Sunday, April 29, 2012

A 5k DNF, but no hard feelings

"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." 
The Rolling Stones
I'm no different then anyone else. I dream big, take bold chances, push the envelope, and make my fair share of mistakes. I'm human, which means that life is far from perfect for me and hosts just as many boastful moments as it does moments of sorrow. I don't think that I am any more fortunate then anyone else or that my life is filled with any greater blessings. I just try to take it all in stride not letting the slip-ups and short comings become the definition of who I am.

It has been just over 1 week since my unfortunate and unexplainable knee incident. While I would love to say that I have seen 100% improvement in the past 9 day, that would be a complete lie. The pain only lasted about 24 hours and was then followed up with quite a bit of tightness which I haven't yet been able to shake. My range of motion is limited right now, but the good news is that I'm not in any sort of pain. I've taken my mileage down quite a bit this week, took a few days off, and only allowed for 1 baby speed session this past Thursday.

The past 12 weeks have hosted quite a bulk of training for me. Most weeks mileage has been in the high 60's to low 70's with 2 speed sessions, 3 strength sessions, and anywhere from 1-3 yoga classes. Dialing up the intensity for this cycle is what I knew my body needed to get to that finish line for my May 20th half under 1:25, and most weeks my body has been wiling to comply until last Friday.

I'm not giving up.
I'm not throwing in the towel.
I'm not adjusting my goal.

There is never only one way to get to somewhere. In my heart I made a tenative plan of the route I wanted to travel along to get to my desired destination and haven't felt hell-bent on following this plan to a T. There will always be more then one way to get where you want to go, and recent events have made this very clear to me. My plan for the next few weeks is now null where each day has to be assessed delicately  to ensure that I'm taking proper care of myself.

Woke up this morning and headed out for an impromptu 5k where I was hoping to score a nice PR. But after a long warm up where the knee still wasn't feeling 100%, I begun to take a tight grip on the reality of my current situation.

I had two choices this morning:

Push through whatever that 5k handed me just for the sake of PR knowing that this could bring the possibility of doing irreversible damage. 

OR

Line up and take the race step by step, not committing to anything and pulling out if necessary.

Sadly, I took a DNF.

I pulled out of the race at the 2 mile marker with a 12:00 split, right on pace for a 18:30-40 finish. The legs felt great, strong enough to push me through to that finish line finally breaking 19 minutes. But the knee begun to feel creeky where just after mile 1 it almost felt as if two of the bones were rubbing against each other where the sensation had a slight increase with each step.

So I pulled out.

While the reality of this hurts my heart, I know that this was the most sensible decision I could have made for myself this morning. Honestly, I shouldn't have even toed that line and instead just headed out for a few easy miles this afternoon. But what's done is done.

Am I mad that I had that well below 19 minute 5k split within my reach and I had to let it go?
Yup.

BUT, there will be another 5k at another point in time where I'll give this a go while feeling 100% on my game.

Until then I just need to focus on maintaing my speed, strength, and endurance for the next few weeks while tending to my knee and moving on to plan B...which will be just as great.

That half marathon PR is still within my reach. I'm not losing hope. I'm not giving up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Get Chickin' Y'all!

Last week I tweeted this pick to my girl Caitlin over at Arty Runner Chick.


Caitlin and I have this weird connection for the phrase

You've been Chicked

The moment I saw this article from Runners World Summer Trail issue, I knew C would be all over it. What I didn't know at the time that this creatively brilliant woman had the wheels already in motion for one really cool Chicked tee. If you don't know Caitlin, I would strongly encourage you to get on over to her blog as soon as you can! Not only is this girl creative, but she is also one truly amazing freelance writer that has oodles and oodles of amazing information for runners regarding a wide variety of topics.

Caitlin has developed one of the coolest shirts around and has just begun to take pre-orders. The shirt is an Asics Core Short Sleeved Running Tee in black and reads on the front "i'm out to chick you" and the back states "you just got chicked". 


The tee's are going for $25 plus shipping and run from sizes XS to XL.

