Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Fun Day at the Lake

Posting from my phone because I'm on the road tonight. This will be short on text but I want to stick with my plan for the weekend post SOMEthing!

Phone dump!  Pics from Mother's Day. My mom lives out of state, so I didn't get to spend the day with her. (Happy Mother's Day, mom!)  Jason suggested a hike at Evergreen Lake might be just the thing. We walked & hiked for a couple of hours, covered at least a couple of miles, but I don't know how much. It was a great day!!

Coty acted like we'd taken her to DisneyLand!!

Some geese (very pissed-off geese) and their eggs.  I managed to get Jason to distract the dog while I snapped this photo.  The eggs remained unharmed / untouched and undiscovered by Coty.

There is a lovely bird in there. Somewhere. 

If you can spot my dog in there, let me know!

This is one FILTHY dog after all that adventure!

Another:  Where's (Waldo) Coty?

The point of this photo was that Coty was in the weeds.  I couldn't find her but for her tail!

Hey, check it out!  There's some cool stuff ahead.  I'll show you!

Come ON!  Hurry UP!  We'll miss it!

She doesn't mind water. As long as it has mud on the bottom, doesn't go deeper than her chest, and smells questionable.

Cool tree.

Cool dog.  Believe this is just after chasing a flock of geese about half a mile through this clearing!

Fallen tree.

I'm hungry.  Can I have a goose?

Tired & dirty. Time to head home for a bath. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Family Fun at TNAM

Update on Beat the Slump Campaign (yup, I named it):
  1. Logging:  dutifully logged everything today. 
  2. Writing:  in progress.
  3. Training:  this is questionable.  I went to physical therapy for the first time today.  Basically, this means I got into gym clothes and then stretched for about 45 minutes.  This does not feel like exercise, but my muscles are sore and I went back to work afterward and worked late, leaving no time for a visit to the actual gym (which was weird, since I was still wearing my gym clothes at that point!)
  4. Eating:  I had a small victory this morning.  We didn't have any coffee at home so I hit up a drive-thru on the way to work.  This is a danger zone for me, as breakfast is my favorite meal.  I bypassed McDonald's (those damn sausage-egg-mcmuffins are too tempting in my current state!) and managed to ONLY order coffee and get to work with my breakfast plan intact.  Later, I lost a battle with a plate of chocolate brownies in the break room.  (Limited myself to one.) All in all, I was close to my calorie limit for today, until after dinner when I ate two mini-candy bars.  On the up-side, the goal was being more mindful of my snacking.  At least I really ATE that brownie.  It was delicious.  Rich chocolate, not too sweet.  Fudgey.  So... ...  Moving on.
  5. Water:  I'm finishing my third bottle now, which will make 60 oz, and I'll find a way to chug another juice-glass-full on my way to bed.
I've never wanted this to end up being a "secondary food log" - I already have a food log - but for now, I think this little food-rehash may by helpful.  Bear with me.

What I'd like to write about today happened last Thursday:

I finally made it out to the lake for TNAM!  I've run my faux version of the 4.37-mile route in the neighborhood, but hadn't made it out to run with the group due to scheduling conflicts.  Last week, there I was, with Coty, AND the hubs!  Jason was anxious for some exercise and so was I after a busy week at work with no real exercise, so he threw his bike into the truck and we had a Family Night at TNAM.  He rode the bike, Coty and I ran our little butts off.  It was awesome!  I tried to keep up with him while he rode slowly, and ended up shaving about 45 seconds off my best-ever time for that route!  Wahoo!  I have decided Jason has to go with me every week from now on.  (Of course I'll be out of town this week and will miss it again.  Boo on work.)

I have no photos to accompany this post.  So how about this one from our first run at the Lake in 2013?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Screw the Slump

I've mentioned I've been in a slump lately.  I'd say it's been going on for a few weeks now, perhaps more than a month.  I've been following some great advice from a fellow blogger, sticking to my routine as much as possible, getting plenty of exercise, but my eating has been pretty wacky.  I've gained a little weight - about 5 lbs since April 1, according to LoseIt.  As of this morning I'm officially back over 170 again.  It's not so much that I need to Completely Freak Out, but hitting that 5 lb mark was a real wake-up call.  It's time to set up some mini-goals to move toward being back on track.  Baby steps, get your mind right!

