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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

May 23 - May 29

May 23

This ended up being a rest day due to being at a conference all day and then attending my office's "end of the year" dinner. Hey, we work for a university. Our year end is a little different than other people's.

May 24

I debated whether I wanted to run or go to the gym. I ended up going to the gym. In hindsight, I probably should have run, but it is what it is.
2x10 Box Deadlifts
2x10 Bulgarian Squat
2x10 Underhand grip lat pulldown
2x10 Reverse lunge from box w/forward reach
2x10 Dumbbell prone Cuban snatch
2x10 Swiss ball crunch
2x10 Reverse crunch
2x10 Lateral flexion
1x60 seconds Prone Cobra
1x75 seconds Prone Cobra
I also did 15 minutes of intervals on the stationary bike. Ended up being at the gym for almost two hours. How did that happen??

May 25

Wednesday's weather was a little iffy and I worried we'd have another track session cut short by rain. Still, I took my chances and decided to bike the 3 miles from my house to the track. Forgot to turn on the Garmin, though, so I don't know if it was leisurely or what. I can tell you, however, the thing I'm really looking forward to about the duathlon is being able to ride my bike without having to stop for traffic at intersections!

Once at the track workout (which I didn't get a chance to do a separate entry about), our Coach asked how many people were running the Soldier Field 10 Mile race on Saturday. When more than half of us answered in the affirmative she changed our planned workout from 4 or 5x4:00 minutes at 5K pace to 3x600 meters at 1 mile pace with 600 meter rest intervals.

We did our usual 15 minutes of warm-up and then my failure to use my Garmin continued. As such, I only managed to time myself for one of the 600s. That time? 2:40 or a 7:10 pace. And based on looking at the graph, I think the others were about the same.

OPRC Speedwork by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

And while the rain held off, the temperatures dropped drastically. That 3 mile bike ride home was cold! (No Garmin stats for that one, either)

May 26

Chase Corporate Challenge!

May 27

Rest day. In fact, other than going to PT I didn't do anything. I even took the day off work. Well, I guess I sat on the couch and read a book on my new Kindle. I think Friday's official theme song was this:

May 28

Soldier Field 10 Mile. Yes, two races in one week.

May 29

I don't normally run on Sundays and I definitely don't normally run the day after a race, but this Sunday was special. Kim was running the Madison (WI) Marathon and I wanted to help her through those last six miles. So I drove to Madison and stood in the rain waiting for her to crest a small hill. Huge thanks to the random spectators who let me stand under their umbrella and gave me a towel to use.

Together we finished the last 6.14 miles of the marathon. I distracted her by telling her the plots of my two most recent Kindle reads as well as being my generally annoying self. You can read Kim's full account here. When she entered the (strangely long) finishing chute I went off to the side but continued to run and cheer. She ended up beating her Chicago Marathon time by quite a bit!

Total running mileage: 24.15
Total strength workouts: 1

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race Report

Last year I ran this race with my friend Holly who flew in from California for a little taste of Chicago racing. This year I didn't have anyone running with me directly but there were quite a few OPRC people doing the race.

I didn't have any big goals for this race, but, as usual, I secretly hoped I could PR. If I couldn't PR, I just wanted to be able to hold a 9 minute pace. Should be simple enough. I'd run a 1:26:40 at the CARA Lakefront 10 Mile back in April and that felt pretty good.

I should have know, though, that my heart wasn't in it when we arrived at the race and I was just generally irritated at all the people. Crowds to find gear check. Crowds for the port-a-potties. Crowds to get into the corrals. I'd already had my fill of crowds at races for the week. I also couldn't find the desire to battle the crowds and try to find a spot to do a 1 mile warm up. So, I skipped it.

My shin was still bothering me some and I hoped it would behave itself during the race. I lined up in my corral near the 9:00 minute pacer and hoped for the best.

My calves felt tight during the first mile, but I tried to enjoy a marching band's version of "Tequila" and settle into an easy pace. I finished the first mile in 8:44. Hmm. Pretty good. Maybe a little fast?

Definitely too fast. Or something. I'm not sure. The air temperature wasn't too warm but the humidity was super high. When we hit the turn around near mile 5 and should have been able to see the city skyline it was covered in clouds. I could feel the sweat rolling down my face but not really evaporating. And I could feel my pace start to drop. When I saw the Garmin flash 9:15 at the end of mile 7 I almost felt like giving up. I had been barely hanging onto the pace I ran at the Lakefront 10 and seeing my mile times creep up and up just put the nail in the coffin.

