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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Running in the Land of Flight

So what's a runner to do when she's in a conference for all of Saturday and Sunday and she needs to fit in a 14 mile run?

Run on Friday!

Thankfully the conference organizers had the conference starting at 12:30 on Friday and I was able to drive to the conference location on Thursday night. Good thing, too, because it took me over six hours to get from Chicago to Dayton.

Yes, I'm in Dayton.

The conference organizers also picked a hotel that was conveniently located within two miles of an area bike path. Score!

The Wright Brothers Huffman bike path (which is technically in Fairborn, OH) isn't that long. Just five miles from end to end. But it worked perfectly for my purposes.

I used Google Maps to figure out how exactly to get to the bike path from my hotel. It looked easy enough. Leave the hotel, circle Wright State University, and cross a road. What Google Maps didn't tell me was that I was going to end up in a gated university housing community feeling like a trapped animal. After back tracking a few times I finally found my way out onto the road that would take me the path.

The path itself was pretty nice. Fairly well-maintained, not very busy, but not so remote that I felt worried being out there by myself at 7:00 AM. In fact, I wish there had been a few more trees. It was hot! The air temperature when I left the hotel was close to 80oF and the dew point was 72! Steamy!

I was keeping a pretty good pace and decided to walk for a minute or two every two miles. I took some Honey Stinger chews every two miles starting at mile 4. The path paralleled a fairly good sized road so after a few miles I was running across from businesses. This turned out to be a very good thing. At mile 6 I realized that I was almost out of water in one of the bottles on my fuel belt. With 8 more miles left to go I crossed the street and ducked in to a McDonald's and refilled it. Whew. The air conditioning in there felt really nice. Still, I forced myself to get back outside.

The bike path was a little hilly and I realized that I was now running UP all the hills I had just run down. Because the place where I'd gotten on the path was about in the middle I had a whole other section of path to explore for the second half of my run. This time the path dead ended at a monster hill.

The Wright Brothers Hill, to be exact. I decided to tackle the hill. Which I then promptly walked up most of the way.

Once at the top I took a few moments to play tourist and checked out the Wright Brothers memorial, the view, and some of the signs. I learned that the first official runway ever was built near where I was running. Nifty.

I also took advantage of the water fountains in the visitors' center and refilled my water AGAIN. At least I was hydrated?

Then it was back down the hill (much easier that way) to finish up my run. My left knee was bothering me a bit as was my left quad and hip flexor. Stupid left leg. It wasn't too bad, though, and I just kept reminding myself of my end-of-run reward.

Before I left on my run I discovered a smoothie place next door to my hotel. Score! The perfect post-hot-run food. When I finally finished my run I stumbled into the place and ordered the largest strawberry banana whey protein smoothie they could make. And drank it all in about 15 minutes. So good I ignored the brain freeze.

And how was the run anyway? Pretty good! It ended up taking me about 2:40 if you include the McDonald's and tourist breaks. 2:26 if you don't. I averaged a 10:26 pace with my walk breaks which is prefect if not a little fast, actually. But I'll take it!

I'm just so happy I was able to get in this run, the logistics were simple, and the run went well. Now I can coast the rest of the weekend, right?

Dayton Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Threes

I guess I have three runs to update about, huh?

This is what happens when I don't blog on the weekend. Oh well.

Monday night I wanted to get in more than the usual 5.5 miles but since it was our Run of the Month we had post-run plans for dinner at my favorite restaurant. I invited Jason to join us for dinner since I figure he's an official club member (he holds our gear at races and takes pictures). So I ended up running 2 miles to the club run starting point and then doing 5.5 miles with the club for a total of 7.5 miles. Worked out pretty well! My first two miles were quite speedy compared to the rest of them. Not really how it's supposed to go. At least the rest of the miles were fairly even? Anyway, it was a pretty good run for this time of year. It was warm out, but not stifling. I took my handheld water bottle and Jacob shared margarita flavored Shot Bloks.

Monday Night OPRC Plus by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday I did a three mile run at lunch. The sun was blazing but at least there was a cool breeze off Lake Michigan. Still, I took it easy and we stopped for water twice. The boys did the full 4 mile route but us gals just did 3. That's really all I wanted to do, anyway. My legs were pretty tired from running 7.5 miles less than 24 hours before. 10.5 miles in 18 hours? You'd think I was running a relay or something!

