Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Dailey Method: a 30-day challenge

I'm a runner, a gal that like to get outdoors to feel the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, and let sweat fly off me like it's no big deal. My heart lusts after that burning sensation in my lungs from a good tempo run and the sinewy feeling that lingers in my legs hours after a long run. I rarely ever take classes and snobbishly turn up my nose at most of them. The only exercise classes I ever attend are in a 100+ degree room with high humidity where down-dog creates a fire in my body and I begin to sweat at the first tadasana as the gentle hush of my ujjayi breath whisks me away.

In my mind
Sweat = Power and Strength
the more sweat, the better

But after the rough ending I had to my spring cycle, I've decided that I need to try some new activities and give my body a bit more variety in cross training to move that much further outside of my cushy-tushy zone of comfort. Try something different. Live outside of the box. All with high hopes that it'll get me one-step closer to achieving my big hairy 2012 goals.

So I jumped on a opportunity that I normally would have waived away because I knew it had the capacity of putting me 100% out of my element. There would be no jumping, no heavy weights, no swoob. Just controlled and concentrated tiny body weight movements that are at the command of an instructor in a calm and supervised environment.

I'm guilty of being the athlete that thinks my level of fitness for running transfers to almost every activity. You name it, I think that I can do it...even if I know I really can't. Ever see Ninja Warrior? Yeah, I've convinced myself that it would be a walk in the park and I would be the 1st Ninja Warrior ever. A 30-trial membership from The Dailey Method Bucktown? Sure, no problem. I'm fit, I run marathons, which means I can do anything. Instead of just trying out the studio, I thought I'd turn it into a little 30-day challenge for myself. Ge out of my comfort zone and let my body find strength in areas I under appreciate as a runner and go to as many classes as possible.

My first class I walked into the studio and was warmly welcomed by other students and the instructor. Since I had no idea what the heck I was doing, I warned the instructor that I was more then likely going to need a few more cues then the other students. She than kindly advised me to grab a set of 2 lbs. free weights where I almost felt insulted. Not knowing what was to come, I grabbed those dinky 2 lbs. weights and begun to think that this workout was going to be a walk in the park.

As I fumbled my way through a mix of core work, pilates movements, and more butt exercises in 1 hour then my body had ever seen, every muscle in my body shook like crazy. My legs burned, my shoulders could barely lift those unsuspecting 2 pounders, and my butt felt like it was about to crack off my body. Every single exercise engaged all the muscles of the body, head to toe. I gracelessly fidgeted like a fool to find the proper alignment for every single movement, where once again I found myself gracefully humbled by my physical abilities.

The morning after my first class, my legs felt just as they would if I had ran a marathon the day prior. With little to no equipment and slow controlled movements using my own body weight, that walk in the park I thought I was in for really came after me giving me a swift kick in the pants.

10 days into my 30-day challenge, and I'm still finding soreness in all kinds of new places. My body is slowly building the muscle memory for a c-curve and bum exercises that I never would have done otherwise. Even in the short time that I have been going, my core is feeling pretty strong and fighting back for the strength it lost during my never ending spring training cycle. Fingers crossed that I'll have one hell of a booty by day 30 and will finally break the vicious cycle of flat butted woman in my family...but only time will tell. Until then I'll be showing those 2 pounders whose boss.

Disclosure: I was provided a complementary 30-day membership for a 3 part review, however all opinions stated here and experiences are all my own.
All photos of TDM Bucktown studio were taken from their site.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

i will always #maketherules

Running fast hurts. But for some reason my heart feels compelled to chase down a 5k PR and race like a beast next month. Part of the reason is yes, I do need a little vindication for how I ended things with my spring cycle. When the wheels started to fall off the bus, I was holding on with all my might to the fitness I had worked my @$$ off to gain in 2012. But when push comes to shove and you're body is beat to hell, there is little you can do to save yourself besides surrender and rest.