Here's the thing:  I know what started this streak of low motivation.  To begin with, I have a little confession to make.  Something I've never mentioned... because I'm a little embarrassed by it.  I'm a runner... and a smoker.  There it is.  I smoked for maybe 18 years, then my husband and I both quit, in 2008, using Chantix.  it worked wonderfully and we had no issues with wanting to smoke for three years.  Then we had some big life changes / challenges, and we both fell off the proverbial wagon.  That's what's so embarrassing - to quit for three years and then start up again!  So STUPID!

So we've decided to quit (again).  I'm looking forward to lots of improvements in performance... once I get used to the fact that everything smells terrible!  I rather miss having my sense of smell deadened by tar.  I'm told you get used to it eventually, and I remember that from the time before, but that's a toughie.  When we started the program, I sort of gave myself permission to ease up on my routine. That's all well and good, but it's time to tighten it up again.

So here's my five-point Baby Steps plan for getting my mind back on track:

  1. LOGGING:  For the next week, I'm going to strictly log all of my food - I've been a little loose with my logging lately.  
  2. WRITING:  I'm going to write something for the blog every day for the next seven days.  Maybe just a few sentences, but I'm going to try some Enforced Reflection.  I've got plenty of material saved up since I haven't posted in over a week!
  3. TRAINING:  I will do some kind of exercise every day this week - even if it's just 5 minutes of sit-ups.  Except Friday; that's normally a rest day, and this week I'll be working out of town and driving home late on Friday, so that's out.
  4. EATING:  Be mindful of snacking.  In general, one of the behaviors I've noticed recently that's getting me into trouble is mindless eating / eating for reasons other than hunger.  Example:  I was doing pretty well, eating clean, until I had a Minor Meltdown when I got slapped around by my sweet tooth on Saturday afternoon.  
  5. WATER.  I have not been drinking enough water.  In fact, I think the main cause of Saturday's meltdown may well have been thirst.  I didn't notice how thirsty I was until after I'd eaten three servings of Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters.  I will drink my 64 oz of water every day this week.  it's just three of my 20-oz bottles.
Perhaps with these adjustments, I'll be in the green next week with a loss - or at least not another gain, no matter how small.

This week will be challenging for eating well.  I have two nights out of town, but I think I can eat dinner before I leave on Wednesday (or pack a sandwich to eat in the car), and bring breakfast / lunch stuff.  That still leaves me to worry about dinner, which is a Red Zone for me, especially on the road.  Suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Race to Wrigley

I was afraid, a little.  It's been over ten years since we've spent real time together.  What if we don't have anything in common anymore?  What if it's just awkward and weird after all this time?

I needn't have worried.  People grow and change, yes.  But a person's basic Personness, the essence of their being, what drew you to one another and connected you through space and time... that is constant.  I don't believe a person can change their basic nature, any more than they can change their DNA or their ancestors.

We talked about the present, we talked about the past, we talked about the long-ago, and then we talked about the future.
Put another way, we talked about what matters little, then about what used to matter, and finally we talked about what matters most.

It was... Restorative.

I broke every rule in the book as to how to prepare for race day. (Here's another good post from Run Eat Repeat)

  • Drink lots of water!  (Yeah, I might have had a bottle of water.  I may also have had about 32 ounces of soda, which is somewhat counterproductive, especially on pre-race day.)
  • Don't drink alcohol!  (Um, there may have been a glass of bourbon.  Or two.  Or three.  Actually, it's possible there were more than three.  Let's not talk about it anymore.  *burp.)
  • Go to bed early! (2 a.m. IS early!)
  • Get plenty of sleep! (Does 4 hours sound like "plenty" to you?)
  • Eat your Normal Race Day Breakfast!  (I failed to pack my normal PowerBar Trail Mix bar, and my substitute breakfast was far from Normal.  It WAS familiar, however, as it was Dunkin Donuts.)
  • Don't wear anything new!  (okay, I didn't wear anything new, so that one rule remains intact.  I also managed to remember to pack AND charge both my Garmin and my iPod, so I had that going for me.)

We took tons of pictures:  
of each other, 

of our food, 

 of our drinks, 

of each other taking pictures of the food and drinks.

