Thursday, July 30, 2015

Painting, running, drinks and a new record

I've been in a rut in regards to running for almost a month. Life has been absolutely fantastic otherwise. When I don't exercise as much and eat/drink a lot I feel crappy. When I feel heavy and sluggish the last thing I want to do is workout. I'm breaking that vicious cycle though, and the time away from any serious training has been nice. I've just readjusted my goals for working out (and have been eating/drinking less) and feel happier already.

It's been awesome to be able to spend so much time with our friend Cris while she has been in Chicago studying English. We've gone to many traditional touristy spots as well as a few new ones (to us) like The Green Mill- Al Capone's former favorite hangout.

CB and I have ran a few times over the past few weeks- but it is very difficult for him now that it is much hotter outside. His enthusiasm is infectious and I have to reign him in so he doesn't sprint the entire 3 miles.

The highlight of this week so far was going painting with Vicky and Cris Tuesday night. I wanted to surprise Cris with something cool to do that she hadn't done before that also doesn't exist in Brasil. I purposely chose the night with this painting so that she would have a nice memento from her time here.
We had a blast drinking wine and painting. I definitely want to go paint CB next time.

I ended up buying the full download of my photos from the Rock n Roll Chicago half. While I had a miserable time running it, I made sure to ham it up for the cameras in hopes of getting a few good shots.

My work paid off with a record 39 photos from the event!!! I was super happy that most of them came out great.

It's so funny how even though I had a shitty time running the race and felt awful, that I could put on a plastic face for the cameras and look so happy. See kids, photos are not accurate representations of life that you see online.

This weekend is also shaping up to be awesome. With Lollapalooza tomorrow and a trip to a brewery Sunday, summer in Chicago is in full swing and I seriously can't get enough.
And that concludes this week's fluff post.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rock n Roll Chicago Half {2015}

Friday:

After work L and I ran to McCormick place to the RnR expo. Although it was 90+ degrees out, running to the expo was a much better decision than dealing with a cab or CTA.

We got our stuff and I took the obligatory cheesy RnR finish line shot.

We also ran into Emmers and continued to take cheesy photos.

We sweated out our souls on the runs to and from McCormick.

Saturday:

We joined some good friends for their annual Beer run. We hit up 5 bars and ran between them. On our way from Beer Bistro to Goose Island we got caught in a downpour. It was so fun. I also made sure to stick with radlers and gose/Weiss beers of low ABV.

Post beer run, we cleaned up and went to a surprise birthday party at Northdown. I had a few more light abv beers (needed to stay hydrated for Sunday's half!) and we ate Pork Frites.

Sunday:

Race day.

Stats:
Time:  1:53.19
70/1278 AG 5.4%
355/7171 Women 4.95%
1089/12025 OA 9.05%

Positive splitted the shit out of this race.
Mile Time Cumulative pace Segment pace
2 mi 16.45 8.22 8.22
5K 25.48 8.19 8.13
10K 51.52 8.22 8.40
6.9m 57.45 8.22 8.47
10m 1:25 8.30 8.47
11.8m 1:39 8.23 7.46
13.1 1:53:19 8.38 10.55

We left our place at 5:40 to walk to grant park. It was warm. We took selfies to pass the time.

My plan for the race was to go out around 8:00's and just cruise through the course. I picked low 8:00's because my goal half time in perfect conditions would be about 25 seconds faster, and I knew with the heat, I would run a bit slower. I took off and hit the first mile in an unremarkable 8:15. I felt hot already. Second mile clocked in around 8:20. I started dumping water on my head at the first aid station and continued throughout. After the 2nd mile I abandoned any pace "goals" for the race because of how I felt. (I like to go into a race with a plan- but 100% of the time that "plan" can be amended).

I felt hot. Sweltering. I took a gu around mile 4 and continued dumping water on my head. By mile 6 I was done. I didn't want to run any more. This wasn't fun, it was awful. I seriously considered just walking home since I was very close at this point. The thought of an additional 7 miles filled me with an absurd amount of dread. Mile 8 I took another gu and continued regretting ever signing up for this. I love the heat- and don't mind running in it because I can run by perceived effort and not give 2 shits about my pace. Sunday got to a point of it not being enjoyable at all.
{at the start- Meb's pace group}

I high fived cheerleaders and spectators which always makes me smile big. I hammed it up for the course photogs and consequently have a load of photos of me which I'll probably buy.

