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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who needs sleep?

Last night I was pretty happy that I only had to run 5.5 miles according to my training schedule. Granted, I planned to run them fast, but something about not having to run those extra 2.5 miles (or more!) appealed to me.

Maybe it's that I've been having a really tough time dragging myself out of bed the past two mornings. Maybe it's the huge canker sore I have on the tip of my tongue. Maybe it's the fact that I've been sleeping like crud because every time my bruised toe catches on the sheets I wake up. Whatever it is, I'm exhausted.

Still, I ran those 5.5 miles and I ran them fairly speedy. I wrapped my sore toe in first aid tape and it didn't bother me at all while running, just afterward. Apparently, according to the people in the LJ Runner's Community, my toe is still in the "hurty" stage and will stop hurting eventually. I hope it happens before this weekend. I've got 18 miles on the books for Saturday and then, on Monday, I'm signed up to run the Park Forest Scenic 5 Mile Race.

All of that probably means I should get some more sleep, huh? At least I finished my book (The Alienist, by the way) so I don't have that tempting me to read when I should be sleeping.


Route:--Elev. Avg:628 ft
Location:Forest Park, ILElev. Gain:+3 ft
Date:08/30/10Up/Downhill: [+22/-19]
Time:06:34 PMDifficulty:2.1 / 5.0

Distance: 5.44 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 12 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 19+0' 076.4-0.10 ft
29' 15+0' 036.5-0.0-9 ft
39' 04-0' 086.6+0.1+3 ft
48' 56-0' 166.7+0.2+7 ft
59' 32+0' 206.3-0.20 ft
end9' 17+0' 056.5-0.1+3 ft
Versus average of 9' 12 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

Salt Creek Thirteen

This weekend's long run consisted of dragging myself out of bed earlier than I usually get up to go to work, driving to the bike path, and running 13 miles.

How'd it go? It went really well, actually. When I left the house around 7:15 AM it was actually chilly enough that I wore a light jacket over my tank top. Cooler weather is definitely a good sign.

I wasn't super thrilled that I had to use the port-a-potty at the bike path's trail head but you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

The run itself was pretty uneventful. There were a lot of people out on the path at that time of the day. Runners, bikers, and walkers galore. Jason had mentioned something the night before about possibly going to the path for a bike ride, too, so I kept my eye out for him. Playing a game of "is that biker in the distance Jason or not" kept me occupied for most of the second half of the run. I never did see him and found out later that he left the house about the time I was driving home.

My goal was to keep my pace under 10:30 but I took my first mile nice and slow as an easy warm-up mile. I took a one-minute walk break at mile 3. At mile 6.5 I walked and ate some PowerBar Gel Blasts (not very good). I walked again at mile 10 and ate a few more Blasts. The rest of the run felt so good that I admit I briefly thought about trying to hit a half-marathon distance PR but figured that probably wasn't a good plan for a training run. Still, in the end, I ran this training run at almost the same pace I ran my first half marathon.

But guess what I discovered when I got home:

Yes, my very first black toenail. A runner's badge of honor. At least that's what we tell ourselves. I just didn't expect it to hurt quite this much. It didn't hurt at all while I was running, but sleeping on Saturday night was interesting. Every time I put pressure on it I would wake up. Running this week might be fun.


Route:--Elev. Avg:626 ft
Location:Brookfield, ILElev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:08/28/10Up/Downhill: [+429/-429]
Time:07:42 AMDifficulty:3.2 / 5.0

Distance: 13.03 miles
Speed:5.9 mph
Pace:10' 10 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 40+0' 305.6-0.3-4 ft
210' 20+0' 105.8-0.1+10 ft
310' 20+0' 105.8-0.1+7 ft
410' 53+0' 435.5-0.4-7 ft
510' 05-0' 056.0+0.0+3 ft
69' 54-0' 166.1+0.2+10 ft
710' 47+0' 375.6-0.3+4 ft
89' 46-0' 246.1+0.2-6 ft
99' 29-0' 416.3+0.4-10 ft
109' 30-0' 406.3+0.4+3 ft
1110' 15+0' 055.8-0.1-7 ft
129' 54-0' 166.1+0.2-7 ft
139' 20-0' 506.4+0.5+3 ft
end9' 30-0' 406.3+0.40 ft
Versus average of 10' 10 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Track is Wack

The university whose track we've been using for our speedwork sessions for the past few months started classes this past week and with the start of classes comes the start of sports practices. Two weeks ago the track had signs at all the entrances indicating it would be closed to the public for the next two weeks. Last week we showed up and, although the signs were still out, the track was wide open and no one kicked us off.

