Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sundays random musings

Currently I am bracing myself for a spell of cold weather and a blizzard that is due to hit Chicago this week. Blizzard conditions are never make for the ideal training weather. I heard on the news this evening that this could potentially be the worst snow storm to hit Chicago since 1999. Naturally the disbeliever in me thinks that this talk is all a bunch of hot air. Sometimes it seems as if the weather persons here spend more time fretting about the storms then the storms actually last, and I have become a non-believer in weather predictions.

So I am preparing myself a bit for unpredictable weather this week and possible modifications to life as usual for me. But I'm definitely not running out to the store to load up on milk and bottled water and wasting time preparing for the worse. Snow melts, winds fade, and life continues to go on.

This morning at church I officially joined Team World Vision for the Chicago Marathon this Fall. I heard about the opportunity to run with this charity last week, and found myself intrigued. I have ran over thirty races in my short adult life, and never once have I ever ran for or even considered running on behalf of a charity. It is quite an amazing thing how God reaches out to us and opens a window for us when a door has just shut.

For the past 8+ years I have trained as a soloist for every race I have ever competed in. Sometimes with great results, and sometimes with not so great results so I am looking forward to revisiting the team aspect of running and great people ahead in my future. It will be great to finally run for a cause other then my own selfish desire to be continually challenged. More info to come soon about how you can help support Team World Vision, and just exactly what they support.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting into the swing of things

Saturdays mornings are reserved for long distance runs when I am training for a race. This morning marked my first run longer then 8 miles since the Chicago Marathon last October with an easy 14 at 8 minute pace.

Long runs are workout I look forward to most. The first long run of my program is always a bit of a hot-mess, and I typically feel rusty. Today was not different. For some odd reason it took me a whopping 5 miles to get into some type of rhythm, but even after I still felt slightly off my game. Maybe it was my Garmin acting up again and not picking up my signal for the first half mile or maybe it was the fact that the lakefront path was more crowded with runners then I'm used to. My muscles could have just been saying "what the hell" from the increased intensity of my strength training this week.

I'm really not used to training with a GPS. Doug got me the best Christmas gift ever this year, a Garmin Forerunner 110. I picked up running at a young age and have always been able to gauge my pace and distance fairly well, having an accurate tool of measurement on my runs is a who new world to me. No more guesstimation. I caught myself constantly looking at the watch and reminding myself that I need to slow down. After a bit more time with this watch I'm sure we will be the bestest of friends and spend loads of quality time together, but first we still need to work out some kinks.

My watch died at about the 13th mile, and at that point I finally figured out the reason my run was going so a rye. Crazy me wasted so much of my energy trying to bargain with the watch and figure out how to ease up on the pace. A blessing in disguise was to run the last mile based on feel, so I booked it in and left the run feeling great.

The best part of a long run is the meal that awaits. I made breakfast burritos with eggs, bacon, cheese, tomatoes, and a boatload of avocado in a tortilla. It was delish.

I have missed the feeling my legs have after a long run, it is a wonderful sign that my body is gaining strength and that my goals have been met for the day.

On to week 2.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First speed work of 2011

Wednesday I was supposed to do 4x1600 repeats at 6:29 pace, but a last minute change in my afternoon plans forced me to push back my work out until Thursday.

So yesterday I hit the lakefront path during the snow fall that created some slippery footing for speed work. Up until yesterday I hadn't done any speed training whatsoever since the fall other then a progressive run here and there, so I felt a bit uneasy about what type of workout I was going to produce. I spent the morning thinking about how slow I have intentionally become this winter, and wondering if my plan to back off any serious training for several months was going to backfire on me.

With all the stress I caused myself yesterday morning, the repeats were a success. I clocked 6:20, 6:19, 6:17, and 6:20. For the most part I felt fairly strong and confident. The absence of speed in my life gave me the desire to continue on and realize how much I miss running fast. It feels good to wiz by other runners looking effortless and hearing my breath deep and strong carrying me through. My legs felt like the had some led in them for the first mile, and I kept having to look at my Garmin to figure out my pacing and remind myself to slow down.

