Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recovery Reflections

"When it comes time to decide how many miles in a week you should run, the most important thing to remember is that it is better to be 20 miles a week undertrained then 1 mile per week overtrained." 
Ryan Hall 
It's been 4 days, and I'm still recovering.
As it turns out, half marathons aren't exactly the most forgiving on under-conditioned bodies.

With the Shamrock Shuffle a mere 10 days away, I'm counting my blessings. At this point, workouts and mileage aren't very important to me and instead I'm just grateful to be moving forward again without being exhausted and constantly achy. Today, the legs are still feeling a bit tired from Sunday's half where I'm currently contemplating if one last fartlek before Shamrock is even going to be worth it.

For me, the answer last year at this time would have been,
"heck yes...can't miss a workout".

But, that really ended up leading me nowhere.

Just produced a few sub-par half performances, one semi-decent 10 miler, and left me feeling as if I drilled myself into the ground.


Sunday's race was a bit more challenging for me than I thought it would be. While I knew that physically I wasn't exactly the most fit to be chasing down a PR, mentally I hadn't given the race much thought beforehand and ended up not being able to get my head in the game during those 13.1 miles. Racing this distance without a watch or clocks on the course turned out to be more toilsome on my head than I originally anticipated. 

Probably deep in thought here questioning why I ever thought the race was a good idea
Thinking I look a bit dazed and confused here...
 There were quite a few times along those miles when I seriously considering pulling out of the race because it just didn't feel comfortable. 

Kept pace with this dude for all but the last few miles when the legs started to fizzle.
 One of my biggest challenges is always my head as I start to over think whats going on.
So hard to turn it off when things get uncomfortable, and Sunday all I could think about was everything that didn't feel right. 

In the moment sometimes it's really difficult to appreciate what's going on, and it took me about 36 hours post race to realize what I did on Sunday morning. 

While my time wasn't even close to my currently dated PR, I was lightyears off from winning the race,  and mentally checked out for most of the miles between 6-12, I still managed a finish under 1:30 in rough conditions on a very off day with only a handful of workouts leading up to the race. Things have to start somewhere, and I'd say that this isn't a bad way to start out my year.

Now I know what I need to work on moving forward, and don't think that a half PR would be completely out of the question this year if I do choose to chase one down.

But only time will tell...

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Chitown Half

Yesterday was one of those typical Chicago days where you're holding out for great weather and instead you get the exact opposite.

Cold. Blustery. Grey.

Perfect conditions for a race with an already quite caddywhompus course.

At this point in my life, races have become nothing new to me and are almost a dime a dozen. The days of over thinking the pre-race routine, splits, pace, and the like are well behind me where now all I worry about is oversleeping and keeping my breakfast down...both of which seem to be more difficult for me at this point in my life than they should be.

Having been out of the racing scene for sometime, I kept expectations for this race pretty low. It's only been about 8 weeks since I've been able to slowly start dipping my toes into the speedwork pool again. While progress has been fairly steady, it's also been slow and my body still gets confused from time to time when I push it to move quick. 

2013 has thus far been the year where I'm going back to the start of it; mechanics, not exceeding the demands my body can handle, resting appropriately, slow progressions, and everything in between.

So the goal was that there was no goal other than to just run.
And of course, hang out with some very cool ladies.

Xaarlin, Jenny, and myself freezing our tushies off pre-race
Photo theived from Xaarlin
Before the race, Xaarlin, Jenny, Hillary and I all meet up and tried to ignore the fact that it was freezing out and the winds were slowly becoming a bit more steady. We were all bundled up, which felt so wrong. I hate racing in the cold and usually don't do races this early in the year because of that, but my longing for the lakefront trumped whatever the weather God's would have in store for us on race day.

My "plan" going into the race was nothing more than race not pace. I didn't wear a watch and figured that would be best for me at this point in time since I had no idea where my current fitness was putting me. Trying to hit a certain split would have been nothing short of nutty and frivolous, two characteristics I'm trying to stay away from these days. Having never run this half but already having 8 half marathons and 50+ other races under my belt, I figured that this course would have clocks along the route just like every other race does and I'd be able to do some quick math along the way if necessary.

Once the race got off to a start, I was having a difficult time settling in. The legs didn't feel as rested as I hoped they would and I found annoyance with the 1:30 pace group that was just ahead. There was a guy with a heavy European accent that sounded cartoon-like being annoyingly encouraging to all those around and I just felt irritated by it. Pulled ahead of the pace group around the 3 mile marker and ran into Adam where we chatted it up for a few before he whizzed off ahead of me and I saw nothing but his back for the rest of the race as he sailed his way to a mighty tasty PR.

