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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And the ladder goes down

Last night at track we did a reverse ladder. What's a reverse ladder?

1600 meters
1200 meters
800 meters
400 meters
800 meters
1200 meters
1600 meters

I knew it wasn't going to be a good night when I felt exhausted just doing our warm-up strides. Not sure if it was just because of the heat, the sun, the weights workout I did the night before, a lack of calories, or what.

If it tells you anything about how out of it I was, I left the house and was halfway to the track before I realized I'd forgotten both my visor and my Garmin.

So, only estimates on my times for this workout:

1600 - 8:04
1200 - 6:13
800 - 4:10
400 - 2:04
800 - 4:23
1200 - 6:31
1600 - 8:34

Yeah, that didn't go so well. I completely failed at pacing. Just like always, I started out too fast and couldn't hold on at the end. But! I finished the workout so that's something, at least.

Right now I'm just grateful that I can run. It seems like all my running buddies are plagued with injuries. My track buddy and the woman I ran with through the flooding on Saturday is out with a knee issue that may require surgery. My old Monday night running buddy is out with what I think it a torn tendon in her groin. I hope I'm not cursed!

My left knee seemed to be having sympathy pains during one of our walk breaks last night. It was fine while running and fine when I got home, but not so fine while walking after the second 800. Interesting. I'll have to keep an eye on it.

I'd also like to figure out if my seeming lack of endurance is physical or mental. Any suggestions on how to do that?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Good One

Amazing the difference a few days or weeks can make. Last night I ran 8 miles with the running group. Thankfully the roads we ran on were not flooded. However, it was amazing to run through the neighborhoods and see all the belongings from people's basements now piled on the curb. It wasn't just our basement that flooded.

The lack of water wasn't the only difference. The weather was actually spectacular. Lower humidity, lower air temperature, not quite as sunny. Gorgeous. Originally I thought I'd run my 8 miles at a nice, easy 10 minute/mile pace. But the weather was good, the company was good, and I felt good. So instead I pushed myself a little harder. It was supposed to be a tempo run after all.

We stopped for a short Gatorade break at mile 4 and when arrived back at our starting point we got talked into going for gelato!

Hey, one of the perks of being a running adult is that you can eat your dessert before you eat your dinner and not feel guilty about it. Right?

Anyway, I had mango gelato and it was lovely. Big shout out to the gal who recently moved to the area and is making friends by bribing us with ice cream.

Overall it was a great run and exactly what I needed after spending all day hauling water damaged stuff out of our basement. I *almost* skipped running due to exhaustion but I'm so glad I didn't. And let me tell you, that shower I finally got to take when I got home and learned our water heater was working again? Priceless.


Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:-4 ft
Date:07/26/10Up/Downhill: [+68/-72]
Time:06:33 PMDifficulty:2.2 / 5.0

Distance: 7.78 miles
Speed:6.4 mph
Pace:9' 24 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 09-0' 156.5+0.2-3 ft
29' 25+0' 016.4-0.0-9 ft
39' 36+0' 126.2-0.1+3 ft
48' 58-0' 266.7+0.3+7 ft
59' 06-0' 186.6+0.2-13 ft
69' 26+0' 026.4-0.0+10 ft
79' 38+0' 146.2-0.2+3 ft
end9' 46+0' 226.1-0.20 ft
Versus average of 9' 24 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, July 26, 2010

Too Extreme for the Xtreme

Saturday morning dawned and the skies looked rather ominous. I'd fallen asleep to the sound of thunder and pouring rain and the 5AM skies didn't look or sound much better. But, seeing as how I'm one of those crazy runners, I laced up my shoes, gathered my gear, and headed out the back door to meet three other running club carpoolers. I mean, we had a 10 mile race to run!

I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I drove through gigantic puddles on the way to the meeting spot and I practically got soaked moving from my car to the carpool car. Then we realized that one of the major interstates was closed due to flooding. As we drove to another interstate we realized how bad the flooding really was. There were cars stalled in the water on the road we were on. It was at least a foot deep in places.