Lunch Run North by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Then on Wednesday I tried something a little different. Wednesday is normally our track workout day but this is our "by" week. Of course, I can't leave well enough alone so I took a look at the FIRST marathon training plan on which I based my marathon training plan to see what was on the schedule for this week. The result? 4x800 @ 8:05 minute/mile w/1:30 minute rest intervals. So I decided I'd do it on the treadmill in the gym at work so that I could get it out of the way and maybe lift weights in the evening.

I did a 1.5 mile warm-up and then cranked the treadmill up to 7.5 MPH at a 1.5% incline. Woof. That first half mile felt rough. I took a 2 minute rest break instead of 1:30 and then tried again at closer to 8:20 minute/mile. Still rough. Not sure what was up with that. Too fast? Legs too tired? This cold I seem to be fighting off? I took a quarter mile rest break and then tried one more time. I only made it a tenth of a mile before I called it quits. I just wasn't feeling it. But, I'm guessing that sometimes it's smarter to end a workout early instead of pushing through when you're fatigued. I ended up doing 3 miles total on the treadmill and was sweating in places I didn't know I could sweat. So 2x800 instead of 4x800. I think the treadmill and I do better on 400 meter intervals. I'll have to remember that for next time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

July 18 - July 24

July 18

5.5 miles on one of the hottest nights of the year. Glad to have that one over with!

July 19

Jason and I lifted weights together in the basement. I moved on to Stage 3 of NROLW because I realized I could do almost all of it in the basement with very little modification. I skipped the squats with weights, though.
3x6 One armed dumbbell snatch
3x6 Dumbbell single-let Romanian deadlift
3x6 Barbell bent-over row
3x6 Dumbbell bench press
Plank 3x90 seconds
3x6 Reverse woodchop
Body matrix x2
The body matrix is interesting. It reminded me of the Crossfit class I took. You don't use weights at all. Instead you do 24 squats, 24 lunges (12 each leg), 24 jump lunges, and 24 jump squats. You time yourself and then rest for double the amount of time it took you to do all of that. Then you do it again. My legs were SCREAMING by the end.

In fact, my legs were so tired that I managed to trip up the stairs of our deck while making dinner and give myself two giant bruises on my knees. Attractive.

July 20

5 miles on the treadmill instead of outside. We've been thinking about dropping my gym membership but, damn, I like having access to a good treadmill for occasions just such as this.

July 21

Rest day! Although I did actually spend time with some women from the running group even though we weren't running. We met downtown Oak Park and attended the "Thursday Night Out." I'd never been but apparently they do it every Thursday. It's kind of like a "taste of" event except you go to the restaurant instead of the restaurant setting up somewhere else. I'd like to go back again, especially now that this heat wave has broken.

July 22

Another rest day.

July 23

10 mile EXTREME race plus 2 mile warm up for a total of 12 miles.

July 24

I really wanted to get out on my bike on Sunday morning but the weather and my body had other plans. It rained all morning and I could not get out of bed. I seriously slept later that I have in months. And it was lovely!

So, to make up for my lack of bike ride, I headed to the gym to do the second workout of stage 3 of NROLW.
Barbell Romanian Deadlift w/bent over row 3x6
Single leg squat 3x6
Wide grip lat pulldown 3x6
Back extension 3x6
"YTWL" 3x6
Swiss Ball Crunch 3x6
Prone Jackknife 3x6
Lateral flexion 3x6
Prone Cobra 3x90 seconds

15 minutes of intervals on the stationary bike (4 miles total)
The YTWL move is hardcore. Seriously. While I was doing it I looked in the mirror at the gym and noticed that it makes my shoulders and arms looked RIPPED. Whoa. And I was only using 7.5 pound weights. Anyway, if you want to see what the move consists of, check out the video.

Total running mileage: 22.5
Total biking mileage: 4 (on the stationary bike)
Total strength workouts: 2

Well, I failed at getting out on my bike but otherwise it was a good week. 20+ miles and 2 strength workouts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Watefall Glen Xtreme 10 Race Report

So this past Saturday I once again attempted the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10. That's me up there in the red tank and white hat. You may recall that last year the race was canceled.

This year the weather almost didn't cooperate once again. The thunderstorms started at Friday night and dumped 7 inches of rain on the city by the time I woke up at 5:00 AM on Saturday. Thankfully the thunder, lightening and rain abated by the time we left for the race venue. We arrived early enough to spray ourselves down with bug spray, hit the port-a-potties, and I did a 2 mile warm-up.

