Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I recently got a great offer to blog for Chicago Now, a platform for Chicago bloggers to share their thoughts, finds, and posts. My focus will be on Chicago fitness opportunities, unique running routes, Chicago races, and other healthy lifestyle options for Chicagoans.
What does this mean for Eri-thon? It means that most of my posts will now be over at my Chicago Now blog. You can also like Eri-thon on Facebook for updates. There’s also the option to subscribe to my Chicago Now blog via email so you’ll get an email every time I put up a new post.
I’ve been blogging here since January 2009 and I love every single comment I’ve gotten, every single person I’ve met through my blog, and all the encouragement you’ve given me. So I’m hoping you don’t mind that my URL is changing a bit.
So, follow me over to Chicago Now and stay up-to-date with me as I explore what Chicago has to offer.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
Things I discovered last week while working out:
1. How difficult it is to run an additional half mile after running 5.5 and then sitting on a train for 40 minutes.
Monday night I did 5.5 miles with my running club then ran home from the train station so I ended up with a total of just over 6 miles for the night. But, ugh, let me tell you how difficult it is to run an extra half mile after sitting on a train for 40 minutes. Embarrassingly difficult, actually.
2. The ease of grabbing a strength workout from a pile of options.
Tuesday I went down to the gym in my building and did some of my PT exercises and then did a strength workout. I have a whole stack of workouts that I’ve built up by now so I just grab a paper out of the stack and do that one. Easy.
3. That sometimes you DO regret a workout.
On Wednesday I was going to ride the upright stationary bike in my building’s gym but one of the pedals was broken. Okay, irritating, but I’ll just switch to the recumbent bike. Except for some reason the screen on that one wasn’t working so I had no way to adjust the resistance. Still, I pedaled half-heartedly for the length of an episode of Supernatural on my iPhone via Netflix. One of those workouts that left me more grumpy than refreshed.
4. An idea for a weekend outing!
Thursday morning I met up with Emily for another 5ish mile run before starting the rest of my day. While running we discovered the Festa Italiana was starting that evening! I took advantage of this festival of food and drink on Saturday afternoon and it was wonderful. I highly recommend this neighborhood festival to my fellow Chicagoans!
5. Friday afternoons are busy gym times.
At least, the gym in our building seems to get busy on Fridays! Jason and I went down there on Friday when I got home from work and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to get in my entire workout because someone was using the equipment I needed! This is a new phenomenon. Thankfully he finished and I was able to do the YTWL exercise. Try it. It will seriously challenge your shoulders and upper back.
I thought the highlight of my Saturday morning run was going to be the cool weather. And then I thought it was going to be that I ran past a Harry Potter convention playing Quidditch. But the biggest highlight was running to Emily on the lakefront path! We ended up running together and, in the end, I ran 9.75 miles which is the most I’ve run since December 2011. What a great morning!
7. That it’s okay to skip exercises even if they’re on the list.
On Sunday I grabbed a workout from the stack and went down to the gym. I did my PT exercises and then started in on my workout. But after doing the squat and push-press exercise with the barbell I realized my right wrist was bothering me. So, I skipped the push-ups portion of my workout. I also swapped out the step-ups for some more PT exercises. It feels pretty good to know my body and when I should and shouldn’t push it. Doesn’t mean I always listen, but I try.
Monday, August 6, 2012
When I last left you I had spent my workout hours biking instead of running.
Well, on Thursday I got in a run. An almost 5 mile run. Before work.
Yeah, that is NOT my standard M.O.
But Emily and I agreed to meet up before work to get in some miles.
So, at 6:00 AM we started out on what was originally going to be a 3 or 3.5 mile run. But I think we just were enjoying ourselves so much that we extended it to almost 5!
The only time I can get up and run that early is if A. there’s a race or B. I’m meeting someone. Otherwise it’s practically impossible to get myself up and out the door before work.
I hope I can run before work with Emily more often. It was really nice to have my workout out of the way. Even if I was pretty tired by the end of the day.