Last night, though, was a different story. The men's soccer team was practicing and their coach unceremoniously and unequivocally told us we couldn't use the track. Thankfully, our coach had a back-up plan.

The park across the street from the university has an asphalt path that connects up with the sidewalk making a loop that's just over a quarter mile long. Actually, our coach originally thought that it was just under a quarter mile and had us do 4 laps to a mile instead of the 3 laps it actually took. He figured it out when our first "mile" times were WAY too slow.

Of course, the rest of my "mile" times look really fast since 3 laps on the path and sidewalk was just shy of a mile. And when we switched to "400s" they all look a little slow since we were really running 500s.

1 mile - 8:18 + .23 - 1:56
1 minute rest
.94 - 7:31
Full recovery
.94 - 7:41
1 minute rest
.94 - 7:32

.31 - 2:25
30 second rest
.31 - 2:24
Full recovery
.31 - 2:18
30 second rest
.31 - 2:31

Total: 5.29

I thought we were only doing 3 "400s" so I pushed it really hard on the third one. Imagine my surprise when I found out we were doing a fourth! I didn't push it quite as hard on that one. My left quad felt super tight and my left knee was a little achy. I guess that's what happens when I run hard two days in a row.

My Garmin also informed me about halfway through the workout that my lap data was almost full! I thought I had it set to delete the old workouts when I uploaded them to the computer but apparently I don't. Thankfully there was enough room for the rest of this session but I promptly deleted all the old ones when I got home. However, the Garmin keeps a running tally of the total number of miles you've run while using it. Since I didn't realize that I'd never looked at it before. I noticed last night and decided to check it out.

My total mileage (according to the Garmin) since December 2008? 1223.78. It also told me that's over 200 hours of running. Amazing.

Anyway, back to "track". Running the path instead of the track had some pluses and minuses. On the one hand, it's slightly more realistic with minor elevation changes and terrain to watch out for. On the other, the left hand turns were annoying and the mosquitoes were worse. Strangely, though, running three 3 laps to a "mile" instead of four seemed easier. It was essentially the same distance and yet mentally it didn't seem like it.

Our little diversion was fun and better than I'd expected when I realized the track was closed. And, oh yeah, did I mention I rode my bike to and from the track? It makes for a nice warm up and cool down. Too bad the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Not sure I want to ride home in the dark.

Note: Track stats are usually boring which is why I don't typically post them (plus Bones in Motion screws the splits all up anyway) but I liked the pace and elevation charts for this one. So, enjoy.

Route:--Elev. Avg:627 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+0 ft
Date:08/25/10Up/Downhill: [+55/-55]
Time:06:24 PMDifficulty:2.0 / 5.0

Distance: 5.29 miles
Speed:7.4 mph
Pace:8' 04 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)

Posted from bimactive.com

Nine is Fine

Because we got home from Arizona too late for me to run with the running group on Monday night, I pushed back my 9 mile tempo run until Tuesday evening. It was the first time in a while that I've run by myself. I almost didn't remember what to do!

My Garmin must have been experiencing jet lag or something because it took forever to find a signal and then it took almost two miles to accurately reflect my pace and distance. I was pretty surprised to look down at the first beep to see I'd already gone 1 mile in 4:35! Oh, Garmin. You're so optimistic.

Admittedly, since the first two miles were way off the charts in terms of distance and pace which threw off my final pace and mileage totals (both wildly overestimated) I'm slightly skeptical of the rest of the mile times. I know I went more than 8.5 miles since I ran a little more than my usual 8.5 mile route. And I *think* I hit my goal pace of 9:30 per mile. At least, the effort felt harder than usual but not so hard I wanted to die.

I was, however, very grateful for the water fountains along my route. I didn't think to bring water with me and even though the air temperature and the humidity were both much lower than they have been I was still sweating buckets. I could feel my fingers swelling up which, according to Dr. Google, could be due to dehydration. Strangely, I had to stop to pee at the park's bathrooms which I normally don't have to do. Apparently my body didn't think it needed all that water I drank during the day. I beg to differ!

Running by myself was actually really nice. I had my headphones on and was pumping my usual running tunes but I wasn't paying much attention to them. I was just in a groove, not thinking about much, and just running. Even all the pauses for traffic and water and a bathroom break didn't really throw me off.

What I was thinking about when I got done, though, was how shredded my legs felt. For the first few miles of my run my calves were super tight and my left shin was painful. My left knee was also issuing some complaints but as I warmed up all those aches and pains went away. Also, towards the end of my run I felt as though I was getting some chafing from my sports bra but it doesn't seem to have materialized. However, when I got home my legs were SORE. I've never been so sore. It was so uncomfortable that I actually had a hard time getting to sleep. I don't know if my effort was really such that it would cause so discomfort or if it was a product of dehydration. I'm thinking the latter.

