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

Monday, November 28, 2011


This weekend I had two nightmares about the upcoming Las Vegas Marathon.

Why am I having nightmares about this race when I had very little anxiety about Milwaukee?

I think it's a combination of things.

1. Milwaukee went so well that I'm a little afraid it was a fluke.

2. My injuries are flaring up more now than they were before Milwaukee. I haven't been able to run as much as I did before Milwaukee.

3. My only goal for Milwaukee was to break 5 hours. But if I didn't, I had plenty of time to finish the race.

4. But Las Vegas has a (stupid) course limit of 4 hours and 30 minutes. You may recall I ran 4:36:58 in Milwaukee. So I have to shave 7 minutes off my PR in order to even finish before they shut down the course!

I am so freaking anxious about this course limit thing that I'm debating dropping down to the half marathon.

Both of my nightmares involved not finishing the race before the course time limit.

If one more person asks me if I'm going to see any shows while I'm in Vegas I might scream. I just want to go and get this race over with. Celebrate my friends' 10 year wedding anniversary and come home. I'm beginning to think I'm not cut out for big production marathons. Give me a "down home" race any day. That's much more my speed.

Weekly Workout Wround Up

November 21 - November 27

Nov 21

After learning last week that doing a long run and a short fast run and then trying to run again on Monday night does not for a happy knee make, I decided to skip the Monday night run and do something else instead.

Since I still can't fully strength train the way I want (stupid hip) I made up a routine with some moves I can do without aggravating my left leg too much. Shoulder presses, tricep extensions, stability ball crunches, bench presses, and a few other things. All in all I did about 30-40 minutes. I really miss strength training.

Nov 22

Kim and I bought a Groupon back before the Milwaukee Marathon that entitled us to 10 cardio fitness classes at a place near our offices but due to our schedules this Tuesday was the first night we could use them together.

We showed up for the hour long cardio kickboxing class not really knowing what to expect. It's been a long time since I did cardio kickboxing. I miss it. I didn't realize how much I missed it until we started.

About halfway through the hour-long, high-intensity class I thought I might keel over but I just reminded myself that I've run for longer than that and to suck it up. Plus, staring at my arm muscles in the mirror as they glistened with sweat was a nice distraction. Yes, I'm vain. So what?

My body also missed hardcore aerobics classes. On Wednesday I was so sore I could barely move. But, hey, I've been looking for a way to work my glutes. I think I found it.

Nov 23

Kim and I were able to sneak out for a 5 mile run at lunch. I took her to Northerly Island and we kept up a pretty brisk pace considering we were both super-sore from the night before.

Lunch Run w/Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Nov 24

My running group did a Thanksgiving Morning run followed by coffee and camaraderie. I did 7 miles and the first few were rough. Sometimes I'm amazed that I ran 13.1 miles at a sub-9:00 minute pace when there are mornings when running 10:00 minute miles is a struggle.

Nov 25

Rest day. My family had our Thanksgiving Celebration on Friday afternoon so I took the opportunity to sleep in and try and let my body recover. It was still sore from Tuesday night!

Nov 26

The weather was miserable on Saturday so I decided to brave the treadmill in my basement. You may recall that this particular treadmill has been underwater a few times. It still works, it's just a little quirky.

The biggest quirk I discovered? The speed buttons don't really correspond to the belt speed anymore. I hopped on the treadmill, pressed the button for 6.0 MPH (10:00 minute miles) and started jogging....as the belt went faster and faster and faster. Apparently the 6.0 button now equates to 9.0 MPH!

Long story short, I had to run for time not for distance after lowering the speed to something more reasonable. I ended up running for 80 minutes which I'm figuring was around 8 miles.

Nov 27

Kim and I made plans to go bowling with our husbands. The last time we went bowling together I had to wear my knee strap as my right knee was acting up before the Chicago Marathon.

This time it was my left glute that was acting up! It's been sore since Tuesday's cardio kickboxing class and the bowling motion made it flare up. I'm not a great bowler but I was bummed that I couldn't even attempt to have good bowling form lest the pain in my ass become worse.

I bought a heating pad on the way home and basically sat on it all afternoon. I'll probably take a few days off from running since I'm now less than a week out from the Las Vegas Marathon.