Coming into the finishing chute with my eyes closed. Typical.
Photo courtesy of Xaar

The course then became confusing where there were some gals complaining about how they wanted their money back and I saw Xaarlin heading into the finishing chute for her 10k when I just barely passed the 5 mile marker. I had a difficult time remembering the route of the race as the map online had quite a few curly-q's and hairpin turns for the lakefront, but it seemed off that she was already finishing. Turns out that quite of few of the 10k runners were directed to go the wrong way several times by volunteers and ended up with a race that was just over 5 miles, which doesn't surprise me because the signage for this race was mighty confusing.

Ummmm...still don't quite understand the course
At mile 6 I caught up with the gal I used to train with when I lived in the city where she brought along her nearly 7 foot tall boy and made him be my windshield for miles 6-10. Honestly, I don't think that I would have made it through this race without them. During those miles the winds started to pick up, the course was weaving like crazy, we seemed to hit nearly every incline the lakefront has, and the course somehow turned into a cross country course. My stomach began to ache and my mind officially checked out somewhere around 8-9. Thus began some of the worst mental talk that has ever existed in my head and I begun to curse out loud like a truck driver. And of course, it didn't help that people I'd passed long ago were now cutting the half short too because of janky and inadequate signage.

I could feel my pace slipping away and my stomach felt so wrong. I was never able to take in any fuels and I begun to realize that I may have been a bit ahead of myself when I thought a 13.1 mile race would be a good fitness check instead of going with something a bit shorter. Most of those latter miles of the race are a bit fuzzy in my mind now, but I do remember around 11-12 telling my girl Bronwen that I wasn't going to finish the race where she then tried to snap me out of it the best she could. It was useless for her because at that point I'd already mentally shut down and wanted nothing more than to not be running this terrible course in the wind any longer.

I still managed to get in a somewhat decent clip and squeaked in just under the 1:30 mark, which is a good start for me at this point. Racing without a watch on this confusing course which didn't have a single clock after the 6 mile marker (and only clocks at 2, 4, and 6) was quite challenging for me at this point in the year. Having put in only 2 tempo runs and maybe 6 other speed workouts building up to this race, I'd say this is a very fair finish time for me. 

Post race the crew drowned our sorrows, disappointments, and the few joys we had about this silly, poorly executed course and the atrocious weather conditions with milkshakes of course.

Because who doesn't refuel on cold days with spiked milkshakes?

Team Oreo...I be grammin'
It was here where it was decided that ALL races should conclude with a giant boozey milkshake.

Hillary, Me, Xaarlin, Jenny, Chanthana
photo swiped from Jenny
At this point, I'm pretty pleased with the fact that I was able to muster out another sub 1:30 finish on a day when I felt off and just couldn't get my head and body in the game. The fact that I made a few new friends made the day worth the headache.

BUT, I will NEVER do this race again. Something about making a course more confusing than it needs to be and the lack of signage, check-points, fueling stations, and clocks makes a race a big N.O. for me to revisit. Not worth the $72 investment. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

13.1 Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Chicago race entry is...

wait for it...

wait for it...

Noodle!!! Congrats!

You'll have 1 week to claim your entry. Please email me at and I'll get you all the info necessary for your comp registration.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back from the dead?

After 2 days and about 100 attempts to revive my fickle Garmin, it looks like it decided to make it's return (yet again) to the land of the living.

Only took 48 hours before it would randomly decide to respond to a manual reset. Suppose 100th time is the charm?

I honestly don't get what this darn things issue is.

Pretty much I've decided that the watch hates me and needs a bit of time away from me every now and then. No big deal. Just wish it would decide one way or the other and stop toying with me in the moments I would like to rely on it.

Yesterday I drug my tired booty out of bed at the ugly hour of 5 am to make the 100+ mile round trip to the middle of nowhere and keep a friend company as they went for a half marathon PR. Brought ole trusty along so that I could hopefully be of some pacing help.

Turns out that !$#%* decided to work, but with a few kinks every now and again. She decided to go back to her old ways of erratically flipping through the various screen options and beeping like crazy. I kept her on overall average pace so that I would be of as much help as possible.

But I wasn't.

The course was hard as all heck.

This run was more than likely the hilliest route my legs have ever traveled along.
But, I found myself at a weird crossroad with those inclines where I was actually looking forward to going up them as they approached. With every climb came the satisfaction of driving a bit harder anticipating the moment it would crest.

Hurt so good.

Cruising through this course comfortably gave me just the satisfaction I need for the Chitown Half this coming Sunday. While I'm not expecting a miracle or PR and I'm still hellbent on not wearing a watch, I'm pretty sure that things will be a bit smoother than my last go at this distance.

Blowing kisses to Mr. CRG

Excited to see Ms. Xaarlin & smiling through it all

And that's all I'm really after...
a fun race along the lakefront where my body keeps all of its fuels down.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

13.1 Marathon Chicago Giveaway

Last year I was lucky enough to be able to run the the Allstate Life Insurance Chicago 13.1 Marathon alongside a handful of truly great bloggers.