When I returned in, I pulled out my yoga mat to get in a major stretching session to repay my muscles for all of the hard work that they just did. My dogs love when I do this, especially if I pull the mat out just after returning from a run.

Chase always tries to lick my sweat, which is gross because I know where his tongue has been licking otherwise. This is an almost daily battle for me and my pups when they attack me after a run, and sometimes I just skip the stretching and ab portion of my workout because I don't want to be licked to death.

Miles and Chase also like to use my yoga mat as their own wrestling mat. They bust out WWE style moves, and I'm convinced that they think this cushy pad is just for them to play on. Their playfulness and desire to show off is cute, and while it may be annoying at times secretly I think everything they do is absolutely adorable and no dog anywhere could top their cuteness.

Doug back in December went online to to make a comment about about the article "The Turning Point". The article was about the Foot Locker Championships in the year 2000 and showcased Dathan Ritzenhein, Alan Webb, and Ryan Hall and said that this was the greatest high school race ever. My husband has followed these runners from the time they were in high school because they were are elders, and as an amazing cross country and track runner himself he kept up to speed on his fellow runners. He found himself quite upset about Runners World claiming this was the greatest Foot Locker race ever, and commented online about how the previous year was better.

A few weeks later Runners World contacted us to let Doug know that his comments were going to be published in the March issue and they were going to send him a free T-shirt. So last night our March issue arrived and there his comments were. Of course he called everyone in his family to tell them that he is a "published writer", and was beaming with excitement. While he never did receive that free T-shirt, the ego boost that this provided him will keep him exuding for sometime.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shaking the Mondays

This week I had a case of the Mondays.

Monday was a rough one that started out with getting up extra early. My stomach was ailing me all day from the glutenous and fatty foods that I ate the day before. I had to do my workout at the gym, where I spent over twenty minutes looking for a parking spot. A treadmill run isn't how I would usually start my week, but I had no choice, and the weight room was cut-throat competition where I was not winning by any means. From the moment I woke on Monday, it was go-go-go. And I crashed at about 9 pm.

On to Tuesday I woke extra early again, but excited because I am in official count down for the Chicago Marathon registration. I got to work only to have my stress level elevated for most of the day. Some days I wonder how I manage to make it through the lull of my average job in corporate America, and this was one of those days. I decided to use running as a mode of transportation to get home from work, where my Garmin Forerunner GPS wasn't picking up my signal. Frustrated I trucked on and found myself alone for the first time in over 24+ hours, and I was finally able to reflect on the past few days.

It can be difficult to take life in at times, most especially when we do not leave ourselves with the opportunity to reflect and digest what is going on. In my short and easy 5 miler I allowed myself to breathe and slowly exhale all of the negative energy created in the past few days. Slowing down the mind while accelerating the body is something that brings me calmness and allows me to separate myself from all of the craziness in my world. Here is when I finally shook my case of the Mondays. Reminding myself that corporate America, housely chores, and the responsibilities in my life are just white noise. Maintaining my post as a hospitality professional is no more then a financial investment in my future, allowing me to fund my dreams.

Today is Wednesday, and this afternoon I have a date with my Brooks Adrenaline for 4x1600's at 6:29. I have intentionally withheld speed work from my life for almost three months now, and I am excited to start gaining back some of my speed.

My mind will be clear, my legs will be strong, the Mondays will be long behind me, and I will bear my soul in a much needed challenge.

Wednesday I am ready for you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Quiet Urban Morning

Today was the last official day for me of my winter off season. Tomorrow I begin training for the Magellan Chicago Spring Half Marathon on May 15th. I went to bed last night with the intention of taking today off, and enjoying my Sunday morning with a steaming latte and a delicious almond croissant from one of my favorite local bakeries that is so good that I dream about it. But when I got up early this morning to let the dogs out there were golden shadows of the sun kissing the freshly fallen snow that created a calmness and peace that is difficult to find in an urban environment.

So instead of taking the day off to enjoy a relaxing day of calorie-laden snacks and football, I decided to take in the beauty of the morning and soak it in while it lasts.

I hit the lakefront path, squeezing in a short run before heading off to church. The snow was still lightly falling, and the air was mighty crisp. But I trucked on.

