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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All about progress

Last week was incredibly busy so I apologize for not posting a weigh-in update.  We had two road trips last week for the Thanksgiving holiday and while I loved spending time with my family I'd be lying if I didn't say it was overwhelming.  I tried to prepare by picking up extra fruits and vegetables and even packed them so we could eat them in the car!  I also made sandwiches before we left so we wouldn't have to take our chances with finding something on the road.  I had mixed emotions about my weigh-in last week because I stayed exactly the same.  I know that I have to be more mindful about eating less when I'm moving less (brilliant - right?) but I sort of forgot how many temptations there are when I'm away from home.

There were gas stations with sugary drinks, tempting sweet and salty snacks and ice cream.  I'm not sure why ice cream was appealing to me because it was 29 degrees but it was.  There were honey-nut cheerios at Mom and Dad's house not to mention a home made blueberry pie not to mention all of the Thanksgiving dinner favorites!  Plus we'd taken home some of my favorite beer and while I tried to track everything I know that some of those bites and tastes didn't get tracked.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that at weigh-in last night the scale told me I'd done alright.  I gained 1.0 pound but given the amount that I felt like I ate last week I wasn't unhappy with that result.  I know that this lifestyle isn't about perfection so I will definitely accept progress.  

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you make any new healthy traditions?  I didn't run on Thanksgiving but am really going to try to include that in my schedule next year.

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 13

Tapering is definitely an adjustment.  The lazy part of me is loving it because it means there are less miles to run and given our travel schedule last week that was definitely a blessing.  I logged a few runs before leaving for Thanksgiving and ran a couple days while I was away.  The few runs I did when I was home were the spectacular kind of runs where you actually think "hey I feel so good maybe I could go one more mile" and the you remember that it's called tapering for a reason and that you should probably be following the training plan you have.  The two runs I did when I was out of town did not go as well and I'd even considered cutting them short but am so glad I didn't because I know that every time I have pushed through those difficult runs will help me when I get to Vegas.

Speaking of Vegas... here's what my training plan was supposed to be:
M: Run, 4 miles
T: Cross train or Speed
W: Run, 3 miles, easy
T: Strength
F: Off
S: Run, 5 miles
S: Off

Here's what I actually did:

M: Run, 5 miles
T: Run, 4 miles
W: Bike, 9.52 miles
T: Off
F: Run, 3 miles
S: Run, 2.71 miles
S: Off

I have reached my fundraising goal but am still trying to raise more money for CCFA because it is an awesome organization doing very important research for Crohn's and Colitis patients.  Please consider donating using this link.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 12

This week was my longest run.  Ever.  I was planning on being home in Wisconsin for the weekend so I wanted to get the run out of the way before we left.  After the 7 mile run last weekend I planned out my route and tried to get excited about it without getting overwhelmed.  It definitely wasn't working until I got an email from Coach B... she told me to not think of it as 10 miles but to break it up.  She suggested breaking it into 2.5 mile segments but I went a little smaller than that and made it 1 mile segments.  I am so glad that I got this advice (and that I followed it) because it felt so amazing when my Garmin beeped and told me I'd completed a segment.  I kept an eye on my pace knowing that I needed to stay out of the 10's and in the 11:XX pace.  I felt pretty good for the first 5 miles at which point I stopped and took off my sweatshirt (I layered my clothes - appropriately this time) and continued on.  I thought miles 6-8 were boring so I kept thinking about the segment I was in (rather than the total distance) and that helped.  At the beginning of miles 7 and 8 I stopped to stretch and drink water (I paused my Garmin) and at mile 9 I walked for 2 minutes (I didn't pause my Garmin) before continuing.  I was so extremely proud to have finished but I'd be lying if I said it was easy.  I know that the last 5K of the race is going to be tough but I am also beginning to believe that I can actually do this!  YIPPEE!!

