CARA Beginning Running Program and Chicago 10K Race Recap

After a nice weekend of good food and good friends (more on that in my next post), I woke up to a nasty sinus infection on Monday and have finally gotten myself together enough to finally post my recap of the CARA Beginning Running program and the Chicago 10K, as promised.  So without further adieu :)…

CARA Beginning Running Program – Group Leader Recap:

What can I say, the last 8 weeks have been a total blast!  As a group leader for the 5K group, I had a unique opportunity to not only make a new friend, but to help this friend reach an important goal and even surpass her own running related expectations.

When I first met “S” on our first Thursday night group meet-up, I was excited to help someone discover their love for running and honestly, it felt good to “give back”.  At the same time, I was incredibly nervous that I would be holding her back since I’m not even close to being considered a “fast” runner.  I was relieved when “S” indicated she currently ran a 13 min/mile pace, but after our first run together, I knew she had the capability to go MUCH faster than that (we ran a 11:52 min/mile pace that night).  From the first group run, “S” seemed to be excited about running her very first 5K, but not very confident in her natural running abilities.  Over our 8 weeks together, “S” was game to try whatever pace or however many miles we threw at her, always accepting with a smile.  She was very dedicated to the program – we even met up on an extremely hot Tuesday night to run together on a week she knew she wouldn’t be able to make it to the Thursday group run.  I am happy to report that by the end of our 8 weeks together, “S” was able to complete a 6 mile run with ease and improved her pace from 13 min/mile to…drum roll please…10:28 min/miles for a 4 mile run!  She’s a natural!  🙂  For someone who has never run before, this kind of improvement in only 8 weeks is amazing to me!  Not only is “S” ready to run her first 5K, she could easily run a 10K too!  Way to go “S”!!!

The program itself was fantastic from start to finish.  We had a bit of a slow start due to lack of enrollment, and we had a few weeks “off” due to crazy Chicago weather (severe thunderstorm one week and extreme heat another) and a holiday (4th of July), but our group runs were typically very well attended and the guest speakers were wonderful.  During the program, we were given presentations on proper pre- and post-run stretching and injury prevention, nutrition and hydration, gear (running shoes, socks, etc.) and even had an opportunity to test “drive” new versions of the most popular Saucony running shoes before they even hit store shelves.  The information conveyed was very valuable for beginning runners and a great reminder for those of us who may have become complacent (ah hem…yeah, that would be me).  We were also treated to a very yummy post-run dinner treat from Noodles and Company along with some coupons for free meals…bonus!!!

I really wish I had known about this program when I began running again 2 years ago.  The information conveyed was very helpful and the training program they provided was fantastic.  The 5K training program was similar to many of the other 5K training programs out there, but much more advanced than the C25K program I used, with only one week of run/walk workouts as opposed to several weeks in C25K.  Overall, I think this training program is great, but I would not suggest it for someone who has not engaged in cardiovascular exercise recently.  Luckily, under the Beginning Running program umbrella, CARA also provides two levels of run/walk training which would be a great starting point (and almost exactly like the C25K program I used) in addition to the 5K and 10K options.

The bottom line is, I would HIGHLY recommend this program to any runner (or potential runner) that is looking to get started, run a faster 5K, train for a 10K or even run a faster 10K).  The price is reasonable at $52 for CARA members or $76 for non-members.  I know I am seriously considering using a CARA program as I strive to reach my next running related goal.  Lastly, if you are considering membership in CARA, stop considering and just do it!  Membership comes with so many perks that the yearly fee practically pays for itself!  Perks include race discounts, a free subscription to Runner’s World magazine, discounts at local retailers and service providers and so much more.

Chicago 10K Race Recap:

As a general rule of thumb, I tend to stay away from summer racing, mainly because I overheat very easily and as a result, my times are usually much slower than my spring/fall/winter races, making for a lovely string of PW’s from late June to mid-September.  However, I am trying to do at least one “real” race every month this year.  I blew that goal out of the water pretty early in the year when I came down with Mono in February, but I am determined to keep going through the remainder of the year and have been successful every month since.  I was already registered to do the Hell Run on August 31st, but needed a real race for August and when I saw a few of my run club friends and one of the CARA Beginning Running 10K participants were registered for the Chicago 10K, I thought I would give it a shot, despite the chance of a sweltering summer day race.