But for most of the race I was questioning why I do this. Why I run longer races. Why I train for stuff like this. Since I had a lot of time to think I came to some conclusions.

I do enjoy getting better at distances after putting work in. I love seeing forward progress.

I like structure of training plans.

I genuinely love running.

I am ambivalent about races currently.

I can workout and feel good without races.

I no longer need races to "motivate" me to run.

I am happier without the stress of races in my life right now.

Around mile 12 I saw a golf cart coming back on the course. I first thought it was for a runner needing medical assistance. But as it got closer I heard folks cheering. I realized MEB was in the passenger side giving high 5's and encouragement to runners. I stuck my hand out and we connected for an epic hand stinging high 5. Immediately after I was overcome with emotion. I was so done with this race and also was happy to see Meb. It was super conflicting. As I crossed the finish I was so relieved that it was finally over.

After sitting on the curb waiting for L to finish I thought more about running and racing. It's so easy to get consumed and carried away with this shit. And for me, I like balance, and the way I get about races- even ones without time goals like this one makes me feel icky. I go all in with races. I like to do my best- whether a PR effort or just running a smart race like I did for this one.  And I do this all for what? Another mediocre race time or medal that will get put in a shoebox? It's time to take some steps back from racing for me for now.

And the race was well organized like always. The cold sponges around mile 10 were delightful. The course sucked especially on the out and back portion around mile 9-11. I absolutely hated running through the McCormick tunnel, like always. Going from sunny to dark and dank with potholes is always bad.

Post race we met Emmers and our friend Cris for brunch. We enjoyed eating outside with Cb keeping us company.

Post brunch we went to the bar and had a few celebratory beers to rehydrate. And CB became that douchey bro in the bar who picks fights with people. (He was barking at an older sweet dog who was also in the bar)

Post race we took a long nap.

Then we went to dinner on a rooftop.

We had an amazing time drinking amazing cocktails, eating locally sourced food and making new friends.

It was the perfect end to a very busy weekend.

-Xaarlin

Friday, July 17, 2015

Yay RnR Chi, Yay

I've never felt so ambivalent about a race before. Sure, come Sunday I'll be excited to slog through my favorite course for another 13.1 finish, but currently I'm almost regretting that I signed up for it. It's definitely not the forecast making me all "meh" about it- I knew when I signed up that the weather could be a forecast of "rainforest" it's just everything else.

I had been running great for a while- 30-40 mile weeks with solid speed sessions and long runs with goal half paced miles thrown in. But the past 2 weeks I've run a total of 8 miles. Life has gotten busy- a promotion at work coupled with taking on more responsibilities since a coworker left + life stuff in general has left me feeling tired after work. I would much rather take additional rest days than force myself to run when I'm exhausted. And contrary to all that fitspo garbage out there, I never regret the workout I don't do.


Scenes from RnR Chi 2012 (my fav photos ever!) and 2013 where I ran with Pete and Sara

This will by my 4th time running RnR and my plan for the race is take off conservative about 20 seconds slower than my goal pace and just chug along and enjoy it. I love running in the heat & can adjust accordingly. I also won't go balls out because L and I are going to a nice dinner post race that I want to feel good for. Oh and Saturday we are doing a beer run and going to a friends's birthday party- so if it wasn't entirely obvious before given the forecast, I won't be taking this race seriously. And perhaps that's the root of why I am so ambivalent about this race- is that I feel under prepared, as well as knowing it won't be the Pr I had been training for. And generally I don't just drop $$$ on races for "fun" anymore.


In the meantime while I haven't been running......

Life has been ridiculously good the past month. Our last Mikkeller run Club on July 4th had our biggest group ever! Join us on August 1 for our next run!


I've had some great runs- and enjoyed seeing parts of the path I hadn't seen since 2013.


