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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Quiet Week

I'm having one of those weeks where I just can't quite seem to fit in a workout. So here's a few bullet points so you don't forget I exist!

1. Do you miss seeing my face or reading my lovely prose? Well, never fear! You can check me out over here! That's my "fashion" blog. Really, it's just me showing you what I wear to work in the hopes I can give you some useful ideas. If you own clothes that you aren't sure what to do with, please go check it out and/or like it on Facebook! I post there every day even when I'm not posting here.

2. I rode my bike last night after dinner for 55 minutes and averaged 17 MPH. I usually don't work out after dinner but my husband and I made a pact. I rode my bike on the trainer while he lifted weights. By the way, my butt is STILL sore from Sunday's bike ride.

3. A part of me really, really wants to try swimming laps before work but the other part of me can't quite bring myself to do it. My current excuse is that I don't have a swim cap. But, truly, the reason that I can't get myself to the pool is that I'm scared. I'm scared of not knowing the "rules. Not knowing the culture and etiquette. Being the new kid on the block who gets in everyone's way. I don't know how to "circle swim". I don't want to share a lane with someone and slow them down.

Also, I hate mornings.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A New Balance




Last night I could barley keep my head up on the train home.  The woman next to must have felt the same way because I’m pretty sure she was asleep. 

Anyway, I really thought about skipping running group.  I’m not training for anything and I haven’t been running very much anyway.  But, I recalled that every other time I’ve felt exhausted after work a run perks me right back up.

This time was no exception.  The New Balance rep was at the store and I tried out some New Balance 860s.  In the past I never would have tried shoes because I’d be too worried about getting injured.  However, now that I’m still kind of injured I figure why not?

Plus, running in the trial shoes gets you entry into raffles.  I like raffles.

The shoes felt kind of like Brooks Adrenalines (which I used to wear) but with a wider toe-box.  Actually they fit really nicely.  Just not quite enough support for me.  Sad. 

Also sad?  I forgot my Garmin!!  Argh. I hate when I do that.  So, I ran “naked”.  Actually, I was running with a few people who were wearing Garmins so I had a general idea of how fast we were going.  Somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 minutes miles, I believe. 

Actually, my run felt really strong.  I was pushing it but I didn’t feel too out of breath.  Nothing hurt and I could have easily kept going.  I guess I didn’t lose as much fitness as I thought!  Or, perhaps, it was because the weather got colder again and I was a tad bit underdressed.

My leg feels pretty good today, too.  It doesn’t love sitting at my desk for long periods of time so I just went for a walk (read: shopping) at lunch. 

The other awesome thing about last night’s run?  Remember that raffle I mentioned?  I won something!


An adorable pink and purple new balance tech shirt!  And it’s a women’s extra small so it should actually fit!  I’m more excited about winning this than I would have been about winning a pair of shoes.  Looking forward to breaking it in soon. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Multi-talented Weekend


From here

I had a busy weekend!  I didn’t manage to make it to the pool but I did run AND bike! 

Saturday morning started out early with a Chicago Running Blogger Meetup at “The Bean” in downtown Chicago.  Thankfully I was able to stop by my office and drop off my stuff before meeting Kim, Katie, and Bobbi and walking over to The Bean to meet up with Maggie, Kelly, and Rachael.



Bloggers taking pictures.  That’s what we do.


And, yes, we color coordinated on purpose. 

We ran out to Oak Street Beach and then back to Navy Pier for a round trip of just over 3 miles.  We took it nice and easy and mostly just chatted. 


After our run we met up with a few other bloggers at the Shamrock Shuffle Expo and explored the wares.  To be honest, I’d never gone to an expo for a race I wasn’t running and this month I’ve gone to two! (Kim and I went to the NYC Half Marathon expo when we were there)

Sadly, I had to take off early to get Jason to the airport for a trip.  So, I left before lunch and booked it back to my office to pick up my stuff and catch the train.  And when I say booked it, I mean it.  I didn’t really budget enough time and had less than 20 minutes to run 2 miles.  It’s been a while since I pushed the pace like that but I still managed to bust out two sub-9:00 miles.  Woo hoo!  These legs still have some speed in them yet. 

Of course, that basically wiped me out for the rest of the day and I ended up taking a two hour nap.  Oops.