Total running mileage: approximately 20
Total strength training sessions: 1
Other cross-training: 1

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 5K Race Report

In 2009 and 2010 I ran the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 10K and loved it. I've set two 10K PRs at this race AND I get the opportunity to indulge in post-race pancakes with my work running group buddies.

This year I was torn between running the 10K and the 5K. I'd already PR'ed at the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K this year but I'd be thwarted at all of my 5K PR attempts since February.

In the end, I decided to make that 5K my bitch. I registered the morning-of, which is one of the things I love about this race. They have all the perks of a big race (including expensive professional photos this year!) but all the atmosphere of a low-key race.

My only concern was my knee. I didn't want to push it too hard and prolong my ITB issue. I mean, I do have a marathon in two weeks.

But I just couldn't pass up running this race and seeing what I could do.

I met up with some of my lunch time running group and we decided to do a warm-up. Well, their version of a warm-up is a little different than mine. They did about a quarter mile and called it a day. Uh, I thought, that's not going to work for me.

So I handed off my jacket to Jason and took off for another mile or so. I didn't have a lot of time, though. The race started at 8:45 and it was already 8:30.

I managed one more mile. It wasn't an encouraging mile. I picked it up towards the end at the 8:30 pace didn't feel so hot. How was I ever going to hold an 8:00 minute or faster pace for the race?

By the time I got to the start line I had to weave my way through people to try and find a good starting spot. Of course, it doesn't really matter since the first half mile or so of this race is always crowded. I spent most of it dodging people.

When my watch beeped at the Mile 1 marker I looked down to see 7:58. Hmmm, I thought. That might have been too fast. But maybe I can see if I can do all three miles in times that start with 7s. That would be a first for me. Why not?

I saw Jason shortly after the mile marker and threw him my arm warmers. Even though I'd been freezing at the start line at this point I almost wished I was wearing a tank top.

The 10K runners split off and I realized how happy I was to be running a 5K. I only had two more miles left and they had 5!

By the way, 3.1 miles feels really short when you've been training for a marathon.

I saw Jason again near the two mile mark but barely even looked over at him. I was really trying to push myself. It worked and I ran mile two in 7:50.

Just one more mile, I thought to myself. You've probably got a PR in the bag if you don't lose it during this last mile. 8:00 minutes. That's all. You can do anything for 8:00 minutes.

At one point I glanced down at my watch and saw my current pace in the 8:30 range. Nope, I thought. Not gonna work. You need to speed up. I'd fallen into the trap of just running and not pushing myself. So I pushed.

With a quarter mile left to go I felt like I was going to puke. A woman in front of me was shouting to her running companion, "Come on! Almost there!" Since he was running next to me I turned to him and said, "Are you gonna let her beat you? Go on!" The fact that I was able to do this tells me I wasn't running hard enough. Good to know.

Still, I rounded the corner to the finish line and pushed a little harder.

Final finish time? 24:32! A 22 second PR and good enough for 5th in my age group (and, yes, there were more than 5 people in my age group).

So the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot keeps its place as a PR race for me. But this year I didn't get my post-race pancakes. I got post-race matzah ball soup instead. And some of Jason's blueberry pancakes. What can I say? I like pancakes.

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot 5K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

November 14 - November 20

Nov 14th

7.25 miles that left me limping. Stupid stupid stupid.

Nov 15th

Rest day. I was supposed to attend a cardio kickboxing class but ended up canceling. Probably a good idea since my knee was still bothering me. I got a massage that seemed to help some but it was still sore.

Nov 16th

Rest...and foam roll....and ice....and stretch

Nov 17th

Rest rinse repeat

Nov 18th

Rest, rest, we must be at our best!

Nov 19th

After four days of rest I met Kim at Busse Woods Forest Preserve. You may remember Busse Woods from such posts as Epic 20 Miler is Epic and Bittersweet Sixteen. I'm not sure why I chose Busse as our meeting spot since both times I've run there something weird has happened but it IS conveniently located to both Kim and I.

The curse of Busse was upon me, however, and when I arrived I discovered the bathrooms were closed for the season! I tried to hover in the woods but no dice. So, I started my 10+ mile run with a full bladder hoping for a port-a-potty.

No matter how many times I look at the map for Busse I inevitably take a wrong turn and end up off the main loop. This time it was okay, though, because it lead me to a port-a-potty around mile 4.5. The rest of the run was much more comfortable after that. My knee felt pretty good, too.

