Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Year Without (aka EPIC FAIL)

So, it's been almost a year without running.  I posted back in January about all the races I wanted to run and I even signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  Well, none of those things happened.  I haven't run a race since the Chicago Marathon last year.  In fact, the longest distance I've run since said marathon is 3 whopping miles.

And, honestly, there is no good reason why I simply stopped running.  I did get a new job in May after working at my previous firm for just over 4 years.  I lost my flexible schedule, and now have to leave at 5.  I've also stayed late (left at 10 one night and 8 another) a few times, and my building no longer has a gym.  Though, I'm closer to the lake, which does make a lakefront run more possible.

Perhaps I burnt out after running two marathons in two years.  Perhaps my body simply said "Enough is enough.  Time to take a break."  I didn't get injured after last year's race.  That's probably because I went to PT and caught what could have been a big ITB issue early on.

The scariest part is this: I don't really miss it.

Sums up my exercise this year
In all honestly, I've enjoyed being able to have my summer back.  It's not that I didn't enjoy my long runs with my pace group around the forest preserve.  Those were a lot of fun and essential to my training.  But, I've enjoyed being able to sleep in Saturdays, eat what I want and do what I want Friday evenings and not have to worry about injuring myself (since I'm doing nothing).

But now, as I sit on my ass on my couch in my spot (yes, I'm like Sheldon from BBT and I have a spot) watching coverage of CM14, I feel guilty more so than anything.  It's like I *know* that I should be out there with the runners sweating it out through a journey through Chicago, but instead, I'm at home sitting on my @$$.

I feel guilty that I let my brother down since we were supposed to run it together, and we both had to defer.  I'd like to believe that his training wasn't going well due to his jobs, but I'm really only saying that to feel better about my lazy @$$ self.  My parents are even volunteering at the race today.  They're somewhere around Lakeview.  How awesome would that have been to pass by them and grab some hydration??

My mother even noticed how lazy I've become.  She told me that maybe my body told me that I'm thin enough.  *shrugs*  Weight loss never was a goal on mine during marathon training.  I just wanted to break 4:30.  Anyway, my family and I would run a few races a year together.  This year we haven't run any.  My dad (who is in his upper 60s) is on a regular running regime - 3 miles a day (outdoors right now)/ 3 days a week.  There's no reason why my relatively healthy 29-year old self shouldn't be on one too.

The thing is this:  it's so hard to get on the boat once you've fallen off.

And, I fell off...  *HARD*

I did see a trainer when I worked at my old firm, but I stopped seeing her after I left since she's city based and I live in the 'burbs.  Oh, and I did complete the Hustle up the Hancock.  I was the last one out of my group and basically walked up the stairs.  Meh.  My attitude was, "Eh.  At least I got it done."

Ideally, I'd like to get back in shape so I can complete next year's race.  That goal seems so daunting right now.  But, I think it may be possible so long as I start getting in shape now.  My goal would be to finish it with my little brother.  A PR would be nice, but isn't the goal.  I've run under 4:30 so I'm satisfied.  I'd have to work hard to PR, but I'm not sure if that's possibly after a year long break.


I've just got to put my mind into it and get back in shape.  I've got a year, and I can do this if I focus on it again.  The guilt is really beginning to consume me.  Also, this sedentary lifestyle isn't healthy.  It really isn't.

In closing, stay tuned.  Hopefully I can have a comeback year and be at next year's race with my baby bro beside me.

How do you get back into it after a long break?  How do you mentally motivate yourself to get active when you've become used to being sedentary?  Is it even possible for me to run a full again after a year off?  Or, am I biting off more than I can chew?

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'm FAMOUS & signs

Hello all!

Forgive me, but I have been such a slacker post-marathon and have not been posting.  That would be because I haven't really done much since October and therefore, have little to blog about.  I kept trying to write a longer recap of the marathon, but have decided to forgo it.  I'm not going to give you the mile-by-mile.  First, it's so far in the past and second, the only thing I really have to say is that I'm happy that I set a huge PR and accomplished my goal of breaking 4:30.