Photo courtesy of MagMileRunner
CharlynKim, moi
pre race Chi-town (and 1 Miami visitor) blogger meet up
It was hot as all heck, the humidity was through the roof, and I was in the mid-stage of the overtrained summer that kicked my @$$. But, it was one heck of a time because the company of local bloggers has the ability to make things a lot more enjoyable. 

This race starts at the beautiful South Shore Cultural Center and runs north alongside the lake until mile 7 where it heads back south on the lakefront path on Saturday June 8th. The course is fully supported and hosts a pretty sweet post race party.

Photo courtesy of Erin

It's a beautiful way to spend your morning as you take in some of Chicago's more nautical side, and today is your lucky day. The Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Chicago Marathon has generously offered a complimentary entry to one awesome Chicago Runner Girl reader.

How to enter:

Leave a comment below telling me what you are looking forward to most this Spring.

****All commenters welcome. If you don't have a blog, please just leave a valid email address so that I can contact you****

For an extra entry, you can:

Tweet "I want to win a free entry to the Chitown @131Marathon from @ChiRunnerGrl"

****In order for you tweet to count, you will need to leave a separate comment telling me that you tweeted****

This giveaway will run until March 18th at 12 pm CST where a winner will be announced and chosen shortly after. Good luck to you all and hope to see quite a few of you there!

Photo courtesy of Xaarlin

Sunday, March 10, 2013

RIP Forerunner 110

It happened today...

my ornery Forerunner 110 took it's final breath before laying itself to rest for eternity.
Of course.

Seems pretty routine that the damn thing decides to lose it's mind in the last few workouts I'd like to squeeze in before a race. So, it's only suiting that within the matter of days after committing to the Chitown Half Marathon on the 24th of this month that it would feel that this is the perfect time to die completely.

Little did that !*&$%@ watch know that it was only 3 quality workouts away from keeping me a happy lady.

After a day of tinkering with it, looks like there is no hope left and this will be the end of our rather tumultuous relationship.

Christmas of 2010, when we first "met"
This was back in the day before I knew that the damn thing was defective...
didn't find that out until the warranty had lapsed.

Can't say that I'm surprised, or entirely broken up about it. The Garmin and I have always had a love-to-hate relationship, and I think that this is probably as good of a time as any for us to cut our ties for a bit. Having already decided that I will be racing this spring without a watch, guess now would be a good time to get used to cruising naked.

Today I ended up bagging the planned workout and just going for a long comfortable run.

Since I still haven't created regular routes in my hood, I strapped on the hubby's 14+ year old Ironman Timex to keep track of how long I was gone.

The poor thing has seen better days.
But it's hanging in there like a champ!

Pretty surprised that a $50 watch that is 14+ years old can outlive a $250 watch.
Makes me angry when I think about it, but there isn't much I can do at this point besides just move on.

By my guesstimation skills, think I made it about 15 miles.
Which would be my longest run since the Chicago Marathon back in October.

Can't say it was the easiest of run, but I made it.

Since my only other timing device is ancient, thinking of getting either just a cheap stopwatch with more than 9 laps like Mr. Chicago Runner Girl's timex does or maybe even purchasing a Forerunner 10. Was really hoping to hold out on the watch until Garmin releases their new "live-tracker" feature on the up and coming Forerunner 220 version. But having some type of timing device would be nice so that I can make sure I'm not overdoing it.

This bod has limits, and unless I'm monitoring things it's really easy to slip into old habits and get a wee bit carried away.

Thoughts on decent stopwatches or the Forerunner 10?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gaining Confidence

Today was gorgeous out. 

Mid 20's with no wind and sunny skies, pretty much my ideal running weather.

Tomorrow I turn 29. While I think you're only as young as you feel, and I feel pretty darn young still, it's becoming apparent more and more these days that my youth is slowly slipping away from me.

Getting irritated by loud music.
Wanting to spend Saturday nights wrapped up in a Snuggie on my couch with my pups.
Finding it difficult to stay up past 10 pm on any given night.
The bod taking 36 hours to recover from a 3 drink night.

Can't escape it...age just happens.

To toast off my last day as a 28 year old, I laced up my Brooks Pure Cadence 2's and headed out the door for a little 13 miler. Goal for the day was nothing more than to get in some consistent steady miles and see if my body would be able to potentially handle the Chitown Half Marathon on 3/24.

Have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how controlled and relaxed the miles felt. Seems like heading out the door without number expectations or goal splits is working for me these days.

Who would have thought that goal-less training with considerately less mileage would actually be working more for me than aggressive goals and heavily loaded and focused weeks?

Not me thats for sure.

Feels good to have that sinew feeling back in the legs.
Sometimes doing something different seems to be just what the doctor ordered for progress.