Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lost in my mind

In my lifetime, I've most likely spent thousands of hours clocking mileage on the Chicago lakefront. I've pounded my hopes, fears, frustrations, dreams, and disappointments into that asphalt path countless times where it kind of became a part of me. Every bend, crack, pothole, and creature I became to know like the back of my hand. Leaving it behind hasn't been the easiest of things for me to do in the last 4 months.

I'm not the kind of gal that holds deep sediment for the tangibles in life. Items generally hold very little romantic value and instead tend to feel like cluttered remnants of the things people can't let go of to me. Instead I develop hardy roots in people and places, where Chicago takes the cake.

The past 4 months have been rather rocky as I've been struggling to find my new norm in a place that I don't belong. I've been told countless times that the suburbs will grow on me, and that life out in what feels like the middle of nowhere will become peacefully pleasant with time. While I can't say that people are wrong, I do feel like it's a bit too peaceful and too pleasant. And I don't really want it to grow on me.

Everyone seems to look the same. Individuality is almost lost.
It's impossible to walk anywhere. I hate driving.
People drive like reckless maniacs. I refuse to.
Drivers want to run over runners. Bagh.
And it just feels blah. Boring.

As I've been able to slowly get back into pain-free running, it's been more mentally challenging than it has been physically. My mind feels like it could go on forever and it's on the lakefront right where I left it the day I packed my life into a moving van closing the book on the Chicago chapter of my life.

Sunrise on my last morning as a Chitown resident

I like the physical challenge of getting my running groove back where the legs feel like they can no longer carry me through another step but somehow always do. My head is the tricky part. It taunts and teases me saying "one more mile won't hurt anything" and I have to catch myself before I stumble into bad old habits that have gotten me into some deep do-do before.

One of the hardest parts of being a runner, athlete, or even human, is letting go of where we want to be or think we should be and instead embracing where we are. 

And where I'm at right now physically is nowhere near where my mind wants me to be. 

Put your dreams away for now
I won't see you for some time
I am lost in my mind
I get lost in my mind

The once 8 mile standard daily easy runs have now become my long run distance where I have no idea what pace I'm clocking because I avoid my Garmin like it's the plague. 
Pretty sure that the number would be nothing short than a huge blow to my ego.

Those cavalier goals my pretentious urban spirit has been unsuccessfully hunting down for the past 12 months aren't null, and I haven't yet given up hope. Just had to press pause for awhile to figure out where I'm headed, which I'm still not sure of. 2013 could be another year of countless PR's, and it could be just the opposite. Still learning how to let it all go while rerooting myself while trying to find new niches because I'm no different than anyone else...just a never-ending work in progress.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the salts of the earth

In the past 21 days, I've ran a total of 5 times.
With a heel that has been hurting since September, it seemed best to induce a self-imposed running hiatus until the pain subsided. 

My speed has temporarily vanished. 
But in all reality, it's really been gone since late March.

My muscles feel soft, squishy, and weak.
Sore from toes to nose after day 1 back at it.

My endurance is in the negative.

And my body has forgotten how to run.
It's like it's a foreign language.

With 2012 winding down and 2013 lingering just past the horizon, it seemed best to give myself a bit of a break. Things haven't exactly been going my way on the running front this year, which I've pretty much had to come to terms with in order to keep my sanity. All signs begun to point to a bit of downtime after a very painful Saturday evening the first weekend in November when I actually thought there was a bone broken in my foot because I was in so much pain. There was an outrageous amount of swelling and I just couldn't bear weight on the dang thing.

Turns out that taking 2 weeks off of running wasn't so bad.

I made it through by shedding the salt of my wounds through hot yoga and tears, which in my opinion are the two most refreshing ways to cleanse the soul. Sometimes I don't realize how much crap I'm carrying around with me...

lust for Chicago.
anger for things that haven't gone my way.
annoyance for ignorant people.
anxiety for the things to come.
selfishness for my wants.
guilt for resenting those who would give their life for me.

I never thought not running would put me into a place where I felt vulnerable enough to have gratitude for my less than stellar running year. The moments where I felt angry with how I copped out, had to pull the plug, and even when I realized that I got myself into quite a deep pile of do-do...I find value in them all. 

There's nothing like a few moments in a 100 degree room with high humidities where sweat is rolling down my brow blurring my vision while bent over in Dabdayanaba Bibhaktapada Janushirasana (standing separate leg head to knee pose) to bring a bit of gratitude to my life. Standing in a pool of your own sweaty filth while silent really slaps your logic and brings to light that things could always have been worse.

So I'm starting fresh with running again.
No plans yet other than to just move soft and brisk ahead.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Life of the sports bra

Today I decided that it's time, time to finally have the sports bra funeral that I've been thinking about for months years.

Maybe it's just me being frugal, but I hold onto sports bras far longer than I should. Like years longer than I should. I know that they shouldn't have a birthday and that once the elastic starts to wear where they really don't hold things where they should be held that it's time to let go. But I don't, and there are members in the collection that have earned their tenure. 

