Category: Running + Training

Eight years a runner

By , December 18, 2014 6:39 am

While running with Kelly this morning, she told me about her first half marathon in Kentucky eight years ago, and that she couldn’t believe she’d been running that long*. Of course, that made me wonder, “how long have I been consistently running?” It turns out, about the same – also eight years!

I started following Fitness Magazine’s 6 Weeks to a 5K program** in late 2006, to lose weight and to train for a New Year’s Day 5K. 

I put the program in a chart and made it my desktop background on my computer, and put a check mark on each date after I completed the workout. That kept me motivated to keep going, because it was in my face a lot of the time!

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(click to see larger)

I didn’t even know this until I looked at my files this morning, but I apparently have a running start date anniversary – November 10th! Fun!

It’s funny that something so innocent like this turned in to an obsession. I guess that’s how it starts!

What’s the longest hobby you’ve consistently stuck with, and for how long?

Mine’s not running – it’s blogging! I started that in July 2005! I would also venture to include photography, but it’s not like I compose my photos very well. I just like documenting everything!

*Or maybe it was nine years ago – morning running brain confusion
**I still think this is a fantastic beginning runner program, and recommend it to anyone who wants to start!

Dallas Marathon Race Report

By , December 16, 2014 9:22 am

Wow, just… wow. I was completely, yes, wowed, by how the entire Dallas Marathon turned out. How great the race itself was, and how supportive the spectators on course were. How great our spectators were. How great I felt, despite the weather not being my “ideal” race conditions. How great Gina, did, at her first freaking marathon (not really surprised there, hee hee)! Woo hoo!

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Gina signed up for the Dallas Marathon on National Running Day (June 4), and I didn’t have any plans to run it with her. I was thinking we would come down to cheer, and help out with Luca, so Steve (Gina’s husband) could run the half. The truth is, Gina was having a stellar racing year, and I really wasn’t. I didn’t want to ask her if I should run it with her, and hold her back, at her first marathon. I knew that’s how it would be – our paces were WAY off (me being slower, ha ha).

But then we hung out in the middle of June, and had a great time on a few runs together (of course). And Gina asked, after that trip, if I would run Dallas with her. “Are you sure?! I don’t want to slow you down!” I remember asking. She told me not to be silly, and of course she was sure. Okay! And yay!

So I signed up on June 30th. And knew I had to get my ass in gear. Which took, um, some time for me to start doing. I didn’t start seriously training for Dallas until three months before the race – September 14th. But in that time until race day I put in 626.15 miles, ran a marathon, ran four 21+ milers, tried to average 50 miles a week, and dropped 16% of my body weight. I felt amazingly ready for race day, and felt like I could complete my number one goal, which was to be completely supportive of Gina during the race, and not have any “issues” of my own. I didn’t want to break down at all during the race. I wanted to be able to help Gina, if she struggled. I wanted the focus to be on it being HER first marathon, not a PR for me (even though I was pretty sure that would happen).

Tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): and that is exactly how it went down!

A lot of people were asking me about what the weather would be like in Dallas, for the marathon. Ha. I was trying really hard not to look. What good does a 10-day forecast do, but make me worry (especially when it changes so darn much)? The only frustrating thing with not looking (until I packed a few nights before), was that Gina and I couldn’t plan out Matchy McMatcherson race outfits. I mean, we both did not expect it to be rainy, in the low 60s, with 87% humidity. Barf, right? I had been training my long runs in the 30s, sometimes colder! Even Gina and her friends in the running club were not too excited about the warm weather conditions, and they’re a bit more used to it than me! Really though, it could have been much worse – the days before and after the race were even warmer (70s) and so sunny. The race weather turned out to be not so horrible. Sure, we had sweat running down our faces in the first few miles, but the wind (10-20 mph) actually cooled me down. As did the rain. And thank HEAVENS it was overcast.

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So obviously, we wore tanks and shorts (in black – we went full ninja). No need for the arm warmers and gloves and hat I brought “just in case.” Ha ha. I wore my Nathan backpack, too. And was completely surprised I drank the entire two liters of water in it (along with 16 ounces of Vitamin Water) by mile 16! Craziness. Bringing the backpack was a smart move. And yay, that they actually allow you to wear them!

The race starts out in downtown Dallas, and goes through commercial areas, then through some swank neighborhoods, back through commercial, back through swank neighborhoods, along a lake, on to a path, through swank neighborhoods, and back downtown. That description makes it sound incredibly boring, but I enjoyed the variety. I was a little concerned about the out and back portion along the lake – I just don’t dig seeing people going the opposite direction on a race, and wondering how long it will be until I get to turn. But it worked out alright.

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Doesn’t your house have a statue like that in the front?

I asked Erica how hilly the race is, as she’s run it a few times, and she said it wasn’t too bad. The course changed a little since she ran it, and another blogger I read (Pirate Bobcat) posted that the course was hilly and he felt bad for the people doing the full (he was doing the half, which drops off the full course at mile 9.5ish). Hmm. I compared the elevation map to Milwaukee, and they looked really similar to me. Milwaukee didn’t feel that hilly, so I just made sure to run hills once or twice a week (as part of my runs, not hill repeats). And the hills didn’t bug me at all on this course. Score!