I admit. I gave up mentally. I just couldn't push myself. Until I saw Coach Holly near mile 9 and Helen just outside Soldier Field. I managed to speed it up for the final mile. Still, I was fighting off tears of exhaustion and frustration the entire time.

As I turned onto the football field I caught up with a guy who I had seen struggling out on the course. We'd leap-frogged each other a few times. "Come on!" I shouted. "Let's do this!" I crossed the finish line at the 50 yard mark of Soldier Field and remembered to look for myself on the jumbo-tron.

And then it was back to the crowds. I was so out of it I stood in the wrong gear check line for what felt like an eternity. Then I had to find my group's meeting spot. After asking several people I finally found my friends. "How'd you do??" they asked. I just shook my head. And then burst into tears. Coach Holly let me cry on her shoulder for a minute and then told me what she told me at the end of the Race That's Good for Life: "You have one hour to be upset."

Truth be told, I'm still not totally happy with my official finish time of 1:29:25 but I know how stupid that sounds. Why?

1. I PR'ed at the Chase Corporate Challenge two days earlier.
2. I still held an average sub-9:00 pace for the race. This time last year I was happy to hold a 10 minute pace for a double digit run.
3. If I couldn't PR then I said I wanted to do a 9 minute pace and essentially I did.

This wasn't the smartest race I've ever run and it wasn't the most fun race I've ever done, but I really do love meeting up with the OPRC group post-race, talking about our results, and sharing stories over impromptu brunches. This girl loves her post-race pancakes.

Soldier Field 10 Mile Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chase Corporate Challenge 3.5 Race Report

First, let me say I am not in that photo above. Don't bother looking for me. Actually, I'd love for the Chase Corporate Challenge people to tell me why they even bother having photographers at the event when they only bother to post 20 photos of the whole thing!

Anyway, there are lots of reasons to not run the Chase Corporate Challenge (crowded course, people who have no race etiquette, unpredictable weather, course with multiple hairpin turns) but for the third year in a row I decided to do it. Why?
1. No race entry fee for me! Okay!

2. Free t-shirt (although this year they didn't do women's sizes which bummed me out).

3. An excuse to hang out with my coworkers who I actually like.

4. Free beer and food in our post-race tent.
This year the weather decided to ignore the fact that it's almost June and hover around 45o with 20 mile an hour winds blowing in off Lake Michigan. The actual race itself was fine and I was almost too warm in my capris, short sleeved shirt, and arm warmers. But the pre- and post-race festivities? So.Cold. At least the beer was nice and icy?

Anyway, several people from my lunch time running group were doing the race as were several other people from my office. In fact, it was my new(ish) employee's first race ever! He did really well and managed to beat his time goal by almost 6 minutes.

The Chase Corporate Challenge is notorious for being crowded and full of walkers and slower runners who start at the front. This year they tried to combat that by assigning people to "waves" based on whether or not they entered a predicted finish time when they registered. There were three waves. Red was for competitive runners, yellow was for non-competitive runners and white was for walkers. I was in the "red" (aka first) wave but by the time I got to the starting area there was no way I could elbow my way to that one. So I started in the "yellow" (second) wave. Of course, people totally ignored the fact that if they had a white bib maybe they shouldn't be standing at the front.

The plus side to having the slow people in front of you and all those hairpin turns? This is probably the only race all year where I will easily run negative splits. Just ignore the fact that my Garmin freaked in the tunnel during mile 2 and thought I was going 75 MPH.

In the end, my official time was 28:09 for an average pace of 8:02. Thirty-two seconds faster than last year and just a hair slower than my current 5K PR pace and, I admit, I wasn't even trying that hard during the first mile. Pretty cool.

(Nope, not in that photo, either)

Chase Corporate Challenge 2011 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

May 16 - May 22

May 16

5.5 miles that felt harder than I wanted it to. But the post-run drinks, chips, food and company totally made up for it.

May 17

4 miles at lunch even though the Garmin didn't want to play nice. Also, now I know what I'm doing at the Madison to Chicago relay. I'm both excited and terrified.

After work I decided to squeeze in a strength workout before dinner. Down to the basement I went to do workout A of Stage 2 of NROLW:
2x10 Front squat/push press
2x10 Step Ups
2x10 Dumbbell one point row
2x10 Static lunge w/rear foot elevated
2x10 Push Ups
2x60 sec Planks
2x10 Horizontal Wood Chop

I had to cheat a little bit during the second 60 second plank (2 second break, lifting my butt up, a quick downward dog) but I think I still got a pretty good burn.

My hip flexor was kind of mad at me afterward, though. Bummer.

May 18

A total of 5.16 miles at the track.