My original training plan had me doing 13 miles but I didn't want to push myself too much. In the end, we did 12 miles. Mostly so I could see the elk one more time.

How many elk can you count in this picture?

Click the picture to see larger

Kim captioned this photo. It makes me laugh.

Twelve with Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Nov 20th

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot! One of my favorite races of the season. I usually do the 10K but this year decided to stick with the 5K. I'm really glad I made that decision. Stay tuned for the race report!

Total running mileage: 23.44

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Random Raffle Result

After the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K I filled out their online survey about the race. This apparently got me an entry into their participant raffle.

Yesterday I received an email that I had won a raffle prize!


Except, well, it's a "Rock N Roll Half Marathon Tech Shirt".

Which Rock N Roll Half Marathon? I'm not sure. Maybe Chicago?

Short-sleeved? Long-sleeved? Men's? Women's? Size? All unknowns.

Not to mention that I've never even run a Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I'm not a HUGE fan of wearing shirts for races I didn't run or volunteer for. I have one exception: the 2010 Quarryman 10 shirt that a coworker gave me...it's perfect for biking.

Oh, also, I can only pick up my prize between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Considering I'm at work 40 minutes away or commuting from 8:00 AM til 5:45 PM Monday through Friday that makes it kind of difficult.

I mean, I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, really, what if it's a horse you didn't really want in the first place?

So, anyone else want a mystery Rock N Roll Half Marathon Tech Shirt and can pick it up in Oak Park, IL during business hours?

Or maybe I should email them and say "Thanks, but no thanks" and suggest they draw another name. That would be the charitable thing to do, huh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm beginning to think maybe my body doesn't want to run any more this year. That I should have just been happy with my performance at the Milwaukee Marathon and gone on my way.

But, no, I decided I needed to run Las Vegas. So I didn't take very long of a break and got right back into training. I have that 4:30 course limit to contend with, you see.

Last night I decided to run to the start of our running group run and then do the long route for a total of just over 9 miles. The day after running 20 miles.

Yeah, not my smartest idea ever.

The first 5.5 miles went fine. No problems. But when we stopped at our regular regrouping point and I went to start back up again my left IT band attachment point started SCREAMING at me. The outside of my left knee felt worse than my right knee ever did last year.

It's not a joint thing and for that I'm grateful. But ITB Syndrome is nothing to sneeze at. I cut my run short and finished up with 7.25 miles at my long run pace.

I then proceeded to limp around to dinner and then collapse on the couch once I got home. I iced. I foam rolled, I stretched, I applied BioFreeze. I'm wearing my knee brace. However, the outside of my left knee is slightly swollen and painful to the touch. Perfect ITBS symptoms.

I've got a massage scheduled for this evening and I've been icing and keeping my leg as elevated as possible while sitting at my desk at work. I'll be taking the week off and seeing how I feel this weekend. I'm wearing my knee brace and taking Advil and Omega-3.

In short, I'm doing everything I should be doing to try and get this to go away.

Doesn't mean I'm not bummed, though.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

November 7 - November 13

Nov 7th

I couldn't decide whether I wanted to run 5.5 miles or 7.75 miles...and then it started raining and it was dark and I ended up not running anything.

Instead I tried two new Pilates videos via Netflix.

Both are also available via Amazon Instant Video as well, by the way.

Anyway, it had been a long time since I'd done Pilates and I was definitely feeling the burn. Totally counting it as a strength training session. I liked the first video better than the second, but the second one has a section where you use handweights.

Nov 8th

Six miles on the treadmill.

Nov 9th

Since I'm still not feeling the cold and the dark (at least not for running by myself) I did the Pilates videos again. I forget how good I feel when I work my muscles by doing something other than running.

Nov 10th

Five miles on the treadmill at the gym. For as much as I say I hate the treadmill, sometimes it's exactly what I need. Five miles didn't seem like enough. I only stopped because I wanted to get home and eat dinner at a reasonable hour.

Nov 11th

Rest day. I'd thought about doing a Pilates video but something about laying on the couch seemed much more appealing.

Nov 12th

3.14 miles cross-country style with a .75 mile warm-up.

Nov 13th

The last 20 miler of the season!

