Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take me out to the Brrr game

Today I called in a personal day and went to a Cubs game in the middle of the day. My friend had an extra ticket since this was a re-scheduled game. There's nothing like sitting in a nearly empty Wrigley Field, watching the cubbies lose (what they do best!), enjoying a beer, and my friend's company at 1pm on a Wednesday! A very nice way to spend an afternoon even if it was a little chilly.

Before the game I had my last speed work session before M-Day (only 11 days away!) 8 miles with 3 x 1600 m at 5K pace. Ruh roh... I'm always nervous before any sort of speed work but the anxiety increases tenfold when I see the mile repeats. I'm happy to report my nerves were for naught; I nailed the intervals!

mile 1: 7:54
mile 2: 8:03 (I got stuck weaving around geese covering the path. No they didn't move... these are city geese)
mile 3: 7:53

Wahoo! Now I need to find more fun ways to pass the next 10 days ;)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Wrap

Today I felt accomplished and it had nothing to do with running ;) After an early morning and long Saturday I took Sunday to sleep in then go and enjoy brunch with my hubs. Afterwards we came home and I started working on party invitations! My dad is throwing a clambake in October so my sister and I have taken it upon ourselves to be the designate party planners. The theme this year is pink and green to support our cancer free parents. Here's a sneak peek at the invitation... I have to say I'm happy with the outcome! I love when it all comes together the way you expect it to.

Hubs and I made ourselves a nice dinner even though I completely forgot the salad :( and finally I cleaned our bedroom. You can finally see the floor! Clothes are on the hangers! Shoes are lined up IN the closet! Next up... the office... It's bad, really, really bad. Like a paper bomb exploded bad.

So Saturday. I found myself waking at 5 am - so early! My friend's baby shower was at 11 am in the suburbs an hour away and I had 16 miles to fit in beforehand. I woke and started running al in the dark. I honestly cannot tell you the last time that has happened. Maybe December 2006 for the Vegas 1/2. Yeah, it's been awhile, I like my sleep!

I thought my legs would be uncooperative but it proved my stomach would be cranky from the early wake-up call. It honestly was one of my most unpleasant runs. I had to stop nearly 5 different times at 3 different bathrooms. I felt rushed and very uncomfortable, to say the least! I tried to focus on other things but I never really found my mojo. Even with all that nastiness happening I still managed negative splits. So a positive to focus on. Afterwards my system was out of whack all the way through mid day Sunday. ugh. I hope that's done and a non-issue in the upcoming weeks!

The one cool sighting from the long run was a blind runner and her guide training for the marathon. They weren't tethered or anything; the guide would yell out obstacles/what to expect so I'm assuming the blind runner could see shapes but not much more. Seeing these two made me realize what I was going through on this particular run was small beans and I could make it to the end.

I had to rush to shower and get ready. I was a little late arriving at my friends house but it was worth it. The shower was great! B and her sisters did a wonderful job putting it all together. I was able to see friends I haven't seen in forever thanks to our crazy schedules. Between my friend with 3 kids and expecting her 4th in Feb and my other who works as a tv producer for a well known show, B who's expecting in Nov and busy w/ her job, and my crazy travel schedule, it's hard to find the time. So it was great catching up on the car ride out and back! Of course no pictures with my camera of the shower except for this...
mmm... cupcakes...
hopefully I'll have more when my friends post the ones they took.

A long weekend that ended too soon and I'm glad to have all the distractions. I haven't thought much about the marathon and am not having a serious case of the taper crazies - yet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Taper Time for this Stinky Runner!

I had a nearly uneventful trip back to Chicago Sunday until of course I was 30 miles outside of the city. Heavy rains, windshield wipers past their prime, a windshield smeared in bug guts, heavy traffic, and road construction had me swearing and gripping the steering wheel :) But I made it in one piece!

Sunday I should have followed up my last 20 miles with a 4 mile recovery run for 52 miles on the week. Instead I opted to sleep in for the first time all week, spend time with the family, and have a long return trip home so I missed those 4. I feel a little guilty because I didn't do exactly what the schedule said to do but oh well! I still ended up with just over 48 miles for the week.

This week started off well enough in the running department. Monday was 8 miles with 5x600 at 5K pace. Seeing that on the schedule had be a bit anxious especially after my lackluster repeats last week. But I'm happy to report I nailed this workout! The 2nd interval was my slowest (but still beat my 5K pace) and my last interval the fastest. For the last interval I felt like I was running through quicksand then I looked at garmy and couldn't believe when it said 7:36 average pace over the last 600 meters! Tuesday I had a recovery 6 on the schedule but opted for humid and buggy 5 to be able to get lunch and finish packing before my trip to Atlanta. I was drenched in sweat and covered in little gnats before even hitting the first water fountain. Good times! Anyways, taper time is treating me well so far... it's nice not having to squeeze 11-13 miles in midweek before flights!

