the OPRC run on Monday night (and walked/jogged on the treadmill instead). I can't run that hard all the time in this cold. My joints don't like it.

I bundled up in three layers on top and two layers on bottom and was pretty toasty by mile 2. I think the worst part of running in the cold is the first few minutes. You know you'll warm up but it's just so hard to go out there with fewer clothes on.

Also, has anyone else noticed that exhaust fumes are more pronounced when it's cold outside? During our run yesterday we decided that the benefits of running are probably off-set by all the exhaust we breathe in.

Much to my surprise, the cold weather actually perked me up instead of turning me into a hibernating bear. And when my boss let us off work early, I headed to the gym for some strength training. My abs actually feel a little sore today. Excellent!

It might be quiet around here for the next few days as I prepare for holiday celebrations. But, first, a few fun announcements! Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point was doing an Amy's Kitchen soup pack give-away earlier this week...and I won! My plan? To take them to work for lunches so that I can warm up after my freezing lunch time runs.

Caitlin is also doing another Pile On The Miles Challenge until January 1st. There's still no chance of me winning, but it's still fun to watch the mileage add up.

Not in the mood to pile on the miles? How about one mile? Running Laur is hosting a Winter Misery One Miler "race" which seriously has the cutest logo:

I'm trying to decide if I want to count my mile as part of a longer run or if I want to run one mile as fast as I can. I've never done just the latter.

Finally, I have an idea for a giveaway brewing in my head. It's not really running related and it's definitely not unisex (sorry, guys!) but I figure a little branching out never hurt anyone. Stay tuned!



Route:--Elev. Avg:588 ft
Location:Chicago, ILElev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:12/15/09Up/Downhill: [+147/-144]
Time:12:19 PMDifficulty:2.6 / 5.0
Weather:A Few Clouds
 20 F temp; 42% humidity
 20 F heat index; winds NW 17 G 24

Distance: 3.44 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 10 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 03-0' 076.6+0.1-23 ft
210' 02+0' 526.0-0.6+10 ft
38' 44-0' 266.9+0.3+4 ft
end9' 22+0' 126.4-0.1+10 ft
Versus average of 9' 10 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oh Christmas Nine!

Image from Complete Running

I may have a bruise on my kneecap. The sidewalks may be spattered with snow and ice. I may have had a to-do list a mile long. But, I still managed to run yesterday. My wonderful husband offered to take care of a few things on the to-do list so that I could go get in a run.

My plan? A minimum of 8 miles at whatever slow pace I wanted. And what did I end up doing? 9 miles at a 9:43 average pace. It felt great!

Sure, it was a little cold when I left the house. And, yes, it sucked having to wait at stop lights in the chilly air in sweat-soaked clothes. I jumped up and down and paced around to keep my legs from freezing up. But my knee didn't bother me at all. I did feel a few twinges in my right Achilles tendon, though. Have to keep an eye on that. Also, an English muffin with peanut butter and a homemade lemon bar for breakfast are not really appropriate running fuel. There was one point when I felt rather sick to my stomach, but thankfully it passed.

I ran on the street for much of my run. The streets were almost totally clear of snow and ice but many of the sidewalks were not. I do own YakTrax, but the issue is that they don't work as well when the pavement goes from snow and ice to clear and then back again. So, the street it was. Although, noon on a Sunday in the residential neighborhoods I run in means not many cars.

And when I got home, I was greeted by one of my most favorite smells in the whole world:

While I was out running I ran past a Christmas tree lot and thoroughly enjoyed the smell of the evergreens. One of the to-dos that my hubby offered to do was go buy our Christmas tree. Running past that lot made me look forward to getting home to our very own tree.

I also "ran" a few errands and then ended up run/walking around the block with the dogs after dinner. Let me tell you, sprinting to the end of the block with your greyhound after drinking a beer and eating pizza for dinner? Blugh.

Also, trying to take a photo of your sweet but stupid greyhound in front of the Christmas tree? I'd rather run 9 miles :-)


Route:--Elev. Avg:625 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:12/13/09Up/Downhill: [+45/-45]
Time:10:58 AMDifficulty:2.8 / 5.0
 36 F temp; 85% humidity
 36 F heat index; winds W 6

Distance: 9.01 miles
Speed:6.2 mph
Pace:9' 43 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 52+0' 096.1-0.1+4 ft
211' 32+1' 495.2-1.0+6 ft
39' 26-0' 176.4+0.20 ft
49' 35-0' 086.3+0.1-9 ft
59' 39-0' 046.2+0.0+10 ft
69' 51+0' 086.1-0.10 ft
710' 06+0' 235.9-0.2-3 ft
811' 33+1' 505.2-1.0-6 ft
end9' 45+0' 026.2-0.00 ft
Versus average of 9' 43 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When the Universe Speaks

In an effort not to be a total slug during my crazy-schedule week, I walked/ran 3.2 miles on the treadmill on Friday morning. I walked much more than I ran, but I did get in just under 45 minutes of movement so that felt good.