May 19

Rest day!

May 20

Nothing. I had to work from 9 AM until 8:30 PM. I was pretty tired by the time I got home.

May 21

9.39 miles in the morning followed by several hours at this:

Four hours of dance, aerobics, yoga, and strength training classes all done outside with the Chicago skyline in the background. Each class is 20 minutes long. I really enjoyed the "Bollywood" style dance class as well as the sexy stretch class. The upper body strength training workout where we used our water bottle as a weight was fun, too. The yoga class we took was weird and I'm a little bummed I missed kickboxing but I still had a great time with Kim and her mom, sister and sister's friend.

I'd planned to do another short run when I got home (to try and simulate what I'll be doing during the relay next month) but I was wiped.out. Instead I fell asleep on the couch before ordering Thai food for a late dinner.

May 22

Another rest day. I'm at a conference in the city until Wednesday afternoon so I spent all day listening to people talk about Microsoft SharePoint. Exciting, huh?

Total running mileage: 24.05
Total strength training sessions: 1 (unless you count the 20 minutes of arm stuff with a water bottle at the Workout in the Park)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What a Difference


Back in September 2009 I ran the PAWS Run for Their Lives 8K race and Robert, one of the members of my running group, paced me to a finish with an average of a 9:07 pace. I struggled in that race and pushed myself so hard I almost puked.

Yesterday morning I ran with Robert. We weren't racing. He wasn't pacing me. And we were running substantially more than 5 miles. In fact, we ran just over 8 miles together. And while the first few miles were my warm-up, the rest of those miles we ran side by side at a sub-9:07 pace.

Robert told me I looked like I was running easy. And while 9:00 minutes per mile isn't my easy pace quite yet, it's getting there. It definitely feels easier than it did in September 2009.

Yesterday morning was a perfect indicator of just how far I've come in the less than 3 years I've been keeping this blog. I ran a total of 9.39 miles at an average 9:20 pace (I walked the last tenth of a mile or so). Two years ago I did my very first 10 mile run at a pace one minute per mile slower than I ran on Saturday.

What a difference two years makes.

OPRC Saturday Morning Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortoises and Hares

Last week at track our coach put two people from our group side by side and asked them about their favorite and least favorite running workouts. The verdict?

Some of us are tortoises and some of us are hares.

This has nothing to do with how fast you. It has everything to do with how fast you like to go.

Do you like to run fast for short periods of time? You're a hare. Do you prefer long, slower runs? You're a tortoise.

Can you guess which one I am?

Well, I put myself into "hare" territory. I can bust out interval after interval but my endurance and stamina are pretty cruddy. Tempo runs are my least favorite thing on the planet (as evidenced by many a whine-fest in this here blog) and I dread them every time I have to do them. Trying to hold a certain pace during a long run always worries me. But tell me I have to hit a certain time during an interval workout and I'm usually pretty happy. Unless I go out too fast. Which us hares tend to do.

So this week we did another interval workout where the hares had to focus on not going out too fast (or running too fast in general) and the tortoises were supposed to work on getting faster.

We also talked about not running our training runs too fast lest we burn out, get injured, or just trash our legs before race day. As a hare, I admit I'm quite guilty of running too fast sometimes.

I did the same workout as one back in January. 5x3:00 minutes @ current 5K pace with 3:00 minute jogging intervals. For reference, my current 5K PR pace is 8:00 minutes/mile. Thursday night I was going to try my hardest to stick to that! Don't go out too fast. Don't run the intervals too fast.

Did I succeed?
1st 3:00 interval - .39 miles (7:41 pace)
2nd 3:00 interval - .38 miles (7:48 pace)
3rd 3:00 interval - .39 miles (7:45 pace)
4th 3:00 interval - .39 miles (7:43 pace)
5th 3:00 interval - .40 miles (7:34 pace)
ARGH! The hare tendencies are strong in this one.

At least I'm consistent?

OPRC Speedwork by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Four Mile Lunch

I think we're going for an alcohol theme on this here blog this week.

Just kidding.

Except my Garmin apparently decided that taking a three (or four) martini lunch sounded better than running yesterday and, as such, didn't pick up a satellite signal until 2.5 miles into our 4 mile lunch time run. I just said screw it and didn't even bother to hit "Start" at that point.

So I ran by feel and I think I felt pretty good. Much better than Monday night. Especially considering we were running into the 10+ mile an hour wind for 2.5 miles. One of the guys I was running with said he read that when you're biking into the wind you should put in earplugs so you can't hear the wind. Apparently hearing the wind psyches you out and causes you to go slower than you need to. He figured the same thing would apply to running. Could be an interesting experiment.

