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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pick Up

I left work on Wednesday with a killer headache, a nagging worry about my left leg (now my knee has started to act up), and a general sense of malaise. I seriously debated skipping track and just curling up in bed.

But, as always, I changed into my running clothes and went out to meet my friends at the track. I'm telling you, if you want to stick to a routine find a group of people that expect you to be there. A group of people who will wonder where you are if you don't show up. A group that will want to see you so they can tell you "good luck" on your upcoming race.

So, I did my stretches and talked about last weekend's race and did my warm-up and drills and got my adjusted workout from Coach Holly. While everyone else was killing themselves with 800s I got to do 400s.

It's been awhile since I did any kind of speedy intervals like that. Whoa. I was trying to hit 5K pace or just below in order to remind my legs what it's like to run fast. I think they may have gotten some of that on Saturday so I tried to push it a little faster. Not too fast, though.

And, like usual, when it's been awhile since I've done intervals I forgot how to use my Garmin. So I don't have a split time for my first interval but I'm guessing it was around 1:40something. Which felt like death. I went out of the gate too fast and was fading hard by the 200 meter mark. I really enjoyed that 400 meter rest.

The second 400 was slightly easier and I finished that in 1:47. My legs were starting to remember what to do.

The third and fourth 400 felt even better and I hit both of those in 1:50. Not my fastest 400 times ever, but exactly what I was aiming for. Still, I was glad to be done and to move on to my cool-down mile. My knee behaved itself as long as I focused on my form so that's good, too.

As I walked to my car from the track everyone told me "good luck" for Sunday. I left with no more headache and a slight smile on my face. And that's why I convince myself to go even when the bed looks so inviting.

OPRC Track Workout by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Art of Running the Rain


On Monday I was in my hometown to present to a class at my graduate school alma mater. This also meant that I got to run in my hometown as well. Although I wasn't presenting until the afternoon I wanted to spend the morning and early afternoon visiting a friend and her daughter.

So instead of getting up and running I decided to run in the evening after my presentation.

Although the day started off a little overcast I figured I'd be fine in the early evening. There were a few rain sprinkles on my drive from campus but nothing major. I got home, threw on my running clothes, and headed outside. "Do you want me to come get you if it starts pouring?" my mom asked.

I got less than a half a mile from my starting point when the rain really started to come down. I was running up the hill near my parents' house that makes an appearance between mile 6 and 7 of the Illinois Half Marathon. The wind was blowing directly in my face and I was getting soaked.

Now, normally I don't care about running in the rain. But the combination of a hill, the wind, and the fact that I hadn't put my iPhone in a plastic bag were enough to make me turn around and head back. I took a 5 minute break to protect my phone in a baggie before going back outside. My parents thought I was crazy.

"You're going to go back out there?" They asked. "Aren't you cold? Isn't it wet?"

Actually, I felt great in my running skirt and tank top. And believe it or not, as soon as I started running again the rain stopped.

But this time I skipped the hill and the wind. Instead I stuck to the flat bike path that cuts down the center of the road. By the time I finished my 5 mile run most of the moisture in my clothes was from sweat and not from rain.

So my suggestions for running in the rain? Put on a hat, protect your electronics, and go for it. Besides, there were still golfers out on the golf course. Are you going to let the golfers be more hardcore than you?

Stone Creek Running by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

September 19th - September 25th

Sept 19

5.5 miles

Sept 20

Rest day. I had visions of doing a workout DVD but by the time I got home and spent time with my husband it was too late in the evening.

Sept 21

Wednesday was a rough day for me. Nothing bad happened, I just wasn't feeling perky or energetic. Which totally carried over into my track workout. I did another straights and curves workout with a warm-up and cool-down for a total of 4 miles.

I really wasn't feeling it, though, so it was hard to push myself to go fast on the strides portion of the workout. For some reason I just wanted to run and not worry about pushing myself.

Sept 22

Rest day. Actually, I met up with some OPRC members and we did inventory and took photos of all the leftover OPRC gear we have stored in our storage area. We'll be adding it all to our Google Store on our new website in the near future. Anyone want a ridiculous stocking cap?