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Warm Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thankfully the heat left along with the rain. It was still humid and warm, but at least it wasn't the scorching 90+ temps we'd been having for the previous few days. Still, my goals for this race were just to run it at marathon pace, take my walk breaks, and get in the miles. I had no plans to PR or really even "race" this particular race. And originally my fellow running club member Helen wasn't feeling like a race, either. Until she saw the trophies. And then she got amped. "I want a trophy!" she exclaimed.

This race is unique for the area in that it has a cross-country style wave start and the entire race takes place on a combination of grass and gravel. The course is lovely and almost entirely shaded except for a few spots of prairie. The only downside? Sometimes it floods. And after all the rain we'd had I fully expected to slog through some wet spots.

As I was standing at the start line for my wave I overheard someone say that the bridge a few miles in was underwater. Hmm. Interesting. The grassy field at the beginning and end of the race was also full of puddles. This was definitely going to be a race filled with wet socks.

We started and, as always, I went out too fast. My plan was to run between 10:20 and 10:30 miles. Turns out it was a good thing I banked a little time at the beginning. Because as I rounded a corner at the 1.5 mile mark I saw a large group of people just standing on the path.

I so wish I'd had my camera on me. Words cannot do what I saw justice. The foot bridge that was underwater? Actually had a current flowing over it so strong that it would have been easy to get swept away down the now overflowing creek. The water was almost knee deep and people were stopping to take off their shoes before crossing the stream. I decided I'd run in wet shoes before (see: March Madness Half Marathon) so I left mine on and inched my way over the bridge.

Just 8.5 more miles to go. In sopping wet shoes. I'd lost about 2-3 minutes at the bridge crossing but didn't mind too much. It mostly just made me laugh at the whole situation. I mean, it isn't called the "Xtreme" 10 for nothing, right?

The other reason this race is extreme is the hills. We don't have a lot of hills in northern Illinois but this race definitely has some. They've even named one of them: Big Bertha. Thankfully it's near the beginning of the race but, really, the entire course is full of rolling hills with very little relief. My wet shoes, the humidity, and the hills were sapping my energy more quickly than I wanted.

My plan had been to take walk breaks every 2 or 3 miles. After the break at mile 1.5 I decided I'd do them every 2 miles or so. I took a few extra during mile 7 to dump some water over my back but otherwise stuck to my plan. Still, this race felt harder than I would have liked. I'm not sure why. I felt good during my warm-up but towards the end of the race I was wondering why I signed up for a marathon and how I ever managed to run 9:00 minute miles for an entire 13.1 miles. I'm hoping that my lack of pep was due to the hills and the humidity.

The last 600 meters or so is across the same grassy field you started on. But now you're tired and you just want to be done. Finally I could see the finish line up ahead. I ran past another club member who was taking pictures. "Go Erin!" she shouted. "The finish line is just up there. With the ambulance!" It made me laugh.

I crossed the finish line, grabbed some water, and met up with the rest of the club members. We hung around for awards and, yes, Helen did indeed get her trophy. I was just happy to have done exactly what I set out to do. Run a total of 12 miles and pace between 10:20 and 10:30 miles.

Final race time? 1:43:23. Almost 20 minutes slower than my 10 mile PR but that's not the point. The point is that I chose a pace and stuck to it. I conquered the hills and humidity. And I had a good time with the rest of my running group buds.

After brunch (mmmm, French toast) I went home to once again find water in my basement!

Thankfully this time was much less traumatic than last time. About 4 inches of water, nothing important ruined, and way less to throw out. We've finally gotten smart about what we keep down there. Still, I was ready for a nap after a race, brunch, and basement cleaning. I slept like a log Saturday night. I think I earned it!

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Too Hot to Trot

As you may or may not be aware, Chicago is currently in the middle of a crazy heat wave. We're talking almost 90 degrees by 8:00 AM and heat indexes in the 100s. Most of the running training programs in the area canceled their workouts for this week and, after initially just deciding to make our Wednesday night track workout shorter, Coach Holly decided to cancel it.

What did we do instead of running? We went and got ice cream at a local ice cream parlor!

Well, actually, I did do the workout. 2 mile warm-up, 4x400 meters w/400 meter jog intervals, 1 mile cool down. I just did it on the treadmill at the gym instead. Hey, look, ice cream is my food vice so I wanted to enjoy it guilt-free. And I wanted to get the running miles in.

