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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Planless Plan

So, technically, Monday night was the first night of my training for the Milwaukee Marathon on October 2nd.

I've been trying and trying to figure out a training plan but with the travel I'm doing this summer and all the races I'm doing to earn a participation award from the Chicago Area Runner's Association I'm having a difficult time figuring out when to do all my long runs.

So, I'm sort of following a plan. Kind of. I'm thrown paces for most things out the window and am just going to try and get in the miles when I can. Hey, it worked for my half marathon PR.

Which meant that Monday night I just tried to enjoy the run even though it was warm outside. My pace for the Monday night runs has dropped by almost 45 seconds to a minute per mile since March-April-May. I guess we know what time of year I like to run, huh?

Monday Night OPRC Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Although, to be honest, I could have pushed it harder on Monday night but a part of me wonders why. I'm trying to enjoy running and right now worrying too much about my pace is not enjoyable.

But I am worried about getting in the miles. So here's my current training plan:

Or see it here

Of course, I've already blown it this week by not getting in any cross training or running on Tuesday and it looks like Thursday will be the same. Oh well.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

June 20 - June 26

June 20

5.5 slogging miles on one really humid evening. But, hey, you gotta do some kind of exercise if you're going to stuff yourself with pizza and beer, right?

June 21

Technically I'm supposed to move on to the next phase of NROLW but I wasn't in the mood to do new exercises. So, I did Stage 2 Workout A again.
2x10 Push presses
2x10 Step Ups
2x10 Dumbbell one point row
2x10 Static lunge w/rear foot elevated
2x10 Push Ups
2x60 sec Planks
2x10 Seated Oblique Twists
2x10 Bridges
2x10 Bridges w/Pull Ins
Apparently while I was in my basement working out a huge storm was starting. I heard from people later that tornado sirens went off and everything. I'm glad I didn't go to the gym to do my workout!

Also, I'm glad that I was done being down there before water started leaking in again. Turns out we discovered a hole in the base of a pipe so we think that's where the water is coming in from now. Joy.

June 22

5.3 miles at the track. We also did a short core workout afterward. 50 sit ups, 25 push ups, 50 supermans. I sort of cheated and did my push ups using the side of a picnic table and even then it was rough. I'm totally counting it as a strength workout.

June 23

4.95 miles at lunch. Ooooh, how I wanted the Garmin to say 5 miles. Actually, let's just round that puppy up to five. I mean, I didn't start it exactly when we started running...

Lunch Time Run South by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

And then when I got home even though I really just wanted to sit on the couch (hey, I'd done one workout already!) I dragged my butt to the basement and did a strength workout.
2x10 Box Deadlifts
2x10 Bulgarian Split Squat
2x16 Upright Barbell Row
2x10 Reverse lunge from box w/forward reach
2x10 Modified Dumbbell Cuban snatch
2x10 Swiss ball crunch
2x10 Reverse crunch
2x10 Side crunch
2x10 Bridge
2x10 Bridge w/pull in
I kind of feel stupid paying for my gym membership now that I have the weights in the basement, but every so often I just WANT to go to the gym so I like having it there as a back-up.

June 24

I woke up on Friday feeling kind of queasy and out of sorts. I was working from home anyway due the annual office carpet cleaning. Let's just say that "working" ended up meaning checking my email in between napping and paying homage at the throne of the porcelain god.

I was really worried about being sick because I had plans to bike alongside Kim while she did a long run Saturday morning. Not to mention my duathlon on Sunday. Thankfully, it was pretty much a 24 hour bug and by Saturday morning I was fine.

June 25

Kim ran 11 miles while I leisurely biked alongside. It was her first time on the Salt Creek bike path and I think we had a pretty good day for it. The path is nice and shaded and it wasn't too humid out.

June 26

My first duathlon! To be honest, although I didn't know what to expect in terms of logistics, reading so many different blogs gave me a pretty good idea of how it would go down. I'm thankful all that information is available because it helped me stay calm enough to focus on actually having fun.