This photo was taken of that same road about 4 hours later

Yet, we soldiered on and joked that apparently this race was going to be a triathlon.

Once we finally arrived at the race after a rather harrowing drive in the rain it was pouring and thundering and lightning so much that no one wanted to get out of the car. Finally, Maribeth and another running club member decided to brave the elements to pick up packets, use the port-a-potty and see what was going on. They arrived back at the car with squishy shoes and little information. About 20 minutes before the race was supposed to start I decided to head to the port-a-potties and see if I could get any more information. We'd been checking the radar on our iPhones and debating what was going to happen.

As I approached the main race tent I heard the tail end of a loudspeaker announcement.

"You'll all get an email with information about a new date..."

What? I asked several people for confirmation of what I'd just heard. It was true. The park rangers canceled the race due to the threat of lightning.

I returned to the car with my information to find that my carpool buddies were learning the race's fate from another running club member. Needless to say, we were disappointed. Not only were all of us hoping to get in a long run, but Maribeth was hoping to place in her age group and I was hoping to PR at this distance.

But! Not ones to be daunted by bad weather, we decided to find a place to run 10 miles anyway. We'd passed the bike path on the way to the race so I figured we could just go run there.

"Will it be flooded?" they asked.

"I've never seen it so flooded a person couldn't still run on it" I said.

Well, I have now. We really should have known by the fact that our driver earned his advanced canoeing badge for fording the streets that the bike path, which runs along a creek, would be flooded. But optimism runs high when you really want to get in a run.

I'll let the pictures tell you what we encountered.

Most of the path was a no-go in terms of running. So we ventured out into the neighborhood instead. It was still raining a bit but there was no more lightning or thunder. Just a nice, cool rain that made it wonderful running weather. Except for the whole wading part.

Still, I got in 9 miles and the other three runners did the full 10. And while we're disappointed that we didn't get to race on Saturday, we're optimistic that they'll be able to reschedule it. Plus, we have a great story to tell of adventure and perseverance.

I'll just leave out the part about how when I got home I learned we had three feet of water in our basement. Good thing I wasn't planning on using the treadmill.

Also, did you know that washing machines float?

Neither did I. But at least I know that I can still run 9 miles in sopping wet shoes and run it at a decent pace. I'll let you guess which one I was more pleased to discover.


Route:--Elev. Avg:618 ft
Location:Brookfield, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:07/24/10Up/Downhill: [+124/-124]
Time:07:59 AMDifficulty:2.3 / 5.0

Distance: 9.00 miles
Speed:5.6 mph
Pace:10' 43 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 36-1' 076.2+0.70 ft
211' 39+0' 565.2-0.40 ft
310' 34-0' 095.7+0.1-3 ft
413' 53+3' 104.3-1.3+4 ft
59' 35-1' 086.3+0.7+3 ft
610' 44+0' 015.6-0.0-3 ft
79' 56-0' 476.0+0.40 ft
89' 55-0' 486.0+0.50 ft
910' 13-0' 305.9+0.30 ft
end11' 06+0' 235.4-0.20 ft
Versus average of 10' 43 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ladder Goes Up...

Last week at track we talked about the possibility of trying out a ladder workout. A ladder workout is basically when you start with a short distance, build up to the longer distance, and then go back down to the shorter distance. In our case it went 400m-800m-1200m-1600m-1200m-800m-400m.

The idea is to get your times on each 400, 800, and 1200 to match. This helps you with pacing and pushing yourself when you're tired.

I've never done ladders on the track, only attempted them on the treadmill so imagine my excitement when I arrived at track expecting to debate the merits of 800 or 1600 repeats and instead learning we'd be doing a ladder workout!

But first we did 600 yards of strides. Then it was off to the first rung of the ladder.

