Wednesday, January 27, 2016

F^3 Half Marathon

So this picture pretty much sums up the F^3 half marathon for me. Fun. Fantastic. Fabulous. Not quite what F^3 stands for but close enough...

photo by Chad Marek

The night before I laid out my flat Xaar and made sure I had all my running shit together. It's been a while since my last race (July 2015!), and since consistency makes replication possible, I have to put effort into this ritual.  I wore my new Mikkeller Running Club singlet, nike hyperwarm shirt, old navy tights,  and my trusty Newton Distances.  Not pictured, the back of the shirt showing Mikkel (the brewer of Mikkeller) he's "#1." Surprisingly I got a lot of compliments on that *aspect* of the shirt. I was a little worried about it...

Since i've been barely breaking 20 running miles a week, my only real goal was to take the 1st half easy, and the 2nd half as a negative split. No time goals, only effort. But had you asked me about a time goal, I would have said 1:47-1:52. I didn't feel particularly springy or fresh, nor did I have an army of stellar running workouts to point to a specific fitness level. The best I had was a 10 mile run a few weeks prior where I had 4 miles around 7:50- which felt more labored than they should have. Leading up to the F^3, I hadn't had a beer in 3 weeks, eaten very healthy and lost around 4lbs (still about 2.5 over my normal "happy" weight).
Pre race I met up with Mo, Pete and some of my fellow MRC members for a photo. I was pretty chill about the whole "race" because I was treating it as a training run- I needed a long run, and the weather was agreeable for me to run outside. It was absolutely a treat to stay inside the heated United Club of Soldier Field until 10 minutes before the start. LOVE THIS SO MUCH.
The first 6 or so miles of the race Mo and I ran together. The miles went by seemingly fast and when we saw a photographer, we showed how much fun we were having. Airplane FTW.
photo by Chad Marek
I mean seriously, If you aren't having fun in these events, why the hell bother? Yeah, sure, times get tough and it's time to put game face on, but a little cheezing for the camera never hurt anyone. It takes more muscles to be totes serious than to airplane. #Fact
photo by Chad Marek
After the turnaround I continued to pick up the pace. My legs just wanted to go, and I didn't want to be the one holding them back. Annabelle took this photo probably around mile 9-10. I was in the freaking zone at this point. After doing some quick math- yay accounting degree, yay- I realized if I kept on pace I would probably PR. WUT?!?
By the time I saw this photographer (B. Berman), I was 11+ miles into this event and on cloud 9 at how amazing I felt. But... I had to keep pushing the pace. My legs wanted to fly and my heart and mind finally got on board and were all HELL YEAH LETS F*CKING GO!
I must have passed 200+ people in the last 6 miles of this race. It just felt waaaaaaay too good to be running 7:30's.. I'm still wondering how the hell I was banging out these splits and feeling so good. Probably all of the cycling and swimming, duh.

Pete finished 1st in his AG in a blazing fast time and was so kind to stick around the finish and snap photos of us. There were some tears shed at the 1:44:23 I just clocked because of all the shit i've been through the past 2 years with the peroneal tendonosis and life stress. So happy that my underwhelming/under achieving half PR of 1:46:05 from 2.5+ years ago finally bit the dust.  *Underwhelming because it was a ridiculously hot day for that PR and I knew I could run faster in better conditions... 

A funny or interesting side note is in Fox Valley Marathon 2013, I ran my fastest "timed" half marathon- the first half of the race in..... 1:44:23. I should totally play the lottery or something now.
We met up for a quick photo post race and were all smiles at our efforts.
Mo and I sporting our amazing Koala and Owl head hats.
I never ever intended in my wildest dreams (I love that Tay Tay song BTW) to achieve negative splits like this. I doubt if I set my goal to "negative split each mile" that I would have pulled it off successfully. DAMN YOU MILE 8!  I just felt good and went with it. All of the cycling intervallllz and half assed swimming must be having a much bigger impact on my fitness than I would have thought. According to Sporttracks, my fitness is pretty much at an all time high right now- as compared to since I started logging my workouts in 2012. Not a surprise my fitness level is improving while working out 5-8 quality hours a week currently. 
I'm really happy at the effort I gave and executed in this training "race." It now gives me hope, a lot of hope actually, that I will be able to finally run a BQ at my next marathon in Carmel in April. That's what I'll be training for anyways. But also keeping in mind my "A" goal of Ironman Wisconsin and not doing anything to jeopardize that.
Post race, L and I went to Flo and Santos to celebrate. We not only celebrated my new PR, but Saturday was also our 5th anniversary of being in Chicago. At Flo and Santos, I had my first beers in 3 weeks- some Bourbon County 2015 Coffee and 2013 Bourbon County stout. YUMMMMMO.