So I did. For 8 whole days. No running. No lifting. No jumping. No beastly cardio sessions. Nada.

And now I'm feeling back on track and like things are starting to heat up a bit. The first few days were rough, it almost felt like my body somehow had forgot how to run. But I was patient and knew that I just had to give myself a bit of time. So I've been treading the waters lightly.

Slowly building back my mileage.
Keeping the animal-like strength sessions I usually do to a minimum.
And dabbling in a wee-bit of speed work.

Today's planned workout
Temps on the lakefront begun to spice up a bit where I made a last minute change to the workout.
It was hot, and I knew finishing out the last 1600 sub 6 would cook my legs.
Since I'm my own coach, I #maketherules and I change them.
I'm my own boss.

Today's actual workout
5:51, 2:52, 1:24, 1:24, 2:54, 2:57, 1:29 

Post run licks courtesy of little Chase.
His standards are low for what he'll put in his mouth.
Mentally I felt on today. I knew that this was going to hurt and that if I really want that 18:XX 8k finish next month, that it'll most likely hurt even worse. 5k's are hard, and PR's are painful...plain and simple. Just need to believe and work my tush off with what I have right now.

I know that I'm an athlete. I'm enough. I have enough. And I'm capable of doing enough in the next 16 days to get there. No one said it'll ever be easy, but I'm moving forward anyways.

Working hard.

Playing hard.

And wearing my compression socks.

Maybe I'll even treat myself to a new pair in Marathon Orange from my beloved brand, Pro Compression. 

From now until July 10th you can use coupon code SOM610 for 40% of the Marathon Orange socks.  Treat yourself too, you won't regret it. Love these socks. Easy to put on and just the right amount of coziness. Besides, you can never have too many pairs of these bad boys.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sweet Summertime Cider

I'm not much of a drinker. Basically, I'm a 1 drink kinda gal before I start knocking glasses over and giggling like a little giddy schoolgirl at nonsensical things. But as the days get warmer and the sun lingers on into the late night hours, my taste buds crave ice cold cider ales. At first look, I thought that Michelob ULTRA Light Cider would be extremely sweet yet I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the flavor was.


This cider is a gluten free beverage that offers 1/3 fewer calories (which we all know I'm especially concerned about...kidding) and a more mellowed sweetness than traditional ciders. I've crossed quite a few ciders of my list because they are rather dry and taste a lot like beer, which I don't really care for. But the Michelob ULTRA Light Cider tastes quite a bit like crisp apples and is a naturally sweetened beverage, so it doesn't leave that odd coating in your mouth afterwards where you feel like you just ate a bowl of sugar. 

This is the perfect beverage to enjoy either straight from the bottle or over a nice glass of ice on those late night evenings as the sun is slowly setting along the horizon casting long golden shadows along the skyline. Because this beverage is so light and refreshing, it is ideal for those like me who cannot handle the heavier ciders whose alcohol content is slightly higher. 

As a person who loves being outdoors as much as possible in the summer time, I think that Michelob ULTRA Light Cider will be a great addition to our cooler as we spend time basking the the summer sun lakeside. For more information about this product, please visit Michelob's site. You can also check out a bit more about this product on the Michelob ULTRA Light Cider page on

Which favorite summer meal or activity do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Light Cider?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

getting my mojo back

Endurance is patience concentrated.
Thomas Carlyle 
Hopped back on the running horse this past Sunday with a frustrating 2 miles. My joints were stiff as all heck  and I could barely extend my left knee. I had hoped by taking a full week off that my body would have the chance to rest and recharge and be ready to spring back into action like it barely missed a beat. But instead it has taken a few days to work out all the kinks and to slowly remind my body what it feels like to run. Today I feel back in business and ready to slowly move forward.

With my last training cycle ending on a rather rocky patch, I have to be rather conscious and cautious of how I progress my workouts. Yes, I lost some weight. Yes, I lost some speed. And yes, I lost my mind. After the weather had made my spring race plans a bit murky, I didn't think that 2 extra weeks of training would really do any damage. But I was wrong, and can't do anything about that now. Just have to move forward and slowly work to build up what I lost during those weeks.