So last night after my run and before my shower I realized that although my husband missed me while I was gone he most likely did not miss the smell :) I'm a stinky girl and my clothes are even worse after running so I leave the clothes draped over the tub to air dry before throwing them in the hamper. This prevents the cloth hamper from becoming even smellier and growing mold. All this saves the hamper but not the bathroom or the nose. I figure it's a small price to pay to have a hot, happy, and in-shape wifey!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last 20

Saturday morning was my last 20 miles before marathon day! I was nervous fitting this run in to my week. My family thinks I'm a bit crazy for my running even though my dad ran a couple marathons back in the day :) I woke early for me (6 am!) and headed out to the Towpath in Peninsula, Ohio about 25 minutes away. It's the only path I know of that I can do an out and back for such high mileage. No pictures because my camera phone sucks (1.1 megapixels what?!?) Despite some bathroom issues due to my nerves of running in a slightly unfamiliar area, running my last 20, and a questionable dinner, the run was excellent. Does anyone else get nervous running in a new area even though it's not a race? I always do - it's so weird! I went slow thanks to a slight tweak in my left quad and enjoyed the time alone. The Akron Marathon is next weekend so I think the path was a little less crowded than normal so not as many waves/saying hi as the last time I was home.

The morning started off COLD! An awesome change though definitely regretting the tank and shorts I had packed. I just wished I had some gloves to start the run. Yeah, not the best planning. Overall it felt fantastic to be running. I was a little tired right before the 10 mile turnaround. I think it was due to just expecting the turnaround and not knowing exactly where it was on this path. I almost broke my ankle around mile 13 thanks to all the buckeyes and uneven path but caught myself (yeah for good reaction time!). Then some more tiredness around 15 and 17 when I wanted to be done. I hit some highs, some lows, but overall I was HAPPY! Yes, I looked forward to my mini breaks of fueling every 4 miles but once I hit 20 I really could have kept going, I didn't want to collapse, it was that good of a run. I know it wasn't race day pace but it's not supposed to be. I really hope the good tides from this carry me into race day 3 weeks from now! I guess the change in running scenery really helped!

After the 20 I returned home and attempted to track down my dad even though I told him what time to be home to go to lunch. Ugh such a guy never listening! Anyways, after showering and finding him we headed out for some much needed lunch. I was STARVING! After lunch my dad, sister, and I headed out to look at some open houses. I have an urge to move back to Ohio, raise a family, and wanted to see what was available in my price range. After all that dad needed to take a nap since the chemo wears him down especially mid afternoon. Then loo and I took the big dog Jake (yes the my dad's dog is named after my husband) on a walk to calm him down then ran errands (Target, pedicures). After all that I'm one tired girl and not looking forward to the drive back to Chicago Sunday. Maybe I'll stay another night to to put the drive off :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This and That

Weeding your dad's yard totally counts as cross-training - right? Well that's what I told myself yesterday ;) I had plans for an actual workout but they went out the window as it tends to happen especially when I'm at home. Instead I thought I would be the nice daughter and clean up the front yard the best I could since dad can't play in the dirt during chemo thanks to the whole compromised immune system. The yard is not done yet (I had to go watch my teenage step sister cheer as I didn't believe she could smile for an entire football game!) but I plan to finish before the end of my time here.

While watching miss s do her cheer thing I realized I am so glad my days of jr. high and high school have passed. I also told my dad I don't know how he sat through all my sporting events. I played 3 sports for most of my grade school/teenage life and more poor parents had to sit through hours of girl sports! Fred finally confessed my softball games were the worst; even worse than my 5th grade cheering days for pee-wee football :) Did any of you play a sport or were part of club in your younger days you can't believe you did?

So today I had to travel 2 hours to/from Toledo, Ohio for work. A lot of toll road driving for a short visit = long day. On the way home I decided to go a little out of my way to hit of the Towpath for my GA 11 miles. I like a nice out and back when I get into mid to high mileage and I can't seem to get that around Medina. Technical difficulties of all kinds ensued. First, I forgot my visor and headband so my hair (which hasn't been cut since March) was crazy style all in my face. Second, my garmin was dead even though I had just charged the dang thing. I decided to go off my best time estimate by my cell phone on the mileage. Luckily there were some sporadic mile markers along the path to help me guess a little better. So I have no idea what my pace was or if I hit 11 or went short/long. It was a nice, albeit a little rushed, run. I really need to take a camera my next time there (this weekend for my last 20!) so you can enjoy in the little piece of running sanctuary. Finally the run turned into a bit of a tempo run towards the middle miles. All I will say is thank goodness for real bathrooms along trails!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Day in Ohio

In Ohio visiting my dad who went through his 4th chemo treatment on Monday. Hopefully only 2 more after this month. We will know for sure in 2 weeks when he has his next scan to see how much of the cancer has been killed. My step-mom had a scan Monday to confirm no cancer cells had returned (she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and went through chemo, all 6 months before my dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). News came back today - all clear so that is a big relief!

