Friday, March 30, 2012

What If

With the lottery now surpassing HALF BILLION dollars for tonight's drawing, the talk around the office is consumed with "what if I won" statements.

My question is: why do we put so much emphasis on the "what ifs" as opposed to the "what can we do's?"

Forget the lottery and apply it to any area of your life- athletics, career, family... Is it helping you be productive in those areas? My guess is no.

Sure, day dreaming is fun. But, what about actually thinking about some seemingly unattainable goals and brainstorming ways to make them come to fruition? (rocket science I know!)

Say for example: I often wonder what it would be like to have the word "elite" in front of my name for a race, and be able to start up in the front because THEY- the race organizers invited me to stand there (not because I hopped a fence). It's not impossible for this to happen, but it's still a long way off. In order to make this real, I will need to keep pushing at the boundaries of my running. By putting in the hours of targeted workouts and injury prevention, I have no doubt in a few years time I will be able to realize this goal. It simply just takes a lot of work and dedication, not day dreaming.

So today's message for you is to stop being passive and start taking a more active role in your life. If running a marathon is in your dreams then figure out the baby steps to make it reality. If owning your own company is a fantasy, start thinking about some kick ass product that everyone cannot live without.

Even the most crazy ambitious goal can be met. It will just take many baby steps to get there. You can't teach a dog to just "roll over." instead, you must teach him to sit, lay down, lay on side, and then finally "roll over."

How will you become more "actively" involved in your own life? What do you daydream about? How can you make those dreams reality?

- xaar

Monday, March 26, 2012

ShamrockOn, a Shamrock Shuffle Recap

Time: 39:57 a PR by over 2 minutes!!!

Jumping for joy over a 2 minute PR despite being sidelined for 2.5 months. Folks, cross training will help keep most of your fitness!

Pre Race

This was my first "race" post hip flexor strain that I sustained over 2.5 months ago. On average I have been running 5-15 miles a week (and cycling 50-60 miles a week) because the last thing I want is to be injured again.

Wonderful wonderful and I walked over to grand park from our place an hour before the race. It was absolutely stunning out- low to mid 50's, overcast perfect racing conditions! The port o let lines were non existent which was amazing considering the size of the race. After the pit stop we headed over to corral B to wait for the start.

I have to admit I was nervous about this race. Although I did a "Shamrock Shuffle" test run last week and ran a 40:09, I really wasn't sure how running would feel since I haven't been doing much of it lately.

But the goal I had was to beat my BFF Tribu and her time from an 8k a few weeks ago. The plan was to run around 8:00 miles and push at the end. Or self destruct.

The race

Within 2 minutes of hearing the starting air horn, we were off!

It was a smooth start considering the number of participants- over 34,000! I was running by feel (garmin set to manual lap) because the tunnel at the beginning would cause us all to lose our satellite connection.

Mile 1 clocked in at 7:55. I might have gone out a little fast, but was quick to reign myself in and try to stay at a comfortably hard pace.

The rest of the miles flew by at 8:00-8:05 pace. I was pretty consistent!

Mile 4 became a mental game. I started feeling sick, hot and out of breath- I even took some Gatorade! But kept pushing on. "Come on. It's only a mile to go! You can do this!"

I knew by this point that beating my Tribu wasn't going to happen so I pulled everything I had inside of me to push towards the finish to break 40.

With the famous green guys! And they are fast!

Post Race

I can safely say that I left everything out on the course Sunday. I dug deep to finish with a PR despite all the setbacks from the hip flexor injury. I needed to run hard to get those demons out, the frustrations of not being able to participate in a sport I love. It felt damn good And disappointing all at the same time. All those "what if's" came floating into my head- like "what if I never over stretched to cause the hip flexor injury? What would I have been capable of?

I will stop dwelling on the what ifs. I know I'm stronger now and am laying a great foundation for my future running endeavors.

I'm super proud of my WW who broke 50 minutes in his first 8k!! He had just returned from a 10 hour flight the day before and tweaked his ankle running on the lakefront on our way to the expo. He averaged faster during the almost 5 miles than his last few 5ks. :)

What's next?

- hitting 300 cycle/run miles for march.

- base building over the next 7 weeks before official marathon training begins.

- strengthening my weak hips and core.

Shamrock is a fun race that I'm looking forward to doing again next year!

- xaar

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So much for shamrock socks...

I saw the cutest knee high shamrock socks at target a week or 2 ago and didn't buy them. This past Sunday I went back hoping for them to be on clearance, but they were sold out. (insert sad face here).