I've had a blast with friends. I even drank Malört for the first time. It was gross and tasted like window cleaner.


Yoga at millennium park with Vicky and Emmers a few weeks ago was so fun! I can't wait to go back for more yoga and Zumba!


We celebrated my birthday week which has now bled into a 2nd week of celebrations and early celebrations for L.


And all of these experiences have been amazing and fun.


And I wouldn't trade any of this for running. Ever.


Yay RnR Chi, Yay.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

4 weeks to RnR Chicago aka this was another great week.

This was my highest mileage week in over 1 year with 40 miles of running. And I feel great. RnR Chicago is 4 weeks from today!!! Yikes. I feel like I still have a lot of work to do before then to feel comfortable running longer distances again.

With the increased mileage I started toying with the idea of training for another marathon on Saturday afternoon. By the end of my long run on Sunday I had began rethinking that idea because I really didnt want to run an additional 5-8 miles once I was finished. Marathons and Halfs are my favorite distances, and I miss running marathons. BUT, I have been enjoying my free time since getting injured a year ago and the lifestyle changes that would accompany marathon training is something I'm not 100% sure I want to switch to right now. Either way, I've got 2-3 potential marathons I could train for in less than 15 weeks if I decide to do one.
The highlights of my running week were:

Running 12.87 miles in 1:42 on Sunday morning. While it was a bit warm, I felt really good. Miles 6-9 were at 7:31, 7:26, 7:30, 7:35. I wanted to do 5 miles at this pace but it was too warm.*
I ran south, all the way to 51st street- which is the furthest south on the LFP i've been in a long long time.
                                         
Another highlight was a speed sesh of 6x800's @ 6:39 pace + 2x1200's @ 6:39 pace on Tuesday evening.

The next day CB and I did a recovery run.
Friday morning Vicky and I FINALLY ran together. We've been friends for a few years and have run many of the same races but have never run together before now. It was so nice to actually run together and chat.
In non running related news, 

CB and I were happy the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup again.
I got my 1x yearly haircut this week. Instead of just a trim, I got 6+ inches chopped off. I feel 10lbs lighter and wonder why I waited so long to get it done.
My hair looked so nice leaving the salon- I hope I can master curling my hair now... I learned how to french braid my hair at 30+ years old, so maybe with the right styling products (Which I asked about and subsequently purchased), I can get a curl/wave to stick in my hair longer than 4 minutes.
I went to the Daley Plaza Farmer's Market Thursday in the pouring rain. I got a savory buckwheat crepe filled with goat cheese,turkey and olives. It was delicious.
Saturday evening there were bad storms in Chicago. CB was so freaked out from the lightning and thunder. I gave him some calming chews, but nothing really calms him down. I feel so bad for him when it's storming because there is nothing I can do to reduce his anxiety.
Post long run and after organizing the kitchen and all my running clothes, I got a salad and huge meatball from my local Italian restaurant and opened a bottle of 2007 "Le Cigare Volant" red wine by Bonny Doon. L and I always enjoyed going to Bonny Doon's tasting room in Santa Cruz, CA when we lived there. We have a few bottles from Bonny Doon left that survived the cross country move of 2011. 

Looking Forward:

*I really need to get more consistent with my long run fueling. I ran the 12.87 miles without  GU, sports drink or breakfast. I usually dont eat before shorter "long" runs, but I started fading in the heat without replacing electrolytes as I was solely taking water from the fountains. I'm good about using my Osmo for the speed work, and usually run longer races with a bottle of Osmo in hand, but I've been ridiculously lazy on my long runs lately by not taking anything with me (since it's "only" 13 miles or less). With 3 more longish runs left, I will make an effort to get my fueling consistent again and quit being lazy.

Other than that, I'll keep eating well, and plan to hit 40+ miles again this coming week.

Yay running, YAY.


Friday, June 12, 2015

The Original 5k 2015

Time: 21:00 a new PR by 13 seconds!