In other news, I have started to work out again.  Granted, I'm not running yet, but am starting to do cardio work at the gym in my office building.  It's better than nothing.  Anyway, I swear, there are signs that are telling me that I have to get off my butt and get my rear in gear.

First, I had a dream that I weighed over 20 pounds than the most I have ever weighed in my life.  I FREAKED out when I woke up and immediately got on the scale (bad idea).  Thankfully, the number was not the number from my dream.  It's still more than I want, which is a given saying I've done nothing for three months.

Second, my work is participating in the Hustle Up the Hancock this year.  My office always participates and this year, I decided to join the team.  Now, I have to start working out so I don't make a fool out of myself and finish last out of my teammates.

Third, my picture is on the registration page for the Soldier Field 10 Miler.  If that's not a sign, then I don't know what is.  So needless to say, I signed up for that race.

I am the runner in the pink shirt & white cap
I'm thinking about doing the Shamrock Shuffle, but don't know if I can justify A) $45 for an 8K and B) having to trek down to the city.  Also, the weather can be bit of a doozy in March.  Have you participated in the Shamrock Shuffle?  If so, do you like it and is it worth doing?

My proposed race agenda is as follows:
  • March 16: St. Paddy's Day 5K (if I am ready by then, which I kind of doubt)
  • March 30: Shamrock Shuffle
  • April 19: CARA 10 Miler
  • April 26: Loop the Lakes 5K (this is in my hometown so I most likely will do this and this will be my first race of the season if I can't get ready earlier)
  • May 24: Soldier Field 10 Miler
  • June 1: North Shore Half Marathon
  • July: TBD - maybe a 4th of July race and/or the Run from the Cops 5K which is held in my town
  • August 31: Buffalo Grove Stampede 10K or 5K
  • September 21: CARA Ready to Run 20 Miler or the 20 Miler in Schaumburg (if I get into the marathon)
  • October 12: Chicago Marathon (if I get in)
I want to run Chicago again.  I really don't want to run any other marathon than Chicago either.  I'm sure there are great marathons out there, but I like the city atmosphere, the big crowds and lots of runners.  My bro wants to run it as well since he could not run it last year due to a knee injury.  So, if we both get in, I can always run with him to make sure he finishes.  I've hit my time goal anyway.  The next goal will be to run a 4:22:00 (10 minute) miles or better.  Diddy's 4:14:54 looks tempting, but may be a stretch.

Anyway, hope that you all are doing well & are staying warm!  To all of you runners who brave these conditions, you are super brace & awesome!  More power to you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Foodie Penpals Reveal Day

I was paired with Andrea from Pennsylvania.  I told her that my favorite foods are dark chocolate, oatmeal, peanut butter and quinoa.  I also told her that I'd prefer it if she could send me local foods that I cannot find in my area.  And boy oh boy, did she deliver!

My Box of Goodies
She must have done her research about me by reading my blog or Yelp reviews since she picked up on my enormous sweet tooth! 

She sent a honey graham and dark chocolate vanilla sea salt caramels from Valos Chocolates which is based in Arnold, Pennsylvania.  I read about the company and the founder began his chocolate making career in Chicago!  That made me smile reading that.  The honey graham was a nice treat work, but the stars of the chocolates definitely were the caramels.  They were absolutely divine with the right amount of sweet and salty making it a perfect after dinner treat to keep my sweet tooth at bay.  Can you believe that I still have two pieces left?

She also sent over two packages of Nicholas Coffee & Tea Co. Gourmet Ground Coffee from Pittsburgh in the Scandinavian Morning Blend and Graham Cracker flavor.  They have been in business since 1919!  Unfortunately, I do not have a coffeemaker so I will have to buy a filer so I can make the coffee using my Keurig!  

Included in the package was Biscotti Brothers Bakery Granotti made with chocolate chips and sea salt.  I have never tried whole grain biscotti before.  My taste buds were pleasantly surprised when I took a bite.  Again, the sweet and salty flavors were awesome.  They are good to eat with breakfast and a cup of tea or coffee or as a snack.  They have whole grains so you can feel good eating them!