Other fun running-related items from Tuesday? We had our first Madison to Chicago relay team meeting. We assigned vans and chose which legs each person is running. I'm in Van 2 and am runner #11. What does that mean?

I get to run 5.8 miles starting at approximately 7:30 PM. Then 4 miles at 4:00 AM. And, finally, 8.2 miles around 1:30 PM. It's definitely going to be an adventure and a half.

I'm also 90% sure I'm signing up for the Grand Haven Duathlon. I'm just waiting for another woman from work to confirm whether or not she's signing up, too. We have a free place to stay in Grand Haven thanks to one of the guys from the lunch time running crew but if she doesn't sign up it will just be me and several guys from work. And, while I like all of them, I thought that would be kind of weird. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Margarita Monday

Since I took the entire weekend off from running I was hoping that Monday night I would feel refreshed and ready to run.

Of course, I forgot to take into account that I didn't just sit on my duff all weekend. I did do two strength training sessions and one yoga class.

So maybe that's why my 8:46 average pace felt so hard. My chest also felt tight and for some reason it was kind of a struggle to breathe. It wasn't really until the last half mile that I felt warmed up. Which meant that I pretty much sprinted the last tenth of a mile.

Another sign that I was really out of it last night? I followed the people in front of me when they took a wrong turn! I've been running the same route on Monday night for over a year and yet it took me a few minutes to realize that I'd turned too early. Thankfully it was an easy fix, but still. Weird.

My shin had a few things to say during the run but I think they were mostly related to my form. When my shin started twinging I just focused on adjusting my form and they went away. My hip and quad felt good, too, but I still made sure to stretch them out afterward.

And even though the run didn't feel as good as I would have hoped, dinner with the group afterward was tons of fun. We went to my favorite restaurant where I had a post-run margarita. Races should totally serve margaritas instead of beer afterward. I'd drink to that :-)

Monday Night OPRC by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

May 9 - May 15

May 9

5.5 miles. Could have been better. But it's done and that's okay by me.

May 10

Nothing! Well, unless you could sitting outside drinking way more beers than I should on a Tuesday night. My brother and I went to the Cubs vs Cardinals game. Perfect night to watch the Cubs lose.

May 11

5x2:00 @ 5K effort with warm-up and cool-down for a total of 3.43 miles. I kind of miss our two mile warm up in the dark that we did over the winter. Running in circles around the track doesn't give you quite the same feeling.

May 12

Nothing again. After work I presented to a class of computer science graduate students and by the time I got home all I wanted to do was eat dinner and sit on the couch. So I did.

May 13

A triumphant return to weight lifting! Okay, maybe not triumphant but it felt good to do it. My left quad/adductor area doesn't love strength training yet so I hope I didn't overdo it.

I moved onto Workout A of Stage 2 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women. Stage 2, Workout A consists of:
2x10 Front squat/push press
2x10 Step Ups
2x10 Dumbbell one point row
2x10 Static lunge w/rear foot elevated
2x10 Push Ups
2x60 sec Planks
2x10 Horizontal Wood Chop
I had my PT show me how to do a plank without cheating and DAMN those are hard. I was dripping sweat and grunting by the end of the second 60 second rep. Whew.

I also had to make a modification to the horizontal wood chop since I don't have a cable machine in my basement. I laid on my back on the floor, knees bent, feet on the floor and moved a 10 pound plate from side to side. Probably not as good of a workout as the cable machine would give but it's better than nothing.

May 14

Normally I would run long on Saturday morning but when my alarm went off at 6 AM I looked out the sliding glass door in our bedroom and watched the wind whipping the leaves on the trees around. The sky was gray and I knew it was chilly outside. If I'd had a race to run or even a goal race coming up I'd have dragged myself out there. But instead I turned off my alarm and crawled back into bed.

That doesn't mean I was a total slacker, though. Instead of running I went to yoga! I hadn't been to this yoga class for over six weeks. It felt good to stretch although it also felt harder than it used to.

May 15

Another gross, windy, cold, rain day. Instead of running (or biking!) I decided to get in another strength training session. I went to the gym and did Workout B of Stage 2 of NROLW:
3x10 Box Deadlifts
2x10 Bulgarian Squat
2x10 Underhand grip lat pulldown
2x10 Reverse lunge from box w/forward reach
2x10 Dumbbell prone Cuban snatch
2x10 Swiss ball crunch
2x10 Reverse crunch
2x10 Lateral flexion (couldn't find a good demo of this, sorry)
2x60 seconds Prone Cobra
This particular workout also calls for a 15 minute interval session. I chose to do mine on the stationary bike although I followed the exact wording in the book and I think I could have pushed myself much harder. The book recommended a warm up w/3 minutes at Level 1 on the bike and 2 minutes of Level 2 then 3x1 minute intervals at Level 4 with 2 minutes at Level 1 in between. I forgot that this portion of the book kind of assumes you don't have a good cardio base. Next time I think I'll punch the levels up a bit.

