Sunday, July 29, 2012

A midsummers night weekday 18 miler

I thought I'd be more inspired to write posts this year, but lately I'm just so focused on other things (learning portuguese, supporting my L's marathon training, playing with CB and of course, my own training) the blog falls to the wayside. Oh well.

Weekend in Vegas

Vegas was fun this weekend, even got a short 4 miler in. Running in 9% humidity (95 deg) is hard on the throat, nose and lungs. I was pretty dehydrated when I returned, but 95 degrees never felt so darn good.

I paid for it the next morning with a sinus migraine (and bloody nose) which was so debilitating I didn't leave our room until 3pm.

We celebrated L's birthday at the hofbrauhaus. Love love love that place and him of course, especially when he tries to imitate CB in photos :)

We even saw The Crystal Method at one of the con's parties. (we were in Vegas for a conference that L works at each year)

Below is a pic I will be purchasing from the RnR... Despite my disappointment of my performance in this race, MarathonFoto did a stellar job capturing me :)

Midsummers night run

After a less than stellar Rock n Roll Chicago last weekend, I had low expectations for my 18 miler. I knew i'd hit my GMP (goal marathon pace) for the prescribed miles (9-14) because I'm far too stubborn to not push myself enough. The main problem with this run was that it had to happen on a weekday. Yes, a long run on a weekday. I was going to Vegas on Thursday afternoon until Sunday afternoon- my only options were: 1. Weekday long run or 2. Treadmill long run. The decision was simple, the actual act of dragging my butt out the door was not as simple. I agonized over this run all day Tuesday. When it Finally came time for me to walk home, I was filled with anxious dread about what the next 2.5- 3 hours would hold.

I made a quick turnaround at home, got my gu, garmin and salt tabs ready and off I went. The weather was surprisingly fresh- a but cooler than RnR and a little less humid soggy air. As I clicked off the "easy" sub 9 minute miles at 6pm, my body felt like it had been replaced from the body which wouldn't "go" on Sunday. Post race sunday, I felt too fantastic, by Monday I had no muscle soreness what so ever. (Monday I even ran an easy 8 miles for recovery.) I couldn't believe how this run was unfolding and how good everything felt.

At mile 8 I picked up the pace from the 8:50's to a little quicker 8:30 to prepare a nice launch pad for the 6 GMP miles that were to commence.

The GMP miles (8:05-8:10) were ticking off comfortably hard as I cruised back south on the lakefront. The only negative was that the volleyball leagues near castaways finished about the time I was heading back. The path was super crowded with people at this point and weaving to keep pace and avoiding collisions were my top priorities. Once I passed castaways it was much smoother sailing.

Gosh, as I was ticking off the GMP miles I was getting more and more excited and happy that this run was unfolding so much better than I ever could have expected. Once the 6 GMP's were done (mile 14) I paused for a second to snap a photo of the gorgeous Chicago Skyline at dusk.

I continued around the shedd aquarium for the additional 2 easy miles so I could have the extra 4 to make 18 for the night. On my return trip it was pretty much dark and the skyline was glistening.

The chicago skyline was beautiful it nearly brought me to tears- but i was also in tears because I was on mile 17- the final easy stretch of my 18 miler on a weekday, I had done it!

Once I finished I was elated. I had just averaged 8:33 a mile for over 18 miles, I felt like I could have kept cruising along the lakefront all night.

This run was exactly what I needed at this point in my training. It definitely helped that the weather was more agreeable than Sunday, but my legs and mind were on board working together to get me finished.

Maybe it was the lack of pressure for this run that made it better than the RnR (I did set myself up for failure with having too high expectations) or maybe it was my body telling me to "wait" to run free in a half until after the Fox Valley marathon is over. Probably it was a combo of those but also the *cooler drier* temps (mid 70's) that contributed to this runs success. But regardless, this run was magical and was the confidence booster I needed to realize that my BQ dream in 50 days might not be as far fetched as I originally thought 8 weeks ago.

1 salt stix pre run
Mile 8- salt stix and GU
Stopped at water fountains along the path.