96/877 OA (top 10.8%)**

16/501 women (top 3.2%)**

4/131 AG (top 3.1%)**

**Yay stats and analytics!

I couldn't resist signing up for the second running of The Original 5k. I ran it last year and had a blast even though I was injured with peroneal tendonosis. I love the theme of this race "1970's original running boom" as well as the $19.72 entry fee. No frills, no shirt just an extremely well organized race put on by Fleet Feet. We did get a super cool hat though- much better than another tech shirt IMO.

The night time start made logistics challenging for me since I like to run on a near empty stomach. But after consulting with Kim, she suggested eating a larger than normal breakfast which helped a lot. I had a breakfast burrito that was much more plain for me than usual since I didn't want spicy things dancing around in my belly for a 5k. I ate a turkey sandwich around 2pm and felt good for the 7pm start.

The weather couldn't have been any better- low 60's relatively low dew point, overcast, no wind and intermittent light drizzle. I really expected it to be 85 degrees, windy and humid.


My goals for the race were to break 21, and-or PR. I was feeling good going into the race, but didn't feel I was quite at the same level of fitness I was at for the Vancouver 5k. Losing a bit of momentum running wise + eating and drinking all the things in Europe left me feeling a bit more sluggish. Plus I've been adding miles the past 3 weeks and had to back off on intensity because more miles and more intensity equal injury.

L and I took a bus to the start of the race- 5 miles away and 45+ minutes, And got there nice and early. We ran into Vicky who was super awesome to come out in the dodgy conditions to spectate. We also ran into some Fleet Feet Cheer team members and had fun taking some photos.


I warmed up for a bit with some strides and positioned myself near the front of the race. After the national anthem, we were off!!

Mile 1: 6:35  "I love this! This is so fun!"
I felt really comfortable the first mile- and though I could hold this for a while. Heh.
Photos courtesy of Vicky and L

Mile 2: 7:02 "Things are getting difficult. That is expected. Just a little more to go."
Every. Single. 5k Race. I fade the second mile. My effort was the same but I was comfortably uncomfortable now. Around mile 1.5 a girl clipped my heel and then passed me. Like seriously why run so close to people especially since we were pretty spread out by this point.
Photos courtesy of Vicky and L

Mile 3: 6:53 "I currently feel like shit and will never do another 5k again."
I kept chugging along and saw Vicky and L cheering for me which was nice. I started picking off folks and passed the girl that clipped my heel. Shortly after she clipped my heel again trying to pass me and I got pissed and sprinted off and left her eating my dust. Like once, forgivable accident but 2x!? WTF is wrong with people? I checked the results later on and was pleased to know I got a faster time than her.

Mile 3.1: 33 seconds (5:57 pace) "Collapse and die."
Hyped up on adrenaline, I sprinted hard. I also knew sub 21 was THISCLOSE. I kept my head down and ran as hard as I could. I stopped my garmin after the finish and saw 21:02 so I knew it would be close.  I saw the results posted post race and was pleased to see 21 freaking flat. Which reminds me of the time I was trying to go sub 2 in the half and got a 2:00:00.58... My next 13.1 I smashed that by 8 minutes. Im expecting a similar breakthrough to happen in the 5k- jut not 8 minutes worth obvs.
Finish photos- by Pete

I quickly found Vicky and L and ate some watermelon and 5 minutes later forgot how uncomfortable I felt running 5ks and joked I was ready to go again.

We found Pete who took some great photos at the finish and chatted for a bit.

Then we ran into more Fleet Feet cheer folks and took some photos.

We celebrated my new shiny PR with some PBR.
And then we went to 5 Guys for a celebratory burger.

I'm really happy with how this race turned out. I do feel there is a mental hurdle I need to overcome to race more efficiently at this distance. I know I could keep 6:3x pace for longer than 1 mile, but somehow I let myself give in and back off. Since I like challenges, I'll be working on embracing being uncomfortable more which means a few more 5ks are in my future.

I also feel that I'm better suited for longer events like half marathons because I can sustain a moderate uncomfortable pace over a longer distance and push through that discomfort better than the extremely uncomfortable feeling in a 5k where I give up relatively fast.

It was a great evening and I had a lot of fun doing this race.

Next up: Rock n Roll Chicago! My first half in over 2 years.