The peace my surroundings created in my soul left me feeling warm and tranquil. On a morning when I dressed less then adequate for the weather, the quietness kindled a little extra fire inside.

When I returned to my building my fingers were numb, my body was covered with an external layer of snow, I had a snow mustache and my hair was frozen, but the warmth that the peacefulness of the city created in me left me feeling the serenity in my spirit that epitomizes the reason why I run.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicago Marathon 2011

The date has been set for the Chicago Marathon 2011 as October 9th.

Yesterday the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that registration will open on February 1st. This year the race will be $145 for U.S. runners and $17o for international runners and will be open to the first 45,000 registrants.

This year two dollars from each entry will go directly to benefit Chicago youth running programs, and Bank of America has pledged to make a dollar-for-dollar match for Chicago youth fitness programs.

For more information you can go to

This race sold out in a record 45 days last year, so mark your calenders and plan to sign up early. I know I will after not jumping on the registration wagon early enough for the Boston Marathon this year, which sold out in an amazing 8 hours.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fleet Feet Soldier Field 10 Mile

Fleet Feet Chicago puts on an amazing spring 10 mile lakefront race every Memorial Day weekend. I believe this year will mark the 8th running of the Soldier Field 10 Mile, with the registration closing at 15,000 runners.

This race has a wonderful course that starts in front of Soldier field heading South along Lakeshore Drive and then takes a turn back North at the half way point where the race then takes to the lakefront path and offers a wonderful view of the Chicago skyline. The last piece of the race takes runners through the underground entrance of Soldier Field where runner can watch themselves finish on the 50 yard line on the jumbotron.

Fleet Feet puts on a highly organized event that offers wonderful aid stations, a finishers medal, a great race after party, and this year for the first year they will be giving out stadium blankets to runners as they cross the finish. One of the really great perks from this race is that it offers a fairly competitive field for those who are looking for an added challenge. Last years race had Katie Mcgregor setting a womens course record of 55:51. Another added bonus is the race for the kiddos that is a 50 yard dash where the kids get official numbers(all #1 of course) and a very special finishers medal.

2011 will mark my 4th year competing in this race, and I am really looking forward to it. It offers a great way to start of a holiday weekend. Register before February when the price goes up to $80.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Minimalist Running

My husband recently purchased the Nike LunarGlide minimalist running shoe.

Minimalist running has become the new running fad within the past few years. While there are many advocates that support barefoot running and shoes that offer little to no cushioning, there are also many against this new craze. I find myself on both sides of the fence at times and often feel that there is not a sufficient amount of scientific evidence to support either claim.

When you type barefoot running into google, a long list of topics pop up. But the most important piece of the puzzle for me is that most of these sites state that there is little to no evidence at this point in time that minimalist running can decrease injuries, or they just have a general statement saying there is ample evidence but offer no insight in where to find this research. To me it seems as if the information available at this time is basic generalizations from persons who may not be entirely qualified to make any type of biomechanical scientific claims.

It is true that there are plenty of successful supporters of the barefoot craze. Christopher McDougall is the author of Born to Run, a book about his journey to find answers to why so many runners are prone to injuries. His quest brought him to follow runners across the globe who train barefoot. I have not yet read the book, however I know that through his writings he is not telling people that they should ditch their running shoes and hit the streets naked-footed but rather he is making attempts to educate the running population on how to run softly and run natural. Ken Bob is also another barefoot advocate who offers a bit of insight on his website.

The logical side of my mind tells me that this is a new form of running that has not been around long enough to provide enough depth in scientific evidence to support or refute benefits. When I ran the Chicago Marathon this past fall, I recall seeing many people in Vibram FiveFinger Shoes and even one man running totally barefoot. For myself personally I feel as though this is not an option that I plan on exploring anytime soon as that I live in the city and have a great disparity for the germs of others, and to make it simple...Chicago isn't the cleanest city in America. My way of thinking would inhibit me from any barefoot running enjoyment as I would be worrying about what touched the ground last before my naked skin hit it.

