Sunday, April 24, 2016

The well deserved week of Slothmode + other ramblings about life and the Ironman

Since the amazing marathon I ran last Saturday where I *FINALLY* punched my ticket to Boston, I've been taking it super easy and enjoying some downtime before Ironman training starts. I've indulged with food and drink a bit more than I should have, taken the Churro Dog for some nice walks, and worked out minimally.
20 weeks from today (Sunday April 24) I will be an Ironman. Holy shit where did time go? Feels like yesterday I was signing up for this race... Actually I signed up in October 6 months ago!

Training starts tomorrow. It will be the longest training cycle i've done in recent memory. I'm incredibly excited to start this process, but I know certain aspects will be a huge challenge for me. For the next few weeks/month  i'll be amending my plan to accommodate marathon recovery + my vacation, and after that it's IM Racine 70.3 as a test run and then the big day on September 11.
I feel confident that my swimming will be strong enough to finish well ahead of the cutoff for both races. With that being said, I need to work on speed and technique in the pool for the next 2 months until I can test out my new wetsuit in the lake for some longer swims. I'll look into some lessons to help maximize efficiency.

Running is not a concern at all. I've gutted out marathons before and know i'm more than capable of covering the distance. My only real concern is staying injury free. I'll add more strength/core/PT exercises to stay injury free.

Cycling is my biggest concern. I cannot ride my bike for hours on end on the Lakefront. I need hills and roads to practice on. BUT I do not have a car to drive to Barrington or.... So planing my weekly rides will take some coordination to be successful. I have thought about joining a tri group to meet others training for the race, but havent pulled the trigger on that yet. I am also looking into organized rides- I'm signed up for Bike the Drive at the end of May and am looking forward to completing my longest ride to date out on lakeshore drive! Although crazy to think the 3-4 hours I spend on that event will be half of what my long rides will eventually end up being...

Overall I'm really looking forward to this chapter of my life- and i'm very thankful to have the support of family and friends while I chase this goal.
On Tuesday I ran 5+ miles with Kim. I chatted her ear off about the marathon. It was nice to catch up and relive the memories of that race with someone who wasn't bored to tears by my excitement over it. My quads were quite sore during this run, but I kept it super easy- 10+ min pace and felt markedly better afterwards.

On Thursday, I met Vicky for dinner so we could debrief each other about our amazing marathon performances. I cannot say enough how happy I am that Vicky re-qualified for Boston on Monday at the Boston Marathon! I was tracking her splits and jus knew she would do it! Being able to run Boston together in 2017 will be a kick ass experience!
Saturday morning I went to the pool for the first time since January. I swam 2250 yards, including some pull buoy laps. I also did 975 yards non stop and felt really good. I was very encouraged that I had not lost any of my swimming abilities.
Sunday I was either going to go for my first ride of the year with Mortadella or go to the pool and I ended up doing neither. Instead I met Vicky for brunch and then we went shopping. After 11k steps from walking around in stores, I'm exhausted! It was a gorgeous day to spend outside in Chicago.

Tomorrow starts Ironman training. Squeeeeeee! 
84 days to go until 70.3!
140 days to go until 140.6!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Carmel Marathon: A new PR & a BQ!!

I wasn't particularly confident going into this race. I knew that come Saturday morning, my time would be close but wasn't sure which side of 3:30 I would be on. Because when you're doing focused, dedicated training, you know your goal time and that for a marathon you should be within 5-10 min(at most) of it barring any sort of catastrophe.

I felt undertrained. I wasn't trusting my training of doing shorter long runs with loads of cumulative fatigue. I hadn't done anything consistently nutrition wise (a huge deviation from my obsessive training of years past).


I put in a lot of solid, quality training. Every workout had a purpose. I was well rested. I was healthy. And probably the most important thing: I overdressed significantly on every outdoor run so that I would be acclimated to warmer temps. Even if the temp was a delightful 47, I would be in my Nike Hyperwarm long sleeve (those shirts are HOT), a lined windbreaker, gloves, a fleece buff, hat and tights.  I would also be very minimal with taking nutrition (save for water/OSMO) so that race day GU would have a bigger effect for me. (or at least in my head).
I woke up at 3:30 to eat a Belvita banana bread biscuit and a banana and made weak hotel coffee to hopefully get things moving. I went back to bed and woke back up/tossed and turned until 5:45 when I got up for real to get ready for this race. 2 main issues arise at this point: 1. There was no shuttle coming to our hotel as I mistakenly thought. 2. I couldn't "go" but knew I needed to.

