Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturdays Strength Session

This past Wednesday became an unintentional action packed day. After some kick-booty 400's and a 10.5 mile bike ride, I decided to go to a local running store for a women's fun run event and tacked on an additional easy 3 miles for the day. 

5.75 miles of speed work + 10.5 miles of biking + 3 miles easy running = nearly 19 miles for the day

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO RESTING POST MARATHON?

On Friday I woke up and my legs felt so heavy I decided it would be best to take an unplanned day off. Guess those 19 miles caught up with me. Coming off of a marathon I feel like I have the endurance of a herd of elephants, but right now physically I would say that my body is quite spent and tires easily. While I still have a 5k on the books in 5 weeks, my first priority at this time is to keep healthy and to not overtrain. 5k's are a completely different beast then marathons, so I'm not worried about it. Right now I think that switching my focus from packing on mileage to instead focusing on quality speed workouts for the week is the best way to show up to that race prepared and not completely burnt out.

If that means I have to forfeit a few extra recovery/slow runs for the week to either cross train or rest I am A-O-K with that. And that is just what I did this morning. I headed off to a much needed yoga session and put myself through a sweatastic circuit session.

1st Circuit

Plank rows
 Row then raised into a should lift
Burpees 
into a shoulder press
Walkout pushups
with leg crossovers

2nd Circuit

Walking lunges 
with shoulder raises front to lateral
Tricep press 
on stability ball
Sumo squats 
Squat into a bicep curl

3rd Circuit

Medicine ball V-crunches
MB going opposite direction of feet
Planks 
Crunching knee to side
Toe touches 
On back with MB


yea...that made me sweat

Tomorrow I'm heading out for an early long run in some new kicks that I am lucky enough to try out before they have been officially released to the public.

Mizuno Wave Rider 15's

Cute huh?


Only put 10 miles in these beauties so far, so tomorrow will be the real test. 
But for Mizuno fans, I believe that these shoes will officially be on the market early November.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Speed Work Wednesday

So here I am 17 days post marathon...and I'm training for a 5k.

I've never trained specifically for a 5k. EVER.
My legs do not naturally go fast.
5k's make my lungs burn.
I hate to race in the winter.

Yet I've embraced this challenge and I'm looking forward to seeing what my body is capable of with 5k specific training. When I looked up the results from last years Santa Hustle, the times were really slow. Like REALLY SLOW. So I did some research and found out that there were high winds, quite a chill in the air, and it was snowing like crazy.

Great. Just the news I wanted to hear.

I gave up racing during the winter years ago after I ran a 5k mid December of 2005 and my lungs felt like they were going to explode from the cold air. Nonetheless I'm keeping my spirits high for 12/3/11, maybe it'll be one of those freak warm days that happen every once in a while here in Chicago.

Today's workout
12x400's @ current 5k pace 
1:33-1:34

Splits
1:31, 1:27, 1:30, 1:29, 1:34, 1:34, 1:30, 1:28, 1:30, 1:34, 1:30, 1:33


I biked to the track, which is a 5.25 mile trip, did my 400's, and then biked the 5.25 miles back...against the wind. Thought that I wasn't going to make it back on the bike. 400's are hard enough on their own, following them up with what seemed like the longest bike ride ever into the wind was quite the added challenge. My legs now feel like mush.

While my splits are a bit all over the place, today I realized that I like doing track workouts. There is something about the burning sensation that a great speed workout leaves in my legs that I'm loving right now. Maybe training for this 5k will be just what my soul needs this fall.

The map of my workout that garmin gave me is quite humorous. 


Apparently I veered onto LSD and through buildings today???

Still shooting to break 19 minutes, even if it is a blizzard and I will be decked out in Santa gear.

Photo credits Santa Hustle 5k website

Yes that's right folks, each runner is given a Santa hat, Santa beard, and long sleeved Santa drifit shirt. Not sure about the beard...

Did I also fail to mention that there will be a cookie as well as a chocolate aid station along the course? Hopefully those won't be distracting. I'm a girl who loves her cookies and chocolate, it may be kinda tricky to blow past those temptations.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Crochet Success and My Strength Training

I have successfully completed my first crocheted scarf!

Awkward self portrait

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions to watch YouTube videos, this is the best way to learn anything in our society these days. I found quite a few videos there that I watched numerous times until I got the hang of it. Also thank you Bobbi and Nicole for offering to help, I will be hitting you up with random crocheting questions as I attempt my next less basic scarf.

Months ago I had quite a few questions about my strength training routine that I meant to answer...but I never did. Because I have decided to focus the next few months on functional movement, I've decided that this is the perfect time to let you all have a little peak into my strength routines. 

