Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick! It's almost over!

In case you've missed it, 2013 is nearly done. And in the spirit of being a mediocre running blogger (what do you mean it's been over a month since I last posted?!) I figured I drop some quick 2013 stats.

I ran an official 961 miles (1,546km) this year. There are possibly some more unofficial miles but if it ain't in my Garmin list then it doesn't count.

In those 961 miles, I did 13 races totaling 152.2 miles (244.9km):
Chicago Marathon
My first marathon!

F^3 Lake Half Marathon
Nashville Country Music Half Marathon
Get Lucky Half Marathon
Didn't feel too lucky running in this wind

Chicago Spring Half Marathon
Chicago Women's Half Marathon
Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon
Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (oops, no recap of this. It was Vegas-y)
Viva Las Vegas

Lakefront 10 Miler
Snow. In April. Not what they told me before I moved here!

Soldier Field 10 Miler
I got a sneak peek at the medals by volunteering for this race.

NYRR New York Mini 10K
Shamrock Shuffle
Burgers and Beer 5K

I traveled to and ran (albeit not always a lot) in places I've never been/run in before:
Honky Tonk Heroes

Georgia Aquarium

San Francisco
San Francisco icon

New York City
Love this skyline

Washington DC
Capitol Building

Elfreth's Alley

And I met 43 people (not really, I don't actually know how many, but it was lots) through running.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with this. Without wanting to put too much pressure on myself, next year I'd like to hit up a few more miles but if 2014 is half as good as 2013 I'll be smiling.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm still here!

I just realised I was about to hit all of November without checking in here! Oops!!

Why has it been so quiet? I had a bit of blogger burnout. I'm sure you were a bit tired of reading the same old, same old too.

And with that, I don't have much new to say. In the absence of words, here's what I've been up to/seen over the past six (?!) weeks in pictures.

Way back at the end of October I went to a couple of talks at Chicago Ideas Week.
It was awesome.

Being a Chicago tourist. Trying to make the most of this city while I'm here.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas half marathon

Volunteering at races

More Rock n Roll Las Vegas half marathon

Selecting Christmas gifts for family and friends from the SkyMall catalog on the plane.
Who wouldn't want a portrait of their pet styled in 17th century clothing?!

Speaks for itself really

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chicago Marathon Race Musings

I am sad that I don't think I can fully capture and express how the day went. So this is not a race recap, so much as it's my musings on the day with a bit of recap thrown in for flavour.

I slept surprisingly well the night before. The first time I woke up was after 1.30, which was much better than I had expected. I eventually got up around 4.30 to start getting ready and eat a little breakfast. At 5.30 I headed out towards the Red line with a stop to pick up coffee along the way. I started spotting fellow runners as soon as I stepped out my front door.

Because I'd done the CARA Marathon training program, I had access to a special CARA area at the Hilton hotel with gear check plus we had our own special port-a-potties near the start line (something I should have made better use of). I dropped off my bag and met up with a few of the girls from my training group. We got a few group shots and then headed for the start.

Excited before the race

Waiting for things to get started
I started with the girls from my group but lost them after the first water station. The early miles flew by. I was trying to look at everything and memorise the experience. Of course, now, it's all a blur. I remember smiling heaps and trying to high five every kid who had their hand out. At around mile 5 I knew I needed to take a bathroom break. It's moments like these that I am jealous of the guys and how they can make use of the trees. The lines at the toilets were just too long for me though to take a break, so I kept on.

The support on the course was fantastic from start to finish. While there were stretches that were quieter than others, I never felt like I was out there on my own. The huge number of people around me running helped with that too. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to run Chicago as my first marathon.

To say I had favourite parts would not be accurate. There are just parts I remember more clearly: people standing on the bridge supports to get above the crowd and cheer, the music and colour of Boystown, the familiarity of Lincoln Park, the huge support and camaraderie on Charity Row, colour and dancing beats in Pilsen, super slippery banana peels after the 20 mile marks. Unfortunately, there were so many parts of the course when I really didn't know where I was. Note to self: Experience more Chicago!!

My pace plan for the race was to try and keep things even. It's pretty safe to say I have identified an area that I can continue to work on. I would say that for the first 30km or so I wasn't too bad. But after there things slowed down. There was no wall. This was mostly a reflection of tired legs and not being confident enough in my abilities. It's so easy now to look back on things and say I should have done things different.

Going in to the race I had a few goals:
1) Finish - it's your first marathon, so just be happy with getting across the finish line. It's no small achievement. But I ultimately knew that I would be disappointed if this was the only goal I achieved.
2) Sub-5:00 - this goal was the one that I fixated on and had repeatedly told myself I wasn't willing to compromise on.
3) Sub-4:45 - my "wouldn't it be nice" goal. But I never believed I could do 4:45, even though a variety of pace calculators said I could. And while in my head I thought about this quite frequently, I never mentally committed to achieving it. This was my undoing. My 20/20 hindsight says this was well within my reach.