If you're interested in getting your hands on one of these great shirts, head on over to her blog or email her at captaincait@hotmail.com for more information.

get chickin' y'all!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A little unexpected rest

I've spent the past three weeks feeling a bit off with my training. All of my workouts since this race have been a little extra challenging and haven't always gone as planned. There have been quite a few tempos that have felt less then comfortable, there have been repeats where my splits have been slow, and there have been moments that I've allowed myself to become overly frustrated with the space between where I was and where I wanted to be.

Then Monday's Boston Marathon happened.

No I wasn't there, but as I watched the series of events play out the way they did that day from my home as most runners were forced to abandon any sort of expectation, I was offered a little bit of perspective whose remnants have now managed to deeply attach themselves to my heart.

In the heat of the moment sometimes it can be difficult for me to recognize my own small steps of growth and progression.

I often neglect the fact that if I wanted to I could run 2+ hours a day without any problems.
I forget that I have a healthy body that has great strength.
I lust after where I want to go.

Sometimes I need a gentle reminder that just because progress isn't always tangible and easily noticeable doesn't mean that it's not there. 

Tuesday I ventured out for a half marathon goal pace threshold workout with low expectations. Wasn't anticipating to fly through this workout because I have been struggling with workouts that are anywhere near my tempo pace lately. But I lowered by expectation, stopped over thinking the pace, and just headed out the door knowing that I was going to just press hard without regard to what pace that should or shouldn't be.


The moment I start to over think things is the moment I begin to struggle. Sometimes it's best to not think and just do. This workout wasn't easy, but it gave me a sense of peace that I am making progress and I just have to be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Thursday I headed out for my favorite benchmark speed workout

3 Sets of 1x1600/2x400 @ 5k pace or quicker (6:15ish pace)
Splits
6:09, 1:28, 1:27
6:05, 1:28, 1:31 (turned into a strong headwind on the last 400)
6:13, 1:31, 1:31 (all into the wind)

Quantifying my speed was just what I needed this day to get my mind back on track. It wasn't until I went into my training log to record my splits that this workout begun to sink in. 5 weeks ago I did this same workout, but my splits were vastly different.

3 Sets of 1x1600/2x400 on 3/16/12
Splits
6:17, 1:34, 1:32
6:16, 1:32, 1:33
6:10, 1:32, 1:33

It may not be a grave difference, but it's something. And I'll take it.
Especially after battling the wind.

Progress comes in itty-bitty doses that can be difficult to notice at times. But it's there, you just have to trust yourself and the hard work that you've put in. Just have to work hard, have fun, and not take it too seriously.

Yesterday I tried to top off my week of hard work with a well deserved recovery run. What I didn't anticipate was that the 20+ mph winds blowing off of the lake would turn my run into the recovery run from hell. On the way out I couldn't maintain any sort of control over my body as the wind forcefully pushed me and half of the beach somehow made it's way into my shoes and socks, and on the way back I felt like I was running in place as my body attempted to make forward progress with little luck. It was terrible.

There was no recovery to be had, and today I'm left with an incredibly achy left knee (the opposite knee from last week) that is begging me for a bit of rest. As much as it pains my get-up-and-go attitude, I'm going to politely oblige to my bodies request. This morning should have been an 18 miler with a few uphill climbs, but I think I'm just going to have to let this workout go. While the knee is just a bit achy at this point and may not be anything too serious, I don't want to be heading towards injury just for the sake of hitting my 79 mile goal for the week. Letting a few miles go never hurts the bigger picture of things, and in this case those extra few miles might actually make things worse.

If I want to get anywhere near that sub 1:25 finish in 4 weeks, I need to pay attention to what my body is telling me and respond appropriately when it requests a bit of extra self care.

Sadly, there will be no 18 miler this weekend.

Hill climbs are 100% out of the picture until my knee feels like it's usual self.

