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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Busy, Busy


I’ve been pretty busy in the workout department since last Thursday.  Of course, now I’m paying for it as my left hip is KILLING me (or maybe that’s just a reaction to the ART session from last night). 

But what was I doing until I decided to give my hip a break?

Friday was my wedding anniversary so Jason and I walked to a nearby pub for dinner and drinks.  After I rode my bike to and from work.  Does commuting by bike count as a workout if it’s only a few miles total? 

Saturday I did a strength workout but my stomach was upset so I didn’t push it very hard and had to rush out of the gym mid-set to use the bathroom.  I felt pretty out of it the rest of the day.

Thankfully I felt better on Sunday, though, because I joined Kim for some kayaking! 

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We kayaked around a lake for about an hour.  I could really feel it working my arms but, believe it or not, I wasn’t sore at all the next day!  I have a feeling that if I’d done this last year or the year before I would have felt it for a few days afterward.  Strength training for the win!

Monday I took advantage of my day off and went for a long bike ride.  I rode from my apartment to Chicago’s lake front path and went south to where the path ends.  Then I turned around and headed back.

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Although the air temps were warm there was a strong breeze coming in off the lake that made it pretty nice outside.  Minus the fact that the wind felt like it was going to blow me over or backward most of the ride.  I also explored some alternate ways to get home and ended up riding just over 25 miles.  I’m still not very fast on my bike but I am really enjoying being out on it.

And then Tuesday I went for a run all by my lonesome at lunch.  Been a LONG time since I’ve done that.

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Funny how different the lake and the skyline can look from one day to the next, isn’t it?  I ran for 40 minutes and finished 4.5 miles.  And, even though it was straight-up sunny and warm I felt pretty good.  Racer back tan line, here I come!

When I got home from work I hit up the apartment gym for a quick strength session.

Now I’m taking a few days off from running.  I might do a strength session tonight or I might just rest.  That ART session left me really sore!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chase Corporate Challenge Bandit (Race Report)


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I totally brought scissors to our team tent and turned my t-shirt into a tank top.

My employer pays for a large number of us to run the Chase Corporate Challenge.  However, you have to sign up in February.  Since at that time I didn’t know if I’d be able to run in May or not, I didn’t sign up.

But I’ve run Chase every year since I started at my current employer so when I realized that I would be able to run I started sniffing around for a bib.

Hey, it’s already paid for, right?  My work would just be wasting that money if I didn’t use an unused bib!

Turns out my coworker got a migraine and went home to sit in a dark room.  Which left me her bib.  So, I used it.

And promptly ran my slowest Chase Corporate Challenge ever.  31:30 for 3.5 miles.  On the plus side, I think that will go down as one of her fastest times.  Glad I could do that for her!

They changed up the course this year and it was basically a lot of running through what are essentially tunnels.  Combined with the crowds, the temperature and the humidity I think everyone ran slower than they wanted.  Plus, since I didn’t bother to study the course map I didn’t know when to pick it up towards the end.  My Garmin was all messed up from the tunnels and then suddenly the finish line was right in front of me!

Could I have run faster?  Maybe.  But I did tell myself to hold back a bit.  No point in running faster and aggravating my hip any more than I already did.  Yes, it was kind of sore and stiff afterward.  Bummer.

Still, it was a gorgeous night to enjoy the city and I’m glad I got the chance to run.  It’s taken me a few days to come to terms with the fact that I’m not as fast as I was in the past two years but life is not always about the speed.  Sometimes it’s just about the opportunity.


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Several Things Thursday

Whew.  Sorry for dropping off the planet there for a minute.  Where have I been?  Moving to my new apartment!!

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That’s our kitchen/living room/dining room/balcony

Finishing up packing, moving, unpacking, and getting settled took all of last week and the weekend.  Monday I was back at our previous abode finishing up a few things.  So, I didn’t get a workout until Tuesday.

What did I do Tuesday?  I went for a run at lunch.  Just 3ish miles.  I forgot my Garmin since I’m all out of sorts with the move.  The run felt strong, though, so I’d like to think it was a good pace.

