Saturday, May 25, 2013

Soldier Field 10 miler

1:17.33 (avg 7:45/ Mile) for 10 miles
and a 6 minute PR over the 2011 Soldier Field 10., my last race of 10 miles.

57 of 1614 AG (3.5%)
256 of 7167  Women (3.5%)
1204 of 12505 Overall (9.6%)
181 Avg HR, 192 Max HR

Three words to describe this race:  relaxed, controlled, joy.

With temps in the low 40's and the fact I had some of the coolest, boldest, loudest capri pants ever, I made the decision to channel my inner Rainbow Brite.

My goal for this race was simple. HAVE FUN. Another goal was to average less than 8 minutes a mile*.  I havent been doing any structured training while building up my mileage, (i'm just running all the miles) so pinpointing an exact time goal was a crap shoot.

*I also wanted to beat the time my Daad  predicted for me of 1:17:52 Needless to say I was doing complex math in my head at each mile to make sure I would!
L and I walked over to Soldier Field from our place and arrived around 6:30. I dropped my bag off, said our good byes, and we headed to our corrals.

Before the race started, there was a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon tragedy, there was also a ceremony to give an american flag flown over Soldier field to the family of a military member who lost his life in the war in Afghanistan  This soldier had run the Chicago marathon last year and was supposed to come back home in July. His family members ran the race today in his honor. I was in tears.
When the gun went off I realized very quickly I should have made a portopotty stop pre race. FUC%@*$!!! I tried to run through the feeling of having to go, but it was consuming my mind. The first aid station around mile 1.4 had portolets and no line. Less than 45 seconds later I was back in the race. Thats what I get for drinking too much coffee pre race & having a nervous bladder. Damn. 

Other than that snafu and adding 45 seconds to my time, the race went by as uneventful and wonderful as I possibly could have wanted. One foot in front of the other, control my breathing, drink water from my small bottle, and admire the view of the skyline from the south which I dont run down to most of the time due to it not having as many water fountains as the northern section of the trail.

The course was changed from previous years so that the 5 miles south on Lake Shore Drive had no vehicular traffic whizzing by. That was an awesome change!
Right after finishing on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field!

Oh mile 2... the first freaking time i've had to stop during a race in over 2.5 years.

The rest of the race felt controlled and relaxed. I could have kept this pace for many more miles and that excites me going into marathon training.

It was nice seeing Erica cheering at mile 9! Seeing a familiar face gave me a nice boost to kick it in to the finish :)

Inside of Soldier Field

I love that this race is a tribute to service men and women. It is because of them that we have the freedom to participate in events like this. And there is no other fitting place in Chicago to have this race than Soldier field  and on Memorial Day Weekend.
Service men and women handing out the medals

I love this race:
Starts in downtown Chicago outside of Soldier Field
Scenic course along the lake with beautiful views of the skyline on the return trip.
Extremely well organized. Start corrals each held a couple of minutes to ensure no congestion
Plenty of aid stations and a Cliff gel zone
Tribute to service men and women
A unique race distance of 10 miles
Finishing on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field
The AWESOME medal
Soul Asylum as post race entertainment
Sweet post race refresh bag with pop chips, Cliff bar..
Getting to spend time with friends  and the Chicago Running community!
The 10th Anniversary medal
Half of the brunch crew: Myself, and fellow Fleet Feet Cheer friends Vicky & Marla

Pre Race:
-Cheese, Bread, Mortadella, Wine for dinner the night before
- Cinnamon crumpet and too much damn coffee at 4am the morning of the race
-No warmup. Dont feel this impacted me at all since we speed walked to the start less than 2 miles from our place.
-Temps: Low 40's, overcast, very little wind. Pretty much *perfect* running conditions.
-Brought my small green bottle for water. I hate stopping at aid stations.
-Took a vanilla gu at mile 4
-Nike tank
-Nike crazy Capris
-Swiftwick socks
-Brooks Pure Cadence 2 shoes.
I was super proud of L for doing this race for the first time. Especially after returning from Brasil and 17 hours of airports and flights the day before.

Final Thoughts:

Fleet Feet put on another stellar event and I cant wait for the 11th edition!

A day where you can have fun and enjoy every step is always a great day in my book.