And 

A self prescribed dose of 3 running free days hopefully will heal whatever is going on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Detaching from Expectation

In 2008 I fumbled my way through the Boston marathon with an undiagnosed and uncared for crippling knee injury. The days leading up to the race I could barely walk, but I was determined to cross that finish line on marathon Monday with little concern as to what the numbers on the clock said. I wasn't running for time that year, instead I was running to overcome all of the adversity I had faced in the months leading up to race day that seemed to prevent me from a comfortable arrival at the destination that I was so adamantly pursuing. Rather then allowing myself to become drunk with expectation, I allowed myself the rare chance to be vulnerable and cumbersome for the sake of living out a lesser then desired life experience. 

I finished in 4:09, which is by far my slowest marathon to date and my most painful. But the numbers have become so irrelevant in my mind over the years that I rarely think about them. Instead, my mind has held onto different memories of that day; how much my knee ached on the hills, how I considered several times of pulling out but instead decided that I'm not a quitter so I pressed on, how as I climbed heartbreak hill tears streamed down my face, how as I turned onto Boylston St. I was overcome with sentiment about the pain and anguish that I somehow overcame in those 26.2 miles and felt like I had won. The numbers are the last thing that cross my mind when I think about Boston but always the first thing I'm asked by others when discussing the experience. Curious.

This Monday's race brought back a lot of unexpected emotion for me as I sat in the silent solitude of my home nearly 1,000 miles away from athletes village tracking some of the strongest and most inspiring runners I have ever come into contact with. I could feel their fears as their dreams of race day glory slowly slipped out of their reach and they all turned into survival mode. 

source
source
We all set out in life with great expectations, with whom we've found a deep attachment towards, for ourselves. As the course of life events begin to unfold leading up to our unfulfilled hopes and dreams, sometimes it can be difficult for us to cut that cord of attachment when the road begins to throw us for a loop and can often lead to self-induced heartache and disregard for the value in the lesson before us. Blindly losing faith and sinking into a deep pool of despair becomes so easy when we have found such a deeply rooted attachment to our expectation and don't allow ourselves a bit of wiggle room for the sake of an unexpected valuable life lesson.

Please ignore the grammar error in the last sentence.
I'm not perfect and rarely proofread.
Value isn't always in the achievement of the goal, the number that reads on the clock as we cross the finish line, or the feeling we get when we've accomplished an extraordinary task. It has taken me nearly my entire lifetime to realize that control and expectation are simply overrated and sometimes surrender is much much sweeter.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 11 Training Recap

Somehow I managed to get a bit out of my training routine in the past few weeks and have been struggling to get myself back on track. In the past three weeks I've skipped quite a few strength sessions and my workouts have been feeling a bit more challenging then they should. This week proved to be no different where things didn't seem to want to pan out as planned, which I'm not too broken up about.

76 miles
2 strength circuits
2 hot yoga classes
1 temperamental knee
Countless last minute changes 

Monday: 12 miles easy into some pretty strong winds

Tuesday:
AM:
Strength Circuit
Planned workout: 9 miles with 5 @ goal HMP (6:30)
Actual workout 8.5 miles with 1 mile @ goal HMP before I got tunnel vision and felt faint.
I skipped lunch this day and thought that I would be able to squeeze in a late afternoon workout before heading home for a late lunch, which apparently back fired on me. Sometimes I don't really realize how important things are for my body until I break from routine. My body made it very clear on this day that it wanted food ASAP and was not going to do my planned workout until it had it.

This is why I very strongly feel that everything needs to be adjustable, shuffling things around a bit won't break your training plan.

PM: Easy 4 miler with the hubby

Wednesday: 12 miles easy. Hot power fusion yoga.

Thursday:
AM:
Strength Circuit
9.06 miles in 1:10
8x800's @ 5k pace (3:05-3:07)
Splits: 3:03, 3:06, 3:07, 3:01, 3:02, 3:03, 3:04, 3:01

Before this workout I hadn't done 800's in ages so I wasn't really sure what to expect. First three were into a strong head wind and provided quite the challenge, but the last five with the wind at my back felt unexpectedly easy. Post workout I decided that instead of running on cruise control with the wind at my back I should have pushed a bit harder and challenged myself a bit more. Planning on trying this workout again soon with a bit more bulk to it.
PM: 5.25 mile shake out run with the hubby

Friday: 10 mile recovery run. Hot power fusion yoga.