And then after all that I spent some time stretching. My left hip flexor/quad area was still tight afterward, though. I took the weekend off running to rest it and then stupidly used while lifting. I shall confess all my sins to my PT next week, I promise.

Total weekly mileage: 8.93
Total strength training sessions: 2
Total yoga classes: 1

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fast as Lightning

Yep, another Wednesday, another track workout. Originally I thought it was going to be incredibly hot and humid so I busted out my "July" outfit. Skimpy sports bra, easy to remove tank top, and the shortest shorts I've ever owned. I'm not sure how I got talked into purchasing those shorts. Whew.

Anyway, it was certainly warm but it wasn't as hot as some of those track workouts last summer.

We started with our stretches and then a 15 minute warm up jog incorporating all our moving drills. I substituted some of the high knees with a "bounding" drill that my PT told me to do to work on my form. Then it was on to the interval portion of the evening.

We were doing 2:00 minutes at 5K effort followed by 1:15 rest intervals. The last time I did a workout like this it was much colder and we were supposed to be running at our one mile pace. And we got a longer rest interval. But I did 5 of them.

Last night I stuck with the number 5. Originally I was hoping to do 6 repeats but the idea is that you do as many as you can until you feel like you could do one more but don't want to. I definitely didn't want to after number 5. Not only was I tired and things hurt, but there was a huge storm rolling in. During that 5th 2:00 interval I heard thunder and saw lightning in the distance. I finished up that repeat, and decided I'd do one more lap of the track as my cool down.

I ended up booking it back to the start/finish line as I felt the temperature drop, the wind pick up and I realized the sky had turned a very strange color. Everyone grabbed their stuff and scattered. I piled people (and dogs and bikes) into my car so that no one had to walk or ride home and within minutes of pulling away from the track we were in a full-on downpour.

Of course, it only lasted about 20 minutes but I'm very glad I wasn't out in it.

So, I may have only done 5 repeats (even though I originally wanted to do 6) but I think I got in a quality workout. I didn't go out too fast, I stayed even, and I finished strong. Let's just ignore the fact that I think I was running a little faster than 5K effort....
1st 2:00 - .28 miles (7:15 pace)
2nd 200 - .27 miles (7:28 pace)
3rd 200 - .27 miles (7:26 pace)
4th 200 - .28 miles (7:13 pace)
5th 200 - .28 miles (7:15 pace)

Total mileage including warm up and my cool down lap - 3.43 miles

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saving My Shorts

My savior, the bathroom at mile 4

Monday night was one of those nights when running felt hard. I think that means I need a rest?

Anyway, I could barely keep up with our 9:15 pace so I dialed it back and tried to take it easy. Also, for future reference, slamming handfuls of raisins for my mid-morning and afternoon snack is NOT a good plan. I had to take a walk break at mile 3.5 to settle my stomach and I've never been happier to see a bathroom at the 4 mile mark.

Aren't you glad you read this blog?

Also, shorts and tank top weather is definitely here this week. I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt and was totally overheated. I ended up stripping off the shirt and running the last 1.5 miles in my shorts and sports bra. Much to running buddy Jacob's chagrin. When Phil whipped off his shirt Jacob bemoaned the fact that he was the only fully clothed runner of our trio. But, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. And, hey, speaking of shorts weather, Beth @ Shut Up and Run is giving away some shorts for both men and women! Oh, and a jacket, too, but it's definitely not jacket weather.

In the end I managed a 9:24 average pace even with the two short walk breaks I took. Of course, that doesn't count the almost 8 minute bathroom and rest break I took before that last 1.5 miles but, eh, I'm considering this to be a step-back week in a way. I really need one.

On the plus side, after my bike ride on Sunday I found a good way to stretch my hip, hip flexor, and adductor and that, combined with a stretch I do on the Power Plate at PT my hip FINALLY feels better. And while my shin twinged a bit even with my new shoes it also seems to be on the mend. Thank goodness.

Monday Night OPRC by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

May 2 - May 8

May 2

5.5 miles. You know, the usual.