Total running mileage - 19.8
Total biking mileage - 22
Total strength workouts - 3

What a great week! Other than my weird sickness on Friday I got in a nice balance of workouts, did my first duathlon, and had fun on all my runs. Yay!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Race Around the World Duathlon Race Report

My first duathlon is in the books! It was both easier and harder than I thought it would be but, really, I went into it with very few expectations and I ended up exceeding them all!

I had no idea what to expect and considering I only did one "brick" workout (bike then run) and had never really tried to ride my bike all that fast for all that long I was just hoping to have fun.

We left the house around 6:30 AM to drive the 45 minutes to the race start. As we were unloading my bike from the car we heard the announcement that the transition area was going to close in 20 minutes. Aaaaaah! I admit I kind of panicked. I still had to pick up my packet and figure out where the transition area was and set up my bike and my helmet and my other stuff. I left Jason to figure out where to park the car and went to figure out where to park my bike.

The transition area was kind of crazy:

One of the guys from my relay team who has done this race three times told me that the transition area is relatively crowded compared to other races he's done. I finally found a place to rack my bike and only afterward figured out I was at the far end of the transition area's bike entrance and exit. Oops. Oh well. At least I was close to the run portion entrance and exit?

The race had a wave start with my wave starting at 8:04. Everyone started right on time and then I was off for my first 2 mile out-and-back portion.

The air temperature wasn't too hot and the humidity was low but the sun was out in full force. All I really wanted to do, though, was run 9:00 minute miles or faster. I didn't want to push it too hard on the first run and then be wiped out on the bike since I had no idea what to expect from my body. I was pleasantly surprised, though, to see I was running around 8:30s and feeling great.

I finished the run and headed towards my bike. Swapped my visor for my helmet, put on my sunglasses, stuffed my Shot Bloks in my shorts pocket, and took a swig of Gatorade. I walked my bike to the bike mounting line and took off.

The course was mostly flat with a few short hills and some freeway overpasses. It was also nice and straight which I liked.

I had no idea what my speed was since I left my Garmin on "Run" mode. My goal was to do 15 MPH or faster. All I knew is that I was hitting sub-4:00 minutes each time it beeped at the mile markers but I had no idea what that was in MPH. I tried not to coast very much (I allowed for some on the downhills) and ate some Shot Bloks and drank water when I felt tired.

The bike portion was much harder than I though it would be. Although the breeze felt great on my sweaty skin, my quads were screaming at me, my butt was hurting, and I had to pee. I just couldn't get comfortable on the bike. I was also hungry. I started fantasizing about what I would have for my post-race meal.

I didn't pass very many people on the bike. I got passed quite a bit, though. The few people I did pass were on mountain bikes. Except this one girl. The girl in the magenta on a hybrid bike with a package carrier on the back. She passed me and I never caught up. She had to be working hard!

The other rough part about the bike portion was there there were no mile markers. Just signs that said "1/4 way", "1/2 way", and "3/4 way". I was trying to do the math in my head of how far I'd gone by adding or subtracting the 2 miles I'd already run to the 11 miles I had to ride but math isn't my strong suit even when I've got full oxygen going to my brain.

Finally I saw the turn back into the transition area but my legs were on autopilot and I almost rode right past! I had to slam on the brakes on my bike and one of the volunteers started laughing at me. "I thought you were going to do a sideways skid into the dismount line!" he joked.

"Just checking my brakes," I said as I trotted past.

I re-racked my bike, swapped my helmet for my visor, fixed my ponytail, took another swig of Gatorade and headed for the exit. Oops! Forgot to take off my sunglasses (I don't like to run with them on) so I circled back to toss them by my bike. And then I was off!

Running after biking is totally weird. It's kind of like walking on land after being on a boat for a long time. I felt like I was going SO SLOW. As if my legs were made out of lead. But every time I looked at my Garmin I was still hitting around an 8:30 pace. Well, okay. 8:30s it is.

I no longer wanted to think about food and, thankfully, I no longer had to pee. I had a fleeting thought about how people who do Ironmans are crazy. How could you ever run a marathon after riding 112 miles? But then I realized that I hadn't really trained for this event and just like running a regular marathon you build up to those kinds of distances.