I am so excited to begin marathon training in a few weeks :)

Next up: Chicago Women's Half on 6/23

- xaar

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

That time I ran a bunch and refinished dressers

This weekend I was busy. Like really busy.

I woke up early Saturday to beat the heat for my long run and then was instantly mesmerized like a child while watching a huge helicopter remove and replace AC units on a building near mine. As a result, the run was delayed 45 minutes. But it was totally worth it!

I ended up running 14 miles in 2 hours- one of my longest runs this year. It was hot. But felt really good to sweat. The path was crowded but not too bad. I took one salt tab around mile 7 and water from the fountains. Gu/carb loading are seriously overrated. (In my opinion). Try running long without carb loading the night before or try not taking any GU during a long run. See what happens, I dare you.

Totem waaaay north of my place.

When I returned from my run, I had one major goal: to refinish my new ikea dressers

I had put the 3 "Rast" dressers together the night before.

After getting a super yummy iced mocha drink from Caribou post run, it was refinish all the dressers time!

my basket of dresser refinishing supplies- Cheesecloth for applying stain, ebony stain, gloves, brushes for the polyurethane, sandpaper, tact cloth for removing debris and paint thinner.

The stain went on easy. It was just time consuming for the 3 dressers and 9 drawers.

After 1 coat.

Every 2 hours I would put another coat of stain on, for a grand total of 3 coats.

after 3 coats

Then I was exhausted. And it was time to let the stain dry over night before applying the polyurethane.

Sunday I took the CB dog on a run. It was hot and we ran/walked. He was enjoying himself immensely. I love seeing my little man so happy!

After our run it was time to finish the dresser project. I had to sand the dressers/drawers and then use the tact cloth to get all the dust/debris off of the surface before applying the polyurethane.

CB passed out and I was jealous.

After applying one coat, I let it sit for a while. Once it was dry, I decided one coat was enough. (Mainly because it looked nice and because I was done with this project!)

The finished product!!

I bought some stainless steel knobs (also from Ikea) to complete the look. But, I didn't buy enough (thought there was one knob per drawer instead of 2) so the final 4 drawers will get their knobs this week when the extra ones arrive.

All in all it was a good project for a weekend. I am very happy with how the dressers came out and am already thinking about more projects like this to do in the future. While this project wasn't difficult at all, it was very time consuming.

Overall cost:

$35 per dresser at Ikea
$60 worth of supplies to refinish them.
$5 per 2 knobs from ikea
Priceless- my time.

The average cost per dresser ended up being around $70.

I wanted these to be simple- dark stain to match our other furniture and better knobs than the stock knobs that came with the set.

There are loads of pages on the Internet devoted to "Ikea Hacks" which show you how to take boring Ikea furniture and turn it into something amazing, if you're into doing a project like this.

- xaar

Friday, May 17, 2013

8 happy miles

One month from today starts Fox Valley Marathon 2.0 training with the training plan of the fabulous Coach B. I couldn't be any more excited to start the 14 week plan because I had such great success working with Coach B Last Year.

Fantastic foto from last weeks 5k!

I've backed off of speed work save for last weeks freaking hilly 5k with Kim in favor of getting used to running 40+ miles a week comfortably. My goal for this week of base building is 40 miles.

Wednesday night the CB dog and I ran 8 miles. The weather was crisp and a little cool on the lakefront and we enjoyed every step together. It was a very happy 8 mile run.

Seeing my little man enjoying himself made my heart melt. After we got home, he passed out but had a huge smile on his face. It's these moments that I absolutely treasure, not nailing paces on a speed workout or getting a PR. Those are nice too, but never my sole purpose for lacing up.It's enjoying time with friends, family or having time to myself that gets me out on the path each day. I run because I enjoy it.

Last night, I had one of the "worst" runs ever. I went to Milwaukee for business during the day and had a delicious huge freaking sandwich for lunch. When I got home I decided to ignore my instincts and hit the lakefront for 6 miles. By mile 4, I had to walk because I felt like puking. (I like to run on a near empty stomach). But even with this less than ideal run, I still was so happy to be out on the path amidst all the runners, cyclists and others enjoying another cool evening.