May 3

No running but I did attend our monthly running club meeting where we heard a presentation from a local fireman/paramedic about what to do in various types of emergencies for various types of injuries. I swear, I could listen to fire fighters, paramedics, and police officers for hours. Anyway, I did get to learn how to use the AED machine. They're pretty idiot-proof.

May 4

3.63 miles in various incarnations around the track.

May 5

This ended up being a rest day. Unless you count the quarter mile I did in stops and starts on the treadmill while getting fitted for new shoes.

After work I had a 90 minute massage. However, I hadn't eaten enough during the day and I was really dizzy and out of it by the time I got home. Somehow I managed to both stop at the grocery store and make myself dinner without incident. But it was quite a challenge.

May 6

Rest day! I did see my PT, though, and we went over my gait analysis. Now I have about 1000 drills I'm supposed to do before running or at least three times a week. Sigh.

May 7

Wisconsin Half Marathon!

May 8

The weather was so beautiful on Sunday that although my original plan had been to be a lazy slug, I decided to get my bike outside for the first time this year. I drove to the Salt Creek bike path and rode just shy of 13 miles.

First Bike Ride of 2011 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

I decided this would be my baseline for the duathlon I'm doing in June. I averaged just under 15 miles an hour with stops for intersections and slowing down for other bike and foot traffic on the path. That's not great but it's not bad, either. I hope to get out on the bike every Sunday between now and June 26th.

Total mileage: 22.23
Total strength training sessions: 0
Total bike rides: 1

Sigh. I'm still bummed about the strength training situation. But at least my mileage is still over 20 for the week. And I got out on my bike! So I'll be happy about those two things instead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wisconsin Half Marathon Race Report

I know, I know, you're probably thinking "Another race report? Didn't I just read one of these?"

And you'd be right. For those of you keeping track, I've run a race every weekend for the past four weekends. However, I haven't raced a race every weekend.

This past Saturday was one of those races that I didn't race. The plan was for Kim and I to run it as an easy, fun run. Good thing, too, because my legs felt shredded.

Some of that was because the Wisconsin half marathon course chews me up and spits me out. You may remember last year's attempt where I bonked hard. I don't know if it's the hills, the out and backs, the weirdly spaced water stations or what. At least this year I didn't bonk but it was a struggle to stay at the 9:30 pace Kim and I had agreed upon.

Kim had a rough day, too. I tried my best to stay with her but found myself pulling ahead quite a few times. I'd slow down to walk the water stops and she'd pull ahead and then I'd catch up with her and slowly pull ahead again. We played that game of leap frog for most of the middle of the race.

I ended up finishing in 2:05:22 which is faster than last year but felt harder than it should have for a nice, easy run. Around mile 8 I decided that my favorite race distance is 10 miles. Something about those other 3.1 miles in a half marathon just wears me out. Or maybe I was still recovering from the Illinois Half Marathon.

However, the two other OPRC members who were running this race with goals had good days. One was trying to break 2 hours for the half marathon and ended up finishing in 1:49 (holy crap!) and the other who was trying to qualify for Boston finished the marathon 16 minutes faster than she needed for her Boston Qualifying time.

The weather which had forecasted rain for this race ended up being a little warm at the start and rather chilly by the finish. You can see by the "after" photo that I had on my jacket, my space blanket, and I had to borrow a pair of gloves! Thankfully cheering for our BQ-ing marathon runner distracted me from how badly my teeth were chattering.

As for any "during" photos, I'll have to see if the professional photographers got any decent ones of me. My personal race photographer had to sit this race out. Oh well.

And now I take a break from racing until the end of the month. Good thing, too. My medal holder is looking a little overrun...

Wisconsin Half Marathon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bye Bye, Brooks

On Wednesday night I joined the OPRC for another track workout. I admit, I was so close to skipping. I was tired and cranky and a little achy. But, Jason was right when he told me I'd feel better if I went.

We did our stretches and the same 12 minute warm-up as last time and then changed out the high knee and butt kick drills for skipping and a drill we call "stutter step". Which is just as difficult to explain as it is to do. And, of course, accelerating strides. For 20 minutes I only ran 3.63 miles, though, as opposed to the 4 I ran last week. Interesting.

The other difference was that we added in some non-running work involving stepping over the steeplechase hurdle for 30 seconds, burpees for 30 seconds, and then we threw in some planks for 30 seconds. For some number of rounds that I didn't count. Whew.

Sadly, when I woke up on Thursday morning I was S-O-R-E. And not necessarily a good sore. So after work I took the number one suggestion from my gait analysis and went and bought new shoes.