Sept 23

Rest day

Sept 24

Park Ridge 5K plus a 1.9 mile warm-up for a total of 5 miles.

I've run a lot of 5Ks, but I think this one was probably my best ever in terms of pacing myself. I look forward to doing this race again next year!

Sept 25

10 miles at the North Branch River Trail just outside Chicago. Kim and I were able to do our last long run together before Milwaukee. We did 10 miles and then went out to breakfast with some OPRC members. Thankfully we finished running before it started pouring!

Total running mileage: 24.5
Total biking mileage: 0
Total strength training: 0

This week seems really light compared to some of my past weeks! First time under 30 miles in quite awhile and no strength training or biking. But, hey, it's a taper week! And I have to say I was surprisingly not crazy. Here's hoping taper madness stays away for the next few days before the Milwaukee Marathon on Sunday.

Park Ridge Charity Classic 5K Race Report

It's been awhile since I ran a 5K race. The last one I attempted back in August was a little bit short of a 5K. And with my marathon a week away and not really training for speed this summer I had no intentions of pulling out a fast race last Saturday.

But, I've been told this is a great race. It's only 30 minutes from home, tons of OPRC members were doing it, and the course is an easy out and back on flat roads. Plus, I need the miles if I want to get a CARA participation award. So, at almost the last minute I signed up for the 5K and figured I'd just run for fun.

We arrived early enough to do packet pick-up, use the REAL bathroom, and launch into our warm-up routine.

Then we did an almost two mile warm-up run to scope out the finish line. I've been told it's a good idea to do your warm-up through the finish line if you can so that you know what to expect toward the end of the race.

Park Ridge Warm Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

I tried to pick up my speed a little bit toward the end of my warm up but, really, I still had no intentions of coming close to a PR at this race.

Of course, I always say that and then I end up racing all out. This time, though, when the gun went off I hit "Start" on my Garmin (no timing chips at this race) and settled into what I thought was a comfortable yet slightly aggressive pace. Imagine my surprise when I realized I'd done the first mile in just over 8 minutes.

Imagine my surprise when I hit mile 2 in what seemed like record time. I didn't look at my Garmin but the race clock had me still going at a pretty good clip.

Between mile 2 and mile 3 I caught up with a redheaded woman who would speed up every time I got on her heels. She'd slowly slow down and allow me to catch up again and then she'd speed up. A little game of cat and mouse, I guess. It made me laugh.

We kept this up until the 3 mile mark when I told her to go ahead. I wasn't planning on pushing much harder then I already was. Until, of course, Coach Holly yelled at me to run faster. Redheaded woman still beat me but only because I wasn't in the mood to puke up my peanut butter and bagel breakfast.

Still, when I looked at my watch after exiting the finish chute I was amazed to see that I'd come within 3 seconds of beating my 5K PR that I set back in February.

Official Park Ridge Charity Classic 5K time? 24:57. And it didn't even feel that difficult. Imagine if I didn't have a marathon looming over my head and I could have pushed it just a little bit harder. Still, I ran an awesome 5K, finished with a smile, and got a post-run cinnamon roll and rice krispie treat. What could be better?

Park Ridge Charity Classic 5K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turn that Frown Upside Down

I was in a totally BLAH mood yesterday. It was Monday. I was bored. I was tired. I was just generally feeling down. All I really wanted to do was go to bed.

But instead I laced up my sneakers and went to running group. It was one of our sponsored runs so the New Balance rep was there with shoes to try, a raffle, food and freebies. Plus, it was the day after a weekend of marathons where many of our club members had totally awesome races. I wanted to be there to cheer for them.

When I arrived I was happy to see that some of my regular running buddies were also in attendance. Just walking into the store and chatting perked up my mood by a few notches.

And once we were running I was laughing so hard at what one of my friends was saying that my bad mood completely melted away.

I didn't win the free shoes but I did get some kickin' neon pink shoelaces and a fold-flat water bottle. But better than the free schwag was the company and the run. Sometimes that's all I need to pull myself up out of the dumps.