Let me give you a bit of a background here...

I started weight training while I was in high school as part of my cross country/track training. Our coaches had us doing basic movements that I was just doing because I was told that I had to. I had no idea what the heck I was doing and spent a lot of time parading around the weight room trying to catch the eye of my boyfriend. It wasn't until I went to college that I decided to actually learn how to properly strength train so that my body would be able to reap the benefits. Over time I have progressed from basic movements to super sets and circuit training and try to make it to the gym 2-3 times per week. 

My strength training routine started at step 1 and has slowly increased in intensity over the years as I have learned more about my body and how it reacts to certain stimulus. All of our bodies are different, and while I don't mind sharing how I train myself with y'all...PLEASE DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ME AND LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR OWN BODY IS TELLING YOU.

These are the parameters I set for each strength/resistance session:

  • Each workout must be different from the one proceeding it. The body is extremely intelligent and adaptable to stimulus, in order to make consistent strength gains the stimulus needs to constantly be changing.
  • Wear a heart rate monitor. While this isn't necessary, I have been finding it very useful as of late. Strength training can also be another form of cardio if the muscles are engaged properly and can increase endurance. It can also be a great gauge as to if your session intensity needs to be adjusted.
  • All movements must engage the core. This gets tricky at times and requires me to concentrate a bit extra. The core is extremely important and useful in almost every movement, if engaged properly during activity there is no need to ever lay down on a mat and do crunches.
  • Always keep a neutral spine.
  • Proper form is more important then load. If you can lift x amount of weight in a movement but are neglecting the correct form and muscle movements, you have lost all benefit from that exercise and are increasing your chance of injury.
  • Do as many dynamic movements as possible. This requires a little extra thought and creativity, but the body rarely acts in single movements like a bicep curl or chest press. I like to think about the most common movements I make in my every day life and turn that into a more challenging exercise. Dynamic movements will also increase the heart rate and neurological stimulation. Basically, train movements not muscles.
  • Have fun. Pick exercises that you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick to a strength program. I have also found that when I am in the gym enjoying what I'm doing, it rubs off on the people around me.
  • Sweat like a mad woman. Yes that's right, it's hardcore and super hot for chicks to leave the gym all sweatnasty. I rock that look all the time.

So without further ado, this was the strength routine that I did last Friday.

1st Circuit

Pushups. 
Hands on bosu and feet on stability ball. After each pushup, crunch knees into chest keeping the core tight.
Squats with front shoulder raise. 
10 lb weight.
Dead lifts. 
Down, hold in squat position while doing a tricep kickback into a bicep curl. 10 lb weights.

20 reps x 2 sets each exercise

2nd Circuit

Stability ball chest press. 
Clenching the bottom and keeping the spine in a neutral position. 10 lb weights.
Wide leg squats with medicine ball. 
At bottom of squat MB comes to right foot, at top of squat MB comes overhead to the left. Repeat on opposite side. 8 lb MB.
Lateral lunge with lateral shoulder raise. 
10 lb weight.
Stability ball tricep press. 
Clenching the bottom and keeping the same neutral spine as chest press.

20 reps x 2 sets each exercise

3rd Circuit

Turkish get ups. 
Only going half way up. 10 lb weight.
Medicine ball V-crunches.
MB going the opposite direction of the feet.
Plank.
Bringing opposite knee to opposite elbow.

20 reps x 2 sets each exercise

Like I mentioned above, strength training can be a lot of fun and there really are no limits as to what you can do. Formulate a plan with movements that work best for your own body, and hit it! Be creative, have fun, and try something that scares you because you'll never get more out of it then you put in.

Happy sweating.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Challenge Accepted!

A few nights ago my husband said these words to me
"I don't think that you could beat me in a 5k"

My thoughts were
What?
Do you know who I am?
Where the devil did you come up what that idea?

So I naturally replied
"Challenge accepted."

D used to be a runner, a freakishly fast runner, but that seems like eons ago now. In high school some of his most notable PR's are a 15:39 5k, 4:27 mile, and 1:57 in the 800. He was pretty darn speedy, and I would go to most of his races all teenage-girl-googley-eyed wearing homemade "Doug's #1 Fan" t-shirts. I would sit in the stands screaming at him to run faster, jumping up and down like a crazed maniac, then be glowing as he would come in 1st in practically every race he ran. He qualified for the state championships twice in track and once in cross country. Our senior year in high school his cross country team ran an unbelievable race and secured a 5th in state finish, and for the state of Illinois in 2001 that was pretty darn impressive. That was my man, and I was always so proud of him.

