Monday, December 31, 2012

Tchau 2012

On the running front:

1245+ miles run
618 Cycling miles
1859 total miles

13 Races Run

The biggest change in my usual running routine was hiring Britt as my virtual running coach. With her training plan and support, I was able to achieve one hell of a PR in the marathon which I am certain wouldn't have been possible on my own.

 3 Marathons.
And a PR of 25 minutes in Fox Valley for a 3:40

Running the Chicago marathon with my L, was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

Ing Miami, Fox Valley, Chicago Marathon Part 1 and Part 2 (slideshow) 
Grinning like a crazy fool for every step of the Fox Valley 26.2
2 Marathons were run with my best friends in the whole entire world. 

4 Half Marathons.
I took 2 minutes off of my 2011 half time for a PR in the Chicago Women's Half of 1:46:15

Rock n Roll St. Pete (FL), Chicago Spring Half, Chicago Women's Half, Rock n Roll Chicago
While RnR Chicago was a bust because of the heat, I had fun and the photos turned out awesome!

1 8K.
I came back from the hip flexor injury and took 2:11 off of my 2011 time for a new PR of 39:57
Shamrock Shuffle
5 5Ks
No PR this year. My 2011 PR of 22:18 Still stands strong. But I did get 2nd AG, and 2nd overall in the races I ran.

New Year's Day 5K,  Run to Remember, Karhu 5k, Grant Park Turkey Trot, Schiller Chiller Trail Run

Churro Dog
Loads of memories made with the Churro Bear Dog.

Concerts/Events attended:
Several Cubs games attended
Flo Rida post RnR St Pete. He put on a great show!

Starship Cobra post RnR Chicago
And Lollapalooza! My favorite band was Amadou e Mariam, but Florence and the Machine, and Jack White were also pretty good. The whole day was just a crazy experience.

2012 was a great year. 

I got promoted at work, saw family and friends, got to visit a few states, drank over 300+ unique beers and fell in love with the town I live in, Chicago.

I'm welcoming 2013 with open arms. Some things in early 2013 i'm looking forward to: a Chicago Bulls game, and a much anticipated trip to Brasil.  

Tchau 2012, it's been fun!

Feliz ano novo!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Throwback Thursday: My 1st race EVER

St Patricks Day Race put on by the Brandon Running Association

March 17, 1991

1st place Age Group (8 & under)

8:58 for 1 mile

This was my very first race ever!

I remember it was raining and that it was an out and back course in a corporate park.

I still do this pose. Like while holding up a shirt at a store "how do I look?" while putting my right leg out. Crazy. I had no idea I did it then.(I don't do it on purpose) L pokes fun at me for doing this all the time...

Waiting to start...

And we're off!! My Daad (green shirt) and I flying by!

Must. Break. 9:00!

Mission accomplished!

Getting my trophy from the creepy leprechaun. (I have no idea what kind of running shoes I was wearing)

Daad and I post race, with my first Age Group win ever.

Sweet trophy!

Being silly at races since the very beginning.

This will be the first of hopefully many "throwback" reports.

Although no other throwback post will be nearly as adorable as this one :)

What was your first race?

- xaar

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cold, Wind and Waves... OH MY!

I took today off work and decided to make the most of my extended weekend and head out for a run. Made it 7+ miles, but would have gone more if the path wasn't closed around Oak St/North Ave Beach due to large dangerous waves.

We did get "hit" with the snowstorm Draco last night. I really didn't see snow accumulation any where in the Downtown Chicago area. I was really expecting more based on the "OMG this storm is going to be so super bad, be scared of the wind and 2-4 inches of snow and high winds" per the local meteorologists. What a disappointment**.
Churro Bear and his left over dental chew from last night. Breakfast of champions!
I was intimidated by the conditions- Feels like 16, wind gusting at 40mph- but I wasn't going to let something like that ruin my 1st opportunity to run outside this week.
I wore my brand spanking new Nike Pegasus + 29 Shield's out for their inaugural run to see if the weather proofing "Shield"  lived up to its name. Spoiler Alert: The weather proofing worked.
This was my invitation to keep going north past Oak St Beach.
With a lot of caution, of course.
The "OH SHIT" wave which sent a 3 inch high wall of water rushing towards me while I ran as fast as I could, but not nearly fast enough. The ice cold water went right over my new pumped up kicks. And my feet stayed dry! Thank you Nike for making an amazing shoe.
I knew my limits and just took photos from a distance and did not try to get to North Ave beach, because that would have meant you seeing me being pulled out of Lake Michigan on the 5pm News.
The waves were ferocious.
The path was salted heavily in anticipation for the snowstorm that wasnt.
Navy pier Ferris wheel looking good.
Some new "friends" before they got pissed at me and started hissing.
There weren't many people out on the path today- just a few cyclists and hard core runners like myself braving the wind and cold.
It was a beautiful day... Did I even need to say that based on my photos?!?
Some "self timer" fun with one of the pieces of artwork on the path. 3rd times the charm.
Have a wonderful weekend!

