Monday, June 24, 2013

Chicago Womens Half Marathon

1:46:09 a PR by 5 seconds.

21/675 AG Top 3%

140/3429 OA Top 4%

Three words to describe this race: Steamy, Sticky, SMART

Me, Kim, Anne, Maggie, Chris, Christina, Erica

"Lets go Blackhawks!" Can be faintly seen lit up on the building.

The Plan

Saturday morning I ran 6 miles with 5 hill repeats. The point of doing something so crazy like running moderately hard before a race was to have "dead" legs going into Sundays half marathon. Remember, bigger picture. As I sat on my couch Saturday night watching the Blackhawks beat the Bruins, I started researching running in the heat. I've always run in the heat, but never researched it. Some interesting things I learned:

•Sunscreen inhibits the body's ability to sweat. Since this race was at 6:30am & I'd be done a little after 8, the UV index would be low. I didnt wear any sun screen.

•Humidity and dew point affect your performance more than the heat. A neat calculator to see how heat/humidity affects your performance is Here.

Kim and I pre race

Anyways, since I am training for the Fox Valley Marathon, this race was a training run. Per discussions with my Coach the plan was to take the first half easy and progressively split the second half. Spoiler Alert: I pretty much nailed it.

Vicky and I waiting for the race to start.

The Race

It was warm. Very warm- I'd say muggier than Last Years race. At 6:30am we were off! With my music playing, I settled into a nice rhythm. The miles ticked by quickly and my pace felt comfortable.

At each water station I dumped water on my neck. It felt fantastic. At the halfway mark it was time to start pushing the pace a bit- I high fived some kids and started picking off ladies in front of me. The last 2 miles were brutal. No shade and the sun was shining bright.

L was near the finish and snapped this gem.

During this race I kept thinking about the bigger picture of my training. Part of me wanted to "race" and kill my PR from a year ago (confidence builder?) the other more rational side kept reminding myself this was a training run and to not over do it. In my heat research I read somewhere that over extending yourself in the heat can take several months to fully recover from.

Could I have run faster? Sure

Would that have been beneficial to my marathon training? Absolutely not. Monday morning I'm feeling almost 100% normal minus the usual post long run-slightly tight calf.

Final thoughts/ housekeeping

I am happy with the way I executed this race. And this my friends, is the biggest confidence booster- bigger than had I went all out and gotten a massive PR. I ran a smart race which will pay all sorts of dividends for the next 13 weeks of marathon training. I wouldn't change a thing.

Me, Sara and Hillary, Jenny, and I.

Wore my Nike pro shorts, Nike sports bra, newton distance shoes, lulu socks. First race without wearing a shirt and I'll probably never wear a shirt again for a hot race. Was also my first race wearing the Newtons, and I had no complaints.

Pre race- cinnamon crumpet @ 3:40am with 3 sips of coffee. Gatorade prime + salt pill 20 minutes before race.

1 chocolate gu around mile 6.

Carried my green bottle of water and drank 3/4 of it during the race- also got some Gatorade and water at aid stations.

Race thoughts

Thank you volunteers and especially Fleet feet for putting on another spectacular race. It was well organized and had ample aid stations and misting stations along the course. The new course this year was also a welcome change. The medal/ shirts/ head band were also beautiful! I can't wait to sign up again for next year!

Brunch Crew: Marla, Joanna, Vicky, L (photographing), and I

I loved the atmosphere of this all women's race. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many strong, confident and beautiful women while all sharing in our love for running.

And a big THANK YOU to L for coming out and cheering me on and photographing me at the finish and hanging with the girls again for brunch. (I promise to find some guys for you for our next post race brunch) LOL. Thank you for your continued patience and support. I love you.

- xaar

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pre race thoughts on #21, #ChiWomensHalf

So I'm going to come right out and say it... I'm not sandbagging.*

You see, this half- the Chicago Women's half this Sunday is not my goal race. I just started 14 weeks of intense training for the Fox Valley Marathon on monday and my legs are still fuc%#&% sore from Tuesdays 3x1 mile repeats + too many squats and lunges. (I just might have overdone it). Not to mention I'm going to run 6 miles Saturday morning with some hills to spice things up so I have somewhat "dead legs" for Sundays race. It's all about the big picture.**

My goals for this race are simple. First and foremost, have fun. Second, run a smart race- by progressively negative splitting the 2nd half. Third is to enjoy time with all the wonderful women I've met in the past year who will also be running the race.

Yep. It's just that simple.

I loved running the Chicago Women's Half so much last year that I signed up super early (like October) to run the race again.

I love how this race is a celebration of Title 9.

I love how this race brings women together.