And speaking of getting up early to run with friends, Kim and I ran together on Saturday morning. We did 8 miles. This is currently my 2012 distance record! We were in Guttenberg, Iowa to play on the river. But first we wanted to get in our run. So, at 6:30 AM we stepped outside into cooler temps than I’d felt in a while.
Our run went really well and I didn’t feel sore during or after. And post-run there were drinks.
Although, after trying 9 different kinds of bloody marys I have decided I’m not a fan. Chocolate covered cake balls, though? Those I like. They make a pretty good bloody mary chaser.
So while it was a pretty good day for running (and drinking) it wasn’t that great for playing in the water. Luckily the rain that showed up post-party went away and we managed to get to the beach for a bit.
Originally I wasn’t too gung-ho on the whole beach thing because it wasn’t that hot outside. But then someone said there was a slide set-up on the beach. Now THAT sounds like fun.
We then proceeded to spend the rest of our beach time in the water since the river was warmer than the air temperature!
This week I’m going to focus on getting in three runs and more strength sessions than I have been doing lately. And doing my PT exercises. Can’t forget about those!
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Okay, maybe not 500 miles. But how about 126?
Yes, between Sunday morning and Tuesday evening I rode a bike 126 miles. I did 61 miles on Sunday and 65 miles on Tuesday.
Have I gone crazy? Nope, I just like seeing what I can do.
Sunday was the first ever Illinois Venus de Miles bike ride. I had SO MUCH FUN!
I hung with Kelly and MacKenna for most of the ride and while both my Garmin and my bike computer tell me I averaged about 14.5 MPH, I think that must be because of slowing down for stop lights and rest stops. Because every time I looked at my bike computer I was doing better than 16 MPH and even managed 20 MPH for some decent stretches.
Unless I was going up a hill. Dang, hills are hard. But flying on the downhills? My favorite part. Especially when I hit 30 MPH. At one point I shouted, “I’m going faster than the speed limit!” The speed limit was 25, by the way.
The rest stops were well stocked with all sort of yummy food. And there were a lot of rest stops. Every 10-15 miles or so. Perfect. I’m still figuring out what and when to eat when I’m riding my bike. Eating little bits of things every so often seemed to do the trick and I felt strong the entire ride.
The course was gorgeous. Full of trees and back roads and mansions.
I could have done with fewer traffic lights but the scenery mostly made up for it. There was only one spot where we missed a turn and ended up on a really busy street, but there were enough of us that I didn’t feel too unsafe.
I admit, I was a little hesitant to sign up for this ride because of my experience with how crowded the L.A.T.E. Ride was. Another “leisure” ride? No, thanks. But this wasn’t that way at all. We had plenty of space and I was able to go as fast or as slow as I wanted.
When I turned the final corner I was actually a bit sad to be finished. But, a wonderful post-ride party awaited. A taco bar? Free cocktails, wine and beer? Gourmet ice cream sandwiches?
Yes, please! And, just like the course, it wasn’t too crowded. Well, actually, there was a line for the free facials and mani-pedis but that was it. I highly recommend this event and can’t wait for next year!
So, that was the first 61 miles. Tuesday I borrowed a mountain bike from a member of my running club and joined Kim for her birthday gift to herself: riding the entire Lake County Des Plaines River Trail. 31ish miles from the Wisconsin border to the border of Lake County and Cook County. All crushed limestone. And hilly.
We rode the first 31 miles (plus a bit more) and then stopped for lunch at Red Robin. The second 31 miles was a lot tougher. My right knee was sore and my lady bits were REALLY tired of being on a bike seat. Still we persevered and finished the entire ride.
However, I think I need to take a break from the bike for a bit to let certain parts of my anatomy recover. Good thing I won an entry to the Chicago Half Marathon! That will give me something to do!
Friday, July 27, 2012
Or is it irony? I admit, I’m not always clear on the definitions.
Regardless, here’s why it’s on my mind.
After reading lots of race reports and blogs about running and racing in the heat, I noticed a theme: nausea. Many runners report feeling nauseous when running in hot weather.