The registration process was great – super fast and easy, a little on the pricier side, but that is my fault for waiting until the last minute to register.  When registering, they also gave you the option to choose either a free cotton shirt or pay an extra $5 for a gender specific tech tee.  The shirt design wasn’t too bad so I opted for the tech tee, but now I wish I hadn’t.  The material is more like the silky unbreathable, stick to your skin when you sweat tees than a true breathable wicking tech tee.  Oh well, at least I have a new loud (black with fluorescent green lettering) shirt to wear on the weekend!  🙂  The design is pretty cool though, with the Hancock building making an appearance in the lettering on the front and a bright fluorescent green “FINISHER” scrawled across the back.

Moving on to race day, the weather was forecast to be a typical Chicago summer day – mid-80’s, semi-humid and a little bit of a breeze.  When I arrived at the “L” station at 6am to meet my run club friends, the weather was perfect…not too hot and not too humid.  By the time we got downtown it was starting to heat up a bit and I began to wonder why they chose an 8am start time for a summer race along the Chicago Lakefront path.  As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with the Lakefront path.  I love it in the spring, fall and winter, but I HATE it in the summer.  It’s not the amount of non-racing people on the path that bothers me (though the cyclists could stand to take a chill pill and stop screaming at us racers who paid good money to be running on the path…a simple “on your left” or “excuse me” would be sufficient), it is more the total lack of shade that throws me for a loop in the summer.  That being said, the view is beautiful and the lake breeze can help a bit, at least for part of the race, but in the summer, I would really like to see a much earlier start time, more like 6:30am or 7am depending on the length of the race.  In this case, I think a 7am start would have been perfect.

Another thing that really surprised me about this race was the lack of Gatorade or a similar sport drink.  When I got to the first aid station I was surprised to see that there was no Gatorade.  Given that this was not only a “longer” race but a late starting summer race, I thought that, for sure, Gatorade would be offered at the aid stations.  When I didn’t see any at the first aid station I assumed it was to save on costs and expected to see it at the mid-point station at least.  Imagine my surprise when the next two aid stations didn’t have Gatorade either.  I was even more surprised when I finally crossed the finish line, legs cramping up from sweating out so much salt, to find out that there was again, no Gatorade!  Really, not even at the finish of a 6 mile race?!  The finish line area consisted of a bottle of water, the biggest finisher medal I have even seen (more on that in a minute), granola bars, fruit snack packets and bananas.  I was pretty disappointed, but at least the bananas weren’t cut in half!  Though I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I think a lot of other runners had a similar reaction to the heat and sun exposure, as there was a whole lot of run/walking going on around me, and considering I finished in the middle of the pack with close to a PW time, which is pretty unusual for a well attended (2,612 finishers) Chicago race.  All whining aside, I have to commend the volunteers, they did a fantastic job keeping everything moving smoothly (from packet pick-up to the finish line) and provided a lot of encouraging words along the way.  Way to go volunteers!!

Now, lets discuss the finisher’s medal.  There are some who believe finisher’s medals should be reserved for “harder” races, like the half-marathon, marathon, ultra marathon, etc.  It seems like in the last year finisher’s medals have become so popular they are almost expected at every race of any distance…almost like the little league “everyone gets a trophy, even if your team didn’t win” mentality of late.  I have to agree, to some extent.  Sure, getting a finisher’s medal is fun and like a little kid, I want to wear it home so everyone can see it as I wear my “that’s right, I just ran a race…and finished” smile…except sometimes when I hang up a 5K finisher’s medal next to a half marathon finisher’s medal it feels like I cheated…like it’s not worthy enough to be hung up with the rest of the “big” ones.  I worked so hard to get that half marathon finisher’s medal, but barely broke a sweat in the 5K and I am rewarded with a medal?  It just feels like cheating sometimes.  Anyway, I’m fairly confident that the bulk of the registration fee for this race went to the awesome Flavor Flav like finisher’s medal.  This has got to be the BIGGEST medal I have EVER seen!!!  Seriously, it is twice the size of a “normal” medal and weighs about twice as much too!  Even though I was disappointed with the start time, lack of Gatorade, selection of post-race treats and most of all, my time (obviously not their fault); I was pretty impressed with this medal.  It is a bit over the top, but it is really fun and the Chicago references (“L” car etched behind the 10K) are awesome.  I just wish I had a better time to go along with it so I didn’t feel like a cheater again.  Once again I have been rewarded for a mediocre performance, but I guess the medal is right…I did finish…and for that I should be proud and thankful!

In summary, I think this race could easily be one of my favorites, with a few small tweaks:

1)  Earlier Start Time


3)  Salty Snack at the Finish

Chicago 10K

The “Flavor Flav” Finisher’s Medal!


Halfway There

Well friends, I have made it to the half way point of my training schedule!  As the mileage keeps increasing, I am getting more and more nervous and excited for “the big day”, but I am also becoming more confident that I will be able to complete the distance. 

