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.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

I remember when I signed up for this race, I was super excited about it. The week leading up to the race, I kept forgetting that I was even supposed to be running it.

Packet pickup:
The Rock 'n' Roll series put on a good expo. I went on Saturday to collect my race number, etc. I wandered around the stands but didn't stay long as I was a bit hot and tired and frustrated by the crowds.

Race shirt:
Meh. Disappointed with the design. It's been relegated to the bottom drawer and probably won't come out unless it's running gear laundry day.

Gear check:
Easy. As it turned out I didn't really need anything that I checked so I could have missed the process. But when there's no hassle, why not take the extra precaution?

The race:
Pre-race meet up with the Chicago Running Bloggers. It was nice to meet a few new people. The group split up and I chatted with Eric for a while before lining up in my corral.

Before the race (stolen from here)
The corrals were less strictly maintained then I've seen in other races, including Rock 'n' Roll Nashville I did earlier this year. This was good as I could just line up where I felt comfortable without being boxed in too much. I was scheduled for corral 17 which meant there was about a 20 minute delay between the race starting and me crossing the starting mat.

As with a few other races I've done, early on in the race we went under cover and my Garmin lost satellite reception. I'm not a slave to my Garmin when I'm racing but it is frustrating to lose timing so early. Of course, it was easily fixed by using my lap setting at the first mile marker and it was pretty close to accurate for the rest of the race.

I enjoyed the course given how much I've been racing on the Lakefront Trail. It was good to have a change of scenery. The buildings provided some good shade coverage too, an added bonus on a warm day.

The first eight miles were pretty much uneventful. I amused myself listening to the conversations going on around me and taking in the on-course musical entertainment (is it just me, or did it seem a little light on?). While I didn't feel terrible, I certainly wasn't feeling strong during those miles and I'm ashamed to say that I actually, very briefly, contemplated not finishing the race. I just felt so flat that the prospect of going the whole distance was too much.

Luckily, I smacked that thought down and implemented the race mantra - I feel great, I feel strong. Otherwise known as, fake it 'til you make it.

Then, just as the mile 9 marker came into sight, the great stabbing and run-halting GI pain that I meet far too often kicked in. And, to add insult to injury, at this point I got overtaken by Doctor Dribble - the guy who runs half marathons and marathons while dribbling basketballs. It doesn't do a lot for one's ego to not be able to run faster than someone who is also just about playing basketball.

At this point I had to channel more than mantra. I recently 'adopted' Boots at an animal sanctuary back home and every time I see his picture it makes me smile. So that's the big gun I pulled out here.

He's so cute!

I struggled through a couple of uncomfortable miles, dealing with my stomach and a case light-headedness but feeling better than the people I saw throwing up on the side of the road. One woman was about to be put on stretcher and taken away in the ambulance. I took on a few cups of water, some gatorade and a gel during those miles - a plan that was going to decide things one way or the other - I would feel decidedly better or decidedly worse and know where the rest of the race was going to go. Thankfully, decidedly better won.

The last three miles were actually strong (no mantra required). Unfortunately, I did pass some more injured runners. One person receiving medical attention for the heat, I think and then a poor guy who had fallen and hit his head on the road. There was a lot of blood and he did not look to be in good shape but luckily the medic got there just as I did so he was being taken care of.

The final mile was spent picking off runners ahead of me and promising myself lots and lots of cold drinks. That last stretch on Columbus was deceptively long (the finish line just never seemed to get any closer!).

Final time - 2:23:33.

I actually ended up beating the dribbling guy across the finish line but as he started the race after me his time was still better. Boo.

Overall (in random bullet points):

  • This was a good race and I came across some terrific crowd support along the way.
  • I don't enjoy summer racing so I'm not sure if I would sign up for it again.
  • Need to work out a better fuelling regime to avoid repeats of today's stomach and head revolt
  • Little kids with sprinklers rock
  • Volunteers are awesome but some of the aide stations were very poorly managed (ie. no water!!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Burgers & Beer 5km Mini-Race Recap

Super short on time this week so thought I'd throw a few thoughts down on (virtual) paper while they're still fresh in my mind.

I had headed to Universal Sole at Lakeshore East on Thursday evening last week to pick up my race number and tshirt. It's a cute recycled cotton shirt (in keeping with a green race), a little yellow for my liking but not so yellow that I will never wear it.

The race was Monday night, with a 7.00pm kick-off. It was a hot(ish) and humid night for running. Particularly as I'm not really an evening runner to begin with. I started off with a one mile warm up. This turned out to be a good idea as my legs weren't down with the idea of running initially.

I didn't really have a solid goal for the race as I haven't done a 5km race in a very long time. Add the weather to that and I was in unknown territory.

My approach was to run at a pace that felt uncomfortable but not unmanageable and to run by feel only. I knew looking at my watch to see my pace would psych me out - a fast pace would result in thinking I couldn't maintain it and a slower pace would leave me feeling defeated.

It was an out and back course from outside Lakeshore East running south to the Museum Campus and then back up again. The path was a little crowded with participants and the odd non-runner and a bit uneven on the out section. I saw one guy after the race who looked like he'd taken a tumble at some point on the course which wasn't that surprising.

My previous best 5km time was around 32:30 which I knew I could beat but where I would end up was somewhat of an unknown.

The unofficial results put me at 28:33. I am actually very happy with that, especially given the conditions. Plus I remember when I started running semi-seriously (also known as training for my first half marathon) - I was living in Canberra and there was a loop path known as the "Bridge to Bridge" going around part of Lake Burley Griffin which was 5km. I ran that loop frequently as part of my training. Back then, the idea of being able to run that loop in under 30 minutes was a magical "in my dreams" idea. I get frustrated sometimes because I'm not really a very fast runner but when I think back to then, I can see how far I've actually come and that means that there is so much possibility of where I may still go.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #5

This was a tough week for me.