Sunday, though, I was recovered enough to ask Kim if she wanted to go for a bike ride.  She had a 12 mile run on her own schedule but still agreed to bike a huge chunk of the Millennium Trail.  I biked with Kim for the last 4 miles of her run and then we did a 26 mile ride on the trail for a total of just over 30 miles of riding for me.


By the way, I’m SO glad I ordered new bike shorts. 


The padding in my current tri-shorts is pretty shot.  I’m a little sore today.  Of course, some of that may be because I was riding my road bike on crushed limestone which is like driving a car with no shock absorbers on a cobblestone road.  Oh, and there were hills.  Major hills.  My glutes and quads were shredded when we got done.

All in all, it was a great weekend workout-wise.  It was really fun hanging with new people and getting outside on my bike for the first time this year.  I’m looking forward to more blogger runs and more biking! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three Things Thursday

My workout last night consisted of three separate parts. Perfect for a Three Things Thursday post!

Part 1

I've done this routine once before. That time it felt challenging but not killer. Last night, however, I could barely make it through one full set! So, I just did the one set and moved on to...

Part 2

I only did this routine one time through, as well.

Part 3

Since I was working out on my back deck I didn't feel like hauling the stability ball outside (nevermind that I brought my yoga mat and my handweights out there). So I just did my crunches on the floor. I did two sets of each move and my abs were burning by the end.

So, three short workouts that worked my entire body. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday Two Day

Monday was a day full of workouts! After my weight lifting session on Sunday afternoon my upper body was a little bit sore but I still had a weight class to lead over lunch.

One other coworker and I did what I'm calling the "Top to Bottom Workout" that ended up working some of the same muscles I worked on Sunday. Rookie mistake. Still, it's been awhile since I've been sore from a workout and I kind of missed the feeling.

Bridge w/Dumbbell Press
Pilates Roll-Up
Dumbbell Chest Fly
Shoulder Fly
Reverse Fly
One Legged Dumbbell Deadlift
Side Lying Leg Lifts

Let's just say my rear deltoids and my shoulders were pretty tired by the end!

And then, when I got home, I went running! Yes, running! I did 5.5 miles at a 10 minute per mile pace with my running group. It was also a Mizuno Fun Run night so I tried out a pair of the Mizuno Wave Inspire. They reminded me of my old Brooks Adrenalines. Not something I could wear every day any more but they were a nice change from my usual Asics Gel Foundations. Much lighter, anyway.

The run felt pretty good. I could tell I'm still not in great shape but the fact that I'm still able to run 5.5 miles is encouraging. And it wasn't too painful afterward. I stretched and today I'm a little sore in the same spot I was sore in on Friday after running but it appears running isn't making anything worse.

I was flying pretty high by the end of the day. I don't think I'll be back up to 20 and 30 mile weeks any time soon, but it's nice to be able to go for a run when I want.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New York, New York

photo 1

On Wednesday I flew to New York City to meet up with Kim who was already out there for work. We were only there for a few days but we packed in as much as we could. Kim wore her Garmin on our all outings and we walked at least 4 to 5 miles every day.

But on Friday morning we dragged ourselves out of bed early after a late night on Broadway and took the subway to Central Park.

photo 2

Hip injury be damned! I wanted to run in Central Park! As we were leaving the hotel another woman on the elevator looked at us in our running clothes and said, "Uh, you know it's raining, right?" Kim replied with "Cool."

Well, the weather certainly was cool! I was chilled during our entire one-mile warm-up walk. Thankfully Kim had an extra pair of gloves she let me borrow and taking in the sights of Central Park kept me distracted.

Finally, after walking for a mile, we started running. My hip actually felt pretty good although it took a bit for my left glute to start loosening up. Also, I could tell that I wasn't in the best running shape. But, even though we had several opportunities to cut the run short, I wanted to keep going.

I kind of regretted that decision when we had to tackle "Harlem Hill" which just keeps going and going around curves so you have no idea when it's going to end. But we kept up a pretty good pace and the run got easier after that.

Central Park is so beautiful. I wondered if I would get tired of running there day after day if I lived in NYC. We only ran the outer loop, though, so I'd like to believe I could make up different routes that would keep me interested. I'd love to spend more time exploring the Park in the future.

I was actually a little sad when our run came to an end! It was one of those runs where it took me 5 miles to really feel warmed up and get into a groove. But, we had places to be. Still, although my left illipsoas area felt sore afterward I felt good otherwise.

And I especially felt good after a chai latte and a New York bagel.