Total running mileage: 34.89
Total strength training: 2

Roaring Twenties

Last year at this time I'd done exactly two runs longer than 19 miles. My very first 20 miler and the Chicago Marathon.

As of yesterday, this year I've already done double that amount.

Yesterday I met Kim at the Half Day Forest Preserve about 40 minutes north of my house. We did almost all our long runs prior to Milwaukee on some part of this trail and I knew it would be a good place to do my last 20 miler before Las Vegas.

Considering Kim just ran the New York Marathon last Sunday she definitely wasn't running 20 miles with me. But she was sweet enough to ride her bike alongside while I ran. She warned me she might be out of it since she'd just flown home from New York the afternoon before but if there's anyone out of it on a 20 mile run it's definitely the runner.

I mean, ugh, look at my form!

Anyway, the first 10 miles went by pretty quickly. The only bummer was that they'd turned off the water fountains along the trail and I knew I wasn't carrying enough water and Gatorade to last me 20 miles. The weather was warm and the wind was at our back for the first half. Although the forecast threatened rain it never appeared.

Around mile 7 or so another runner with a cycling buddy passed us. The runner looked REALLY familiar and I think he must have thought the same thing about me. But even though we passed each other again later I never figured out where I knew him from. Probably from one of the almost 30 races I've run so far this year.

I decided to try and walk every 3 miles or so. Due to a flooded section of trail, though, there was a point near mile 3 and near mile 17 that required waiting to cross a pretty major highway. I stopped my watch for those pieces and counted them as walking breaks.

Actually, I remember thinking that mile 13 and 14 seemed REALLY long but that mile 15 and 16 went by in flash. Also, the mile where I almost stepped on a snake went by really quickly, too. Man, I hate snakes. Kim laughs at me. I don't care. They are creepy as hell.

Toward the end of the run I was really starting to struggle. Running out of water and Gatorade was not helping. Kim gave me some off her fuel belt but I could feel the salt drying on my face and I knew I needed more liquids. My stomach was starting to slosh, too, which, paradoxically, means I needed to drink more (at least according to the speaker we had at our October running club meeting). Also, strangely, my bladder felt full which NEVER happens to me on runs.

So, I tried to pick up the pace for the last few miles just to get this run over with. My legs didn't hurt, my knee didn't hurt, but I was just done. I was quite happy when my Garmin beeped 20.

After our run we went to get lunch. "Do you want something to drink?" the cashier asked me.

"Yes." I replied. He stared at me for a moment.

"Uh...what would you like?"

Oops. My brain wasn't quite fully functioning yet.

I am SO thankful that Kim was able to join me for my last crazy long run of the season before Las Vegas. I really don't know what I would do without her.

20 miles w/Kim on bike by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Illinois Cross Country Club Invitation Race Report

I've never run a cross-country race. I've never even attended a meet. Everything I know about it comes from watching the movie The Long Green Line. Cross-country seems to typically be a 5K distance over grass and dirt. A little different from my usual road racing.

So when my running club's president sent out an email stating that another area running club wanted to host an all running club cross country meet I was a little apprehensive. My impression was that we needed super-fast people to run and earn points. As someone who still gets super-excited when my average race pace per mile start with an 8 I figured I probably wasn't the best woman for the team.
Running clubs from throughout Illinois are coming together to stage the first ever Illinois Cross-Country Club Invitational. It will be a team race, with the best runners from top clubs running head to head. This will be the first of what we hope will become an annual "end-of-season" friendly competition among the clubs for "bragging rights" in X-C.

But, in the end, I decided to join the team. "It'll be fun!" everyone told me. Well, Jason had plans for Saturday so I decided to pay my $8 and show up in a field north of Chicago mid-morning on Saturday.

Most of our club's team hadn't ever run a cross-country race, either. I'd read the rules but still wasn't sure how it worked. Basically, if I understand correctly, teams are scored based on assigning points to the finish place of the first four runners and the lowest score wins. We grilled some of the team members who had run cross-country in the past and I came away with the understanding that passing people was very important. Okay. Good to know.

There were two races: Open and Master's. Open is everyone under the age of 40 and Master's is 40 and over. The Open race was first so I lined up with everyone and when the race director shouted "GO" we took off like bats out of hell. The course was almost four loops of a field and from doing one loop as a warm-up I knew there were some muddy and wet sections. How do you know where the course is? Follow the white line spray painted in the grass.