Over the years I've enacted a system to maximize the life of the sports bra

First, the bra is introduced into the running category. Here it is kept until it no longer meets the standard of minimizing the bouncing factor.

Don't know how other people appropriately purchase their sports bras, but my very official way of buying them is to look for the smallest size in hopes that it will be so tight that it will hold everything in.
It's a full-proof method that hasn't failed me yet.

Next, it drops down to the wear around the house kind of bra on those days I'm feeling too lazy to put on a real bra (which in all seriousness is probably at least 5 out of 7 days per week). 

Then, it moves to the sleeping sports bra genre where it's only job is to cover and provide a false sense of security while sleeping (there seem to be quite of few of them lingering in this category these days).

Lastly, it becomes time to retire. This is the stage I struggle the most with where the bra usually sits in my designated sports bra drawer for a year, or in some cases 5+ years, until I am able to muster up the strength to dispose of it and let go of the memories we share.

With as many miles that I've ran in my life, you would think I am the kind of gal that could let go of a bra that is well past it's prime. But I can't. In all honesty, I'm 28 years old and have sports bras that date back to 1999 in my collection. Most of these I don't even wear anymore, but just can't bring myself to get rid of them.

What an odd thing to hold on to...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

just for laughs

I've always thought that I photograph terribly while running

Por ejemplo:

This painfully ugly moment from CM10 never ceases to make me laugh.
Beauty. Pure beauty.
Then a friend captured these gems from one of last weeks Turkey Trots, and I couldn't help but laugh...

captions provided by moi
Guess we all have our fair share of unflattering race moments captured on film
And man do they tell great stories

(and there's plenty more proof in that pudding)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012 Naperville Turkey Trot

"Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic."
-Tim Noakes 
My mind has never been able to truly grasp the concept of the 5k. It defies all the logic which rests in my head that tells me I can't run at full throttle for 3.1 miles. Most of the time before the gun goes of my stomach is in knots anticipating the discomfort and my body is anxious not knowing if it will be able to step on the gas right out of the gate.

Like most of the races I run, I over think it. 

This time around I shut down the analytical side of my brain to try a different approach because it's hard to run races back-to-back. A 4 day turn around from one 5k to another isn't something I've ever done before until this past week, and I wasn't too sure how it would turn out. So I set the bar low with my only goal being to have fun.

The last time I ran this particular race I was in 2004, and it was tiny.
This year there were 7,011 finishers, anything but tiny for a local holiday 5k. Don't think I've ever ran a 5k that large.

After going out like a dope a few days prior, I decided that it would be best to tuck myself in a bit better with the crowd at the start. There were flocks and flocks of off season teens that I knew would school me if I tried to keep pace with them in mile 1, so I kept them out of sight early on. My old beat-up legs stand no chance to those fresh young stems.

With the discomfort of the 5k still fresh in my mind, I knew that I didn't need watch this time around again. Instead I decided to put my mind to use and try tapping into mind-body running pacing everything off of feel. As soon as the gun went off, so did the logical side of my brain and I just ran.

Love these kicks

And then something happened for the first time EVER for me in a 5k...

I was having fun.
I was running "fast" for my present shape.
I was holding a pretty steady and solid pace.
And I was picking off those eager with the gun kiddos left and right.

My legs feel into a steady cadence, almost metronome like, where I was relaxed and my spirit felt completely engulfed in it's element. I was racing not pacing, and it never felt so good. Free from the chains and expectations of a watch, free to race just like it's meant to be done.

By clock time and some post race rough math, my splits were 6:07, 6:17, 6:03 where I was passed just before mile 3 by a much younger chick that was flying but caught my fair share of dudes on the way in. They got chicked.

Overall stats
Finish 19:07
8th female out of 3,785
106th place out of 7,011
1st in my age group

Not bad for a gal who has beat the hell out of herself this year and feels lightyears away from racing shape.

I like to think that the half is my distance, even though I made no ground in that distance this year. But time and time again signs keep pointing me to the 5k which I continually disregard and balk at thinking it's not the right challenge for me. Maybe it is, and I'm just being a pretentious distance snob who needs to stop over thinking everything.

Either way, I am very thankful that I have been blessed with a body that moves and is forgiving to all the non-stop abuse I put it through.

And the fact that I'm now starting to fall for the 5k.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

No expectation = Satisfaction

Turkeypalooza of 2012 is in full swing.

Kicking off the holiday season right last night, the husband I and I indulged in a turkey potluck dinner with friends that brought on all the usual Thanksgiving suspects. Taters. Pie. Stuffing. Gravy. Carbs. Carbs. And more carbs. My inner glutton got the best of me on the eve my first of two 5k Turkey Trots this week.

This morning

I woke up late. 
Spent 30 minutes searching for my misplaced bib. 
Couldn't find the shorts I wanted. 
Had no idea where the race was or what the course was like.
And didn't really think about how I was going to execute the 3.1 miles ahead of me.

