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 chicagorunnergirl@gmail.com 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.