Unfortunately, this week was a rough week for me and I stumbled a bit yesterday, allowing an opportunity for Negative Nancy to come out of her corner yelling and screaming that “I’m crazy, I can’t do this…I’m so slow, I should just give up…I’m crafty, not athletic – I should just stick to running (jogging) for fitness and stay away from races”.  Thank goodness for my awesome husband, he was able to talk some sense into me and make me realize that it’s not about how fast and how far others go, it’s about bettering MYSELF and achieving the goals I set for myself.  Occasionally I need to step back and focus more on the progress I have made in the last two years and stop comparing myself and my abilities to others.  The bottom line is this…like a Greyhound, I was born to be a sprinter not an endurance runner.  I have never been “fast” when it comes to running long distances (my old high school 5K PR is 27:46…just 10 seconds faster than my current 5K PR) and I have overcome bad habits and a serious injury to get where I am today.  The fact that I have gone from not running at all to tackling a marathon (something only 0.5% of the US population has done [Source]) in only two years is something to be proud of.  I also have a passion for running, I really do love it.  Through running I have been able to shake off a bad day, make awesome new friends, live a healthier life and give back to the communities I am a part of.  Just because others are faster than me or can run farther without needing a walk break doesn’t mean I should quit.  In fact, I have so many more reasons to keep going than I do for quitting…so staying the course is what I will do, for as long as I can, for as fast as I can, and for as far as I can!

Now…here is how my training went this week:

Thursday – 8/1/13 (Easy Run – 6 Miles):

We are nearing the end of the CARA Beginning Running program and I couldn’t be prouder of my 5K running buddy.  She is gaining confidence in her abilities and is happy to push the envelope with every run.  After last week’s 5.5 mile run, I was hoping I didn’t push her too far too fast and that she would recover quickly.  I was happy to hear that she wasn’t sore at all and was willing to try a 6 mile run tonight!  The 5.5 miles we ran last week was the farthest she has ever run, so she was a little unsure of herself and her ability to run 6 miles, but was able to complete the run easily.  We kept to a nice and easy pace and finished the run strong.  It was pretty hot and humid, but carrying a water bottle helped us to stay hydrated and the slower pace helped me to get through without expending all of my energy and bonking after mile 4.  The stats for our run are sandwiched between my bike ride to and from The Foot below:


Friday – 8/2/13 (Rest):

In an attempt to prepare for my scheduled long run the following day, I took full advantage of my rest day today and made sure I carbed up!  For lunch, I ordered a pizza to share with some coworkers and even indulged in an ice cream sandwich for my late afternoon snack.  After work, I had the pleasure of visiting with my favorite furry babies (my in-law’s kittens) and on the way home I stopped for my favorite carbo loading meal – Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac & Cheese with Rice Krispie Treat for dessert.  Overall, it was a day full of rest, indulgence and calories, but I didn’t feel too guilty knowing what was in store for me the next day!

Saturday – 8/3/13 (Long Run – 13 Miles):

Ah, the dreaded long run.  Lately, I have been feeling anxious before my long runs, but after last week’s failed Saturday attempt I was especially anxious.  When the alarm went off at 4:45am I groaned and seriously considered just going back to sleep, but knew that I wouldn’t have the luxury of a fallback run on Sunday because we already had plans.  I rolled out of bed, ate my CLIF bar and promptly passed out on the couch.  When I finally woke up at 6:30am, I panicked, got dressed, gathered my gear and was out the door in record time. 

The run itself went well.  I finally received my box of energy gels so I made sure I was armed with 4 gels this time, along with 2 bottles of Gatorade and my handheld full of regular water.  I felt great through the first 10 miles of the run, stopping to eat my gels at mile markers 3, 6 and 9.  By mile 11 I felt fine, but was just mentally spent and just wanted to get the rest of the run over with, so I ate another gel and moved forward.  Because I have been doing my long runs under my interval plan, I set up a workout on my Garmin, figuring 23 reps would be enough.  Wrong!  My Garmin started singing me a happy song indicating that my workout was complete at 12.89 miles, but I wasn’t so happy…I still had a bit to go!  I reset my watch and decided to give it another quarter mile, just to see what my half marathon time (and subsequently full marathon time) would be if I ran a race like this.  Under 2:30:00 for the half…another goal achieved!  I’m hoping to be able to just finish the marathon, but I have a “goal” time of 5:30:00 in mind, which I should be able to achieve if I keep training at this pace.  I’m keeping my expectations low to avoid disappointment in case I hit “the wall” hard, suffer a mental roadblock, the weather is hot/humid, or some other variable derails my race.  Anyway, I was happy with this run and didn’t feel nearly as sore afterward as I did last week.  Here are my stats (the calories burned is off because I had my Garmin set to cycling and had to manually change it to running after uploading the data…I burned WAY more than that!):