Saturday: Unexpected day off
Laced up and headed out the front door for my long/tempo run for the week, but after 3 minutes of running my right knee said "no thank you". It didn't feel right and I knew that pressing it for 15 miles would not be a good idea, so I stopped, turned around, and did the walk of shame back home.

Sunday:
Planned workout:
15 miles with 5 miles at tempo pace

Actual workout: 
A very messy 15.01 miles in 1:58
2.5 miles @ 6:28 pace
4x400's in 1:29, 1:27, 1:29, 1:30.

Was hoping to tempo my way through miles 9-13, but things didn't quite work out as anticipated. It was hot and unexpectedly humid where there seemed to be 20+ mph winds blowing from all over the place, and I just wasn't prepared for this. The humidity seemed to soak up every ounce of strength I had and left my legs feeling completely dead. Managed 2.5 miles at 6:28 pace before I decided to throw in some 400's in attempts to revive the legs, but they never came back. I felt like a hot mess by the last few miles. My sunblock was turning into a nasty paste, sweat had crystalized all over my face, I drank too much water in the late miles that left me with a terrible side ache, and I wanted to punch the wind in the face.

Some workouts are a success, and others are a mess. But I'd rather have a million awful runs then no runs at all.

On to next week


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just a wee bit of growth

Years ago if someone would have told me that I would be 28 years old and enjoy running high mileage weeks where my favorite race distance was a double digit number I would have roared with laughter right in their face and called them a liar. While I've always enjoyed running, it wasn't until I was in my early 20's, nursing injury after injury because I was to stubborn to train my body smartly, that I begun to appreciate what being a distance runner really is. In my early running years as a naive high school teen, I would burst out in an emotional hissy fit when my track coach would put me in the 2 mile thinking that this would get me out of the dreaded fate of 8 loops around the track, but it never did. I ran that distance far more times then I wanted to and was often lapped by the speedsters. How I got from there to here sometimes boggles my mind.

In my 16 years as a runner I've done some pretty dumb and completely irrational things.

I would run 7 days a week for weeks on end thinking that rest was the devil.
I would head out my door everyday with my stopwatch to run the same route seeing if I could do it any faster then the day before.
I would neglect self care and early signs of injury coming along.
I would conveniently forget to nourish my body appropriately skipping more meals then I would care to admit.
Basically, I would spend every day of my life for several years pushing my body so hard to compete with myself that I was never able to think logically.

Then my body slowly begun to break down.

Tendinitis.
Shoulder problems.
Crippling knee pains.
Incapacitating daily migraines.

It wasn't until my left knee gave out on me in the early stages of my Boston 2008 marathon training that I was really able to step back and look at the havoc I was wreaking on my body. While I never was able to admit that there was something seriously wrong with my knee, wrong enough to seek a professionals opinion, I know I tore something. For almost 9 months I could barely walk and my knee was unable to bend, running was completely out of the picture but I still "ran" Boston.

My body eventually healed from the mess I put it through and, other then a few minor tweaks, has been injury free since 2009 which is no miracle or coincidence. The years of set backs I had hosted some of the most challenging moments my life has ever seen, but I wouldn't trade them for anything because they gave me appreciation and perspective. Learning how fragile the body is a lesson an athlete needs to learn through their own trials in order to understand what a blessing movement truly is. The strong and powerful runner I am today is because of each and every one of those setbacks I had, and I am grateful for every last one of them.

From the err of my ways I have learned that:

Strength in the glutes, hammies, hips, and core cannot be overrated.
Embarrassingly I admit that it wasn't until I begun to have some leg and hip discomfort in the late stages of my Chicago marathon 2011 training that I realized how valuable these muscles are to a runner. In the past 6 months I have done more dead lifts and squats then I ever thought imaginable and can feel a difference in my running. My knee drive feels the most powerful it has ever been and for the first time in my life my bum doesn't feel squishy.