Regardless, even with the sore legs and the need to drink a gallon of fluids when I got home, this was a great run. I felt strong and fast and capable. I like that feeling :-)


Note: It appears the Garmin couldn't find my starting point when it finally did acquire a satellite signal which is why my mileage says 9.5 instead of 9 and my overall pace is sub-9 minute miles.

Route:--Elev. Avg:626 ft
Location:River Forest, ILElev. Gain:-4 ft
Date:08/24/10Up/Downhill: [+78/-82]
Time:06:10 PMDifficulty:2.4 / 5.0

Distance: 9.50 miles
Speed:6.8 mph
Pace:8' 53 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
14' 35-4' 1813.1+6.30 ft
25' 24-3' 2911.1+4.30 ft
310' 32+1' 395.7-1.1+6 ft
49' 16+0' 236.5-0.30 ft
59' 21+0' 286.4-0.3-9 ft
69' 25+0' 326.4-0.4+10 ft
79' 45+0' 526.2-0.60 ft
810' 47+1' 545.6-1.20 ft
99' 15+0' 226.5-0.3-9 ft
end9' 36+0' 436.2-0.50 ft
Versus average of 8' 53 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Climb to Conquer Cancer Walk Report

In lieu of a long run this past weekend, I spent 2.5 hours on my feet, walked almost 7 miles, and went from 7,000 feet of elevation to 9,300.

Since I started running, I've done almost 30 organized races. However, I've never done a walk-only, non-competitive event. I admit, I was expecting it to be similar to a race where everyone lines up at a starting line, some things are said, and a horn would sound. Instead, there was only the Welcome sign and no announcements. Save one:

Just kidding :-)

Jason, his mom, his step-dad, and I started walking up the mountain a little after 7 AM. The sea of purple shirts stretched up the road in front of us and down the road behind us.

The weather was perfect. Not too hot, mostly sunny, no humidity. A great day for walking.

In an effort to stay hydrated and ward off elevation sickness I'd been drinking water like it was going out of style. However, this meant I had to take advantage of the port-a-potties. Of course, so did quite a few other people. I told Jason and his parents to go ahead and that I would catch up with them.

I waited in line for quite some time and by the time I was done I was afraid I'd never find my family in the sea of purple. I started jogging but between dodging walkers and the elevation (8,000 feet...I passed the sign) I quickly decided just to speed walk instead. My calves and shins were protesting the incline but I pressed on. Finally I had my group in my sights and I jogged the rest of the way to catch them.

Around mile 4 Jason's mom decided that she needed to take a break. She'd had foot surgery about six weeks before and the walk was causing some discomfort. Thankfully the walk organizers have a contingency plan in place for this very thing.

Buses! Jason joined his mom on the next bus to the top and his step-dad and I continued walking. We talked about living in Chicago versus living in Flagstaff, about their most recent vacation, and their upcoming 5-month sabbatical to Italy. The last few miles went by so quickly that I could barely believe it when we rounded a corner and saw the sign welcoming us to Snowbowl, our final destination.

A few hundred yards later we were welcomed by a gaggle of cheerleaders and an official-looking finish line complete with a sign that I think should be at the end of every endurance event.

And just like at the end of any endurance event, it was time for food. Miraculously we were able to find Jason and his mom almost immediately and grab something to eat. Turned out that they had only ridden the bus for about a mile and then walked the final mile together and were waiting for us just on the other side of the finish line.

After resting for a bit, we got in line for the buses that would drive us back to our car at the foot of the mountain. Overall, it was a fun, no-pressure event. Not once did I think the distance felt long or even worry about how long we'd been out there. In fact, it almost went by too fast! Being part of the giant sea of purple full of everyone from people being pushed in wheelchairs, to people struggling to make it the entire distance, to people jogging by (yes, there were some people running), to groups of people walking and chatting and laughing while wearing shirts or carrying signs in memory or in support of someone with cancer was just part of the greatness of the event. My in-laws kept joking that I should go on ahead, that their pace would drag me down. But it wouldn't have been the same if I'd skipped the camaraderie or taken the time to enjoy myself. For some people this climb is all about a personal challenge. For others, like me, it's a chance to do something with the people I care about and have fun while doing it.

And it was certainly fun. If you ever need a reason to visit Flagstaff, I recommend this as one. It's not a big fancy race, but in some ways it's so much better.