On Wednesday I rode my bike to work.  It’s about 1.5 miles from my apartment to my office and it took me a little less than 15 minutes.  Of course, I had to dodge cabs and buses and now totally understand why drivers hate cyclists.  I’m TRYING to follow the rules but when buses and cabs cut me off or drive so close to the curb there’s no room for me I’m going to take some drastic maneuvers.

Riding home was a different story.  First I rode to my ART appointment and that was fine.  Easy, even.  But getting home meant trying to navigated super congested streets with very little room for cyclists.  I have a feeling I’ll be checking out some out-of-the way streets instead of taking the more direct route.  Riding my bike was exhilarating, though, when it wasn’t terrifying or irritating. 

And then Wednesday, after my adventures in bike riding, I used the gym in my apartment building for the first time.

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I did the following workout.  You do the teal and the magenta sections three times each and the yellow sections once.  I had to lower some of the weights (specifically the bicep curls, tricep extensions and the chest presses) but overall it was a killer workout.  My glutes are still feeling it today.  Whew.


Should make for an interesting showing at the Chase Corporate Challenge this evening.  Yes, I’m running (but not racing).  But as a bandit.  I didn’t register so I’m just going to use someone else’s number.  Shhhh. 

Also, because I was so busy moving I didn’t get a chance to participate in Mag Mile Runner’s photo challenge for this week.  The prompt?  Your worst race. 

Soldier Field 10 Miler 2011


That’s me in the red tank top.  I don’t know what it was about this race, but my heart wasn’t in it.  And afterward my hip hurt so bad it was the first time I was really worried about what I’d done to it.  I think it was my horrible form on that day.  I mean, look at me in that photo. Ugh.  Anyway, the Soldier Field 10 Mile race is this weekend and I’m not sad at all that I’m not running it. 

That’s what I have for you this Thursday.  How are you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

So, I ran on both Saturday and Sunday.  I felt pretty good.

Then came Monday night.  Since I'm moving this Friday I knew it was my last chance to easily get in a run with my running club.  Sure, I'll still be running with them as often as I can but I won't be within quick bike riding or running distance of our meeting place anymore.

And bike ride to the starting spot is what I did on Monday.  I do love my bike and am looking forward to spending more time on it on the lakefront path once I move.  Biking on road with intersections is a pain.

Anyway, the bike ride was one of the better parts of my evening.  So were the post-run margaritas and tacos on the patio of one of my favorite restaurants.  The run itself though?  Blech.

My legs felt like lead.  My usual easy pace felt like death.  "This is the longest 5.5 miles EVER!" I exclaimed to my running buddy. 

Turns out a lot of us felt that way on Monday night.  Maybe it was the slightly warmer weather?  Maybe it was that we wanted to get to the margaritas sooner?  Who knows.  I suppose, though, I should be grateful that my legs were just tired and not in pain. 

Speaking of pain, I have a combo ART & massage appointment scheduled tonight.  I'm interested to see if they can work some more magic on those tight spots surrounding my hip.  In the mean time, I'm taking the rest of this week off to finish packing and give my body a break.  Three days of running in a row is something I haven't done in awhile and now I remember why.  Got to work back up to that! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Double without Trouble


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This weekend I did something I hadn’t done in awhile.  Well, technically two things I hadn’t done in a while.

Thing #1 – I ran in the rain.

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I went to Waterfall Glen forest preserve with my running club where it proceeded to rain on us for almost the entire run.  When I arrived my fellow club members were huddled together underneath the small overhang of the bathroom roofs.  The rain didn’t seem to be letting up so finally we decided to brave it.

“But I’m not even training for anything!” I whined.  “I don’t HAVE to run!”

Apparently, though, my legs felt differently.  I actually ran on both Monday and Thursday of last week so this was my third run of the week.  Something I haven’t done in months.  You’d think my legs would be dead.  Nope.  After a slower first mile I ended up running negative splits and feeling amazing.  I ran the first 30 minutes with the club and then turned around and ran the second 30 minutes by myself.