I didn't run Saturday morning. I enjoyed sleeping in after being on my feet until midnight Friday night.

Then, Saturday night, once we got home from a friend's house, I went to sit down on the edge of the tub in my bathroom and rammed the center of my right kneecap into the corner of the bathroom vanity. It hurt so bad it burned and tears sprung to my eyes.

So, I'm sitting here icing it and hoping that the swelling and bruising go down. I was hoping to get in a long run on Sunday. I suppose I'll have to see how it feels in a few hours.

In the mean time, in order to take my mind off the pain and irritation, I've been reading blogs while I ice my knee. And Jamie at Oh! How Lovely! has two AWESOME give aways going on. They don't have anything to do with running. Which is good right now since I don't really want to think about it. Anyway, you can check out her posts to win the Ultimate Break Up Survival Party In a Box (I'm not breaking up with anyone, but I think she put together a drool-worthy assortment of goodies) or a $200 Gift Certificate to Ann Taylor Loft. Winning either thing would definitely distract me from how crappy I feel about not getting in as much running or gym time as I wanted to this past week.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that next week goes better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Run That Wasn't

Remember my grand plan to run this morning since I don't have to be into work until 11:30 AM?

The Weather This Morning

Will anyone fault me if I didn't? I am hardcore, but I am not that hardcore.

We should all just be happy I managed to drag myself out from under the covers of my bed.

At least the sun is shining, right?

P.S. I know I could have run on the treadmill, but my right hip is also bothering me. So, I'm currently thinking about taking the rest of the week off.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last But Fast

Photo by Tim Norris

I came thisclose to skipping my run on Monday night. I was stressed out about getting all my Christmas shopping and decorating done. But what's better than running as a cure for stress? Not much, in my book.

So, I bundled up and met the group. It certainly wasn't the best run of my life. I was definitely at the very back for 99% of the run. I wasn't in the mood to run fast, though, so towards the end I let myself drop back and run at my own pace. It's so funny, though, when you start out fast and then slow down how slooooow you feel. I was still running a 9:15 or faster pace but I would have sworn I was doing 10 minute miles. Although, if you look at the pace graph, I was getting close. My attempt to keep up with a new guy who was running 8 minute miles may be the only thing that kept my average pace around 9 minutes.

Afterward I chatted with a few people who do the long run on Saturday mornings with the group. I've never gone because it hasn't fit my schedule. I was debating joining them after the first of the year, but now I'm not so sure. Apparently the "slow" people run 9 minute miles. For 10 miles. While that is my goal race pace for longer distances, I'm not there yet! And I don't think it's a good idea to kill myself every Saturday morning. In fact, I've been killing myself almost every time I've run with a group lately and it's starting to take a toll. Last night I could barely get to sleep because of various aches and pains. Not a good sign.

So, with that in mind, instead of running yesterday I did 30 minutes (3 miles) on the elliptical and then did the "Shoulders" weight lifting workout the workout program told me to do. I'm SO glad it didn't make me do Legs again :-)

My plan was to run on Thursday morning before heading in to work in the afternoon. But, it's now blizzard season in Chicago so we'll have to see what the weather and the sidewalks look like tomorrow morning.

After our runs on Monday nights we stand around outside stretching and chatting. Those of us that were at the running group holiday party last week brought up one of the topics we talked about at the party: embarrassing extracurricular activities in high school and college. It all started when I said I didn't run in high school but instead I was on the dance team. Everyone thought this was hilarious and embarrassing. So, I made everyone else share their embarrassing extracurricular activity. Other running group members judged cattle, tasted cheese and milk, impeached the president of the photography club (and then became president), and belonged to the safety club (whatever that is). So, now I ask you: what's the most "embarrassing" extra curricular activity you did in high school (or college)?


Monday Night's Stats

Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:12/07/09Up/Downhill: [+22/-19]
Time:06:32 PMDifficulty:2.7 / 5.0
 31 F temp; 74% humidity
 31 F heat index; winds W 6

Distance: 5.43 miles
Speed:6.7 mph
Pace:9' 01 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 43-0' 186.9+0.20 ft
28' 50-0' 116.8+0.1-9 ft
39' 02+0' 016.6-0.0+3 ft
49' 15+0' 146.5-0.2+7 ft
59' 12+0' 116.5-0.10 ft
end9' 12+0' 116.5-0.1+3 ft
Versus average of 9' 01 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, December 7, 2009

Six on a Saturday

Yep, winter is here.

On Saturday morning I broke out the lined tights, the shorts, the three layers of tops (short sleeved, long sleeved and fleece), the mittens, and the fleece headband. I forgot to set my Garmin outside to find a signal before I left the house though, so there was some standing around freezing while I waited for it to get it's act together.