D circa 2002 Track

D circa 1999 Cross Country

D's #1 fan circa 2002
Yes I had some chunk back in those days

In college D chose to focus on his studies and take a break from competitive running. He ran a few 5k's, one of which was barefoot, always finishing sub 20 with little to no training. After graduation D decided to shelf his running and instead focus on his career. Since then his business career has flourished and he has had many successes in a short period of time. In his running life post college graduation he ran one full as well as one half marathon that he barely trained for and a few 5k's, and in 99% of those races I beat him.

As D begun to focus on the progress that he was making with his career, I begun to focus on the progress I wanted to make as a runner. It took one terrible knee injury during the Chicago marathon 2006 for me to finally surpass D's abilities. Physically his body wouldn't allow him to run more then 5 miles for years afterwards without extreme pains, so he shelved his dreams of racing as an adult. Several months ago with low expectations he decided he wanted to see if his body was willing to run pain free again. To his surprise and mine he has now been running 20-30 miles per week PAIN FREE since June!

Last month he registered to run a 15k here in the city on November 5th and recruited me as his coach. I developed a training plan for him which he has mostly been sticking to, and we are both ecstatic about his upcoming race. He has been making quite a bit of progress, and I'm happy to once again be on the sidelines cheering him along and calling the shots as his coach. I had no idea how great and confident he was feeling until he challenged me to a 5k. Since I'm now coaching him I probably should have passed, but I am an insanely competitive person and couldn't pass the opportunity to smoke him in one more race.

A few posts ago I mentioned my goals for the next 3 months, which aren't going to change. But now there is an added twist of a Santa Hustle 5k on 12/3 on the agenda. D thinks that he is going to run sub 19 for this race, and I'm shooting for the same time. But I'm going to beat him, and that is a 100% guarantee. 

I realize that this may all sound crazy and unhealthy that I have this deep urge to cream my husband who is just getting back into racing, but I assure you it is all in good fun. I am going to continue to coach him and help him get to his goal, but he'll just have to get used to seeing the back of my head while racing. 

Wink wink...love you d ;)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crocheting S.O.S.


I purchased these balls of yarn thinking that I would be able to teach myself how to crochet. Well it's been about 2 years and I still have not yet managed to teach myself a darn thing about crocheting and the yarn still looks brand new. Every winter I break out my crocheting supplies with high hopes but then quickly become frustrated at how ugly my work is and stow it back away until the next year.

Now that Chicago is in the beginning stages of some brisk weather and I have a scary amount of free time on my hands, I have brought out those balls of yarn yet AGAIN with hopes that they will magically turn into beautiful scarves. 

I WILL NOT GIVE UP THIS TIME UNTIL I HAVE A SCARF TO SHOW FOR IT...
NO MATTER HOW UGLY IT MAY BE!

Does anyone know anything about crocheting a scarf??? I'm in need of some crafty assistance...someone who is patient with my crocheting ignorance.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting Antsy

When a race comes to an end it is always bittersweet for me. In the past 9 days I have enjoyed taking in some much needed rest, but at the same time I'm starting to get a bit antsy. I like to be scheduled and these days my life is really lacking any type of structure, so I'm trying to keep my sanity.

I have been hitting it hard in the mileage category this year. As much as I would love to keep pumping out the distance, my body has filed that dream into the "simply will not comply" category. Still having some issues with my hip as it is tender to the touch and tighter then it has ever been, which is just plain annoying. But common sense is telling me that this is what happens when you run 2,100+ miles in 10 months and neglect muscular balance in every muscle group of the body.

Being honest, I have been avoiding purposeful stretching as well as strengthening the glutes, hammies, and hips all year. Whoops...I guess it was bound to catch up with me sooner or later. I suppose that I should be thanking my lucky stars that I didn't do any serious damage.

The other day when I mentioned that I was going to be spending sometime getting back to the basics of running, I really meant it and need to keep myself accountable. Runners are bad creatures of habit that don't like to be broken of routine and waste time pumping iron in the gym, and I am a shameful lady that has fallen victim to almost every runners #1 mistake...lack of NECESSARY strength training. 

Bringing back some routine into my life and looking ahead to new goals for the fall, I have decided to dedicate the next few months to functional strength training. Time to work out those weak areas and get the body moving functionally again.