While this run was nothing short of awesome, I have no plans to ever run long on a weekday again. Unless of course volleyball league is finished for the season ;)

- xaar

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rock n Roll Chicago 2012 Edition

3 Words to sum it up:  Sticky, Blah, Disappointment

Time for half marathon # 19:
1:49:40 not a PR by over 3 minutes. Not the worst by a long shot either. About 1 minute slower than last years Rock n Roll Chicago (which had much better, cooler conditions)

1331 of 14881 OA 8.9%
67 of 1723 AG   3.8%
348 of 8998 Women  3.8%

Rock n Roll:
I really enjoy the Rock n Roll events. Sure they may be a bit pricer than other races, but for the almost 10 RnR halfs i've done around the country, I always know what im getting for my money. Saturday we went to the expo to get our bib and swag bag. It had a good variety of vendors and the expected lines for free samples of {fill in the blank} which people seem to go crazy for. We, on the other hand steered clear of the food samples.
Race Review:
 As I mentioned above, I have no complaints with the way the Rock n Roll events are handled. The wave corral start enabled the streets to not be so congested as opposed to a mass start. There were plenty of aid stations with ice and other necessities. The volunteers seemed really into the event and helping the runners. The course is one of the few in Chicago that actually is run in downtown as opposed to the Lakefront trail which I run on for free every day that I care to.  There were loads of spectators out there cheering. Its a great event. Even in the middle of summer, I'd probably not hesitate to sign up for this race next year to make it a 3-peat.  My main complaint about the course is the McCormick Place tunnel. Its tough after 11+ miles in the sun to suddenly be thrown into the dark half mile long tunnel under McCormick Place. With pot holes galore and other uneven footing, the low light and muggy sticky conditions make this my absolute least favorite part of the course.
Ive had these lululemon socks for 2 weeks, worn them once before and never noticed that stitched inside of them read "run fast" until this morning.
The Race:
I'll just preface this part by saying this recap is not my "average" race recap. It is entirely too dark for the celebration of finishing another half marathon. I need to get these negative thoughts out, and this is the best outlet for me.


The weather at 5:30 am, just before leaving our apartment read 76 degrees, 76% humidity. By the time the race started at 6:30am, I was already "glistening." Never a good sign.  I dont know what the temp was by the time I finished, but I doubt it was too much over 80 and a bit less humidity. I do all of my "easy" and long runs outside, and for this season so far, has meant many of them have been run in much hotter (some 100 degrees) days. Going into this race, I knew it would be warm. I wasn't too concerned because of my training. I also knew this would probably mean a reduced pace than what I would be capable of on a much cooler drier day.

I wore my garmin, but due to the buildings I knew it would be inaccurate so I used the "manual" lap function. All well and good, unless you never see mile 2 or 3. So my splits are off. Running through a 1/4 mile tunnel in the first mile of the course and a nearly half mile long tunnel at the end do not contribute to accuracy either. I remember feeling good and ready to run before the race started. This race was not a goal race, but my Coach had given me the blessing to "race" it and run my heart out (but not get too taken away with it to cause disruption for marathon training).  The first few miles felt good, as good and comfortable as they can in high humidity conditions. Im sure I was drenched in sweat before mile 2 when I saw Britt cheering, which gave me a nice boost of energy.

As the miles ticked by I was thinking of trying to surge, but my body was having none of it. Usually I'm a "pro" at negative splits. Nearly every run on the lakefront whether I like it or not, becomes negative split. My legs need some time to warm up usually. I was averaging around 8:20 a mile and was feeling neither great nor terrible. I just felt Blah. I tried kicking it up a little, but my body would rebel, so 8:20ish it was.  I saw Britt again around mile 7 and when I looked to my right, I saw the 1:45 pace group passing me. SH*T. I had a several minute lead on them at the start due to the corrals. Damn. I tried to hang with them, but they left me in the dust after less than a quarter mile. I kept them in my sights for a while and made plans at mile 8 or 9 to try to catch them. Spoiler Alert- It never happened.

I just kept running and dumping water on my head from the aid stations since it was cooler than the water in my water bottle. The McCormick tunnel came up and I had to take my sunglasses off so I could see the potholes and uneven areas of the pavement. I have a problem of not picking up my feet enough during runs, consequently causing me to trip. Soon I was out of that hot muggy mess and onto the final stretch for the finish. I tried to press the pace a little which was a huge struggle. I believe my last 5K might have been slightly faster than my first 5K of the race. Pushing the pace was hard, as my body was determined to hold onto 8:20 pace. Im now interested to see the photos from this race as I might have some real "gems" from being silly the last mile. Just before mile 13, I saw Britt again and gave her a big double thumbs down as I ran by with a smile on my face. This race didnt go according to plan and I had to just make it to the finish.
I took this photo post finish about 6 times, because I looked so unhappy in each one of them. This is the "happiest" I could get at the time.
As soon as I finished, I felt a huge wave of Disappointment come over me. I sat down on the pavement outside of the finish area and nearly broke down into tears. With having very loose goals going into this race because it wasn't my goal race and also because of the less than ideal  conditions, I wasn't taking this race too seriously and was taken by surprise by the disappointment. I needed this race to be a good harder effort because it would be my "long run" for this week of marathon training, but after 18 weeks of solid training including 6 full weeks of "official"marathon training, I was looking for something a bit more from myself in this race.I'm a competitive person and merely finishing a half marathon is no longer a huge accomplishment since I run longer than 13.1 each week during marathon training season. I love seeing results of my time and effort that I have put into training. 