Monday Night OPRC Short Route by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

September 12th - September 18th

Sept 12

5.5 miles. Not much to say about it other than my legs felt totally dead and my calves took almost 4 miles to work out the knots. I always forget how much a half marathon takes out of me.

Sept 13

Rest day!

Sept 14

5.68 miles on the track. Where I failed to completely follow the workout but had a great run anyway.

Sept 15

4.9 miles at lunch. Another good run, but another fail at following my plan.

Sept 16

Rest day

Sept 17

Rest day. Unless you count mowing our postage stamp sized lawn, doing some weeding, and breaking down a ton of cardboard boxes.

Sept 18

Sixteen miles

Total running mileage: 32.09
Total biking mileage: 0
Total strength training sessions: 0

You may notice an abundance of rest days and a lack of strength training. I'm doing that on purpose. I've read somewhere that you should stop strength training a few weeks out from a marathon. Don't know if that's true, but since strength training still aggravates my left leg I'm taking a break until after Milwaukee. And taking a few more rest days to let myself recover from the harder runs.

Sweet Sixteen

The last time I tried to run sixteen miles it ended with me in tears. And during the first part of my marathon training this time I totally skipped my sixteen mile run and went straight to eighteen. Fine by me.

But this weekend, when I originally thought I'd be doing 18 miles, I realized that if I'm supposed to be tapering then I probably already run a few too many miles during the week. So instead of doing 18 miles I figured I'd just try that whole 16 thing again. Plus, this way Kim could do the entire thing with me instead of having to ride her bike next to me for two measly miles.

I debated where I wanted to run but, in the end, it was back to the good old Des Plaines River Trail. Seems like most of my marathon training long runs have been on that puppy this year. Different parts of it, but at this point I think I've almost run the entire thing.

Anyway, we met up at the Half Day Forest Preserve which is about 40 minutes from my house (if you ignore the speed limit *cough*) at 7:30 AM on Sunday. The weather was drizzling and cool. Quite a few of my OPRC friends were running the Fox Valley Marathon or 20 miler so I hoped they were enjoying the decent running weather.

Kim and I tried out our race day outfits just to make sure they didn't chafe, bunch, or ride up. Success on all front!

Except for the minor chafing I get from my fuel belt. Someone remind me to lube up underneath that thing on marathon day!

Anyway, the first few miles felt rough. I'd woken up on Saturday with an incredibly sore left hip. After a day of ibuprofen, rest, foam rolling, ice, and some quality time laying on a tennis ball (you know, when the foam roller isn't punishment enough) it felt better but not 100%. Thankfully, it didn't really bother me while running. I just felt tired. I worried about what I'd feel like on marathon day. But around mile 5 I seemed to perk up. And then I think it was mile 8 or 10 when I took some of the Shot Bloks with caffeine. Then I REALLY perked up. Those things feel like cheating. I was chipper and felt strong for the rest of the run. I could have easily gone further. I was actually surprised when my watch beeped at mile 16. Done already?

I think that's a good sign.

Sixteen with Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recovery Run Fail

If I learned anything about myself during the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay it was that my legs don't mind pumping out some fast miles when they're tired. Already did a fast, hard run less than 24 hours ago? That's okay. You can do another one.

So on Thursday I did. What was supposed to be a lunch time recovery run turned into another tempo run. I didn't do it on purpose! It's just that I was running with guys from work and they tend to be faster than me. Although, I think I was pulling one of them along at the end while our fastest guy forged on ahead.

It was a great day for running. I wore capris and a short sleeved top and was actually too warm. I totally could have gone for shorts and a tank top. It may have been in the mid 50s but the sun was out. And, yes, there was a breeze. More like a wind. At first I thought the fact that the wind was at our backs for the first 2.5 miles was responsible for my speed but I managed to crank out comparable miles on the way back even with the wind right in my face.

My knees were a little achy but everything else seemed fine. I was pushing myself but my legs didn't feel like they were burning and I didn't feel like I was gasping for air. Strange considering I just did speedwork the night before, right? You'd think my legs would be tired. Apparently that was just a warm up for them.