When I got tired and sore after the 30km mark, I knew that I had enough time left to meet sub-5:00 while relaxing my pace. Sub-5:00 was the goal I had mentally committed to. So slow down I did.

An illustration of not maintaining an even pace
Please don't get me wrong. I am beyond happy that I am a marathoner. I am also very pleased with my 4:53:22 finish time. But the feeling that I didn't live up to my potential is nagging at me somewhat. But maybe that's what the next marathon is for?

Now, as I limp around nursing a very strained left leg (I could even concede injured given my swollen and crunchy knee), as the endorphin buzz of the day has worn off, how do I feel?

Chicago Marathon.
I loved every minute of you even when I was hating you.
You were all that I had hoped for and more.
You will were worth all that I put into training for you - every early morning, every mile on the treadmill, every blister, every toenail, everything.

You were the time of my life.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #..., whatever

I've been somewhat absent from the internet as I have been having a small meltdown.

When last we spoke I was considering giving the New York Marathon a go, mere weeks after having theoretically completed my first marathon, aka the all consuming fixation I've had for the past six months, aka Chicago Marathon. I really appreciated the feedback that I got and spent a lot of mental energy trying to make a decision.

On Sunday I travelled to San Francisco and did about three hours of walking around the city before I could check in to my hotel. By the time I got to my hotel my left leg (the leg that isn't actually injured but likes to pretend that it is) was very achy. And at that point I pretty much decided that I wasn't prepared to push myself for NY. Plus by not doing the New York Marathon this year, it can remain on my bucket list and that gives me an excuse to come back again some time in the future. I love NYC so I'll take any excuse I can get to visit.

Now, onto the training. Or not.

The past couple of weeks have been disastrous. I didn't run at all while in San Francisco. If you're a San Francisco lover, I suggest you stop reading now.

I did not like San Francisco. The entire time I was there, no matter which part of the city I was in, I felt pretty uncomfortable. My hotel did not have a gym and I did not want to run outside, so I didn't run. I did, however, walk. A lot. And up hills. A lot. I more than covered my planned mileage so I don't feel like the week was a complete wash. But I do. And then I don't. I can't decide on anything at the moment.

I walked here from down town

And I walked here too

I walked up a hill to take this pic.
Because the government shut down I couldn't actually go to Alcatraz and be a proper tourist.

That's the hill I walked up for the previous photo.

View of down town area from the Presidio. No prizes for guessing I walked here.
And this week I am travelling again for work. And I'm tapering. Which means I've got nothing to talk about as far as running is concerned. Unless you want me to talk about how this is all possibly the end of the world because I'm supposed to be running a race this weekend and I've done virtually no running for the past two weeks.

I kind of wish it was Sunday already. I suspect this is not unique to me but I am more than a little anxious about the disruptions to my routine. Plus, I have so many expectations for this race and I just want to experience it all NOW!!

Anyone else going crazy?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

How crazy would it be if?

I was "offered" a (not free) spot in the New York marathon today via someone at my running group. What follows are the various thoughts that went through my head.

"Sure, I'm interested."
"Um, you haven't run one marathon yet. Do you really think you can do another one four weeks later?"
"I don't have to race New York, just finish it."
"You might not be living in the US for New York next year. It will be expensive trying to find a hotel, flights, etc now but it's still cheaper than flying half way around the world."
"You are beginning to hurt from Chicago training. Adding another marathon is insane."
"Remember, you're trying to run smarter here. Two marathons in a month might set you back a long way in running health."
"But I want to!!"

Being the good blogger that I am, I figured the smartest thing to do would be ask all of you what you think.

Additional information that's may be relevant in making this decision:

  • I need to decide by Monday.
  • Going into Chicago Marathon, I am not injured but I am feeling a bit beat up from the training.
  • NY won't be a cheap endeavour but it won't send me bankrupt. It would mean only one or two races total in 2014 though.
  • One of my running goals for 2014 is a half marathon PR and stretch goal is to go sub 2:00. Ideally I wanted to try this early 2014 as my fastest 2013 times were all pre-April.

On a scale of "Not necessarily smart but do-able" to "Are you out of your mind? No way!!", what do you think?

In the interest of full disclosure, I will probably end up ignoring any feedback that I don't want to hear. But at this point I'm not entirely sure what it is that I do want to hear.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #15

aka The week that didn't go so well

As I write this - under three weeks to go!!


Travelling wrote off the morning. I had intentions of getting in a run in the afternoon but my leg hurt, I was tired and basically I threw a tantrum. To compensate for my lack of activity I made sure to have ice cream after dinner.