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So enough generics. Let’s talk about the actual race! We arrived early enough to find a good parking spot – about an hour and a half before. We met up with Gina and Steve’s running club, and it was really fun to see them wishing all their friends good luck and hearing everyone’s goals! I also met Amy‘s mom and sister, who recognized me in the hotel lobby! Ha ha, I totally had pre-race runner brain, and was not making the connection that they were her mom and sister – it was so nice of them to say hi! I kept pretty quiet before the race and tried not to get too pumped up – I wanted to save my energy for the course. I also tried to go poo three times before the race with no luck. Sigh. You know what that means!

This race is fairly big – maybe 20K runners in the half and full? There were three corrals, and we were in the middle one, which closed twenty minutes before the race start. The race announcer did a fantastic job getting everyone pumped up and introducing the elites there (Deena, Meb, Ryan and Sara Hall). Fireworks went off to signal the start of the race at 8:05, and we started around 8:10! Not too bad!

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Steve was running the half and was in our corral. We ran the first few minutes with him then went ahead. We had a 9:45 minute mile/4:15ish race goal, and Steve had a 2:20 goal. Gina and I kept the 4:15 pacer in our sights!

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The first few miles were mostly flat and we were chatting away. And like I mentioned before, already sweating like crazy. I had lubed up big time (ha ha) and wasn’t worried about chafing (didn’t at all) but gah, that feeling of sweat drooping down your head! Right away, I said to Gina “let’s not talk about the weather.” I knew I just had to keep pushing through and NOT dwell on it.

Surprisingly to me, the humidity and mist was making the roads slippery. There were times I was worried about slipping, and was no where near a water stop (where you’d think it would be slippery)! Luckily I never did!

The first few miles were pretty chill, minus coming up on railroad crossing gates that were coming down! It must have been a joke, because they went right back up. I was not ready to stop that early in the race (nor was I planning on it…)!

Steve and Steven mapped out spectator spots the night before the race, so I knew we’d see Steven, Gina’s dad and his wife, and Gina’s brother and his wife and daughter, and Luca, around mile 6, 14, 17, and at the finish. I sent Steven a Glympse so he could track me on the course, and had my phone on me so we could text. Right before mile 6 I got a text that they were up ahead, on the left!

It was really exciting for us to see them! Gina’s SiL and her dad’s wife had made a “touch here for power” sign that was a huge hit!

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They also had “smile if you have to poop” sign (foreshadowing for me, ha ha) and brought Gunther!

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It felt like we passed by them so quickly! Gina’s dad ran with us for a minute, which was really cool!

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Gina’s Dad on his way back from his run. 

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They also saw Steve at this spot!

And on we went. We had a little boost from seeing them, and kept chatting. I tried hard to look ahead for turns so we could run the tangents as best as possible, but really early in the course, we had already added on two tenths of a mile. Darn! Probably didn’t help that it was a bit crowded. Not too crowded to keep pace, but crowded enough that you couldn’t just run tangents without running in to someone.

I welcomed the half split at mile 9.5! I also hoped to see a porta pottie there. Um, nope. Sigh. We kept running, and I told Gina I had to stop at the next one and for her to go ahead and slow down so I could catch up. The night before we had talked race strategy and I told her that may happen, so I was happy we had a plan.

We kept going and ran through a gorgeous neighborhood with a boulevard between the homes. Two men dressed as devils were on either side (The spectators were SO fun! Lots of music and costumes! One person had a “touch here for power” sign and some sort of device in their pocket that they would have make a “beep” noise each time someone touched their sign!) I asked “is it this way to hell?” Ha. They laughed. And I knew the answer was yes. I was still clenching my gut at that time and feeling sick to my stomach. I looked to the other side of the street and saw a “mile 22″ sign. “We won’t be back here for 11 miles?” I thought. I almost told Gina not to look on that side of the road, but just hoped she wouldn’t see that (she didn’t, phew).

I finally saw a porta pottie with only one guy waiting at mile 11. Yay! Unfortunately, runners came up and jumped in when it was my turn to go. Ugh. One finally opened close to me and the guy coming out said “you don’t want to go in there.” Ha ha. I told him I had to go. Right meow. I can hover. I laughed when the guy went in after me and was like “ewwwww.” I did NOT leave that mess, dude!

I felt so much better (and lighter) after my pit stop! It took me just a few minutes to catch up with Gina (10:22 minute mile followed by a 9:17, ha ha). She had previously told me she was a feeling quiet (but didn’t mind if I talked) so I was trying to come up with things to say. I encouraged her to get some love from Hello Kitty:

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And we had fun running by the Dolly Parton cross dressers in the Dolly Parton “hills.” One told me to touch his water ballon “breast.” I sure did! Ha! (Sorry, no photo!)

But we both started to get really quiet and I could tell Gina was feeling a bit meh. Around mile 13 I announced I was bored. How rude, right?! Poor Gina said she was sorry she wasn’t talking and that the course was boring but it was neither of those! I felt bad I couldn’t come up with anything to talk about. Darnit! We talked too much before the race (kind of hard to cut back talking with your bestie).

Luckily, I had a text from Steven saying exactly where to find them around 14.