  • Prerace- ate a crumpet with raspberry jam 2.5 hours before the race
  • Took a Salted watermelon gu 10 min before the start
  • Took a caramel macchiato gu around mile 6 - thought I'd blow my load taking it so early, but not the case. Since i generally dont take nutrition on training runs, so it makes sense i felt good.
  • Took water at nearly every aid station- something I never do because I usually bring a bottle of Osmo with me- but decided it was only 13 miles and that the bottle would freeze, so not worth the trouble.
  • Ran 7 miles the day before because I'm loosely following the Hanson marathon plan. Incorporated with my triathlon training too...
  • Calves were very tight for a few days likely due to the lack of wearing the Newtons/lack of running. The blister from 2 weeks ago did not reappear thank god.
Saturday was super fun and It was nice to be around so many great friends. I would absolutely do this event again as long as the weather was decent (hello Reynauds). F^3 was extremely well organized and the medal/shirt/beanie were all really nice. The volunteers were also full of smiles on a cold barely above freezing day.

I'm excited for all the training and celebratory races ahead!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Carmel Marathon Training: Week 2

This week was textbook. Nothing out of the ordinary- just good solid workouts. Keeping my head down and focusing on the day by day/ week by week instead of that my races are 3, 6 and 8 months away keeps everything in perspective. (broken record again).  With 12 more weeks until Carmel, I had been trying to determine an appropriate goal time to shoot for because I'll need to adjust my speed-work and goal paced miles in my long runs accordingly (soon). After this past weekend's F^3 half, I have a much better idea of what will be realistic for Carmel and it makes me excited to finally put a number on it. "Because a goal without a plan is a wish" and wishes are a waste of time. 


Monday: 15 miles cycled

Tuesday: 15 miles cycled, intervals

Wednesday: 6 mile run- 6x400's

Thursday: 12 mile cycle, 2 mile run (brick)

Friday: 7 mile run

Saturday: 13.1 mile run- F^3 Half Marathon

Sunday: 19 mile cycle, 2300 yard swim

Total: 90.5 miles for 8:36:35

Swim: 2300 yards- 46:49
Bike: 61 miles- 4:06:44
Run: 28.1 miles- 3:43

This was one of my highest mileage/duration weeks so far and I felt really really good. The high point of the week was the F^3 half, where I got a PR <----- huge surprise to me. Adjusting to a much higher load of workouts is going surprisingly well. Although I know in the coming months, I'll be doubling the time spent on swim/bike/running.


The sunrises have been really nice again.
And also the moon rises.
My name was *almost* spelled correctly at Sbux.
CB was featured on the Goose Island instagram page this week. He got some extra treats to celebrate.
I started making Manhattans at home. They are really good. I'm happy my bar cart  is getting some action.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Carmel Marathon Training: Week 1

This week can be summed up in one word: productive.  I started the week once again feeling lost and fiddle farting around with training plans- nothing concrete. I had purchased a subscription to Sporttracks at the recommendation of Vicky a few weeks back but hadn't done much with it.  ST was so nice to import all of my daily mile workouts into it which enables the program to calculate fitness and fatigue so much better than had I started fresh.

On Wednesday I sat at my Mac for a few hours to put in my proposed training plan for the Carmel Marathon. Boom, done! I even put in the first 6 weeks of my IM training plan. I'm totes getting shit done and it feels good to be so much more organized.  I also love the features of Sporttracks which shows your fitness vs fatigue and also your peak performance (More on all of that another time once I fully understand it but it's super powerful software which will be amazing to track and analyze my training with).


Monday: REST (just for you Kim!)

Tuesday: 18 mile cycle

Wednesday: 5 mile run (8x400's)

Thursday: 11 mile cycle, 2 mile run

Friday: 2 mile run with CB (AM), 5 mile run (PM)

Saturday: 9 mile run (w/400,800,1200,800,800) 8 mile cycle

Sunday: 25 mile cycle

Bike: 4:08, 62 miles

Run: 3:05, 23 miles

Total: 7:13, 85 miles

I was really happy this week with my training- pretty much the first time in a while I've felt good about everything. Eating better + not drinking as much (only one whiskey neat & a pisco for brunch this week) + having consistency with training and finally making my training plan made everything feel right. I even began thinking about possible race outfits for Carmel...