Say hello to the Asics Gel Foundation 9:

Apparently my left foot's pronation has gotten worse over time (probably due to my hip issue) so I needed a more stable shoe. I actually haven't run in these yet except for the short treadmill test run in the store but I'm hoping they'll help. The PT seems to think they will. Fingers crossed!

But that means no more Brooks. Which is too bad because I've been wearing Brooks Adrenalines since I got interested in running. I feel like I'm breaking up with a significant other!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

April Wrap Up

Although I'm still dealing with my left leg issues and my right knee decided it was feeling left out, I managed to have a pretty awesome April. Last year it was May that was my crazy month of races. This year it seems to start in April and keep going!

It started out with a 5K where I wished I would have done better but am still pleased with the overall lessons learned.

Then I moved on to an amazing 10 mile race where I surprised myself with how fast I can run. I guess all those interval sessions are paying off!

Next it was off to Cleveland to run another 10 mile race with my friend, Rae. It was a super fun weekend even though Rae hasn't been bitten by the long distance running bug. Yet ;-)

Finally, it was the weekend I'd been training for all winter. My goal race at the Illinois Half Marathon. And thanks to Kim, I knocked it out of the park.

And in between all those races I was running as consistently as I could, what with my weird injuries. All told, I ran 94.77 miles!

The strength training sessions, however, were severely lacking. I only managed 7 for the whole month. I really want to move onto the next stage of NROLW but I'm afraid it will make my left hip flexor or my right knee worse. So, I feel stalled.

Still, April was a good month overall filled with awesome races and awesome times with friends. Let's see if we can keep this momentum going.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday Night Musings

On Monday, in between all the congratulations being handed around (lots of club members ran awesome races this weekend, not just me) I was asked what my next goal is. Having hit my sub-2:00 hour half-marathon goal I guess my thoughts turned to being able to dial it back a notch for a few weeks.

Yeah, that totally didn't happen last night. When we hit our first mile in 8:43 Jacob, Phil and I gasped for air and decided to slow down. We sort of managed it.

Our splits were:

Mile 1 - 8:43
Mile 2 - 8:50
Mile 3 - 9:05
Mile 4 - 8:48
Mile 5 - 8:37
Mile .45 - 8:53 pace

You'd think I was racing a half marathon or something!

Actually, during mile 5 I was really focusing on pushing off with my back leg and extending my hip flexors. There might be something to this whole gait thing after all. I felt like I was flying!

So apparently I failed at my goal of taking it easy for awhile. But what about my actual new goals?

Well, there's always that "finish a marathon in a time that starts with a 4" goal. And complete my first duathlon goal. And survive the Madison to Chicago relay goal. Speaking of which, my relay team needs another runner! You know you've always wanted to run a relay with me and Kim and the rest of my lunch time running crew. You should totally join us.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

April 25th - May 1st

Apr 25

5.5 miles that went well even though my stomach was totally rebelling.

Apr 26

Since my stomach still felt gross and my knee was still a little achy, I took this day as a rest day. However, I did get a video gait analysis done at a local PT's office. I get my results this week.

Apr 27

First "official" track workout of the season for a total of 4.5 miles.

Apr 28

I was planning to do the "Shrink Your Female Fat Zones" workout video but due to technical difficulties I had to try this "Crunch Pilates" video via Netflix. It was...interesting. I skipped most of the squat type moves as they aggravate both my hip and my knee. But I added some dumbbell rows, shoulder presses, and push-ups.

Apr 29

Illinois 5K followed by....

Apr 30

Illinois Half Marathon!

May 1

Rest day!

Total mileage: 27.2
Total strength workouts: 1

The mileage was good this week although my left hip flexor is informing me that it wasn't so happy with that. Also, I'm really bummed that I don't think I'm going to hit my 100 strength workouts goal since the plan I want to follow relies so heavily on squats, lunges, and deadlifts. But, oh well, it is what it is. I've already achieved one goal this year so I can be content with that right now.

Illinois 5K & Half Marathon Race Reports

So, if you hadn't figured it out, Kim and I ran two races this past weekend so we could get our "I-Challenge" medals. The above photo is from Friday night's 5K race. Which we tried to take easy, I swear. As Kim said, there aren't many times when you tell yourself to slow down during a 5K.

Anyway, we ran easy (for a 5K race, anyway) and enjoyed our finish in the football stadium.

Then it was back to my parents' house to make dinner and get ready for the goal race in the morning. Kim was sweet enough to print out a pace band and take charge of getting me to the finish line in under 2 hours.

The weather was a huge question mark as we did our final race prep. Highs were predicted to be in the 70s. And I knew that the 30+ mile an hour wind gusts that were supposed to show up could be brutal around the halfway point of the course.