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We enjoyed seeing them, and they handed me a new Vitamin Water. My vest felt heavy again! Ha ha. Groan.

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Gina was jokingly saying this is going to be her new Facebook profile photo. Ha ha. 

At that point we were in the out and back portion by the lake. Every now and then I’d see runners going the other way (Gina actually saw people she knew! Fun!) I just kept looking for the turn around and was sooooo happy when I saw it (and when we turned)! At 16, Gina told me her legs were tired and her phone (in her hips-sister) was bugging her. I told her to ignore her legs and focus on pumping her arms to keep her legs going. “Your arms aren’t tired, right?” And I told her to give me her phone, and that we’d drop that, and her hips-sister, with our crew at 17.

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The night before the race, when Gina and I talked about our game plan, I asked if she wanted drill sergeant Kim or nice Kim. She asked for nice Kim. Sorry, Gina! You got a mix!

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The second picture is because I know you guys want to see my janky supination.

Gina felt better after ditching her stuff (still had her hand held), but was still struggling (the wind from the lake was really bugging her so I ran between her and the lake to try to block a bit of it (plus, it felt good to me – I teased her for not “sharing” it)). So she got my logic speech: 1. You can do this, you trained faster than this, 2. This is supposed to hurt, you’ll be proud you pushed through, 3. You want to make YOU proud (and your husband and son, family, and friends), 4. You only get to do your first marathon once, 5. Pain is temporary, glory is forever, and so on.

The truth is, I knew exactly where she was. I bonked at mile 16 at EVERY marathon until Milwaukee this year. It. Sucks. More than anything, I wanted that not to happen to her during her first marathon! I felt sad it was.

We left the lake and got on a trail (there were speakers along the trail and they played my power song (I also heard it at the start and later on the course)! This trail also had Jell-O shots. And beer. And the second clif station. Needless to say, I was digging this trail. But I don’t think Gina was. Her legs were still hurting her. She wanted me to go ahead. To PR. “I saw what you wrote on the banner!”

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There was no way I was leaving her. I knew we were a bit off pace (we’d lost sight of our pacer around mile 14/15), but I knew we’d still have a good time and I’d PR. Also, I knew if I left her, she’d slow down and walk more and be upset about it later. “Remember how upset you were about that rough 16 miler?!” I said to her. “I DON’T want you to feel that disappointment after this, because you can’t just go redeem a marathon like you can a long run.”

Yes. I was that annoying. I was also the walk break police. “You only get 30 secs!” “Your 30 secs are up!” “Nope, you don’t get to walk again for 3 minutes.” Hey, to my credit, she had told me she wanted to walk as little as possible.

Around mile 18, it started to rain harder (it had misted on and off before). The rain felt gooood. It cooled me. It took away some humidity. I filled up my bladder and put my visor on (had it hooked around my backpack until then) to keep water out of my eyes.

We finally got off the trail and had to do some neighborhood running before starting to go back to Dallas. Gina’s back started to hurt her, which really worried me, after that back pain I’d been having, but she pushed through.

I congratulated her when she hit her new PDR (20.01!), but we were mostly very quiet. Ahh, the long end of the marathon miles. We passed that 22 mile sign from before and saw the devils again. That made me happy because I knew we were almost to the last straight-away on the course. No more looping and as we got closer, I could even see the skyline, where the finish was.

Gina continued her walk breaks and I’d slow and run ahead (and she’d catch me). She tried telling me again, to go ahead, at mile 23. “After being together this long?! No way.”

Focusing so much on her really made me completely ignore my body. Not in a dangerous way – I followed my fueling plan and checked my posture a lot. Just that I didn’t even give my body a thought as to whether it was in pain. I didn’t allow it. The 9:45 pace was still attainable, and when Gina would get back to me after a walk break, I’d push us back to it (I also kept us around it at the beginning instead of not going too fast). And Gina could run it just fine.

At mile 24, the rain picked up. Not a downpour (that happened two minutes after we finished!!!), but enough that it was getting tricky to text Steven through a wet plastic bag! I let him know we slowed and would finish in 4:20. It was really important to me to see him at the finish, since it upset me so much when he missed me at Milwaukee.

At 24, I also welcomed Gina to the “longest two miles of her life.” Ha. I felt great, but I’d be lying if I said the last 4 miles of marathon don’t feel long! I was happy to hear “Thunderstruck” again! I chatted with other runners (as I did in other parts of the race). We saw a “touch here for power” sign on the other side of the road and didn’t feel like running over there, so another runner did and transferred the “power” to us with a high five. How fun is that?!

I encouraged Gina to finish strong. I quite often told her to fake it for the camera and “look strong for your family” and “they say smiling makes you feel happier!” It was so fantastic to see the mile 25 sign, and to know our spectators were at 26.1. When we saw them, I just lit up! They were so excited for us! And I could just feel the electric energy of the crowd and felt so proud I got to run Gina’s first marathon with her!

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I grabbed her hand and we ran toward the finish line, with an official time of 4:20:36! A new PR for me by four minutes and twenty seconds, and a SPECTACULAR first marathon time for Gina!!!!!

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We got our medals, and the finisher bag (I really like the medal and shirt!).

