Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's the Florida girl in me

Heat advisories, air quality advisories, 100 degrees OH MY! Sounds like the title of a runners horror flick!

With today's temps approaching 100, I am almost giddy with excitement about running outside. After work. Today. Yeah, you heard me right. I actually want to go run outside in the heat.

Let me preface this post by saying I'm not a registered, certified, anything. What works for me might not work for you. I do know however, that I am very in tune with my body and know my limits. I also know that hitting specific splits or pace or mileage in this heat is silly. I would never sacrifice my health for a workout. Ever.

Running in the heat is hard. Heart rate is elevated, you're sweating more which means you need more sodium-potassium-magnesium intake (to replace what's lost), and your pace is (or should be) much slower. It's frustrating, it's difficult, (I think) it makes you stronger.

Back 12-13 years ago I was running high school cross country in Florida. 90% of our runs took place after school during the hottest part of the day. I remember slogging through the ungodly "long distance" of 6 miles numerous times at 4pm when it was 95+ out and probably hotter on the pavement where we ran. I remember doing super fast 400's-1600's when it was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. This was all before GU, salt tabs, and all that fancy stuff and knowledge we have now. All I had was Gatorade and cytomax (before it became tasty). Did I push too hard at times? Absolutely. Did running in the heat kill me? No. Did running in the heat make me stronger? Yes. Waiting at the start of an early morning meet when it was a "cool" 75 degrees was super refreshing, and I felt more prepared to run in the cooler temps because of the hotter temps.

(from last weeks Chicago women's half where it was 80+ by the end, I'm in the middle)
So how did I get negative splits and finish strong in the heat last week for the Chicago women's half marathon?

Here's what I did/ am doing to get acclimated to the heat:

•Run in the heat. You can't get used to it if you're logging miles on the treadmill in the climate controlled gym or super early in the morning all of the time. This is where I failed last year. Sorry, BFF treadie.

•I take a salt tab before heading out for a roasty toasty run. I take another when I come home sometimes too. (and a few during long runs when I take GU)

•Mango salt electrolyte strips. Made by "enlyten" I need to find more of these. I like the strips because I can't always manage to swallow the large salt pills.

•I drink at the water fountains (even if just a sip or 2) before I get thirsty. Plus I know where they are all located at on the path (almost every 1/4 - 1/2 mile) which helps.

•I wear lose fitting light clothing. Sunscreen is a must also.

•I weigh myself before and immediately after each run to see how much I lost to determine if I drank enough. And to see what correlation I have to feeling good/ crappy vs lbs lost during the run.

•Fully embrace that the pace will be much slower than if it was 30 degrees cooler. The effort might be the same however.

•If I have to stop and walk, I do. No shame in staying healthy and avoiding heat exhaustion. This is when I usually start taking photos of my surroundings. (I usually snap a few photos on my longer easier runs anyways)

• No matters how awful running in the heat is, I remind myself that come September for my marathon, if the temps are an ideal 50 degrees, I will feel like a rock star on the course since I was somewhat accustomed to running in much hotter conditions.

This is what I have found that works for me which may or may not work for you. It's definitely the native Floridian inside of me that says "no big deal" when it comes to running in the heat. Which ends up being a big deal because of all the extra precautions I take when doing so.
- xaar

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicago women's half marathon recap

1:46:15 (a 1 minute PR!)

24/ 479 for my AG (top 5%)

89/ 2365 for overall (top 3.7%)

Pre race:

The day before I ran/ walked 11 miles with my man.

Then I ate a burrito as big as my head for dinner. Hey!? Rice are carbs right!?! No spicy sauce I know better than that.

I had no expectations going into this race. I determined early on (and with the guidance of my coach) Because of the heat that I would run negative splits/ progressive run for this race as this is not my goal race.

I did not see a single dude running this race. I ran the Nike women's marathon in 2010 and did see men running it. None here. Not a single one

Walked over to grant park from my place at 6:10 for the 7am start. I love the races close to my apt!