**I want to run in the snow, build an honest to god snowman, and sled down sledding hill. Is that too much to ask?

- xaar

Monday, December 17, 2012

For this i'll make an exception

Recap of the weekend:
25 miles running, (Hit my goal of breaking 20 miles for a week!)
14 miles cycling

Saturday morning was cold and rainy but that didnt stop me from running 10 miles- my longest since the Chicago marathon (on October 7). About half were with a dear friend, and it was just refreshing to run in the rain and chat with her as the miles flew by.

Then there was the Chicago Running Blogger holiday party #CRBHolidaze where we ran 3 miles together and had brunch. It was awesome seeing old and new faces. :)

From L to R, starting in the back:

Back Row: AnneKatieEmilyCaryLaurenMaggieBobbiCharlyn
Second Row: AmandaKatieKellyAmyMarcia, Kim
Front Row: RiyantiEmilyLindsaySaraEricaErin
By herself: Kelsey
Not pictured: Christina

Sunday had a nice 3.5 mile walk/run with the churro dog. It was cold but not rainy. My ankle was not too happy about the 13 miles the day before, so we took it easy.
One of the best views of Downtown Chicago is from the Adler Planetarium.

One of the worst times to go run in Chicago, is when you're hungry and the Bears are playing an early game at home. One of my running routes takes me near Soldier field- so you can imagine the tailgating sights and smells. I could see the plumes of smoke from the grills rising above the cars in the parking lots, and oh my gosh did the food smell so good!

By the time we got home, the game was about to start so I got my camera just in case there was a flyover- and indeed there was! So cool being able to see the flyovers from my balcony.

In other news

This week no longer continues "pre marathon" training, but instead will start week 1 of 10k training. I've never run a 10k (seriously, on purpose) and after looking online for races in Brasil during my trip, I stumbled upon the most perfect race ever (minus the fact it's a 10k). I will make an exception for my "no 10k" policy for this race- it celebrates the 459th birthday of Sao Paulo. I think that's pretty damn amazing! 

Between the 10k and 6.3k, it will have almost 10,000 participants, shirts by Fila, and finisher medals! And the course is within the famous Ibirapuera park in Sao Paulo that I was planning on running in every day of my trip. I plan to loosely follow Hal Higdons 10k training plan- and take it day by day based on how the ankle and ITB feel. Who knows, I might not even "race" this one in favor of running with L and his Pai.. (also for the fact i'll be training in 30 degrees/snow in winter and then running this race in 80+ degrees/humidity in summer)

And in case you missed it last week, today (Monday) at 8pm est/7pm central time on the travel channel is Anthony Bourdain's "The Layover"(from last week) which focuses on Sao Paulo. I watched it last week and after seeing L's reactions to where Bourdain went, it was a well done episode. I was about to explode with excitement after watching it.

Basically we will be going to 87% of the places he visits because those are places L usually goes to. One of the restaurants Bourdain went to was across the street from L's high school.

Needless to say I will be parked in front of the TV to watch this episode for a 2nd time and get even more excited about going to Brasil next month.

Mortadella, Pastel, Coxinha, Feijoada OH MY! <<--- b="b">and because of those, I will continue eating "extra healthy" for the next few weeks...

- xaar

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bad omen?

This past weekend I ran with the Churro Dog- it was our first run together since his surgery about 2 months ago.

We ran 7 miles and it was one of the most enjoyable runs I've had all year. He seemed to enjoy the run a lot too!

If this is winter in Chicago, sign me up!

My ITB got tight by the end of the run, but the Crankle felt fine. I really was bummed because I thought the ITB was actually getting better with the strength training I've been doing. 2 steps forward, 1.5 steps back...

I am starting "pre marathon" training without a goal race this week. Basically I'll start gradually Increasing my mileage until I've got a month or 2 of solid running under my feet. Then ill do 12ish weeks of dedicated marathon training.

After some research this weekend I was thinking of the Illinois marathon as my spring 26.2. BUT after looking online yesterday I am rethinking the whole spring marathon idea.

I couldn't find one available hotel room for marathon weekend close to Champaign. What the hell!?! Thank goodness I haven't registered for anything yet! (I also wasn't 100% sold on this race)

So I'm left thinking this is a bad omen.

I'll go back to the spreadsheet I made and choose another spring 26.2 to pencil in my schedule should I be able to start marathon training healthy in 2-3 months. But I'll also consider focusing on half marathons and shorter races until the time is right for another go at 26.2

Goal for this 1st week of "pre marathon training" is to break 20 total miles. Something I haven't done in months. And continue on with strength training.

- xaar

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pre marathon training?

I've been contemplating 2013 races a lot lately. It consumes my thoughts when not learning Portuguese.

Do I or don't I...

Run a spring marathon?

The Knoxville marathon has been on my radar for a few years because my mom lives there. The course has some hills- could be a challenge for a PR.

I've run the Shamrock Shuffle the past 2 years and have enjoyed it.

Problem is Knoxville and Shamrock are the same day.

Chicagoland full is in may which is a crapshoot in Chicago weather wise.

I'm not ready to register for anything other than Shamrock currently, but am looking for a decision whether or not I should tackle a 26.2 (and resolve my unfinished BQ business) in the spring.