This week is shaping up to be a winner. Nothing today either - early start, sore leg, inner-three-year-old saying "I don't wanna! I don't wanna". More ice cream (hey, three-year-olds like ice cream).


AM: 4 miles (6.4km) - 41:52

Took this run carefully, straying no further than one mile from the hotel. I didn't really relish the thought of having to walk miles back in the dark if my leg didn't want to play. Luckily it worked out OK.

Nothing exciting to report. I did encounter one spider's web and I'm sure I looked like a complete freak to people driving past while I was waving my arms about trying to get it off me.


Another early start and then travel back to Chicago that night left the day run-less.


AM: Strength session - 30:00
AM: 5 miles (8km) - 51:17

Got in a strength session followed by a run before work. Felt so good to be back in my regular routine (although, I'm travelling so much it really should just be part of my routine). The leg wasn't completely off but it wasn't right either. If I make sure to roll heaps, it definitely helps.


Quiet day. Following my training plan I rested in preparation for the Ready to Run 20 Miler on Sunday.


AM: CARA Ready to Run 20 miler (32km) - 3:40:45

My second 20 mile run in this training cycle (also my second 20 mile run ever) and my last "long" long run before the marathon. Hello taper!

I actually really enjoyed this run. I started off with my training group, then got separated somewhere along the way (because I can't keep a pace and shot off on my own). Then found them again after I took a restroom break (need to avoid doing that during the marathon). Finished out the run with one of the girls from my group, feeling strong and practicing a fast finish (actually sprinted to the finish line because I'm stupidly competitive (when I think that I'm ballpark same level) and just had to win).

Other than a couple of minutes after the run where I felt like I might pass out/throw up/die (I just needed to eat something), I pulled up pretty well.

One of the highlights of the day was the transportation back to downtown/start line. School buses! For this Australian girl, riding in a yellow school bus was embarrassingly exciting.

After I got home, had a shower and ate some lunch (hot soup and a grilled cheese sandwich never tasted so good!!) I took myself off for a massage. This confirmed exactly how tight my hips and left leg are (were? hopefully the massage reduced some of that). Unfortunately, by Sunday night it became apparent that I've inflamed my foot again. Luckily I have a good supply of ice packs in the freezer now, in anticipation of such events.

This Week's (less that ideal) Stats

  • Total miles: 29 (46.4 km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 13 minutes 54 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 3
  • Total cross training workouts: 0
  • Total strength workouts: 1

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #14

One month out! The anticipation is really beginning to build now.


AM: 5.75 miles (9.2km) - 1:01:08
PM: Strength session - 30:00

After blathering on in my weekly recap last week about loving running and feeling so lucky to be able to do what I do, I dragged my tired self out the door this morning for a 6-ish mile run. Those Boomtown Rats had it right - I don't like Mondays. But I do like running and I remembered that about 2 miles in. This was a sluggish and slightly petulant run and came up a quarter mile short of my intended distance.

After work I snuck in a strength workout.


AM: 5.25 miles (8.4km) - 54:33

Too much strength work Monday night left me pretty tired this morning. Add in the summery temps and this was just hard work. Felt like I was dragging the whole way.


AM: 7 miles (11.2km) - 1:11:14
PM: Strength session - 30:00

Still tired. Still hot. But much better run today.

More strength stuff after work.


Rest Day! Seriously, Thursday is my most absolute favourite day of the week!!


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:14:02

I already did a happy dance about this here.

Fab running temps and humidity today! The run was effortless, even with the application of some effort to my run. There was a decent wind coming from the north which had the lake stirred up. I saw one guy get hammered by a wave over the path at Fullerton. Felt bad for him but was kind of glad I saw it happen as it made me push my way through there As Quick As Possible!


AM: 5.32 miles (8.5km) - 58:04
AM/PM: Cycling - 40:00
PM: Strength session - 30:00

Started off my day with my weekly long run. 14 miles on the cards.

Made it 4 miles south before deciding to cut things short and turn around for home. Only managed another mile or so (OCD tendencies are so not happy about that .32) before I decided enough was enough. Caught the bus back home. My left heel had been hurting a little Friday but I iced it and had high hopes for Saturday. After I woke up it felt OK and figured I'd be good to go. I walked for a mile to join my training group as a warm and was generally feeling OK. Two miles in I was feeling a fair amount of tightness in my left leg from hip to heel. Three miles in I knew this wasn't loosening up and the pain in my heel was coming back. Four miles in I figured it was safer to skip the full run than really hurt myself. Five miles and I was so uncomfortable that catching the bus just seemed like the best option.

I foam rolled, used the stick, a tennis ball and ice at home. This seemed to help some. Then I headed to a training session with a strength coach. I rode my bike there and back (it's clearly been a very long time since I rode my bike because it was Hard. Work.) to keep me off my feet. The session was really good and left feeling nicely shaky.