Ate a power bar smoothie berry flavor for breakfast (hour prior) and a Gatorade prime plus a salt tab 15 minutes pre race. I was a ball of nerves and don't really know why. This race wasn't a goal- I signed up for it since it was reasonably priced $65 and was close proximity to my home and gave out a shirt,medal and yoga mat too.

Wore my green Nike lunar racers (first time in a half- wear them on other long runs), MC bra, Nike sea foam tank, Aspaeris pivot shorts.

Soon we were off! I started around the 8:00 pace corral (1:45 finish) to ensure a smooth start. I quickly fell behind the 1:45 group and the 1:50 group within the first few miles. I wanted to be conservative in the heat. The course went south on the lakefront and then returned to Balbo and Columbus Dr for the finish. I always had the 1;50 group in sight- I was about 30 seconds behind them before the first half. I decided I needed to be passing them at the 6-7 mile mark.

(my splits for your viewing pleasure)

And so I did. I passed the 1:50 group and never looked back. In fact for the rest of the race no one passed me. I must have passed over a hundred people. It was fun.

I took a Gu jet blackberry at mile 4, and took a cherry lime roctane at mile 8-9 along with some mango salt strips. I also carried water with me the entire time and never stopped at a water station. Except the last one where I grabbed some water and dumped it on my head. It felt amazing By the way.

While the temps were approaching 80, I just kept chugging along the lakefront. Thank god it was overcast during this point. Soon I was back near the Shedd aquarium with a mile to go and eminems Lose yourself came on my iPod and I started kicking harder. The finish seemed to take forever and I started sprinting as fast as my legs would allow. I felt so sick to my stomach but could not allow myself to stop or slow down until after crossing the finish mat. Pain is nothing, compared to what it feels like to give in. 'Nuff said.

I was so happy to break my PR by a minute, but even more excited to have made an extreme negative split with 7 miles at or significantly below my goal marathon pace for this race. In the heat.

Post race thoughts:

#1,don't stay up until 11pm watching the UFC fights the night before the race. 

This race was fun. It seemed extremely well organized. I never experienced crowding on the course. There were ample aid stations, plus the water fountains on the course. I love the medal and thought the yoga mat was a nice touch. I also like the shirt design too. I'd definitely run this race next year. Thank you volunteers! Go fleet feet!

Post race celebrations included some IPA, Vander Mill Cider and a grilled cheese with Swiss, ham
And pineapple.

83 days until the Fox valley marathon.

- xaar

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A weight on my mind

Something that's been on my mind lately are weight and healthy eating. And while I've never had an eating disorder, I do struggle with body image. My weight has fluctuated a lot in the past 12 years, here are some of the memories that stick out the most to me...

I guess it all started (or came to a head) last week when a coworker Im friends with asked me how my training was going and then commented how I eat "so healthy." ugh. Not the first time this has happened in the lunch room. I never make comments about their choices of food- like "wow! Even if you can pronounce the chemicals in your frozen dinner, do you even know what they are and what health problems they cause?" this happens almost daily when I go sit in there. This week I decided to eat in my office because I like the quiet, no TV, no mindless chit chat and only my thoughts and the rumbling of the EL every once in a while to keep me company. I'm loving this.

This got me thinking about when I was in high school many moons ago and ran a couple of seasons of cross country. My weight was around 90-95 lbs, mainly because of good genes, super quick metabolism and of course, running. I got sick at lunch one day and when I went to the school nurse, she flat out asked me if I was anorexic or had some other eating disorder. I was even called back to the nurse a few weeks later only to be asked the same questions agin, which I might have answered rudely with something like "I run cross country- have you seen the other faster runners? I eat like a pig and my parents are pretty skinny too." **I have no desire to ever be this thin again. The health issues I faced which contributed to my numerous running injuries in such a short period of time have convinced me this is an unhealthy weight for me.**

Almost 5 years ago I was leaving a verbally/emotionally abusive relationship and was sick to my stomach with stress about what direction my life would take next. For about 2 months I didn't have an appetite, and mainly ate roasted veggie tacos... when I was hungry. I saw a photo of myself from this period of time and was shocked at how gaunt I looked.