"Don't kill yourself!" Our coach yelled as we whooshed passed him.

Here are my times:

400 - 1:54
800 - 4:02
1200 - 6:09
1600 - 8:28
1200 - 6:25
800 - 4:10
400 - 1:48

We took a 60 second break between each "rung". As you can see, my 800 and my 1200 times up the ladder and down the ladder didn't match exactly, but at least the 800 one was close. And, of course, I'm super proud of the fact that my last 400 was faster than my first 400. I bet I could have pushed a little harder in the 1200 and 800 and gotten them closer to my first ones. Regardless, I think this was an awesome workout and I did great. Especially considering it was HOT and sunny. The tank top came off again after the first few laps.

I was a little worried that I was pushing it too hard during the first parts of the laps. I'd find that my first lap was always around 2 minutes but that I would slow down each consecutive lap. I think this means I need to work on my pacing a little more. Any suggestions on how to do that?

Also, I've discovered a new track pet peeve:

People who talk on their cellphone while walking on the track! Also, soccer players.

I felt completely invisible last night. I had to dodge several soccer players who wandered out onto the track (the track surrounds a football field that people play soccer on in the summer) and several walkers who were just totally oblivious to the faster runner coming up behind them. I think we need to have a lesson on track etiquette. Note to anyone reading this: if you're not running, please stay out of the inside lane. I'm happy you're out there. I just can't express that because I'm panting too hard.

In non-track news, I signed up for the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Miler on Saturday. My marathon training plan has me running 12 miles that day but I thought a race would be more fun. I didn't think I was going to be able to do this race because of a family member's birthday party, but it turns out I'm able to. Here's hoping I don't regret it. Maybe I can sleep in the car on my way to the party...

Also, I recently won Anne's $60 CSN Store gift certificate giveaway. Now I have $60 dollars to spend! What to buy, what to buy. What would you get with $60?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Pursuit

Monday night was supposed to be another tempo run but I've since given up looking at my marathon training plan for the paces so I had no idea what I was supposed to run. I just knew I was running the 5.5 mile route.

However, I ended up pairing up with another gal who is usually much faster than me. It worked out well, though, because she really pushed me through some of those middle miles.

Unfortunately, the Garmin was having some serious issues finding and keeping a satellite connection. Actually, it was just having some issues in general. I mean, look at my top speed:

Click to see full sized

Over 400,000 miles an hour? Really? I mean, I know that my running group is fast but considering I spent most of my time chasing down a group of people slightly in front of me they must have been going just under the speed of light.

Anyway, regardless of my Garmin and its flakiness, I was pleased with this run. The weather wasn't perfect (hey, it's still summer after all) but it was one of my best Monday night runs in awhile.

I also tried on a pair of New Balance shoes. I didn't run in them because the heel felt too wide, sadly. They felt great otherwise. Nice and cushy. I wouldn't have turned down a free pair but, alas, I didn't win the raffle. Oh well. Maybe next time!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Friends Make Everything Better

Kim and I traveled with our husbands to my hometown this past weekend and decided to drag ourselves out of bed for a run on Saturday morning. Mica happens to live in my hometown so we convinced her to meet us for our run as well.

For the first time in awhile I was able to run my long run with friends, not worry about my pace, and just enjoy myself. I'm starting to wonder how the hell I managed to do my long runs solo last year. Running with other people makes them so much better!

I couldn't even tell you what we talked about. The three of us just ran along heading from my parents' house to a nearby park. I've run through this park before, but not in July.

There's not much shade in the park. It's called a prairie for a reason. But, we sucked it up and did a nice almost 6 mile loop that ended back at my parents' house.

The plan was to take a short break while Kim switched from running to biking and then I would finish my last 4 miles and Mica would come along for as long as she felt able.

When we got back to the house, though, I checked my cellphone and realized that I'd missed a ton of calls from both my husband and our dog sitter.

