Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #3


AM: 3 miles - 33:14

I spent most of these easy paced miles kicking myself in the ankle. This is a sure sign that my legs are tired. But I did feel surprisingly good after Sunday's half marathon.


AM: 5 miles - 51:04

Aiming for 10:30 pace but ended up at 10:12. Good news is that I felt very comfortable doing it.

Storm clouds over the lake
It was cooler this morning, probably because of the storm over the lake. I love summer storms! The lightening provided a great show for my run.


AM: 1.16 miles - 13:13

Tried to get in my run between storms but got scared off by lightening early on.

More easily dissuaded from continuing as I was keen to get back to watch the unfolding political events back home.
Looks like what goes around, comes around
(links to an article explaining what went on, if you're interested)

Rest day. I thought about making up the missed miles from Wednesday but then smart-runner Chris took over and reminded me that three miles is nothing, injuring myself is everything.


AM: 5 miles - 48:18

This was scheduled as a marathon pace run. I don't really know what my marathon pace is, given I've never run a marathon. But I know what time I'd like to finish in and what time is, in theory, possible based on some of my other race times. So my marathon pace runs are currently planned at 10:15 pace.

If you do the math, you can see that today's run was at 9:39 pace. FAIL!

I just couldn't seem to slow down. Must work on pacing.


AM: 6 miles - 1:06:45

This week is a cut-back week so just a short one today. It's so weird to have a 'long' run that is only a mile longer than my mid-week runs.

And because tomorrow is a cross training day and I won't be running, I checked out my stats for the month:
OCD Chris says I should run an extra 3 miles today to take the month to 100 miles.
Smart-runner Chris says chill out - there's always July.
One of my motivational tools to develop my running routine has been to use a star system. Each day that I run, I put a star on the calendar. I knew this June had been a winner as I have never had such a starry month.


AM: 30 minutes cross training
AM: 15 minutes upper body and core strength

This could be a new Sunday morning routine. I went down to my building's laundry and put a load in the machine. While that was doing its thing, I did 15 minutes on the elliptical, 5 minutes on the rower and a 15 minute strength circuit. Once I was done in the gym, I headed back to the laundry and transferred my stuff from the machine to the dryer. And then while everything was drying I jumped in the pool and did laps for 10 minutes.

I am so lucky to have a gym and pool in my building and I haven't really made the best use of them. Especially the pool. I actually like swimming (even if it's really hard work) but do it so infrequently.

All in all it was a very efficient morning - cross training and strength done PLUS sheets and towels are clean and dry (FYI, folding was surprisingly difficult after my workout). And it took a grand total of 90 minutes all up.

This week's stats

  • Total miles: 20.1
  • Total time: 4 hours 17 minutes 33 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 1
  • Total strength workouts: 1

Goals for next week

  • Get in second strength session
  • Stretch!!!

Random items that made me smile

I spend most of my working week sitting in an office where the walls are effectively just glass. This means that there's not a lot of privacy and anyone walking by can easily look in and see me working. I have got pretty good at just tuning out people walking by, so don't notice when people are looking in. One of my bosses commented to me the other day that I always look really stressed/angry when he walks past. This is not the first time someone has made a similar comment to me. I am generally not stressed or angry or anything like that.

I came across this during the week and it made me laugh. I can totally relate to it. Apparently I'm not the only one who has this problem.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chicago Women's Half Marathon Race Recap

Do as I say, not as I do.

Actually, you're probably safer if you don't even do what I say.

Race morning sunrise. Yes, this is not a new picture.

Fact: My training consistency leaves a lot to be desired

Fact: I do not tolerate heat well

Fact: Average weekly mileage for the past six weeks - 17 miles

Putting this together = running a half marathon during summer the day after a seven mile run to make a total of 32 miles for the week was not my smartest move.

Packet pickup:
I popped into Fleet Feet Old Town on Saturday for packet pickup. The process was easy, well organized and actually convenient as I needed to buy some sports detergent too. Afterwards I headed over to the Green City Market and treated myself to some cherries.