After picking up the pieces of a shattered life, I put myself back together again and "fattened up." Then I found my old friend, running again. After 4 marathons in the past 2 years, I hadn't lost much, if any weight while training. I used the whole- "I just ran 17 miles, I can eat whatever I want" excuse which caused me to gain some weight (along with the much slower metabolism of a near 30 year old).

Now, while seriously attempting a BQ run in the fall, I'm being more diligent about indulging in food (less often) without denying myself proper nutrition so I can drop some lbs the healthy way. This means more veggies, lean meats and very few processed foods. It also means around 2 beers a week instead of the usual 4-6. And I'm starting to see and feel results.

The main problem I'm finding is that seeing results on the scale can be addictive- as well as the feeling of working out. Once I hit my goal weight in another 6-8 lbs, I will need to work harder to maintain that weight than the effort to lose it. And I have no doubt it will be a challenge. I can see how working out, eating very clean and losing weight along with seeing "the ideal" of very lean models in print and in TV can cause disordered eating.

- xaar

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Where I keep my race medals

This week’s photo challenge: What do you do with your race medals? via Maggie @ Mag Mile Runner

My medals are housed in a lid of a shoe box which is on a shelf in my closet (close to a folder which has all of my race bibs). Honestly I dont know what to do with all of them. If i hung them all up, I think it would tear the wall down. This is a fairly heavy box.

SO What's in this box?

Cross Country ribbons from 1998 when I was in high school. 4 JV, and 1 Varsity. 

- The second place race I remember as the one I was leading the entire time and a girl came from nowhere and out kicked me in the last 200 meters. Race Fail.

- The 16th Place Varsity (orange) I remember because I needed 15th place to be All-Conference. Again, Race Fail.

5K age group awards and medals for showing up.

- (from left to right) The nitro turkey and RnR Chicago 5k I got for Showing up.
- Hot to Trot, New Years Day 5K, were 2nd AG.
- Karhu 5K was 2nd Overall.
*Im seeing a pattern of 2nd place finishes now...

Marathon Medals:

2002 NYC Marathon
2010 Nike Women's Marathon, yes that's a Tiffany Necklace :)
2011 Boston Marathon
2011 Chicago Marathon
2012 Ing Miami Marathon

Half Marathon, 10 Miler, and "novelty medals" 

Row 1 (L-R)  2003 Las Vegas Half, 2008-2010 RnR San Jose Half, 2011 Soldier Field 10 mile
Row 2- 2011 Chicago RnR, 2009 RnR Las Vegas, 2012 RnR Phoenix, 2012 RnR St. Petersburg
Row 3- 2011 13.1 Chicago, 2011 Chicago Half, 2011-2012 Chicago Spring Half, 2011 Chi-Town Half
Row 4 (All California Halfs)- 2010 Bay Breeze, 2010 Summer Breeze, 2009-2010 US Half Marathon
Row 5 (Novelty) Windy City Challenge (13.1 Chicago/ Chicago Half),
26.2 from 2 RnR Events 2009-2010, Double Down (RnR Vegas/ Phoenix),
Chi-Town Duo (RnR 5K, RnR Chicago)

I need to find something better than the box for them. 
I could tell a story about each of these medals race experiences (retro race recaps??). 
They deserve better than the box lid in my closet, but I obviously don't need want a huge shrine to them in my apartment... :)

- xaar

Friday, June 15, 2012

TGIF Happy Friday!!

Some random thoughts about the week because I can't devote an entire post to one thing....

• As week 1 of Fox Valley marathon training comes to a close (following 2 more workouts), I feel excited and anxious for my goal of a BQ -5.

• While I managed to PR and get a 1:47 in this half after 6 weeks of solid training post hip flexor injury, I have no confidence I could pull off a similar pace per mile in the marathon. Even though I felt like I could have kept going after the race.

• I just need to remind myself that I respond well to consistency and after the next 13 weeks, I'll be stronger than ever. and not think that that 13.1 PR was on a short course...