I completed 2 running sped sessions this week and felt really springy which was very encouraging. The 8x400's were at 7:00 with last 2 at 6:50 pace. The ladder in the middle of my longish run also felt appropriate- 400 @ 6:50, 800 @ 7:10, 1200@ 7:20, 2x 800 @ 7:10. As I continue to build fitness and lose some lbs, I'll gently increase the intensity of these speed workouts.


Friday was CB's 11th birthday! We were fortunate that the weather was extremely mild and decided to go for a run. He was so happy to  be out on the lakefront again! I havent taken him on many walks lately because it is far too cold for us to be outside.
Post run we took some selfies. 
On Sunday I met Vicky for brunch at Little Goat and then went shopping on State street. Each time we walked outside the cold air just left me breathless.
I needed to buy some new workout gloves + gloves for when I run outside so we stopped at TJMaxx. I got some fresh workout gloves and also bought these "running gloves" from Hind. I was sold when I read "RUN FAST, RUN WARM." I hope they live up to their expectations...
Obligatory under the L shot. I love the symmetry of Chicago.
Looking forward:

  • I signed up for the F^3 half marathon for this Saturday! I needed to run long anyways + the weather looks pretty mild. Should be fun running it. It will be my 1st F^3 and I will be treating it as a training run since I will be running hard the day before.
  • Continue eating well (yay meal planning, yay) & minimal alcohol drinking.
  • Put the rest of the IM training plan into Sporttracks.
  • Increase the reps of weight training stuff I'm currently doing.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy 11th Birthday, CB

11 years old. I remember the day I walked into the Greenville Humane Society and saw 10 week old "Rusty" all sleepy from surgery with his big blue eyes in the puppy room. I knew he had to come home with me instantly and that we would be perfect for each other.
I'm sure I post this pic each year- It was from the day I brought him home from the shelter. I cant remember him being that small, he grew up waaay too fast!
We had a lot of fun this year- he made some friends at the local dog park.
We took loads of selfies.
We played in a blizzard.
He ate his foot.
He tolerates us dressing him up for photos.
And pretty much looks the same now at 11 years old as he did when he was a goofy little puppy.
He was not a fan of my beer making, except when he got biscuits made from spent grain.
He loves his porkey.
He really loves his daddy.
He looks really cool in sunglasses.
And he enjoys sunrise runs.
He is definitely Daddy's bear.
He just tolerates me. Im convinced he used me to get to L.
He also made it on to one of Fido to Go's trading cards!
He even got a winter jacket because he gets cold. Now he sleeps through the night without coughing.

I love this little guy everything.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 13 of base building for future races

This week I felt more like myself. I was happy to get back into a more consistent, predictable schedule for work, eating and working out. Plus, the weather was fairly mild at least until Sunday so I was super happy to be able to enjoy a bit of the weekend outside. I'm trying to be positive during winter, but it is so difficult for me this time of year with the short days and extreme cold.  My hair froze on the way home from the pool on Sunday after 8 minutes outside.

Not much else going on for this week. I still go back and forth about whether deciding to complete an  Ironman was a good idea- most days I would say no- but some days like during my longish run, I felt really good and have a better attitude towards it. I'm excited to do something new instead of beating the same old dead horse of just training for marathons each year (which is what i'm still doing this year anyways, yay Carmel) but I also like the challenge of Ironman training to become a bit better than mediocre at swimming and cycling and to get out of my comfort zone for so many things related to this process.


Monday: 20 mile cycle

Tuesday: 5 mile run (4x400's @ 6:40) 

Wednesday: 10 mile cycle on the trainer (I think im tightening the roller too tight)

Thursday: 12 mile cycle

Friday: REST

Saturday: 10 mile run (OUTSIDE!) with miles 5-8 @ 'gmp' or something since I have no goal for Carmel. 