I've decided that the worst part of doing a speed workout on the treadmill is the cool down. The warm up is boring but I can handle it knowing that I'll get to break it up with some intervals in a little bit. The intervals, of course, are fine since you're constantly changing it up. The cool down, though? I just want to be done! Especially when post-cool down you know you get to really cool down with ice cream!

Anyway, I managed to do the entire workout with the incline on the treadmill set at 1.5. I did my first 400 at 7.6 MPH (approx 7:53 mile), the middle two at 7.5 (approx 8:00 mile), and the last at 7.6 again. I probably could have gone faster but I'm trying not to wear myself out on the track and not have anything left for races and long workouts.

So, five miles total followed by ice cream. And, yes, I ate ice cream before dinner. So sue me. I'm adult. I can do that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday Night Slog

Say "Hi" to my new running hat. Would you believe that on Monday night while running in that hat and my sunglasses (yes, mom, I wore my sunglasses) that someone mistook me for Coach Holly? That may be the best compliment I've ever gotten!

Not that I was running like Coach Holly. No way. I'd already decided before I even left the house that while I was going running it was definitely going to be more of a run/walk/slog type of evening.

I originally had 8 miles on my schedule but with the temps hovering near 90 and the dew point hovering near 70 I figured I'd do what I could. I recently read this Runners World forum post where they discuss how much humidity and dew point affects running. Basically it boils down to if you add the temperature and the dew point together and it's above 150 then you should just be glad you survived your run.

So I should just be glad I survived my run. I started out pretty strong for a hot, gross night but faded over time. That's okay, though. I was running with a guy who was pushing his daughter in the jogging stroller for the first time so I was slowing down for him. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, I ended up only doing 5.5 miles. I was starting to get a mild headache and I know that's a sign of heat illness. Even though I brought water with me it didn't seem to make a difference.

The temps are supposed to be horrible all week. And of course I signed up for that 10 mile race this weekend. I forsee some walk breaks during that event, too. Good thing I'm just using it as a training run!

Monday Night OPRC Slog by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

July 11 - July 17

The is going to be a short post. Basically I did bupkis while on vacation and the lazy carried over into my weekend.

July 11

The day after my duathlon I woke up to a huge storm. Thank goodness the weather waited to turn after my race! Spent the morning inside watching the storm rage over Lake Michigan and did some shopping in the afternoon.

July 12

Much better weather! Beach day for sure and then exploring a nearby town.

July 13

Went to the farmer's market and sat outside eating fresh strawberries and baked goods. Then it was back to the rental house to prep for the arrival of the rest of my family.

July 14

I laid outside on the deck reading my Kindle until I had to get in the car and drive back to Chicago.

July 15

I still had the day off work so I attempted to do the 20 mile morning ride that I did the previous week but I got to the meeting spot too late and everyone had already left. Yes, I could have tried to catch up with them or do my own bike ride but the logistics were such that I just went back home and tried to catch up on emails before heading to the Cubs game with my coworkers. Three beers and a lovely afternoon later I found myself asleep on the couch.

July 16

I set my alarm and laid out my running clothes but when the buzzer sounded at 6:00 AM I rolled over and went back to sleep. Apparently my body is still in vacation mode.

Later in the day, though, I managed to squeeze in a strength workout in the basement.
3x10 Deadlifts
2x10 Push Presses
2x10 Dumbbell row
2x10 Step ups
2x15 Swiss Ball Crunch
2x10 Push Ups
2x10 Swiss Ball Bridge
2x10 Swiss Ball Bridge w/pull ins
July 17

Jason and I had grand plans to get up and get in a bike ride before the impending heat wave descended on us, but the pull of the bed was too strong. Ah, well. I suppose I'll just call this my cut back week and be done with it.

I feel a little guilty that I never managed to take advantage of the awesome biking and running paths in Grand Haven while on vacation but I also enjoyed not having to think about getting in a workout. Monday will be a fresh start!

Total running mileage: 0
Total strength training: 1
Total biking mileage: 3.5

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

July 4 - July 10

July 4

How did I spend my Independence Day? Running freeeee! Actually, running a 4 mile race. 5.31 miles total when you include the warm-up.

And if you ever wanted a sign that I left as much as I could out on the course, here it is:

July 5

I was a workout warrior on Tuesday! I did a 4 mile run with Kim and a few other people from my work running group over lunch. It was hot. It was sunny. We still did really well. My Garmin ate the stats, though. But based on Kim's Garmin we managed a 9:24 pace. Not bad, not bad.

