For as long as I can remember, I told people "I can't run." But in March of 2009, I decided that this was no longer an option. From my first 5K to my second half marathon, I've endured my highest highs and lowest lows as an official Runner. This year I want to embrace running for something beyond times and distances.

Running is so much more than merely getting out there. I want to get out there and love it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

...and then I vommed.

This past Saturday was a red letter day in my running world...for two reasons! Finally, at the Lighthouse 10 miler, I ran with Claire! Not just the first couple at a local half marathon this time. Mile after mile. Water cup after water cup. Start to finish. And it was a TOTAL blast!! The miles just melted away even though we ran for nearly two hours!! The light conversation was great, but my favorite part about running with Claire was how kind she was: asking me how I was feeling, telling me it was ok to walk through water stops ;) I really struggled with this race for some reason (for many reasons?), but she was awesome the whole way! Not to mention the fact that she basically gave up on TWO attempts at personal goals in order to run with me: 1. her chance to beat LY's race time, I looked it up and she literally said "Next year this bitch is mine!" Haha! And 2. before I signed up, she was going to do the 4 mile option--barefoot! So yeah, pretty much the best running friend a girl could have ;)

First of all, I repeated my faux pas from the Chicago Half...I ate breakfast. At the end of the day, there's really not a lot of difference between a 10 mile training run and a 10 mile race when you're me. So why did I change up my eating plan last minute?? Stupid. All I had was a granola bar, a lot of water, and probably a cup and a half of coffee at 5:30am. But I was crazy nauseous through most of the race (which started at 8am). Tiny sips of water throughout the course seemed to make it worse, and taking a gel felt out of the question. At mile 6 though, I forced down half. It wasn't awful, but--hint, hint--it came back to haunt me later ;) Meanwhile, my IT band was being a little jerk the whole time too. Claire even noticed it, saying I looked like I was hobbling a little throughout the second half. Gar! While not completely debilitating, it definitely made for a slower run.

The Finish. Claire told me about the a wicked hill at the end of the race, right before the finish line. I tried not to think too much about it. But of course we hit Mile 9 and I could not WAIT for the race to be over. Claire decided we were going to finish strong. (What? You mean NOT the pathetic shuffling I had been rocking the last few miles?) After the hill, only a few hundred yards remained. The finish line was as clear as day. But I seriously had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get up to a sprint normal running pace. I crossed the finish at a fuzzy 1:53 something.

And I knew it was coming.
There has only been one other race where I had to hold myself back from throwing up everywhere: a 5K in my friend Monica's old neighborhood and my third best 5K finish. This time, however, I couldn't hold back no matter HOW hard I concentrated: my first ever race vom experience! Luckily I had just ran 10 miles and burned off anything and everything I had eaten in the past five hours, aside from the half gel and some water. So it was no biggie; Claire and I agreed it was kismet. Her son doesn't have to be the only one barfing at the finish line!

But speaking of Claire's kids, not only did I meet (and re-meet) several members of her posse at the race, I also met her hilarious husband and little lady! T just cracks me UP!!! After the race, we all hung out for awhile at their house. Claire poured me a cup of coffee (a girl after my own heart! haha!!), and her daughter proceeded to show me all of her stuffed animals (totally something I would do at her age...and honestly up to like 12.). I basked in my ultra-fave post-race glow, as well as the warmth and coziness of their home. And if that wasn't hospitable enough...Claire literally sent me home with a running store!! She gave me a foam roller, a stack of Runner's Worlds, a long sleeve running shirt, and some SHOES. Yeah sure, all stuff her huz really wanted her to get rid of and probably would've ended up in the dumpster or local Goodwill, but now it all has a new home. I used the foam roller last night and it was heaven and hell all wrapped up in one! Going to try the shoes out, probably tomorrow when I actually run again. This three-day break has been lovely ;)

So 1:52:42 was my chip time...11:20 min mile pace. It is officially--including both of my Halfs--the slowest race I've ever run, and by an entire minute per mile at that. How do I feel? Well honestly, I'm not particularly bummed about it. I know I went slow and I also purposefully threw in some walk breaks for the first time in a race. I can't exactly blame the heat as it was comparable to the Chicago Half weather. I have a lot more training miles behind me in this cycle than I did at the Chicago Half, so that's funny. But I also had a more easy-going spirit coming into this race than any of the others. 'Just have fun' was my mentality. I did and then some!! So when it comes down to it, I wouldn't change one iota about the supremely awesome day I had!!!