Turned out that Phil, our "special" greyhound, had got his tail caught in our storm door and needed emergency surgery. So, instead of taking a short break we took a slightly longer break so I could figure out what was going on. It also gave us an opportunity to refill our water bottles. Good thing, too. As you might be able to tell from these photos, we were quite sweaty.

It was tough to start back up after the break and my glutes protested some but I soldiered on. At about the 8 mile mark we took a walk break to ingest some fuel and pose with some local statuary. Obviously the heat affected our ability to be proper ladies.

Just kidding. We wouldn't have been proper anyway.

The last mile of our run felt REALLY LONG. But at least we found some shade.

In the end Mica and I did 10 miles and Kim did just under 6. I had a great time and barely looked at my Garmin. I just ran and chatted and was happy to be out there. Thanks, ladies, for pushing me and keeping me motivated.

Also, in case you were wondering, Phil is home recovering from having 6 inches of his tail amputated.

I guess now he's "extra special".


Route:--Elev. Avg:734 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:-7 ft
Date:07/17/10Up/Downhill: [+344/-351]
Time:07:19 AMDifficulty:3.0 / 5.0

Distance: 10.07 miles
Speed:5.6 mph
Pace:10' 48 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 30-0' 185.7+0.2+37 ft
210' 32-0' 165.7+0.1-6 ft
310' 50+0' 025.5-0.0-17 ft
410' 45-0' 035.6+0.0-3 ft
511' 48+1' 005.1-0.5+30 ft
611' 34+0' 465.2-0.4-29 ft
710' 53+0' 055.5-0.0+16 ft
812' 55+2' 074.6-0.9-10 ft
910' 15-0' 335.8+0.3+23 ft
109' 57-0' 516.0+0.5-40 ft
Versus average of 10' 48 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sun and Sweat

Last night was one of those nights when you question your sanity as a runner. I should have taken a screen shot of what weather.com said about the temperature. If I recall correctly, it was at least 89oF with something like 70% humidity. And the sun was blaring down on us. The issue with running on an outdoor track? No shade.

Thankfully, there was a breeze. Still, we debated: Do the mile repeats workout or drop down and do the 800s workout? And if we do the mile repeat workout, how many of the 4 mile repeats should we do?

Originally, I didn't want to do the mile repeats. That sounded like torture. But, peer pressure talked me into doing at least two. First, though, we warmed up with some strides. I enjoy strides now that I know what they are. I like warming up that way much better than just doing a mile around the track.

And then it was off on our miles. My first one felt really awesome. I felt strong. It didn't feel too fast. Unfortunately, the heat and the sun had other things to say about that and I slowed down as I went along. In the end, I did all 4 repeats. The times got progressively slower but I'm still proud that I managed to do all 4 in spite of the sun and the heat.

Towards the end of the miles the sun finally got low enough in the sky to hide behind the approaching storm clouds. The air temperature cooled off significantly and, as such, I was able to bang out some awesome 400s. On the last lap it was as if something clicked and I felt like I was flying.

600 yards in strides

1st 1600 - 8:22
2nd 1600 - 8:34
3rd 1600 - 8:52
4th 1600 - 8:58

1st 400 - 2:01
2nd 400 - 1:58
3rd 400 - 2:01
4th 400 - 1:48

2 laps around infield barefoot

So why did it feel so good despite the weather? I have to say, I think the hot yoga really helps with being able to run in this oppressive heat. I've gone twice now (two different classes) and spending an hour+ getting my heart rate up in a super-heated room must only be doing good things for my ability to tolerate the heat. I ran into my favorite aerobics instructor at the gym a few days ago and he told me about how a guy he knew trained for the Kona Ironman but putting a stationary bike in a sauna. I joked about putting a treadmill in a sauna but, when you think about it, hot yoga is kind similar.