Lastly, she sent Ciciarelli Brothers salad dressing.  They have been in business for over 50 years.  However, it's not just a salad dressing.  It can be used as a marinade, in pasta salads and on white pizza.

Overall, excellent box and it has been wonderful having Andrea as my foodie pen pal this month!  I sincerely appreciate her efforts to put together a box filled with local goodies.


Andrea's Box of Goodies
One day last week, a colleague asked me how my day was going.  “I had the best oatmeal for breakfast that I’ve ever had,” I replied.  He was a bit taken aback.  Not quite what he expected to hear!

But really, it was true, and it came to me courtesy of Jen, my October Foodie Penpal.  Jen is in Chicago, and she sent me a box of incredible local foods—this is perhaps the best package I have received in all of my months in this food exchange—definitely in the top tier. I was treated to a tour of Chicago in small bites, and it has me excited to visit there in January, when I’ll head in for the Modern Language Association convention.

The oatmeal was a perfect serving-sized pack from Milk and Honey, which is a restaurant I’d like to hit when I’m in town.  It’s their Cherry Almond Toasted Oatmeal, and it beat the heck out of anything I ever make for myself in the morning!  The fact that the oatmeal is toasted, I think, makes the difference, as well as the coarsely ground almonds.  There was flavor and texture there that was truly amazing.  Extra benefit:  I follow Weight Watchers, and so sometimes I can be afraid of packaged foods, even healthy ones, due to added Points Plus values, but this serving of Best Oatmeal Ever came with only 8 PP, which is not much more than a typical breakfast for me.  Score.

I’d told Jen that I try to eat healthy, and she sent a range of tasty things that have allowed me to treat myself without overdoing it.  Good flavors don’t need to come in big bites, and the many local sweets that were a part of my package provided me with a couple of weeks of indulgences.  Three caramels from Katherine Anne Confections—Rosemary Sea Salt, Banana Lemon, and Maple Bacon (ohmygoodnessyum)—were just wonderful, and the tiny Askinoise dark chocolate bar was excellent one night after dinner.  Just enough.  OK, I could have had maybe one more of those maple-bacon caramels, but still.

There was also some loose maté tea from David’s Tea, and that is a gift that I’ll be enjoying for weeks.  I get a little obsessive about teas when the weather gets cooler, and I had heard many friends say how much they like maté, so I’m glad to finally get a chance to enjoy some (this one is “Simply the Zest” with a nice citrus flavor).  I probably won’t give up my morning coffee, but the maté will add something to my afternoon repertoire when I need a little something-something but can’t add any more caffeine to my day.

Another healthy snack was a Mark Bar, which is made from quinoa and full of protein.  It says you can eat it before a workout, but I indulged midday.  And last, but not least, are some pepperoni sticks that we’re still enjoying—my eight-year-old daughter has found them, though, and so who knows how long they’ll be around?

I live near, but not at all in, a city, and so I forget sometimes the fun involved in shopping small producers and discovering neighborhood gems.  I not only found out about some of the places to go and things to eat when in Chicago (especially thanks to Jen’s lovely note that explains all of the places that these treats came from), but I have some renewed interest in getting out more and into my own nearby city of Pittsburgh, to which I moved not too long ago.  Maybe I can start out on a PA quest for some oatmeal that rivals what I got to try out this month.

Thanks so much to to Jen, and thanks to Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean for keeping this exchange going.  It’s so much fun!


For more information about Foodie Pen Pals and to sign up, see Lindsay's blog for more details!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CM13: Second Time's the Charm

I broke sub 4:30 in my second marathon ever.  I also beat Oprah and my managing partner so I am pleased.  A longer race recap will follow in the coming days.

My CM13 Splits
I barely beat her and I barely broke 4:30.  I'm proud of myself nonetheless.  Looks like I won't need a third chance to break 4:30.