Sunday – 8/4/13 (60 Mins of Cross-training):

Yeah, I did absolutely NO cross-training today (unless a brief panicked swim to catch my camera before it floated downstream counts), but I did have a lot of fun!  Today I went on a really fun Living Social Adventure, the BYOB River Tubing and Taco Bar, with my husband, brother-in-law and a few friends from work.  What a blast!!  We did this adventure last year too, but that is a really long and funny story for another time (there was a torrential downpour and a redneck wedding – horses included), but this year was a thousand times better.  The weather was perfect and the company was even better!  I can’t wait for next summer to do it again…without Living Social and the internal eye rolling it induces though.  The only plus to doing this through Living Social is that transportation to/from is included, which makes the BYOB part a little more enjoyable (unless someone on your bus decides that drinking champagne in the sun and then eating tacos is a good idea…yeah, not so much).  Oh, and next year I will wear sunscreen (ouchie)!

Monday – 8/5/13 (Rest Day):

According to my training plan, Monday’s are supposed to be a rest day so I wasn’t too upset when I realized I had an appointment after work, meaning I wouldn’t have time to run when I got home.  The only downside to not running today was that I was guaranteed to miss yet another week of speed work at the track with my run club.  😦  At least I’m not going to miss my actual training runs, I guess!

Tuesday – 8/6/13 (Easy Run – 3 Miles):

Oh boy, I don’t know if it was due to Saturday’s long run, the beer and junk food on Sunday or the extended “rest” I had by not running on Monday, but this run was absolutely horrible.  My legs were tight, tired, sore and it felt like I had two cement blocks strapped to my feet.  It took everything I had in me to get through this run.  I tried stopping a few times to stretch out my legs but nothing helped.  I ached from my toes to my hips, and oddly enough, my shoulders were sore too.  The time wasn’t too terribly bad (I’ve run a lot slower), but the effort it took to go this slow made me feel like an absolute failure.  I think my disappointment in this run was a huge factor in my Negative Nancy episode on Wednesday.  Here are my stats:


Wednesday – 8/7/13 (Mid Week Long Run – 7 Miles):

After Tuesday’s failure of a run and my Negative Nancy episode Wednesday morning, I was looking for ANY excuse to skip my training run and give up on training all together.  When the rain clouds rolled in during my lunch hour, I secretly prayed they would turn to thunderstorms by the time I got home from work.  No such luck…they burned off by mid-afternoon and I turned my attention to the heat and humidity for excuses.  The high for the day was in the 90’s and the heat index was 96 at 4pm…surely it was too hot to run.  I mean, if I did, it was sure to end up like the epic failure of a run during the heatwave a few weeks ago, right?!  Luckily, my husband saved the day again.  His encouragement, along with the encouragement of a co-worker armed me with the confidence I needed to face this run, no matter how slow I might go.  I started the run feeling pretty good, but knew I was in trouble when I wanted to quit as I rounded the corner to Washington Boulevard at the 2 mile marker.  I ate an energy gel at mile 3.5 and knew I had to push through, and push through I did.  It may have been slow, and it may have been ugly, but I did it.  Here are my stats:


Tonight is the last night of the CARA Beginning Running program and I have a 10K coming up this weekend.  Stay tuned for some recaps and more training tales in the days to come.  Have a great week, everyone!

Chug, chug, chugging along!

Holy smokes…I can’t believe I’m already into week 8 of marathon training!  It feels like just yesterday I was nervously awaiting the start of my training program.  Looking back over the last 7 weeks, I have learned some very important lessons (as long as I follow through and don’t make the mistakes again) and have made some decent progress toward reaching my goal of finishing my very first full marathon.  I’m really looking forward to the next 11 weeks of training, but I know the hardest part is yet to come.  I’m still working on pushing through the negative thoughts and the tough summer heat, but with every completed run my motivation increases and the Negative Nancy in my head retreats to her time out corner.