The first issue was easy to take care of- we drove to a parking lot a 14 minute walk from the start. The second issue began to consume me.  We got to the start about 30 min before the race, took some pics in front of the start and then I went to wait in the port-a-let line while L dropped my bag at the start. For high 40's I felt warmer than expected and decided not to use my throw away hoodie. I decided while waiting that even if I started the race DFL, that it would be worth it, and because chip timing.
I waited in line for a while and 5 min before the race started, the port-a-let was mine and all systems were a go! THANK GOD. I scampered over to the start and ended up standing near the 4:30 or 4:50 pace group. As I was listening to the National Anthem and another song about Indiana, a wave of emotion came over me and I started to ugly cry. At this point, I knew I was going to BQ. <-- I just got emotional typing that 4 days later. I never feel confident before a race, cautiously optimistic, sure-  because the marathon must always be respected. I've been humbled by the 26.2 before and know nothing is a give in. But, I just knew it would be my day. As quickly as the emotion came I told myself "get yourself together, you haven't even ran a step yet!!"
The gun went off and I shuffled to the start- I got on the sidewalk so I could get into a groove with pace instead of being a jerk and weaving through people. My plan for the race was to take the first 4-5 miles easy, then settle into high 7's until 20, and then hustle that last 10k.  I was a little shocked to see low 8's the first few miles, but I felt good, the pace felt easy so I was going to roll with it.
These photos taken just after the start show my big ass grin which was plastered on my face the entire freaking race. I was so happy to be racing a marathon again after taking 2 years off due to injury and life. Around mile 4 I caught up to Erin, and we chatted for a bit.  I remember saying it was going to be a PR day and wished her well on the half.

I got to the 8K mark in 40:39 (avg pace: 8:08) and started to lose it. I knew I was on pace for a 3:30 ish finish. I quickly talked myself down off the ledge and said to myself "don't blow it, you still have over 20 miles to run!" The course was nice albeit hillier than I expected. We ran through residential streets and paved paths through the woods- there really werent many portions which seemed flat. I kept cruising and hit the half in 1:45:11 (avg pace 8:02) Again, I started to lose it and get emotional and I had to tell myself to "not blow it."
My darkest miles of the race seemed to be around 13-15 where I started to get bored and felt tired. I was listening to music the entire time, but would skip my "power songs" because I was saving them for a moment like this. Once I listened to "Cant Hold Us" my mood perked up and I was focused on closing this race up. I started singing along to my music at this point. I was getting warm, but decided I wouldn't start dumping water on my head until after mile 20 because if I had done it earlier it would have been damaging psychologically to me, as in "im hot."

I chatted with a guy around mile 18 who said I was doing awesome as I caught up to him. He had just run a marathon a few weeks prior and then started to lament how HOT it was out. I was full of NOPE on this and started to speed up because I did not need any negative talk going in my head. We said good luck to each other and I zoomed off.
I hit mile 20 in 2:40:20 (Avg 8:01) and once again started to lose it because I knew I was getting closer to achieving the goal of qualifying for Boston with an ample cushion to be able to register for 2017. I got myself together and kept running. I listened to more of my power songs on repeat and started dumping water on my head past 21 at every aid station. Since I was feeling so good, I decided to wait on the surge until mile 23/24. I couldn't screw this up now.
I started picking up the pace and picking off more runners and felt super human. I was worried about how anything after mile 19 would feel because that was the furthest I had ran (once) during this cycle. Cumulative fatigue was paying off big time as I cruised up and down hills and was feeling nearly fresh as a daisy at mile 22+ of a marathon. At 23 I started to pick it up more because I knew there was no way I could screw this up, I had 24 minutes to go until I achieved my goal.
Typical. I even waited a few seconds...

I saw L around the 26 marker and started yelling at him "I F*CKING DID IT!" I was full of ugly cry and emotion at this point. As I zoomed towards the finish I saw Pete  and yelled something about going to Boston next year. I crossed the finish and was overcome with emotion. I finally did it. I qualified for the Boston marathon on my 4th attempt since 2012 with a near 7 minute PR!