Thankfully I wasn't too shaky because I finished out my day with a seminar at Fleet Feet called Run Your Best. It was hosted by Newton Running and Runner's World and had Bart Yasso and Paula Newby-Fraser and speakers. There was also a running clinic where we practiced some techniques for improving speed and efficiency. Possibly not my best move doing more running but it was pretty low key and I had felt like I got a bit out of it. xaarlin was there too and we had a chat while practicing the 'superman' and other drills in the clinic. I also got some marathon pacing advice from Bart Yasso - planning my negative split for the marathon - so clearly I'm now pretty much set.


Was hoping I'd get in a few miles to top up yesterday's shortened run but my leg was still not up to it.

This Week's Stats

  • Total miles: 31.33 (50.1 km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 19 minutes 01 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 1
  • Total strength workouts: 3

Friday, September 13, 2013

Loving it!

I'm feeling extra happy today and felt the need to share.

I woke up this morning and knew the wind was blowing out of the north - my building creaks in a particular way. And a wind from the north means cooler temps.

I love it! Temperatures somewhere in the 50s and low humidity. Ideal running weather (well, a little colder wouldn't hurt).

Today's run was effortless. And yet I ran an average pace one minute faster than usual. My entire eight miles were between 8:30 and 9:50, something previously unheard of. It would appear that the miles of training really are paying off.

I am a much better runner now than I was this time last year. I am a much better runner now than I was six months ago! I feel like I say this far too often and yet not often enough - I am so happy training for this marathon.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #13

Ah, lucky 13!


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 52:10

Headed out later than usual seeing as there was no work to go to. It's such a difference running in daylight, I'd forgotten what the northern path looked like!

This was a relaxing run, where I just listened to the sound of the waves on the lake.

And then I got bored so decided to kick up the pace for the last half mile, just to see what would happen...
8:59 mile split. I didn't know I could run a mile in a time that starts with an eight.


AM: 7 miles (11.2km) - 1:08:33

Still feeling good (the denial treatment method for my calf seems to be working well). The moonset/sunrise view was pretty awesome early on in my run. My phone just doesn't have the ability to capture how amazing it was - a crescent moon low on the horizon with a thin band of vibrant pink just between the lake and some low clouds.

After getting all excited about yesterday's 8:59 I played again today. This time I managed an 8:24. These faster miles are addictive.


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:22:44

I can't remember if I've said this on the blog before but I'm scared of really pushing myself or trying speed workouts (or something that might resemble a speed workout). Every time I have really injured myself, speed and/or hills have been involved. So, for my Chicago Marathon training it's been running for distance pretty much the whole way. I change up the pace but only within my comfort zone. Well, you know, except for those couple of experiments I did earlier in the week.

Today was no different. I just went out and enjoyed my morning time. I love being outside, listening to the sound of the lake and the city waking up. I love watching the sky gradually brightening as the sun rises. I don't love the bug attacks but they're part and parcel of the experience and I'll gladly take them for everything else.

It's so easy to take it all for granted. But I am so lucky to be living here in this city. To be able to get out and run every day. To have the expanse of lake on one side and the convenience of the city on the other. To have a community of like-minded people around me who understand what drives me to get up before sunrise every day, run for hours, persist through random pains (btw - my calf pain has gone! I'm cured!) and discuss the relative benefits of different training plans.

On the speed thing, once I'm done with the marathon and have taken a little time off, I'm going to train with speed in mind. 2014 will have a new half marathon PR. And it's going to be a good one.


Rest day!


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 50:29

Felt tired for the whole run. Just like everything was a little bit harder than normal. Mentally I was preoccupied thinking about my Saturday run. 20 miles - my longest run so far!


AM: 20 miles (32km) - 3:42:08

My first attempt (successful!) at this distance in my training program.

I know there is a school of thought that says doing this run is counter-productive. And especially for a slower runner like myself. But I am so glad to have done it.

For me (and, I suspect, I lot of other people) running is a mental game. Obviously, physical fitness and training is required, but it's my mind that controls a lot of my success. Running 20 miles has given me the confidence to be able to say "I will succeed at the marathon". I know I can run the distance. And I know I can run it, even if I'm not feeling great. I also know that there is still a lot that can happen in the six miles I will never run until race day. But I got through 20 miles on Saturday, on pace, while battling continuing fatigue (what's going on here?) and an uncooperative stomach (again, what's going on here - I thought we had this sorted out?).

Despite not feeling 100% for the run, I recovered well. I felt tired during the rest of the day but not completely wiped out, like I have been before.

I am no expert on this marathon business. I do know myself reasonably well, however. And I know I need to practice, practice, practice because my mind and exceptional talent in doubting myself will always do their best to convince me I can't.