Then in the evening I decided I wanted to do something different. My love affair with NROLW might be waning. As the workouts get longer and take up more time I'm not feeling like spending so much of my evening on it. So last minute I checked my gym's group fitness schedule and saw something new: Yoga Sculpt. Yoga with weights. Okay, I'm in.

The 45 minute long class started out as a regular yoga class, somewhat similar to the one I sometimes do on Saturday mornings. But about halfway through we switched to doing various poses while holding weights. I stuck with 5-pounders and that was plenty for my first time. Especially when you're supposed to hold chair pose or warrior two with weights in your hands. I was dripping with sweat at the end. And my arms were pretty sore the next day. I'll definitely be back!

July 6

5.69 miles, most of which were half marathon pace. Plus the bike ride to and from the track for a total of about 6 miles.

July 7

This is what happens when I don't update my log every single day. I have no idea what I did on this Thursday! I know I didn't bike or run. Did I strength train? I don't remember! I'm going to go with no. But I can't recall why.

July 8

First day of vacation! Because I didn't have to go into the office I was able to ride all the way downtown and all the way back with the morning bike crew. I had some Garmin issues but basically I rode almost 20 miles. No speed demons here, though. It was a nice, sedate pace.

Bike Ride Downtown and Back by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

July 9

Rest day! Actually, we drove to Grand Haven, Michigan and I got all marked up for my duathlon.

July 10

Grand Haven Duathlon!! Two 3.1 mile runs and one 12.4 mile bike ride. What a fun way to start a week of relaxing.

Total running mileage: 21.2
Total biking mileage: 38
Total strength training sessions: 1

Grand Haven Duathlon Race Report

Hey there! I bet you were all wondering if I survived my second-ever duathlon! I apologize for the radio silence but after the race I was on vacation. Laying on the beach and eating fresh strawberries from the farmer's market were much more appealing than sitting in front of my laptop.

Also, I've decided there's not much better than starting off your vacation with a race. It makes me feel like I've earned the right to sit on my butt the rest of the week.

Anyway, my mom, Jason, and I drove up to Grand Haven, Michigan last Saturday so I could do the Grand Haven Duathlon on Sunday. I went straight to packet pick-up and also got my body marking taken care of. Well, kind of. Even though I wasn't doing the triathlon portion I still had to get my arms, calves, and quads marked with my race number, age, and race type. Except I didn't realize they needed to mark my quads so I wore capris that I couldn't pull up high enough. Oops. Thankfully it was easy enough to take care of on race morning. Although, if I'd had a thick tip Sharpie I could have done it myself. Yep, that's what they used.

I stayed with my work running buddy Norm who was doing the Olympic distance triathlon. His in-laws own a house half a mile from the race start line which was perfect. Just hop on the bike on race morning and pedal on over. We had to have our bikes in the transition area by 7:15 AM. However, the duathlon didn't start until 8:15. Which meant I had a LOT of time to kill. I spent some of it checking out the competition. The benefit to having your age written on your leg is you know who's in your age group. I found two other women, one of which is standing next to me in the photo above wearing black. Remember her.

A few minutes before 8:00 the race officials put out a "Start" sign and gathered all the duathlon participants for the pre-race talk. There were only about 45 of us who decided that run-bike-run sounded better than swim-bike-run. They did a quick course overview and a quick reminder of rules associated with the bike portion (3 bike lengths between people, no riding side by side) and at 8:15 they basically shouted "Go!" and we were off.

And oh my god were we off. I've never run a race with so few people who were so freaking fast. I was pushing it much harder than I should have and I was basically at the very back of the pack. I let my fear of being last take over my common sense and I ended up hitting the first mile in around 7:30. My Garmin says 7:26 but I'm a little suspect. Still, that was WAY too fast.

I calmed down a bit but the damage was done. The next two miles got slower and slower. Then, of course, what goes down must come up. The hill we ran down at the beginning meant we had to climb up to transition. Ugh. My pace for this first 5K? 8:26.

I made it to my bike, scarfed some Shot Bloks, downed some Gatorade, and swapped my visor for my helmet and sunglasses. I ended up walking my bike to the bike mounting line to try and give my legs a break. Still, my transition time was only 1:38 which, while slow, isn't too horrible. As I ran into transition I heard the race announcer over the loudspeaker: "Great job! Now it's time for the bike! You can sit down for awhile!" It made me chuckle.