• I love this view and can take a photo of it every time I run by. In fact, I usually do. It makes me
Happy, which I think is one of the keys for staying injury free.

• Bad runs make you appreciate the good runs more. And pinpointing what caused the "bad" gives even more confidence.

• Eating a somewhat large lunch 2 hours later than normal and then running = a really uncomfortable run. Pair that with a possible case of food poisoning and it's even worse. Lesson learned.

• That might be the only reason I'll ever say "thank god for navy pier and its bathrooms."

• Finishing a 7.66 mile workout strong when you wanted to quit at mile 3 is really a defining moment in your life as a runner.

• My Friday has been awesome so far. I found the exact Nike tank and Nike pro compression shorts at Macy's that I've had my eye on. Score! And I got to use my gift card thats been burning a hole in my wallet for almost 7 months.

• Passion fruit bubble tea from Argo puts a huge smile on my face. Always.

• This guy also puts a huge smile on my face. Can't wait for our run tonight!!

What's happy about your Friday?

What's your favorite pair of running "booty" shorts, or regular running shorts?

-I'm always on the hunt for more shorts and find I like the snug fit as opposed to regular shorts.

I have:
•Lululemon booty shorts. They are ok. I'm starting to like them less and less.

• Aspaeris Pivot shorts. Love them. Don't ride up at all, but can be hot.

• Oiselle Stride short- Love these, don't ride up, but have given me one bad case of chafing so far. I'll attribute it to user error ;)

•RRS compression shorts- so far no complaints.

• Under Armor- I absolutely hate these. They ride up and I've gotten chaffed bad a few times, even with body glide. Maybe I had gotten the wrong size? I'd give UA another shot though.

Happy weekend!!

- xaar

Sunday, June 10, 2012

13.1 marathon Karhu 5k race recap (AKA that time I got 2nd place woman OVERALL)

"The time I got 2nd OVERALL woman in a 5K."


23:41* I believe my 4th fastest 5K.

2 of 232 Women 

21 of 378 Overall (Top 5%)
Photo from Maggie
It was very cool to meet the other Chicagoland bloggers in real life after following their blogs for so long :)

I won this entry from Emily @ Out and About on Monday- which made my week! :)

After cheering for the first few waves of Half marathoners, I got in a nice warmup of slow running and about 8 strides to get my heart going. My plan was to keep it comfortably hard and have fun. This wasn't a goal race and I really havent been doing much speed work as my goal has been to get up to running 30-50 miles a week comfortably.

Mile 1: 7:10  I believe the first half mile I ran in 3:20..  UH OH!

My Garmin also decided to change the way it was displaying, so I had a hard time telling what my pace was.

At the turn around I saw that I was 2nd woman overall. It now became my mission to keep it that way. 

I also saw Meghan out on the course! :)

I kept thinking how I did not want the title of this post to be "That time I was 2nd overall for 2.5 miles and then got passed by 2 ladies at the finish. and blew it!" I also thought how much I hated running {fast}- why am I torturing myself with this??. HA!

Miles 2 and 3 were in 7:40's... I was struggling to keep moving. Side stitch was intense and It was taking everything inside of me to just keep running at this point. I even had to grab water at mile 1 and 2.5 because my mouth was so dry. Ive never gotten water in a shorter race before.

I saw the sign above when WW and I were walking around later in the day. It pretty much sums up how I felt after mile 1.

As I finally entered the South Shore Cultural center, I knew it was less than a tenth of a mile to the finish, and just kept telling myself to keep going, while looking over my shoulder for other women. Before the finish, the top 2 men in the half blew past me.

As soon as I finished, the announcer read my name and confirmed I was 2nd woman to finish! I was so elated to be done, and must admit,pretty darn pleased with myself for holding onto my place in the race and earning my 1st ever "Podium" spot.