I was a lady without a plan.
And it was delightful.

Wasn't expecting to invent the wheel with this race. 5k PR's are nearly impossible to hit without some type of work put forth, and I just haven't put forth that work to earn a PR. Instead my priorities were to just have fun, run with some of my new coworkers, not loose my breakfast mid-course, and hopefully finish somewhere under 20 minutes alive.

Mission accomplished.

Deciding to not wear a watch was a pretty darn good idea. Went by feel instead, which was great for mile 1 when I passed the time clock at 5:57. Seemed like less of a great idea when mile 2 took forever to come and the clock read 12:12, and as I was rounding the last corner making my pathetic last attempts to use whatever was left in my legs as I watched the seconds of the clock slowly creep past 18:XX as I crossed the finish the logic of that plan seemed spot on.

That's one pretty awesome positive split.

Not being anywhere near ideal 5k shape, and given that last year at this time that would have been a 3 second PR for me, I'd call the day a success. No vomit like the last race I attempted to go big for, had a hoot watching one of my coworkers breeze past me effortlessly in the last 400 meters not even breathing hard, and managed a fair split for where my fitness level currently is.

Overall time: 19:23
1st place female
4th place overall

It was a small race, so I ended up getting lucky.
Most likely will NOT be that lucky on Thursday when the first 5 women will be at least 60-90 seconds ahead of me.

Ended up walking away from the very well organized race on a beautiful course that I got a comp entry to with some pretty sweet stuff.

Earned myself a 15 lbs. turkey
A free massage
A giant trophy
And a $50 gift card to Dick Pond Athletics
which almost seems like stealing because I work for them and get stuff at cost already

Only pathetically lame photo of the day
Didn't make my paparazzi, aka the hubby, come out for this one
That's a whole lotta loot for a small first year race!

Sometimes no expectation is really the best way to walk away satisfied from any race.
Maybe that's the loss of speed and overall fitness talking, but I'm going with it.

May not have been a personal best, but it wasn't a personal worst either.
And last year I would have killed for those 3 seconds.

On to trot #2 of Turkeypalooza 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Winning...and not winning

On the winning side of things...

The verdict has spoken, and it looks like the random winner of the Caitlin Chock "get chicking" tee giveaway is

Donna who blogs over at Tales of Roads & Trails

Congrats Donna!
Shoot me an email at with your mailing address and size and it'll get your info over to Caitlin.

For those of you who didn't win, you can still buy her "get chicking" tee in time for the holidays to spoil all those speedy ladies in your life.

Not to mention that next Saturday is indeed Small Business Saturday, and well...Ms. Caitlin DOES run a small independently operated business. So go on over and support the heck out of this creative gal even if this makes SBS take on a whole new meaning.

On the NOT winning side of things...

Tomorrow I'm running an impromptu 5k tune-up race that the running store I work for is helping support. That means within 5 calendar days I'll be running DOS 5k's, which is a bit crazy for me. I'm no where near the 5k shape I was in last time around, even though I wasn't really that prepared than either. It would be safe to say that expectations are nonexistent.

Shoot, and I thought I was out of shape than
Time has really showed me

Initially I thought that I'd be able to head into the Turkey Trot season with sharp speedy legs, but things have decided to play out quite a bit differently than I expected. I've been having this lagging pain in my left foot that is making me quite insane and has had me taking reservations with any type of focused training. About 6 years ago I did some pretty hefty damage to my foot where I had a tendinitis issue that never seemed to fully heal and has left quite a bit of scar tissue on the top of the foot, I dub this foot my "sausage foot" because when it swells it looks rather sausage like. Very ladylike looking in a cute flat or pump.

Even with the scar tissue, I haven't had any pains relating to this injury or in this area of my body since 2008 until the day after the Chicago Half in September. Than I chalked it up to the race being on LSD where the legs just had a hard time absorbing the hard concrete surface and just not being on the top of my game race-wise. The minor flare up seemed to keep itself in check through the marathon where with the week off afterwards seemed to fix itself. But in the past few weeks the foot has had good days and bad days where sometimes I have very limited mobility of it and random intense waves of pain (last Saturday being a prime example), and other times it feels like a normal non-sausage-like foot should (like today).

Staying clear from any and all types of speed work necessary to earn a wicked fast 5k split lately and going for record all time lows in the mileage category, I hope to get this fickle foot in check sometime before the new year. But in the mean time that means that those two 5k's are going to be light years away from where I initially hoped they would be, and I'm feeling pretty good about that.

There will be no watch worn.
No pace expectation.
No goal time to race for.

Photo taken this July by the amazing local endurance athlete photographer Ali Engin
This determined gal will most likely be no where in sight for sometime
Looking forward to her return in the future, whenever that may be
Just my wheezing breath and my fumbling legs enjoying being out there
and than rest.
Lots and lots of rest.