In the end, we did 4.9 miles at an 8:30 pace (with a few pauses for traffic and water). If I could recreate how I felt on Thursday at the 10Ks I'm doing after Milwaukee I will have a new 10K PR in the bag. Maybe I just need to do some speedwork the day before?

Lunch Run South by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Math Fail

I've never been great at math. I graduated high school with a perfect GPA by the mere virtue of the fact that my high school didn't use the plus or minus system. Meaning a score of 90 was the same as a score of 100. So while I had a 4.0 GPA in math it wasn't without a lot of toil, tears, and our GPA system. And the fact that my freshman year geometry final exam didn't count toward my final grade. I didn't study and got a D. Lowest grade of my entire life.

In college the only final grade I ever got that was lower than a regular A was in my pre-calculus class first semester freshman year. I got an A-. So, I'm definitely not BAD at math. I'm just not great. Math skills don't come intuitively to me like so many other subjects.

But, counting usually comes easily. I mean, you learn that even before you're in school. At least you do when you watch a lot of Sesame Street, which I did.

Somehow, though, my counting skills abandoned me on the track last night. After our usual stretches we did a 12 minute warm-up. That was easy; just watch the time on my Garmin. 1.29 miles later I was all ready for the workout. And what was my workout? 5x1200 meters with 200 meter rest intervals. 1200 meters is three laps around the track, by the way.

I started and quickly found myself alone. Faster than the back of the pack, slower than the front. Fine by me. Let's me zone out. And zone out I did. I was supposed to be running between 10K and 10 mile pace. Since my 10 mile PR pace is faster than my 10K PR pace I figured I'd aim for between 8:30s and 8:40s. Yet I kept seeing 8:0X on my Garmin. Hmmm. Time to slow down.

But I was in a zone. I managed the first 1200 with little incident except for running an 8:03 pace. I walk/jogged my 200 rest interval and took off on the next 1200. I did my three laps at an 8:20 pace (better) and was feeling fine. The night was cool enough to necessitate capris and a short sleeved shirt and the humidity was low. Perfect running weather.

Which may be why the next laps got all screwed up. As I went past Coach Holly I yelled out, "I've lost count!" I had no idea what lap I was on out of 1200 and only a vague idea of what set out of 5 I was doing. So when my watch beeped a mile I realized I'd run 1600 instead of 1200. At an 8:33 pace. I guess I got one part right!

I did my 200 meter walk/jog and chatted with Coach. "I *think* that was my third set," I said.

"Do you feel tired?" She asked.

"No, not really."

"Then keep going."

So I finished my 200 and took off again determined to get it right this time. Cue the epic fail. I tried to keep count on my fingers but somehow thought I was on lap three when I was really on lap two. So I did 800 (at an 8:10 pace) instead of 1200 before I slowed to a walk. I realized I'd screwed up when I saw my lap time. 1200 in 4:11? I don't think so. I suppose I could have kept going but I figured I'd run longer on the previous set so I could make this one shorter.


After finally figuring out I was on set 5 I made sure to do 3 laps. At an 8:12 pace. Argh! Too fast! Why was I having such a hard time with this workout?

I guess that's what happens when I get in a zone. My legs just want to go and my brain doesn't want to think. Who cares about math and counting and pace when you're in your happy running place.

OPRC Track Workout by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

September 5th - September 11th

Sept 5th

10 miles

Sept 6th

Rest day! Actually, it was our first "regular" running club meeting of the 2011-2012 year. Per tradition, we had the race director from the Chicago Marathon come speak to us. We also encouraged people to wear their favorite or oldest Chicago Marathon gear.

Can you find me in that photo?

We had shirts going all the way back to 1978, before it was even known as THE Chicago Marathon.

As always, a great meeting and I always learn a little something new about the marathon. This year I learned that the reason they run the course in the direction they do is so that they can get the busier streets north of downtown reopened sooner.

Sept 7th

4 miles of straights and curves.

Sept 8th

Rest day!

Sept 9th

I ran from my office to pick up my race packet for the Chicago Half Marathon and back for a total of 4 miles. Yes, there was a break in the middle but I still got some mileage in!