Race shirt:
We got a technical shirt and a headband in the race bag. I tried the headband out and it looks like the first one I've ever owned that will stay on my head for an extended period of time. WIN!

Gear check:
I didn't check anything for the race. Bonus of racing in summer - no need to bring a bag for the pre- and post-race warm gear.

The race:
Before the race, I met up with some of the other Chicago Running Bloggers. I got to meet some new people which was nice, especially as I was a little nervous about this race.

c/- Maggie (I hope it's OK that I've stolen this)
Why was I nervous? I ran seven miles Saturday morning in similar weather and came out of that run very hot and very sweaty. The idea of repeating that PLUS another six miles left me a bit concerned.

For the first time ever, I had eaten something before a race. Actually, I think it's the first time I've eaten something before a long run, period. I am trying to be a smarter runner and to train myself in more than just putting one foot in front of the other for an extended period of time. I know I won't make it through the marathon without proper fuelling, and this seemed like as good a time as any to start. I'm happy to say, my crumpet with honey was a success.

I also inadvertently drank a whole bottle of water before the race (namely, the bottle I am holding in my hand in the group photo). I had picked it up thinking I'd drink just a little and before I knew it, I had drunk it all. I was pretty sure this was going to result in me having to take a break during the race but it was too late to do anything about it by this stage.

With 10 minutes to start time, I lined up with the other half marathoners. It was pretty crowded so I just lined up toward the back of the pack.

Early on in the race, we went under cover and my Garmin lost satellite reception. According to my Garmin splits, I ran the first two miles in 6:58 and 6:52. HA HA! If only! I was aiming to maintain something in the vicinity of 11:00/mile and I was pretty successful with this for the first half of the race.

At around mile 5 (I think) I paused to stretch out my left leg. I have been neglecting my foam roller and it's beginning to show itself in very tight hamstrings and ITB (see, don't do as I do). One of the things I really liked about this race was the support from the others running it too - as I was stretching I was asked if I was OK and needed any help, lovely!

The next few miles were uneventful. I was hot and feeling tired but still felt pretty good. I took a gel at close to the half way mark (new flavour = FAIL) (And yes, I know you shouldn't try new things on race day. Again, do as I say, not as I do!).

Despite having taken water at every Aid Station to this point (plus my bottle of water before the race) I was still massively thirsty and at around mile 8 I started to feel not so great. This stretch of full sun took the wind out of my sails and I resorted to my first walk break of the race. From this point on I adopted a walk/run approach. My plan was to run to each mile marker and then walk until either the 2:30 pace group overtook me or my head no longer felt like it was going to explode - which ever came first. No matter what, I was determined that I wasn't going to finish over 2:30:00. I also started pausing at every water fountain on the path to drink some more water and put water on my face and head.

My walk/run approach worked (relatively speaking) and I made it to the finish line in 2:29:23.

I then proceeded to down a bottle of water AND a bottle of gatorade in quick succession. This gave terrible stomach cramps but it was worth it. They were also handing out towels that had been soaked in ice water at the finish line which was absolute heaven. I grabbed a chunk of ice from a cooler and wrapped it up in the towel for the bus ride home - I am sure I looked pretty strange with my icy towel on my head but I really didn't care.

While I can't say this conclusively, I am fairly certain I had some form of heat stress from the race. I developed a terrible headache plus I was pretty shaky for the rest of the day and still really hot at 8.00pm that night. I drank about a litre of Nuun once I got home and continued to drink water for the rest of day. All the sweatiness also resulted in two massive blisters on my right foot (or possibly blisters the size of Wisconsin, as I heard someone comment during the race). Given I'm running Rock n Roll Chicago in a month, I probably need to work on my hot weather running strategy (or hot weather running recovery strategy).

Despite not having a great race, there are some positives I am taking out of this run:
1. I started practicing good race fuelling
2. No GI issues
3. I ran a 20 mile weekend
4. When the going got tough, I kept going

Would I do this race again - probably not the half, maybe the 5K. It was a well organized race and a really great atmosphere but I just don't think I need to put myself through any more summer long races.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #2


AM: 3 miles - 30:34

I don't like Mondays. Getting out the door for my run always seems so difficult. But it's worth it!