Who else is Turkey Trotting?
What races?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Get Chicking Tee Giveaway

I think it's no secret by now that I'm a major running dweeb that finds pleasure in the strangest things when it comes to running. 

Registering for races when I'm no where close to being fit enough to compete.
Meeting my running idol and acting like a total freak.
Hoarding 16+ years of running memorabilia.

And of course...

Chicking as many dudes as possible while racing.

I don't really know where the "get chicking" idea really spawned from, but it has been in my repertoire for sometime where I like to throw it out there every once and awhile when the circumstances are right (which sadly isn't as often it used to be). It wasn't until my dear blogging friend, Caitlin, had the brilliant idea of putting her creatively artistic abilities to good use and making the whole "get chicking" idea into a tee that the phrase really started to bring a huge smile to my face.

This is the most fun running tee I own that always sparks up a good conversation while out for a run. The shirt has even served it's purpose for me while out doing a tempo run one day where I breezed past an older gentleman that did not seem too amused that he was eating my dust and that the shirt said it all. 

Yes much older and crabbier man, you were chicked.
And it felt good to do it.

Caitlin has generously offered to share the "get chicking" love and is giving away a white "get chicking" tee to one lucky Chicago Runner Girl reader.

To enter you must:

Visit Caitlin's store AND etsy shop letting me know which one of her products you like best in the comment section below (and maybe do a little holiday shopping while you're there for all the special runners in your life)

For an extra entry:

Tweet "I want to win a @caitlinchock #getchicking tee from @chirunnergrl"

Once you tweet for your entry to count, you need to leave a separate comment below saying that you tweeted

Giveaway will be open un Wednesday 11/14 at 12 pm where all entries for the tee will need to be placed prior to that time, and a winner will be announced shortly after.

Good luck & get out there to Get Chicking!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

rolling with the punches

Last week I lost my mind momentarily and somehow registered for this race

It's been 8 years since my last Turkey Trot, which was this same race. I guess that I figured

"hell...since I'm here and I'm not really planning on racing much for the next year why not?".

When I registered my initial thought was that this would be a great race to try to place in. There are 7,000+ runners with a pretty deep field where I wouldn't be racing in a no mans land. Before I pulled the trigger on this race I was thinking that a top 3 female finish would be a definite possibility, than I did my research where the results historically show the top 3 women all sub 18.

Yea, that would be nice...
but 99% sure that isn't going to happen on 11/22.

In all reality I haven't really done much speed work since late August. All the workouts I have done have been kind of a meeeehhh quality where a sub 18 finish would be nothing short of a miracle in 18 days. Realistically I think I just need to go out there and just run what I can right now and let go of any time expectation appreciating the fact that I'm fit enough to toe the line of a 5k and run a semi-decent time while having fun.

Hopefully I'll be able to get in 5-6 workouts before the race, but with the way things are going lately I would say that most likely that won't happen because life seems to constantly have other plans for me.

It would be the understatement of the year to say that a lot has changed in the past 2 months since leaving the city for me. I left kicking and screaming for a reason, because I knew my life was about to do a complete 180 that I wasn't really sure I was quite ready for.

There would be no more afternoons relaxing along the lakefront.
No more Saturday night we are young adventures.
No more frolicking about through the Chicago streets immune to responsibility and structure.
No more blissful ignorance to the fact that I'm quickly approaching 30 and my biological alarm clock is ticking.

Adjusting to spending my Saturdays doing housework and scrubbing toilets where by 7:30 pm the neighborhood is a ghost town and there is literally not a single place to go in the evening that isn't flooded with punky teenagers has been odd. 

I miss the creamy rich lattes from independent kitchy coffee shops, I miss the laid back atmosphere 20-something hipsters create, and I have been desperately dreaming about being the lakefront.

But I've been rolling with the punches anyhow where the new adjustments my life has seen are slowly beginning to grow on me where I'm learning to let go of how things were and instead love how great things can be.

I've decided to give up personal training. 
In all honesty I never really liked being a PT anyhow. Being a personal trainer is less about creating training plans for individuals that leave them feeling challenged and encourage them to push themselves and more about constantly trying to hop over excuse hurdles than I care to deal with. There were days that I felt like a babysitter and would get overly frustrated when I would care more about a persons well being than they would, which was the red flag for me to start thinking about moving on. So I did.

My professional focus has shifted to becoming a better running coach and running guru.
Instead of trying to know a little bit about a lot of fitness areas, it has made more sense to me to focus solely on one area of fitness that I like, which is obviously running. Taking a part time job at a local running store seemed like the next logical progression for my career, and I'm glad that I made an impulse impromptu decision where I jumped on an unexpected and exciting opportunity. There is no better way to spend a day than surrounded by an interesting mix of runners that make you feel like you are completely normal in all your oddness.

Focused training is starting to seem less and less important.
Setting challenging goals and pouring myself into them has been a way of life for me the past few years. There were times when training trumped other things that it shouldn't have where my goals somehow became more important than they should have been. Gaining a bit of perspective about where my priorities lie these days, which is warmly humbling. Taking a step back from trying to be the best runner and instead trying to be the best well rounded person I can be right now has become much more important to me.