This last 2 mile run was uneventful. It was still warm and I took some water at the 1 mile mark. I was getting kind of tired but still generally feeling okay. I probably could have pushed it a little harder but I didn't want to. This race was for fun!

Still, as I headed toward where Jason was standing several meters from the finish line he said, "Come on, sprint it in! You're a sprinter!" I didn't pick it up as much as I could have but I did pick it up a little bit. I crossed the line with enough energy left to bend down and unstrap my own timing chip.

I cooled off for a second in the spray from the local fire department's decontamination truck (with built in showers!), recovered while standing around in the shade, and then grabbed my bike and loaded up the car.

I capped off my morning with brunch at my favorite restaurant (mango blueberry French toast and a strawberry Belleni anyone?) and a well-deserved nap.

Remember, my goals for this race were mostly to have fun. I didn't have any hardcore time goals. I wanted to run sub-9:00 minute miles and bike 15 MPH or faster.

Well, my final official time was 1:15:04. And the breakdown?

Well, I smashed those goals and had fun to boot! Just imagine if I'd actually trained for this thing....

Oh, yeah, and a nifty tidbit of information - my bib number was 17. I also came in 17th (out of 34) in my age group!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fast Faster Fastest

When Coach Holly emailed us this week's workout my brain apparently couldn't take it. I thought we were going 3 or 4 400s really fast. Like, faster than 5K pace. Possibly faster than mile pace. I was all set to bust out some super fast 400s.

When I got to track I realized the workout was actually 3 or 4 800s with 6 minutes of recovery between each.


That's a little different. Really fast 800s? Um, okay.

At least the weather was almost perfect. In the low 60s and drizzly. A little windy but it held off until the last interval.

We did our usual stretches and then 15 minute running warm-up and drills. Then it was time to start going FAST.

I settled into my group and somehow found myself at the front. Uh oh. Sure enough, I got passed during the last 200 meters. Still, I hung in there and managed a good time.

I went out a little slower the second time around and finally seemed to find my groove. I didn't get faster each time, but I ended up running well overall. Take a look:
1st 800 - 3:33
2nd 800 - 3:31
3rd 800 - 3:31
4th 800 - 3:31
Holy even splits, Batman! Sure, my rest intervals got longer as the workout went on, but they were still all between 5:30 and 6:30 so I think that's okay.

Also, here's one of the great things about keeping a training log of some sort. I just looked back at my 800 times from last summer. My fastest one was a 3:40something. Major improvement!

We decided that the first half of the second lap always felt the worst. I could definitely feel my butt and my quads getting tired. But that's the point of this workout. Learn to run when all that lactic acid is building up in your muscles. Learn to push through.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's not the heat...

Monday was one of those mornings that starts filled with thunder and rain and the general feeling of UGH about having to get out of bed.

After the rain petered out we were left with reasonable temperatures but severely unreasonable humidity.

Doing some quick Googling I found that runners tend to agree that a dewpoint above 70 can kill your pace. Pretty sure that it was at least in the upper 60s on Monday night, if not 70.

Which basically explains why I felt like death for the first 4 miles of our 5.5 mile run. I was really struggling to hold even a 9:30 pace. Whew. It wasn't until we took a substantial break at the 4 mile mark that I was able to even attempt to pick up any speed. And even then it was still a slog.

But post-run I was glad for the weather. I think many runners have a strange love-hate relationship with summer. I know I do, at least. One on hand, you want the weather to stay nice and cool. Below 60 degrees, please. And overcast. That would be great. On the other hand, you want warm, sunny weather so you can sit outside, go to the pool, and enjoy all the outdoor activities summer has to offer.

So last night after our run when we went to the club president's house for pizza and drinks I was glad for the warm weather that allowed us to hang out on his deck and enjoy the evening.

But during the run? No thank you.

Monday Night OPRC Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

June 13 - June 19

June 13

My right foot and ankle were still a little sore from the relay so I decided to take the day off from all activity. Just drink wine and hang out with my husband.

June 14

Another rest day. No particular reason other than I wanted to. Life is about balance, right? So Tuesday was me balancing my crazy weekend with another nice, leisurely evening.

June 15

4.7 miles including warm up and 400 meter intervals.