And with 3.5 weeks till the Summerfest Half, I hope to channel some of that easy-going spirit, even without my running buddy by my side :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fire Side Chats

You know who is inspiring? Other runners. Like real live ones.

Last night I joined in on a 200ish person training run at Ronald McDonald House for the Summerfest Half. It was five miles (or nine if you're a rockstar!) around the Tosa area in a wet sloppy frigid March-style mess. While I wasn't nervous about it, as I've run a dozen races by myself and showed up to many of them all alone...I was sort of lonely on the drive there. I almost posted the training run on Facebook to see if any of my friends happened to be going, but refrained.

Well immediately upon my arrival, a woman started chatting with me! She looked to be late 30s or so and definitely a runner. She was helping out at the event, running the 5mi, but not running the Half in July since the longest she's run is 6mi. I was like, say WHAT girl? You could totally do it! Anyway, she ran with me for a couple miles and apologized a billion times for being so chatty, but I loved it!! I even chimed in...despite the fact that I was trying to hide the sections where I was out of breath ;) She was fast! We parted ways at the end of the run, she told me she'd catch up later.

I joined the runners congregated in the RMH and shoved free pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and Gatorade into my pie hole. Again, I was alone though. I sat with a couple runners and we made small talk, but they mostly chatted with one another. After they left, two 50-something dudes, JB and Joe, sat down and they were awesome!! We all talked about the various races we've run, etc. Joe looked and talked exactly like Kevin Spacey, so that was fun! The woman from earlier (Lorie I think?) sat down with us eventually too.

I left RMH feeling really happy! I had run a solid 5 (in the rain!) with lots of cool, sweet people, and it reminded me that I don't always have to do things by myself. I'm not really a group person. I never really wanted to join a running club like Badgerland Striders or Team in Training...but maybe I shouldn't rule that sort of stuff out.

Well at the very least I can ride this high for a little longer since I am both a. running a race and b. running said race with a FRIEND this Saturday!!! I can already tell I'm going to have a blast even if I don't run my best!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go...


[Question about foam rollers/compression sleeves at the end...maybe you can help me out?]

No strippers and margaritas this past week! But it was sticky sweaty HOT anyway. Being inspired once again by Claire's post, I gathered up my guts and decided to run outside last Thursday instead of my usual gym run. I plotted a 5 mile stretch and said a prayer. I had two things going for me: it was overcast and only 92 degrees, rather than sunny and nearly 100 the day before. Well it didn't matter because I still seriously sucked at it. I got only 2.5 miles through it before I seriously wanted to stop and head back. At 3 I decided to cut through the loop early and before embarking on a hill with an official 3% incline, I gave up and walked. I started up again when I got lost in suburbia where all the houses look the same and everything ends in a cul de sac.
I ended the run a quarter mile shy of 5 miles and was relatively satisfied that I at least tried it. But pretty depressed knowing full well that if the Half Marathon is anywhere close to 90 some degrees and humid, I just won't be able to rock it. Yes that's a defeatist attitude, but at least I'm prepared. And yeah yeah, I signed up for a Half Marathon in July and I have no one to blame but myself ;) Seriously though, I have no idea why they aren't starting it at 7am. My Chicago Half in September started at 7:30. There's a big difference running the last few miles at 9:30 vs 10:30 on a hot summer day. Chicago changed their start time relatively last minute, so I have hope.

Speaking of suburbia, I officially love running in the city way more than in nature. What's wrong with me? I trained most of my first Half along the lakeshore path in Bayview/St. Francis...and yeah it was really pretty! I've been doing most of my long runs this time combining downtown and the lake front and I just adore it. There's so much to look at, so many people I pass, lots of distractions, yet super relaxing. I've also stopped listening to music when I run downtown. I find myself way more calm when I can listen to the music of the traffic in the city...Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty...How can you lose? Seriously, maybe Petula Clark was singing about her training runs.

And speaking of the concrete jungle, no matter how much I claim to feel better running in my Newton's, I still have some all-over leg pain after these long runs. Running on a lot of concrete will do that I'm matter how you are foot-striking. Therefore, I'm wondering if a foam roller and/or shin compression sleeves will help? Anyone out there use either of these? The pain isn't centralized in any one location...just a general soreness everywhere!