Immediately after finishing, someone put a green band on my wrist and told me I could go to the VIP area (above) to chill out before the awards ceremony- and could have a guest come join me. A reporter from Competitor(?) interviewed me afterwards asking me how the race went. I think I mumbled something about side stitch and it being difficult and hot out there.
Top 3 finishers in the 5K! Im in the middle. Thank you Britt for snapping this gem! :)

My 2nd place medal. Yeah, while I did feel so happy to be standing up there, It was also incredibly humbling standing next to the winner (Gray shirt) who sailed in over 5 minutes ahead of me and who ran the Olympic marathon trials earlier this year!

I will cherish this memory for a long time. Usually I am around 20th in my age group and around 100th woman for the "smaller" half marathons here. (I dont do many 5K's so I have nothing to compare to)

To come in as 2nd woman was crazy and something I never thought possible (especially with a 23:41).

Post race Wonderful, Wonderful and I went out to Revolution Brewing to get brunch. Their eggs Benedict was amazing.

Lessons Learned:

  • Dont go out too Fast. Ever. Negative splits or even splits are preferable.
  • I do not know how to "race" 5Ks.
  • Check the Garmin beforehand to ensure it will display properly.
  • 5Ks are "Lung Burners"
  • Drink a bit more before a race regardless of distance when its hot out.
  • Eat something when I get home before eating loads of food to avoid getting very sick later on.
  • Take a salt tab post race (even 5K) to replace the lost sodium-potassium, etc. to avoid getting sick.
Next up:

This week starts marathon training. Only 14 weeks until the Fox Valley marathon! Im so incredibly excited to have this lady as my Coach to guide me through training. I'm also super proud of my WW for starting Chicago Marathon training this past week and can't wait to run with him in October! 


- xaar

Friday, June 8, 2012

Almost a new decade

In one month I'll be 30. A new chapter, a new decade and a new fresh start on life begins that day in July. While Monday's are usually my "reset" day if things went awry the prior week, this 30th anniversary date of my arrival will signify the biggest reset to date.

It's easy to look at where I've been, all the goals I've accomplished and all the lessons I've learned. But, it's not so simple to accurately say where I will be in 5 years, or even one year from now and have any idea about the experiences between now and then.

As I approach the "big 3-0" I realize that I want more. More fulfilling experiences with the people I interact with, more purpose to the activities I participate in, and generally more seriousness towards everything I do. I want more of what I choose to do to have a reason behind it. Coasting through life is something I haven't done much of- but could do less of. Actively living life (to me at least) is a much better way to live.

As 30 approaches in the next few weeks, I am giddy with excitement for what this new decade and year will hold for me.

• Continuing better relationship with my WW.

• A new AG division for road races!!

• More consistency- seriousness in training- including hiring a coach to plan out the most focused 14 weeks of my running "career" since HS cross country which commences next Monday.

• Dedication to learning Portuguese so I will not need a translator (WW) when we go to Brasil.

• More quality time with my CB dog.

And while I don't have a bucket list of things to do while 30, I will make the most out of every situation, good or bad.

The one thing I do know is that the year of 30 will be the best year to date.

How do you approach birthdays? Or new decades?

- xaar

Friday, June 1, 2012

May by the numbers

•161 miles run in May.
(51 miles alone last week!)

• 1 possible case of anterior shin splints that ended up being "over zealous use of The Stick."

•1 fire in my apartment building that scared the bejesus out of CB and I at 2:30 am. Thankfully it was contained to the patio area.

•13.2 miles run just a couple of hours later. Groggiest sweaty run to date.

•30 minutes of "illegal frisbee" playing before we got kicked off of the beach. Best. Memorial. Day. Ever!

•3 bags of Haribo gummy bears direct from Germany. WW, is awesome and knows me the best!

•1 photo of "CB" on the Fido to Go Facebook page. We Loooove them! :)

•5k Raced post injuryresulting in my second fastest 5k ever! Still a minute off of my PR 22:18 from last year...

• 1 Shiny new half marathon PR. aka HUGE confidence booster!

•1 race Spectated. SF10

•200-300 NATO protestors as seen from my balcony.

• 1 piƱa colada from 96 stories up above Chicagoland.

What I'm looking forward to in June

• Starting 14 weeks of Marathon training!

• Staying INJURY FREE!!!

Happy weekend!

- xaar