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Then the pouring rain started. We waited for an official picture, walked and got our food and finisher bags, and went to gear check. Then the happy/overwhelmed waterworks started for Gina. No surprise there! She worked so hard, and through A LOT!

We found our (soaked!) spectators quickly, and they had nothing but wonderful sweet things to say to us about how proud they and impressed they were, and how much they enjoyed the day.

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Our spectating crew, from L to R: Steven, Susanne, Joe, Luca, Colette, Eliana and Anthony

One of the best parts after the race was sharing our stories with each other – how much they loved having people touch their sign, how they laughed when someone confusingly called Gunther a deer, their parking adventures, the different runners they saw, how Luca was giving out high fives, but pulling his arm back to do them higher and confusing the runners (hee hee)… really, spectators work so hard! And Gina’s family was so awe-struck, and so sweet and welcoming to me (I had met them before, but this was Steven’s first time! They said they loved having him lead the spectating way!). I immensely appreciated having them there, and was so happy Steven helped them and still took photos!

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It just makes me laugh to see the kids walking, and Gunther in the stroller!

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And Gina’s Dad’s wife, Susanne, is such a sweetheart. She gave me this bracelet the night before the race for good luck, and wrote a really nice letter to me and Steven!

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After the race we split up – most of the spectators went home to dry off, and the runners (Steve enjoyed the half, and took selfies at every mile, ha ha, see below) and Steven went to Red Robin. We loaded all the photos on to my computer that night and played them over Apple home share so everyone could see them. And ordered a ton of Chinese food and had Gina and Steve’s good friends come over (they brought champagne and cookies!) and Gina’s training partner, who also ran the marathon. It was a perfect way to celebrate a spectacular day.

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One of Steve’s mile marker selfies!

Phew. This is so hella long but I wanted to remember the details of the day!

I’m so proud of Gina. I told her I don’t know many people who’ve run their first marathon in the 4:20s. And really, keep in mind, she really only started distance running this year, and ran her first “half” in February. She’s done A LOT this year. I told you she was on fire!

I do hope she’s not disappointed in her performance. The struggles she went through are SO typical, and she really powered through them. We only lost a bit of time in the second half, and ran strong strong strong. Our last half mile was at 9:00 minute mile! Gina has speed in her! And she already is talking about her next marathon and knows what she wants to work on – more endurance. She trained well for this one, and included two 20s (and cross and strength training), but would like to do more, and longer, next time. I wonder if I’ll get to be a part of next time?!

As for me, I’m extremely pleased with how this race turned out. I met my #1 (support Gina) and #2 (PR) goals. The heat and humidity didn’t phase me (WHAT?! So shocked by that.). I never felt tired. I never felt sore. After the race, my legs were good (tender quads, but they’re fine). It was my blistered toes that bugged me (from the rain). I feel like I trained right for me (high mileage, easy miles) and like my fueling was right. I… just can’t believe I’ve had my two best marathons this year. I actually never thought, during this race, “I’m never doing this again.” I thought, “When’s the next one?! This rocks!”

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Training Week 269

By , December 14, 2014 10:17 pm

Highlight of the Week: Running Gina’s first marathon with her, including a new PR, for me! And seeing Steven at the finish line of the race, along with Gina’s family (there, and a few spots on the course)!

Week269

Monday | December 8, 2014: teaching strength class
Strength: One dumbbell + UNO core workout, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: really good
Tuesday | December 9, 2014: 6 m run (w/Kelly)
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 34°/34°, Time: 1:00:55, Pace: 10:09 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Wednesday | December 10, 2014: rest
Thursday | December 11, 2014: 4 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 29°, Time: 39:01, Pace: 9:45 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Friday | December 12, 2014: teaching strength class + 3 m run (w/Kelly)
Strength: Kettlebells + UNO core workout, Difficulty: easy (took it easy because of race, ha ha), Felt: great
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 26°, Time: 30:18, Pace: 10:05, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Saturday | December 13, 2014: 2 m run (w/Gina and Steve)
Loc: McKinney, Temp: 57°, Time: 19:46, Pace: 9:52 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Sunday | December 14, 2014: Dallas Marathon (w/Gina)
Loc: Dallas, Temp: 62°/65°, Time: 4:20:42 (4:20:36 official), Pace: 9:51 (oops, ran 26.48) avg (9:57 official), Difficulty: easy, Felt: really good

Notes:

  • Brian and I worked on a new workout for Monday night strength class and I was really excited to try it out! During class, we did a one-dumbbell 6-workout routine, then rounds of the “UNO Core Workout” – we coded different workouts to the different colors, and just did however many of that workout was on the card. So one person would draw a card, then everyone would do the workout, then the next person would draw, and so on. Red 9 = 9 burpees, Yellow 2 = 2 squats… you get the idea (hopefully). I left the wild draw 4s in there so if you got one you could pick one person to do any four reps of your choice! Ha ha! It was fun and we did around 70 each of burpees, plank-ups, push-ups and squats. We did it again on Friday, and had more of a mix in the amount, since it was a shorter class (and got through less of the deck). 
  • I followed my marathon prep plan as much as I could – took a nap on Tuesday, tried to sleep later on days I could, got a massage on Tuesday… and carbs carbs carbs. Whoa, I didn’t think I would ever see this, but I will be happy to eat less carbs, this week!
  • The marathon went so well! I never bonked, or felt tired! What is that?! Ha ha, I think all my training really paid off, and I think I’ve got a decent grasp on my fueling strategy. 
  • It was such ah honor to run Gina’s first marathon with her! She had a very strong first marathon and rallied through the tough parts! Hopefully I will have a report up soon!