Not because of the training volume or intensity but it was a week where I mostly felt very disconnected from running. My head just wasn't in the right space. Every week can't be a great week though, can it?

Despite this, and acknowledging that it's only week 5 out of an 18 week plan, this is the best training run I've had as far as consistency goes. The trick for me is just continuing with on getting out there and giving it a go - this will be my first marathon, so really just getting across the finish line will be a win for me and I don't need to be aiming for time. Of course, need and want are not the same thing so I totally have a time that I am secretly aiming for (well, it's not really secret but I'm not putting it out there until closer to the day).


Not the start of the week I was aiming for. Didn't get my act together and missed my run.


AM: 4 miles - 42:15

Forced myself out the door. Aiming for six miles but only managed four. Figured it was better than Monday.


AM: 6 miles - 1:04:37

Feeling a bit better today, although still fighting the mental battle to get out. This was a hot and humid run.


AM: 4.5 miles - 46:10

Not my smartest move as Thursday is my rest day and I knew I'd be running Friday and Saturday. Having not run Monday and after feeling much better after Wednesday's sweaty six, I couldn't not go out though.


AM: 6 miles - 1:03:25

Feeling the effects of skipping most of my stretching this week. Didn't feel bad but let was noticeably tight on my left side.


AM: 12 miles - 2:11:12

I want to start experimenting with pre-long run fueling but I need to work on getting up earlier to do that. I am confident that eating 15 minutes before heading out the door would be a recipe for disaster.

Did experiment with carrying water/electrolyte drink. Conclusion: Fuel belts do not work for me.


AM: Cross-training - 15:00

Yep. That is a pretty average effort.

This week's stats
  • Total miles: 32.5
  • Total time: 5 hours 47 minutes 40 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 0.5 (I couldn't really count it as one)
  • Total strength workouts: 0

Goals for next week

  • Get through the week with my planned running intact! I'm travelling for work to a new area which tends to be disruptive. The hotel website says there's a "jogging path", so hopefully that will work out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mind Games

Having one of "those" weeks.

And because I firmly believe everything in life is best explained with Venn diagrams...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chicago Marathon Training Week #4


AM: 3 miles - 30:40

Plan was 10:50 - 11:00 pace but ended up at 10:11. Got angry about it for a little while and then decided there are worse things in the world than not running as slow as I tried to.


AM: 6 miles - 1:01:14

Late getting out the door and generally feeling unsettled going into the run. I was overtaken left, right and centre to begin with but just put my head down (literally, it was pretty windy out) and focused on settling into an easy pace. Settle in I did - this ended up as a progression run, felt great the whole way and like I could have just kept on going. Interestingly, average pace was 10:11 again...I'm beginning to sense a pattern here.


AM: 4 miles - 40:51

Not the kind of run I would like to have again.

For those of you playing at home - average pace 10:12 - no, I am not planning this.


Rest day and no work. Perfect day for a sleep in!

I made it to 5:30. Sleep in FAIL.


AM: 6 miles - 1:01:54

I had the day off work, so after my run I headed out and was a little bit touristy. Went to the Field Museum and took these pics on my walk back home.

Yet another city skyline photo. I just can't help myself because I love it soooo much!

South Shore line

Buckingham Fountain - This was my first visit.

Art Institute


AM: 11 miles - 2:00:44

Maybe too much walking on Friday and definitely not enough good eating left me tired heading into this run. Ended up being a solid effort. Was happy to finish and get out of the sun.


Let's not talk about exactly how little I did today.

This week's stats

  • Total miles: 30
  • Total time: 5 hours 15 minutes 23 seconds
  • Total running workouts: 5
  • Total cross training workouts: 0
  • Total strength workouts: 0

Goals for next week
  • Cross training and strength - need to be a more balanced runner!
  • Stretch - made some good progress on this but stills needs more work

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Attacked on the LFT

Headed out for four miles this morning. The weather forecast was warning of possible thunderstorms but I decided to take my chances.

It was pretty quiet out on the Lakefront Trail. I'm guessing the possibility of poor weather scared some people off. I like it when there are fewer people out as I get overtaken less frequently. Turns out, it wasn't such a good thing today.

Just as I passed one mile into my run, I got grabbed from behind by a guy on a bicycle.

I wasn't wearing headphones but I didn't hear him coming. My reflex reaction was to grab his arm and pull him off me. I don't think he had any greater intention than to grope me as a "ride by" as he just really kept going. He did proceed to turn back to me while riding away and blow me a kiss.

There was another guy on a bicycle ahead of him who had passed me first. He was clearly speaking with someone behind him (not in English though, so I'm not sure what he was saying) as he went past. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears they were confirming the coast was clear to grab me. There was also a third guy kind of trailing behind too, who I think was with them.

Another runner appeared heading the other direction just after this happened so I turned back and ran behind him until the bicycle guys were out of sight. Then everything just kicked in - I started shaking and about five seconds after that I burst into tears. I sat on the side of the path for a minute or so while I pulled myself back together.

Even though my stomach was still churning, I decided to finish my run. Unfortunately, every time I heard a bike coming up behind me for the remaining three miles, my heart started racing. It was not fun.

Running is my number one crush right now. As much as I debate going out some mornings, I love my runs. So I am beyond furious that, not only do some men think they have the right to treat women so disrespectfully, but they would violate what is sometimes the best part of my day.

I try to be a smart runner. I either don't run with headphones, or only wear one in my right ear with the volume down. I stay on well populated paths. I wear a light if it's dark.

But shit is still going to happen.

Keep safe out there. And be aware.