So, here's what I was supposed to do last week:
M: Run, 4 miles
T: Cross training or Speed
W: Run, 3 miles, threshold
T: Strength
F: Off
S: Run, 10 miles
S: Off

Here is what I actually did:

M: Run, 4.42 miles
T: Cross train (elliptical & stationary bike) and strength train
W: Run, 4.03 miles
T: Off
F: Run, 10 miles
S: Off (casually walked around)
S: Off

I thought that beginning taper would be awesome.  So I went for my run today and while the starting mile was rough (my legs felt heavy) I ran 5 miles.  As I thought about my workouts for the remainder of the week I realized that I felt really good and considered running 5 miles tomorrow too.  Yeah, that's not in the plan.

How do you handle tapering?  Do you feel like you can run more miles than you're supposed to?  If so, how do you reign that in?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Weigh-in this week went well.  I was down 5.2 pounds so the gain I put on last week is gone (yeah!) so I'm sure some of it was directly related to the race and the fact that I was probably retaining water after the race.  So, let's do a little foreshadowing here - I'm guessing after the half marathon I'll gain ... eh ... about 7 pounds.  Oh yes, I'm planning on having a massive cookie after that race!  Onto other things....

I said when I started this blog that we'd talk about the good, the bad and everything in between and this is one of those "bad" posts.  As I wrote the last post about the half marathon update I realized how far we've come but also that the half marathon date is really close.  Tomorrow I will go out for my longest distance run ever and the truth is that I am freaking out about it.  See... when I did the Hot Chocolate 15K I ended up walking for parts of it and my confidence took a tumble.  I thought I'd recovered during the week putting out some really solid miles but over the weekend during a 7 mile run I ended up walking again.  My confidence is definitely not where I want it to be going into such a huge challenge.

I've read a lot of other posts and articles recently about how to mentally "muscle" through the challenges and I am hoping that I can but I'm really worried.  The fact is that I want to run the full distance (both the 10 miles tomorrow and the half marathon in a couple of weeks) and I've been training to run.  On the one hand I know that in the past it has taken me a few tries before I get it right - when I trained to run my first 5K I ended up attempting that race 3-4 times before I finally ran the entire distance.  Will that be my fate with the half marathon?  On the other hand the fact that I've started running and decided to tackle a half marathon in less than a year is an amazing accomplishment.  But, is it enough?

How do you mentally muscle through the long distance runs when your body thinks it wants to stop?

Any songs that you think I should have on my playlist to keep me pumped up?  Tell me, please!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 11

Today was my last group run.  I have terribly mixed emotions about this detail.  On the one hand it'd be nice to not have to get up at 5 am on at least one weekend day but on the other hand it is fun meeting up with the group, warming up, running a bunch of miles and then catching up with folks when we're done.  I suppose I knew this adventure would come to an end but I never thought of how I would feel when it did.

Training isn't over yet, I have two more weekend runs (10 and 5 miles) to do but will do them on my own since the scheduling doesn't work.  I have already mapped out my 10 mile route and I'm oddly excited to tackle this challenge.  The five mile run is already mapped out since I have been running that at least once a week for the last several weeks.  It'll be a little sad to do these runs on my own but I hope that I have learned as much as possible from my coaches to be successful.

Today's run was a 7 mile jaunt in Libertyville (aka the hilly forest preserve) that kind of kicked my butt.  A few days ago while stretching my legs I'd noticed a knot in my calf muscle and tried to work it out.  I might have worked it a little too hard because it started to bother me today.  I ended up walking a few times but Coach B kicked my *ss and got me running again.  I finished the run with an 11:28 pace and 1:19:18 which was 13 seconds faster than the last 7 mile run I did and 1:07 faster than the first 7 mile run.  Clearly this means I'm progressing as a runner?  I really just need to work on my pacing so that I can be more consistent.