I'm so grateful I was able to run with Kim again and especially in such a great place. I'm still not 100% in terms of running but sometimes you can't can't pass up a run. Or a bagel.

Central Park Warm-Up Walk by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Central Park Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Best of Both Worlds

outside_strength_training 001

Like all the other Chicago bloggers, I’m going to talk about the weather.

In a word, it’s amazing.

Well, okay, it’s a little warm for running but since I wanted to strength train that was okay with me.

At first I was planning to go to the gym to lift some weights.  But it felt like a waste of a beautiful day to spend it inside.  Especially since I’d already spent the entire morning inside purging and packing.

So, instead, I took my mat and my weights outside to do my full body workout

outside_strength_training 002

Bridge w/Chest Fly


I did the routine three times but swapped out the rope climber crunches for Pilates roll-ups and the bridge with chest fly for bridge with chest press on the last round. 

outside_strength_training 003Cuban Shoulder Press

I LOVED lifting weights outside.  Going through the routine three times took me about an hour and it was the perfect way to enjoy this weather. 

And what will I do when I no longer have a yard in a few months?  Well, I’ll just take my stuff up to the roof.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to lift weights with this as their view?


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Full Scoop

Attendance at my lunch time strength classes has been dwindling (especially on Thursdays) but that doesn't mean I'm slacking myself! Nope, I'm still diligently putting together workouts. Sometimes I have the chance to try them out in advance and sometimes I don't. Either way, it's fun!

For this week's workout I wanted to focus on abs but not neglect the compound moves that I love so much. By combining several workouts I ended up with this:

Pin It

We only went through it once in class but you could definitely feel the burn in the abs!

In case you're a visual learner, here are some links to the moves:
Chest Fly with Bridge
Rope Climber Crunches

Cuban Shoulder Press

V-Sit with Twist

Bent Over Dumbbell Row
Reverse Crunch
Bicep Curls with Lunge
Side Plank
Squat w/Tricep Extension
Forearm Plank

I'm especially into dumbbell based workouts right now because, well, in about two months I'm planning to give up my gym membership.

Why, you ask?

Because in two months I'm moving to an apartment building that has its own gym!

This is not the gym. This is just a tribute

The gym isn't huge but it has some cardio equipment and some dumbbells, which are key. It's going to be an adjustment (and I'd better get my swimming practice in sooner rather than later!) but it's one I'm looking forward to.

Our new place will be approximately 15 minutes from my office meaning my commute will be 30 minutes shorter. Meaning more time to workout! And it's still close enough to where we live now that I can hop on the train or grab my car and make it back in time for group runs with my running club.

In the mean time, in between coming up with new body weight and dumbbell based strength training workouts I'll be getting in lots of cross-training in the form of packing. Ugh. Packing. It will all be worth it, though!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not So Easy

This bronchitis or cold or flu or whatever the heck I have really wiped me out last week. Other than my Monday workouts and my swim lesson on Wednesday I basically did nothing. When my PT session on Friday left me gasping for air I knew I needed a slight break.

But when Sunday afternoon came around I was feeling restless. The weather was amazing and I wanted to take advantage of it. First I thought I'd ride my bike outside for the first time in months. But then I thought, no, you know what? I want to run. I want to lace up my shoes and give it a shot.

So, I did.

I did a loop around my neighborhood as a 1.5 mile warm-up walk, stopped at my house to drop off my sweatshirt, and then set off on another lap, this one running.

The first 1.5 mile run felt pretty good. I could feel some tightness and soreness in my hip but nothing too bad. In fact, I had to keep reminding myself to slow down!

I stopped at my house again for some water since it was much warmer outside than I had anticipated.

The second 1.5 mile loop, though, took its toll. I could feel myself fatiguing and my hip started to hurt more. I finished that loop and debated calling it a day but then I decided to do one more loop as a cool-down walk.

Probably not the best idea I ever had. I could feel myself starting to limp and when I got home and stretched I practically burst into tears. I foam rolled, I stretched, and even in bed last night I was laying on a tennis ball trying to loosen up my hip.

To be honest, it felt worse last night than it did after either of my marathons. My leg feels better today, though, and it will be interesting to see if my PT appointment tonight finds any tightness.

But, while I was running without pain it felt pretty nice to be out there. I'll just have to remember to take it easier next time.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Running Results

Well, I ran on Monday night. And I'm still alive. And my left leg hasn't fallen off. I suppose that's success!