June 16

I'm just a resting fool this week. Thursday was my work's annual staff appreciation event and my coworkers and I partied it up. Maybe a little bit too much partying...

June 17

Because Friday I was useless. I couldn't even eat until after 12:00 PM. Yeah, no workout for me.

June 18

I definitely made up for my multiple rest days by being a weekend warrior. Well, first I made a trip to the doctor's office where they informed me I have some mild bone bruising but no stress fracture, no stress reaction, and really nothing that concerns them. On one hand, I'm glad there's nothing devastatingly wrong with me. On the other hand, I'd love to know why my left hip flexor gives me fits! Diagnosis? Work more on my running form. Joy.

So, with basically a clean bill of health I got home and hopped on my bike. My goal? Ride from my house to the bike path, ride the entire bike path, and ride home. Should total 20 miles, my longest bike ride yet. Turns out, it actually totals 22! And, yes, I rode the entire thing. Averaged just under 14 MPH, too. Pretty good for not really trying and having to stop for traffic.

House - Path - House by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

My left hip flexor was starting to cramp up and my left knee was getting achy towards the end of my ride so I think that's a form issue, too. I guess I'll have to read up some more on proper cycling form.

After I got home I debated taking a nap. But first I decided I'd REALLY earn that nap by doing a quick strength training workout in my basement.
2x10 Box Deadlifts
2x10 Bulgarian Split Squat
2x16 Upright Barbell Row
2x10 Reverse lunge from box w/forward reach
2x10 Modified Dumbbell Cuban snatch
2x10 Swiss ball crunch
2x10 Reverse crunch
2x10 Side crunch
And then I napped. And it was glorious.

June 19

Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to go on a 20+ mile bike ride and lift weights the day before a 7.8 mile hot, hilly trail run? This run was rough. Fun, but rough.

I napped after my run, too. I'm thinking I wasn't quite as recovered from last weekend's relay as I thought.

Total running mileage: 12.56
Total bike mileage: 22.19
Total strength workouts: 1

Hmmm, the bike mileage this week seems to have exceeded the running mileage. I'm okay with that, though. A little bit of a break before I start marathon training is fine with me!

Trail Trials

On Sunday I joined several other OPRC runners to tackle some of the trails at the Palos Trail System about 30 minutes south of us. I'd never run this trail and all I knew about it was that it was hilly and that mountain bikers enjoy riding it. Okay.

We started running around 8:15 AM and already I could tell it wasn't going to be a great run. It was already warm and SO humid. The switchback we took up the side of a hill within the first quarter mile was already a killer and the lose gravel and occasional piles of horse crap made for some interesting footing.

Still, the trail was quite pretty. Portions were through open fields, others through woods. Knowing that it would be hilly and that I'm not used to running trails I decided I'd try for 8 miles (4 out, 4 back) and not worry too much about my pace. I ran most of the way out with one club member and the whole way back with two.

We ended up taking a slight shortcut due to our inability to follow the trail markers so instead of 8 miles I ended up only doing 7.8. Oh well. I'm honestly surprised I made it that far! There were portions during the first two miles when I thought I'd only be able to manage six miles total. Hard to believe that last weekend I ran 8.2 miles much faster and feeling much better. I think that as it warms up I'm going to start incorporating walk breaks every few miles. And just keep reminding myself that my long slow runs during marathon training should be just that: long and slow.

Regardless, I'm glad I went on this run. I enjoy being exposed to new trails and new places to run. Plus, running in the heat gives me an excuse to nap the afternoon away!

Palos Forest Preserve by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, June 17, 2011

400s in the House

Good things about Wednesday night's track workout -

1. We did 400 meter repeats. I like 400 meter repeats.
2. I was told to run fast. Okay!
3. My left knee had been bothering me earlier in the week but it didn't bother me during the intervals.
4. It rained. I like running in the rain. When it's warm. And it was warm.
5. My 400 times were nice and even and faster than last summer!
1st 400 - 1:36
2nd 400 - 1:40
3rd 400 - 1:37
4th 400 - 1:40
5th 400 - 1:40
6th 400 - 1:39
Bad things about Wednesday night's track workout -

1. It rained REALLY hard for a bit. Thankfully we were able to stand under a tent during that time. So I guess that's not really bad.
2. I was only able to do 6 400s when I really wanted to try for 8. But my running hasn't been super consistent over the past few weeks so 6 is probably good for now.
3. My left quad started to feel tight and achy. I had an MRI of my pelvis done on Thursday and I see the doctor on Saturday. Hopefully I can get a diagnosis!