Does watching shows on Netflix count as a workout? If so, I've worked hard today!

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 45 (72 km)
  • Total running time: 7 hours 46 minutes 04 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 0
  • Total strength workouts: 0
Goals for next week
  • Cross training and strength workouts
I dropped these because I felt like they were contributing to my calf pain. Hmm, calf pain has gone - maybe I was right? I'm going to add them back in but be super careful while I do it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #12

The week the I-word reared its ugly head.

Update: I've just realized the font in this post has gone screwy. I can't fix it, so apologies to anyone who is as OCD as me. It's bugging the absolute daylights out of me.


Nothing. Flew to Atlanta first thing and didn't leave the office until late.


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 54:31

I chose a different hotel to stay at this week. The choices are pretty limited as my office is out in the suburbs. This hotel is in a better area - more residential and  just nearby has an approximately 4 mile long road, with sidewalks and street lights. This works pretty well as my longest mid-week runs are 8 miles.

I took my first run out with a liberal amount of caution. I had driven the route (well, I was a passenger while one of my colleagues drove the route for me) the night before so I had a feel for what was what but it's a little unnerving being out early in the morning in a new and unknown area.

Two other runners crossed my path during the run and both gave enthusiastic hellos. Early morning runners are the best!

I finished up feeling pretty good and happy to have run without incident.


AM: 6 miles (9.6km) - 1:04:01

Same route as Tuesday. Headed out feeling a little more relaxed than the day before. But not that relaxed, as when a squirrel (I think it was a squirrel anyway) ran in front of me, I may have squealed just a little and my heart stopped for what felt like a minute. Having found a safer and more consistent route meant I could relax into the hills more and use them as part of my training (rather than the constant start-stop routine I'd been doing previously). I have lost of perspective of what constitutes "hilly" but I think this route might be just that. It certainly has more hills than my Chicago runs (I know, it's not that hard though). Here are the elevation profiles of my 6 mile run in Atlanta versus 6 miles in Chicago. It would look better if I could get the scales equal.
Hello Atlanta hills
Practically flat Chicago

AM: 0.1 miles - ow!

I started a run but called it quits with calf pain.

AM: Elliptical - 15:00
AM: Weights - 30:00

Took my workout inside but even the elliptical started aggravating my calf.


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:23:40

Feeling better today, so decided to give the planned 8 miles a go. All went well, my calf was quiet all run.


AM: 10 miles (16km) - 1:50:29

13 mile run fail. This was the run where I really began to question whether there was something seriously wrong with my calf. It never really hurt but I could feel it from mile 2. By mile 8 I knew it was time to call it quits. I am stubborn so made it an even 10.


Rest. Ice. Compression. Stretch.

This week's stats

  • Total miles: 29 (46.4km)
  • Total running time: 5 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 4
  • Total cross training workouts: 1 (ish)
  • Total strength workouts: 1
Goals for next week
Exactly the same as last week.
  • Warm up and cool down
  • Running form
  • Getting up when the alarm goes off and not after I hit snooze three times

August summary

  • Total miles: 153 (244.8km)
  • Total running time: 27 hours 06 minutes 51 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 20

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #11

Under 50 days to Marathon day!

I found out this week that I'm confirmed to stay in Chicago until at least November 2014 (yay!!), so was talking to my Dad about how it meant I could now enter one of the other 'big' marathons next year - NYC or Marine Corp (or any one of the other fall marathons around). He said to me I should wait until I do Chicago before planning my next one because I probably wouldn't want to do another one. It's true, I've yet to experience the marathon but I am having The. Best. Time. training for Chicago (despite whatever moaning I may do here). So even if the marathon sucks (which I'm pretty sure it won't), it's just one day in the 126 days of my training. And I would say it's totally worth doing again.

Now onto the last seven days in the aforementioned 126...


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 52:19

Feeling a little sore from yesterday's weights session and never really settled into this run. Nothing too exciting to report but there was a lovely sunrise. No pictures as I'm not always carrying my phone with me (oh yes, safety first here!).

Note to self: carry phone with you so that you can take more sunrise pictures. No one ever gets tired of sunrise pictures. Plus you might need it for a phone call or something.


AM: 7.5 miles (12km) - 1:15:02

Erg! Buggy day today.

Had to cut half a mile from the plan due to some time constraints.


AM: 6 miles (9.6km) - 59:27

Right calf was sore today. Felt OK while I was running but starting and stopping didn't feel good. Despite this, I did some morning run photographic recording.

Run start. Just a glimmer of light on the horizon.

Looks a little misty but really I think it's just sweat!

North Avenue on the way home.

All done!


Rest day. Nothing going on here. Took a complete rest day to try and baby my calf back to normality.