All in all, we had what is lovingly and respectfully referred to in my house as,

A Giggly-Poo.

Yup, it was a right true and proper giggly-poo, and I couldn't have appreciated it more.

So thank you, Joe, for suggesting and inspiring this trip.  Thanks for spraining your ankle so it ended up just the two of us girls.  Thank you to Liz's man for having a family commitment requiring him to be out for the night as well.  And thank you, Liz for being a wonderful friend and still being the You that you always were.

Oh, right.  This is a race recap.
The race was pretty awesome, despite what can best be described as a mild hangover and lack of sleep.
I'm not sure how many people I expected, but there were about 3,000 runners at the starting lineup.  It's hard to believe after all the times I've been to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game (admittedly, not as many times as i'd like), I have never gotten a Touristy Photo in front of the famous marquee!

We checked our gear, took care of business, made a plan for where to meet up after the race, and lined up just in time.  (Oh, there's another Race Day Rule broken:  arrive early and warm up with a 5-10 minute jog before the race starts.)  My plan for the day included zero walking - just run for 3.1 miles, even thought of pushing to keep all three under 11 minutes.  After all the longer runs I've had in recent weeks, I had not-too-secret hopes for a PR.  (Which were quickly being revised as I took into consideration my hangover, lack of sleep, and generally poor preparation for the day.)  PR or no PR, I was having one freaking fantastic weekend in Chicago and I was going to enjoy every moment!

And off we ran.  I was feeling pretty good, given the circumstances, but the lack of a warm-up left me wondering if I could get through the whole thing.  This shouldn't be hard.  Suck it up. You sucked up all that booze last night, you can shut up and run now.  I took 30 seconds to walk the water stop, but otherwise, just played Jillian Michaels (aka devil's advocate?) in my head and reminded myself that my legs will do what they were meant to do.  The only failure possible here is a failure to maintain mental focus, control and confidence.  I did get lapped by a fat guy pushing a stroller at one point, though.  That was discouraging!

The end of this race is SO COOL!  I didn't realize (having never reviewed the course map) that before you cross the finish line, you race through the concourse, not just outside the ballpark, and finish beneath the famous Wrigley Marquee!  There were racers pausing to take photos or video at that point, but I was so near the finish line I couldn't bring myself to slow or stop:  I still thought I might have a chance at a PR.  It was close!  (We went back through after the race was over and took some photos, but it's really not the same without all those racers flowing through...)
Once you exit the concourse you're only feet from the finish line (another photo from after the race), and I checked my Garmin:
Yes, another PR!  About 20 seconds off my previous best.
Afterward, we sneaked into the ballpark and took some more pictures:
I believe this photo was taken WHILE we were being scolded and asked to leave....

The famous ivy...

So here's the thing:  the race results are WAY off and MUST BE IGNORED.
Official "Results":

There are also photos "of me" based on my "finish time" - I am in NONE of the photos.  Because that is NOT my finish time.  So while I loved the experience and will happily run it again because I had a BLAST, I must say this race was NOT well-organized.  I'm sticking with my Garmin time of 34:13.58 with a pace of 11:08/mi.  And I'm happy to have the photos I have.  Though it's sad, because it's only $7 to download all the photos... too bad none of them are of me!

More shenanigans ensued after the race, involving the bar next-door... a lovely place called Murphy's Irish Pub (big surprise, an Irish-themed sports bar next to Wrigley Field?) which had a novelty:  a Bloody Mary bar!!  This was new to my experience:  you order a drink, they hand you a glass of ice and vodka, and you head over here: 

Choose your version of Bloody Mary mix and additives!
Liz, having too much fun?  
Too many great fixings for your beverage!
When we'd had our fill of Blood Marys we discovered hunger.  Liz took me to a fantastical, magical place called Tweet, where we ate (and drank) like queens.  

Finally, it was time to head home.  One last photo and I hit the road.  What a day!!

I have one last thing to say:


Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 Lake Run 12k Race Recap

My analytical brain has been in overdrive since Saturday's Lake Run.  The thing is, this was a whole new world all of a sudden.  You'll see this reflected in the stats below, but it was a whole different experience to run the Outer Loop this time.  I felt like I have Entered the Ranks of the Real Runners Distance Runners.
Here's what I mean:  I've worked REALLY hard to get up to a running speed that feels "reasonable" to me.  in a 5k I'm solidly in the middle of the pack of finishers.  I'll never win a medal, but I'm in a big group of finishers and I'm not finishing all alone (like I have a few times when I first got started).  When you finish a 5k in 48 minutes... you're pretty well on your own for that last mile.