So, overall, not too bad of a workout.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

June 6 - June 12

June 6

Now, normally I would run on Monday night. But when I got home from work and realized it was over 90oF with a heat index of almost 100 I said "No way! I do NOT need to run that badly." Plus, I'm still getting over this stupid cold.

So instead I went into my semi-cool basement and lifted weights with a fan blowing on me.
2x10 Push presses
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 seem to be backsliding on the planks. There were lots of 1 and 2 second cheating breaks. But maybe that's because I've made huge gains in both the push presses and the step ups. Seriously, listen to this:

Back in February when I was doing CrossFit I could do a push press with the 45 pound bar but it was a struggle to do more than 4 or 5. Monday night I did 10 with 45 pounds on the bar and then did another 10 with 50 pounds on the bar. I only struggled on the last two of the second set.

And those step ups? When I first started back in January I couldn't even use weights. Now I can do them with 15 pounds in each hand.

June 7

Rest day! I attended my running club's monthly meeting where I was voted VP of Communications and Marketing and listened to two running shoe store employees talk all about running shoes.

June 8

Another rest day. Not only was the temp up in the high 90s again, but this was my only chance really to pack before the Ragnar Madison to Chicago relay that started on Friday! So, after one last minute trip to REI, I stuffed one bag full of food, one bag full of clothes, and one bag full of miscellaneous gear. And, yes, I used a list. There's no way I'd remember everything otherwise. Ever packed for two days worth of running while living out of a van? I hadn't either until now.

Also while at REI I bought my first pair of bike shorts!

Technically they are triathlon shorts because I figured those would be easier to run in than regular bike shorts. Also, I've decided that bike shorts are officially the least flattering piece of clothing on the planet.

June 9

Another rest day. I promise, I wasn't being lazy. I was tapering. Yeah, that's it. Actually, Thursday night I had an awards banquet to attend after work so that's why there was a whole lot of nothing going on.

June 10

Relay starts! Off to the races with a 5.8 mile run.

June 11

Relay ends! Only after I ran 4 miles and then 8.2 miles. Yes, my last leg was the longest. Cruel, isn't it?

However, I learned a few things from this experience.

1. Adrenaline is more important than sleep
2. It is possible to get REALLY sick of Gatorade and Clif Bars
3. I can wear my contacts for 30+ hours
4. Sleeping on a hard wood floor with no padding isn't that bad
5. A $2 high school cafeteria cheeseburger can be the best thing you've ever eaten.
6. You never really get used to port-a-potties. Although, after using too many it make take you a second to remember you have to flush when using indoor plumbing.

And, amazingly, my left leg held up great! Nothing hurt on it after running.

June 12

Call me crazy, but even though my quads were definitely "toilet sore" (as in, so sore it hurts to sit down on the toilet) after the relay, I decided to join Kim for a bike ride. Hey, it's supposed to help with the soreness if you get up and moving, right? Plus, I do have that pesky duathlon in a few weeks.

So after 13 hours of sleep and a huge plate of biscuits and gravy, I drove to the Des Plaines River Trail outside Lincolnshire, IL to ride with Kim.

I gave my new bike shorts a test run. They worked well! We rode just over 15 miles at a nice, 12 MPH pace.

This was my first time taking my road bike on a crushed limestone path and I'm happy to report it went fine.

Kim & Erin Bike 6/12/11 by theskaff at Garmin Connect - Details

And then this is where you'll think we're really crazy. We ran 2 miles after getting off our bikes! My very first "brick" workout!

Brick Workout #1 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

I'm glad I did at least one before the duathlon, though. Your legs really do feel strange when you run immediately after getting off the bicycle.