Goals for the next 3 months:
  • 3 resistance sessions a week that focus on total body movements
  • Yoga at least once per week
  • 1 interval session a week that focuses on foot strike and form
  • 1 long SLOW run per week
  • No more 6 day running weeks, knocking it down to 5 for now
  • Weekly assessments of what my body needs, not what I want it to be doing
  • Maybe hit up the treadmill at the gym for some incline sessions
Goodbye terrible posture and weak posterior back muscles

Raptor arm you have outworn your welcome

Heel strike I will not be missing you

I'm not an elite runner, I will never be neck and neck with Deena Kastor in a race and out kick her in the finish, I will not make a living off of my sport. But that doesn't mean I can't train my body like an elite. For now that means to just ease up the reins a bit and focus on the biomechanics of running.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life Post Marathon

It is amazing how much free time one has in their life once their brain snaps out of training mode. For the first time in months I have been enjoying a week free from scheduled madness with the ones I love. Not having to think about how late nights and poor nutritional choices are going to effect my workouts has been delightful. Quite the pleasant distraction at the appropriate timing for me.

When not running 1 million miles a week it becomes easier to take in the city.

2 days post marathon, this was as high as I could get off the ground

The second I finished the marathon and saw my husband, who somehow made it into the runner only finishing area, out of my mouth spewed out the words "I really don't think my body is cut out for marathons". 24 hours later I was already mentally planning tactile moves for the next marathon and letting my imagination wonder as to when and where that would be.

But not without a few new marathon lessons:
  • I had to pee something terrible while standing at the starting line and knew there wouldn't be enough time to wait for the bathroom. I held it for the entire race. Who does that? There was a point in time when I considered peeing in my pants but then reminded myself that I do have some standards, so I didn't.
  • My stomach wasn't feeling the gu and I had to abandon my fueling plan. I carried three with me, used 1, picked up a free one at 18 and never ate it and I had them stuffed into my bra and pockets. Oh my the chafage gu packets can leave in the weirdest areas. Never in my life have I had to put band aids on my stomach until this year. This would be incident #2 for a stomach filled with band aids, #1 was just because I'm clumsy
  • A man dressed in a banana costume beat me. This is slightly humiliating. NOTE TO SELF: BANANA MAN WILL NOT DEFEAT ME AGAIN!
  • There is no need for an iPod at the Chicago marathon. I think that it overstimulated my mind and it was running on a shorted circuit near then end.
  • HUG THOSE CURVES!!! Somehow I managed to run 26.54 miles last Sunday.
Really my most important lesson last week would hands down be this...life does not always happen on my terms.

It is a tough pill to swallow when the blueprints we've spent months working on, studying, and perfecting do not just magically jump off the page and happen. Yes it still sucks that I finished a whopping 16 minutes off of my goal time for the Chicago marathon, but it really could have been worse. Even though my groin was in a full on revolt, my hip is now resembling that of a 90 year old woman's, and my calf that was stiff as a board is now sending shooting pains up and down my leg every now and then...I'm still here to live to tell about it. I wanted that sub 3:10 like a foamed mouthed maniac, and now I'm beginning to think that's why it didn't happen.

Putting everything into perspective this week has been how I have been spending the majority of my time. There is more to life then the races I run and the times I finish them in. The Chicago marathon served it's purpose for me, I trained like an animal, I kept my focus on what needed to be done when, I put in all of the work, and then on race day the Lord put his hands on my shoulders and said "not today my child". One race plagued with challenges that I couldn't physically overcome doesn't define the running year that I've been having.

This year I ran

It would be a shame if I didn't appreciate all the moments this year where I felt inspired and empowered to move a little outside my comfort zone in running and in other areas of my life.

There will always be another race to sign up for, another PR to chase down, and another goal to shoot for. Right now for me I think that it is time to get back to the bones of my running for awhile. 

Love when I have the lakefront to myself

Hard to find fall in the city, but if you look enough you'll hit it

Go for a lot of fun runs.
Take some time to enjoy the way my body feels while in motion.
Strengthen the weak areas that have been popping up as of late.
Work on that stride from the foot strike up.
Whip out those spandex and winter hats.
Back to the basics.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicago Marathon Race Recap

Sometimes we have to succumb to the agony of know that at the end of a training cycle there will be the possibility that on race morning our body will simply tell us "NO". Every morsel of my spirit was prepared to fight the dark horse despair on Sunday, to put up a fight for the opportunity for the fruits of my labor to culminate into one spectacular masterpiece.

I did it all right.

Decent mileage...check.
Speed work...check.
Strength training...check, for the most part.
Stretching...check.
Foam rolling...check.
Lots of long runs...check.
Nutrition...check.
Sleep...check, well kinda.
Mental focus...check.
Banking it all on one race...check.