The 20K bike ride (just over 12 miles) was beautiful! It was also an out-and-back course so I was distracted by looking at all the other cyclists on their way back. By this point the Olympic distance triathletes were ahead of us duathletes so there were a lot of bikes to look at. I was also distracted by the hills. Oh, the hills. Sure, you can get up some great speed on the downhill portion but getting to the top was rough. On one of them a volunteer was standing at the apex of the hill shouting, "This is the top! One you get here you can coast!"

Even though the bike portion of this race was a mile longer than my last duathlon I felt that it went by too fast! And I was actually going slower than my last duathlon. My average bike speed was 16.1 MPH. I thought I was going faster than that but I guess the hills took more out of me than I thought.

I came up another hill back to the transition area, racked my bike, swigged some more Gatorade, removed my helmet and went out for my second run. Jason asked me how I was feeling as I went by. "Tired!" I replied. My legs felt shredded. Transition time? 1:24. A little better.

The second 5K was brutal. The sun had come out, the temps were rising, and I was so tired. I gave up even looking at my pace and decided to walk through the water station both times. I was dreading that final hill to the finish but made a pact with myself that I wouldn't walk up it no matter how slow I had to go.

So up the hill I went and into the finish chute. I didn't have much left in me to sprint, especially since we had to run across some grass. The announcer was saying everyone's name as they came into the finish which was a nice touch. Final 5K pace? 9:05. Oof.

Final overall race time: 1:43:29

I sat down for awhile, drank some water, and ended up eating some Fritos while we waited for my friend to finish. I was disappointed in the post-race food (basically, bananas, burgers, hot dogs, and chips) but everything else about this race was wonderful. They even had the results posted ASAP!

I went to check the results board and was pleasantly surprised to see my name listed second in my age group!!! That girl in the photo earlier? She's the one who beat me. By 5 minutes. She totally smoked me on the bike leg. I need to work on that.

And, okay, technically I also got beat by the third girl in my age group but she came in second female overall so it was just the two of us left in our age group.

But, still! Second! That means an award! This race doesn't give out finisher's medals so I was pretty stoked to get some hardware after all.

This was a nice race. The location is great, the people are friendly, and the race is a nice mix of big race perks and small race low-key attitude. Definitely a great destination race. And, who knows, maybe someday I'll get up the nerves to try the triathlon...

Grand Haven Duathlon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two by Two

Almost a year ago we had some serious rainstorms that caused quite a bit of flooding. One of the casualties of the flooding (other than all my college textbooks) were the lights at the track where we do speedwork. They stayed off for the rest of the summer. Made for some interesting track sessions in September and October.

Last week a sign went up on the track entrances informing the public that the track would be closed for repairs from July 5th through August 12th. I honestly don't know what they're repairing but I'm hoping it's the lights!

But in the meantime, what does a team do when they need to still get in some speedwork?

Cue the sidewalk. Last year when we couldn't use the track we ran on a path through the park across the street. One "loop" of that area was about .33 miles. Last night, though, we did something different.

The sidewalks around the perimeter of the campus the track is on equal just shy of one mile. So, why not run miles instead of parts of miles?

And that's what we did. 2x2 miles to be exact. With about a quarter mile recovery in the middle. Well, first I rode my bike to the track (a little over 3 miles) and we did our warm-ups and moving drills in the parking lot. Then we did a 1 "lap" warm-up before moving into the main workout.

The goal was to run half marathon pace. I ended up running with our resident ultramarathoner who is actually pretty speedy at "shorter" distances. Which meant I ran a tad faster than my current half marathon PR pace. I was definitely pushing it toward the end but I never felt too uncomfortable. Especially considering it was pretty warm outside.

When we finished we did a half mile cool-down. By that time I had to hop on my bike and get home otherwise I would have stayed for the strength workout. Coach was herding people toward the monkey bars at the playground next door when I left. I'm bummed I had to leave! Although, my arms were pretty sore already (from the tetanus shot on Sunday and a killer gym class on Tuesday) so I suppose it's probably not a bad thing.

Sometimes doing speedwork can feel like a chore. You know it will help but sometimes it's so miserable while you're doing it. Last night's workout didn't feel that way. Although, my quads were pretty trashed when I got on my bike to go home. Fingers crossed I feel better on Sunday! I've got another duathlon to do!

Alternate OPRC Track by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Four on the Fourth Race Report

On Monday morning I joined 40+ people from my running club to run a 4 mile race in a nearby town. This race is an annual club tradition and this year we had an amazing turn out.