Yes, I've found myself on multiple occasions daily where I seem to be unintentionally planning for life's next step. This is very unlike me as I've shifted over to more of a go-with-flow kinda gal in recent years. Thinking about filling my house with children and the things that bring us warmth as a couple has taken over most of my thoughts that were once filled with splits and mileage. It's weird. Really weird.

It's been strange for me trying to figure out how this blog fits into my life these days. Some days it just feels silly to pour my heart out on here when I have a list a mile long of things that are still awaiting my attention. Not sure where the progression of this blog is to be heading yet, but it's been quietly on my mind when things have been silent here on Chicago Runner Girl. 

But if I've learned anything over the past few months, it's that sometimes you've just got to roll with the punches and see where life takes you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Long live the heel strike

Me and Deena seem to have more in common than I thought...

Looks like we BOTH heel strike.
Thanks for pointing that out Kate.

Maybe we really are meant to be BFF's.

I found it interesting how many people said that they heel strike recently in the commentary of this posting. These days there seems to be a major anti-heel striking movement where in the opinions of some, the offenders are guilty of a major crime where they need to be burned at the stake and stripped of their running privileges. With trends like the 0mm heel lift, minimalists shoes, and the craze to be a mid-foot or fore-foot striker, it seems like there aren't many people who are willing to openly come out and say...

"Hey, I heel strike...and you know what, I think it's okay"
So I'm saying it for those who feel like they can't. 

I'm not a doctor or foot specialist, I haven't studied biomechanics or read all of the mumbo-jumbo information out there supporting or objecting to the ideal natural running gait. But I have been running since I was 12 where I have seen a whole slew of overuse injuries and even done my own fair share of tinkering with my own gait, where in the end it always ends up the same for me...with the heel strike.

All I really have on my side is logic, and my logic tells me that while we all are made up of the same parts that doesn't necessarily mean that we all are going to function identical to one another.

What works for one person doesn't always work for another person, and who are we to tell our bodies how they are supposed to function?

I tried the whole mid-foot strike transition last year. Dropped the $175 on a pair of crazy orange Newtons that I was convinced would help my legs turnover quicker and guide me more towards that ideal mid-foot strike everyone raves on and on about. After months of slowly building up the distance and time spent in the shoes, I realized that the second I would stop thinking about how my foot was striking would be the exact moment that my legs would once again embrace the heel-strike just like an old friend that they hadn't seen in awhile and couldn't get enough of. It became mentally exhausting to go for even an easy run where my mind had to be fully engaged with what was going on at the feet the entire time, and almost every time I picked up the pace the mid-foot strike was completely gone. It made running too scientific and not fun for me, so I gave up my conquest to find that beautiful mid-foot strike and have instead decided to embrace my grace lacking heel strike.

My non-officially scientific opinion is this...

All of our bodies are biomechanically engineered differently, meaning that we all aren't going to operate the same. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. If you are naturally a mid-foot striker and it feels normal to you, than consider yourself blessed. I'm not now, nor will I most likely ever be, a mid-foot striker...and I no longer care if this makes my running look ugly. 

Ugly turnovers can move just as quick as graceful turnovers.
And sometimes even faster.

You can spew all the research at me you want, and reading this may make some runners cringe, but I say long live the heel strike.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Indian Summer

For a gal that seems to be missing Chicago like crazy right now,

the suburban Indian Summer that my mind had long forgotten about in my 10 year absence has been a lovely distraction. 

Running life post CM12 hasn't been anything too exciting. Recovery has been my #1 priority after my disordered and defeating year. Miles on trails covered in leaves that are a no-mans-land to everything but the wildlife that calls it home have a peaceful elegance. Even the coyotes and bucks don't do the justice of acknowledging human presence, where they go about their business as I pass by them within an arms reach as if I don't even exist.

You don't get that in Chicago.
And it scares the crap out of me every time.

My legs really haven't put in many sensational miles in the past few weeks, mainly I've been heading out the door with no expectations and just running. It's been lovely, slow, and just what I need. If anything, taking that week of post marathon was nothing more than an affirmation of how much my body loves movement and I'm not defined by my running.

I've ran for a lot of reasons in my life, some well warranted and some for the sake of having control. These days I feel like running more than ever is for the right reasons:

to stay healthy, body and soul.

I've had a lot of epic fails this year. Each one leaving different wounds than the last, some of which seem to still be healing. When I play back in my mind the events of my running life for the year, I almost want to put myself into the category of goal obsessed. Most of the year I found myself plugging away at my running goals, all the while neglecting some of the personal goals that I also set for myself. I let myself get carried away where I ended up putting myself into what could have become a very unsafe place, but somehow managed to stay on the safe side of the tracks hanging on by the skin of my teeth. 