Ha! I thought. That never happens to me! Except at the finish line of races when I’m pushing it really hard.
Well, I’m sure you know where this is going.
I ran on Monday night when it was in the mid-90s and incredibly humid. Seriously, it felt totally disgusting outside.
I have no idea how fast we were running because my Garmin didn’t get a signal until a mile into our run and even then I’m a little suspect of its results. I thought we were definitely running significantly under 10:00 minute miles although, perhaps in the heat, it just felt like it.
I managed 4 miles with my legs slowly feeling like lead. And, strangely enough, even though I was sweating like crazy and taking sips of water from my water bottle, I still had to stop and pee at mile 4!
The last 1.5 miles felt like a death march. And we when had to stop at a red light at an intersection a quarter mile from the finish I had to double over and put my hands on my knees to calm down my stomach.
Yep, I felt nauseous. I was so happy that run was over.
I ran again on Thursday evening and just did 30 minutes around some nearby neighborhoods. I explored some new streets and found a park with a statute of Christopher Columbus.
I ran through Little Italy and mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon. I discovered a no-man’s land of empty lots and boarded up buildings somewhere in mile 2 which subsequently led to that mile being my fastest (sub 9:00!).
I was dripping sweat and was hopeful that the sprinkle of rain would turn into a full-fledged downpour. No such luck. Instead I took a quick shower when I got home hoping to cool off. It kind of worked.
Last year I would have thought a 30 minute run wasn’t worth my time. Now I know better. All runs don’t need to be long to be useful.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
This past week I was on vacation in South Haven, Michigan. If you haven’t been to any of the towns in southwest Michigan along the lake you are definitely missing out. Normally when we go there we stay a little further north near Grand Haven. But this time we enjoyed a house on the water that was awesomely enough also near some fun trails!
The Van Buren Trail, a 14 mile long “unimproved” trail, was about 1 mile from where we were staying. And just what does unimproved mean? Well, as you can see from the photos, it’s not paved or covered in crushed limestone. Basically, they mow the grass. There are some tracks from vehicles but basically you’re running on grass and dirt. Considering I normally run on asphalt or crushed limestone, this was a fun experience for me!
I only did about 2 miles on the trail itself. Considering it was mid-morning, the sun was out, and the trail isn’t very shaded I thought I did pretty well running almost 5 miles total.
Jason and I did a 2 mile run/walk together one day and explored the main road we were staying just off of. It’s definitely a rural area but basically that means country roads with very little traffic. Something I miss when it comes to running or biking in the city!
And speaking of biking, my mom and I rented bikes and explored another trail in South Haven, the Kal Haven Trail. This trail is 33.5 miles long and runs from South Haven to Kalamzoo, Michigan. It’s mostly crushed limestone and varies from wooded areas to open fields (at least on the parts we rode on). Since it’s a rail-to-trail trail it’s also nice and flat !
We did about 6 miles on the trail and then rode around downtown South Haven for a bit.
On my last full day of vacation I hit the Van Buren Trail one more time in the opposite direction. I discovered a fork in the trail with a sign that indicated you could get to the Van Buren State Park. I headed down that way but didn’t make it to the park. And, now, looking at the map, this part of the trail isn’t even labeled.
The highlighted route is the one I took
Regardless, even though it wasn’t a super long run (just under 4 miles) it was really fun to explore. I took a slightly different route on the way back and ran some more country roads.
And when I wasn’t exploring? I was laying on the beach, watching the sunset, or trying my hand at kayaking. Oh, I also attempted stand-up paddleboarding (being demonstrated by my nephew in the photo below). How did I do? Well, I learned my sense of balance isn’t as good as I thought.
Overall it was a lovely vacation and I got in a great mix of active and inactive outings. I’m really looking forward to going back next year and exploring some more!
Monday, July 9, 2012
I stopped writing my Weekly Workout Wround Up posts after the Las Vegas Marathon last December. At the time I was in a little bit of a funk and probably a bit depressed. Post-marathon blues and injury aggravations didn’t trend toward wanting to keep track of my (lack of) physical activity week to week.