So what now?

Just a little race called the Chicago Marathon on 10/7.

Back in February the hubby and I registered for the CM12, this will be D's first marathon since 2006 and he is currently in week 1 of his training. Plans for this race thus far are pretty loose for me. I'm not certain as to if I'm up to racing it or just hanging with the hubby to just enjoying the miles and be his support system. I more then likely won't make a concrete decision about this for some time, but will more then likely spend July-October training for this race as if I were going for a PR attempt either way. If there is anything that I've realized in the past 12+ months, it's that my body can only handle about 12 weeks of hardcore training before things start heading south. So I'm going to try somethings a lot of things different this fall to get to that starting line on 10/7 as prepared as possible so that the legs are feeling extra zesty.

Even put in 2x2 miles @ goal marathon pace (7:10-15) in the heat the other day to feel out that sub 3:10 pace I may go for.
Splits: 7:13, 7:07, 7:12, 7:03

May not have been inventing the wheel with this workout here, but I could feel the heat radiating off the lakefront path as I was sweating buckets breathing in the heavy air which oddly smelled like tar and dead fish. It felt pretty darn good to be moving with ease at that pace in those conditions feeling light on my feet. I figure that it's going to be hot as all heck this summer, so mine as well head out in the heat of the late morning hours and get adjusted to it sooner rather then later. If you can't beat em, join em.

Other then the marathon I've only committed myself to one other race at this time, the Bastille's Day 5k on July 12th, and I'm holding off for now on a fall 1/2 PR attempt. It may happen, but I don't want to over extend myself and put too many things on my plate too early. Hopefully I'll be able to make an appearance at this awesome race on Labor Day weekend that really holds a special place in my heart. But taking things just one day at a time for now.

Until then I've just got to be patient building back what I lost in the past month. It's amazing what a week off can do for your body and mind, and while I know that I've lost some speed I'm more then okay with that because I've gained back my peace of mind. Rest cannot be overrated.

Today's workout:
8x400's @ just under goal 5k pace (1:27-29, 6 min pace)
Splits: 1:29, 1:29, 1:27, 1:27, 1:27, 1:27, 1:22, 1:25

Legs felt great, stomach was another story. Stepped out for this workout about 75 minutes after a very strange lunch which violently threatened to reappear after the 8th interval, so even though I was hoping for 10x400's today I'm gladly settling with 8. 

Slowly but surely I'm getting my mojo back, and couldn't be happier that I took those 8 days off.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

bring on the rain

"If running were easy, it would lose it's seduction as an exclusive club reserved for the fit and tenacious. If it were easy, tens of thousands of people who pay money to register for local 10k runs or who commit hung chunks of time to train their bodies to withstand the pounding of an ultra-marathon would choose other, more challenging pursuits. Yes, running is hard, and that is exactly what makes it so irresistible to those of us luck enough to understand."
Running the Edge 

8 days ago I drug my overworked and pooped out body to the 13.1 Chicago. Before the gun even went off, I had already felt like my body covered those 13.1 miles and was pretty sure that the miles awaiting me were going to be some of the most trying ones I had yet to cover in my life. Turns out that even when you are in the drivers seat calling all of the shots with your training, it doesn't necessarily mean that you make the most logical calls all of time time and you're more then likely bound to make even more mistakes.

But, I've said it before and I'll say it again...

I learn more from the times in life when I fall flat on my face. Where my goal seems so far out of reach and light years away. Where I jump from the safety net of my own comfort zone to chase down something crazy only to rely on my faith. Those are the moments I live for.

Growth only happens in moments of risk where the vulnerability of the task ahead makes you feel naked and delicate.