It's all about perspective, and I think that a lot of humans (runners especially) have a skewed perspective on life, goals, and achievement where progress never seems to come fast enough. Nothing like botched year of racing to put my life and training into perspective testing me to make sure that I'm heading out the door for the right reasons. These days I'm running because I want to, not because I have another goal to chase down or another PR calling my name.

Sadly, I cannot remember the last time my legs felt as fresh and springy as they do now. Makes it that much easier to get out the door to hit up trails and do some creative speed work. These days I'm just testing the waters to see what type of speed the legs can pump out on rolling hills, into strong head winds, and on unfamiliar terrain all for the sake of fun.

Yesterday managed to somehow get in some pretty solid splits running into 20+ mph winds that left my legs more sore than running my last marathon.

Ladder 400/800/1600/800/400
Splits 1:19, 2:45, 5:55, 2:46, 1:19

Pretty sure that the only reason my legs were able to pump out these splits is because I've learned to brave the fear of resting post goal races and instead have decided to embrace it. 
More on that in a later posting.

To all those who gave feedback on my last posting, thank you. I like the conversation and discussion it created, whether you agreed with me or not. As I read back through that posting, I can see how it may sound like I'm an elitist @$$ who made a poor choice in some of the wording used to describe us non-professional athletes...but I'm not going to make any edits to it because I think it stirred up just the right amount of opinions and I stand by what I wrote. If you haven't joined the discussion yet, I would love to hear your opinion.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drunk on marathon chatter

After the CM12 I decided it would be best to take the week off. 

NO running.
NO cross training.
NO yoga.
NO biking.

Just eating my weight in junk all week as I watch trashy TV that has turned my mind into goop.

If there is anything important to take away from this year, for me it is that rest cannot be overrated and sometimes you've got to loose a bit of the fitness you've worked so hard to gain to keep healthy long-term. Even though I didn't "race" the marathon and felt great afterwards, I still ran 26.2 miles on cement roads that my body isn't used to pounding it out on. 

Thank you marathonfoto

As I've spent most of the week on a marathon high embracing the miles I ran with my hubby, I have found it very difficult to enjoy what we just did together. While I am nothing short of amazed that my man went from barely being able to run pain free a year ago to finishing a marathon last week, that great memory has slowly been tampered with by others as the week has clipped on.

This moment comes in a close 2nd to our wedding.

Practically every conversation I've had with people this week has somehow involved a bit of marathon talk...

What was your finish time? 
When did D hit the wall? 
Where did you guys place? 
Is he going to try to qualify for Boston? Are you?
How did you fuel? 
What's next on the race schedule?
Whens the next marathon?
Why would you run it for fun and not race? And you started in wave 2?
You're taking a full week off after the race? Why?

By nature it seems like most runners are competitive narcissistic people. We boast about our accomplishments to one another where it sometimes feels like there will always be another runner in the background just waiting to trump what you just did and measure themselves up against you. If I had a nickle for every time this week where someone asked me about the marathon to only cut me off and tell me how awesome their race was either this year or in the past, I most likely wouldn't have to work until January.

Sometimes all the marathon chatter is just nauseating

Boston Qualifiers
New goals and another race medal

They are all awesome, and people should be proud of their achievements. But not every race NEEDS to be a PR and believe it or not, Boston is just another race that really isn't any more special than others.
(I'm sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me here, just how I feel)

In my personal opinion, the sport of running these days seems to brew a lot more egotistical egg-headed average athletes that are drunk on the stats their Garmin shoots out to them than there were 16 years ago when I started the sport without a watch or technical fabrics. We all at times seem to be a bit confused and tend to forget that the real athletes are already finished, recovered, showered, and on their way back home by the time most of us actually cross the finish line of a marathon.

I believe that D and I crossed the half way point when the clock for wave 1 of the CM12 was at 2:22.

I have NO shame in the fact that I just ran a marathon in 3:56:21, that I didn't race it, took a week off after it, have no commitments to ANY future races at this time, and no idea when I will run marathon #8 and go for that sub 3:05 finish.

Or that I'm a heel striker.
Which by some people's standards makes me an awful human being

Critique me if you wish, but this is the way my body wants to run.
That's the long and short of it because it is what it is.
And I'm not changing the way I run because it may bother you.
I love running and coaching because it has become so accessible to anyone and everyone, it just gets annoying to me when normal folks get confused thinking that they are Khalid Khannouchi when the majority of us are just mid packers with the dream of becoming front runners.

Myself included.

Besides, it's just running.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2012 Chicago Marathon

3 days post 2012 Chicago Marathon, my heart is still racing about the day.

This race was far different from any other race I've ever toed the line of in my life.
There was no expectation, no stress, no pressure. 

The only goal for the day was to lay the demons of my marathons past to rest and instead focus on being as supportive and encouraging as possible for my man during those 26.2 miles. This race wasn't about me and my quest to chase down that 3:05 marathon, instead this was his day and his journey back into endurance running after a 6 year hiatus. I was just along for the ride.