I arrived late Monday so luckily I ran in Chicago before I left. 7 miles with 6 x 100 strides. My legs felt heavy and it was warm. I think warmer than any run in August! Which is crazy! I'm glad I put the miles in before the 5 1/2 hour drive. Tuesday was me trying to get used to working from Ohio and not having my full home office. I had breakfast and lunch with dad since he stays home the day after the treatment so that was nice to have some father/daughter one on one time. It's a rarity in this house now! Today I had 10 miles with 4 x 1200 meter repeats on the schedule that I put off until the end of the day. I decided to run around the neighborhood then head up to the Jr. High track/high school soccer stadium to do the repeats. Yeah, I made it through 3 repeats, not so good. These kicked my ass today! I did run the full 10 miles though :). After the 1st repeat I was hurting since I went out too fast. The 2nd I thought I couldn't go on anymore. During the 3rd the boys soccer team started showing up to do some pre-game warm-ups and I starting feeling a little self-conscious so I took off to finish up my remaining miles around town.
I came home and cooked a healthy dinner for the family. All in all a good first full day in Ohio even though I didn't quite hit my speed session this week. It's nice being around the family even though I do miss the hubby who's holding down the fort back in Chi-town.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Challenging Week

29 days remaining until the Chicago Marathon - ahhhh!! I'm freaking out just a bit ;)

This past work week may have been only 4 days but it felt much longer. Trips to St. Louis area and Denver made it interesting to find ways to fit in all my scheduled running miles. Then the delays didn't help either! Tuesday I found myself running 11 miles the day after the half. I took it super easy and cut it down to 10 since I had lunch to eat, a shower to take, a suitcase still to pack, and only an hour remaining once I returned home to accomplish it all. (Yeah, I wait until the very last minute to do everything, especially packing for work.) Towards the end of the run I was really feeling all the miles I had put in up to that point and there was some serious bargaining happening to finish up strong.

The remainder of the week I spent pushing off my 8 miles with 5 x 600m at 5K race pace. I absolutely did not want to do this run. Does that ever happen to you? Wednesday I figured it was in my best interest to do weights and light cardio. Thursday I was in Denver and really didn't want to try that run at altitude so I did 4 recovery miles with strides. Finally Friday I made myself do the dang speed work. It was a challenge to find the time since I am really behind on work (thanks to my awesome ability to procrastinate everything and early morning teleconferences) and I felt fried. This week I felt more tired than usual, stressed, and not finding this whole training thing enjoyable. I know it's because of work and the fact that I always get like this around this point of training. I just keep reminding myself this too will pass! Anyways, Friday's run kicked my ass! I nailed the intervals (all in the 7:40's and last 600 was a 7:34!) but instead of 8 miles I cut it down to 7. I had miles to give after the 13 on Monday.

Friday night I went to bed early in hopes of waking early for 17 miles. I rolled over at 7 am Saturday morning and went back to sleep. I finally pulled myself out of my comfy bed and made it out the door just before 8:30 am, at which point it was warm. lied to me... The first couple of miles were fine then I ran into a 5K so I had to run about a mile on slanted grass and dodge people/walkers/kids/strollers. This made the early portion of the run much tougher than it should have been. I really struggled from that point (4 miles) forward. I had to walk at 15 to re-group mentally and physically. For the last mile and a half I pushed on with positive thoughts. I cheered for myself internally! I took one from the book of Water Boy - you can doooo it! Needless to say, today I really could have used a training group or at least a training partner.

I know there are always tough runs during training may it be physically, mentally, or both. It's just a matter of how long it lasts and finding a way to break out of the funk. I hope I can turn this crappy feeling around next week home in Ohio. Maybe the change of running scenery is just what I need to get my good mojo back! Even with the overall funk my numbers were still decent, I nailed my speed work, and I ended up with 51 miles for the week! That helps me feel a little better :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Running filled Weekend

Happy Labor Day! Hopefully everyone had a enjoyable and relaxing holiday weekend! I packed the weekend full of running! I have to say it all seemed like a good idea at the time 5 weeks ago...