I love how this year I will be surrounded by so many friends I've made since moving here 2.5 years ago.

All that's left before half #21 is to eat a few more carbs (mmm Chipotle burrito bowl), tweak my iPod playlist and decide what to wear (I'm 99.98% sure right now).
And I'm still holding out hope for a freak cold front to pass through...

Are you running the Chicago women's half/5k this weekend?

Good luck to everyone running or racing this weekend!

*seems to be a blogger "thing" where people list all the reasons they won't succeed at their race beforehand.

**While a PR would certainly be a confidence booster, the predicted heat/humidity of 75degrees/78% humidity at 6:30am are not something I'm adequately adjusted to yet. Plus I want to stay healthy for my "A" race in 13 weeks. This race will be purely run by effort, not targeted splits.

- xaar

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

To wash or not to wash

After my last post debating whether or not it is a good idea to run shirtless in a race and let it all hang out, I got to thinking some of the reasons mentioned in favor of doing so. 

•The fact that no one actually cares that much about you as a stranger and your decision to go topless. 

•The whole aspect of feeling more comfortable in the heat- closer to naked on hot days = feel cooler.

•Less clothing= less laundry to do. YAY!!

The last point got me thinking. Is it ok to wear running attire more than one time without washing it first?

For Tuesday's run I wore the same shorts I wore for Mondays run. Is that bad? I mean like I don't think I smelled or anything. 
The shorts were still white as snow and didnt have any noticeable odor. I just wanted to test them out in a faster session to see if they would cause chaffing- I'm contemplating wearing them for the Chicago Women's Half this weekend and sad to say I've owned them for over a year and had never worn them.* 


Post 3x1 mile repeats for a total of 6 sweaty, speedy, sticky miles, I don't think I smelled any more like a deli sandwich than had I worn fresh shorts. And the people in the gym weren't complaining about me- so maybe this time it was ok? 

If my sports bra, shorts whatever smelled or got too sweaty the day before, then certainly I wouldn't wear them again without washing first.** I just want to avoid doing a whole load of running laundry at the end of the week- 5 shirts, 5 shorts, 5 sports bras + all the regular clothes add up to a lot of stuff!

What do you think? 

Should running clothes be washed before the next workout, or can you get an additional wear out of them before they head to the cleaners?

Im going to evaluate the clothes on a "case by case" stink basis this summer. 

-Underwear should never be worn more than once without a wash. Just saying. 

*They are special Track & Field brand shorts from Brasil (Thanks L!) T&F is like the Brasilian equivalent of Lululemon except way cuter & way more color/style choices- but still just as $$$.

**In the winter I'll wear the same tights-sports bra-base layers multiple times because you don't sweat when it's 20 degrees out, right? Ha

Friday, June 14, 2013

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny

Not a yellow polka dot bikini, but instead a totes adorbs* Nike sports bra..

When it's hotter than hell out and sweat is dripping down your face, do you keep your shirt on?

In all my years of running I've never gone "shirtless" until last year while training for the marathon during the summer. It felt a tad cooler to not have the extra bulk of a shirt on while cruising up and down the lakefront.

So I bought this Nike sports bra today with a Macy's gift card that's been burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas and it got me thinking should I ever just wear a sports bra and shorts for a race?

Asides from the insecurities of letting it all hang out and my uncanny resemblance to the female version of the Pilsbury Dough Boy, I don't feel badass enough to roll up to the start in booty shorts and a sports bra. I'm not in the same league as those super fast ladies... Yet. Nor would I want to give the impression that I am totes badass...

I have this Brooks D'lite mesh tank which is kinda see through and super breathable. I love it.

BUT as the number of super cute sports bras in my wardrobe increase along with the temperature, I can't help but ponder if I should go "topless" for a race**

Guys and ladies- have you run a race shirtless?

Would you?

*Generally I refrain from the usage of totes, OMG, adorbs etx but felt it was the correct terminology to get my point across on how I feel about the cuteness of the sports bra.

**I cringe to think of how the race photos might turn out... But should I even care if I feel more comfortable?

- xaar

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Only 102 more days until I run the Fox Valley Marathon for the 2nd time!!!

Yes I'm counting...

To say I'm excited is an understatement.

Next Monday starts the 14 week training plan Britt has put together for me. We had a lot of success Last year so it was a no brainer to ask her to be my coach again.

The joy I felt in my heart that day in mid September is something I cherish and think of often, and chokes me up each time I remember that race and the training leading up to it.

Being surrounded by friends and family on race day was the icing on the cake of a near perfect day.

As I dive head first into training for Fox Valley, I'll remember the pure bliss I felt last year and how freaking awesome it was to celebrate 14 weeks of focused hard work.