So I've worked hard to get into the middle of the pack.  And then I started doing longer races.  And I am WAY at the back of the pack again!  That's what I mean about stepping into a new world. 
Gear Check.  No LOST BIB today.

As you'll see, the day followed the slogan on my shirt:  "May the Course be With You"  (since we were racing on May the Fourth, I just couldn't help myself...)  I started out with several women from my weekly training group - Hi, Liz! Maureen! Kate! Dawn!  We stayed together for about the first 2 miles, and when we hit the first water stop, we began to spread out a bit.  I did my scheduled 60-second walk at that point, and nearly caught up with Liz, but that was when she slowed down to GU.  I caught up with Kate again around the 3-mile mark, but we were on a hill at that point, and I refused to slow down (rules are rules).  I passed her, and we played a bit of leap-frog until around 5.5 miles.

It was about this time that I realized I had made a critical wardrobe mistake.  I was wearing a running skirt - one I've worn many times, but not since last September... and I was getting some serious chafing on my thighs.  It didn't turn into a major issue, but I'll be investing in some Body Glide before I wear that skirt again.

I had decided (wisely, I think) to wear my old shoes again this week.  I've only had the new ones for about 10 days, and only run about 4 miles in them.  It seemed like a recipe for disaster to wear them on the longest distance I've ever raced.  The downside is that I GOT the new shoes, because my old ones need to be replaced.  I know they need to be replaced because on every long run, my feel begin to feel like they've been hit by a wooden bat around Mile 5.  And that is precisely when I started having pain on Saturday.  I was in-between runners with maybe 30 yards between me and the next runner either in front or behind, and I really needed a cheerleader.  There were no houses or volunteers on the course at this particular point.  So I did what any self-respecting gadget-loving freak would do:  I used the Talk-to-Text function on my phone and texted my hubby!

"5 miles in.  My feet hurt.  Feet, don't fail me now!"
A couple of minutes later, I got a response:
"Go go gadget feet!"
Hooray for Virtual Cheerleading!  That did the trick.  Lifted my spirits just enough to get me to the 6-mile mark, when I "allowed" myself anotehr 60-second break.  [I tried to text him back and say "Thanks babe, I needed that" but my heavy breathing really had the T2T thingy confused!]

Liz and I ran most of the last mile together.  She had a fan waiting for her on the course!  It was so awesome to see her light up when she saw her friend (with toddler in tow!) waiting to greet her and give her some extra encouragement, after such a long way.  We had run over 6.5 miles at that point, and we were hot, tired, getting sore.  It was a HUGE pick-me-up for Liz, and I felt encouraged as well (like a mo-jo vampire, I was sucking up encouragement and good vibes wherever I could find them).[The weather was much warmer than anyone had anticipated - even 10 hours before the race, the weather channel was predicting cloudy and pouring down rain until 11am.  Yet somehow, no rain at all and for most of the race it was sunny and in the mid-60's!!]

I was NOT flipping anyone the bird.  At least not on purpose.
We made it up that last hill (you know the one) and knew it was all downhill from there.  In that last 1/2-mile the people who live out at the Lake were out in force - tents, beer, music blaring, and shouting so much encouragement! - it was terrific.  Especially since we knew we were some of the last few to finish - we started out in the back of the pack, and while we didn't think we were DFL, we did know it was a near thing.  It was such a blessing to know those folks had not only made the effort to cheer on the runners, throw a party, and support the group, but STAYED at it until EVERYONE was finished.  I was too winded to talk but I tried to motion with my hands and say thank you!!