When I started this process, I wasn’t expecting to experience some of the changes my body has been going through – some good, some not so good – but through research and reading I’m learning more about what to expect and how to “fix” any issues that may arise.  I’ve been reading a lot of articles from Runner’s World and and have been reading the Runner’s World “Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training” as well as Nancy Clark’s “Food Guide for Marathoners”.  All have given me a good idea of how to train, eat, hydrate and work through any mental barriers that may arise.  Talking to other marathon finishers has been a great help too.  The most important fact that I have learned is that everybody and every BODY is different.  What works for one, may not work for all.  It is important to use this time as a learning opportunity, to test out what works and what doesn’t work for me.  Just like the last 7, this week has provided may learning opportunities or me.  Here is how it went:

Thursday– 7/25/13 (Easy Run – 5.5 Miles):

Another lovely day in Chicago!  The weather was a little bit warmer today than it was on Wednesday, but the humidity was still pretty low, making for great running weather.  As you know, Thursday’s are the day I meet and train with my Beginning Running buddy.  After an incredibly boring day at work (both of my bosses were out of the office), I rushed home in an attempt to get home, grab my bike and get to The Foot before our 6:30pm meet up time.  Of course, the pug had to take her sweet time doing her business (we must smell EVERY blade of grass to find the PERFECT spot, you know) so I was felling a bit rushed.  Luckily, I got the bike out the basement door without injuring myself (not an easy task) and was on my way in no time.  I made it to The Foot and found a “parking” spot for my bike with 5 minutes to spare.  After a great Q&A with a nutritionist, we stretched quickly and headed out.  We were scheduled to do 4 miles today, but since my buddy and only one participant in the 10K and Run/Walk programs showed, we decided to tag along with the 10K pacer and participant.  So, instead of 4 miles, we ended up doing 5.5 miles!  I was so proud of my 5K buddy, she had never run that far before, but was able to easily complete the run.  Heck with a 5K, this girl is ready for a 10K!  She seemed pretty happy about the run too…both the distance she covered, and the speed.  She is doing really, really well – I’m glad she is enjoying herself and is discovering what she is capable of.  Here are the stats for our run, sandwiched between my ride to/from the store:


Friday – 7/26/13 (Rest Day):

Friday’s are a rest day, and I took full advantage of this rest day.  I was able to take advantage of summer hours and left work a little early, which gave me some time to run a few errands before heading home.  After a quick ride around Oak Park/River Forest in Betty (my husband’s shiny new black Mustang), we enjoyed a nice relaxing evening watching movies.  I went to bed early, knowing I would be getting up early to get my long run in so I could spend the day preparing for guests we were having over Saturday evening.

Saturday – 7/27/13 (The Long Run That Didn’t Happen):

The alarm went off at 4:45am and I groaned as I rolled out of bed.  My stomach was feeling a little upset but I chalked it up to nerves about running the 12 miles I had scheduled for that day.  Things were only getting worse as I attempted to choke down my CLIF bar.  I know I say that I choke down those CLIF bars a lot, but this time I really mean it.  After letting my stomach settle for a half hour or so, I geared up and headed out the door.  I still wasn’t feeling that great when I started out, but just after the one mile marker, I stopped in my tracks (there may even have been a screeching sound…lol) and began contemplating how I could get home…QUICKLY.  I was supposed to do a trail run with my run club today, but canceled last minute because my new hydration belt hadn’t arrived yet and there is only well water on the trail (well water and I don’t get along well, I break out in hives, I think it’s the Sulfur), so at this moment I was really glad I didn’t go!  After a very uncomfortable walk home I decided to go back to bed for a while.  Feeling much better, I got up again around 8am and decided to hit the local farmers market before meeting a friend for a cup of coffee.  Feeling like I needed to get at least some exercise in for the day, I decided I would ride my bike.

The farmers market was awesome…there were so many fresh fruits, veggies, plants and flowers!  I ended up with a gigantic bag of fresh green beans (for $2.50!!!) and a jar of Jalapeno pickled asparagus for my hubby.  I really wanted to get a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers too, but I was sure they wouldn’t hold up well in my backpack.

I left the farmers market and made my way through Oak Park/River Forest to meet my friend, taking the long route to kill some time.  I finally made it to Starbucks and had a nice time chatting with my friend(s) over coffee (iced Green Tea for me) and pastries.  I think I could have done without the pastry though, since my ride home was less than comfortable…I have never wanted a TUMS so badly in all of my life!  After I got home and ate that magical TUMS, I rested on the couch for a little bit before tackling the house cleaning and guest preparations.  Unfortunately, our guests had to cancel at the last minute, but we still enjoyed a nice evening with our neighbors and a fire in the backyard.  Again, I went to bed early knowing I would have to get up early and try my long run again.  Here are the stats for my bike ride(s):


Sunday – 7/29/13 (12 Mile Long Run – For Real This Time):