Sunday: 2000 yards in the pool, 2 mile cycle to get to/from the pool

Total: 60.13 miles for 5:55 hours

Swim: 2000 yards for 42:00

Bike: 44 miles for 3:09

Run: 15 miles for  2:03

I felt better overall for workouts this week. The 400's I took too fast and also felt crappy so I stopped at 4 instead of 6. I'm all about self preservation this year because I need to cross the IM finish line in September. So when I dont feel great in a workout, I adjust what I'm doing, but I also give myself ample time to decide if the sucky feeling is just cobwebs and rust or my body telling me to stop.


Got to hang with Vicky this weekend- went to brunch and were able to talk training and catch up which was nice. I actually planned out the next week of training for myself which is a step in the right direction for consistency in this journey.
After over indulging in alcohol and foods during the past few weeks, I started meal planning. I got the book "Racing Weight" and the corresponding cookbook and have been trying recipes and reading about how to properly fuel while training for endurance events. After 1 week I feel so much better.
I bought the Garmin 920xt this weekend. It's pretty fancy- with the ability to track swim/bike/running and analyze workouts and receive notifications from my phone. Ive used it 2x now- for my 10 miler and my pool workout, and it is the coolest thing ever. I cant wait to learn more about it and put all of its features to good use.
I went into Saturday dreading my long run. The plan was 8 miles, and I was super anxious. All of my runs for the past month for the most part have felt really shitty. I was expecting no less for this run, but I fell into a nice groove and it just felt good to be cruising the lakefront again. I decided at mile 5 to take a few miles at my old goal marathon pace, so off I went. The first mile was tough and I had to keep checking the garmin to make sure I was on pace because my internal calibration is off from not running much. But the last 3 miles felt much better and made me feel encouraged.
Miles 5-8: 7:51, 8:01, 7:44, 7:48. 

I guess all the cycling, half assed swimming and strength stuff I do is helping me stay in decent running shape. My only con to this run was getting a quarter sized blister near the arch of my foot- which was either from stepping in a huge puddle, or just because I haven't run that far in a long time or more likely both... Other than that, this run was textbook for me. I didnt bring water with me or take any foods during it and felt great- if it wasn't for the blister I likely would have run another mile or 2.
I wrapped up Sunday by prepping my food for next week and snuggling with the birthday boy- CB turns 11 on friday! He is getting a blanket jacket tomorrow because he gets so cold and will get birthday tacos or a nice piece of chicken on Friday. 11 years. A third of my life. I just can't wrap my mind around it. I love him so much.



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Week 12 of base building for future races

Another week down, so many many many more to go. The holidays were fun. My daad came to visit us for Christmas and New Year so that was cool- also involved many beers and trips to take him to all the cool restaurants we've been this year. Training was meh once again. It is hard to keep a consistent schedule when you have visitors + the added bonus of the holiday season and all the parties, and gatherings that tend to happen this time of year. Oh well.

I sat down one evening and made a list of 2016 goals or thoughts or whatever in my journal. It basically read something like: "Finish the ironman, half ironman and Carmel marathon." "Do the work." It was nice to see it on paper vs in my head vs on the blog. I really wish I was more jazzed about everything (broken record) but I'm sure that will change as the temps warm up and the race dates get closer. Only 100 more days till Carmel, 192 until Racine 70.3, and 248 for IM Wisconsin. YAY. I just really struggle with this time of year.


Monday: REST

Tuesday: 9 mile cycle- w/45 sec intervals at "balls out" effort

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: 8 mile run (partly outside!!) and 17 mile cycle (indoors, duh)

Friday: 10 mile cycle

Saturday:4 mile cycle, 2 mile run, 3.3 mile Mikkeller Running Club run

Sunday: REST

Total 53.3 miles for 4:29

Cycling: 40 miles for 2:34
Running: 13.3 miles  for 1:54


Wore my cool new fox/ CB inspired hat my cousin got me.
I was soooooo happy to run outside on NYE! It was so calm and peaceful. I could only handle 5 miles even with double gloves on, so I took it inside for 3 more.

Saturday was our 12th Mikkeller Running Club Chicago run! We had a great turnout despite the cold and it being the 2nd of the year.  Join us for our 1 year anniversary run on February 6th! We have some special things planned.
Sunday, we had our first MRC bottle share. It was fun to hang out with everyone and just drink good beer- no running involved!
I wore my glasses so I could see in HD at the bottleshare. I forget to wear them most of the time but notice a bit of a difference when I do so I left them on all day. The world was so much sharper.
Im really looking forward to having a more consistent schedule for next week and getting my eating and drinking back under control.