With 4 weeks left of building a good base + impending marathon training, I will continue to go into each run with joy in my heart and also gratitude for being able to simply get out the door healthy.

And as a follow up to one of my Previous Posts I donated $1 for every mile I ran for two weeks to the One Fund.

Happy Weekend!

- xaar

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 5K

24:36 (Another Personal Favorite to add to the collection)
4th AG out of 100
31st female of 724
69th finisher of 1006

3 words to describe this race:

Holy fuc$&*%# Hills

Kim and I signed up for this race a few weeks ago because we wanted to punish ourselves run a 5k together and have fun.

I woke up super early, and even convinced L to join me as we drove 45 minutes into the unknown Barrington, IL which is full of super posh houses and hills (which no one told us about)

Smiling because we were completely oblivious to the course profile and because we were cold.

We did a march of death warmup mile and the realization began to set in that this course would be nothing but (up)hills.

We positioned ourselves behind all the pre teens and badass runners and soon we were off, huffing and puffing up one steep hill after another. OMG

If you're wondering by now if we coordinated our outfits the answer is NO. It was just one hell of a coincidence we showed up wearing Exactly the SAME thing.**

So yada yada yada, blah blah blah hills cold and freaking headwinds, one foot in front of the other and all that jazz.(and not enough downhills.)

I even channeled my inner Emmers for some spastic photo pose inspiration.

So happy to be done with that course! But sad that running with Kim was done for the day :(

We got "finisher" roses for completing this beast of a 5k. I will display my rose proudly as a reminder of how this course kicked our asses.(and how I need to practice hills more)

And a HUGE thanks to L for being our official course photographer today. I LOVE you for supporting me with this hobby!

Today was a day to enjoy running and being healthy (and moms too, duh) but also to enjoy family and good friends. Every race need not be a PR attempt- the minute this hobby stops being fun for me is the day I pick up something else to do.

After a nice long brunch with Kim, L and I went to hell IKEA to buy some stuff and also went to Dicks Sporting goods where I got the coolest Capri pants ever. YAY NIKE THANK YOU FOR READING MY MIND ABOUT CRAZY PRINT BOTTOMS!!!

*I got $10 off this entry because of the Chi-Town 10K snafu back in March from All Community Events.
- The race was extremely well organized.
- It incorporated ALL the hills in Barrington, and somehow avoided decent downhills.
-We wore super cool singlets by Hind. ($10 at TJ Maxx i think...)
-Saucony A5 Racing flats.
-Stupid too long of a wait at Wildberry Cafe.. I really wanted to go there for brunch!
-Thank you volunteers!

**And yes, we did coordinate our singlets, shorts, and arm warmers on purpose. :)

- xaar

Sunday, May 5, 2013

9th Annual Run to Remember 5k


22:13 a PR by 5 seconds!*

2nd AG/ 379**

8th woman overall out of??

107th finisher out of 3230.

Three words to describe this race: cowabunga! Wheeeee! Yippee!

I love this race.

I ran this Race last year and loved every second of it. It was a no brainer for me to sign up again this year because- it is practically in my backyard out by soldier field, is extremely well organized, and also is a fund raiser for the families of fallen police officers- something close to my heart since my cousin was shot in the line of duty last year. (And thankfully is doing well now)

The last tenth of a mile contains the photos of all the Chicago police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

I was even fortunate to have my boys cheering for me. This was Churro Bear's first time spectating, and he did a wonderful job- although I had a feeling he would have rather been running.

I did this race "old school" with my 2008 timex. I would have used my antique one from 15 years ago, but the battery was dead. (I also had my Garmin but didn't look at it more than 3 times). It is truly psychologically defeating to rely on the garmin so much. I felt liberated by wearing the Timex and not knowing my exact pace to the second.

Before the start, an officer sang the national anthem, and the police chaplain said a prayer. There was also a bagpipe band playing as we started/finished the race.

Screen grab from L's video

Soon we were off and I settled into a comfy hard pace. I really wish I could say something brilliant about the whole 3.1 miles, but I just did exactly what I set out to do which was keep pushing and not give into my mind saying I was tired. The race went by quickly.

My splits were 7:00, 7:17, 7:12, and 42 seconds.