Up next?  Diddy perhaps?  The music mogul ran a 4:14 in NYC in the 90s.  Sounds like a reasonable goal, right?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tomorrow tomorrow

The nerves going into tomorrow are high and will only get higher once I get into the city tomorrow morning.  I'm worried that I didn't train enough for this race.  I'm still struggling with the motivational issues I wrote about in my last post.  Thankfully, my monthly gift came Friday.  I'll still have to deal with it tomorrow, but it won't be as bad.

My training post the 20 miler hasn't gone over as well as I'd like mainly since I ran less than I should have.  But, that's been par for the course for this training season so I'm not too worried about it.  It's not like I can really do much about it now.  I'm going to show up tomorrow and run as best as I can.  The goals are: 1) to finish; 2) to beat my old time and 3) to PR.  

I ran 3 miles Monday and Wednesday and a shake out 2 this afternoon.  All the runs went over well and were pain-free.  I had my second to last PT session Friday and I did a lot of hip exercises and ab work.  My PT worked on my IT bands as well.

So yeah... not much I can do about it now... so I should probably pick out my race day outfit, pack my bag and get to bed.

Best of luck to anyone running Chicago tomorrow!  You will rock it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Kinda Want to BAIL...

I've taken my taper to a whole new level with the minimal running I've done since the 20 Miler.  But, life has gotten a bit hectic as of late.  My boyfriend of 9 years finally proposed last Thursday.  Needless to say, the focus hasn't been on running these days.

Two Saturdays ago, I was supposed to run 12 miles, but I was having some feminine issues and only completed 7.87 miles.  At least my legs weren't giving me trouble.  I contemplated on making up the remaining miles the following day, but skipped it.  My quads hurt like crazy after, but it was just a fluke thing and I have yet to figure out what caused it.  I didn't bother to run my 8 miler last Saturday and I don't regret missing that one bit. 

I got engaged!!  That's a good enough reason to put the running on hold.  It's not like not running for 4 whole days will really be that detrimental to my performance come Sunday, right?

However, the though about waking up early, going down to the city and schleping my ass down the streets of Chicago in search of my goal time don't sound like so much fun anymore. 

Oh... and I'm supposed to get my monthly gift Sunday... hum... how many feminine hygenine products can I shove into my SpiBelt?!  *shakes head*  Grrr... perhaps I can will my body to deliver my monthly gift before or after the race... (TMI: SORRY!)

Lazing around in bed with my fiancee and staring at my pretty diamond ring on my finger sounds much more appealing.  Yes, the goal was to improve upon my dismal time, but I thought it would be somewhat of a family affair this year.  Unfortuantely, my dad and my bro can't run due to injuries so it's just me.

I've got to get my head back in the game ASAP.  I'll remind myself of the following and hopefully this will serve as motivation:
  1. Spent time and money on training and wouldn't want it to go to waste;
  2. Don't want to hear the crap spewing out of my managing partner's mouth if he finds out that I didn't even show up to the race for no good reason at all; and
  3. Having to blog about why I didn't run it for no good reason at all.
So yep... I gotta run it no matter what... I've come to far to quit.

If you have any motivation tips to send my way, please do!  Good luck to everyone running CM13 Sunday!  You will all do GREAT!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weeks 14, 15 and 16 Recap: Is it October 14th yet?

Hello everyone!  I'm still here and I'm still running.  I just haven't been blogging since I haven't really had much to say with regard to my training.

Truthfully, I would just like to get the race over with so I can take my life back.  I'd like to be able to run when I want and not because I feel like I have to run.  I'm looking forward to being able to wear my hair down and be able to sleep in on the weekends and in the mornings.

Mentally, I think I'm in a much better place compared to where I was last year.  I don't want to bail on the race like I did last year.  I completed a 20 mile run, which is a huge accomplishment saying that I didn't even run one last year.

My game plan is to stick with the 4:30 pace group, which is 10:18 per mile.  I think I can handle that.  I'll stick with them for as long as possible and try to pick it up at the end so I can achieve my goal time of 4:28.  That's an almost 20 minute cut, but I'm confident that if I maintain a run instead of dropping to a run/walk that it can happen.  I've also told myself that I never have to run a marathon again if I can achieve my goal time.  So, hopefully that will be incentive enough to get it done.  My performance will depend on a lot of things and weather will be a big factor.  I'm hoping for cooler temps like last year.