I lived boldly. I dreamed. I put my goals out there for the world to know. I tried something a lot of things that scared me silly. I ignored the signals my body was sending me during taper. And then I ran a marathon, or at least most of a marathon.

The morning was beautiful and peaceful. Train was nearly empty, didn't have to wait in line for the port-o-potties, starting area was clear from it's usual madness when I arrived, and the sun was just beginning to rise above the lake with the rays slowly bringing alive all the race day magic.



Surrounded by 45,000 individuals that all had the same goal as I did, a GIANT support crew stationed throughout the city, and taking the chance to run fearlessly in the city I love, I felt ready to hit it.

An easy pressure free start was my goal for the day. I've never benefited from going out with the masses of people, my legs are slow to wake and easy to shake. The first 10 miles I felt like I was really on target for the day. While it was difficult for my mind to focus, my pace felt relaxed and I was seeking comfort in how fluid the pace seemed to be pouring out of my body. My mind felt cluttered by the chaos that was going on around me; blaring music, neon signs, men dressed as women dancing on stages, too many faces in dense layers of the crowd, cowbells ringing like madness.

All race photos via marathonfoto.com

14 race pace miles were all that my body was willing to comply with on Sunday. 14. Tightness begun to creep up on my groin area for the first time EVER in my life after the halfway point. I tried to fight it for as long as I could, but the crotchel region is more important in running then one may think. If I am being truly honest, I had a feeling that I was going to experiencing muscular discomfort during the race. Once my taper weeks hit I found myself fighting some really strange knots in my left calf and quad that never quite let up. My thoughts about these pre race nuisances where if I foam rolled and stretched enough without any acknowledgement or declaration about the discomfort I was feeling then come race morning they would fade away and become an after thought amongst the race day glamour. The truth of the matter really is that I ignored how much the constantly flexed calf and tennis ball sized knot in my quad were changing my gait for those precious few tapered weeks. I pretended to not know that my muscles were unfamiliar of how to run 26.2 miles with a left leg that couldn't handle it's share of the stress that caused the right side of the body to overcompensate and produce the majority of my power.

Oh foot how you did me wrong

So indeed it did all add up right, right into one beautiful disaster in the middle of the race I had been pining for all year long. The race that made my heart flutter and my spirit sing had turned into the race that I knew I just had to get my body through and continue to make "forward progress".

The groin area became so enraged with me at times that it honestly felt like it was on fire and I could barely walk. At one point the pain became so unbearable that I was walking with my eyes closed so tight hoping that this was all just a dream and praying when my they opened I would be in my bed at home half asleep. But it wasn't a dream, instead it was the sad reality that there was not going to be a sub 3:10 marathon for me at that particular moment in time.

Mile 15 was when I first realized that some major adjustments to my race plan were going to be necessary to make it through the remaining distance, and my heart wept a bit. There was nothing I could have done at that point to change what was going on with my body, I just had to accept and make it through this experience with a smile on my face. My body was making it very clear that it would not tolerate low 7 minute pace any longer and that each of the remaining miles had to be evaluated separately.

Passing 16 I saw my husband and some friends. D could tell from the look in my eyes that things were starting to fall apart for me. He asked if I was okay to which I could only reply "I'm just trying to stay positive". My mind was yearning for silence but with the crowd roaring and my iPod blaring Emenim in my ears I knew that I wasn't going to find it here.

Smiling to not let the pain get me down

When the point in time came where I needed to let go of any notion of a finish based on numbers and to start thinking about surviving this marathon in one piece, all I could think about was "I am a forever runner, I am not a right now runner". The best decision I could have made for myself in the late miles of the race was to stop forcing myself to race this thing and just cross the finish line, so I walked. A LOT. I decided that I would rather let one race go down the crapper finishing in a less then ideal time so that my body would still be able to run for future races. I have no shame in that, and quite honestly I am proud that I stopped pressing the pace when I did. It is now four days later and I am still having abnormal hip pains. My mind knows that these pains will eventually go away and life will presume as normal because I listened to the signals my body was sending me, and I don't even want to imagine what I would be feeling like if I didn't.

Finish chute, for sure wasn't feeling a smile here

Life is a beautiful gamble. I would rather put all of my money on black and go down trying something boldly over sheepishly walking away from something wasting time  and wondering "what if...". I don't live my life by what ifs, I live it through experiences and situations that make me feel vulnerable and challenged. This experience challenged me every bit of the way, and I failed. I FAILED MISERABLY! But AMEN to that!

I am human.
My body has limits.
My body reached it's limit.
But I still finished that race,
and there will always be another.