I would have loved to get in a longer run but since it was the first COLD day of the year for me running-wise (as in, below 30 degrees when I left the house) I didn't want to stress out my lungs or my muscles. Also, I've been feeling very dehydrated lately. Doesn't seem to matter how much I drink, either.

I felt very sluggish the entire time I was out there. I decided after the first mile that I was going to try and run negative splits. It, um, kind of worked. Of course, as bundled up as I was, it wasn't easy for me to glance down at my Garmin so I was just sort of guessing. I suppose that I did pretty well in regards to pacing in that aspect.

I wish I had some interesting anecdote or something to share about this run. But, other than getting passed by two women who were also out running, I've got nothing. I suppose I should be thankful that my town is pretty boring on a Saturday morning, huh?

Also, I have a CRAZY week coming up. No time for running at lunch OR hitting the gym after work. However, I get to go into work late on Thursday so hopefully I can run beforehand. I should be able to run with the OPRC tonight after work as well, as long as the snow on the roads is mostly gone by then. Yes, it snowed last night. Definitely winter.


Route:--Elev. Avg:0 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:12/05/09Up/Downhill: [+0/-0]
Time:08:35 AMDifficulty:0 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 25 F temp; 59% humidity
 25 F heat index; winds SW 9

Distance: 6.00 miles
Speed:6.2 mph
Pace:9' 36 /mi
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 53+0' 176.1-0.2-- ft
29' 39+0' 036.2-0.0-- ft
39' 27-0' 096.3+0.1-- ft
49' 22-0' 146.4+0.2-- ft
59' 38+0' 026.2-0.0-- ft
69' 26-0' 106.3+0.1-- ft
end********** ft
Versus average of 9' 36 min/mile
** Insufficient data to calculate this split

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Decisions, Decisions


So, I figured now that race season is over for this year that I should start thinking about next year's calendar.

Why oh why oh why do all the races I want to do have to be in May???

For real, here's the list of races I would like to do:

1. Wisconsin Marathon or Half Marathon - May 1, 2010 (Kim is planning to run the half and I think it would be fun to run it with her)

2. Illinois Marathon or Half Marathon - May 1, 2010 (in my hometown and Lindsay just told me she's signed up for the half)

3. Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon or Half Marathon - May 2, 2010 (I went to college just outside Cincy and would love to go back and run this race)

4. Indianapolis Mini Marathon - May 8, 2010 (I've always wanted to run on the Indianapolis Speedway)

5. Quarryman Challenge 10 Miler - May 8, 2010 (apparently my lunch time running group does this one every year)

6. Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K - May 16, 2010 (one of my best friends who recently got into running and who lives in Cleveland told me about this one. At the very least, I'd love to run the 10K with her.)

7. Soldier Field 10 Miler - May 29, 2010 (I'm planning to run this with Holly who is planning to fly out to visit me that weekend)

And those are just the ones I know about!

Plus, I'm still trying to decide what marathon to do in 2010. Since it will be my first (and possibly last) marathon so I want to make a good choice. Right now the only thing that's for sure on the race calendar is the Soldier Field 10 Miler so I don't know if I want to run my first marathon right before that. I just don't know if I'd be recovered enough to do well at the 10 miler later that month. If I don't run a marathon in May then I'll probably sign up to run the Chicago Marathon or the Grand Rapids Marathon in October 2010.

Too many decisions!

Do you ever have this problem? What do you do?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Wrap-Up

Image from TSBVI

Can you believe it's December 1st? I wish I knew where the time went. I've barely started gift shopping or planning for our cruise at the end of the month (yes, we're going on a cruise right after Christmas. Mexican Riviera, baby!).

I just added up my total mileage for November. It's not one of my highest months ever, but it's still over 50 miles. Total? 52.05. That includes a 5.5 mile run last night with the OPRC during which my Garmin totally crapped out on me again. Although, it may have been user error that caused it to not log 2 of the 5.5 miles. Grrr.

It wasn't my best run ever, but I suppose I can forgive myself that since I raced two GREAT 10Ks during the month of November. I think that makes up for the lowest monthly mileage yet.

What else have I accomplished in November? Although I stopped taking Pilates, I've been doing strength training on a regular basis and I tried two new cardio classes. I've run fairly regularly yet I manage to avoid the treadmill for the most part. Thank goodness for running groups!

Speaking of running groups, I ran with my lunch time group today. Less than 24 hours after running fairly fast with the OPRC. My legs felt like lead. However, I still managed to maintain a 9 minute per mile pace for 3.6 miles. It was rough, though, and everyone else totally left me in the dust. Oh well. I have a good excuse!

So, what am I looking forward to in December? Well, I don't have any races planned and most of my evenings and weekends are booked up with social, work and family events. Therefore, I have no specific numbers goals for the month. If I could keep my monthly total around 50 miles, that would be great. But, if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen. I would, however, like to stay in bikini shape. I suspect I'll be wearing one in a few short weeks.