Legs feeling stronger then ever

Proper fueling is the foundation to any successful training plan.
The days of meal skipping and grazing my cabinets for potato chips and cookies for lunch are a thing of the past. In my early 20's I ate a lot of junk. Frozen meals, prepackaged snacks, highly sugared treats, these were staples in my daily diet. Years ago I switched over to consuming the bulk of my calories from whole foods which are minimally processed, and have felt the world of difference in my energy level ever since. Processed items aren't really food, instead they are chemical compounds made to resemble food which most of the time don't even taste good and provide little nourishment to our precious bodies.

In the words of author Michael Pollan

"Don't eat anything incapable of rotting"
and
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants."

If you haven't read or heard of this book, I would highly recommend it.
Completely changed my relationship with food.

Progression must be done slowly in accordance to the demands your body can take, other people don't matter in this process.
This was a tough lesson to learn, but one of the most valuable. I've spent the past 3 and 1/2 years post 2008 injury building up my mileage to what it is now. My body hasn't always been able to handle 70+ miles weeks for months at a time, in fact there was a period of time when it couldn't even handle mid 20 mile weeks. The thing that made all the difference for me was to embrace and work with what I had and not compare myself to anyone else. Looking at my bigger picture and what I was working towards help me to adjust my workouts slowly over time so that my body could strengthen at a rate it could handle.

Rest is the most important ingredient to any athletes perfect recipe.
Contrary to popular belief, the body doesn't make strength gains when it is being worked. Instead this is when muscle fibers are being stretched and torn which leaves them weakened. When the body makes the most strength gains it is resting, allowing those tiny muscle tears to repair themselves and be stronger then they were before. Neglecting rest just continues to weaken these fibers, and can inevitably lead to burn out. Now I embrace rest days and look at them as a sort of reward for all of the hard work that I've been doing.

Gotten pretty darn good at the resting thing,  but I think the pups enjoy it more then me

Variety, variety, variety.
Our bodies are a lot smarter then we give them credit for. Doing the same thing day after day won't lead to any progression because the body begins to develop muscle memory and will eventually plateau. In order to continue to make strength gains the body needs constant change in stimulus. These days my workouts are rarely ever even remotely similar from week to week, and I like it like this. Keeps things spicy and makes training more interesting.

Isolation is STUPID.
Years ago I used to think that if I wanted abs my only option was to get on a mat everyday and do crunchies until I was blue in the face, likewise with every other muscle group in the body. After tens of thousands of crunchies later, I now realize how silly this was. The body rarely ever works in isolation, and crunchies are nothing more then spinal flexion where they do little for muscle growth and strengthening. Dynamic movements are where it's at. The days of thinking that I possessed the power to tell my body which muscle groups would strengthen and when are long gone. I haven't seen a crunchie in months, and ironically my abs begun to appear the moment I stopped.

No crunchies were harmed in the making of these abs.
Have fun, work hard, and don't take it too seriously.
We all like to set the great big hairy goals for ourselves and spend our free time chipping away at them with high hopes of greatness. If there is anything I have learned in the past few years it's that life isn't always about the destination, sometimes it's about the journey and the experiences we have along the way. Goals are fun to work towards, but the achievement of them isn't always a life-or-death situation. Sometimes you'll have a hit and surpass your expectations, and sometimes you'll fall way short and come no where near expected.

But...
Every time you fall down and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place.

Sometimes the clock reflects the hard work, the pain, the frustrations, and the challenges that we over came through our training...and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, there is a lesson to be learned in anything and everything if we allow it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Embracing the Fug: Part Dos

Fuglyness is best when shared 

If you missed part 1 of "Embracing the Fug", you can check it out here

If not, check out these runners as they embrace their inner fug

Zach from Zach Runs Chicago

Zach is out for just a nice joyful jog with his eyes closed and fancy jacket tied around his waste.
You know you're jealous that he can rock this style and most of us can't.