In our 28 years of life, D and I have known each other for over 15 of those years.

The first 3 of those years were as friends,
which was followed by 6 and a half years of dating,
then 18 months as an engaged couple,
and what has now been just over 5 years of marriage. 

Nearly every amazing or crappy life experience that either of us has ever had, the other one has stood lovingly on the side. Sometimes as an encourager and supporter, other times as the sense of logic making sure values and intentions are always pure and true to our character. Quiet when necessary and hot-mouthed when needed. We are a strong and solid team, that when divided is only half as strong.

Yet, we've never raced together.

Months ago when timing seemed right, I thought that marathon #7 would be THE marathon for me. My mind and body finally felt ready to tackle this behemoth of a race until things begun to slowly unravel early in the year that left me clinging by the skin of my teeth come June. By the time I caught myself it was too late, the damage had already been done and all I could do was take a brief time out from this whole racing game. 

Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Berlin...
They will ALWAYS be there just waiting for me.

But the man wanting to run the exact same marathon as me?
THAT may not always be there.

We are in the bottom left corner where I'm in a purple shirt waving my arms and the man is in black with orange shoelaces.

May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

Training with your spouse isn't the rainbows and gumdrops we thought it was going to be. There were numerous times this summer where we argued about pace on the lakefront causing what I'm sure was an awkward sight for onlookers, got annoyed with the other one talking too much or saying stupid things on hot days, and some days when we both just wanted to run alone. But we both managed to hang in there and make it to the start line pumped and ready to go for D's big goal for the day.

I've never started as far back into a pack as we did on race day, so our pre race timing was nothing but off. We waited in line for the bathrooms for about 50 minutes, barely made it into our start corral before the gun, and were never able to meet up with our friends at the front of the corral like we planned. Honestly I had no idea what 45,000 runners at the start of a race looked like until this race...and it was a cluster $@*%. Have to give some major props to those of you who patiently do this every race without losing your mind.

By mile 2, D confidently proclaimed that this was going to be the day that he went sub 3:40. Our pace settled in comfortably to our race plan, and I was having the time of my life running the the streets of Chicago once again. At mile 3 is when we caught the first people from wave 1, which kind of pissed me off because they were already walking. For some reason this year the race organizers thought that it would be a good idea to start ALL of the charity runners at the back of wave 1, no matter what pace they were running (or in a lot of cases, walking). Weaving in and out of these racers in an already congested areas was rather annoying, and in my opinion very unsafe.

As soon as we headed up north to our old neighborhood, I somehow got myself back on cloud 9 reminiscing the 10 years of memories this city had on me. I felt completely comfortable in our pace and couldn't help but laugh to myself that of course this marathon would be the one where my body and mind felt amazing and the temps would be perfect because I wasn't going balls-to-the-walls racing it.

My favorite and cutest spectator
After hitting the half way point is when it first became clear to me that D and I were having two entirely different race experiences. Around mile 14 I saw my parents on the side of the street and temporarily jumped off the course to hug and thank them for coming out to support us. When I caught back up with D he was still moving at a great pace and looking strong, but mentioned that he was starting to feel the wear of the previous miles already. Keeping positive for him, I let him know that I was going to hold steady at his goal pace until he said otherwise.

His enthusiasm and smile begun to slowly fade after this where he no longer begun to appreciate or acknowledge my tension breaking actions or encouragement. But I kept at it anyways.

Mile 12 we stopped to use the restrooms.
Miles 21, 24, & 26 were walking points.
Watch was picking up extra distance where I tried to get the Garmin to catch up with the mile markers around 17.

By 19.5 he hit the wall. His quads were heavy, the tops of his feet were tight from running on the cement, and he had already sweat out most of his electrolytes. As he stopped to stretch his calf on the side of the road, I couldn't bring myself to look at his face because I knew I would weep like a baby for him. Knowing what he was feeling, having hit that wall in nearly every marathon that I'd ever run before myself, it was heartbreaking to watch. I had tried to prepare myself to be strong when he was wavering, but it was much harder than I thought.

Though I've never been through hell like that 
I've closed enough windows
To know you can never look back

Think we may have to splurge on this pic
And of course, there is that damn heel strike AGAIN

Physically I felt great, my legs felt like they could go at our selected pace for days. I never hit the wall and instead my energy and drive seemed to spike as the miles clipped on. But emotionally, I was having a hard time keeping it together. I knew how badly he wanted that sub 3:40 finish, and it was hard to watch it slip away from him. There was nothing I could do to make this any easier on him physically, which is all I wanted to do in that last 10k.

While my legs were screaming at me to race the hell out of those last 6 miles, his were telling him to pull back the reins a bit. It was strangely odd to be thinking one minute that my body was ready to try to go sub 20 minutes in that last 5k and the next terrified wondering what damage that distance is going to do to D at our current pace.