3:28:34 (avg 7:58/mile)
9 of 43, AG
14 of 262, WOMEN
105 of 686, OA

I saw Pete and Erin immediately after and took some pics/chatted with them. Pete ran a 4 minute PR which was amazing!
I was just in shock over this whole race. It went nearly *perfect* and I felt great the entire time. It is amazing when things FINALLY click and come together. Pure bliss.
My last 10k of the race I averaged 7:47 a mile. Insane. My last half mile of the race was at 6:36 pace. I was flyyyyyyying.

We went to Union brewing for some post race refreshment and met up with Jenny and Manny and friends. Later on we went to Upland for more beer and foods.
I am still in shock that I finally got my BQ with a big enough cushion to register for 2017!
Still shocked at the negative split race I ran. It's always been my goal in a marathon to negative split, but I could never do it, until now. First half: 1:45:11, Second half: 1:43:23 CRAZY. My training paid off and I'll probably do something similar in the future.
On the way back we saw the wind farm.
And the Jesus/Hell is real sign.
And we stopped at 18th Street Brewery for lunch in Hammond. We saw Drew, the owner/brewer and sent our Mikkeller love to their new Mikkeller bar in San Diego. I had a few beers and an amazing Cuban sandwich. Check them out!
Since we had a few hours to kill before getting CB, I finally completed my coworker's BQ celebration he created for me "BQ to DQ." (or other crazy sundae type thing). I went to Stan's and got a donut milkshake, but after 3 sips I started to feel sick from the sugar. Made it through 3/4 of it before I was done for the night.
I got some unicorn glasses I saw at Anthropologie 6 weeks ago. I couldnt let myself buy them until I qualified.
And now Im taking it easy because IM training starts next week... I'll probably amend training until I know I'm 100%. 4 days out, I have very minimal muscle soreness and feel great, but know it takes some time to recover from these hard efforts.

The race was well organized and had ample aid stations- seemed like every 1.5-2 miles. I'd consider it  again in the future after I run Boston...

Gu at mile 5, 9, 15, 21
Salt pill at mile: 5,9, 15
25oz of OSMO is all I drank until mile 22- then some water.

Im still over the moon crazy happy about how this race went. Thank you for all the encouragement over the past 14 weeks.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Carmel Marathon Training: Week 14 aka Race Week

Race week!

Going into this week fresh off of the previous week's food poisoning episode left me cautiously optimistic towards race day. I was feeling fresh from not working out much due to being sidelined form the sickness and for once, I had no complaints about my physical well being. I just had to make it through the week unscathed from dumb injury and I would be ready to run The Carmel Marathon.

In the days leading up to the race I wasn't particularly confident about my ability to pull off my secondary goal of sub 3:30 (or 3:32) which would enable me to register for Boston 2017 with enough cushion. The primary goal I had was to feel good for at least 85% of the race. We all know those later miles can be tough.

I felt under trained and that overall, I could have done more to prepare. I was self trained this time around and created a hybrid Hanson style plan mixed with some of the plan I will follow for Ironman. I was working out way more than previous cycles, but I was only running 3-4 days a week for around 30-50 miles(with most weeks around 30). All of the runs I did were quality though. (One day of speed work of 8+ miles, 2 back to back long runs of either 10/10 or 10/16+ with both days having GMp thrown in) Honestly, I had no idea how this very different style of training would bode for me on race day. Spoiler alert: I got my BQ with plenty of cushion to register for 2017. I must have been doing something right.


Monday: 1 mile run, 7 mile cycle

Tuesday: rest aka walk the pup in the cold

Wednesday:5 mile run. With 2x 400's @ 1:34, 1:34, 1 mile @ 7:47, 2x 400's @ 132:, 1:30

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 2 mile shakeout run, half with the pup and half without.

Saturday: Carmel Marathon! 26.2 miles!