I swear, rain makes you run faster.

I always forget how much I love running in the rain.

Thing #2 – I ran two days in a row

After running Monday, Thursday and Saturday my left leg didn’t feel too bad.  I’ve been rolling out my hip using a combination of a tennis ball and a foam roller and it seems to be helping some.  So when Kim suggested a run on Sunday morning I said sure.

She was coming to my house to help me finish packing for my move but first we took advantage of the non-rainy weather with a 5 mile run through my soon-to-be-former town.


I was totally overdressed.  Apparently I’ve forgotten how to dress for running. 

Anyway, it was a nice, easy (aka slow) 5 miles and my leg didn’t bother me.  Hurray! 

Was it smart to go from 5-10 miles a week to double that?  Probably not.  But at this point I’m just doing what I want and seeing how my leg responds. 

And after tonight’s run it will probably become a rest week.  If you call getting ready to move “rest”! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Playing Favorites

This week’s photo challenge from Maggie at Mag Mile Runner is:
We’ve seen your ugly race pictures. But I want to see your favorite race picture! And an explanation of why. It can be ugly or pretty, solo or with a friend or group … whatever reason, as long as it’s your favorite.
Oh my.  I have to choose a favorite race photo?  Strangely, I don’t have a lot of ugly race photos.  Actually, there are probably ugly ones out there of me (I can think of one in particular from the Soldier Field 10 Mile where my form is horrific) but I haven’t saved any of them.  For good reason.

However, I have a LOT of good race photos.  My husband is actually quite good at being my own personal race photographer and we have some good photogs in my running club as well.  Not to mention the few professional ones that turn out nice.

I mean, I could choose this one from the Cleveland 10 Miler I ran with a friend:
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I mean, it IS my favorite photo of my arm muscles.  But I didn’t really “race” that race even though I had a total blast and was super proud of my friend, Rae.  So of course I can have good photos since I was pacing someone else and not pushing myself.

Or what about the photo from when my mom surprised me at the Wisconsin Half Marathon in 2010?
I have very fond memories of that moment but not particularly of the race itself.  That course and I are not currently on speaking terms. 

Then there’s my two 2011 marathons, Milwaukee and Las Vegas
Trend alert:  I like to open my mouth in race photos.  It makes me look badass, don’t you know?

But I think my favorite photo is from the Club Cross Country Invitational in November 2011.  I was miserable for that entire 3 miles but thanks to my running club’s support I pulled out a finish worthy of a photo.
Someone has to come last in a race.  This day it was not going to be me.  Why wouldn’t that be my favorite?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Some days you're more motivated than others, right?

On Monday night I wasn't feeling all that motivated.  Right now I'm pretty much running once a week since I'm not training for a race and I'm spending more time strength training, packing, and going to various PT appointments.  So I knew if I didn't go out for a run on Monday I might not run at all until this weekend.

Which means that even though I wasn't feeling particularly motivated I went running anyway.  My pace was definitely on the easy side but I was running with someone who was joining the Monday night run for the first time so I didn't want to leave her behind.  That worked out well since I wasn't too motivated to push the pace much harder, anyway.

Tuesday, though, my motivation came back with a vengeance.  After doing part of the strength workout I'd been planning to do on Monday at lunch I decided to finish it up Tuesday after PT.

Some of that motivation might have come from the fact that my left leg, which had been bothering me after Monday night's run, felt MUCH better after PT.  Apparently if I just have my physical therapist use her elbow to loosen up the tight spots twice a week I'm golden.  Skip a week and there's hell to pay.  Not a perfect long term solution, though, so hopefully we can figure out something else.  Do they make compression socks for your hips?  I mean, I know they make them for your legs because Sara is raffling off a pair

Anyway!  After Tuesday night's PT appointment I came home and put together three parts of some workouts I pinned on Pinterest to come up with the following:

Complete 3 circuits – move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest.
Flutter Kicks – 30 reps (15 each side)
Side V-ups – 20 reps (10 each side)
Push Through – 30 reps