AM: 4 miles - 41:08

Doing my semi-regular travel to Atlanta for work and this was my first (and last) run in Piedmont Park. My office is relocating so I won't be staying downtown anymore, unfortunately.

I picked my route from the Atlanta Track Club website. No matter where you are, there is probably someone who has recorded a running route you can take if unfamiliar with the location.


Was supposed to do 5 miles but it didn't happen. C'est la vie.

I blame it on dinner the night before. I went for Italian with a few of my co-workers to a recommended restaurant. We arrived to discover it was a little more fine dining than we were dressed for (us: jeans, t-shirts; everyone else: jackets, ties). Not to mention that we brought down the average age quite considerably. We got a few looks during the evening from the other tables but the food was good. We didn't end up leaving until late and I missed my morning alarm as a result.


Rest day!!


AM: 5 miles - 51:43

Just managed to squeeze in my miles before my daily morning meeting. One of my co-workers (an ultra runner, so you know he's mental dedicated) suggested that I join the morning call during my run because in our role we don't really participate in the meeting. While I didn't do that, I did take my phone and dial in on my cool down walk home.


AM: 7 miles - 1:16:53

Warm and humid morning left me very sweaty at the end of this run. I was going to skip my group run as I was running a half marathon on Sunday but decided that marathon bonding was too important.


AM: 13.1 miles - 2:29:23

Chicago Women's Half Marathon. Race recap to follow but suffice to say it was quite warm and humid. I set a new PR in water drinking during a race.

Sunrise from Grant Park on my way to the race.
This run was very hard work. But it's the hard ones that make it even more worthwhile.

This week’s stats:
  • Total miles: 32.1
  • Total time: 5 hrs 49 mins 42 secs
  • Total running workouts: 5

Goals for next week:

  • Add at least one cross training session (attempt #2 as failed miserably this week)
  • Add at least two strength training sessions (see above)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #1


AM: 3 miles - 33:59

I got in from New York at about 11:30pm Sunday so did NOT want to get up with the alarm. But there was no way I was missing my first official training run. Tired body and tired legs from all my vacation walking made this a straight out slog fest.


AM: 5 miles - 52:59

Out with my sister the night before to celebrate our birthdays (which were in February and April but better late than never) care of our Dad. Thanks Dad for a lovely dinner!

Unfortunately, the cocktail and rich food did leave me a little short on quality sleep so I was once again not feeling 100% for the run. Then, I spent the first 1.5 to 2 miles battling a side stitch. It all came good and this ended up being a progression run of sorts - 11:20; 11:12; 10:22; 10:06; 9:53.


AM: 4 miles - 41:38

Went to watch the Cubs the night before which meant yet another night of not enough sleep to make me happy. I slept through the alarm but luckily jolted awake at 5:15, giving me just enough time to get 4 miles in before I had to be on a call for work (don't ask).


Rest day!!


AM: 1.5 miles - 15:36

Planned 4 miles at marathon pace but things did not go to plan. Bad stomach and some clothing issues left me stopping and starting and generally feeling uncomfortable. I made the decision to call it a day and mark this work out as "something is better than nothing".


AM: 7.5 miles - 1:22:26

Long run for the week.

After much internal debate, I decided to train with CARA. I had success training with them for the F^3 Half Marathon - I don't think I've felt so good running a race as I did with that one. And because I detest running in the heat, the accountability of running with a group will be a great help to keep me honest. I want this race to be great, so any help I can get is fine by me.

Felt great all run, the miles slipped very easily by getting to know some of my new training group.


Rest day!!

This week’s stats:

  • Total miles: 21
  • Total time: 3 hrs 46 mins 37 secs
  • Total running workouts: 5

Goals for next week:

  • Add at least one cross training session
  • Add at least two strength training sessions

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New York Mini 10K Race Recap

I couldn't resist signing up for a race while on vacation. Plus I figured it would help keep me honest for the two weeks, knowing that I've the got the Chicago Women's Half in a couple of weeks.