Perhaps in the back of my mind, a 1:45 would have been the magic happy number I was looking for since that would have been slightly faster than my goal marathon pace, in *hopefully* much crappier conditions than what September 16 will have for me. If I could run my marathon pace in these muggy conditions, imagine how easy it would be in *ideal* conditions.

Im crazy to be down about this race considering the heat and humidity. I ran it so smart that no more than 15 minutes after crossing the finish, I felt like I could run another 13.1 Which made me feel even more disappointed.

Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush of yesterday's events that made me feel less than stellar today. Hearing all the firetrucks in Chicago pull up outside of your apartment building is never a good thing, especially not knowing if there was an actual fire in the building, thankfully there wasn't. But when the fire hydrant was turned on, the water main outside of our place ruptured. Thank God we didnt lose our water, but this was certainly an unnecessary stress I could have done without.

Perhaps it was the poor sleep I got Friday- Sunday morning worrying if L would make it back to Chicagoland. My L was supposed to return from an out of country business trip very late friday night. But flight delays and missed connections brought him back early Saturday. It absolutely wasn't an ideal situation for him to run a race on such little sleep, after his 5 airports, 3 countries in 24hours not so amazing race.
I am so proud of him for running a very smart race and finishing despite the situation.
Post race thoughts/ House keeping:

Head to toe Lululemon. Top, Shorts, Socks all Lulu
Shoes: Green Nike Lunar Racers

Power bar 1.5 hours pre-race
Gatorade Prime + Salt Stix 15 minutes pre race
Gu (jet blackberry/ Espresso) at miles 4 and 8
Mango "Enlyten" Salt strips around mile 9
Carried my own water until mile 10.

Im much happier 8 hours later than I was post finish. Expecting something from yourself and failing, even because it simply wasn't your day is very frustrating, but not worth dwelling too much on.

And dont get me wrong, any and every day that you can lace up your shoes and run 13.1 miles (or any distance) pain free and without incident is a damn good day.

In 55 days I'll be toeing the line at the Fox Valley marathon. An additional fire is now lit under my bum to achieve my crazy BQ goal for that race. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old bones don't recover quickly

My ChurroDog has gotten a clean bill of health! The growth in his mouth was benign!!! I'm over the moon happy :) and now he is back to his spunky self.

30 is not old, but man am I feeling it more and more each day. Haha

Some workouts take longer to recover from than what I remember from a few years ago. But perhaps I really wasn't pushing myself enough then.

And now enter my new problem: I'll call them "phantom injuries." I've been running about 3-4 months solid now without incident. But for the past few weeks I've encountered these phantoms that come and go out of nowhere.

Last week, post birthday run I thought something was wrong with my hamstring. It felt like a bruise and was tender to move and sit. 2 days later it vanished. Never had a problem like that before. And haven't had it since.

Last week post 10 x 800's, my right foot started hurting- like where the big toe meets the foot. It would only hurt when pushing off to walk or run. After 3 days it was gone. I have experienced this a few times before- most memorable instance being the 2011 Chicago marathon. Not sure if it is my soft Nike lunar racers + hard running causing this annoyance, but I am starting to see a pattern with those two.

This week I ran a nice 8 mile run with a hard 5 in the middle. Post run I sat on my yoga mat and played with my pup for a bit. When I got up, my knee felt off. No pain, but when I bent it, the outer side felt very tight. It has now lasted into the next day- and currently is still bothering me, but much less. I have a feeling it will go away soon much like my other phantoms. I doubt it's ITB since I've never had that issue before, and there is no pain.

I'm starting to think that sitting awkwardly post hard run or long run makes muscles cool down in an incorrect position, causing pain for a few days until it sorts itself out.

I really need to stop doing this.

Or need to remember I'm "old" and can't expect my body to bounce back without some consequence post hard effort.