AM: 8 miles (12.8km) - 1:20:15

Fabulous! Terrific!

Eight miles of just thinking how much I am loving marathon training and running and life in general. Friday runs are definitely my favourite runs.

Plus I had a celebrity sighting - spied Declan powering his way through a workout. Called out a hello and then got one back as he overtook me later on during the run.


AM: 18 miles (28.8km) - 3:15:57

Another first time distance. I felt really good the whole run (well, except for that pesky calf) and had a great time with my training group. Once again, I ended up pacing - not the whole group but a renegade few who wanted a more consistent pace and fewer stops on the way (I personally think stopping close to every mile is overkill).

I repeated my fuelling strategy from last week with success, so I am calling it locked in as the primary marathon plan. So, what's my secret, I hear you ask. Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bar. For this distance I took one bar and cut it into six pieces and had one piece about every three miles. These just sit so much better than gels/chews in my stomach and I've felt so much more evenly energised during the run.

Now that I know I've got this in place, I'm going to experiment with some other solid fuel options as well. I had the opportunity to try a few flavours of Jimmy Bars recently c/- Erica.

These were all really good, although I'm partial to the Peanut Butter Clutter. I didn't really try these as a running fuel but I think they would possibly work. I think when it comes to the actual race, having a few flavour options up my sleeve will be a really good idea. I like the Jimmy Bars because the ingredients are simple and few - an approach to eating I've adopted whole-heartedly over the past month with really great results. I'm running better and feeling better and shed a few pounds in the process, which just adds to the running better and feeling better equation.


PM: Weights session - 30:00

Just me lifting heavy-ish things for a while.

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 44.5 (71.2 km)
  • Total running time: 7 hours 43 minutes 00 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 0 (whoops!)
  • Total strength workouts: 1
Goals for next week
  • Warm up and cool down
Introduced some warm up and cool down exercises to a couple of runs this week and I think it made a difference to how I ran and then how I felt once I was done. I'm going to aim for every run next week to test it out a little further. It certainly can't hurt, can it?
  • Running form
It's still a work in progress. Felt really strong over the course of the week so going to continue to make this a focus.
  • Getting up when the alarm goes off and not after I hit snooze three times.
Way better this week but travelling again next week, so let's keep it on the list.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #10

Welcome to the second half of Chicago Marathon training. Less than 2 months to go!
*insert panic here*


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 50:20

Travelling again this week (boo!) but I decided that I would book my flight so that I could do my run in Chicago before I left. It kind of cut down my actual productive work time but was awesome for my running motivation. And everyone knows that running is more important than working, right?


AM: 4 miles (6.4km) - 44:08
PM: 4 miles (6.4km) - 43:32

Back in the Atlanta suburbs. No good running outside so I moved my 8 miles onto the hotel gym's treadmill. Buuut 8 miles on the treadmill is too much for my brain to handle. Split it into a double of 4 and 4 (my boredom is much more manageable that way).

This is very much how I'm trying to approach training while I'm traveling.


AM: Weights - 30:00

Just couldn't bring myself to face the treadmill again (I know, I'm pretty pathetic). Did a weights session instead.


AM: 3 miles (4.8km) - 30:19

Wednesday's scheduled 6 miles moved to Thursday. But overslept and could only squeeze in 3. Better than the zero I was seriously contemplating.

This is Surfers Paradise in Australia.
I was chatting with my family (who live there) on Wednesday night and stayed up past my bed time.
Not good for early morning running. 


AM: 8 miles (12.8km)


I felt A-MAZ-ING for entire run. The temps (and humidity compared to Atlanta) were down and it made such a difference!! If only every run could feel so good. Plus, I was wearing my turbo-boosted shoes which obviously gave me an extra advantage on the path.


AM: 17 miles (27.2km) - 3:04:23


Another great run. I was a little apprehensive given the new longest distance prospects plus how bad I felt getting through my 15 miles a couple of weeks ago. As it turned out, completely unfounded.

I do my long runs with my CARA training group and we were leader-less this week which meant I became the groups unofficial pacer for the run (ie. I run with a Garmin and I had satellite connection when we started). I think I did pretty well - there were a couple of fast miles (whoops, when I'm feeling good I can't contain my enthusiasm!) and I got berated by a cyclist for not keeping my group in check (I agree that groups can be annoying on the path but just because I happen to be at the front of one, it doesn't mean I need to be yelled at).

I felt strong the entire way and felt like I could have kept going for a few more miles. OK, maybe just one more mile. But I'll take that over the "I just want to lie down forever" feeling I've had for the past few weeks.


AM: Elliptical, Rowing Machine - 30:00
AM: Weights - 40:00

Getting so much better at doing things other than running. I pretty much deserve a medal.