I finished the marathon in 3:26...and that would be 16 minutes off of my goal time. All 16 of those minutes were picked up in the last 10 miles where I walked a total of 9 different times. During those 10 miles I was passed by a former high school running teammate, I ate a freeze pop, a cursed out loud several times, ran mile 25 with my hubby, heard someone yell "go chicago runner girl", and smiled quite frequently despite the fact that my body felt like it was falling apart.

Cherry freeze pop...mmm, don't mind if I do

Maybe I didn't meet my A goal for the day, but I finished my 6th marathon in 3:26 with a crippled body. There will be another marathon one day where I'll get that sub 3:10, and it will hurt so good. I'm not worried about it or ashamed with my finishing time because I haven't given up yet on chasing down my dreams. And that my friends will always keep me moving. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just need a little time to let it all sink in

Thank you to everyone for the supportive comments and emails that you all have been sending me for the last 24 hours. Your encouragement and wisdom has been filling my heart with a lot of extra love and perspective. I realize now that maybe I was being too sensitive to a situation that I could have maybe a wee little bit took out of context. Who knows how those words were truly meant to hit me, but as I read them it was like throwing salt on an open wound. So please excuse my curtness. 

Unfortunately I'm not quite ready yet to sit down and shell out my race feelings from yesterday. If you can't already guess, it was a rough morning for me as my body begun to rebel. Right now I just need some time of reflection to wrap my head around the morning and figure out what the heck is going on with my body.

That "race residue" can play tricks on the mind, so I just need some time with it before I publish my feelings across the internet. 

So until then I will be playing with my little monkies...

Chasey-poo

Chase and Miles circa 2007

Miley-moo

...and enjoying the sunshine while trying to be resourceful with my time.



Until then you can all enjoy this little video to sum up how most of the Chicago marathon finishers are feeling today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Only Going To Address These Types Of Comments ONCE

It makes me sad to have to write this posting



Honestly?
Was this meant to be supportive?
Encouraging?
Where in life is it ever okay to kick someone when they are down?

To Mr or Mrs Anonymous this is what I have to tell you...

I am not a professional runner. I am a normal gal that thinks life is best lived through big dreams. 
HUGE DREAMS. 

Today my marathon was far from perfect, but when things took a major turn for worse I still pressed on. Mentally I was on it today, but physically A LOT of problems arose which I have never dealt with in the past. It was nearly impossible for my mind to overpower a body that was not working properly.

This does not make me someone who gives up and waves a white flag of surrender when things get tough. It is just simply how things go sometimes because the desires of our heart do not always match up with God's plan, and I am a-okay with that BECAUSE I AM NOT PERFECT. I fail, I fall down, I screw up, and sometimes it takes longer for me to achieve my goals then I want.

The best part of racing for me isn't always the finishing time, you may know this if you read my last posting carefully. PR's are great and feeling like you are of fire during a race is truly a special experience, but if you are a runner yourself you should know that these days do not come frequently. I think that I have had my share of great races this year, and I treasure all of those memories dearly. One race CAN NOT WILL NOT DEFINE MY CHARACTER AND  MY ABILITIES.

So I'm sorry if my race didn't fit into your picture perfect scenario, but life rarely does friend. There will always be another race, another opportunity, and someone like you who finds it difficult to be respectful of anothers situation.

If you are truly interested in the painful madness I endured this morning and would like to identify yourself and actually engage in an adult exchange of information, then I would encourage and welcome you to visit my contact me page and send me an email. The anonymity of your comment is silly and if you really would like to know what happened today I will gladly and kindly share.

Final and most important point...
while this blog is posting for anyone to read, it is not a place for negative energy. This is a positive place to share and connect. If you do not like this rule, then do not read this blog.

the end.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pre-Marathon Feelings and Other Randomness

It is kind of surreal when I can say I will be running a marathon in less then 24 hours from this very moment. Not sure if I can even accurately capture my feelings at this point in time, but I'm sure going to try.

Feeling the love.
Right now I am feeling incredibly supported by some truly amazing people. Family, friends, bloggers, strangers, and most especially my husband have all been superbly encouraging throughout my training this year. With an entire crew that has dedicated their morning to rising early to head to the Chicago marathon course to support me and bloggers and friends who cannot be there excited to spend their morning checking in with their computer for my progress...I am left speechless.

Setting goals for myself and sharing the moments of progress and regression that have left me feeling exposed and vulnerable this year has been an out of this world experience. I never would have predicted that I would have received such an amazing response to my journey. For me to think that if I never started this blog or became so adamant about following through with my dreams that I would not be here right in this moment feeling so loved and inspired is overpowering.