Photo by Kim

I've half-assed too many races to count. Sure, running a race is fun but seeing results because of putting in a dedicated effort is so much sweeter and satisfying. Running is my hobby and in the grand scheme of the running world, I'm mediocre at best. With that being said, I strive for excellence in nearly every aspect of my life because to live any other way and "coast" through life and be mediocre is not for me. I always want to be improving and growing.

Zooming towards the finish with a huge ass smile on my face. Pure bliss. FVM 2012

I've got a goal for Fox Valley 2.0 which is part of an even larger goal. The only thing holding me back from achieving and surpassing these goals is me. Only I can run the miles, put in the effort and reap the benefits of what I sow. If I make excuses, the goals won't happen and I have no one to blame but myself for failing.

Monday is the beginning of the next journey where I push the boundaries of my comfort zone and I couldn't be more excited.

•The registration for marathon #8 is complete.

•The hotel has been reserved.

•My daad's plane tickets have been booked so he can spectate again.

All that's left now is to run and enjoy every freaking step over the next 14 weeks.

102 days to go!

- xaar

Saturday, June 8, 2013

13.1 Chicago half, Spectating Edition

Woke up early and decided to go run to the 10kish mark of the Allstate 13.1 Half marathon to spectate.  I was sooo happy L and CB decided to go too :) We saw so many running blogger friends out today!

 The leaders at mile 6. 

L and CB :) My Boys...

 A Joggler... Damn Impressive
 A lady came up to us and asked what the event was. I explained it was a half marathon. And then she asked (in reference to the sign above, "Who is SHE?") FACE PALM....
Congrats to everyone who ran today!  You all looked so happy!!!

*I'm starting to think I should give up running and begin photographing the runners instead... :) [Just Kidding!!]


Monday, June 3, 2013

I'm a Duck

I always thought I was a patient person... Until moving to Chicago. These days I go from calm to rage way too freaking fast.


Because I am always aware of how my actions are affecting others and expect people to do the same.

Because it seems that most people lack good manners, respect, and common sense.

One example of many: people walking 3 abreast makes it hard to pass these slow walkers on the busy sidewalks of Chicago.

I started writing this post Friday but never finished. It's been on my mind a lot because

•I've almost been hit by cars in the cross walks too many times to count by idiot drivers paying more attention to their cell phones than the road.

•Almost running into someone while walking home because they stopped suddenly to look at their cell phone.

•The clueless tourists who do the same thing to take a photo or simply block the sidewalk while looking lost looking at a map.

•Some of the marathon training groups running too many across making it difficult and dangerous (with the cyclists zooming by) to pass.

•The people who just stop or cross the lakefront trail without looking both ways for traffic. Incredibly dangerous.

It was like a sign

On Friday while I ran with CB I spotted this graffiti:

It's a duck. Quack quack.

I squealed with delight when I saw it (and probably scared the pot smoking teens who were nearby).

Little did I know that this "sign" would be a reminder for what was to come Saturday morning.

I ran 16 miles Saturday. it was my longest run since the Chicago marathon last year. The weather was nice and warm and the birds were singing (and the red winged black birds were holding meetings plotting their future attacks).

The Avon Walk was happening on the lakefront. Several thousand people were walking 10+ abreast blocking both directions of traffic on the path. The cyclists and runners were getting stabby at the participants and it provided for some tense moments on a day where we should all be enjoying ourselves. At one bottle neck, the cyclists and i were saying "on your left please move over" and the participants were saying "we're only out here 2 days deal with it." This rubbed me the wrong way so I shouted back "share the path." They didnt move.


This is a post for another day. But seriously, why do people feel entitled to do as they please without regard for others? Can't we all get along?

For the rest of my run I channeled my inner duck and felt less aggressive.

Yay happy things

I was happy with a Caramel High rise from Caribou post run.

Puppy kisses always make me happy.

Kelsey, Kim the Cat, Emily CB and I

Spending time with friends post run at the Veggie Pride Parade. I'm not vegetarian, but I like to swing both ways and have the best of both worlds.

CB even made a new friend!!

Later on Saturday between the storms, a gorgeous rainbow appeared.

And on Sunday L returned from Berlin with a huge stash of gummy bears for me.

So many things to be happy about!!

So why a duck?

Water rolls right off of duck feathers and metaphorically speaking I'm going to let all the things in the world that annoy me simply roll off of me. Ive come to learn I can't expect people to have the same standards of decency or common sense that I have. So when faced with clueless rude people, I will ignore them and walk away instead of getting full of rage.

After all, I'm a duck. Quack quack.

- xaar