Sept 10th

Kim wanted to get in 22 miles but I didn't want to run the day before my half marathon. So what did I do? Well, I couldn't let her run 22 all by her lonesome. Especially not after how much of a help she was to me the week before. So, I hopped on my bike and pedal next to her the entire way.

Kim & Erin (on bike) 9/10/11 at Garmin Connect - Details

Just like me, Kim struggled toward the end of her run but I tried my best to distract her by talking about random stuff and telling silly stories. And then rubbing her back and force feeding her crackers when she felt nauseous after she got done. Hey, what are friends for?

Sept 11th

Chicago Half Marathon!

While I'm proud of my finishing time I'm a little mad at myself for running so fast so close to my marathon. My left quad is still sore and has a huge knot in it. When I woke up from my nap on Sunday afternoon my left shin hurt again like it did back in February. Some ice, rest, and ibuprofen seem to be helping but I know I was being stupid and reckless. Hopefully it doesn't come back to haunt me.

Total running mileage: 31.23
Total biking mileage: 22
Total strength training sessions: 0

I guess technically I'm sort of starting to taper for my marathon. I've got one more long (more than 10 mile) run coming up this weekend but then after that it's all on the downswing.

Chicago Half Marathon Race Report

Been awhile since I ran a half marathon. In fact, the last one I ran was in May and it was rough. But I'd signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon months and months ago. Even with the logistical nightmare that is getting to and from this race it has a special place in my heart as being the race where I knocked almost 9 minutes off my half marathon time last year.

Just like last year I went into this race with zero expectations. It's a training run, I kept telling myself. No need to blow it out of the water. In fact, I'd even considered not running with my Garmin! GASP!

But after we arrived at the race and met up with some of the OPRC group I sort of got suckered into being a pacer for another guy who wanted to run just under 2 hours. Still, I put on my headphones and a smile and said we'd start out together and see what happened.

We were so busy looking for a place to do a warm-up mile (never found one) and finding our corral that I never heard the 9/11 tribute speeches, never saw the NYFD truck that was at Ground Zero, and only barely heard the National Anthem. The runners were encouraged to wear red, white and blue and, to that effect, I saw some unique running outfits. Who knew they made running shorts with American flags all over them? I guess I'm lucky that our running club tops are red already!

This year we were preassigned to corrals although I don't recall telling them what my expected finish time would be. It must have been better organize than last year, though, because it only took us about 4 minutes to cross the start line and the crowds during the first mile were a little better. There was still a lot of dodging and that first mile was done in 9:22. I guess there's my warm-up!

The first few miles are kind of irritating because you have to make a lot of 90 degree turns. Once you get out onto Lakeshore Drive, though, it's pretty much a straight out and back. I decided not to wear my fuel belt and just use the aid stations. I almost regretted this decision after I skipped the first water stop and realized it was a lot more humid and sunny than I had anticipated. But, I grabbed water at the next station and was still able to keep up my pacer duties. We were running 8:40s which I worried might be too fast. I felt okay, though, so I just went with it.

I lost my pacee when I stopped at the next aid station around mile six for water and to take my first pair of Shot Bloks. He kept going and I walked for the length of the aid station. I honestly had no idea what mile I was at until I came upon the 10K sign at the end of the table. Ooookay, then.

From that point on I walked a bit at every aid station and alternated between drinking a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade. The turn around at mile 8 wasn't too bad (it's up and down a highway overpass) and at the 15K mark (9.5 miles?) I took another pair of Shot Bloks, this time ones with caffeine.

I was starting to flag at this point but I think the caffeine kicked my rear in gear. My left quad was starting to ache so I kept telling myself "This isn't your goal race. It's okay to slow down". And then I'd look at my Garmin and realize I was still running 8:30s. Even with the walk breaks I only had one other mile time (other than the first) that started with a 9. I tried to change my form a bit so that I was running more with my glutes and hamstrings as opposed to my quads. It made me go faster. Strange.

I distracted myself by looking at the form of the runners in front of me. I'm always amazed when the people in front of me look to have really inefficient running form. Actually, though, I was definitely passing people at this point. Quite a few, to be honest. At mile 11 I realized that even if I ran 10 minute miles for the last 2.1 I'd still most likely PR. Oops!