I had planned to wear them for the Shamrock Shuffle this week. Oh well, I'll just dress as a "runner" now. It does seem like fairy wings and arm warmers and sparkly skirts produce PRs though :)

Sunday marks the 2nd time I'll be running this crazy race. Last year was a blast, and I'm full of controlled excitement for this years running. Following some nice 4-6 mile runs these last few weeks, I'm confident that pushing the pace in the race won't injure myself further.

This race is fun because the course winds around downtown Chicago- and not many races around here do that. Most Chicagoland races are relegated to the stunning lakefront.

Most important, my wonderful wonderful is running Shamrock for the first time this year. Last year he was staked out near our apartment photographing the runners.

(last years race. I look pretty beat)


Goal A beat Tribu. She currently holds the 8k record (between us) with a 39:30? I'm thinking there are good odds for me to take the 8k title. But, for her PR and for me in this race, we will not have been at our peak performance like we were back in December.

Goal B Beat my PR from last year of 42:09. This is doable.

Goal C don't injure the leg further. Always important to remember when coming off an injury.

In all honesty, I'd love to break 40. There is something so satisfying about breaking a round number- like the 2:00 barrier in a half marathon for example, that 40:00 for the 8k seems like a nice challenge.

Who else is running Shamrock this year? Will you be dressing with shamrock style? ;)

Good luck to all racing the Shamrock this weekend!
- xaar

Monday, March 19, 2012

Coming back from an injury

*disclaimer* this post is kind of long and is mainly to document overcoming my hip flexor injury.

Read at your own risk ;)

Saturday I decided to test my fitness- mainly to see where I'm at so i can "push comfortably hard" for the Shamrock Shuffle this weekend.

Maybe I should have looked up "coming back from an injury" before my own little experiment, but I suppose every injury and person is different, so I would have done my own thing anyways. *I also know my limits, and myself well enough to not push too hard and re-injure anything*

Shamrock test run:

1st .25 @ 9:00 pace. Felt great so I continued on for next .5 mile at 8:30 pace. Felt great so I continued on at 7:50-8:20 pace for the rest of the 5 miles.

Final result:

5 miles in 40:29, about 1:40 faster than my Shamrock time from last year.

It wasn't easy, the gym was on the warm side, and I have not done any speed work in 2+ months. But, I have been cycling on a hill setting for an average of 40:00 minutes a day for 6 days a week (with about 10 miles of running a week mixed in)so I feel I haven't lost too much fitness.

After Saturdays run, the test wasn't quite over. In fact, the biggest test would be Sunday to see how I felt when i woke up. Sunday morning I only felt stiff, with some tightness in my left calf. The hip flexor still is not 100%, but I rarely notice it walking or running. It is only while doing some light hip flexor stretching that I notice it still has more discomfort than the left leg.


I'm confident I can start slowly building back running miles and some speed into my workouts without further damage to my hip.

I'll also continue:

-icing after workouts

-foam rolling and TP therapy on the calf. Also use of the stick.

-resistance band hip exercises

-Stretching during work, as well as home

- will include the Myrtl routineto strengthen my hips.

-use of KT tape on the hip flexor possibly for the shamrock shuffle. I'll need to experiment with it this week first.

Final thoughts:

I think a lot of good has come out of this injury. I am now diligent about icing and using the resistance bands post workout. Also, the addition of the Myrtl routine should strengthen my weak hips so that I can prevent other problems from happening in the future. If I hadn't injured myself by over stretching 2+ months ago, I wouldn't be so concerned about hips- an area extremely important to running and an extremely neglected area by runners which can cause all kinds of havoc for us.

- xaar

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yay Friday!

This week has been pretty good.

The weather has been amazing

And there was a cupcake from bliss..

And the main highlight of this week was today. I got to go to the Willis (sears) tower sky deck during work.

Ah the perks of my job.. Haha. And it wasn't for business, just fun to take our out of town accounting co-workers out.

I've also been stretching a bunch. I researched hip flexor strains and came up with 2 stretches that I'm confident are speeding the healing process. (and that are Xaar-proof for over stretching) Maybe I'll try running tomorrow.

Ah, and there will be some celebration of the St Patricks day to be had tomorrow. Maybe even a trip to see the green river since we missed it last year.

Happy St Patricks day!

- xaar

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another week

74 miles for the week.

Mostly cycling, but had a glorious 6 mile run.

Sometimes, when an injury overstays its welcome- in this case almost 9 weeks, it's hard to remember the pain free days. You begin to wonder what it was like to put pants and socks on without pain. You wonder if you will ever get rid of the pain. You wonder what it was like to run pain (and care) free. You wonder if you will ever walk or run without a limp again.

Saturday was one of the days that made my patience worth it. Patience meaning, cycling to stay in some form of fitness while letting the pulled muscle heal. Because 2 years ago, my stubbornness would have had me running in pain and damaging myself further.