I really enjoyed the massive CPD helicopter flying low with its sirens wailing along the lakefront while we were running.

I grabbed some water around the halfway mark, and remembered why I usually bring my own- it's hard to drink out of paper cups without inhaling the water up your nose and I get thirsty & hate my throat being dry.

L took this photo of me up off of Solidarity road near the aquarium.

I really tried to kick it in after this point because I knew it was less than half a mile to the finish. My body just wouldn't go much faster. Soon, I ran up the tiny hill and kicked it in to the finish and nearly collapsed.

I'm freaking happy.

*My previous 5k PR (22:18) was from November 2011. How long are PR's good for anyways?

All last year I couldn't beat 23:30, due to injury, and training for the Fox Valley marathon. 5ks have never really been a priority in my life. It felt fantastic to take 1:20 off of my time from last year in this race.

And why I'm bummed. A little...

**We waited around for the awards to start but ended up leaving after an hour. I really didnt think I'd place in a race this size, especially since there are so many fast ladies running in the Chicago area. A 22 minute 5k is not very fast in the grand scheme of things when there's a lot of ladies in the area capable of running sub 20. But... You never know who will show up or not.

Turns out I was wrong. I saw the results an hour after we got home and was surprised at 8th woman, 2nd AG. Bummer!!

CB and I with Olmec head #6 by the field museum.

It was a great day for running- perfect weather and a great time to celebrate being healthy. I struggle with injuries a lot and this race, while slightly slower than what I had wanted put a huge smile on my face.

What's next?

Another 5k, Soldier Field 10 miler and the Chicago Women's Half marathon.

I'm really excited to keep building a good strong base for Fox Valley Marathon version 2.0 this year.

- xaar

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I'm too comfortable

How much of running is mental vs physical?

I've thought a lot about the mental aspect of running since The Shamrock Shuffle a month ago. While I ran a 3 minute PR that day, I knew I could have pushed a bit harder overall. The pace I ran felt too *comfortable* for a "lung burner" of a shorter race.

This year I've got a good handle on staying healthy* and really want to see what I'm capable of with some consistent training. Physically, I'm prepared- but mentally I'm a freaking wuss!

I'm also foam rolling, stregth training, using the stick & TP Kit like my life depends on it so that I remain injury free. It's absolutely working.

*Shin pain post 10 miler last week which scared me given my history with stress fractures in that same location. The stationary bike & I had a reunion and all is good again.

I need to channel my inner 15 year old badass self who wasn't afraid of pushing the pace.

I've got a 5k this weekend and I want to fly.

Historically I generally don't train for 5ks because I favor the longer distances a lot more, But this year I really wanted to give a good effort at some shorter distances before starting marathon training.

For 2012, I was pretty damn consistent at the 5k distance:

11/24/11 22:18 PR

1/1/12 23:37*
*Day after 20 miler. Definitely not on fresh legs

5/5/12 23:34*
*Following 4+months of non running due to the hip flexor injury of 2012

6/9/12 23:41*
*Hotter than &@$! Still injured

Mental Game Plan?

Did a hard 6x 400 workout yesterday to see how the shin was & felt freaking fantastic. Started at 6:37 pace and each 400 got a little faster so my 6th & final 400 was at 6:18 pace. I then entered that grey area of "will I barf or not" for 10 minutes. Must have been a hell of a workout!

I wish there was a way to "predict" my 5k time based off a workout (so I know what pace to go for), but since I've been underperforming at races, the pace calcs are of no use to me. I've got a number in my head that I'll be loosely shooting for but am more concerned with running by effort as opposed to being glued to the Garmin.

Inspiration. My Daad running his fastest 5k "old man PR" in 2011. He still holds all the current distance records between us. (Not to forget about his 16 minute 5k, 30 year old PR...)

Some things for me to remember for this weekend:

•You're so much stronger than 2012, and that 22:18 from 2011.

•Don't sell yourself short. You've put in many quality workouts.

•Let loose and FLY down that course.

•Physically, you've got this. Keep going when your mind says NO!

•This is your last chance before marathon training begins. Make it count!

•It's only 22 minutes. After that you can catch your breath.

•HTFU, and mind STFU.

•Have fun and smile!

- xaar