Of course, the almost 12(!) hours of sleep I got the night before probably helped. Yes, I slept for 12 hours. And it was glorious! I think I need to figure out how to get that much sleep before a race.

Also, I ran in just shorts and a sports bra. I may not have the torso of a super model, but when it's that hot and sunny out I just don't care. My tank top got discarded before we even started running once I realized I was sweating in it just standing there. I need to remember to do that more often.

I'm planning to take another hot yoga class tonight (aside: those of you that do hot yoga, what do you wear to class?) and then it's off to visit my hometown for the weekend. The last time I ran there I had a great run. This time I'll be running with fellow bloggers. Here's hoping we all have good runs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Close Enough

After yesterday's pity party of a post I decided that I was putting too much pressure on myself in terms of time. It's summer. It's hot. The important part about marathon training is putting in the time on your feet. So, even though my training plan called for an 8 mile run with 3 miles at 9:05 for last night I decided I would just run 8 miles pace be damned.

I hooked up with two guys in my running group who were also planning to run at a nice, easy pace and we headed out. I'd never done the 8 miles with the running group before but thankfully the guys knew the route. And even though we were aiming for 10:20 miles, we ended up running just over 10 minute miles. Sure it wasn't what my plan originally called for, but I didn't care. It actually felt good and towards the end I even got a second wind. Much redemption for my horrible, evil, no good, very bad 12 miler! We'll just ignore the fact that we took a short cut and didn't quite go the full 8 miles. It was close enough.

And close enough is going to be my new motto for the rest of this training. Didn't quite hit my paces but got in the mileage? Close enough. Had to run slower than usual because of the heat? Close enough. You'll just have to remind me of that next time I have a bad run, okay? Sometimes I need a little smack upside the head to get me back on track.

Last night's company certainly helped things, too. During the run we talked about all kinds of things you only talk about on runs and that probably shouldn't be shared. Plus, after the run the group went out to dinner at a local Greek restaurant where we continued to have conversations only other runners have with one another. Nipple taping and chest shaving, anyone?

So, yeah, a newly redefined good run followed by a good meal and good company. Perfect? Close enough :-)


Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:07/12/10Up/Downhill: [+72/-72]
Time:06:36 PMDifficulty:2.2 / 5.0

Distance: 7.79 miles
Speed:6.0 mph
Pace:10' 02 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 43-0' 196.2+0.20 ft
210' 03+0' 016.0-0.0-9 ft
39' 51-0' 116.1+0.1+3 ft
49' 50-0' 126.1+0.1+7 ft
59' 54-0' 086.1+0.1-13 ft
610' 46+0' 445.6-0.4+10 ft
79' 57-0' 056.0+0.0+9 ft
end10' 04+0' 026.0-0.0-6 ft
Versus average of 10' 02 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, July 12, 2010

Trail of Tears


The Chicago River North Branch bike trail is beautiful. Mostly shady, a little hilly, and full of lushness. I'd love to run it again on a cooler day.

Source for above photos

I don't really want to write about this run. It was horrible. I didn't mean to keep up my streak of running the same pace as the number of miles I was doing, but I did. My last long run was 11 miles at an 11 minute pace. This run was 12 miles at a 12 minute pace. I figure at this rate by the time I get to 18 I can leisurely walk and be just fine :-)

I was a mess of hormones and quads that felt like ground beef. I was running by myself and I kept stopping to walk. Every time I walked I cried. I couldn't help it. I thought about turning around so many times but for some crazy reason I kept going. A lot of walking, though.

Also, I bought myself a new fuel belt at Fleet Feet with a gift card I had. I opted for the Amphipod with three bottles. It felt a little too big in the store but the employees swore I was wearing it up too high and that if I wore it down lower it wouldn't ride up. Well, within 10 steps of running on Sunday it had ridden up to where it was too big around my waist. I ended up forgoing the velro fastener and actually tying it around my waist instead but it still bounced all over the place. Turns out it can be adjusted to be smaller, which I discovered when I got home. Thanks for informing me of that, Fleet Feet employees.