We wore our matching blue tank tops and I decided to forgo wearing my fuel belt. The last time I tried that in a half marathon I totally bonked. But this time I thought I'd chance it. Still, I gave it to Jason so that he could hand it to me when I saw him on the course.

Kim and I ran a warm-up mile. My knee felt fine. My hip flexor was feeling okay, too. A little tight but not painful. And the weather seemed to be holding out. Overcast and low 50s at the start. And not too breezy.

The first few miles went by quickly although they were a bit crowded. Kim kept telling me to slow down a bit. We hung out behind the 2:00 pacer until about mile 2.5 or so. I was just so excited to be running through my hometown. The only downside is that you know just how far it is before the next turn on the course!

We ran through the campus where I went to graduate school, we ran past my former workplace, and when we ran past the strip club I asked the crowd of runners around us if anyone wanted to stop for a detour. No takers.

Shortly after passing the "seedy" part of town

We passed Jason and Kim's husband, Steven, near mile 4 or so. Then it was through some residental areas before turning into my parents' neighborhood. I'd been so excited for this part since I found out the course goes within yards of my parents' front door.

The view from near the front of my parents' house

As we got closer and closer I was so excited to see my parents. "I can see my house from here!" I shouted.

Then we rounded the corner and I saw them standing behind a barricade holding "the sign" and shouting. My mom wanted to know if we were cold. I shook my head, pumped my fist in the air and yelled, "THIS IS AWESOME!"

The red arrow on the left is pointing to my step-dad.

The course goes up a long incline from that corner and even though I've run it plenty of times before, I'd never run it after running 6+ miles. It was rough. I distracted myself by eating my Shot Bloks and I was thankful for the water station at the top where I slowed down to drink some water. I'd been worried that the water stations would be too far apart but they were perfectly spaced.

When my Garmin beeped at the next mile marker I said "What mile is this? Six?"

"Seven," Kim said. Oh, yeah. Duh. I knew my parents were between mile 6 and 7. I guess that was just evidence of how non-functional my brain was at that point. However, my legs felt great and I was still running with a huge smile on my face.

We ran through Meadowbrook Park and past all the sculptures and statues. Up and down hills and over wooden bridges. I started to get a little whiny around mile 9. "My butt hurts!" I exclaimed. But I knew I had a spectator waiting for me after the park and Kim kept telling me we were right on pace.

"Do I want to know what finish time you put on that pace band?" I asked. I knew it was sub-2 but I didn't know exactly what it was.

"Do you want me to tell you?" Kim replied.

"Actually, no. Don't. I'll just get psyched out if I know."

We left the park and I started scanning for my friend who said she'd be there cheering. I saw her and screamed her name! A quick high five and I was gone.

My friend's cheering support crew

Then we had a surprise husband sighting as Jason offered me my fuel belt shortly before mile 11. I waved him off and smiled to let him know I was doing fine.

Kim and I took a short walk break though the next water station because we were both starting to flag. Another surprise sighting of my parents at mile 11 gave me a much needed energy boost but that mile felt incredibly long. I distracted myself by looking at the spectators' signs. "Gas is $4.30. Keep running. It's cheaper." read one. "You're doing Moovelous" said another held by a woman dressed in a cow suit.

Photo from The News-Gazette/John Dixon

I don't remember much of mile 12. I do remember, however, that as we approached the stadium and knew I was going to finish in under 2 hours I had to remind myself to breathe. We surprised Jason and Steven as we rounded the third-to-last corner and Jason sprinted ahead to get one last photo of us.

I think it's appropriate that Kim is looking at her watch in this photo as that's how she spent most of the race.

I heard Mica cheer for us as we made our final descent into the football stadium. "I don't want to sprint to the finish," I said to Kim. But we still clasped hands and I screamed as we crossed the finish line.

Then we collapsed into a hug. I did it. I really did it. I ran a half marathon in under 2 hours. 1:57:33 officially. Turns out Kim had put 1:57:59 on the pace band. I'm so thankful for Kim, for everyone in the OPRC who believed in me, and everyone who came out to cheer.

And the next morning you know what photo was on the front of the local paper?

Photo from The News-Gazette

Can you see me in the lower left hand corner? Yep, the race photo with me in it made the front of the paper! I know, I'm just that awesome. Too bad the photographer cropped Kim out of the photo!

Regardless, it was an amazing weekend. I ran with my best friend, I enjoyed my hometown, and I made my sub-2:00 goal. Now, don't mind me, I'm going to go bask in it for awhile longer.

Illinois 5K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Illinois Half Marathon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details