But I feel like I need to document this past week.
Monday night I ran 5.5 miles with my running club. It was slow and I walked some due to the heat, but I got out there.
Tuesday I strength trained.
Wednesday I ran a race.
Thursday I did some more strength training. I also did some Tabata intervals on the stationary bike and then did a mile on the treadmill in my minimalist shoes. I didn’t do the whole mile straight, though. I’d walk a quarter mile and then run a quarter mile. My calves could really feel it during the run!
Friday I swam some laps.
Saturday, though. Oh, Saturday. I went on possibly the most fun bike ride I’ve ever done. Kim did an AWESOME write-up so I won’t reinvent the wheel and instead just tell you to go read her post. Long story short: we rode from Libertyville, IL to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, wandered around the gardens for 3 hours (I’d never been there before), and then rode back to Libertyville.
Total distance? 41 miles. This wasn’t a speed run. It was a fun, exploration ride. One of the things I love about the bike is that you don’t really care if you get a little lost. Sometimes getting turned around leads you to some neat discoveries.
Like this beautiful view of Lake Michigan.
And then on Sunday I met up with Emily for our first run together! She showed me her usual 6ish mile route and we chatted while running past the United Center (home of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks), through UIC, and around our neighborhood. It was a good time and I’m looking forward to running with her more.
So my week consisted of three runs, two strength training sessions, one bike ride, and one swimming workout.
Which means I worked out seven days in a row. But, balanced workouts.
One of my goals this year was to do something active every day that I can. I think this past week definitely lived up to that goal!
Friday, July 6, 2012
For the past few Fridays I’ve been going to the gym to do 30 minutes of lap swimming. I have a feeling only about 15 of that is actual swimming but as of last week I was resting less and moving more. I only go on Fridays because I get off work at 3:00 PM and I’ve discovered that there are almost always empty lanes by the time I get in the pool around 4:00.
Prior to today I’ve been coming home from work, jumping on my bike, and riding to the gym. I realized this was silly, though, because the gym is on the way home from work. So, today I decided I would take the bus from my office to the gym and then from the gym home. It’s a total of 3 miles. 1.5 from my office to the gym and 1.5 from the gym to my apartment.
So, I left work, walked to the bus stop, and waited. I saw the bus I wanted coming so I got out my bus pass and stood at the curb. The bus stopped a little further down the street than I was standing and let its passengers off, and closed the bus door. I walked down the street, up to the bus door, and the driver totally ignored me. Okay, I thought. Maybe (s)he’s going to pull up closer to the actual stop. I walked back up to the stop and the bus drove right on past.
Um. Okay. I guess I’ll walk?
The 1.5 miles to the gym weren’t bad even though the air temperature is near 100. Stay in the shade downtown and it’s tolerable.
I got an empty lane in the pool and started my workout.
10 minutes with the kickboard to work on my breathing. Still haven’t figured out how to exhale underwater and not get water bubbles up my nose or feel like I’m gasping for air when I turn my head for a breath.
10 minutes with the pull buoy. Or, at least, that’s what I usually do. Today I felt weak and flailing after about 5 so I switched to the backstroke.
10 minutes of freestyle swimming. Except I felt exhausted, bored, and frustrated after about 5 minutes so I called it quits. I just can’t find my groove with swimming. I know I won’t be great out of the gate, but it just feels so much more difficult than running or biking.
Anyway, I went back to the locker room, showered, changed, and decided to walk home. I mean, I already walked there, I could certainly handle another 1.5 miles.
Except, since I have ZERO sense of direction, I walked the wrong way for who knows how long until I realized I was actually going east instead of west. Dammit.
35 incredibly sunny and sweaty minutes later, I made it home.
Some days just aren’t the day, you know? But I’ll just keep swimming. Both literally and metaphorically.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
For the third year in a row I joined my running club at the Four on the Fourth four mile race in Elmhurst, IL. This race has become an annual club event where we race and then pig out on goodies brought by the club members potluck-style.