- xaar

Monday, July 16, 2012

A good sweat

My best friend, my Hambear.

This past Sunday my precious running buddy, CB had his teeth cleaned and also some surgery to remove a growth I discovered in his mouth a few weeks ago. I was an emotional wreck all day. A run on the tread didn't help me calm down at all as I anxiously awaited the Doctors call about what the best thing to do about the growth was- as well as the call to say CB was coming out of anesthesia.

As I counted the minutes until I had to leave to walk to the vet, I watched the rebroadcast of Ironman Kona 2011. And cried my eyes out at the end. I dare you to watch it and not feel/show any emotion!

The mass was sent to a lab and now we are anxiously waiting to find out if it was benign or something much much worse. I'm trying to calm myself with the fact that CB has been acting completely normal and that his bloodwork came back clean at the vet. I really hate waiting. Like really really hate it.

This pup has transcended Dogdom. He is something so much more than a 4 legged furry beast. He is my confidant, he always makes me smile with his puppy like antics (he's 7.5 years old!), and has been there for me more than most of my friends. My Hambear, I can't imagine life without him.

I am consumed with so much emotion lately that it's hard to focus on anything.

Running 8.6 miles tonight in the 95+ degree heat was therapeutic. There is something so natural about getting outside, moving and sweating. By the end of the run I was drenched with sweat and felt like a big portion of the emotional load I've been carrying had been lifted off of my shoulders.

Sometimes a good sweat will do wonders for the psyche.

- xaar

Friday, July 13, 2012

What a week!

Being 30 isn't at all bad so far. In fact it's going pretty darn well.

Last night we went to the Green City Market: Chefs BBQ. The event featured many of the top chefs in Chicago making small plates created with food found at the Green City Market, organic sustainable meat and produce.

I got to meet Top Chef finalist, and executive chef at Spiaggia, Sarah Grueneberg. I admired the passion of the Chefs at this event. While each one probably explained their plate of food 1,000 times to each person that came up, they were always so excited to share the food they created. There wasn't anything that I tried that wasn't amazing. Some highlights included: a frozen strawberry margarita push pop (complete with tequila- perfect post run snack?), peach leaf smoked tilapia with beet salad, berry pie with basil semifredo, beef short rib with kimchi.. This list goes on.

Had an amazing pre work run with the ChurroDog on Thursday. He was so happy to accompany me- it's probably been 6 weeks since our last run together. We chased squirrels, bunnies and some Red Winged black birds which almost held their ground (while plotting their next attack)

Last Saturday i got a massage that hurt like hell, but now appears to have been the single most positive influence on my wonky hip to date. The girl dug into both of my hip flexors and as I was wincing in pain, I just kept thinking how this will hopefully make everything better. And it did. One week out and no achy whiny hip and I couldn't be more excited and encouraged that I might finally be beyond this 7.5 month. I plan on requesting the same therapist for my next massage in a couple of weeks. Ladies and gents, this woman is a miracle worker!

We then went to Lululemon!! Where L got me some tops and a pair of shorts. Thank you L!!

Hot: But not tank

Run: For your money tank

I love the neon yellow!

Run: Dart and dash short

These shorts have honest to God pockets in them deep enough to hold a half marathon's worth of gu and salt tabs! I'm soooo excited to wear these beautiful creations soon.

Last Sunday was my official birthday and I celebrated it with an early am run along the lake.

The waves were crashing on the seawall like mad and it was a spectacular sight to see.

When I returned home, I saw a helicopter attached to the Willis (sears) tower.

It pulled out a 40 foot long antenna and eventually placed it in a flat bed truck at the base of Willis. Crazy!

Later on we went to Brazzaz, Brasilian Steakhouse for lunch. It was amazing!

Best birthday ever! :)

And now looking forward...

Just 64 days until I'm hopefully punching my ticket to Boston with the Fox Valley marathon. Training has been going amazingly well and I'm excited to tackle some more difficult higher mileage weeks. Yikes! Where has the time gone?

Next week is the Rock n Roll Chicago half marathon. I'm pretty excited to run this since it's probably my last race before Fox Valley. My plan is to "race" it and let my legs run free (and smart) and see what I'm capable of.

Happy weekend!

- xaar

Friday, July 6, 2012

10 years in 1 blog post. A tribute to the last days of my 20's

As I approach a new decade this weekend, here is a look back (in photos) at some of my memories of the past 10 years.
In no particular order:

Visiting Europe with friends in July 2002.