I wore my Ragnar Relay shirt 'cause I'm badass

Total running mileage: 20
Total strength workouts: 1
Total bike mileage: 15.04

Quite a few firsts this week. First pair of bike shorts, first relay race, first bike ride over 13 miles, first brick workout. I may have been a bit of a weekend warrior but it was all great fun.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay Race Report

One team. Two vans. Two drivers. Twelve runners. Three relay legs each. 30 hours. 197 miles total.

I don't even know where to begin. How about a recap on how this whole thing works?

Each van has six runners in it. We are numbered 1 through 12. Van 1 has runners 1 to 6 and Van 2 has runners 6-12. Runner #1 starts and runs his or her assigned distance. Van 1 drives ahead and meets her at the end of her leg where she hands off the baton (or slap bracelet) to Runner #2. Runner #2 runs and the van drives ahead. Repeat. Van 2 picks up when Runner #6 finishes his leg and hands off to Runner #7. And so on. Each person runs three times. The vans meet up three times throughout the relay and then again at the finish.

We had a team name.

I was in Van 2 as Runner #11.

Our van was packed with bags of extra running clothes, gear, and food. Essentially we were living out of a van for two days.

Van 1 started our team off at 10:30 AM on Friday morning and we met them at the first major exchange point outside Madison, Wisconsin around 3:30 PM on Friday afternoon where Runner #6 handed off to the first runner from our van.

And then we were off! Drive ahead to the next exchange point and wait. At this point we were still pretty giddy. Using the walkie-talkies to communicate from the back of the van to the front. Making stupid jokes. Playing music on our iPhones. Enjoying the scenery as we drove from place to place.

I started my first leg around 7:30 PM on Friday. 5.8 miles along the Glacier Drumlin trail in Wisconsin.

Starting my first leg

Coming in to the exchange point at the end of my first leg

My goal for all three of my legs was to run 9 minute miles. Fueled by pretzels, bagels and Clif bars I managed to hit a 9:00 minute average exactly for my first leg. Awesome. The trail was lovely and it was cool enough that the mosquitoes weren't out in force. The rain stayed away too. Perfect.

After Runner #12 finished his first leg it was off to our first major rest area. We drove 30 minutes to a high school outside Milwaukee where we ate dinner at 10:30 PM and then tried to sleep in a darkened high school gym. Well, I actually did get about an hour or more of sleep but I think I'm the only one who did. Who knew I could sleep on the hardwood of a basketball court?

At 1:00 AM we were back up to get ready to send off Runner #7 for his second leg. Van 1 reported that running in the pitch blackness of the Wisconsin countryside was scary and unnerving. Great. It had also started to get foggy and misty outside. And cold!

Unfortunately sleep deprivation was starting to catch up with us and we made some navigation errors that cost us some time and left one of our runners stranded at an exchange point for 10-15 minutes! He was pretty chilled by the time we pulled up.

My second leg started at 4:00 AM. 4 miles through the country roads outside Racine, Wisconsin. No streetlamps. No traffic. Just me and my headlamp running through the mist with the occasional glimpse of a blinking LED of another runner up ahead. I busted out that 4 miles with a slightly sub-9:00 pace and was thrilled to get back into the van. The run felt good, though. Amazingly good for the amount of sleep and the time of day.

After we handed back off to Van 1 it was time to grab some pancakes and some more sleep in Zion, IL. Well, pancakes were had but sleep was in short supply. Unlike the indoor sleeping area at the high school earlier this time we were left to sleep outside in the cold or in the van. As someone who only sleeps well when fully horizontal this posed some challenges. Still, I managed about another 40 minutes.

We sent off Runner #7 on his last leg around 10:00 AM and then drove to McDonald's to get Jason some "real" food. Did I mention that Jason drove our van the entire time?

He's amazing.

Runner #7 handed off his baton at the end of his final leg to Runner #8 in exchange for some McDonald's in one of the more amusing runner exchanges of the relay.

The YMCA at that particular exchange point was kind enough to let runners in to take showers. I didn't take advantage of that particular perk but some of the guys in our van did. Amazingly our van never reeked of B.O. even though Runner #12 informed us that his shorts smelled horrible. We turned him down we he asked, "Does anyone want to smell my shorts?"