This year? This year I had no real goals. Wednesday morning, July 4th, dawned super hot and humid and ended up tying a 1911 temperature for the hottest Chicago area Fourth of July on record by the end of the day. We hit 102oF Wednesday afternoon.
So, really, my main goal was to survive! I wanted to run the whole thing without walking (I decided to walk some during my 5.5 mile Monday night run which was also done in some crazy heat), try to average 9:00 minute miles, and hopefully have even or negative splits.
Actually, my goal for this race is always to have negative splits, but since there’s some decent hills I don’t always manage to do it.
I wore my headphones, something I haven’t done in a race in a long time. I don’t know if they helped or not but I didn’t mind trying to take my mind off the heat and the fact that I haven’t be training for racing at all.
Still, when the gun went off I settled into what felt like a nice pace. I tried not to look at my Garmin and just run by feel. Of course, I snuck a look here and there and it always showed me as hovering just around 9:00 minutes per mile. Perfect.
The hill up to the finish line
The first two miles of this race aren’t bad. More downhill, good distractions of seeing your friends and “teammates” running in the opposite direction on the out-and-back part of the course. But once you turn around at mile 2 and start to head back, you’ve got to fight off the demons that tell you that all those hills you went down? You have to go back up. Those miles you just ran to get here? You have to cover them again.
Mile four of this race may be my least favorite mile of all time,
I grabbed water at the aid station, drank some, splashed some on myself, and kept going. The Garmin still showed I was on pace at around 9:00 so I decided not to push it. Could I have dug deeper? Sure. But why?
I saw my friend John near the finish line with his camera and made a beeline for him. He joked later that I’m good and knowing when to get out from behind other runners so I can get my picture taken. The benefits to not being as concerned about your time, right?
I crossed the finish line and immediately sweat began to roll down my bare skin. Another club member who wasn’t running asked me, “Did you pour water on yourself?”
Um, no. This is all natural sweat, thank you very much.
It was hot out.
This race has a table at the finish line where you can punch your bib number into a machine and it will print out your finish time for you. You don’t even have to wait to get home to look it up online! But I didn’t bother. I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest time and I’d already met most of my goals. Now it was time for watching the kid’s 1K run, stuffing my face with fruit and baked goods, chugging a Gatorade, and hanging out with my club members.
But, for posterity’s sake, I did look up my time online later. Official finish time? 36:02. My splits weren’t too bad according to my Garmin. They were 8:56, 8:46, 8:59 and 9:09.
See, I told you I hate that last mile.
But I don’t hate this race. I love hanging out with so many club members I don’t always get to see. I love the downhome feel of this race. I love that it’s a great way to spend the first part of a holiday. And I love that even if I’m not hitting a PR, I can still have a good time.
P.S. Thanks to John and Robert for the photos!
Monday, July 2, 2012
Have you heard of the Friends of the Park’s L.A.T.E. Ride? It’s been taking place in Chicago for almost 25 years.
Up to 9,000 cyclists meet up at Buckingham Fountain at midnight and ride 25 miles through the City of Chicago. The goal? Get back to Buckingham Fountain before dawn so you can watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan.
I was able to convince Jason to join me since this was a leisure ride event and not a race. Take it slow, I said. Don’t worry about pace, I said.
So, we taped flashlights and headlamps to our bikes, strapped on our helmets and rode over to the Fountain. A little after 1:15 AM we started on our ride.
In addition to the ride there are best lit bike and best decorated helmet contests and this year there was a costume parade. We didn’t get to the Fountain in time for those but we did get to see a lot of craziness out on the roads.
Photo from Facebook
Like the Blues Brothers. And people with radios attached to their bikes. And lots and lots of glow sticks, flashing LEDs, and even one woman who turned her helmet into a bird’s nest….complete with actual, live birds.
By the way, it’s really hard to take photos while riding your bike. Especially when you’re biking in a crowd. And that’s how you spend most of the ride. In a crowd. You also are expected to stop at right lights if the intersection isn’t being monitored by police. This makes for some harrowing moments sometimes. I got more comfortable riding in a crowd after awhile but for the first few miles I wasn’t particularly thrilled.