I mentioned last week that I was hoping to run this race at between an 8:09 and 8:15 pace. Well, to be honest, after my little adventure on Sunday night I had to adjust my expectations.

And what adventure was that? Well, those of you that have sensitive stomachs might want to skip this part.

I was making dinner (steak for Jason, BBQ chicken sandwich for me) and was using a serrated bread knife to slice my ciabatta roll in half. And I made a rookie mistake with the knife. I didn't get my left index finger out of the way. Yes, I sliced my left index finger open.

After a chaotic few minutes which ended up with me laying on the kitchen floor soaked in sweat and Jason talking me down from hyperventilating we were able to bandage my finger and eat dinner. After dinner, though, I decided I'd better go to the emergency room just to make sure I didn't need stitches.

Of course, considering it was 8:30 PM on a Sunday there were no "urgent care clinics" open so off to the "real" ER it was. Where we proceeded to hang out until midnight. That's when the doctor decided, after an X-ray and a tetanus shot, it didn't need stitches. All it needed was a little glue.

You can click here if you really want to see the "after" photo.

All of that meant I didn't get to bed until 1:00 AM when I had a 5:00 AM wake-up call. And although the relay taught me I can run pretty well on very little sleep, I knew I wouldn't be 100%. So, new goals: run negative splits and average an 8:30 pace.

I did stretches with the group and then a 1.3 mile warm-up and was happy I'd readjusted my expectations. The warm-up felt rough. The air temperature was warm and the sun was blazing hot. I'd basically already decided to run in just my shorts and sports bra but the warm-up solidified it.

I started WAAAAY in the back. All part of my master plan to not go out too fast. Also, I would like to state up front that the photos in the post are my attempt to say it's okay to run in just a sports bra even if you don't have the world's most chiseled abs. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The first mile felt good and I cruised past the marker at 8:42. A little faster than I had originally wanted but not too bad.

I waved to a relay teammate who was volunteering and picked up the pace a little bit. At the water station I got splashed with water (good!) and took in just enough to wet the inside of my mouth. I distracted myself looking for other OPRC runners since we could see the racers who were already headed back on the "back" portion of the out-and-back course. I finished mile two in 8:25.

I tried to pick up the pace some more during mile 3 but I didn't want to burn out too early. There's a big hill during mile 3 and another during mile 4 (at least, big for our area) so I knew I had to save some for that. I held steady at 8:25 for mile three.

Which meant I needed to pick it up again for the last mile. So, I did. It was rough and I was pretty miserable as I crested the hill just before the finish line. Still, I finished mile 4 in 8:09.

I had been concerned that my finger would throb or hurt during the run but it didn't bother me at all. Yay!

And after the run I was able to stuff my face with all the goodies the club members brought to our post-race picnic. I was in charge of fruit. Watermelon always tastes the best after a hot, sweaty race.

The club members in attendance!

In the end, I finished in 33:50 for an average 8:28 pace and 17/44 in my age group. Not the 8:09 or 8:15 pace I originally hoped for, but I hit my revised goals almost perfectly and got a PR of almost a minute. Which means I'm happy with this race. Nothing like triumphing over adversity. And I think it also says a lot about having realistic goals. And having a great support group.

Four on the Fourth by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, July 4, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

June 27 - July 3

June 27

5.5 miles. You know, the usual.

June 28

Ugh. Nothing. I thought I was going to ride my bike to my running club board meeting but then Jason came home with my car and it just seemed easier, logistically, to drive.

And I didn't run at lunch because my left knee was bothering me and I had a meeting that ran late.

June 29

4.1 miles at the track.

June 30

Another nothing day, but I planned for this one. I knew I wouldn't be running at lunch or working out after work. Instead I attended a going away/birthday party for a coworker who is moving to California.

July 1

Friday I tried something new! Last summer one of the guys who acted as a subsitute coach for our speedwork sessions invited me to go bike riding with him and some other people. They ride the almost 10 miles from our suburb to downtown Chicago and then turn around and come back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Since I work in downtown Chicago I figured I could ride down there with them and then take the train home.

For various reasons I can only do this on Fridays in the summer and last summer it never worked out. But this Friday it did! I met up with them at 6:30 AM and we did a nice leisurely ride through the west side of Chicago. One of the riders calls the route "The Big Ugly" because it goes through some not-so-great parts of town but it's generally an easy ride.