Around mile 10 or 11 one of the guys from the running group caught up to me as I was debating whether or not to walk the last few miles. At first he was going to run on ahead but then he doubled back and held my hand while we walked and I cried. The he convinced me to run the last two miles. I can't really say anything else because just thinking about his kindness is making me cry. See, told you, I'm a mess of hormones.

I wasn't the only one having a rough day. I just wish I knew why it was so hard for me yesterday. I'm having a tougher time this summer than I did last summer which doesn't make any sense. I thought I was in BETTER shape, running-wise. I'm starting to wonder if all the tempo runs and the speed work are leading me into over-training territory. Or maybe it's just hormones. Stupid hormones. Or maybe it was the yoga/bike ride combo on Saturday. Stupid cross-training. Or maybe I've just gotten too spoiled always running with people and now I can't keep myself motivated when running alone. All I know is that I really, REALLY need to get this figured out. I thought I was back. Obviously I'm not.

So, do you remember when you were younger and you were totally hung up on a guy (or gal) who had just dumped you? You were miserable and every song on the radio reminded you of your situation? Or maybe that's just me. Anyway, Sunday afternoon, while engaging in some retail therapy, I heard Ke$ha's latest song, Your Love Is My Drug (link takes you to a youtube video of the lyrics) and immediately felt as though she was describing how I currently felt about running. So, here's my version of it:

Maybe I need some rehab,
Or maybe just need some sleep
I've got a sick obsession,
I'm seeing it in my dreams

I'm looking down every alley,
I'm making those desperate calls
I'm staying up all night hoping,
Hit my head against the walls

What I've lost, boy it's hard to find
Think about it all the time
I'm all strung up my heart is fried
I just can't get it off my mind

Because a good run, good run, good run, is my drug
A good run good run good run
I said a good run, good run, good run, is my drug
Good run good run good run

Won't listen to any advice, runners' telling me to think twice
But left to my own devices I'm addicted its a crisis!

My friends think I've gone crazy, my judgment is getting kinda hazy
My status is gonna be affected if I keep on running feeling dejected

What I've lost, boy it's hard to find
Think about it all the time
I'm all strung up my heart is fried
I just can't get it off my mind

Because a good run, good run, good run, is my drug
A good run good run good run
I said a good run, good run, good run, is my drug
Good run good run good run

I don't care what people say
The rush is worth the price I pay
I get so high when you're with me
But crash and crave you when you are away

Yeah, I might need some help. Thankfully on Sunday I had this crew to pull me through to the end even if it wasn't pretty.

Also, maybe I'll get lucky and win one of these giveaways. Nothing like new swag (that actually works!) to get you excited about running:

Shut Up and Run's Sunscreen Giveaway

I Run Because I Can's SpiBelt Giveaway

Asthma and the Gift of Running's CSN Store Giftcard Giveaway


Route:--Elev. Avg:616 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+4 ft
Date:07/11/10Up/Downhill: [+633/-629]
Time:08:06 AMDifficulty:3.4 / 5.0

Distance: 12.05 miles
Speed:5.0 mph
Pace:12' 00 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 09-1' 515.9+0.90 ft
210' 33-1' 275.7+0.7-13 ft
311' 14-0' 465.3+0.3+10 ft
412' 42+0' 424.7-0.3-10 ft
513' 36+1' 364.4-0.6+3 ft
610' 56-1' 045.5+0.5+13 ft
715' 44+3' 443.8-1.2-4 ft
811' 27-0' 335.2+0.20 ft
911' 24-0' 365.3+0.30 ft
1014' 44+2' 444.1-0.9-10 ft
1110' 05-1' 556.0+1.0+10 ft
1210' 29-1' 315.7+0.70 ft
end9' 38-2' 226.2+1.2+3 ft
Versus average of 12' 00 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com