I was perfectly content to ride along at a leisurely pace and enjoy seeing parts of Chicago I’d never seen before. We rode through Chinatown (which still smelled of Chinese food at 2:00 AM), we rode through Greektown and Logan Square and entertained all the drunks standing outside the bars. We rode through Humboldt Park which, unbeknownst to me, is bordered by two sculptures of the Puerto Rican flag.
Jason, on the other hand, doesn’t have the bike butt callous that I do (nor does he own padded bike shorts) so he started to speed up and weave in and out of people in order to “get this thing over with.”
That made me sad.
So, I let him go ahead and I puttered along. We met back up at the rest stop at the halfway point where we chowed down on some bananas and Clif bars and remarked at how much the scene reminded us of Ragnar…just with more bikes. Jason assured me he was having fun, but that he just wanted to ride faster. No sense of adventure or exploration, that one.
Anyway, we stuck together for a few miles after that but then Jason pulled ahead and I tried to keep up. I was trying to ride a little more aggressively but we passed the aftermath of a scary scene involving a participant and a car and it shook me up a bit. So, I only sped up when I could find a good, clear space among the bikes.
When we reached the lakefront path I was able to up my speed and enjoy riding without having to dodge pedestrians. In fact, if I didn’t love sleep so much, I would come ride the lakefront path at night more often! I was having a blast during this part!
In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t realize I actually passed Jason who was waiting for me. We stayed together for the last few miles.
26 miles, just over 4 hours. Our reward?
And watching the sun rise.
Jason took a short nap while we waited for the sun
Post-sunrise we hopped back on our bikes, rode the 1.5 miles home, showered, and collapsed into bed a little after 6:00 AM. We did it. We stayed up all night and rode almost 30 miles total.
I don’t think I’ve ever stayed up all night, including at Ragnar. I knew I could ride the distance so the challenge for me was doing it on no sleep.
Amazingly, being surrounded by other people kept me going. Well, that and I knew if I fell asleep I’d fall off my bike!
This event certainly was an adventure. It was more crowded and more leisurely than I thought it would be (lots of people stop at 24 hour restaurants along the way) but it was definitely a unique way to see the city and feel like, as cyclists, we owned the road.
Would I do it again? That’s a good question. I think if I was with a group of people who had a more adventurous spirit it could make for quite the party atmosphere. Lighting up our bikes, playing music, laughing, stopping to check out interesting things along the way.
Still, I have a feeling there might be other events out there that are more my cup of tea. But I’m glad I did this one and I would definitely recommend it as something you should try at least once! At the very least, it gives you a reason to be standing on the lakeshore watching the sunrise.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Last Thursday I was riding my bike home from work and my ART appointment when I looked over the side of a bridge and saw what looked like a lovely park.
When I got home I looked on Google maps and realized I was riding right over the Ping Tom Memorial Park. I’d recently read about it in the Chicago Tribune but I had no idea where it was. Until now.
Some quick calculations and I realized I could do an easy 5 mile run there and back from my apartment. So, on Friday morning I headed out my front door with Ping Tom Park as my goal.
After several days of temperatures in the 90s the cooler morning air felt wonderful. Running came easy even though I hadn’t been out on my feet like that in over a week.
Sure, I had to stop at some intersections and sure my Garmin wouldn’t find a signal for what felt like forever, but I had a goal and I was running and I loved it.
The park is set behind a housing complex in a rather industrial area of the city. Unfortunately when I was running they were picking up trash from the apartment buildings to every so often you’d get a whiff of something unpleasant. But the park was filled with people sitting in the sun, doing Tai Chi in the shade, or just walking along the paths.
I didn’t have a much time as I wanted to explore so I’ll definitely be back. It was an easy run from my apartment (although not the most scenic) and the park has a drinking fountain for that mid-run refreshment.
And the other best part? My hip felt perfectly fine afterward. Maybe all this PT and ART is finally doing something.