Without a goal, I'm seriously lacking motivation. My "expensive" jeans are starting to get tight. (hello muffin top!)

If I penciled in a spring 26.2, then I would start my "pre marathon" training to get in shape for 10-14 weeks of dedicated marathon training. It would be a good time to see if my Cr[Ankle] (cranky ankle) can handle more than 15 miles a week before shelling out a registration fee and possible airfare.

I'm just undecided if I should go after a spring race. One positive aspect of a spring marathon would be totally avoiding the over crowded Lakefront during the summer. That is of course if I get my BQ in the spring. If not, I'll be out there chugging away with the hoards of runners to chase a fall BQ...

And this just isn't about the BQ and taking 5+ minutes off my PR, it's bigger for me. I want to beat my Daad's 3:04:59 and take the Family marathon record. (not this year of course!)

Obviously the first step would be get a BQ (and another huge PR), the second would be to remain injury free for a few years while I chase a 7 minute a mile pace for 26.2 miles.

Unfathomable since I can't average that pace in a 5k currently. (and also because I'm chronically injured)

But hey, I like to dream big.

Good thing is that being consistent pays huge dividends for me when I can stay healthy.

Looks like I've made up my mind.

Hello "pre spring marathon" training Here I come with open arms!

Just not sure where the 26.2 bullseye is going to land yet....

-- Xaar

Monday, December 3, 2012

Schiller Chiller 5k

27:39 (approximately) for 3.45 miles (Avg 8:00/mile)

2nd Woman Overall

12th finisher out of 152 


Friday started innocent enough. I wore my new awesome sweater to work and had a nice day- later that evening was our company's "Holiday Party."

Friday night was fun at the Holiday Party- there was drinking, dancing (not me- i had a race the next morning) and good times spent with the co-workers in a relaxed environment.  I even won a $50 gift card in one of the raffles.

Saturday/ Race Day!
Creepy Ukrainian Church out near the race

I woke up with a bit of a hangover after Friday night's party. Guess I shouldnt have had that last glass of wine... I had 2 small pancakes and then L and I drove up to Schiller Park to participate in the race. It was an amazingly beautiful day- the kind of race day weather you dream about- (mid 40's and calm), but never seem to experience in the Chicagoland area. It was such a stark contrast to last week's Turkey Trot in the low 20's.
Packet pickup was a breeze, and after meeting up with the lovely ladies pictured below, we dropped off our stuff at the car (no bag check- no biggie) and then I proceeded to warmup a little. I ran laps around the field after the 10am 10K start, and did a few strides across the field to get my HR going. I lined up pretty much in front for this race to get a good position for the trails which was a great decision. I really had no idea what to expect on the trail (except a few trees to duck under) but figured I could handle anything thrown at me.

The race:

Ive never felt so happy running in my life. Perhaps that is an exaggeration, because this race was pretty darn fun too, but seriously- running through the woods, no music, just running, looking out for roots-branches etc was soul satisfying. Running through the woods was nothing like the hustle and bustle of the lakefront. It was amazingly peaceful!  It was quiet minus my steps, breathing and the steps of other runners. It was stunningly beautiful in the park. It brought me back to my high school cross country days which I enjoyed immensely and wished I had participated more in.
Some of the "official" race photos. Awesome and Free!!  Thanks Muddy Monk!!!

The trail wasn't too technical- some logs to jump over (easy on the way out, much more difficult on the return), some roots, some small hills, a puddle under the bridge, and a couple of trees to duck under. On the single track portion a guy behind me tripped and took a spill.  With half a mile to go my ankle rolled and luckily it didn't cause any lasting damage- there is some tightness/discomfort higher above my ankle but no swelling.

KelseyAlyssaMe, KimQueenieErinLindsay and Kim With our finish mugs :)

I had no goal going into this race- just to have fun and not get injured. When it became clear less than a mile into the race that I was in 2nd place (women), I wanted to keep my position because only top 3 male/female for each race got an award.
I must say a big Congrats to my man L for running this race!

Thank you to Kim and Abbi for inspiring me to run trails. I've loved reading about all your trail adventures this year!
For getting 2nd overall woman, I got a sweet Brooks spike bag, Fits socks, and a hydration belt- which will come in handy when I start hitting the lakefront for longer runs soon. All the water fountains are off now :(

Post run a few of us went for brunch and I had a huge omelet filled with cheese, beans, onions, chipotle sauce. Certainly hit the spot after a nice run!


We went to "La Colombe" for breakfast. Ever since watching "Dangerous Grounds" on the travel channel (Tuesdays 9pm est) we've wanted to go to this place. It didn't disappoint.

Post race thoughts...
This was my last race of 2012. Im going to end my "racing" season on a high note and call it quits. I couldnt believe that in December I was wearing a T-Shirt and arm warmers for a race and didn't feel cold.
This race reminded me why I love running so much. The past few months since getting injured before my goal marathon have been tough. Mentally I struggle with running more than a few short miles at a time, and average about 15 miles a week- a far cry from the 45+ I was averaging during the summer. I have a feeling that the mileage will slowly begin to creep back up now as I prepare for 2013.  Im so excited to run more trail races!!!

- xaar