Sunday: Rest aka begin #slothmode

Total: 5:09 for 41.2 miles

Running: 4:38 for 34.2 miles

Cycling: 31:00 for 7 miles


Took CB for a walk on Tuesday and froze my ass off.
My last significant run of the 2x400's, mile, and 2x400's went so well before work. I was flying and felt amazing. I wore my new shorts for this run to make sure they wouldn't take a chunk out of my thighs during the marathon and they felt great!
CB was extra happy to see Fido To Go this week.
Thursday night L and I went to Aurelio's and I ate some mushroom ravioli and they were delicious with a single glass of red wine.
Friday morning I ran with CB to his boarding place and ran back. He was happy.
Friday we drove to Carmel because packet pickup was only on Friday since the race was Saturday morning. We passed a lot of farmland and one hue wind farm on our way.
We went to the expo and it was a a bit larger than I thought. There were many races and vendors present. I bought the red long sleeve at the expo because it had all the marathoners names on it! There were separate shirts for each distance. I initially didn't buy the shirt and had asked the ladies manning the register if they'd be at the finish because I only wanted the shirt if I had a good race. 20 min later I went back into the expo with Jenny and realized I needed to write my bib# on my bag to check it, so I went back for my bag (which was with L in the rec center) and after writing my # on the bag, I bought the shirt. I had come to the conclusion it would be a good race regardless.
We checked into our hotel and I squealed with delight at the decor of our room- the 3 black n white photos were of the sidewalk in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. We went to dinner at Napolese at 4pm and had delicious prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and a pizza margherita with an egg. I also had one glass of wine to help calm my nerves. We had dessert at Pinkberry, because fro-yo.
Soon it was time to go to bed- I hydrated with Osmo pre-load and got all of my marathon shit set up for the morning.  Vicky had given me a beautiful card earlier in the week, I reread it again and went to bed.

I only had one more thing to do on Saturday morning, and that was to believe in myself.

Next up: Carmel Marathon Race Recap!


Monday, April 11, 2016

Carmel Marathon Training: Week 13

Kicking the week off with one of the nastiest bouts of food poisoning I've ever had was not the way I envisioned how this week would go. Regardless, I took care of myself, ate bland shit all week, and kept off the lbs that I lost. Racing weight FTW. *Edited to add: I know the main reason for the initial weight loss was dehydration so I'm being a bit sarcastic about the whole losing weight part. Another player in the game was the fact that everything in me was purged out.

I really had to keep reminding myself that taking a few days off 2 weeks before the race wouldn't impact me significantly- nothing that I would have done during those days would have given me any super human gains in fitness or the like. If anything, I would have set myself back with over doing it. But mentally, that was hard to accept. In the end I had no choice but to rest so not to prolong the stomach issues.

Monday: REST

Tuesday: 12 mile cycled

Wednesday: REST

Thursday: REST

Friday: 6 mile run

Saturday: 10 mile run w/ 6x800's (5 @ 3:30, last one @ 3:20)

Sunday: 8 mile run

Total: 4:08:22 for 36 miles
3:13:52 for 24 miles running
54:30 for 12 miles cycled


CB dog kept me company while I was sick on Monday.

Thursday I got 8" of hair chopped off. The kick ass thing is that I had enough to donate it. I've always wanted to donate my hair, but never thought i'd have enough. I feel 15lbs lighter which must account for at least a reduction 3-5 seconds a mile during the marathon. Also happy to no longer look like a Duggar cousin.

I received a SHFT coaching system c/o SHFT & MRC to review. All opinions are my own.  It is a virtual coach- you attach a pod to your right foot and one to your chest and it analyzes multiple metrics while you run and coaches you on how to improve those scores. The first area it was having me work on was time spent on the ground- I was spending too much time and therefore not being as efficient or as powerful as I could be. As I was running, it was giving me pointers on how to reduce ground contact time- and I did reduce it a bit. I look forward to using it a few times a week to become more efficient. I'll keep reporting back about it, it seems like a really cool tool.

Sunday I ran my last longish run outside. It was a little rainy, but relatively nice for an overcast somewhat windy day. I once again overdressed to be hot on purpose to stay acclimated to a warmer temp. Carmel is looking to be in the 50-60's and I am happy that I have made myself suffer a bit with the overdressing so that on race day those temps will feel cool to me.

Post run and post Stan's donut L and I got massages. Post massage we went to Fleet Feet so I could buy a firm foam roller. Like a moth to a flame, I saw a crazy pair of Nike shorts hanging on the wall and scooted right over to check them out. The large waistband had some pockets which made my heart fill with joy.  I tried them on and decided that these would be my marathon shorts. I wasn't crazy about wearing my other Nike shorts (Nike Pro) which dont have pockets and having to bring a fuel belt with me.

We met friends for dinner Sunday evening and had a blast. Since we found out 2 of them hadn't ever had Malort, we decided to change that for them.

Looking forward:

  • Continue to eat and sleep well
  • Wrap up my final workouts and not over do it
  • Get my marathon shit together- Ipod, nutrition, outfit, etc
  • Be confident with my race plan
  • Not stress about the race. Keep my mind busy so not to fall into the "Taper Crazy" mentality where a lot of energy is expended for nothing. 