After the previous failed attempt at this long run, I just wanted to stay in bed when the alarm went off at 5am today.  Though I felt much better physically, than I did the day before, I wasn’t mentally in the game.  After eating my CLIF bar and taking my sweet time getting ready, I finally got out the door around 6:45am.  The first half of the run was good.  My legs were a little tired and sore from riding my bike the day before (I don’t usually ride my bike so my muscles aren’t used to it), but I was able to push through.  I stopped at mile 4 to refuel with a gel and kept trudging along.  Too little too late, I think.  As I discovered during last weeks long run, my energy level falls off a steep cliff somewhere around mile 4 to 4.5, meaning that I should eat a gel closer to mile 3 or 3.5 – unfortunately, I only had two gels (another online order that hasn’t come in yet) so I had to space them out a little further for this run.  I was still hanging in there when I stopped to refill my water bottle that had been empty for a while near mile 7.  I was running out of juice again but forced myself to keep going for another mile before stopping to eat again at mile 8.  I have no idea what happened, but my Garmin decided it was tired too and it reset itself while I ate.  Luckily, I planned to do an out and back run, so I knew retracing my route would get me to the mileage I needed.  The rest of the run was slow going, I was really running out of gas into mile 10 and started to feel dizzy and exhausted.  The last few miles were pure torture, but I made it through – not giving up!  Unfortunately, I forgot to factor in the detour I made so I could refill my water bottle and ended up running about three quarters of a mile more than I needed!  By the time I got home, my hips and legs were toast.  I chugged a glass of Gatorade and hopped in the shower looking forward to meeting up with another friend and then grabbing some breakfast with my husband.  Oh boy was it slow going for a while after that run.  I fell asleep in the car a few times on the way to breakfast and felt like a 90 year old in desperate need of a hip replacement every time I went to stand up.  My protein and caffeine filled breakfast seemed to help a bit, as I was moving around a little better by early evening.  I wrapped up the day with a really nice steak dinner on the deck with my husband and brother-in-law.  The glass of wine I had ALMOST made me forget about how much that run hurt.  🙂  Here are my stats:


Monday – 7/29/13 (Easy Run – 3 Miles):

Guess what finally came in the mail today?!  That’s right…my new Amphipod RunLite Hydration belt!  I was so excited when the mailman came, it was like Christmas morning.  I excitedly opened the package and immediately tried it on.  I was impressed with how comfortable it was and the convenience all of the little compartments provided.  In addition to the four 8 oz. bottles, the belt came with a pouch which is perfect size for my phone and keys and an additional expandable pouch (similar to my SPIBelt) which will be perfect for energy gels.

Naturally, I HAD to rush home to take it out for a test run.  I was a little afraid that 4 bottles of water would add a ton of weight and I would have to fight the bounce my entire run, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, the water filled bottles added a noticeable amount of weight (I wish they could come up with some space age weightless hydration supplement) and there was some bounce and ride up, but it was not nearly as bad as my single bottle Nathan belt.  I figured out that placing the bottles closer to my sides helped to reduce the bounce, but the ride up was still really annoying.  What is the key to keeping these hydration belts on your hips?  Overall, I’m very pleased with this belt and am looking forward to the next club trail run.  In the meantime, I plan to wear it at least once a week on shorter runs to get used to it.  My stats for last night’s run are below.  I’m not sure if the “slower” time was due to tired legs after the 12 miler on Sunday, or if it was the added weight from the hydration belt, but my legs definitely felt “heavier” today.


Tuesday – 7/30/13 (Rest Day):

I had no choice but to take a rest day today.  I have to say, I wasn’t really sad about it either, because instead of running 6 miles, I got to watch a Cubs game from an awesome seat at Wrigley Field!  🙂  My husband was lucky enough to score tickets to the game from his office so we enjoyed a nice evening of baseball and junk food.  I felt just a little guilty eating a slice of pizza, nachos and two beers.  By the time we left I was so full it wasn’t even funny!  Unfortunately, the Cubs lost, but we still had a great time.

Wednesday – 7/31/13 (Mid-Week Long Run – 6 Miles):

After Tuesday’s late night, I struggled through the day today but made it through thanks to my little friend, caffeine.  By the time I got home from work, all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch some TV.  But alas, the training must go on!  Since I skipped my scheduled training run on Tuesday for the Cubs game I had to make it up, which meant no Wednesday night speed work…again.  That’s three weeks in a row now…ugh, I’m never going to get faster if I keep slacking on the speed work.  Darn Tuesday night commitments!  I’m thinking about substituting my weekend cross training day with speed work on the weeks I can’t make it on Wednesday nights.