I signed up for the NYRR New York Mini 10K, a women's only 10km race in Central Park. This race in particular caught my attention after the discussion I had with Bethany at Outside Time about women's only races and how they are promoted (I'm looking at you Chicago Women Rock).

Packet Pick Up:
Easy as. Headed to NYRR office and got my bib and a tech singlet. Also did a little Upper East Side sight seeing while I was in the area (I love vacations!!).

Race Shirt:
Tech singlet. Black - my fav colour. Great for summer. Winner!

The race:
When I signed up, I estimated my race pace at 9:45/mile. I didn't recall this but it was printed on my race bib, so it must be true. Based on my current running and the horrid diet I've been consuming while on vacation, I wasn't too sure that I would be able to manage this. But I wanted it. Based on both my Shamrock Shuffle and Lakefront 10 Miler times, I saw my first sub-60 minute 10km as a possibility (you know, before all the vacation slackness).

My previous 10km best time was 1:08:19 (way back in 2011 - I haven't run a 10km race since then). So even if I didn't hit sub-60 minutes, I was still pretty likely to manage a PR.

The weather was a nice 60 degrees and overcast. Given that it bucketed down the day before, that was a lucky break. The sun even came out a few times during the race.

There were about 5,000 people in the race which made it a little crowded but not too bad. There was the usual amount of weaving and dodging in the early miles and also at a couple of points on the course where it narrowed.

With my Chicago legs, the hills in the park did leave me working hard in a couple of places. Luckily, every tough long uphill was followed by a great downhill. I know that just sounds like common sense but I have experienced runs where the top of the hill is a plateau so you don't get the immediate reward of the downhill.

Unfortunately, I managed to positive split the race. My time at the 5km mark was 29:34 (actually, I'm pretty happy with that. If I ran 5km races that would totally be a PR). But maintaining that pace didn't seem like a possibility from the way I was feeling. The good news is, even though I was hot and my lack of decent recent training was making itself known, my stomach was behaving itself.

I "stopped" at a water station during mile 4 to get in a little water (hydration has been another FAIL over the past couple of weeks) but more importantly, to pour some water over my very overheated head.

From there on in, I just felt like I was getting slower and slower.

But I was determined to see this race through and left everything on the course to get to the end, even if I had to walk some of the way. Luckily, the walking didn't happen and I made it to the finish line...
In the finish chute.
Need to fire my race photographer - only managed a shot from the rear.
With a finish time of...

So close!!

I swear I felt like I was going soooo much slower for the second 5km than I actually did.

I liked this race. It was well run (unsurprisingly). The atmosphere was great. I liked the course (good to get off the Lakefront Trail).

It was a bit pricey ($50) but I didn't mind paying it because I really wanted to race in NYC.

I would definitely do it again. And given my obsession with love of NYC, I certainly hope I make it back again.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Running on the road

I am currently on a two week vacation. It's been pretty tiring and I think I'll need another vacation just to recover from this one.

My sister has come to visit from Australia and together we have travelled to Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York City. Because we are trying to keep costs down, we have been catching public transit and Amtrak to get around, and this has meant packing a carrying on bag only (public transit with a large suitcase - DIFFICULT!).

Packing for 14 days of travelling including running gear was a real challenge but some how I managed.

I'm a morning runner - a real bonus when travelling as I've been able to see these cities on foot while avoiding some of the heat (not so much in Philly) and also some of the crowds of tourists (NYC, I'm looking at you). I haven't logged a huge number of running miles but there have been plenty of walking miles put on my legs this trip.

Washington DC
Running miles: 3
Walking miles (estimated): 22
Sights seen/Museums visited: Too many to count!


Running miles: 9.7
Walking miles (estimated): 10
Sights seen/Museums visited: A lot

New York City (still have a few more days here before returning to Chicago)

Running miles: 6.5
Walking miles (estimated): 10
Sights seen/Museums visited: It's NYC, the whole city is a sight