By now we were back on familiar turf. Waukegan, Lake Forest, Highland Park. I started my final run in Glencoe around 2:15 PM and ran 8.2 miles along a bike path and through Kenilworth and Evanston.

I'd been dreading this run. 8.2 miles? 9:00 minute pace? After very little sleep, crappy food, and sitting in van all day?

The running gods were shining on me, though. The weather stayed cool. The sun barely came out. And I decided to take 1 minute walk breaks every two miles. My legs felt amazing. Not tired at all. When I would look down at my Garmin I would see a sub-9:00 pace. Seriously? In the end, even with my walk breaks, I averaged a 9:09 pace and felt GREAT. I had such an amazing runner's high. I had finished all my legs. They'd all gone well. And now all that was left was to drive into the city and meet the rest of our team and our last runner at Montrose Beach.

When we found the rest of our team who had patiently waited 6 hours for us to get there (I think they went out for a loooooong lunch) we started swapping stories. Then, suddenly, we looked up the path. Is that our last runner? No. Yes? No. YES!

As he ran past we all joined him and ran across the finish line. We started at 10:30 AM on Friday. We finished at 4:30 PM on Saturday. 30 hours later.

Much like running a marathon (or, really, any hard race) there are times when you wonder why you're doing such a crazy thing. When you're so tired you could cry you wonder what you'll tell people when they ask why you signed up for this. You tell yourself you'll never do this again.

And then you look back on it and remember the feeling of crossing the finish line as a team. You remember laughing about stupid stuff and getting lost and being thrilled when you find out someone brought Rice Krispie treats. You think about how awesome it felt to run so well in the middle of the night. You giggle at all the funny team names and van decorations. You start thinking about what you'd do differently next time.

Will there be a next time? Let's take inventory:

Total miles run personally - 18
Sore body parts - Quads, right foot/ankle
Mosquito bites - 0
Sunburns - Nose (slightly)
Hours slept on Saturday night - 13
Bragging rights - Unlimited

If someone asked me to do this again, I think I would. The thing is, it would be a different experience every time. And while, yes, it's about the running, it's also about cheering for your teammates and amazing yourself at what your body can do when you ask it.

Legs 1 & 2
Ragnar Relay Madison to Chicago by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Leg 3
Ragnar Relay Madison to Chicago by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May Wrap Up

May was a weird month. The weather was weird. My races (all 3 of them) were weird. My leg was weird. I don't know. It was just weird.

The Wisconsin Half Marathon felt harder than it should have. The Chase Corporate Challenge felt easier than I expected. And the Solider Field 10 Mile was a rough day.

I'd been hoping to get out on my bike more but the first part of May was cold and rainy. Then it was cool and humid. Summer has finally arrived but now we're having August weather two months early! I'm not acclimated to this yet.

My leg and hip seem to feel better in fits and spurts. I'll go a few days without pain and then BAM it aches again.

So, in general, May was not the best month I've ever had. Still, I ran 79.36 miles and did 5 strength training sessions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Roselle Run for the Roses 5K Race Report

I really wanted this to be a good 5K race. Really, I did. I even tried my strategy of just thinking of it as a fun run in the hopes that it would take some of the pressure off. I do better when I don't think about it as much. I decided I'd do my best to keep up with my former pace bunny Maribeth and hopefully not go out too fast.

In the end, though, I think my strategy backfired. Maribeth had an awesome race. I did not. She pulled away early and I couldn't keep up. I went out too fast and tanked during the third mile. I even contemplated walking! In a 5K! I can run longer distances than that without walking. What was I thinking?

During my warm-up I felt pretty good. Hot, though, so I ended up running in just my sports bra. First time I've ever run a race that way. Felt nice, although I could have done without the guy hitting on me afterward.

The first mile was okay but definitely too fast. The second mile I started strong but couldn't hang on. The third mile was just a struggle. Seems to be my M.O. for 5Ks. Just before the turn to the finish Coach Holly yelled, "Come on, Erin! Finish strong! You're a sprinter!" and I remembered that, yeah, I do like to sprint. So I sprinted to the finish. Too little too late, though.