Taking CB "Churro Bear" aka Hampton home from the humane society in 2005. He has brought me so much joy with his wiggly butt. :)

Meeting my wonderful, wonderful, L in 2009. CB loved him at first meeting (a rare thing) and so did I. Since then, everything has been better with him.

Playing clarinet professionally in Mexico- including a concerto! February 2008

Living in the Yucatan, Mexico from 2006-2008 was a blast!

Graduating from St Leo college with a degree in Accounting in 2011. (and finally getting a "real" job)

Graduating from U. South Florida in 2004 with a music performance degree.

Convincing L to run his first half, RnR San Jose 2009! Which spiraled into Bay 2 Breakers and a host of other events we ran together.

Hanging with my mom in Chicagoland. So nice to finally have her visit where I live. 2012

Seeing this guy happy back in the USA after leaving him in Mexico for 4 months while I got things figured out. July 2008

Hot air balloon ride in Napa for my birthday with L- July 2010. Magical.

Wine tasting in napa. 2009-2011

Hanging at Chrissy Field. And of course moving to the SF bay area. July 2008- January 2011

Spending time with life long friends and making new best friends along the way.

Seeing my dad achieve his lifelong dream of getting his BQ at the RnR Phoenix 2010, and then being able to share in his Boston experience in 2011. He is the main inspiration for me running.

Driving route 66 to move to Chicago from SF bay area. January 2011

Surviving our first Chicago "snopacalypse" blizzard of 2011.

Probably the 1st photo I took of Chicago as we drove in from 5.5 days on the road. I'm still in awe of this city just as much as the first day- over 1.5 years later.

I'm ready for this new decade and all of the amazing memories that will come with it!

Tchau 20's, olá 30's!

- xaar

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who do I run with?

Maggie at Mag Mile Runner's photo challenge for this past week was Your running group. Who do you usually run with? A running club? A group run at a store? A buddy? Your dog? No one? Whatever, take a picture of it, even if it’s just you looking lonely.

Usually I run by myself. I enjoy the solitude and the ability to get lost in my thoughts as I cruise the lakefront.

Lately, I've been running with my wonderful, wonderful more. He is training for his first marathon- Chicago! I enjoy doing some of my easy runs with him. I'm so proud of him and the progress he is making :)

Sadly, it's too hot to continue running with my precious CB. Once the temps drop below 67, we'll be back out there hitting the pavement together again.

Sometimes I get the extra special treat of running with my Daad. We've run several marathons and 5ks together over the years- he always beats me! Unfortunately he won't be running for a while due to finally getting diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his knee- which he has likely had for a few years. He will go through surgery in a month to hopefully repair it and make him good as new so we can run the Boston Marathon (if I qualify in the fall) next spring.

I also get to run with 5,000 of my closest "single serving" friends sometimes.

- xaar

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I saw this plaque out on the path this morning. I really liked the quote on it:

"Dream what you dare to dream. Go where you want to go. Be what you want to be. Live."

166 running miles in June.

130 miles in the first 3 weeks of Fox Valley marathon training. Only 11 more weeks till game day!

1:46:15 a new PR In the half marathon.

1 beer festival attended with 14 new delicious beers tasted.

1 really bad thunderstorm.

1 free pair of shoes (wave elixir 7) from Mizuno's Mezamashii project. #brilliantrun So far, I like these shoes a lot.

1 2nd place finish in a 5k.

I also went to the Three Floyd's brewery in Munster, IN. Great food and of course yummy craft beer.

I became a Sweat Pink ambassador! I really like their mission to "sweat hard, play hard and inspire those around them to inspire their best selves."

Fit approach, the geniuses behind sweat pink have also just started the Sweat Pink Race program.For $35, you get a sweet pink tee or tank with the design above, a wine glass and button to wear. The idea behind it is to show your pink love and be able to meet up with other ladies who share the same fitness ideas at local races. Anyone and everyone is able to join. If you use the code "SPACharlynC" you will receive 10% off the $35.

I'm just really enjoying life right now. I love spending time with my WW and ChurroDog, as well as running outside on the path.

looking forward:

It's hard to believe that a week from now I'll be 30! OMG where has the time gone!?!

I have the rock n roll Chicago half later in July. So far I'm feeling strong and injury free, but I still have 10 more weeks of training to get through until Fox Valley. I also feel such a joy about running that I haven't felt before. Going outside and enjoying the runs and not dreading them, has been the biggest change this season vs last season.

- xaar