Rachel from Rachel in Real Life

This is the "I don't know why I ever thought that this was a good idea" face.
And Rachel rocks this look.

Meg from Runfitkin

Meg looks like she got caught up in a wet t-shirt contest at one of the water stations.

Kim from ilaxSTUDIO

I don't know what's better about this picture...
The fact that my girl Kim was trying to bring back hammer pants as a running style
OR
The fact that she is being chased by a freakishly scary clown.

Katie

Poor Ms. Katie looks as if she is about ready to lunge at the camera man as she climbs Pikes Peak.
Don't mess with a girl who combines a half marathon & a 14,115 foot climb.

If you've got a fugly fitness photo and you'd like to send it along to be part of the "Embracing the Fug" series, email your photo to chicagorunnergirl@gmail.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Life & Training Recap: Weeks 9 & 10

The past two weeks have been filled with a lot of love, stress, and gratitude. Life and training for me seem to go hand and hand, when one area seems to be challenging the other soon follows.

Training

Two weeks ago I was recovering from my 8k but still managed to get in about 74 miles. Most were easy with the exception of a raced paced tempo that provided quite a challenge.

Decided that I was overdue for a cut-back week, so I've spent most of last week taking it fairly easy. I like to keep my training cycle with a 3 week hard 1 week easy pattern, this seems to work best for me as I have found that pressing hard for more then 3 weeks in a row consecutively really starts to wear me down. This week my energy level has been fairly low and my motivation wavering. Taking a mini break every now and then where I let my focus shift away from progress and into recovery mode temporarily provides food for my soul, and this week has been prime time for that.

Tried some mile repeats on Wednesday that turned from good to bad fairly quickly. Goal was 5x1600's at 6:10 pace, or until I could no longer hold the pace. For my first two I felt great and spot on, then I turned into a strong wind that just seemed to soak up every ounce of my mental edge for the day. As I made my best attempts to forge forward braving the blustery conditions for the day, my mind begun to slowly check out and my movements begun to turn robotic and dull. Focus just wasn't there where my splits begun to seep past that 6:10 speed limit as my mind processed every thought possible besides pace and what my body was attempting to execute.

This is when I know it's time to pull the plug on a workout.


Called it quits after 4x1600's where two were several seconds off pace.

By Saturday my legs felt a bit more like themselves, so I set out for a redemption fartlek where there was no regard whatsoever to what pace I was clocking and instead governed only by effort. Workout was 4x5 minutes hard with 2 minutes recovery. Felt nice to shake off all that has been dragging me down for the week and try to get myself back on track.

Redemption was achieved.

Sometimes training can turn into a numbers game, which is why I don't frequently run with a watch. It's nice to have the watch telling you what pace you are approximately clocking, but there are so many other factors that can mess with what feels like a hard or fast effort on any given day. I don't like when my watch tells me that my recovery pace is in the high 8's, so I remove the toxic effect it has on my mind by frequently running naked and instead focus on the mind/body connection.

Week 9
 held 74 miles with 1 hot yoga session, 2 strength circuits, and 1 race paced workout

Week 10
held 54 miles with 2 hot yoga sessions, 2 strength circuits, and 1 park tabata workout with the husband

Spent a bit of time on Friday thinking about my key workouts for the remaining 6 weeks of my cycle and have them sloppily jotted down in my treasured personal note book. Have some great workouts planned that I'm ready to dive head first into.

Life

I don't talk about my life beyond the world of fitness here on the blog too often because I'm a fairly private person and like to keep personal matters separate from my training, but this doesn't always pan out. Life has been filled with quite a bit of chaos and uncertainty about where the future is leading lately, and has begun to slowly seep on over to my training life.

In the past 6 months I've held more jobs then some may have in a lifetime. 

There was a brief stint at a money hungry corporate gym where I was told that I was going to have to go to great unethical lengths to obtain clients.