Week 14: 14.01 miles in 2:19:49 (9:59 average pace):  I ran along the DPR South with my training group.  Overall, it was a good run and I didn't have any major issues.  The weather cooperated too, which was nice.

I ran part of it with a woman who is training for the Ironman in Kona.  She's run the race there before.  I mentioned that I found out that former Pittsburgh Steelers, Hines Ward, was training for the race as well.  She mentioned that he's part of her team (Newton), but he's primarily advertising chocolate milk.  She said she met him once before.  How cool is that?  I totally look up to that woman since she's committed to being so fit and has completed multiple Ironmans.

Week 15: 20.17 miles in 3:37:26 (10:47 average pace):  My little brother and I ran the 20 Miler at Busse Woods in Schaumburg.  My pace group leader and some other members from my training group were at the run so it was nice to see some familiar faces.  I was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to do a true dress rehearsal for the full.

I ran with my little brother whose training hasn't been going as well as he would like.  His longest run was 12 miles which he did a long time before the 20 miler.  So, it's crazy that he even completed the run.  He started to hit the wall around 14 miles, but was able to finish the run.

I stuck with him for 18 miles than took off.  I ran the last mile in an 8:46, which was way too fast.  I just wanted to get the run done!  I didn't pause my Garmin for any of my aid station breaks or our walking/stretching breaks.

My legs were OK and I worked out a pretty good eating and drinking strategy.  I also drank Gatorade and didn't have any tummy trouble so I was pleased.

Also, our pace group leader had to use the bathroom around mile 9 so we choose to run without her.  In retrospect, I kind of wish that I stayed with so I'd have the support of the group.  But, I'm confident that I definitely could have run faster so I will hopefully be OK for the full.

Also, the little bro and I decided that I should do my own thing for the race and not worry about sticking with him.  Plus, there will be 45,000 people running the race so it's not like he will be alone.

Week 16: 7.87 out of 12 miles (DPR North) - TOTAL FAIL:  I had some feminine issues going on the morning before so my mental focus was on that instead of my run.  I decided to run just 8 and didn't even finish that.  I suppose I could make up for it and run 4.13 miles later today.  I may do that after the game if I'm in the mood, but I doubt it. 

My philosophy is that I'd rather go in to the race a bit undertrained (which I would say that I am) instead of overtrained.  A plan like Hanson's would never be something I'd even dream of trying to complete.  Too many miles!!

My legs are feeling OK for the most part - my quads were a little sore post yesterday's run, which I will attribute to a hard PT session Friday afternoon.  Hopefully they'll be fine come race day.

In other news, my managing partner is also running the marathon this year.  He ran 21 miles one weekend and 20 the following.  He mentioned to my BQ marathoner attorney that he wanted to run the full 26.2 this weekend.  Personally, I don't see why anyone would do that.  Maybe it'd make him feel better mentally if he completed the full distance.  But, why risk getting injured?

Oh, and lastly, I mentioned to my pace group leader that my times to races have slowed down by about 2 minutes+ per event ever since I started training for the marathon in 2012.  He asked me if I should have trained with the 9:30 pace group instead of the 10:00 minute pace group.  I told him that I didn't think I could maintain the 9:30 pace for a long period of time.

But, maybe I could have and maybe I should have done that.  That way, I could run at the 9:30 pace as long as I could and then slow down.  Perhaps I would have been able to achieve my time goal.  Oh well.  What's done is done.  I suppose I could get back to my times from 2011, but that would involve the desire to do it on my part.  We'll see what happens after the marathon.  I'll have to reevaluate my goals and plan out what I want to do over the fall/winter and in 2014.

How's your training going??  Do you just want to get the race over with like me?  Would you ever run the full distance while training for a race?  Lastly, GO BEARS!!!!