Link to Training Week 268

When’s your off-season?

By , December 11, 2014 12:15 pm

I was chucking to myself while reading the Running Times Facebook page the other day. They’d posted an article along the lines of “how to maintain your fitness during the winter off-season” and were getting some good-natured feedback: “winter isn’t my off-season!” “what off-season?!” and so on.

I was laughing, because I was having the same reaction in my head. Well, not the “what off-season?!” one, but the one about a winter on-season being odd. Winter is (one of) my on-season(s). 

I guess I should explain what on and off-season are to me. On-season is when I am running a pretty high mileage (again, for me), typically, in preparation for an upcoming “goal” race. I put goal in quotes, because I don’t use it in the sense of a goal just being a means to an end – crossing the finish line. “Goal” for me is typically a certain pace at a race, which is something I very seldom train to do. I mostly race for fun. During the on and off-season, but especially in the off-season.

I don’t live somewhere where the weather warrants a winter off-season. I live in the midwest. We have winter. It seems the majority of runners here do take winter as their off-season. 

However, I love running in the cold. If I am doing a “goal” race, I want low temperatures. Cold and dark make me want to go run. Sun and heat, not so much!

This five-year mileage chart visually shows my on and off-seasons. There are a few anomalies**, but more or less, my running mileage goes down in the summer, and back up when the temperature drops again. 

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*December 2014 not included
**Three stress fractures in June 2010, high mileage in October 2013 because of furlough, recovering from the flu in January 2014, etc.

I predict 2015 will be more of the same! I have “goal” races in February, March and May (as well as “for fun” races January -April), and nothing “goal”-wise planned for the rest of year. I am very cyclical – I typically pick a few “goal” cold weather races for the winter, take it easy during the summer, then maybe pick some things for the fall, then do it again, the next year!

How do you define on and off-season? When are yours?

Just try to avoid death face

By , December 10, 2014 6:55 am

Today I received an email from the official race photographer for the Dallas Marathon. My first thought was, “I am already getting emails about race photos?! ASD!@SFDS!!!#$!AASDFASDF!!!!!” Ha ha, you know, since after the race, you receive frequent emails asking to buy the photos for about a year (or more!), and… I haven’t even run this race yet!

I was just going to delete the email, until I saw they had tips in it about “how to get great official race photos.” CALM DOWN, Kim. This email could actually be useful. They aren’t asking for your money. Yet. 

Curious, I decided to read their tips:

  • pin your bib number high on your chest and keep it visible
  • look up
  • don’t cross your arms
  • don’t stop your watch at the finish line

Most of the tips seem obvious, except for the last one – about not stopping your watch at the finish line. I doubt many people think about that. You just stop your watch out of habit! I’m finally done running and can stop this thing! Also, OMG I NEED ACCURATE STATS, NOT ONE STEP MOAR!

But man, stopping your watch does look really bad in photos! I realized I was doing this at races, and not only was I stopping my watch, I was looking down at it when I stopped it, to make sure it stopped Even though it makes a noise when it stops. That makes for a great photo. Not. 

So I started stopping it, and listening for the noise, so I could look up at the camera. Um yeah, as you can see below, that still looks goofy. And it almost breaks the “don’t cross your arms” tip. 

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So I just stopped with the watch-stopping madness. Ha ha. Look for the photogs, take a few steps, then watch it. And the photos do look better!

However, that would not be my #1 race photo (finish line) or whatever, tip. Mine would be “don’t make death face!” (Seen above and below on the right) 

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Yes, death face shows how hard you are working, but, yeah. I just don’t want to see it on me! 

Usually, I just look for Steven on the course, and smile for him, and don’t pay attention to the official photographers (since I like Steven’s photos better… and they are free… and I get them instantly). But sometimes, I regret that, like in the photo above, where Steven didn’t make it to the finish in time, and I was trying so hard to finish strong and … still had some death face going on. 

Ha! All this talk makes me sound super vain! That is far from the person I am. I just really care about (having) photographs (as a token of the event), and generally prefer when I don’t look like I am in pain, in them! Because, I am not! I don’t run that hard!

Do you try to avoid “death face” in your race photos? What would be your #1 race photo tip?

Ha ha. Another good tip is that if you need to do something obnoxious at the finish line, like jump or strike a pose… make sure you get the heck out of other people’s way!

It’s all about how you handle uncertainty

By , December 9, 2014 6:01 am

Yesterday was my six-year anniversary at work! While six years is the longest I’ve worked at any job, it’s hardly a drop in the bucket for a federal employee. A LOT of people work at my agency for their entire career from college to retirement. Thirty-five and forty years of service is not that uncommon, which is pretty cool (when I don’t think about that in comparison to how many more years of my life I’ll be working, ha ha)!