Then there were a few months where I worked in a mortgage office in the evenings providing administrative support.

Then I took a temp job working for a fitness apparel company.

And most recently I was working with a local trainer who provides private training sessions in peoples homes and quit because he thought it was okay to provide services (like private yoga or physical therapy sessions) which he was less then qualified for (as he often instructed clients incorrectly) and thought that this was more then okay.

All this time I've also been doing quite a bit of coaching for runners here in the Chicagoland area which has been an amazingly rewarding experience. Being at the side of runners, guiding them through and supporting their training, has brought so much enrichment and gratitude to my life.

In life there are times when we feel like our character is being tested, times when we continue to venture down one dead end road after another and begin to wonder what the heck we are doing with our lives. Months ago I thought I had it all figured out. I left my corporate hospitality career to venture into the world of fitness with high hopes and an eager spirit where I have been greeted by nothing more then money hungry bodies seeming to have little care for the people they supporting and instead see dollar signs. This truly breaks my heart.
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps" Proverbs 16:9



I feel like I can do all the planning I want for the future, but the road will most likely never lead to my desired destination. Instead of feeling frustrated and lost in all of the chaos that surrounds me, I am embracing the uncertainity where I know that it is time to be silent and still to hear the Lord. Now I am finding it funny that besides my family, faith, and friends my one constant in life has been my running and coaching. All things continue to point back to coaching and few, if any, careers compare. Coincidence? I'm thinking not.


Easter Sunday lakefront sunrise service
"For such a time as this." Esther 4:14
As the next few months begin to unfold for me, I am hopeful and faithful that even though there are days when it all seems like too much that the Lord's plan for my life is slowly unfolding just as he intended. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Embracing the Fug

Last week I asked those who were brave enough to share some of your most awkwardly fugly race photos to send them along to me, and found myself giggling like a little school girl as I opened some of the pics I received.

Looks like I'm not the only one who sports a little big of "fug" while racing, though I do think I give some tough fugly competition.

The best of my worst
I also found this pic from 2010 of me in a half marathon that was pretty funny

While this pic isn't terrible, I did miss my mouth while trying to take in some water and
it looks as though I sorta peed my pants.
Thats always a classy look for a lady.

Charlyn from Pain is Nothing

Love the dazed and confused look

Emily from Out and About

Winking a bit for the camera man and waving like she is on a pageant float.
Love the man holding his bum with a scarf around his neck in the background.

Kelly looks like she is doing the hand-jive with her eyes closed here...
how's that for multitasking!?


Leeana

I don't know if Leeana's trance-like look is more interesting or of the man doing the side
shuffle behind her is.


Maggie from Mag Mile Runner

Maggie said that this race was an awesome PR for her and she also learned one of lives greatest lessons here,
you can't put a price tag on a good bra to keep those girls in check.

Vanessa from Gourmet Runner

Because it's difficult to pick your nose while running, Vanessa instead decided that she would stop
for a minute so that the photographer could get a good shot of her in action digging for gold.
Just kidding Vanessa, we all know you don't pick your nose...

If you want to share your awkwardly fugly race photos for round 2, email me at chicagorunnergirl@gmail.com.

Thanks to everyone for sharing,
Fuglyness is best when shared and embraced.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

YOUR grass is always greener when YOU water it

After last Sunday's race, my legs needed a few days to recover. Racing always takes a lot out of me, no matter what the distance is. Years ago I used to wish that I was a runner who could get out there and race every weekend, now I'm glad that I'm not.

Mental focus. Race buildup. Extra planning and unnecessary stress. Mini-tapers and mini-recoveries that interfere with quality workouts. 

Yes I like racing, but in the past year I've come to realize that races come at a high cost for me. They cause me to add excess bulk in some areas to ensure that all the work is done in order to earn my finish, and that can wear my body down quickly both mentally and physically. Not to mention that keeping the legs sharp for multiple distances is tricky, and finding the fine balance between what is best for each race while still paying attention to the body and not over training could really make a sane person go crazy.