But once I realized that I couldn't shake the idea of getting a new personal best time. I caught back up with my former pacee and tried to encourage him to keep up with me. He couldn't so I went on ahead. My legs were tired, my quad ached, my shoulders were sore and I was thankfully for the last aid station near mile 12. Then the countdown signs started.

3/4 of a mile left! Just three times around the track, I thought.

1/2 mile left! Just twice around the track.

Then we rounded the last curve and crested the last small rise and there was the finish line. I crossed with arms pumping secure in the knowledge that I'd at least tied my previous half marathon best.

I got my medal and snacks (Rice Krispie treats, oh yeah!) and the best post-race swag ever: a pre-moistened individually wrapped washcloth. Perfect for wiping off the sweat.

When I finally exited the finisher's area I ran into part of the OPRC group. "How'd you do" chatter and guesses began until I realized I could just use my iPhone to scan the QR codes on our bibs....and that they took us directly to our own individual race results! Technology is amazing!

And what was my final result?


I managed a PR by 52 seconds, something I'd never set out to do.

I guess I'd better stop telling myself I run this race as a training run. My legs always have other ideas.

Chicago Half Marathon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Birds, One Stone

Sunday is the Chicago Half Marathon. Also known as the most inconvenient half marathon for most of the people who run it. It's definitely geared towards tourists moreso than the majority of people who actually live in and around the city. Why?

Well, the start line is not on any city public transportation. They have to arrange for special regional trains. If you drive to the start line you either pay $14 to park and walk a mile there and back or find street parking and walk even further. And risk dealing with Chicago Bears traffic on the way home. Packet pick-up is also not on a public transit line and it's $10 to park there. However, packet pick-up is two miles from my office. And I needed to get in another run this week.

So guess what I did? I strapped on one of those drawstring backpacks everyone seems to be giving away and after work I ran from my office to the Festival Hall at Navy Pier to pick up my packet. I was pretty sweaty when I got there but was able to get my stuff with little fanfare. I even ran into Coach Holly and Helen as I was leaving.

I didn't tie the bag right across my chest on the way back so it bounced more and made my shoulders ache but for two miles it didn't really matter. I got in my run and picked up my packet. I guess that's what they call running an errand!

Half Marathon Packet Pick Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

And when I got home I discovered my new running shoes had arrived!

New shoes always make me realize just how beat up my old shoes are. I guess that's what over 350 miles will do to a pair of shoes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Straights and Curves

Image Source

The workout that we do at the beginning of each training "cycle" this summer is called "straights and curves". As I understand it, we do this to get our bodies used to running fast without jumping into the super speedy stuff too quickly.

A track is basically two parallel straight lines connected by shallow C shapes at each end.

When we do straights and curves workouts we do drills on one straight side and then strides on the other straight side. I explained strides last week and the drills consist of doing alternating laps of forward drills (high knees/butt kicks or skipping) and lateral drills (side gallops, karaoke). And then you jog (or walk) super easy on the curved parts. Last night we did 8 laps total.

Sound complicated? It's not, really. And it makes the workout go by quickly. Last night I ended up doing a total of four miles. One mile warm-up, 8 laps of straights and curves, and then a one mile cool-down. Holly also mentioned that I looked a lot better than last week. I'm telling you, it's the cool weather.

I foam-rolled both before and after running because my right IT band started feeling a little funky after my run on Monday. Not pain, per se, but just off. I've also been stretching and icing so that I can hopefully nip whatever this is in the bud. It didn't bother me while running, though, so that's a good sign. I need to stay on the straight and narrow and not get thrown any curve balls.

OPRC Track Workout by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

Well, technically it was a few days, but after the horrible mini heat wave that hit us on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the temperatures cooled down significantly. When I left my house late Monday morning for a run I wore a short-sleeved shirt and was actually cold standing in the shade waiting to cross the street!

Since I had the day off work I was able to get in a longer-than-usual weekday run. My original plan was to run 8 miles. Then I figured I'd do 8.5. Or maybe 9 miles. In the end I did 10. And it was wonderful.