I've got less than a month until the Half now. My 10+ mile training runs are pretty much over I think. This weekend I'm heading down to Claire's territory to run the Lighthouse 10 Mile! Doesn't look like it'll be too hot, so I'm stoked about that!! The Saturday following I am in Chicago for a design conference. As much as I would absolutely LOVE to run through the streets of Chicago for an 8-10 miler, I think the delicious food and DRINKS Saturday night will prevent this from happening.

So I'm in somewhat of a home stretch here. And I'm going to try to promise myself that Half Training is over for 2011. Yes yes the bright lights and neon of Vegas are like an evil siren temptress, but I will refrain and focus on minimal/natural happy running over the remainder of the summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Strippers, Heat, Qdoba...spicy!

So it's been awhile! I had a weird couple weeks running-wise. Sucky is the operative word I think. I was just starting to fit right into the running pocket. My pace was getting faster, I was rockin the fartlek, I was hitting my long runs pretty decently. Well then it got hot. And my job sucked the life out of me. And I didn't feel good. I pathetically attempted 11 miles on Memorial Day. The day it was like 90 and humid and big huge burning sun. First off, I was supposed to do the run on Friday because I had a half day from work. Instead I got my hair chopped off and sat on Water St. Bar Louie patio and drank beers with my work gang. That evening I had 30 margaritas, more beer, and saw Saturday morning was out. Saturday night I attended a wedding...more beer. Sunday was out.

So Monday and its sticky soup was my demise. I ran for TWO MILES and had to sit at a bus stop. I stopped again at mile 3. And walked the remaining mile and a half home. So depressing. I decided then and there that this week would be the mid-training "easy week" I've been hearing so much about. [I tried googling but just take my word for it!] I ran 4.5 mid-week and that's IT. Until Saturday when, once again, it was horribly hot and sticky. I tried SO HARD to get up early, but every day during the entire "easy week" I had been getting 5hr/night sleep because of long work days and long work nights. Blah blah blah details, in any case I headed out at 8am and it was still horrifying. THIS time I ran more/walked less 4.5 miles, but still real rough, stopping several times to rest under shade. I got to my car where I was supposed to switch shoes and get more water and said FUCK THIS and headed to the gym where I wondered if I'd be able to run 6.5 miles on the tread. NOPE. 2 miles. 11 miler AGAIN out of my reach.

When I got home all bummed yet again, the news informed me that apparently a huge cool front was headed our way and it'd be like 70 max and low humidity!! YEEHAW now we're in business!! And my friends, I cannot even describe the universal differences. I barely broke a sweat. I've been hotter on the treadmill than I was out there today. Plus for most of it there were sporadic cloud clumps and even a dash of rain droplets. It was absolutely f'ing gorgeous.

As for difficulty, well I went slow, like whoa. So I felt really great through pretty much the whole thing. Most of my discomfort was in the first four miles. I was hungry and my knees hurt. But after a gel and getting into my groove, I felt WOW running can be FUN! I felt like I could go forever. Back when I was hungry though, a glorious thought bubble bounced out of my brain...No not twenty miles...MexiCAN I Can!! And honestly, having that thought bubble with me through the run totally gave me a boost! I guess guac is my carrot. Healthier, in my opinion? ;)

Now here's the funny story: I couldn't start in my pre-routed spot because I was in the middle of a big bike race. So I already logged into my brain that I'd had to make up that chunk of mileage. There were a couple spots where I thought: "Is this route right? Am I missing a loop?" The run was just a little TOO easy and I was done a little TOO quickly. Well, to make up for the previously-mentioned new start spot and my unease about too-short-of-a-run, I tacked on what I thought was on an extra mile. I got back, stretched, got into my car, and decided to check my pre-planned route on my iMapMyRun app.


I DID totally screw up!! Not just one but TWO loops. I did some math (I'm horrible at math) and decided the total distance was just too short and I did NOT waste this awesome weather for a too-short long run. So I literally got back out of my car and started it up again. I know. Well, THIS time I actually had the smarts to turn on my MMR app and which TOLD me I ran for another two miles (NOT as fun as the previous bunch). To make a long story long (zzzzzzz....), when I got home I adjusted my route online......

13 miles. Guhhhhhh. So in actuality, I was golden perfect when I stopped the first time. And now I've probably messed up my knees for good! They aren't feeling so hot :\ Damn you 10% increase!!! So hopefully I'm ok, I'll just take it easy and ice I guess.