Finally, we rounded the last corner and approached the FINISH line.  I tried to gauge the condition of my feet and legs, and how much energy I still had for a strong finish.  (It was definitely LESS than the week before at the 10k.)  Oh and then we saw Kathy!!  Kathy ran with us many times in our RTW group and was such a great leader!!  She rounded that turn with us and ran with us for about a quarter-mile.  Then we saw that Kate's family had come out and met her, and a couple of her kids were going to run it in with her!  [I just about cried when I saw that, it was just so sweet... until Kate got sick and threw up a little on the side of the road.   Runners.]  I kicked on the turbo boost where that stop-sign is... it's maybe 30-40 yards from the finish... and then it was done.  I made my way through the chute and out of the way of the other runners, panting and trying hard not to fall over on the wet grass.  Checked my watch and found I'd finished right where I'd planned:  1hr, 30 min and change.

Overall:  #282 of 293
Women:  121 of 130
My age group, regardless of division:  20 of 22
First time I've ever placed in a race!!  Gotta love my crazy post-run hair!
So here's what happened:  It was about a half-hour after I finished the race, I'd gotten my beer and hit the bathroom, and started changing into my dry post-race clothes.  They were announcing all the winners by age group, for each of the races / divisions.  I had my jeans and my dry shoes / socks on... when I heard my name over the loudspeaker!

In the "Foot Pounder" division:  I placed #3 of 4. This is how I ended up with a 3rd place award!  I looked this up:  last year there were 7 women in this division, and I would have been #6 to finish in that group.

It turns out no one utilizes the FP Women's division, so I feel a little like I cheated to get a 3rd place medal.  A little.  I still did get 3rd place though!

For the Lake Run, they have two options:  Women 150 lbs to 179, and women 180 lbs & up.  There are two division options for men as well, with larger weight cutoffs (I think it's 185 and 220 or thereabouts). Bottom line, I encourage anyone to utilize the weight divisions when they are an option:  you just never know!

At first I told someone, "I'm going to register as a Foot Pounder every year now!!"  but upon reflection... I really hope this is the last time I qualify for the division.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

April 2013 Goals & Challenge Update

I wrote most of this a few days ago but didn't have a chance to finish till now...

It's May Day! Spring is here, I wore SHORTs on my run yesterday it's 80 degrees, the Lake Run is This Weekend and I'm ready to Run Happy!

Time to check in on my progress on the 2013 challenges!

Reminder in case you haven't been paying attention:
My goal for 2013 is to run, walk and / or bike 500 miles as quickly as possible.
The other Challenge items for this year are:

  1. Ultimate mileage goal is to run/ walk 500 miles (excluding bike miles).
  2. Complete my first half marathon race (or, you know, two).
  3. 5K race time under 35 minutes. DONE
  4. 10K race time under 1 hour 10 minutes.
  5. Test Mile time under 10 minutes. DONE

I ran this month's miles for:

Additional stats for this month and year-to-date:

Random facts for April:
Trips to Lake Bloomington:  2
Number of Test Miles:  0 - my training schedule with long runs didn't allow space for this!
Longest distance in a single run: 9.0+ (walked to and from the start, another 1.5 miles) 
Races:  1
Number of new PR's:  1
Best 5k time: 34:31
Best 10k time: 1:11:29
Group runs: 4
Runs in snow / ice:  ZERO
Runs cancelled or altered due to weather conditions: 3
Random dude tilling backyard garden who requested I throw Coty's poop INTO his yard: 1
Facebook page "Likes": 58 (click here!)
Weight change for the month: +4.7 lbs. This is a problem.  Must.  Stop. Running in the Wrong Direction.

YES! Another 2013 goal has been accomplished this month! 
Sadly, I did not quite meet my 10k goal last week, but I'm really happy and proud that I got as close as I did... a minute and a half over 6 miles.  To think, just 15 seconds faster in each mile, and I would have made it.  I like to think I gave it everything I had, but 15 seconds... that just sounds so... achievable!  I may have to hunt up another 10k and try again in the next few months. Race Recap Here

Upcoming Events:

We're in the middle of Race-A-Palooza here... one down, 3 to go. 
Lake Run 12k (first time racing this distance) 5/4 (goal time 1:30:00)
Race to Wrigley 5k 5/11 (goal - have fun and raise money for a great cause!)
Run River City Marathon Relay (first time in a relay!) 5/18 (goal:  depends on which leg I'm running.  Stay tuned.)