I was honestly debating whether or not to go because mid-afternoon on Monday I started to get a headache and feel a little bit "off". But I've felt that way in the past and a run has made me feel better so off I went.

Actually, first I walked the 1.5 miles to where my running group meets. The sports medicine doctor told I was supposed to do a one mile warm-up walk and I figured this would be more than sufficient. I'm a pretty good power walker thanks to many a time spent power walking with my mom.

Walk to OPRC by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

I did some of my stretches once I arrived at the running store and then set out for an easy three miles. One of the guys from the club I don't usually run with and I did the three miles together and chatted about skiing, both downhill and cross-country. He made me want to try cross-country skiing!

I noticed my hip and leg were a little sore when we would stop for intersections but it was hard to tell if that was because I just hadn't used them this way in a while or if they really weren't ready for prime time. We weren't going fast but I could definitely tell I wasn't in the same shape as I was at the end of 2011. But, hey, I'm still able to run three miles!

After the run my left leg needed a lot of stretching and massaging. However, now, a few days later, it feels fine! Unfortunately, I've been hit with whatever illness is going around and have been alternating hacking up a lung, dealing with throbbing sinus pressure, and monitoring my temperature every 10 minutes. Hence, no more running since Monday night.

But, I pushed my luck and Wednesday night I attended the swim lesson I won from Maggie's giveaway!

Swimming makes you look kind of scary

Coach Judie was amazing! I learned more in the 30 minutes I had with her than I did in the six weeks I took swim lessons a few years ago. I feel much more comfortable in the pool now even though we didn't get through all the fundamentals of the freestyle stroke. I'm looking forward to making time to get the pool and try out the drills she gave me!

For now, though, I'm going to continue hacking up a lung, slamming Dayquil and resting. I think my body might need it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Workouts

I was able to squeeze in two more trips to the gym in the condo where we were staying this weekend. Friday morning I got up and pedaled (slowly) on the stationary bike while watching an episode of Ghost Whisperer on my iPhone via Netflix. Yes, I know. I'm years behind in my cheesy television dramas. What I can I say. I don't like the current trend of reality television.

I've had this conversation before with people about how you're really not supposed to watch tv while using a cardio machine other than a treadmill. I'm living proof. I work way hard when I'm listening to music versus watching tv. Do you find that music versus television makes a difference in how you perform a task?

Anyway, I only had enough time to get in 30 minutes.

Saturday was a day of crazy absurdities that meant I left my house at 6:30 AM and didn't get home for good until 6:30 PM. Needless to say, by the time I was home I was brain dead and exhausted and there was no way I was working out.

So, Sunday I went down to the gym for one last trip and did Tabata intervals on the bike and then followed that up with this workout:

This is a KILLER workout but it only takes 30 minutes. I highly recommend this one. In fact, I recommend it so much that I used it with my lunch time strength training workout with my coworkers today. They seemed to agree it was a butt kicker.

I have grand plans to try running tonight (just an easy 3 mile attempt) but for some reason right now I'm not feeling too good. Fingers crossed this headache and exhaustion are just an afternoon slump!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Exciting News

1. I had another employee join my lunch time strength training class and she can actually do push-ups! Hooray! Now, the challenge is to find exercises that will challenge her but not be too hard for everyone else. We did side planks today. Thirty seconds was a bit too much for some people.

1A Bird Dog (10 reps, alternate sides)
1B Roll Up (10 reps)

2A Walking Lunge w/twist
2B One arm dumbbell row (10 each side)
2C Crunch & hold (10)

Side steps with resistance band

Front Plank (30 sec)
Left side plank (30 sec)
Right side plank (30 sec)

Push Ups – Week 1, Day 2 of hundredpushups.com

2. I decided that in my on-going goal to do things that I love, I started a fashion blog called Loop Looks!

My goal for this blog is to give other woman a chance to see real-life outfits from someone who has to commute in all four seasons, can only wear jeans to work on Fridays, and who is working with a limited clothing budget.

Please check it out and share it with your friends!

3. But the most exciting news I've gotten all day? The sports medicine doctor I'm seeing told me I can try running again!!!

We're currently working under the theory that much of my pain is caused by a spasming TFL. Not sure how accurate that is but if more stretching and PT can help me avoid surgery but keep running and working out then I'm all for it.

Although, I have to say, that walking workout I did yesterday trashed my legs. That workout is no joke. Seriously.