Strangely, I feel like I should be introspective about this anniversary, and think about upcoming years at work… but that’s just not me. I’m not a goal-setter or very long term planner. Really, if my job has taught me one thing, it’s how to go with the flow and be adaptable during times of uncertainty. Things are constantly changing in the federal workforce (for better or for worse), and I’m actually astonished at how much my job has changed in six years, and wonder what the future will bring. But because it does change so much, I realize it’s futile to put much stock in future goals/plans, which sounds horribly pessimistic, but truthfully, is just reality.

Sigh, I really thought I was giving you guys a break from running talk, which has been way too abundant on this blog lately, but my thoughts about work preparing me for uncertainty connect way too easily with an interesting article I just read in the January/February issue of Running Times.

In the article, the author talks about how we maintain as much control in our interval/speed running workouts as we can – we decide on the pace, duration, intensity, rest intervals and so forth. You often start a workout and expect a certain outcome from it. Which is all fine and dandy, except that is not how races work – you have no idea what the competition will bring (if that matters to you), what the conditions will be that day, and how you’ll feel. Basically, there is much more uncertainty at a race – all you know is when it is and how long you’ll run.

So the author suggests training for uncertainty, to strengthen that mental muscle, with some fun ideas:

  1. If you work with a coach, have them divulge less details about the workout in advance.
  2. If you’re with a group, encourage people in the group to “surge” forward from time to time, and have everyone keep up.
  3. If you’re alone, be less of a slave to the watch for those repeats, and run by feel for some. 
  4. Or have “uncertainty” days where you choose from a list of workouts or roll a die to see what you’ll do.

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Interesting, right? I liked xaarlin‘s idea when I shared this article with her – that on our speed days, we contact the other person right before the workout and they choose from a list of workout ideas, what you’ll be doing. Sounds like fun (even though I tend to be someone who doesn’t like being told what to do, and can’t follow a plan – this is kind of different from a plan, though!).

Even though I’m not someone who does any sort of speed work, and rarely races competitively, I do think something like this would be good for mental training. I was shocked at the race Friday night when someone tried to pass me right before the first mile and I could surge ahead. Maybe that can translate over in to mid-race tiredness with longer distances (when I have no hope of an age group placement and can’t use that for a mental push)?! Maybe I’ll try this sort of training out in the new year.

So, yeah. Planning to train for uncertainty. Trying to be ready for life’s little hiccups. Seems like we’re trying to cheat the system! Hee hee, but it’s something I see as important in all aspects of life – at work, in exercise, in relationships – the more prepared you are that stuff might not go as planned, the more capable you are of dealing with it (duh, Kim, we know!).

How do you prepare for uncertainty in your life?

ZB Run Squad Snowman Shuffle 5K Race Report

By , December 8, 2014 12:29 pm

Zee Bee (ZB) Run Squad is a group in Zion, Illinois that offers a six race 5K series each year (and excitingly, they announced they are adding a 10K for next year!). Each 5K raises money for a different community program. To my knowledge, five of the races are street (on the same course) and one is cross country. 

After I surprisingly did so well (for me) at the ZB Runs Series 5K in November, I decided to see if I could beat the time of that race (23:31) at the last race in the series – The Snowman Shuffle 5K. Oh, and you know, without any 5K specific training, because MARATHON MARATHON MARATHON. Ha ha. 

The race was Friday night at 6:00 pm. I was surprised that so few people showed up – the results show only 60 people ran! The race I did in November had 241 finishers! Hmm, maybe people don’t like to race in December? Last year’s December race only had 85 finishers, even though the weather was crazy warm, in the low 50s! The weather was pretty amazing for this race, too. Mid 30s, and HALLELUJAH no wind! I was super happy to be racing in a tank and shorts!*

Anyway. That sounds like I am complaining there was so few people. Hee hee, I am not. The post race ceremony went super quick because of it, and that meant I got to spend more time with my friends, after!

Oh yeah, so, the race. Ha ha. I knew I wouldn’t negative split it, because I’m not trained for that (nor do I have a pacer) so I decided to go out fast and see how long I could hold on <—- great method. Now that I’ve run this course three times, I feel pretty comfortable with it, and have a good idea of how to run the tangents (and where the pot holes are – good to know since we’re running in the dark (with headlamps)). I started in the front of the line since there is no chip timing, and I was surprised to only be passed by two guys during the race. Toward the end of the first mile (7:01), a woman I knew was in my age group tried to pass me but I sped ahead. I knew I would have to thank her later – if she hadn’t done that, I am sure my pace would have dropped a bit in mile two. 

But I kept the pace going in mile 2 (7:17) and passed the second place girl. “Ooo, can I get to first place?!” I wondered?! Ha ha, nah. Don’t get too greedy, Kim! I slowed in the last mile. The funny thing is, I didn’t have much trouble breathing and my lungs and legs didn’t hurt, I just started to slow (I did taste blood in my mouth and have snot running out of my nose like crazy though!). I pumped my arms, and tried to take deep breaths. No dice. The woman who tried to pass me before got me just after the middle of mile 3 (7:43)! I tried hard to catch her, but couldn’t (last .1 in 0:54). She finished 11 seconds ahead of me (thankfully, not only 1 or 2 seconds ahead, hee hee) and when we finished, I thanked her for making me run that fast! I totally would have crapped out if I hadn’t known I had someone tailing me!