I realized halfway through the first loop that I was running way too fast. And I still couldn't keep up with everyone!

As I passed John who was taking photos I shouted, "I'm in last place aren't I?" His response? "Looking good!!" So optimistic, John.

I basically felt like death. I ran that first mile in 8:00 minutes flat. For something I was doing for fun it sure didn't feel fun. Chili and beer do not a good pre-5K meal make, for future reference.

On the second loop I managed to pass a woman. Okay, now I'm not in last place. I could see across the field and realized that now there were two women behind me. While coming in dead last would be something to write about, I didn't really want it to happen.

I was fading fast, though. And all I kept thinking was "This was supposed to be fun. This is not fun." I started to get anxious about letting my team down and I felt like my legs couldn't go any faster.

The lead guys lapped me. Thankfully one of them was from our team and since he's super nice he said, "Nice job" to me as he flew past.

On the final loop the woman I'd passed came up behind me and got in front of me. "Go for it," I gasped. "You paced yourself way better than me." I never caught her again.

I knew there was one woman behind me, though. I figured she was waiting until the last minute to make her move. She pulled ahead of me in the last 200 yards. As we rounded the corner to the finish my team started screaming for me to pass her back. I really didn't want to be last. But, in a way, I'd resigned myself to it.

But then I heard Coach Holly in my head. "Come on, Erin. You're a sprinter!"

So, I sprinted.

And I screamed.

And I passed her.

And then I needed to lay down.

But I wasn't last.

After I recovered I enjoyed a beer and a hotdog while I cheered and took pictures during the Master's race.

In the end, our club finished second in the Women's Open category so I must have helped some. Not sure how, though.

I went to this event to have fun. Did I? The race itself was miserable. But cheering for my team, taking pictures, and enjoying what may be the last nice day we have this year was totally worth it. And I've been told that my finish performance was one for the books. So, as always, even though the running may not be enjoyable, the company of my running club certainly is.

Cross Country Race by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Deal with My Hip

I mentioned two weeks ago that I may have finally got a diagnosis for my weird hip pain that comes and goes.

If you recall, I've basically been battling left leg issues all year. They're not painful enough that I've needed to stop running but nothing I do seems to make them better, either.

I've seen two kinds of physical therapists, done numerous physical therapy exercises, I've seen a chiropractor, massage therapists, and I've had three MRIs.

This last MRI was done with contrast which basically means they injected a dye into my hip socket so that they could see the area better on the scan.

Why did they do this? Well, apparently many of my symptoms can be caused by a hip labral tear and the only way to truly diagnosis this is to have an MRI with contrast.

So, that's what I had done.

And they think they found a tear. Apparently you can only see it on a few of the images and it's tiny, but the sports medicine doctor I've been seeing is pretty sure this is the cause of my issues.

No, I don't know how it happened. All I know is that I can still run as long as it doesn't hurt (which is why I did 5 miles on the treadmill at the gym on Thursday night) and that I'm scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon at the end of December.

As much as I want this weird pain to go away I also don't really want surgery. I've been doing some research and it appears that that the recovery from surgery can go really quickly or very, very slowly depending on how much work the surgeon has to do in the joint. I won't really know my full options until I see the surgeon.

So, for now, I'm still running and doing some Pilates. And I'll still be running the Las Vegas Marathon. But I feel like I've had to put any plans for 2012 on hold until I figure out what's next.

But I did recently read an article in Competitor Magazine about taking six weeks off from running. Unfortunately I can't find the article online but basically it said that certain coaches recommend you take six weeks off at the end of your season and don't run at all. Instead they suggest you try lots of different exercises to keep your fitness and break up the routine of just running.

I've been running hard all year so I'm thinking that no matter what the surgeon says I'll take some time off in December and January. Maybe I'll try swim lessons again. Maybe I'll do a lot of Pilates and yoga. And if I'm really lucky I'll be able to lift weights again. We'll see. I hope you stick around for the ride!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Back to the Belt

Well, it appears that we've reached the crappy weather portion of our year.

Monday night I totally wimped out and skipped running in the rain and the dark. Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to run during the day but it was STILL raining. So, I took what some would consider the easy way out and went to the gym to use the treadmill.

Although, perhaps some of you wouldn't consider 6 miles on the treadmill to be the easy way out.