Think we may have to splurge on this pic too
As soon as the 800 meters to go sign was in our sight, D rallied himself back. Climbing the Roosevelt hill we were picking off people like it was no big deal. He grabbed my hand and we ran the last straight away side-by-side hand-and-hand. At that point, I could no longer hold back the tears from the events of the past 26 miles as we crossed the finish line holding hands and tears streaming down my cheeks. It was totally lame, but I was beyond proud of him and the journey the last 3:56:21 held for us.

There was no PR for either of us that day, but that fact holds little weight in my heart today.

I had the time of my life running at his side through the streets of Chitown where I once again found myself enjoying the marathon. There is no PR in the world that will ever compare to those 26.2 miles we ran together, and I wouldn't trade that experience for any other.

BUT...I will get out there and race this distance again sometime soon, and it will be awesome. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My new homegirl

There aren't many days in a persons life that can trump the moment you meet your idol.

Just another typical Friday for Chicago Runner Girl...hanging out with Deena Kastor

Yesterday was that day for me.

I am always amazed by how normal (some) elite athletes are. This crazy fast woman who holds the women's American record in the marathon at an incredible 2:19:36, is the only American woman to ever run sub 2:20. Yet, she still walks around expos wondering in and out of booths just like the rest of us like she is no big deal. Deena is an Asics sponsored athlete that even waited in line to pay for a pair of gloves that she could have otherwise gotten for free. 

This woman has been my running idol for the past 12 years where I noticed her immediately. Never thought I was one to be in awe of people, I mean I think we are pretty much all the same, but this woman had me more flustered than I have ever been in my life.

I started to sweat, my heart was racing, and I turned into that creepy fan that no one ever wants to become. 

By the time I was able to gather myself to meet this awesome lady, my mouth was incapable of formulating sentences and I had the most terrible case of word vomit my life has ever seen. I have no idea what I even said to her, but it more than likely made absolutely no sense. But she embraced me just as if we were old pals anyways.

And it. was. AWESOME.
Just what I needed.

Being truthful, all the marathon hype surrounding me lately has begun to wear me down a bit. The non-stop questioning about if I'm running this year or not which is always followed by "what's your goal" and "what's your PR" from people who aren't familiar with my situation has been exhausting. Trying to explain that there is no goal seems to be a foreign idea to a lot of runners.

Honestly, I want to race the marathon tomorrow but I can't. And that is no ones fault but my own for being a dumb-dumb and not taking time off when I should have earlier in the year. Tomorrow is going to be a bittersweet experience for me where a small piece of my heart is still bummed about having to take a pass on going for that PR. 

Talking to Deena yesterday about how she has been on the DL since the trials due to back pains where she has only been able to get back into her normal training routine recently was oddly comforting to me. There she is, all speedy and cool holding records and winning races as a professional athlete where she has had to shelf some of her goals as well to take care of herself. Not that I will ever be on the same level as her, but it is always comforting to know that elites have to take a time out every now and than too to take care of themselves.

Deena will once again have her day, and so will I.

On to marathon #7!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Am I really doing this...

There is always a point in time pre marathon when I have an odd moment of clarity where things finally start to click in my mind and I say to myself "am I really doing this?".

Today is that day.

Even while committing every weekend all summer long to hours and miles of running, registering 8 months ago for this race, and my inevitable doom now just a short 3 days didn't really seem to click in my mind until this morning. Still as I sit here I don't really know if my mind is fully grasping the idea of running 26.2 miles in less than 72 hours, but it's happening!

Truthfully, the marathon isn't really for me. We aren't very great friends, and it's become more of a love to hate kind of relationship. Yet, I continue to sign up while completely aware of the fact that my body has successfully made it through only 1 marathon healthy and together always thinking "this will be the one where I finally do it right". Still waiting on that...

Weird groin muscle cramps in 2011

mental freak out in 2010, 

It's good that I can find humor in this now
dibilitaing knee distress in 2008

grossly hot temps in 2007, 

Didn't even finish that one
way under trained in 2006,

That was D's last marathon
This pic sums up perfectly how the race went for him
thought I was Kenyan in 2005,
Those are some real jacked up splits where I don't know what I was thinking for the 1st half.
I was not in 3:15 shape but I sure as hell went out of the gate as if I was.

and then there is that 1st marathon...

I was a bandit (whoops...cats out of the bag now), I hadn't done any speed work building up for it, my mind had no conception of what running 26.2 miles would feel like, but it was the time of my life and I finished in 3:28 with NO post race soreness. It was a hoot.

And here I sit pumping myself up to be pace keeper and motivator for the hubby for marathon finish #7 that is just a blink away where again I'm wondering why I ever thought paying $150 to run 26.2 miles would be fun. Who pays to run a distance they hate? Apparently I do.

Honestly I think this marathon is just what I need. I have no stress about the day, no concern as to what my finish time will be, and feel like it's just going to be 26.2 miles of bonding with my man and the city I love. 

Several people have mentioned that they are going to be out there on the course cheering, but my mind can't really remember where everyone said they will be. If you're spectating, let me know where you'll be so I can look out for you!