Last week...
I wanted 2 quality workouts. But I only got one semi-decent workout in.
I wanted 3 strength sessions. But was only able to find the time and desire for 2.
I wanted 2 yoga classes. But only managed one that made me feel sick and dizzy.

Learning to let go of the space between expectation and reality is what makes intuitive training work for me. There is no guilt, no shame, and no need to find time to squeeze in extra miles or workouts that I know would be of very little value to me. Teaching myself the difference between pushing myself outside of my comfort zone smartly and beating myself into the ground physically has been challenging because in my mind there never used to be a difference.

Now I find myself frequently asking why.

Why do I need this double day?
Why do I need to hit x amount of miles per week?
Why do I have to load this day this way?
Why is this cross training activity important to me?

If the answer is simply and only "BECAUSE"...
then I know that I'm not making the best long-term decision for myself.

It makes little difference to me how many miles I clock a week or if I can do 10x1 mile repeats at race pace, instead my priorities lie in getting to the starting line of my race in May healthy, stronger then I've ever been before, and confident that all of the steps I've taken up until that point have been the right ones to prepare ME for MY race.

Lately I've been feeling like others around me are always in competition with me or others during their training. And it's starting to bother me. On Saturday I took to the lakefront during the late morning/early afternoon hours to get in a long run and somehow got caught up in a lot of runner traffic that doesn't usually exist on weekdays. There was a 50k race on the lakefront where the runners were doing 3x10 mile laps in addition to plenty of other runners out and about. While most of the ultra racers were very friendly and cheerful, it was the other runners that seemed to be making me a bit loopy as I slowly trotted along at my own pace and begun to carefully observe my surroundings.

Why is it that runners will sacrifice their workout just to have the glory of passing a few people?

I was getting passed left and right by people, which is really no big deal until I started to feel like a target. There was a man who was dead set that he must be running ahead of me clomping along in his what looked to be brand-spankin new New Balance Minimus kicks. His feet were hitting the ground so hard that it could hear him over the waves crashing along the lakefront for several minutes as he trailed behind me. When he passed, his arms were flailing all over the place and he sounded like he was going to have an asthma attack. Several minutes later he stopped ahead and begun to play with his feet, which I'm sure were cursing him for pushing so hard in unfamiliar shoes, and I caught up the distance and passed him by. Then this whole process repeated, two more times.

This man prompted a thought in my mind that stuck with me for the remaining 10+ miles of my run as I begun to suddenly notice others runners a bit more...

Is speed really more important then quality and control?

Watching the other runners from behind the shade of my sunglasses, I noticed that this seemed to be the norm. Usually I pay little-to-no attention to the other runners around me and instead put myself in a bubble of seclusion where the only thing that matters during those precious moments of labored breathing are me, my workout, and what my goal for the day is. But it seemed like most of the runners surrounding me were somehow in competition with one another.

As runners we are all so hungry for speed that it seems like we often go to great lengths to get it.

For me, I find little value in running balls to the walls everyday. I once trained like this and it burned me out well before race time ever appeared and turned me into a mental mess. So I now take to the lakefront of my city for my workouts minding my goal for the day. Other runners don't really matter to me on my workouts, there is little satisfaction here.

This is my life, and I run for me.

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If it's an easy day
I conserve the hell out of it and often times clock nearly 9 minute miles. Pass me all you want, my pace isn't going to change.

If it's a fartlek or speed work day
 I'm pressing hard and have blinders for what is going on around me. I won't notice you unless you are feeding off of me and your clomping feet and wheezed breath break my focus. If you mess with my workout here, I will say a few choice words to you. So it's best to leave me be.

Maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed...but with running blogs, Facebook fan pages, twitter, DailyMile, I'm starting to feel like most runners are turning their training into competitions with one another.

I'm a strong advocate of doing what works for me and me only, but all of the training competition I'm seeing is starting to bother me...

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Anyone else feel this way?


In the words of my wise yoga instructor last night, YOUR grass is always greener when YOU water it.