So thank you to anyone and everyone for your encouraging words. You have all helped the fire in my heart to continue to burn and helped me find the inspiration to keep moving ahead.

Not stressed about the numbers.
I have been very vocal about my numerical goals for the year, most of which you can read about here. But there are other far more important goals for my spirit that go well beyond clock time for a race; living in the moment, praising the Lord for all of my blessings, letting fear be diluted by greatness.

Right now I do want a marathon PR and feel 100% confident that there is one in my legs that is in the 3:05 area, but I also know that the clock time is just a number. As I recently mentioned, for me there is little benefit focusing all of my efforts on the numbers of a race. They do not define my character, instead they are simply just a measurable way to track one type of progress. At this state in my life, I do not feel like I need a number to tell me that I have had growth this year because I can feel it.

So whether the clock time says 5 hours or 3 hours, I am still the same strong and confident woman that upon the completion of the marathon will have ran 2,100 miles in 2011...and that in itself is pretty cool.

Um...it's FALL!
I'm sure that most of you have already caught on to this, but it is autumn. Seasons other then HOT and COLD are difficult to notice while living in such an urban city. Chicago has become a very difficult place to notice any transitional weather because there is a major lack of trees and the lake effect can play tricks on those who aren't paying attention. Yesterday I actually noticed that it is officially fall here, even though temps are in the 80's, and it is gorgeous.



I'm even more pumped to hit the marathon streets where there are a few trees that drape over the course and be in awe of their beautiful colors.

The new CRG face lift.
With the whole unemployment thing still lingering around, I decided to give CRG a new look with some of my free time. I am not a bland and boring personality, I am a saucy-spit-fire-of-a-gal and my blog was really lacking any true representation of who I really am. That lovely cuteness of a header was designed by my girl Ashley in what she described as some of her free time, so she is pretty much awesome in my book. If I were to design a little header pic, it would take me about a year and would look awful.

So thanks Ash, you are incredibly talented and I owe you some baked goods...so you should send me your address and I will prepare a special batch of my super special sugar cookies for you.

Marathon Tracking.
Some peeps have asked questions regarding runner tracking for the marathon. If you are indeed interested in following my progress, click this link. My bib # is 2486. Tracking is available via cellphones or online.

The race expo.




Last night we hit up the expo, and it was just okay. Maybe I've been to way too many of these things, but I wasn't extremely impressed. I walked away with only spending $2 on clif gel, which is kind of hard to believe.

I'll be fueling with Clif Gel Strawberry and Mocha

My entire wardrobe is race attire or athletic wear, not even kidding about this, so I didn't see the logic in dropping $150 on another race related article of clothing.

Blogger meet up.
Super excited for this. Yesterday I was talking with my friend Nicole and I kind of realized something, it may be difficult to recognize bloggers. There are a lot of distinctive features of a person that are difficult to pick up on through internet photos, 1st being height.

So hopefully I recognize you all, if not I will be the short lady with a black running tank on that has brown hair with plenty of grey streaks and a few premature wrinkles on my face.

To sum it all up...
this has been an amazing year for me and I cannot wait to bring my racing 2011 season to a close tomorrow in the city I love with the support of friends and family. See you all after 26.2.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Power Is Always Within

I love learning of the mind power of successful people. What makes them get up every morning to try something that is insane without faltering in the belief of their product is truly encouraging. Last night, when the world lost Steve Jobs at such a young age, my mind stopped for a moment. 


What if he never believed in himself?
What if after the idea for Macintosh came into his mind he quickly hushed it?
What if he never let himself feel the fear of failure in creating something so amazing that it has changed the way the world works?
What if he never tried? 


He did believe.
He didn't hush his bold ideas.
He didn't let fear define and rule his life.
He took a chance because he knew that he had nothing to lose.


"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005



"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
 Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005



Thank you Steve for impacting the world, you have been a true inspiration.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BRING. IT. ON. CHITOWN.

Yesterday I woke up and felt so great that I was ready to lace up my shoes and head out to the Chicago marathon course 6 days early and give it everything I've got. It's probably best that I didn't because I most likely would have hit some traffic or quite possibly even be ran over by a city bus. So instead I took a walk with my dogs to reflect and rejoice in the keen feelings that have overtaken my soul. Feelings of excitement that have been overtaking my body at strange moments as of late, spurring on random goosebumps and butterflies in my gut that eventually overtake me in some rather gnarly emotions.

For me this is a good sign.