Saturday on the treadmill, I had only planned to do 3-4 miles- just to see how things were going. I felt so good I just kept going. It was one of those moments that almost made me cry. After being sidelined for so long, and being able to run pretty much pain free was a huge moment. But, I wondered how much of the pain free was because of taking an aleve a few hours prior.

As my dad said to me "wonder how your leg will feel the next day." Well, today came and for the first 10 groggy minutes after waking up, I forgot I had the injury, the pain that has been with me over 2 months. No, it's not 100% gone, but it's damn near close.

I'm really hopeful that all my patience will pay off, and I'll be stronger than ever, and hopefully injury free longer than the usual 3 months.

I'm so excited to return to regular running once my leg is better.

Injuries suck!


Friday, March 9, 2012

T. G. I. F.


Today I ate a sriracha turtle cupcake from "cupcakes for courage" truck. They made this flavor on an episode of "cupcake wars."

I loved the use of the heat/saltiness of the sriracha to balance out the chocolate and caramel. Very tasty cupcake. They also had a maple bacon cupcake... Perhaps next time.

Cb was extra cute this morning while waiting for his biscuit.

I downloaded the live strong "my plate" app to analyze my food intake. I'm not too concerned with counting calories because I pretty much stay the same weight and have pretty good sense of portion size/ self control, but I'm intrigued to see what % of my food intake is carbs, protein, or fats. Should be interesting to see how many calories I consume too.

I have no idea what a good balance of that stuff would be, so I'll need to do some more research.

I also went to athletico for a free injury eval. They seemed very knowledgable and took time to talk about my history and what is currently bothering me. Most likely I strained a hip flexor 2 months ago. The PT also said my hips were very weak and could benefit from PT. I'll just need to see how much $$ it will cost to see if it's worth it. I can continue running-cycling-whatever as long as its not bothering my injury. And ice ice baby!

This week dragged and now I'm so happy to be able to veg and relax. I might even try to run a bit on the lakefront to enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend. Just depends on how this injury is feeling.

Have you ever gone to PT? How was your experience?

- xaar

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eh not so much going on

The title sums up the past week and possibly the next week or so.

After 8 weeks, I'm ready to go run again. I've been ready. My leg hasn't been ready though.

I have an appointment at athletico this week for their free injury screening. Picking up the phone to call was very difficult for me. I just have a very strong distrust of doctors (in relation to running stuff). Mainly because when I was running CC in high school, and got injured each year they would take X-rays and tell me nothing was noticeably wrong and that I should NOT run and should take naproxen sodium. How could they not diagnose something when I couldn't walk without a bad limp (while in excruciating pain)?

Anyways, now I've learned about PT, ART and chiropractors. I'm hoping with fingers crossed athletico can point me in the right direction to stay healthy and find the cause of why my right leg hates me.

Until then I'm cycling like a mad woman and doing core strengthening, and hip strengthening exercises in preparation for the future, for when I can run pain free again (and hopefully prevent my right leg from rebelling again). I plan to run another 3 miles tomorrow to see how things go.

I'm really frustrated because 10 weeks ago I would have imagined myself in a different place in regards to running. But such is life. If one good thing has come out of this ordeal, it would be all the new hip/ core strength exercises that I'm doing. (as well as cycling a lot). The plan is to come out stronger on the other side of this injury.

- xaar

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March goals

February stats

22 miles run

120 miles cycled on my new BFF, the stationary bike. Sorry tread.

142 total February miles.

Last run of February

This past Monday I went to the training kickoff for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k at fleet feet.

If you registered for the Nike run loud app to access your facebook, nike would give a white bracelet that would allow photos taken at the event (like the one above) to be uploaded directly to your page once scanned.Pretty cool.

They had runs ranging from 3-5 miles with pacers. I ran 3 miles with the 9:00 group and had a good time meeting new Chicagoland runners and seeing some friends from other events last year. For a big city like Chicago, the running community is small :)

Post run, they had *free* pizza and goose island 312. Whoo

My injury is still present, although getting better each day and it was nice to run a few miles on the trail with others. I'll definitely return this coming Monday to run again, providing there isn't any rain.

March Goals

Looking forward, The only race on the schedule this month is the shamrock shuffle 8k.

My main fitness goal is to hit 300+ miles during march. (and continue with the core/ hip/ groin strengthening exercises I've been doing)

I also would like to start building a good base of 20-30 miles a week (running) in preparation for chicago marathon training starting in 2 months. Of course, that's all depending on how this injury keeps going. And yes, I do plan on going to a PT, or athletico soon.

Cb also requested more walks to the bark park. With a face like that I couldn't say no :)

What are your march goals?

#1 for me is: run pain free!