Note: I was so busy looking for the "official" start of the walk that I didn't think to start my Garmin when we actually started, you know, walking. Hence the 5.85 miles instead of the just under 7 that Jason's GPS tracker recorded.

Route:--Elev. Avg:8353 ft
Location:Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area, AZElev. Gain:+1857 ft
Date:08/21/10Up/Downhill: [+1902/-45]
Time:08:16 AMDifficulty:4.3 / 5.0

Distance: 5.85 miles
Speed:2.9 mph
Pace:20' 57 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
120' 58+0' 012.9-0.0+242 ft
220' 04-0' 533.0+0.1+292 ft
318' 17-2' 403.3+0.4+351 ft
423' 15+2' 182.6-0.3+351 ft
519' 36-1' 213.1+0.2+314 ft
end22' 28+1' 312.7-0.2+298 ft
Versus average of 20' 57 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Genie in a Bottle

I can sum up last night's track workout in two words: Holy crap.

Was it hard? Yes. Did I kick its ass? Hell yes!

Check it out:

Half mile warm-up
Mile 1 - 8:09
1:00 rest
Mile 2 - 8:01
Full recovery
Mile 3 - 8:05
1:00 rest
Mile 4 - 8:10
Full recovery

1st 400 - 1:50
30 second rest
2nd 400 - 1:45
Full recovery
3rd 400 - 1:52
30 second rest
4th 400 - 1:43 (new 400 PR!)

Our regular coach is back and with him he brought back the mile repeats. I wasn't sure how I'd do considering it's been awhile since we've done mile repeats and it was my third day in a row of running.

But I pushed it hard. And that's AFTER riding my bike 3 miles to the track. My splits were super consistent and I wasn't even pacing off Maribeth. Nope, that pacing is all me. At the end, though, one of the guys was right on my heels. I think he shouted something like "Come on, Erin!" and that gave me the umph to push it even harder. And what's strange is after we caught our breath we looked at each other and were like "I didn't think we were going THAT fast!"

It wasn't easy, though. My quads and glutes were on fire and at one point I thought to myself that if I was running alone I would be walking. But I wasn't so I didn't. Although my bike ride home was done at a leisurely 9MPH.

So what made the difference last night? The lack of humidity? The fact that I was coming off two days of remembering how to push myself? Wanting to show off how speedy I've gotten while our coach has been gone? The warm-up bike ride? That I went to the gym at 8PM instead of 6:30PM on Wednesday? I wish I knew. Cause if I did I would bottle it and pull it out when I needed the speed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Road Runner

I haven't run at lunch time in months. The weather has been horrible and I didn't really want to spend my afternoons in a heat-induced coma.

But yesterday I couldn't turn down the opportunity. The weather was fabulous, the sky was overcast, and since I won't be doing a long run this weekend, I thought it would be good to get in some extra mileage.

So I packed my gym bag and headed out with the guys for a lunch time run. Most of the group went 4 miles but I opted for 3. And those were 3 speedy miles, let me tell you. I thought I'd run slow since I'd just run a speedy 8.5 less than 24 hours before but apparently not.

Actually, one of the other reasons I wanted to run at lunch was because I feel like I've been slowing down lately. I remembered that when I was feeling fast in the spring it was because I was running with both the OPRC and my lunch time group. I know that running long distances uses different muscles than running short distances and that it's expected that you'll lose some speed when training for a marathon. I've tried to combat that by doing speedwork on a weekly basis but since I haven't run less than 4 miles since May (until yesterday!) I feel like I've forgotten how to run fast. I'm in awe that I managed to run 3.5 miles at an 8:12 pace at the end of May. Could I do that now? I honestly have no idea.

So I ran three miles and it felt good. And if the weather stays cooler and less humid I plan to be out there again.


Route:--Elev. Avg:586 ft
Location:--Elev. Gain:+7 ft
Date:08/17/10Up/Downhill: [+108/-101]
Time:12:19 PMDifficulty:1.8 / 5.0

Distance: 3.08 miles
Speed:6.6 mph
Pace:9' 08 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 54-0' 146.7+0.2-10 ft
29' 29+0' 216.3-0.2-3 ft
38' 50-0' 186.8+0.2+16 ft
end9' 05-0' 036.6+0.0+3 ft
Versus average of 9' 08 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sound of Silence


The original plan for Monday night? I would go to running group and run my 8 miles while Jason went to the grocery store and made dinner. It wasn't until I was putting on my running clothes that we realized that we are currently a one-car family while Jason's car is in the shop.