Anyway, this run was pretty awful.  Not only was I exhausted from lack of sleep and a crazy busy day at work, but like an idiot I decided it was OK to consume several sugary pieces of candy late in the afternoon.  I’m not sure if it was the sugar crash or my junk food choices the night before, but I definitely felt sluggish and my stomach ached something fierce for the first few miles.  I wasn’t sure I would make it through 2 miles, let alone 6, but I pushed through and finished the run.  I am not too pleased with my pace for this run, considering I did the same run last week at a sub 10 minute pace, but as I’ve said before, we all have bad days and clearly yesterday was a bad day, full of bad nutrition choices.  Lesson learned…I will be keeping my hands out of that candy bowl from now on!  Here are my stats for the run:


Coming out of hibernation…

Oh hi, remember me?!  No, marathon training hasn’t killed me, but the summer heat just might (more on that later)!  Seriously though, I have been super duper busy these last few (almost three…oops!) weeks and haven’t been able to find much free time for myself, let alone time to sit in front of a computer and attempt to be witty.  🙂

So what have I been up to?  Oh, you know, just fighting the lovely Chicago traffic five days a week (1 hour each way), working my tail off at the office, finishing up those darn roman shades for my kitchen, and of course, running!  The good news is, the roman shades are done and have been installed.  I’m not particularly proud of them, but for my first sewing project since Home-Ec class in middle school, I’d say they came out alright.  What do you think?

roman shades

Please excuse my running bag sitting on the counter!

OK – let’s get down to business.  Here is a recap of how my training has been going:

Sunday (7/7/13) – Long Run (9 Miles):

In an effort to get my longs runs in before the heat of the day, I have been getting up at 5am to eat before heading out at 6am.  It was really hard to get up because I was up late, hanging out with our neighbors around the fire pit in our backyard.  When the alarm went off I groaned and crawled out of bed, choked down a CLIF Bar, took a few sips of my diet coke and promptly dozed off on the couch while I waited for my food to digest.  Luckily, I never got into a deep sleep and was able to force myself out the door a little after 6am.  The first three miles of the run felt great.  I didn’t feel too winded and my legs felt strong.  The sun was out but my route was pretty shaded up to this point.  I started to heat up a bit when I lost most of my shade into mile 4 and I felt my energy take a leap off a tall cliff.  At mile 4.5 I stopped to walk as I ate my energy gel and drink some water.  Tired of the same old scenery, I decided to try a new route today and crossed over into River Forest for the last half of my run, knowing I would be able to find more shade on it’s densely tree lined streets.  Feeling low energy, I began to think about new strategies for completing the run.  I remembered how easy it was to run with my Beginning Running buddy our first week together and decided to give our interval plan a shot.  I completed the last half of the run by alternating .50 mile running at a “faster” pace and walking 1 minute.  I was so happy when my watch beeped at 9 miles, not because I was exhausted (the intervals definitely helped me finish strong), but because I forgot to Body Glide up and that same spot in my armpit felt like someone was stabbing me every time I swung my arm.  I promise, I will NEVER forget Body Glide again before a long run!  Here are my stats for the run (slow to some standards, but within my long run training pace of 10:34-11:46).


Monday (7/8/13) – Rest Day:

After 9 miles on Sunday, my legs were a bit tired and I was longing for a rest day.  Typically, Monday’s are a rest day in the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan I am using, but because I’m trying to work in some speed work on Wednesday’s to improve my 5K times, I have shifted my normal Tuesday night workout to Monday, Wednesday night to Tuesday and then fall back on schedule for my Thursday night and Saturday or Sunday long run.  Luckily, I had an appointment after work and I didn’t get home until late so there wasn’t much time to get in a run before it got too dark/late.  I attempted to get in a quick three miler, but was unmotivated, tired and sore so I called it quits after one mile and went home to relax on the couch with my hubby.  I must have been pretty tired because 10 minutes later, I was catching flies on the couch.  Here are the stats for that run:


Tuesday (7/9/13) – 3 Miler:

Summer has really kicked into high gear in Chicago and this day was no exception.  Even though it was hot and steamy (~82 degrees with 74% humidity), I knew I had to get out there and complete my training run, especially after Monday’s failed attempt.  The run went reasonably well for the first two miles, but I crashed and burned on mile three.  I don’t think nutrition or hydration was the reason for my crash, I really think it had everything to do with the heat and humidity.  On hot and humid day’s like this I really struggle to not overheat when I’m running.  Walking is fine, but I often feel dizzy, sick to my stomach or like my face/head is going to explode when I’m running.  At this point, I’m really not sure how to overcome this, other than doing my training runs on the dreaded treadmill if it’s too hot/humid out.  How do you train when the mercury soars and the humidity is suffocating?