Last year in the premarathon days I was a steaming hot mess. Mentally I beat myself up to the point where I was already defeated by the marathon before I even toed the line. Physically I was dwindling away to a scrawny version of my usual self as I let my goals cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, and emotionally it was taking every ounce of energy that I possessed in my bony body to not bust out in a crazy manic tear fest. Needless to say by the time marathon morning rolled around I was having an emotional breakdown at the starting line wondering why the hell I ever thought that I would run a marathon in 3:15 and told myself I didn't belong there.

The fugly face of self-defeat around mile 16.

I basically ran the worst race of my life because I gave up on myself and lost belief in the actualization of my dreams long before race morning even happened. But as terrible as those 26.2 miles were, I feel very blessed to have had such a humbling experience. That race made me basically hit rock bottom with running where I then had to make a decision, was I running because I enjoy it or was I running because I felt like I had to. After a rather rocky patch I finally realized that I have been running all these years because it is something that enables me to experience life in ways that I never thought possible. It empowers and inspires me to press past the challenging moments and has a subtle way of putting everything into perspective. I run because it makes me feel.


As crazy as it may sound, I have more gratitude for this race over any other that I have ever ran. It taught me to find power within myself to be unyielding to challenges no matter how tricky a situation may be and to always pay homage to my gracious God for my gifts.

Now at this very moment, I feel prepared. Trusting that while my training wasn't perfect and there were plenty of bumps in the road, my level of fitness is at an all time high. Knowing that there will come moments during the race where I feel weak and slightly defeated but will continue to press on with all of the strength and courage that I have acquired this year. Believing that I am an athlete that has the power to conquer any challenge will be the fuel that keeps me moving.

When I compare this frail and scrawny girl

Finish line of Chicago Marathon 2010

Chicago marathon expo 2010. It's almost painful to look at how bitty I am here.
To this strong and confident woman

Yes, this is a slightly awkward photo

I can see the changes that I have encountered in a 1 year time span. Physically I have put on a few pounds and have gained quite a bit of muscle. Mentally I have become a fierce predator that is just waiting to pounce on it's prey. And emotionally I feel strong enough to fight the marathon demons that may come my way. 

I am more then ready to hit this course. BRING. IT. ON. CHITOWN.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicago Marathon Blogger Meet Up

Chicago Marathon Blogger Meet Up

Race weekend is almost here...wowzers!


I'm sorry...but does that say 5 days??? Woooooeeeee!

Come one come all to the pre-party for the Chicago marathon
Saturday 10/8 @ 3 pm
Starbucks @ 210 W. North Ave.

This Starbucks is on the marathon course, at about the 10.5 mile mark and next door to Fleet Feet Chicago just in case you need to pick up any last minute race gadgets.

For more info about this locale click here
Anyone and everyone is invited.
Can't wait to meet you all!
Be there or be square!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 17 Recap

Goal Miles 44
Actual Miles 46


Oh my the taper...it always messes with me a bit. Mentally I feel more then prepared for the marathon next week, I am ready to hit the roads and give it all I've got. Physically my legs have some fickle feelings. Why is it that I can run 70+ miles for weeks on end without feeling discomfort in my legs and then I hit the taper and the legs begin to have new aches?

WHY?

First it started with a tight left calf, which I am still trying to shake off. Then it crept up to a rather large knot in the left quad which disappeared after doing a billion heavy loaded lunges which wasn't my ideal solution the week before a race. And the joints...wow I am feeling like a 90 year old woman that needs to up her glucosamine intake.

Since this is my last premarathon recap, I thought that I'd make it a bit more interesting then all of the other drab-same-old-same-old recaps that I have been posting for the past 4+ months.

Chicago marathon training by the numbers:

2,059 miles logged so far this year.
The past 18 weeks have held 1,130 of those miles.
9 tempo runs and countless repeats encountered.
5 20 mile runs or longer.
67 double digit runs, 8 weeks with double digit only runs.
Longest taper ever with race week and the 2 weeks before holding mileage in the 40's.
2 PR races ran in the mist of heavy training: Bastille's Day 5k and the Oak Brook 1/2 marathon.
5 total races done premarathon, with 4 of those hosting a PR.
1 race that nearly killed me.
Lots of top place finishes, the highest being 2nd place.
1 Feisty Garmin.
4 pairs of Brooks Adrenaline & 1 pair of Newtons.

AND


1,000,000 moments where I felt like I am going to kick booty next Sunday.

If you are coming into town for the Chicago Marathon and want to have a blogger hang out, check out this posting and help us make a plan. I haven't received very much feedback regarding this and I'm feeling unsure if people are actually interested. So check head on over to this post and let me know if you are interested. I promise it will be a good time.