5 days to go!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2016

This was my 5th time running the Shuffle- the only year I didn't run it was 2014 when I ran the Knoxville Marathon. (Race recaps here: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015) It's a race I enjoy immensely since it is practically in my backyard (logistics are a dream!), it's well organized,  and because the course is entirely not on the lakefront.

L and I went to the expo on Friday and we ran into Eric. We had our game faces on.

Sunday morning we got ready and scooted over to the meetup for MRC/anyone else who wanted to join us.
I wore my new Mikkeller Running Club singlet, which I had only previously worn for the F^3 half back in January. It was cold out. Like 30's and a little windy. Pretty much exactly the same or very similar to last year.
We took a team #mrcchicago photo before we scampered off to our corrals. I cannot say enough how awesome this running club is.
After our team photo, I dumped my bag at gear check, contemplated using the portapotty one last time (but didn't because of long lines) and got into the corral. While waiting and freezing my ass off in corral A, I ran into Eric and Pete and we chatted a bit. Pete had just spotted Desi, and I tried to look for her doing strides through the fence, but she likely had just wrapped up her warmup.
Going into this race I didn't have a goal. I knew this would be the first year I would not PR either because I've gotten to that point as a runner where you have to do focused training to PR for whatever goal youre chasing. Ive been marathon training and not running much more than 5K pace for speed work. Where as had I been training for a 5K i would have been running speed work 20-30 seconds faster than that. I also didn't want to jeopardize my health for Carmel. I set a loose goal of 36:00-30 but in reality I just wanted to run a nice tempo, whatever pace that ended up being.
Spliz from the race- they are accurate, the distance not so much due to the buildings/tunnel.

I took off and Eric darted ahead, I figured I wouldn't see him the rest of the race- and just tried to settle into a comfy hard pace, which is so hard given that it was cold, and I did not warm up at all beforehand. I knew my garmin would be useless for pace, so I set it to "manual lap" so at least I could have accurate mile splits as long as I remembered to lap the miles.

Goal forever and always is to negative split races, so my plan by mile 3.5 was to start pushing the pace. Of course mile 3.5 is where we were running into a brisk headwind. Oh well. I charged on. Somewhere on Michigan Ave I passed Eric and then we started fartleking back and forth. He ended up out sprinting me to the finish by 2 seconds. I really wish I had tried to pass him earlier since he was 15-20 feet ahead of me the entire race and it could have been fun to push each other more earlier. Next time. Challenge ON!
I ended up finishing in 35:29, which was 12 seconds off my PR. WUT?! I for some reason thought my PR was 34:xx and figured there was no was I could have touched that- guess I should double check my blog stats pre race next time. I felt way too comfortable during the race and could have easily shaved off more time- but I am really happy with how I felt and how I performed for this race.

I was once again concerned about the "Mikkeller Salute" on the back of my singlet, but at least 5 people came up to me during the race and said "awesome shirt" or "I ran fast to catch up to you to tell you your shirt is cool." It was fun spreading our club love out on the streets of Chicago during a race. I hope we have some new folks join us in May.

Official Stats:

Time: 35:29
46 of 2718 AG
211 of 13,527 women
1150 of 23462 OA

Once I finished I grabbed some snacks and stared heading back to bag check when I ran into more MRC folks. We eventually got stopped by a camera man and may be appearing in an ad for the Shamrock next year. "We'll be back.... Next year!"

Our Mikkeller Running club teams came in 14th and 26th places and kicked major ass.
Post race we got our beer flavored kool aid and waited for everyone to show up. We also supplemented with our own hydration before heading to Kaiser Tiger for our celebratory team lunch.

"Can we go drink in the park now?"
After lunch and some additional rehydration we landed at Goose for one final beer. Did I already mention that we have the best running club ever? I'm serious. I had no idea that this run club would turn into so much more than just a first Saturday gathering. 
After a fun day, it was time for puppy snuggles.

  • Ate a powerbar oatmeal pouch thing 2.5 hours pre race + some osmo pre load.
  • Ate a GU 15 min pre race
  • Did not take any water/gatorade at the aid stations since it was a short race.
  • Wore my nike hyperwarm + MRC singlet, felt hot by mile 3.
  • Wore my Track n Field tights + nike lunar tempo shoes
  • Owl head hat FTW

Next race: Carmel marathon next Saturday!