Larger goal in sight for May:  get that weight back on track and headed in the right direction.  Refocus on the goal.  This isn't just about running; it's about health and FITness.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thoughts on Running Groups

I was asked this week to get in front of a group of people and talk about my experience with Ride the Wave and the Catch the Wave programs.  The event is tonight, not a big deal, just 5-10 minutes with my friend Cheryl, where we can both talk about the differences between the programs and encourage those in the "Beginner" program to take on the challenge of the "Experienced Runner" program.

I am usually loathe to speak publicly, about anything, but I'm sort of looking forward to this.  I hope I don't blow it, but I am such a big fan of both programs - I got so much out of CTW that I did it for three years! - and I took a loooong time to feel like I might be "Advanced" enough to take the next step and try out the RTW program. 

There was an intimidation factor.  I was intimidated by the idea I would be running with "Experienced" (read:  "Fast") athletes.  Also, I still didn't get it.  Unbelievable, I am just so dense sometimes!  I still didn't get it.

"Get what?", asks my faceless reader...

The Community.  I haven't written much about this, but I think about it a lot these days, and I could perhaps write endlessly on the subject.  The Running Community is a family.  It's this amazing supportive group of strangers who get together periodically to push one another, talk about things that don't matter, and sometimes find themselves talking about those things that matter most.  Now, mostly my groups have consisted of women (I'm slow, the guys are faster), so my experience is biased in that way, but here is my experience:  We do NOT talk about work.  Most of the time we don't talk about our kids, though by one definition or another, most every woman has some.  We don't much talk about our partners (spouse, husband, wife, boy/girlfriend, what-have-you). 

We DO talk about our health.  We do talk about how running and other exercise has changed us. How the health of family members has changed us in unexpected ways. Changed our outlook on life, on our problems, our perspective of things past.  How we view and define ourselves.  We confess the ways in which we have let ourselves down (in big ways sometimes, mostly in little ways).  We provide suggestions on how to counteract the bad little demons in our heads that tell us "You Can't."  We chat casually about what we think is possible for the next race, then more seriously about what's possible by the end of the season.  And then we remind each other that we are capable of ANYthing - "you don't realize it but we finished mile 6 and you didn't even notice that big hill back there!"

Which is to say nothing of the Complete Strangers on the Road.  I think that's a post for another day.

My point.  Yes, I was trying to organize my thoughts so that I won't ramble on this way at the thing tonight.  We only have 5 minutes a piece.  Right. 

So I was intimidated by the idea that RTW was for "Advanced" runners.  "Fast" runners.  "Marathon" runners.  Not one of those words describes me, not even in my head, not even today.  But I would describe myself as an "Experienced" runner.  There are folks in my Relaxed Runners group at RTW this year who prefer a run/walk interval, either because they have a minor injury or just because it's more comfortable for them. 

The program does go on longer runs than the CTW group, but pace is flexible.  I pushed myself to run farther and faster without walking as much, but I still walk occasionally.  The group leaders are just as friendly and supportive and flexible.  (Kathy even indulged me while I took pictures of my dog on our Outer Loop run a couple weeks ago!) We do some basic speed workouts and a hill workout, which were new and challenging and a LOT of fun. 

I guess what I want to convey to the CTW folks tonight is this:
  1. You don't have to be ready to train for a marathon to join the Ride the Wave group.  You just have to be ready to take your training to the Next Level, whatever that level means for YOU.
  2. This is not a group of high school jocks who are going to make fun of you for being slower or for struggling.  It's a group of supporters who have your back.
  3. Not for nothing, but I've PR'd at every race I've participated in since joining Ride the Wave.  Last weekend I ran the 10k in Champaign SEVEN minutes faster than last April (after finishing CTW for the third time).  There is something to be said for taking my training to the Next Level.
  4. If you're not sure right now about whether you're ready or not... wait!  Do some of the other programs:  TNAM and Heat Wave are both coming up, and there are others.  Get out and run, by yourself, and join up with some of the other opportunities to run with groups - there are at least three a week, and they're come-when-you-can groups, no registration or other commitments required.  Then, at the end of the season - next January - give it some thought again and make your decision then.
  5. By all means, if you enjoyed CTW and don't feel comfortable yet in joining RTW, but you want a group training experience again next year, DO Catch the Wave again!  I did, and I loved it each time!
I'm so glad to be part of this community, and so glad I found my sport.  It's so much more than I ever thought it would be.