First up Saturday the first 20 mile training run of this cycle. I was tired, more so than usual, and took the run slow, as it should be done. It was tough, mentally and physically, but luckily the 2nd 10 miles seemed a little better than the first 10. Plus, Jacob met me on the path for the last 2 so that was a nice boost at the end. Saturday's 20 brought my weekly total to 55 miles last week! That is the highest weekly mileage I have ever done!!! Such an awesome feeling to get through that mileage and keep up my regular life :)

Sunday was a rest day at our friends house. We had ourselves a nice little Labor Day cookout. I wasn't that sore from Saturday (yay!) which was a relief because I had myself the Oak Brook half marathon bright and early Monday morning! Although because of the cookout and eating at a random time I didn't have the best pre-race fueling and was starving by the time we returned home. It could have been a lot worse.

I decided to run this half as Pftiz calls for a race later in the week. However, we have tickets to the BMW golf championship next weekend and I couldn't make the Chicago half fit in the schedule along with the tournament. I had my concerns running a half 2 days after a 20 mile training run but just decided to alter my race plan. Instead of racing all out I thought I would take it marathon race pace or slower for the first 5 miles, pick it up slightly the 2nd 4 miles, and race the last 4 miles. It didn't quite happen that way but whatever. I really suck at pacing myself...

The course was a mixture of streets but mostly bike path and crushed gravel paths. The first 3 miles were a cluster (as they usually are). It seemed a bit worse since there was a huge bottleneck as we merged from highway running to onto a bike path through the preserves. The path could fit 3 across and only in some parts. So I was either stuck behind someone or I had a lot of quick passing when the bushes and trees thinned then trying to find race pace again. It was a tough start. Thankfully it started to thin by mile 4. Between 3-4 there was a wooden bridge over a creek that was swaying back and forth as all the runners crossed; it seriously felt like it was going down! My legs felt funny after that bridge and a second around mile 5.5. Then there were the hills that I was so not prepared to run. Ouch! Who knew Oak Brook, IL had mad hills... not me! Luckily I wasn't expecting much from this race other than to get used to "racing" while tired.

Here are my mile splits according to garmy:
mile 1: 9:26
mile 2: 9:06
mile 3: 9:17
mile 4: 9:03
mile 5: 8:56
mile 6: 8:37 - Ridiculous hill at the beginning of 6 that I surged. We were told at 6.5 "It's all downhill from here"
mile 7: 8:57 - crazy hills! Downhill my ass (hurts!)
mile 8: 9:14 - even worse hills and steep declines (quad shredders)
mile 9: 8:53
mile 10: 8:49
mile 11: 8:44
mile 12: 8:38
mile 13: 8:27
last .1 - 7:24
action shot! Jacob caught me right before the finish. and yeah, I just chicked 3 guys!

No PR today but that's okay. I am really happy with my 1:56 (and change) run with minimal soreness. I passed a lot of people the last 5 miles of the race and that felt great! Also, the last half I ran was 2 1/2 years ago, on a flat, fast course with temps in the 50's. Tough to beat younger, flat (with a nice tailwind), and no humidity! In the past I never would have been able to follow up such 50+ mileage week with a sub-2 hour half marathon. I'm really proud and happy with how it all turned out today.

The race wouldn't be complete without the post race brew in hand :) It's five o'clock somewhere, right?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast - the most important meal of your day. Today I woke up late and quickly got caught up in work e-mails. No one has been grocery shopping in awhile so there weren't a lot of choices this morning so I skipped. FAIL! Of course I made this awesome decision the day I had 12 miles to run with 7 miles at a 15K to half marathon pace. Yeah, not too smart. By the time I left for the run I had only fueled with some Jimmy Johns for lunch. Again, big fail... so not enough! By mile 4 I was wiped out and running on empty with 8 miles left to go. My legs felt like cement block by mile 8 at which point I decided maybe it wouldn't be wise to do the 7 tempo miles. But I'm stubborn and finished it out best as I could.

I've been taking this training for granted because it is an intimidating schedule that I have been nailing. I've felt strong and had thoughts of PR's dancing in my head. Today I made rookie mistakes that will not get me those PRs :) With approximately 5 weeks to marathon day I need to step it up and be smarter!

Here's the tempo run portion digits...
9:08 (slowed to take shot bloks) - Fail
8:49 - Fail
9:00 - Fail - gave up at the beginning then decided to finish out strong

After my not so fabulous run I went for dinner at Soldier Field. Yeah I seriously had a stellar diet today! For Jacob's anniversary gift I found Bears vs. Brownies pre-season tickets (1st anniversary is paper after all!) I've never been to game there and after 12 years living in the city and he hasn't been since the stadium was re-done.

It was a fun night and I can't wait to go again. Hopefully it won't take another 12 years ;)