Sometimes it can be a hard lived reality when goals and dreams don't pan out as planned. Discouragement can overtake your soul if you let it, and the lessons of failures can be quickly forgotten fading into stale memories. How dull life would be if I could just lace up my Adidas Adios and cruise towards each finish line unchallenged and always achieving the path I set out for. Predictable, calculated, bound, trite, blah.

pictures via marathonfoto

If every conquest a heart set out to prevail over came without challenge or obstacle, why would one do it? Breaking that 1:25 barrier in the half marathon would become meaningless to me where sought after dreams would hold little to no significance. We would all merely be elite athletes and superstars where the adventure of the masterpiece being created within our own lives would become just another unappreciated moment of the day.

"You can't become a winner overnight, or even in a couple of years-it takes time... You will lose races and you will have to accept that, learn from it and believe that you'll win the next one, knowing that you'll probably lose that as well. All the time you have to keep believing that one day you will win."
Paula Radcliffe 
After 8 days of rest, I'm ready for a fresh start and to brave the elements with my new found lessons in tow as my smitten heart sets out for newly inspired adventures.

tomorrows another day,
and i'm thirsty anyway,
so bring on the rain.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 13.1 Chicago

Spoiler alert: this race was by no means a PR attempt
so if you are stopping here to read some heroic tale about how an over trained athlete somehow magically overcame burn-out and triumphed through to the finish, this is not your story because that rarely happens

Feeling as ragged as I've been feeling for the last 3 weeks or so, waking up at the ugly hour of 4 am on a Saturday morning to run a half marathon in 80 degree weather on a mostly unshaded path logically didn't make sense in my mind as the right time to go for that sub 1:25 finish I've been lusting after for all of 2012. It wasn't in my legs, and it would have been rather unrealistic to think that my over trained body was prepared to tackle this aggressive goal.

Instead I decided to go into the race with the only expectation being to finish alive and uninjured while having a great time. 

Photo courtesy of MagMileRunner
Amanda, Kayla, Zach, Sara, Maggie, Deanna
Amanda, Cary
Charlyn, Kim, moi
pre race Chi-town (and 1 Miami visitor) blogger meet up
Mission accomplished.

The 13.1 Chicago started at the South Shore Cultural Center, which I had never been to, and wove along the lakefront. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you've more then likely picked up on the fact that the I am a sucker for the lakefront and try to spend as much time possible soaking up the city via sand and water.

The course was honestly breathtaking as we passed rustically worn boathouses and tucked in closely to the shoreline that was laden with sailboats. Having never visited this part of the city, I found myself truly captivated by how beautiful my surroundings where and decided that I'm going to make the 15+ mile trek down the lakefront on my bike in the coming weeks and check this area out a bit more. If you live in Chicago and enjoy the nautical side of the city but haven't yet checked out the SSCC, I would highly recommend it.

In the early miles of the race I made the conscious decision to linger just under 7 minute mile pace on the way out, conserving the limited energy stores I had, where on the way back if my body was willing to cooperate I would pick up the pace and try to negative split. This meant a lot of dudes were flying by me left and right, which I was more then okay with.

Photo courtesy of Erin
The negative splits never happened for me, instead I rocked a pretty awesome positive split. After the turn-around, there was little to no shade and the temps begun to rise quite a bit. The warning systems flags changed cautioning runners to slow their pace, and my body begun to really feel the heat. Fueling became difficult as the heat made my stomach uneasy, and I walked through aid stations at 7, 10.5, and the 1 mile to go mark. After all the races I've ran, I still can't seem to master the fueling while in motion.

Even with the heat seeming to cook my body, my stomach in knots, and my feet feeling like they were on fire, I still had a really great time in those last few challenging miles. Made quite a bit of small talk with the other runners around me encouraging them to keep pressing on and checking in to make sure they were doing okay. The overall consensus from the peanut gallery of my running peers in the last 5 miles seemed to be that a finish would be sufficient for today.

the auto-lap function on my garmin always tends to be quite a bit off
For some reason I decided to high light the miles I walked.

And finish I did.