My training plan this week was:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross Training or Speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles - Start easy build to fast finish
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run, easy 30 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

What I actually did this week:

Monday: Run, 4.27 miles (pace began at 11:27, finished at 11:16)
Tuesday: Bike, 10.98 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Run, 5.33 miles
Friday: Run, 3.19 miles
Saturday: Bike, 8.05 miles
Sunday: Run, 7 miles

I had to flip my Monday/Wednesday runs around because of the 15K race last week.  My legs were not ready to tackle 5 miles on Monday but I knew I needed to get them moving so that is why I swapped those to runs.  I think it was a fairly successful week except for missing the strength workout.

Any tips for conquering the long runs?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pile on the Miles

This post, while not entirely timely because normally I write my weigh-in post on Wednesday and today is Thursday but I probably won't send this out to the interwebs until Friday.  Gosh that seems really late but I think that the information is still important.  So, first off... weigh-in stuff.  The wheels kind of fell off the bus this week when I got on the scale and had a 4.4 pound gain.  Seriously - I know I ate bad after the race but I didn't realize I was out of control that much.  Oh well - I'm moving on from it because I know it's not about a single week but rather it is about the overall progress.  Also, last week alone I had 4 people tell me I looked good.  So I'm going to try to focus on that rather than the number that showed up on the scale.

Secondly, I've entered a little contest for the month of November called Pile on the Miles.  The contest, hosted by Monica, is to encourage participants to pile on miles in November rather than piling on pounds.  Seriously, this seems like a fabulous idea to me considering that with the colder temperatures I really just want to snuggle up in front of a fire rather than go out walking or running.  However, with the half marathon coming up and now this contest it seems like a fabulous way to keep up the training.  Mileage only counts if it is walking or running - no sneaking in biking miles - and reporting your miles is on the honor system.  So, you set your mileage goal for November and report in your miles by Monday and that's it!  My goal is 100 miles... I hadn't considered the taper as part of the month so that might be lofty but I think it's still good to have a goal.

Are you participating in #POTM (Pile on the Miles)?  Have you ever done a contest like this?  Were you successful?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Half Marathon Training Update - Week 10

I can't believe that in less than a month I'll be running my half marathon!  When I started training for this the race seemed so far away and I thought I'd have plenty of time to train.  Now, with one double digit run left on my training plan I'm worried.  My coach assures me that I will be ready and after the 15K race this past weekend I know that physically I'll be able to cover the 13.1 miles in order to claim my medal whether I am able to run the entire thing is a whole different story.  Obviously my bigger challenge will be the mental challenge of completing 13.1 miles... luckily I still have a month of training my brain that I can do this!

So my training last week was supposed to be:
Monday: Run, 5 miles
Tuesday: Cross train or Speed
Wednesday: Run, 4 miles, medium effort
Thursday: Strength
Friday: Run, Easy 20 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, Hot Chocolate 15K race

And here's how I interpreted that training plan:

Monday: Run, 5.15 miles
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Bike, 8.72 miles
Thursday: Run, 4.29 miles
Friday: Run, 20 minutes
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Run, Hot Chocolate 15K

I know that I slacked on the speed work and strength training so I am hoping to get better about that with the time I left before the race.

Do you follow your training plan to the letter or do you change it as necessary?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

RACE RECAP: Hot Chocolate 5K/15K

This was a race I'd wanted to do long before I knew it was on our training schedule as a training run so I was super excited for this race.  However, that excitement diminished a little when, on Friday, I picked up Coach Barbara and we headed to pick up our packets.  We waited... and waited... and waited in line.  Outside.  For 2+ hours.  And I came home with a really nice cold/sinus infection (of course).  The expo was alright - for it being my first expo with vendors I guess I was expecting more but I'm glad I went and got to see it.