While I am an optimist about this concept, I feel as if I have too many questions. I also wonder why many professionals do not take to this idea. If this training method is so effective, why do the majority of professionals not acknowledge it? My mind cannot also help but wonder how this method will affect the body over larger spans of time. Ten years, twenty years later are these people still going to be able to hit the roads in a minimalist or no shoe? What do they do in the winter? When there is feet of snow and frigid temperatures, how do the feet respond and recover?

I look forward in the coming years to hear the research on this concept, and to see where this running style goes. But until then I will be hitting the roads in my hood fully shoed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals

With the start of the new year the natural progression of life allows us to move forward and make plans for new adventures and experiences. For most athletes when the new year rolls around it becomes time to plan out the training cycle for the next 12 months.

In the younger years my life my priorities and goals allowed me enough flexibility to enter the year blindly and train when I wanted and enter races with little to no advance notice. These days I'm living my life to a beat of a different drum. I now live my life according to experiences and adventures that I want to partake in that all seem to be leading up to one very special goal, which requires a bit more of the planning stage. With a husband, bills, a full time career and the commitment to myself of continuing and progressing on the development of a new career, there always seems to be some type of challenge in the way of my goals. My experiences have taught me that there a successful and not so successful ways of planning and implementing my dreams.

In accordance with the ACSM, they advise the best way to achieve success at your goals it so plan them using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym.


Goals are specific outlaying what is to be achieved with details on what actions will be taken. This allows focus to remain on the end result.


All goals should have some form of assessing the success and progress. This will allow a calculation of progress, and will outline when the goal has been achieved.


The goal needs to be something that is possible for the person setting it. The goal needs to be something that we are able to manage with all of the chaos that goes on in our normal lives.


While it is great to have dreams and to let the mind wonder about great things, all goals need to be processed with objective thinking. When a goal is out of our reach, it becomes very easy to stray off track. Goals should have a positive connotation with growth of the human spirit.

TIP: Sometimes here is where we break down our goals into short-term and long-term. By doing this, the end result will be easier to visualize and we acknowledge that great successes take "baby steps".


Every goal needs to have a deadline. With a time frame lacking, there is not sense of urgency for the goal setter.

The best way to set any goal is to keep these guideline in mind. Any serious or successful goal setter most likely already goes through most of these steps as they plan for the future. Do you?

Monday, January 3, 2011

A little cold

2011 started out with a bang in the Kelly household. My husband and I both have had terrible colds for the past few days. We have been spending our time coughing, sneezing, clearing our throats, tossing and turning as we try to sleep, blowing our nose, and many other pleasant past times.

My original plan was to kick up my training into a constant schedule at the start of the new year, and begin my pretraining phase for the next several weeks before I venture into training for a spring half marathon. That plan is on hold for now. I have been completely avoiding the gym, as that I am in fear of spreading my disgusting germs to many unsuspecting meat heads. Good news is that I have managed to go out for a few maintenance runs, which have definitely been quite a challenge. Being sick can make our regular activities seem that much harder.

While my husband thinks that it is crazy to elevate the heart rate when the body is already fighting off germs, I find it somewhat soothing. Being stuck inside my house and married to the couch for several days is enough to drive me crazy! Besides a little fresh air always does wonders for the soul.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's 1/1/11

Today is January 1st 2011, 1/1/11. That only means one thing, time to register for the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle.

This is one of my absolute favorite races in the City of Chicago. I love 8k's, and this race has an absolutely lovely course through the streets of the downtown area with an amazingly large crowd. This will be my 5th Shamrock Shuffle, and I'm pumped.

Registration opened today, and I did not want to waste any time claiming my spot. Long story short, I was planning on running the Boston Marathon 2011 but unfortunately was shut out when my husband requested that I wait a week to register. If you haven't heard by now, you must be living in the dark, the Boston Marathon sold out in a record 8 hours. Thats nearly 25,000 people claiming all opening spots in that time period. So needless to say I wanted to make sure that I was guaranteed to run in the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle.

With a new year that means new goals and plans. This year I have more goals for myself then ever before, and I was eager to get up this morning and register for my first race of 2011. I do not believe in "New Years Resolutions". Instead I believe in constantly setting goals and challenging myself throughout the entire year. So as of today, my only resolution is to get my home in order after the Christmas tornado ripped through it.

Happy 2011, and may your year be filled with many happy miles!