Bike Ride to Work by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

The not-so-easy part? Figuring out what to do with my bike once I got to work! I thought I'd just store it in my office since I didn't feel comfortable locking it up outside. Turns out bikes aren't allowed in the buildings at the university where I work. I managed to convince security to let me in with it anyway since I didn't think to bring my bike lock. Then I had to sneak out through the attached sandwich place after work! Crazy.

July 2

Goal? Run 10 miles. Outcome? Ran approximately 9 miles and walked another .8. It was so hot outside! And that's with starting my run at 7:00 AM. When I got home I stood in the kitchen with sweat running off of me. My clothes were so soaked it felt like I'd stood in the rain.

OPRC Saturday Morning Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

You know it's miserable outside when the hardcore runners (as in, the people who do Ironmans!) are walking instead of running. It was rough. I don't even care that my pace was slower than usual. I'm officially marathon training and I'm supposed to be running slow anyway. Yeah, that's it.

July 3

Rest day! I slept in (glorious) and did some errands. And then had an adventure in the evening. But I'll save that for my Four on the Fourth Race Report tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Total running mileage: 19.48
Biking mileage: 9.62
Strength workouts: 0

Saturday, July 2, 2011

June Wrap Up

Where did June go???? I can't believe it's already July. The sad part about living in Chicago is that you only get a few perfect days a year and summer doesn't last very long.

This time last year I think I was already into my marathon training. This year I'm feeling way more laid back. I don't know if that's good or bad but I probably should step it up some. July will be where it's at.

But before we get to that, how was June anyway?

I had three races in June and each of them was so very different. First I did a 5K that was not my best showing. I'm hoping to have my 5K revenge later this year.

Next I did that crazy relay! Sometimes that whole thing seems like a dream. I still can't believe I ran so well on so little sleep. That last 8.2 mile leg may be one of my best-feeling runs ever.

And then there's my first duathlon! I exceeded my expectations and now I'm even more excited for the one I'm doing in July.

So how much mileage did all of that net me? And what about that strength training. Well, I ended up running 70.71 miles. Only three fewer miles than last June so I think I'm right on target. The cool thing, though, is that this June I also biked 74.06 miles! I'm really enjoying this whole biking thing.

The strength training was almost up to par with a total of 7 sessions. Not quite the 8+ I need to hit my goal of 100 but better than some other months.

So, overall, I'd say June was a good month. It may not have started out too great but it definitely ended on a high note.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Race Pace

I totally should have worn my shirt that says this

In the email our Coach sent us about Wednesday night's track workout she told us to pretend we running a race. Do all our normal pre-race things and think about our race strategy. Many of us are running the Four on the Fourth four mile race on Monday so we were prepping for that. In addition to our usual warm-up stretches I did a 1.25 mile jogging warm-up with a few speedy parts at the end. Pretty much what I like to do before any race.

The goal of the workout was to focus on "switching gears". Running comfortable and then picking it up. We did 1200 meters (three times around the track) and moved right into 800 meters (no break). The 1200 meters were supposed to be at 4 mile pace and the 800 was supposed to be at 5K pace.

I'm not entirely sure how fast I can run 4 miles. I know that my 5K PR pace is 8:00 minute miles. My 3.5 mile PR pace is 8:02 minutes per mile. I ran the Four on the Fourth last year but bonked hard so my current 4 mile race pace is 8:41.

The McMillan Pace Calculator thinks that based on my 5K PR I should be able to run 4 miles at an 8:09 pace. I'd be happy with an 8:15. So that was my goal for the first part of Wednesday's workout.

Except I totally failed at Garmin. I can tell you I did my first mile in 7:53 but beyond that I'm not sure. So, basically, I also failed at pacing. I'm so bad at this! I'm going to have to try REALLY hard on Monday not to go out too fast at the start of the race.

After the 2000 meters we moved on to 3x200 meters with 200 meters of jogging in between. I ran this pretty fast, clocking in between 45 and 50 seconds for each of them. Again, Garmin fail. The third one was kind of rough and I probably should have stopped at 2. Of course, I didn't realize that until 100 meters in.

Overall it was a good workout. Did I learn what I was supposed to learn? Well, I did focus on trying to push through even when tired. And I learned I'm still bad at starting slow. So I think as long as I keep those two things in mind on Monday I'll be good. Now, it's just too bad the race doesn't start at 7:15 PM instead of of 7:15 AM....