I crossed the 1 mile to go mark in 1:25, and I couldn't help but chuckle. Instead of wallowing and pouting, I instead grabbed a cup of gatorade from the last fueling station and gave myself a little toast. 

My legs were spent.
I could feel blisters forming all over my feet.
I wanted to vomit up the Chocolate Cherry Turbo Clif Gu I forced myself to choke down in the earlier miles.
My right armpit what burning from some mad-style chafe action going on.
Humor of the less-than-desirable racing conditions I've been experiencing this year begun to set in.
The finishing chute was misleading and seemed to have gone on forever.
And it just all made my heart very grateful in spite of the mayhem surrounding me.

Photo courtesy of  Charlyn
Rocking the truffle shuffle into the chute with my customary over striding heel strike

After crossing the finish line I hung around with Charlyn for a bit to watch her receive her award for 2nd place female finish in the 5k and chatted it up with quite a few of local Chicago runners. I met some of the nicest men at the post race party that I've seen plugging away on the lakefront and it's nice to finally put a name with these already familiar faces. 

So no, I did not come anywhere NEAR a sub 1:25 finish this spring, and that is more then okay because I've learned more about what works and doesn't work for me with my training. My short comings in the past few months don't mean that this sub 1:25 isn't in my legs, it just means that I need to push harder and train smarter next time around trying some new things. Knowing that on a bad day with over trained legs that are tired as all heck when temps are as spicy as ever I can still clock a 1:34 is a pretty good feeling. So I'll take it. Gladly.

Besides, me and the half aren't finished quite yet...we are only just beginning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

nothing left to lose

as my bum is parked on my couch right now wrapped up in my snuggie and compression socks, it is currently 85 degrees outside without a cloud in the sky. it's a lovely day, but i don't care. i'm in taper mode, and for the first time ever in my life i'm soaking up every moment of rest that i can get.

at this point, i'm tired and ready for a little bit of fitness freedom.

i love running & feeling like my legs are a set of newly polished wheels.
i love training & the way it prepares me to attack nearly every situation in life.
i love kicking my own butt & seeing just how far i can press my limits.

but i also love feeling strong and energized.
and trying to hold a fitness peak for far too many weeks has made that dream completely null.

it sops up all your energy.
it makes you snappy and unpleasant.
it makes you tired and anxious.
it makes you crave the rest your body deserves.

some training cycles are flawless. they lead you to PR after PR feeling strong and limitless.
i had one of those kinda years last year where PR's seemed to come nearly every time i toed the line.
it felt awesome.

then there are other training cycles where new obstacles and challenges never seeming to cease.
i seem to have gotten myself caught up in one of those right now
where most things seem imperfectly perfect at this present time.

i've worked harder then i've ever worked.
i've clocked splits in workouts that would have blown my mind 12 months ago.
i've ignited a little spark inside that has told me i'm only just getting started.

with the conclusion to my spring training cycle just a mere 12 hours away
where race temps are again predicted to be spicy
and there have been warnings of potential howlin' winds coming off the lake,
it really doesn't matter.

at this point, i've got nothing left to lose.

PR's are rare and precious.
they cannot be taken for granted.
and they don't come knockin' on your door everyday.

tomorrow plan is that there is no plan.
no pressure.

whatever the outcome,
i'll be a happy lady.
because that is my choice.

value for me isn't determined in stats.
i know that i'm a decent athlete,
who dug herself into an over trained state as ambition and drive exponentially grew.

that's me.
i'm passionate.
i take risks and i make mistakes.

and then i move on.
learning a lesson.
and quietly plan the next mountain to climb.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last chance workout & a winner

Not really certain if my running routine these days really counts as working out.
Just trying to maintain and ward off the over trained feelings I'm beginning to experience.

With spring marathon #2 now just four days away, today was my last workout of this cycle. After a night of burgers and fro-yo with a very wise and insightful running pal last week, I decided that it would be best to stay clear of any structured workouts in the remaining days leading up to my race. Treating myself a much needed day off yesterday, today's workout consisted of a progressive run where the goal was to really hammer it out in the last few miles.