Lower Body
Complete 4 circuits
Step-ups – 30 seconds each leg; rest 10 seconds after each leg
Prisoner Squats – 30 seconds; rest 10 seconds
Stiff Legged Deadlifts – 30 seconds; rest 10 seconds
Butt Blaster – 30 seconds; rest 10 seconds
Heel Clappers – 30 seconds; rest 10 seconds
Leg extensions – 30 seconds; rest 10 seconds

Complete two circuits
Bicep Curls – 20 reps
Rest 20 seconds
Tricep Kickbacks – 20 reps each arm
Rest 20 seconds

One set of Tabata intervals

Let me tell you, those Butt Blasters are no joke!   Also, I'm pretty sure that after multiple days in a row of doing strength training my triceps are bigger than they've ever been.

So, yeah, motivation.  It comes and goes.  But, dang, when it comes you know it's going to make you kick butt!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hat’s Off


This week’s photo challenge from Maggie:

What is your favorite running “thing”? Something that you either HAVE to have for every run or race, or something you don’t always have or use, but look forward to eating/using/wearing before, during or after a run. Maybe it completely changed your running, or is something you just really like. It can be something you wear, something you eat, something you use (in reality or digitally), etc, but it has to be a thing.

When I first started running, I wore a bandanna to keep the sweat out of my eyes. 


It was sort of my signature accessory.


But when I started training for my first half marathon in 2009 I realized that the bandanna was actually trapping heat on my head and not letting the sweat evaporate.

And, by the way, I sweat.  A lot.  If I don’t have some kind of head covering sweat just runs into my eyes and stings.  And it’s no fun to be running or racing with sweat in your eyes.

So, I upgraded to a visor.


My collection of visors grew.



And then my mom pointed out that while the visor let the heat escape, it wasn’t doing any favors for my scalp and my hair.  With the sun beating down on both she worried that I would have a sunburnt scalp and fried hair.

So, I found a hat.

This hat and I are now pretty inseparable.  It needs to be washed something fierce but I just can’t bring myself to wash it.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it my lucky hat, but I have run quite a few PRs in it.  It keeps the sweat out of my face, protects my scalp while keeping me cool, keeps my frizzy hair hidden and looks pretty cute to boot. 

So, yeah, I’d say that a head covering (currently this hat) is my “thing” I have to have for running. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Things Thursday

I feel like this week is going by both quickly and slowly.  As in, I keep asking myself "Is it only Thursday?"  and "It's Thursday already??"

This could be because I'm keeping myself pretty busy.

Monday night I ran with my running club and played ambassador to a woman who was running with us for the first time.  We ran an average 9:30 pace for 5.5 miles (positive splits for me again) which she said is faster than she usually runs.  She kept up well, though!  My left leg, however, was a little pissed at me so I was glad for being too busy on Tuesday to get in a workout.  Forced rest for the win!

Actually, Tuesday night was our monthly running club meeting where we had the executive director and the racing coordinator for the Chicago Area Runners Association come speak to us about some of their new initiatives and to get feedback on what we though they could be doing better.  If you're a Chicago area runner and you don't belong to CARA you should know that they do more then get you race discounts and race training!  They also have partnerships with businesses to get CARA members discounts on running apparel, gym memberships, and other running-related goodies.  They also keep a database of volunteer opportunities so if you want to volunteer for a race in the Chicago area you can contact them and they'll let you know when they need volunteers.

Last night I wanted to get in a quick strength workout.  I did two rounds of the Bikini Beach Bum Workout from the Tone It Up training video series.

I followed that up with day 1 of a 7 day arms workout I pinned on Pinterest.

Source: skinnyms.com via Erin on Pinterest

Day 1 is focused on triceps and today my triceps are SORE! Whew. So far it looks like a really good series of quick arms-focused workouts to add to any strength routine. I usually prefer compound moves but every so often I feel like I need a more focused session. This definitely fits the bill!

Which means tonight I plan to do the second day of that series and throw in some Tabata intervals. Good times.