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 41 (65.6km)
  • Total running time: 7 hours 13 minutes 02 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 1
  • Total strength workouts: 2
Goals for next week
  • Fuelling
Just quietly, I think I've got this nailed. I'm going to give it another long run to see before making my official announcement.
  • Running form
I really feel like paying attention to this been paying great dividends. I feel better and run just that bit faster without feeling like I'm putting in more effort.

  • Getting up when the alarm goes off and not after I hit snooze three times.
Travelling has encouraged some bad habits which I am determined to break this week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Weeks #8 & #9

Gah! This was not how it was supposed to go!

I had a shocker of a week #9  which got in the way of everything (including week #8's training report).

Week #8

PM: 4 miles - 38:56

The afternoon run of "speed".


AM: 5 miles - 50:57

Surprisingly good given running the evening before.

Not actually from this run but I have no pics and that makes for a sad post.
I saved this pic with the title '5 mile sunrise' so I figure it fits.


AM: 6.25 miles - 1:05:46

Cut this run short of the planned 7 miles with a twitchy knee. Seeing as we're playing things smart and all around here.


Rest day!!!


AM: 7 miles - 1:09:53

Storm runner! Halfway through this run it started pouring and then the lightening kicked in. I took shelter during the worst of the lightening (because being struck by lightening was not part of the training plan) but the rest of the run was pretty much wet, wet, wet.


AM: 15 miles - 2:43:33

This was hard work. The last mile seemed to last forever.

But I did it and I maintained my long run pace so even if it was difficult, it bodes well for the future.


Unplanned rest day. I had to go to the airport at around midday for a work trip and that messed up my day.

Week #9

AM: 3 miles - 34:32

This was slow. I was in a new area in Atlanta and couldn't find a good route to run. Spent a fair amount of time at stop lights trying to work out where to go next.


AM: 3.4 miles - 40:02

Still in Atlanta. I tried a different route again today but still not a winner. The hills were hard work and did not feel good on my legs. I called it a day after 40 minutes.


AM: Elliptical - 40:00

I gave up on running outside and moved onto the treadmill but the previous two days of hills gave me very sore calf. I subbed some time on the elliptical instead.


A very late night on Wednesday resulted in a lot of sleeping in today and not a lot of running. And then I had the joy of spending my afternoon and evening in airports and on planes.


This week was a disaster and Friday just was the icing on the cake.


AM: 11 miles - 2:11:09

Thankful that this week was a cut-back week given the amount of running I got in during the week. It was a bit humid and I was feeling not great toward the end. But I'm looking forward to a better week in week #10 even if I have to travel back to Atlanta again. Boo!


AM: Stepper and rowing machine, Weights - 1:05:00

I wanted to run today but knew that miles today would have an impact on my miles next week. So I took myself to the gym for the prescribed cross-training and a weights session.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A scientifically sound conclusion plus a rant

For whatever reason, I didn't get my run in this morning. OK, fine, the reason was I didn't get out of bed early enough. I was tired and headachy and grumpy and it didn't happen.

That meant an afternoon run. I don't particularly enjoy running in the afternoon but I had no good reason to skip it, especially after being a baby this morning. Plus I had to try out my new shoes.

So, I ran. The program said 4 miles and that's what I set out for. I felt fairly average. Tired after a day at work, my stomach was achy (balancing eating enough to not be hungry and not so much that I couldn't run - tricky!), the path was crowded. I got to my 2 mile turn-around area and listened for the watch beep. It came and I headed back home, cursing myself for not getting up in the morning.

End of run and I look at my watch: 38:56.

Um, excuse me. I don't run sub-10:00 minute miles when I'm on an easy run (I barely run sub-10:00 when I'm trying to race). But every mile was sub-10:00.

I considered what the possible cause might be:

  1. Afternoon run
  2. I ate a banana today
  3. New shoes
  4. I've 'levelled up' in my running (you know, I've now logged enough miles that I automatically get a new running power - increased speed)
  5. Lower humidity
I've concluded it must be the shoes. The other options have a lot going for them but I don't have tricky photos for them so they had to be discounted.

I think they might be jet powered
On a serious note, the adidas were comfortable to run in, have a nice bounce to them and felt good on my foot. Of course, I'll need to test them out over a longer distance too.


Now, on an even more serious note, a quick rant.

During my run this afternoon I had another encounter on the path with disrespectful males. This time it was a graphic and personal comment made to me. It makes me so mad, frustrated and disappointed that this happens and that in many circumstances it's just accepted. That we live in a society where we just take it for granted that this is going to happen and you have to ignore it and move on.

I read an article today titled "Have a look at yourself"in the Herald Sun, a Victorian (Australia) newspaper that is on this exact issue. It was written by the Victoria Police Chief Commissioner. I think it's a great article and I'm happy that it's being widely shared around Australia. But it's also a sad reflection on the world we live in that this is such a wide spread problem.