I figure it's good mental training, right? Treadmills are BORING and it takes all I've got to not hit the stop button and go do something else.

I set the incline to 1.0 and the speed to 6.0 MPH (10 minute miles), turned up my music and tried to zone out.

The first mile is always the worst. "How am I going to do this?" I think. "How many more miles?"

When I get to mile three I always think about how I want to be done. "Maybe three miles is my limit on this thing..."

But I know that's not true. So I finished all six.

Run for Pi made a couple posts this week about what to do now that the weather is finally turning for the worse. Do you suck it up and run outside? Do you outfit yourself in an outfit made entirely out of reflective tape and run in the dark? Do you resign yourself to being cold?

Whenever the time changes and the seasons change it always takes me a few weeks to adjust. Run in the dark? Blech. Run in the cold? Blech.

By January, though, I'm usually okay. Although, this time last year I wasn't still training for a marathon so I was able to take a little longer to adjust.

I don't WANT to resort to the treadmill but until I'm comfortable with the weather and the darkness I have a feeling that's where I'll be.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

October 31st - November 6th

Oct 31

7.75 miles...in costume!

Nov 1

Rest Day! Actually, I presented at our monthly running club meeting. We got a new website and it was my job to show people how to use the "members only" functions.

Nov 2

Another rest day. Our track workout season has ended which can only mean one thing. Party! Wednesday night we all got together so we could see each other in non-running clothes. And eat and drink, of course.

Nov 3

4.84 miles of "Illinois hill workouts". Meaning, it was windy. Really windy.

Nov 4

Rest day. Girl's night in the city with my mom! And, I mean, really, could you resist this view?

Nov 5

Yet another rest day. Unless you count braving the crowds on Michigan Avenue.

Nov 6

16.18 miles!

Total mileage: 28.77

This training cycle I'm not doing so well with getting in more than 3 runs a week so far. Travel and work and other commitments keep getting in the way. Not to mention that now it will be dark after work. Time to break out the reflective gear!

Salty Sixteen

Sunday was one of those weird days. Warm but overcast and windy. I slept in but of course got an extra hour back due to changing the clock.

I had a sixteen mile run on the training plan but no one to run it with. Most of my running buddies (Kim included) were either running the New York Marathon, in New York to spectate at the marathon, ran on Saturday, or are wrapping up their running season. So, I knew I had sixteen solo miles.

I ate an English muffin with egg and cheese, drank some water and decaf tea, and drove over to the Salt Creek bike path around 11:30 AM. When I got out of the car the wind was blowing across the empty field and I immediately regretted wearing shorts and a tank top. Especially when I saw someone run by with their dog wearing pants, a jacket, and a stocking cap. I decided I'd wear my jacket and then tie it around my waist if I got too warm.

My body had other plans, though. I got about three-quarters of a mile from the trail head when I started to get that familiar feeling of impending GI tract doom. Overheating, stomach cramps, cold sweats. I tried to figure out how far it was until the next port-a-potty but decided it would be better to turn around and use the one at the trail head.

Let's just say I'm really glad there was no one already using it when I got there.

I took the opportunity to ditch my jacket at my car and stand there assessing the situation. My stomach felt slightly better but not 100%. I was feeling a little dizzy but I wondered if that was due to lack of fuel. I drank some Gatorade and decided I'd keep going.

I still felt a little ridiculous in my tank and shorts when everyone else I saw on the path at least had on long sleeves. Perhaps I could have gone with short sleeves but long sleeves was obviously too much for me.

My pace was all over the place as I tried to keep it between 10:00 and 10:30 minutes per mile. I kept looking down at my Garmin, though, and seeing 9:20 or 9:30. And that was WITHOUT walk breaks.

Yes, the only breaks I took were for traffic. I wanted to see if I could do it. Turns out I can but that I don't think I could have gone another 10 miles. When I finally hit 16 I was still just over a quarter mile from my car but I immediately started walking. Except I got cold. So I tried to run the rest of the way to the car. I made it another tenth of a mile before I just felt too worn out.

However, I'm pretty pleased with my run. Poorly fueled I still averaged a good pace without walk breaks. Imagine if I was properly fueled!