When my Garmin beeped at mile 1 I was a little shocked to see I'd done it in 8:27! Oops. Better slow down. So I did. A bit. It was just one of those runs when your legs are moving independently and you feel like you're flying.

I thought that was a little odd considering my 30+ mile bike ride the day before but perhaps my body was just reveling in the cooler temps. Sure, there was a stiff breeze that seemed to be in my face no matter what direction I ran but I didn't care. A cool wind is better than stifling humidity.

So I ran and ran. My legs churned, my music blared, and I remembered how much I love running.

Solo Monday Long Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

August 29th - September 4th

Aug 29

The long Monday night route, which is supposed to be 8 miles, somehow always ends up being closer to 7.8 for me instead. Strange.

Aug 30

I haven't been feeling the strength training lately. I think it's partly because my left leg is still acting a little wonky from time to time and I'm tired from running high mileage (for me). But Tuesday night when I got home from work Jason was heading down to the basement to do a workout so I decided to join him.

NROLW seemed too high speed so I settled for this Self magazine workout. I kept the weights light for the most part so that I wouldn't aggravate anything. Also because I've been slacking.

Aug 31

5 total sweaty miles on the track.

Sept 1

Rest day!

Sept 2

22 miles with Kim. The hardest run so far this year, I do believe. Oof.

Sept 3

Rest day! I actually felt pretty good, though, considering my long run of the day before.

Sept 4

Last week a coworker who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago like me told me about the Salt Creek Greenway. I've ridden the Salt Creek bike path that starts about 4 miles from my house but had no idea that this trail connected up with several other trails in the area to form a 26 mile long route that ends in a large forest preserve northwest of where I live. I found the idea intriguing so I downloaded a map and made it my goal to ride the entire thing. Sunday turned out to be the perfect day for it.

I instructed Jason to pick me up at the end and I packed my bike jersey with Clif Energy Shot gels and a granola bar, filled up my water bottle, and set out on my bike.

The ride went very smoothly and except for a few spots the trail was clearly marked. I wasn't going very fast and a few times I had to stop and check my map but I enjoyed every second of it. Including riding from my house to the trail head and then from the official end of the trail to where Jason was waiting in the car I rode a total of 32.83 miles!

I had some Garmin issues, though, so what the Garmin recorded is a little short and the ride may actually have been a bit longer than the recorded amount. Maybe closer to 33.5? Either way, it's still the longest I've ever ridden on my bike. I can't wait to do it again and maybe one day soon ride there AND back! And remember to take pictures. I was enjoying myself so much that I completely forgot.

Salt Creek Greenway Route by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

The only downside is that there are a few major street crossings where you have to wait for traffic.

Total running mileage: 34.79
Total biking mileage: 32.83
Total strength workouts: 1

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hazards of Summer Running

There are a lot of things that are less than perfect about running in the summer. The crazy tan lines are just one of them.

But the other, bigger issue is the heat. After dealing with a record breaking heatwave throughout most of July we thought we were in the clear. But the summer heat reared its head once again at the end of last week. And of course it decided to show up on the day I'd planned to run 22 miles.

Still, I really wanted to run with Kim and we figured we'd survived the brutality that was the heat of last year's Chicago Marathon. What's a little bit of running when it's 90 degrees outside?

I forgot how miserable it is to run long distances in that kind of heat. I was in denial.

Kim and I met at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve at 7:15 AM on Friday. I'd taken the day off work so that I could run with her and get my long run out of the way and enjoy my long holiday weekend (yay for Labor Day!). Although Waterfall Glen is hilly, the crushed limestone path is a nice mixture of sun and shade.

We started out and the sun was still hidden by the overcast sky. The air temps were warm but not unbearable. We did one loop of the 9.5 mile trail, stopped at the car for some water, and the did a little bit more for a total of just over 12 miles. That's when Kim switched to her bike to help me finish out the last 10 miles.

I managed another three miles before my body and my willpower started to crack. By this point the sun had burned off the clouds and the temperature was rising. Although I'd been good about sticking to my run 2 miles-walk a minute strategy I had to walk a little bit extra at mile 15. And then I just kept walking more and more. I walked up the hills. I walked every half mile. Then every quarter.