My final time? 26:09. I'd been hoping for something like 24:50 so this was way off.

What happened? I wish I knew. Was it because I rode my bike 2 miles to our carpool meeting spot before the race? Was it because I've been fighting off this stupid cold? Was it that I'm just not used to the warm weather yet? Or maybe I'm just raced out. Feeling flat from trying to run hard too often.

My next two race events are totally new experiences for me (a relay and a duathlon) so I have no prior times or races to compare them to. I think that will be nice.

But don't get me wrong; I didn't have a bad time overall at the Roselle 5K. I didn't even cry about my finishing time. I just shrugged my shoulders and congratulated my teammates who had great races. I cheered for our unofficial club mascot (the toddler in the photo above) who "toddled" a 600 meter race, and I clapped for club members who won awards. And then I got my post-race carbs. Mmmm, waffles.

Roselle Run for the Roses 5K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

May 30 - June 5

May 30

It was super hot outside and my left leg was bothering me so I took the opportunity to have a nice rest day.

May 31st

I went to the gym after work and did another NROLW workout:
2x10 Dumbbell shoulder 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
That first thing should have been a front squat/push press but since squats currently aggravate whatever my groin/hip flexor injury is I traded them out for just the dumbbell presses.

June 1

4.27 miles at the track and about 4 miles of bike riding as well.

June 2

Another strength workout!
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
2x60 seconds Prone Cobra

Plus I not only rode my bike to and from the gym (for a total of about 3 miles) I did 15 minutes of intervals on the stationary bike while at the gym. Pretty good workout.

Interesting tidbit about the stationary bike. I read somewhere that if you can keep your bike RPMs around 90 that will help translate to the ideal running cadence. My stationary bike RPMs without even thinking about it? 90 or 92.

June 3

Hey! Guess who caught a summer cold? Yep, Jason brought home a cold and I definitely caught it. My nose was running like crazy and I was sneezing up a storm at the gym on Thursday night (sorry to anyone who didn't wash their hands...) so I took Friday as another rest day. Well, not entirely. I had an errand to run so I rode my bike another 3 miles round trip. I'm really liking having a bike!

June 4

I went to yoga class instead of running on Saturday morning. I'm trying to give my body a slight break from the high mileage running. We'll see how long I last.

June 5

1.27 mile warm up followed by the Roselle Run for the Roses 5K. Not my best showing ever and I was disappointed by how I did. Race report to come later.

Total running mileage: 8.64
Total strength training: 2
Total bike mileage: 14.62

This wasn't my highest mileage week ever, but I think it was probably one of my more well-balanced weeks. And my left leg thanks me for it. It's not 100% but it definitely feels better.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two for One


Since I took Monday off from running (hey, it was hot and I was feeling lazy), Wednesday night's track session was my first run of the week. And what did it have in store for me?

A 2 mile time trial. 2 miles @ 5K pace.

Well, first we did our warm up and running drills, then we did 2x200 to try and dial in on our pace. The best thing about my 5K pace being 8:00 minutes? It's easily divisible by 2 and 4s...perfect for being on the track!

This meant that my 200s should have taken me 1 minute each. My first one was 53 seconds. Oops. The second, though, was 59 seconds. Better!

I did my best not to go out too fast during the first few laps of the 2 miles. In fact, I think I did too well. During the warm up my legs felt like lead and I just wasn't feeling the speed. Whether that's because of all the running I did the week before or the fact that I rode my bike to the track I don't know.

Anyway, my first mile was 8:24. Quite a bit off my goal of 8:00 or 8:05. And I forgot to hit the "Lap" button on my Garmin at the end of each lap so I'm not sure what my splits looked like. I think I picked it up after the first two laps, though.

And I definitely picked it up on the last four laps (second mile). That time? 7:54!

So, total, I ran two miles in 16:15. Fifteen seconds off my goal of 16:00 but I guess that's not too shabby. At least I ran faster during my second mile and didn't crash and burn!

My left shin and calf were a little sore as was my hip flexor area. My PT says I have a strange injury but she promises it will get better. Let's hope so. I've got a lot of stuff on my calendar.