And how else did I know my nutrition was off? I had so much salt on my face and neck I looked like I'd stuck my face in powdered sugar. From a past running group meeting I knew this was a bad sign since I noticed it forming while I was running. Of course, the wind was probably evaporating the sweat off my face and leaving the salt behind, but I also think the fact that I was craving potato chips is telling.

Salt Creek Sixteen by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Did you know that just to the southeast of the lakefront path that runs between Chicago and Lake Michigan there is a small piece of land barely connected to the city? From this piece of land you can see the skyline, Soldier Field, and McCormick Place. You can see the Museum Campus and the boats in one of the many harbors.

On this piece of land there are statues, an outdoor concert venue, an open prairie, and paths that run among all of it.

After work on Thursday I decided to explore this piece of land known as Northerly Island.

I almost didn't. I almost threw in the towel because it was rainy and windy and cold. But then Kim reminded me that I actually love to run in the cool mist. So I laced up my shoes and garnered a lot of stares as I ran past bundled-up commuters and tourists in my shorts and t-shirt.

I wasn't entirely positive how to get to the Island but I had an idea. After a few wrong-ish turns through some parking lots I ended up on the path. Where the wind was brutal. Since the wind was coming out of the northeast I was being blasted with cold air from the lake. But I tucked my head down and just told myself that this was our version of hill training.

As I headed back past the Shedd Aquarium the wind pounded the lake against the retaining wall and I got sprayed by waves. Just a little more mist on top of the on-and-off misty rain.

If I'd been able to feel my hands I would have stopped to take a picture. I may not have grown up in the city but the Chicago skyline at night just tugs at me. My legs and arms were numb and the wind wore me out but I'm glad Kim talked me into this run. And I'm looking forward to going back to Northerly Island on a day when I can truly appreciate this gem only two miles from my office.

Post-Work Downtown Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

October Wrap Up

I waited so long for October to get here. I trained all summer to run the Milwaukee Marathon. I battled injuries and twinges, volunteered at the Chicago Marathon, and finished up my CARA racing season.

No wonder October went by in a flash.

Last night Coach Holly asked me what the highlight of my year has been so far. I have to say it was the Milwaukee Marathon. I've had some great races this year but October 2nd just blew my mind. I hope I remember how I felt that day for the rest of my life. In fact, I didn't want October to end because that just means I'm getting further and further away from that amazing day.

But October brought me more than just an amazing marathon. I ran three other races AFTER Milwaukee. Last year I basically sat on my couch after the Chicago Marathon but this year I took a week off and then got right back on the train with a 5K that could have been a PR, a 10K that WAS a PR, and another 10K for fun.

I ran in costume for the first time on Halloween but, sadly, I didn't get to run much with Kim post-marathon.

All in all I hit another 100+ month with a total of 116.18 miles. The biking and the strength training fell by the wayside and I'm still trying to figure out how to do strength training that won't aggravate my hip. But regardless of those two issues, October was a fabulous month. I'm sad that it's over but looking forward to the rest of the year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

Two years ago Jason and I were invited to a Halloween party and put our outfits together at the last minute. I bought a "sexy" race car driver outfit and we got him some coveralls so he could be my pit crew.

Last year I don't even remember what we did but I'm pretty sure we didn't dress up. So my costume from 2009 sat in a drawer. Until this year, that is.

A few weeks ago it was decided that since our running group's regular Monday night fun run fell on Halloween that people should dress up if they wanted to. I sent out the email and put it on Facebook but didn't think I'd be dressing up personally. But then I remembered my costume stuffed in the drawer. Hmmm, I thought, I wonder if I could run in that.

Turns out, I can! I added capris, arm warmers, and a sports bra but that was it. Perfect!

The streets were crazy busy with all the trick or treaters and their parents out and about. It amazes me that on every other Monday night these people are no where to be seen. But last night they were out in force. I fell to the back of the pack quickly and felt kind of stupid running alone in my costume, but, hey, it was dark. I just pretended I was running from Halloween zombies or something. I knew better than to push myself too hard.

When I finally caught up with the group at the 4 mile mark I was all set to do the short route and finish up with just another 1.5 miles. But then Maribeth talked me into doing the full 7.75 mile route with her. We ran a nice, sedate pace and chatted the entire time. Those 3.75 miles just flew by! We're hoping to run the Las Vegas marathon together so this was good practice.

And with that, my Halloween run was over. Til next time, costume.