I'd made arrangements for us to spend the night in Chicago because this race had an early start time and we learned our lesson after the Bucktown 5K that getting up that early on race day sucked.  So we drove in on Saturday, had dinner and ran to Walgreen's for snacks and then checked into our hotel.  After a quick shower I was snuggled in bed in my pajamas ready for some good sleep.  I'm still waiting.  The congestion woke and fear of missing both of our alarms woke me up about every hour so I wasn't really looking forward to getting up and running this morning.
Team Challengers before the race

We met up with Team Challenge at the Team Challenge tent in the post-race party area and took a few pre-race photos and did some stretching before heading off to our various corrals.  I heard the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison (the guy who sings for the Blackhawk's which was awesome) and then they started releasing the first corrals.  They would release a corral every 3 minutes and I was in the S corral so I waited... and waited... and waited... a very long (and COLD) 1:20 before my corral was even allowed to start running.  When we started my toes were completely numb and even though I'd continued to stretch while waiting in the corral I knew my muscles were cold and I was worried about my overall performance.  The 5K runners/walkers and 15K runners/walkers were all together in the same corrals so I knew I needed to go slow the first mile or so and let people pass me because this was going to be a long race.

Here are my splits (and thoughts per mile) based on what my watch calculated.  I know some are wrong because I lost satellite signal and I also don't generally run anything faster than 10:XX/mile so....

Mile 1:  11:40 - a little slow for me but it took about the full first mile for me to get feeling back in my toes so I was just going at a good pace to get warmed back up.

Yeah for seeing family along the route!
Mile 2:  10:40 - Coach Bill warned us that there was a hill coming up so I wanted to be conservative.  I think this time is slightly off because we were underground (lower Wacker Drive?)... felt good - finally warmer and I could feel my toes.

Mile 3:  11:02 - @*$#) that hill up Roosevelt.  It really wasn't that bad but someone had a sign that said that and I thought it was funny.  We hit our first aid station around here and I took a sip of water from my water bottle.

Mile 4:  9:13 - don't even know what to say about that but I'm pretty sure it was wrong.  We went down a hill as we got on Columbus but I really don't think I was moving THAT fast.  I passed bathrooms and considered using them but there was a line and I really didn't want to stop and wait in line to use the bathroom.  Passed another aid station and took more water from my bottle.

Mile 5:  13:03 - ??? again that doesn't seem right but whatev... I finally felt like I was able to have more space around me and I wasn't trying to get around so many people which was nice.  It was around here that I realized my form wasn't quite what it needs to be so I need to work on that.  I know my arms were swinging more side to side rather than front to back and Coach B would have yelled at me.

Mile 6:  11:19 - Yeah - 10K... cool... I can run 10K no problem.

Mile 7:  11:45 - Nearing the longest distance I've run to date left me feeling a little anxious.  At this point I realize that finishing another 2.3 miles is going to be hard.  And I got a side stitch.  Awesome.

Mile 8:  8:07 - We were underground for what seemed like ever and there were some guys screaming and yelling... the dark and the yelling freaked me out.  Not because of my safety ... I just didn't feel in control and I stopped to walk a little (probably about 1/8 mile) and re-tie my shoes.  My foot started hurting during this mile and that didn't help me... plus I ran out of water and I was pissed about that.

Oh my god everything hurts - are we done yet?
Mile 9:  15:23 - More walking past Soldier Field.  There seemed to be hills here and I felt tired on the way up and worried that I couldn't stay on my feet on the way down so I walked to be safe.  However, I knew I was getting close to the finish so I started running again.  As I was coming down a hill and around a corner Dan actually stepped out and held out his hand to high-five me.  I was so grateful because I knew I was close to the finish and I almost started to cry but then realized that crying would not help my side stitch and I had to suck it up.

Mile 9.01 - 9.7 - 9:21 - I'm not sure how I ended up running 9.7 miles but that's what Garmin says I did.

The finish was disappointing ... no big crowds and it just sort of ends but then  you have to walk about another mile (or it seems like 10) to get to the post-race party.  They were making an announcement that they'd run out of chocolate bars (really?  WTF?  You know how many people registered for a race how do you run out?) but they had a lot of Gatorade and water.  I gulped 3 cups of gatorade (I normally don't drink any), a cup of water and then a full size bottle of water as I walked to the post-race area.  I saw where they were taking official finisher photos and stopped for that.  Finally, I was getting closer to the Team Challenge tent when Coach Barbara saw me and ran out to hug me and I broke down.