Not a problem! Jason got the car to go to the grocery store and I just altered my running plans a tiny bit. Instead of doing the 8 mile route with the running group I just ran to and from group and did the 5.5 mile route with them.

My training plan, which I am following mileage-wise if not pace-wise called for an 8 mile run with 2.5 miles of warm-up, 3 miles at 9:05, and then a 2.5 mile cool-down.

Sadly, due to what I believe to be Garmin user error, I don't have exact stats for all those parts of my run. What I can tell you is this: I ran with my running buddy Ann who normally chats up a storm while we run. She's usually talking away while I'm huffing and puffing to keep up. Well last night I pushed us hard and even Ann could barely speak.

I know we ran at least two miles at a sub-9:00 pace. I'll take it! The humidity finally broke on Sunday night so although I was dripping sweat by the time I got home I was almost chilly while cooling off.

It was a good, hard, tempo run of the kind I haven't had in awhile. My quads were like jello by the time we got to our water stop but it was a good feeling. And after taking a short break to chat with other runners at our group's finish point, I felt like I was flying on my run home. Total mileage: 8.5.

Last night gave me a taste of Fall. As much as I'll miss the longer daylight hours and the sunny weather that Summer brings, a part of me hopes it will silently fade away and let Fall take over.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bittersweet Sixteen

The weather forecast for Saturday called for hot, humid conditions but at least it was supposed to rain. 80% chance of rain, even. So when Kim and I met at a forest preserve about halfway between our houses at 7 AM on Saturday morning to do our run, we were optimistic. So optimistic, in fact, that we both left our sunglasses in the car.

When we started our run it was overcast. See above photo. We were excited to tackle our respective distances and excited to be running together. My goal? 16 miles. The longest distance I've ever run. Kim's goal? 12 miles. We started out nice and strong, if a bit too fast. And after a slight detour off-course, we made it back onto the forest preserve path that wound through the trees.

Our plan was to stick to the one minute walk break every three miles, but the weather had other plans. That rain the meterologists predicted? Never materialized. The heat and the sun? They both showed up. The longer we were out there the hotter and sunnier it got necessitating a few extra walk breaks.

Still, I felt good. I felt strong. I was amazed at how good I felt when we made it back to the car after 12 miles. We took a short break for Kim to switch to her bike. I ate a few sports beans and a few grapes that Kim produced from a cooler in her car. The cold grapes tasted heavenly in my mouth but when I started running again I realized that they didn't feel so heavenly in my stomach.

Kim did her best to keep me distracted while she biked next to me. At one point she interrupted our conversation to say "Erin! Turn around!" I looked back over my shoulder and saw a very bare man's ass. Yes, you read that right. Bare ass on the forest preserve path. He was running while holding his clothes in front, leaving his butt out in the open air. Wouldn't you love to know the story behind that?

Still, even with the adrenaline rush from being mooned, I started to falter. The last two miles were tough. Really, really tough. The sun was shining, the air temperature was hot hot hot and there wasn't much shade. So I walked. A lot. Well, at least more than I'd wanted to. I was disappointed that I'd felt so strong at mile 12 but was struggling so much now. Just 4 more miles! I'd thought. That's nothing! Apparently it was something. I even downed an apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel (much tastier than I'd imagined!) but that didn't even help.

Still, I ran 16 miles. The furthest I've ever gone. And that's still something to be proud of.


Route:--Elev. Avg:704 ft
Location:Rolling Meadows, ILElev. Gain:+7 ft
Date:08/14/10Up/Downhill: [+482/-475]
Time:07:00 AMDifficulty:3.4 / 5.0

Distance: 16.01 miles
Speed:5.5 mph
Pace:10' 57 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
110' 27-0' 305.7+0.3-16 ft
210' 10-0' 475.9+0.4+20 ft
39' 57-1' 006.0+0.6-16 ft
410' 27-0' 305.7+0.3+29 ft
510' 06-0' 515.9+0.5-30 ft
610' 21-0' 365.8+0.3+13 ft
711' 14+0' 175.3-0.1+20 ft
810' 32-0' 255.7+0.2-16 ft
910' 20-0' 375.8+0.3+17 ft
1010' 56-0' 015.5+0.0-36 ft
1111' 52+0' 555.0-0.4+17 ft
1211' 29+0' 325.2-0.3+6 ft
1310' 46-0' 115.6+0.1-17 ft
1410' 33-0' 245.7+0.2-9 ft
1514' 15+3' 184.2-1.3+10 ft
1611' 17+0' 205.3-0.2+13 ft
end7' 55-3' 027.6+2.10 ft
Versus average of 10' 57 min/mile

Posted from bimactive.com