When we finally made it to the water pump at my mile 19 Kim gave me a pep talk. I made a plan to run .9 and walk .1 of every mile. And walk the hills. That lasted less than a mile.

Then I started crying. And having trouble breathing. I think I freaked Kim out a little bit. It reminded me both of how I felt at the Chicago Marathon and when I did my sixteen miler last year. I underestimated just how much of an impact the heat has on me.

Kim hopped off her bike just before mile 21 and began running and pushing her bike. I couldn't even keep up with her! Still, she encouraged me to finish that last mile. I didn't really have a choice considering I still needed to get back to the car somehow!

Finally I hit 22 miles! All I wanted to do was collapse onto the grass. But, no, Kim made me keep walking while she got me some Gatorade and cold packs and a granola bar. I managed to stay upright long enough to swap my running shoes for my flip flops and then we went on a quest to find a creek in which to take a makeshift ice bath.

We stood in the creek for about 20 minutes before leaving for a late lunch.

This run was hard. Definitely the hardest one I've had so far this year. I think it was a combination of temperature, not enough rest between runs that week, and thinking about it too much.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a total loss! According to the McMillan Running Calculator I should be doing my long runs between a 10:30 and 11:30 pace. Even with all the walking (but subtracting the stops to refill my water bottles), I managed an 11:20 pace. That's still faster than my pace at the Chicago Marathon, too!

If anything, I learned that I'm a stronger runner than I think. And that having your best friend there as emotional support is key. I would have finished this run if I'd been by myself, but it would have been the toughest thing I've done in awhile. I'm much happier Kim was there!

22 Miles with Kim at Waterfall Glen by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, September 4, 2011

August Wrap Up

August was kind of a surprise month. I originally only had two races on the calendar but ended up racing every weekend!

August 6th - Just Book It! 5K
August 13th - River Run for Ryan "5K"
August 21st - Danskin Triathlon Relay
August 27th - DeKalb Corn Classic 10K

At least one of those was a bike race!

Other surprises for August?
*Totally skipping over doing a 16 mile run and doing 18 miles instead.

*Running every weekend with Kim.

*Having another awesome 20 miler.

*Running a total of 153.95 miles!
Holy carp, you guys! Almost 154 miles! That's almost double what I ran in July! And it's definitely the most I've ever run in one month. I'm pretty amazed with myself.

I give a lot of credit to Kim, though. Without her I probably wouldn't have run some of those longer weekend runs. We really do make a good team.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Ever wonder why most running shorts and pants are black or at least dark colored? Most of mine are black. I have a few exceptions, most notably my two pairs of pink shorts. I always wondered why exercise shorts trended towards dark colors. Until last night. Basically, this is what I saw when I got home:


Yeah. That's kind of gross. I guess black shorts hide the sweat absorption a little better.

Anyway, last night's workout was a little tough. It's been awhile since we've done our usual drills and it's definitely been awhile since we did strides. As in, on the straight part of the track you pick up speed until you're running all out as fast as you can for about 20 meters.

First we did a two mile warm-up, though. It took a mile for my calves to loosen up but even then my legs still felt like cement. I blame the weight lifting I did on Tuesday night. Or maybe I just didn't eat enough during the day. Or maybe it's that it was so freaking humid outside. Who knows.

What I do know is that when it came time to do my first set of strides Coach Holly was standing at the spot where we should be running all out shouting "You can go faster!" So, I went faster. And then she laughed at me. "You have so much more speed in you, girl." I think we agreed I might be the fastest person on the track....for 20 meters. Too bad that's not a standard race distance.

At one point, though, I hit that 20 meter mark and something just clicked. I felt like I was flying. "Holy crap," I said under my breath. Unfortunately I wasn't able to repeat it. Reminds me of the time I was taking singing lessons and I was able to really let go and a beautiful sound came out of my mouth. I'm still trying to recapture that feeling.

What I don't want to recapture is the look of two-toned shorts after a sweaty workout. I think I'll be sticking to my black shorts on humid days from here on out.