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My overall time was 22:57! Yay! Totally met my goal of running faster than the last race (by 34 seconds). And that finish time is actually only 19 seconds slower than my 5K PR, making this my second fastest 5K ever! Which makes me SUPER happy and feel encouraged for when I go for a 5K PR in March (already have my pacer set up!), and actually train for it. 

I did get second in my age group, and I just adore the medals – ornaments we can hang up! With GLITTER!!!

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Three of my Efit girlfriends (from L to R below, Kelly, Bobbi and Carrie) ran this race as well! We had a lot of fun chatting before and after the race. And! Kelly PR’d and placed, Bobbi placed, and Carrie beat her time from the November race! 

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I love this small race series. The people who run it are so enthusiastic, and I think it’s fantastic that they pick a different local group to donate proceeds to for each race. And they have an awesome post race spread, free race photos, and a zillion raffle items!

And I really like the FRONT of the race shirt this year!

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The back? Hmm. I am not sure what it is, but that phrase is just bugging me (the font is super cute though)! It’s probably because it makes it sound like working out, and perspiring, is a way to punish your body for being “fat” (I know, reading in to it BIG time). But that is not why I work out. I do it because I love it. Anyway!

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I’ll still wear it. With something to cover the back. Ha. 

I’m feeling kind of sad I am almost to my last race of the year! Good thing I have some things already in mind in 2015 (and you know, that marathon in less than a week!)!

*Ha, probably not my last time – I bet I will wear that for the Dallas Marathon next week!

Training Week 268

By , December 7, 2014 6:00 pm

Highlight of the Week: A stellar 5K and last long run of the Dallas Marathon training cycle!

Week268

Monday | December 1, 2014: 10 m run + teaching strength class
Loc: hood, Temp: 20°/18°, Time: 1:39:25, Pace: 9:56 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, but so beat down by the wind
Strength: medicine balls, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good/energetic
Tuesday | December 2, 2014: 7 m run (w/Kelly)
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 19°/20°, Time: 1:09:47, Pace: 9:58 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, sleepy, EXCITED FOR NO WIND
Wednesday | December 3, 2014: rest
Thursday | December 4, 2014: 6 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 33°/31°, Time: 52:41, Pace: 8:47 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: really good
Friday | December 5, 2014: teaching strength class + Snowman Shuffle 5K
Strength: medicine balls and boxing, Difficulty: easy (mostly observing), Felt: good
Loc: Zion, Temp: 34°/34°, Time: 22:58, Pace: 7:22, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: good, pumped
Saturday | December 6, 2014: 12 m run (w/Rachel)
Loc: Madison, Temp: 32°/34°, Time: 1:57:50, Pace: 9:49 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Sunday | December 7, 2014: 7 m run
Loc: hood, Temp: 29°/34°, Time: 1:07:40, Pace: 9:40 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Notes:

  • What happened to my second Monday night strength class? I didn’t report one in last training cycle because I get one night off a month (and it was that night), and there will be none reported in this month, because the class is canceled, for now, due to scheduling conflicts. It may pick up again in January.
  • I felt so spoiled getting a running tour of Madison from Rachel during my long run this Saturday! I have only run in Madison a few times – the marathon (a sort of disaster, ha ha) and twice at night! It was fun to run there during the day and check everything out!
  • Gina and I have plans to hang out with the 4:15 pacer at the marathon, so I was aiming for my last long run to be around goal marathon pace of 9:45ish, and it was, and felt easy-ish! Hurrah!  
  • I haven’t been weather stalking for the marathon. My plan is to just check the forecast before I pack. It could be quite a bit warmer there, than it has been for what I have been training in here, recently. I tried to overdress for my training runs to practice running in the heat, but I was not dedicated enough to run on the treadmill in a hot room and really suffer. Ha ha! Eh, I tried. If it’s warm and super humid, I will likely have positive splits and not be able to stick to pace (my preferred racing temps is in the 30s with no wind), but we shall see!
  • TAPER MAKES ME CRAZY! Gah. I have felt so off/on edge all week. Cutting back on my running and not starting my day with a run makes me feel bonkers. Grr, taper!
  • Race report for the 5K coming tomorrow (I actually wrote it Friday night, was just waiting to see if the race pics were any good, ha)! 

Link to Training Week 267

Training Week 267

By , November 30, 2014 7:34 pm

Highlight of the Week: Running with friends and hitting a new monthly PDR!

Week267

Monday | November 24, 2014: 5 m run (w/Kelly) + 4 m run + teaching strength class
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 45°/45°, Time: 49:33, Pace: 9:54 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, but still have that back pain
Loc: hood, Temp: 36°/34°, Time: 38:57, Pace: 9:44 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: okay, poor visibility (wind + snow)
Strength: medicine balls, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great
Tuesday | November 25, 2014: rest
Wednesday | November 26, 2014: 7 m run (w/Kelly)
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 17°/17°, Time: 1:08:32, Pace: 9:47 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, NO WIND!!!!!
Thursday | November 27, 2014: 22 m run (first 7 w/Kelly)
Loc: Around Grayslake/Round Lake, Temp: 23°/27°, Time: 3:53:47, Pace: 10:37 avg, Difficulty: medium/hard, Felt: uneven
Friday | November 28, 2014: teaching strength class + 6 m run
Strength: medicine balls and boxing, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 30°/29°, Time: 59:39, Pace: 9:56, Difficulty: easy, Felt: surprisingly good
Saturday | November 29, 2014: COOL “10K” (7 miles) (last 3.7 with Bobbi)
Loc: Old School FP and DPRT, Temp: 38°/43°, Time: 1:15:25, Pace: 10:47 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: upset re: wrong turn
Sunday | November 30, 2014: 4 m run
Loc: Millennium Trail, Temp: 34°/34°, Time: 38:00, Pace: 9:30 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Notes:

  • I was working from home on Monday and saw the rain turn to beautiful snow flakes as the temperature dropped and thought, “I want to go on a run in that beautiful snow!” Gah, worst idea ever. Ha ha. It was so windy, the snow was blowing right in to my face and I couldn’t see for most of the run. And the sidewalks were quickly getting icy. I am just happy I got back from that run safely. I won’t make that mistake again – running in windy snow when it’s just been raining… derrrrrrrrrrr.
  • That makes me sound like a snow hater. I am not. I love snow and I love cold weather. But, I would be lying if I said I was not grateful that the snow mostly held off for the bulk of my long runs training for the Dallas Marathon! It’s just easier to plan routes when you can run anywhere and don’t have to worry about snowy/icy trails (or their spring cousin, flooded trails). And it’s nice to not be stuck with loops in my neighborhood yet (due to the trails being buried in snow). 
  • There was some snow and ice for my long run on Thursday though, hence the “uneven” comment above. And there was a whole lot of other “uneven” going on. A few miles in, I had a really strong pain in my right lower lat (after stopping and massaging it I could continue). That pain showed up on Tuesday the 18th, and I thought it might be hormonal, but it stuck. It’s gotten better since then, and I have a true massage soon that I think will help. I also had odd stomach issues – I think it was cause my pack froze and I couldn’t drink as much water. And yeah, difficult footing. My legs and lungs felt great, and that long run left me feeling confident for the marathon!
  • Like I mentioned in my whiny recap yesterday, I have a new monthly PDR – 250.2! And with that, it’s taper time! I have a 5K this week, a few more double digit runs, and two weeks until the marathon!

Link to Training Week 266

COOL 10K Race Report 2014

By , November 29, 2014 11:45 am

Two very good reminders came out of today’s race:

1. Don’t “race”* unless your heart’s in it
2. Don’t always follow the leaders

Some years I am super pumped about doing Thanksgiving time-frame races and take advantage of the fact that Chicagoland has a ton of them. Some years, not so much. Like this year. I scratched the idea of doing a half marathon today early in the week, and kind of thought about the COOL 10K, but was super on the fence about it. I feel like running… just not so much like paying for it. Ha ha. So I decided to see how I felt when I woke up and how the weather was. Felt good, weather was good (highs in the 40s, whuuuuuuuuuuuuut?!), and bonus, Bobbi was doing the race too! And it’s for a good cause (proceeds go to a food pantry), so I prepared a 10K playlist with hopes for a speedy time, and went.

I’m familiar with the race course. It’s a shared 5K/10K course, where the 5Kers do a loop, the 10Kers go off the loop to get that extra 3.1 out and back. Simple course and it hadn’t changed this year, according to the course map.

So I was really surprised in the first .4 miles of the race when we made a right turn where we normally make a left, and ran somewhere we typically don’t. But I saw everyone else going that way behind us too, and stuck with it.

I was feeling good (just had wardrobe issues**) when I passed the 2K sign and saw we were .9 miles ahead of it. Um, yeah. We went the wrong way. Dang. I was hoping I wasn’t right. 

I felt like an idiot for following the leaders (even though everyone did) and discouraged that I’d have to run a faster pace longer, so I slowed down. At 3.3 I stopped and waited a few minutes for Bobbi and ran the rest with her! It was nice to chat, but I felt so dumb/embarrassed about making that wrong turn (which was marked with a low sign) and on how easily I gave up – just no heart in it, today.

But the sun was out, it felt nice out, the 13 mph winds were not horrible and I got to run with my bestie. I’d say that’s a success! And! I hit a new monthly personal distance record (PDR) during this run!

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It made me feel better that the race director acknowledged people went the wrong way (up to 7.3? I had 7.0 in 1:15:25). In fact, I think every 10Ker ran extra. The 5Kers did not, since they started later. There were some runners behind us who thought they were almost done and Bobbi let them know what was up. We felt so bad for them – running 7 instead of 6.2 on their first 10K! One lady joked that she might as well go for a half, next. Hee hee, I like that attitude!

Have you ever taken the wrong turn in a race? What did you do?

Ha ha, that happened to me when I had to walk half in 2010. We got off course but I used my friend’s smartphone to get back on track and we still hit 13.1!!! I can’t recall if that happened that time cause they had already started to take down directional signs. This time was definitely runner error! So don’t get me wrong – this is a great race, and I love that it benefits the local community. And that you get to pick your race swag (horrible pic, but you can choose from a black hat, black headband or blue hat)!

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*to me, this is very distinct from running a race just for fun
**overdressed, and hipS-sister has gotten too big

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