End of rant.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how nerdy would I be if I actually designed an experiment to see whether I'm running faster in my new shoes? I do actually have a background in science and have studied experimental design and statistics but gave it all up for the glitz and glamour of the accounting world.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #7


AM: 4 miles (6.45km) - 41:01

Four recovery miles at a not so recovery pace. I was feeling the effects of the RnR Chicago Half for the first mile and then it all just magically went away (why couldn't that have happened during the race?). Unfortunately, my head was still feeling wonky but it was manageable for 4 miles.


AM: 7 miles (11.3km) - 1:12:45

It's a during-the-week-mileage increase week. My first 7 miler before work. Caught a sweet looking sunrise at Belmont that was worth stopping for.


AM: 5 miles (8km) - 51:49

This run was hard work. There was a bit of wind which in addition to making running a little more difficult left the lake looking pretty cool with all the waves being kicked up. Kept myself focused by thinking about my upcoming rest day.


Rest day!! I think I say this every week but I needed this day off.

PM: Strength session - 20:00


AM: 7 miles (11.3km) - 1:11:57

Was greeted with this at the start of my run.

Is it possible to have too many sunrise photos? I think not.

Started off a little slow. On my way back home I really focused on keeping my core stable, shortening my stride and increasing my turnover rate. It makes such a difference! The last three miles were all sub-10:00 pace (a rarity for me) but I didn't feel like I was trying to race. I am definitely going to work on this more going forward.


AM: 14 miles (22.4km) - 2:32:16

My first run greater than half marathon distance. The weather was great for running with cool temps and cloud cover (would it be too much to ask for every run to be like that?).

I was tired at the end but that extra 0.9 miles didn't kill me ;)

However, I have worked out that I am going to have to schedule nap time in my Saturday plans going forward. Or maybe starting drinking more coffee.


AM: Cross training - 30:00
AM: Strength session - 30:00

I spent some time on the elliptical, did a strength session and closed out my gym time with some swimming.

And then I went shopping.

My Brooks Adrenalines have more than 400 miles on them so I figured it was time to get another pair of shoes in the rotation. I had gone to Road Runner Sports in Lincoln Park the previous weekend but encountered such appalling service that I left the store without trying anything on. So today I went to Fleet Feet in Old Town (where I've never had a bad experience) with the intention of just replacing the Adrenalines with another pair of Adrenalines because I really do love the shoe. But I also love trying on new shoes, so checked out some of the new releases.

The pink ones are the adidas adistar Boost. I really liked the upper on these because it's a sort of stretchy fabric that hugs your foot. My feet like hugs. Plus, if I'm to believe the sales pitch, they will "keep every step charged with an endless supply of light, fast energy". Who can say no to that?!

The purple ones (and trust me, they are purple no matter what they look like in the photo) are Adrenalines.

I really was just going to get one pair but I quite liked the adidas and I just can not say no to a purple pair of Adrenalines. It's not like I won't use them. I'm so looking forward to running tomorrow morning and trying out my new babies!

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 37 (59.2km)
  • Total time: 6 hours 29 minutes 49 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 1
  • Total strength workouts: 2

Goals for next week
  • Fuelling - Keep practicing
I tried a few things with fuel this week and think I'm beginning to head in the right direction but need to keep working on it.

  • Running form

Have started adding distance in kms so that it's easier when I share with everyone back home. It makes my head hurt with all the converting I have to do sometimes.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #6

The end of this week marks first third of my Chicago Marathon training.


PM: 4 miles - 39:52

Moved my morning run to the evening for the Burgers & Beer 5K. I did a 1 mile warm up (ie. running from my house to where the race was) and then did the race. It was a bit hot but I managed a 5K PR. I considered running home too but after consuming the burger and the beer, running was not going to work so I just walked instead.


AM: 5 miles - 54:02

Legs were heavy after racing the night before.


Away from home in an average hotel in an average area of Atlanta. Overslept in the morning. Massive thunderstorms in the evening. No running was had.


Scheduled rest day. Decided against trying to make up for Wednesday, because that's what smart runners do.


AM: 4 miles - 41:17

Back in the sauna that is Chicago. Cut my 6 miles to 4 after remembering I was racing a half on Sunday.


Rest day.


AM: 13.1 miles - 2:23:33

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon.

Not my best effort. Not my worst.

Plagued by stomach cramps and the need to take many walking breaks to avoid having to stop all together. There's a lesson in there to be had.

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 26.1
  • Total time: 4 hours 38 minutes 44 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 4
  • Total cross training workouts: 0 (why do I even bother keeping this count here?!)
  • Total strength workouts: 0

Goals for next week

  • Fuelling - Work it out.