Team Challenge post race!
I was exhausted and excited and disappointed all at the same time.  Having no control over the thoughts that come out of my mouth after running for nearly 2 hours I immediately blurted out that I walked some and she told me it didn't matter that I'd finished.  I was worried she'd be disappointed... apparently it was only me that was disappointed.  She helped me put on pants and my jacket (I'd forgotten a shirt to change into so I could warm-up post race as well as fresh socks.) but I was so happy to have my jacket and fresh gloves/hat that I didn't care.

My mentor, Christine, helped me stretch out my very angry IT bands and even though I sort of hate her while we're doing that it feels so much better when done that I feel super lucky that she's willing to help me like that.  I was so tired and sore that I really just wanted to get my finisher mug and go back to the hotel so I could shower or lay down.  I quickly gobbled the treats in my finisher mug as we walked up to Michigan Ave and in the cab on the way back to the hotel.

Once showered and packed up we checked out and headed over to our regular post-race refueling spot.  Revolution Brewing Company.  They said there was going to be a 30 minute wait and I sort of dreaded that but we really love that place so we waited... luckily the wait was shorter than they said and we were soon seated at a table.  We shared an order of Wild Boar Meatballs which were heavenly.  I wish I'd taken photos of all of our food because it was all amazingly delicious but I was SOOOOO hungry I didn't care.  For my entree I had the frittata with a side of fruit instead of potatoes.  It came with a delicious salad and a biscuit and both were absolutely spot-on fantastic.  I also ordered a pint of Eugene Porter which might be my favorite porter of all time.

All in all the weekend was a ton of fun.  However, with the long wait times to pick up packets and actually start the race I'm not sure I'd do this one again.  I think I'd prefer to do smaller local races... but who knows?!

Who else raced this weekend?  Good times?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Great Businesses

So you've heard about the half marathon I'm training for, right?  Oh yes, I may have mentioned one or two gazillion times.  However, in case you're new to the blog I'm running the strip at night for the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas with Team Challenge.  Not only do I get some fabulous coaching and mentors for the race but I am also raising money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (a cause very near and dear to my heart).  We decided to host a fundraiser dinner and we were lucky enough to have an award winning BBQ chef prepare pulled pork and brisket for our guests.  The party was fun but it would not have been nearly as successful without a whole lot of local businesses and fabulous people that donated items for the silent auction. I hope if you're a local reader that you will consider patronizing these businesses. 

And to these fabulous individuals who also donated items:
Pete G.
Karen A.
Noreen H.

Parties and races...

Saturday night we held a fundraiser for my half marathon fundraising campaign.  Between weigh-in on Tuesday and Saturday I just kept thinking - eat clean because Saturday probably won't be on plan.  I did just that - I got in all my good health guidelines, worked out every day and chose fruits and vegetables instead of sweet treats.  When Saturday afternoon rolled around and it was time to set up the buffet of food I let myself eat - not to the point of eating so much that I wanted to unbutton my pants but I had a little bit of everything and it was all delicious!  We'd had the pulled pork and brisket prepared by an award winning BBQ chef and it was amazingly delicious.  Either the working out or the clean eating worked because weigh-in went well on Tuesday!  *yeah*

This of course brings us to this Sunday when I'll run the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago.  This will be the furthest distance I've ever run and I am really terribly excited and a little nervous.  We are using it as a training run for the distance but our coaches also wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to race before we head to Vegas.  It should be fun because a bunch of my teammates and coaches are running and some friends are running/walking the other various races.  Plus, Dan is coming to take pictures which always makes a race nice when you get to see friendly faces along the course.

Did you survive Halloween?  What'd you do to get through the seemingly endless bowl of candy?  What do you look forward to for a race?