At this point in time, workouts like this should be feeling easy-peasy but instead they are quite the opposite. I've spent the last 19 weeks in focused hardcore training that proceeded 10 weeks of base training only through the winter months, meaning all & all my spring training cycle has pretty much been just shy of a 30 week program.


Not really sure how I let that happen, but it did and there really is no turning back at this point. I would NEVER advise any of the athletes that I coach to enter into a cycle like this, even if they were highly fit going into training. Yet I've somehow gotten myself tangled up in what is beginning to feel like the early stages of burn-out and over trained.

There is a very very fine line between riding your limit safely and taking training one step too far where most of the time it is difficult to realize that you've over stepped your limit until it's too late. While I've been consciously aware of how my body has been responding to training, I've chosen to not shed light onto the fact that as time passes on my body is seeming to run more and more on less and less.

regrets collect like old friends,
here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
and all of the ghouls come out to play
and every demon want his pound of flesh
but I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
it's always darkest before the dawn

Some symptoms I've been experiencing:

Loss of appetite.
It's very unusual for me to not be hungry all the time, but these days I'm having to force myself to eat regularly where most of the time the thought of consuming food makes me nauseous.

Unexpected weight loss.
I don't really weight myself often, but lately have noticed that I seem to be slimmer in areas then I was several months ago. Sure enough, when I stepped on the scale I've somehow lost a precious few lbs. off of my already petite frame.

Increased amount of sleep needed to get through my day.
You would think 9-10 hours of sleep would be enough for a person, but it just doesn't seem to be enough these days for me.

Unusual muscle soreness.
While my legs have been fine and haven't really been sore in quite some time, my back is killing me. 

Decreased immunity.
I've been sick 3 times in the last 3 months, that seems a bit excessive to me.

I get headaches rather often, but they have been quite prominent lately for me post exercise.

Sudden drop in performance.
As much as I don't want to admit it, it is taking 10x the effort it should take for me at this point to be keeping up with my training.

This kind of stuff happens, and it's not really worth getting upset over at this point because I'm the one who has led this cycle where I'm the one who has made all of the decisions of what workouts to do when. I am in control of my training, even if it has led me to this point.

So what now?

Well, I'm going to try to make it through the next 4 days as best as possible where Saturday's race is now not about the clock and instead just about a solid performance from start to finish. Whether that means 8:30 or 6:30 pace at this point is completely irrelevant to me. I just want to finish in one piece and lay this spring cycle of 2012 to rest and enjoy some much needed time off.

and that's that. Not going to expect any miracles to happen on Saturday, and I may not even run with my watch. life will go on.

Without further ado, the winner of the 13.1 Chicago 5k entry is:

Charlyn from Pain is Nothing.

Congrats Charlyn! Excited to see you on Saturday! Email me when you get the chance.

Who else is participating in the 13.1 Chicago this weekend? 
I know there are lots of you out there that are going to be there, and hopefully I'll run into you all. 

Don't forget that if you are attending this race, Give Your Sole is collecting moderately used sneakers to benefit homeless men, women, and children living in the city. It never hurts to give back to your community!

Monday, June 4, 2012

13.1 Chicago 5k giveaway & shoe drive

If you're in the Chicagoland area this weekend and looking for a 5k race, today I'm giving away 1 free entry to this Saturdays 13.1 Chicago's 5k.

All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know you're interested to enter the 5k giveaway for the race.

Giveaway will run until tomorrow, June 5th, at 12 pm where a winner will be announced shortly after.

Also, if you were already planning on running this event, Give Your Sole will be on site at packet pick-up as well as race day collecting moderately used athletic shoes and to donate to Breakthrough, an organization that provides shelter, meals and other service to homeless men, woman and children within the city.

Giveaway will only run for the next 24 hours!