Wednesday (7/10/13) – Speed Work:

Holy moly was speed work hard this day!  I was thankful that the temperature and humidity had eased a bit and there was a nice breeze to help cool things off a bit.  After riding my bike to the track, I jogged a mile to stay warm and continued to jog as the rest of the group did their drills.  I’m still terrified that any lateral drills will bring back that horrible leg pain I was working through a few weeks ago.  All told, my warm-up consisted of a 2 mile bike ride and 1.5 miles of jogging.  After the warm-up, stretching and 4 stiders, my legs felt loose and strong…I was ready to conquer the workout!  The plan was to do 12 x 400’s at 5K pace with a 100 meter jog rest in between and a longer rest after a set of 4.  Remembering that I tend to go out way too fast, I kept my first set right around an 8:47/mile pace (2:05 ish for each 400).  They say consistency is key, and I was right on all the way through the second set.  I was really starting to struggle in the last two of the second set though, so I decided to sit out the first 400 of the third set.  The extra break did me a world of good though and with a little encouragement from “Coach” I successfully ran three more 400’s at 2:00 or under!  It felt good to know that I could do it and I’m looking forward to getting stronger and stronger…hopefully I will see 1:30’s or 1:40’s by the end of the program!  After the workout I cooled down with another 3/4 mile jog and a quick barefoot lap on the turf.  It was slow going riding my bike home since my legs were feeling pretty worn out, but I tried to push it so I could make it home before it got too dark (I didn’t have lights for my bike yet).  I made it home with plenty of daylight to spare though!

Thursday (7/11/13) – Another 3 Miler:

Thursday is the day I help pace for the CARA Beginning Running program.  This was our first day back after a two week hiatus due to a nasty thunderstorm and the 4th of July holiday, so I was excited to get back into the swing of things.  Today, my 5K buddy and I were scheduled to run 3 consecutive miles without any rest breaks.  I didn’t have any doubt that my buddy could do it though.  Like I have said before, she is a much better runner than she realizes and she definitely have the lung capacity to get her through easily.  After a bit of dynamic stretching, we started out on our route and before we knew it the three miles was up!  The weather was really nice, a little on the humid side, but not too hot for a change.  Here are our stats for the run:


Saturday (7/13/13) – Long (ish) Run and Post Run Yoga:

After a rest day on Friday, I was feeling prepared and excited to meet my run club friend for a quick run before she introduced me to my new favorite post run activity…yoga!  We met at 7am, which would normally be early enough to beat the heat of the day, but the humidity was up and I decided to wear running capri’s because, well, nobody wants to see me doing yoga in anything but pants…take my word for it.  Not thinking ahead and BRINGING a pair of capri’s to change into was my downfall.  The first mile or so was fine, we even got to laugh when a random car drove by blasting NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” (seriously though, it was crazy loud and his windows were wide open), but by mile three I was dying.  You know that feeling you get when you’re wearing a wet bikini or swim shorts outside of the water on a hot day – damp, sticky and just gross – yeah, that was me.  I never wanted to shower so badly in all of my life.  I made it through the bulk of the run, grateful for every stoplight break, but had to take a walk break for a bit around the five mile marker – I was just too hot and my breathing was all off.  We finished the run strong though and made our way to yoga class.

Yoga was AMAZING…it felt so good to stretch my tired/sore muscles after an almost 6 mile run.  I really didn’t want the class to end.  I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to go back.  I’m even thinking about getting up even earlier on Saturday’s to get my scheduled long runs in and head over to yoga to stretch it out afterward.  Here are my stats for the pre yoga run:


Sunday (7/14/13) – Long Run – For Real This Time (10 Miles)!

My schedule says that I was supposed to get 10 miles in for my long run on Saturday, but after overheating before yoga and doing all that work stretching at yoga, I just wanted to shower and didn’t want to get all tensed up and sweaty trying to get in another 4.5 quick miles.  Not wanting to cut my long run short, I decided I would get up early on Sunday to get a full 10 continuous miles in…no breaks.  To my disappointment, the weather was just as hot and humid as Saturday.  Obviously, I didn’t make the capri mistake again, but I still struggled through this run.  This time around, I stuck to my new long run interval routine of running .5 mile, walking for 1 minute and so on.  It was so hot and humid I seemed to be going through water quickly and stopped to refill my hand-held bottle three times.  I drank EVERY last drop of those four (12 oz.) bottles.  I have to say that though the intervals made the run a lot easier, they got to be very monotonous and I found myself getting discouraged by the number of intervals left on my Garmin screen, allowing the Negative Nancy in my mind to push the “I just want to give up” button.  I’m happy to report that I did not give up, but I have to confess, I took full advantage of the water refill stops!  Here are my stats for the run:


Monday (7/15/13) – Easy 3 Miler:

After my 10 miler the day before I was really wanting a rest day, but I promised some run club buds that I would do (at least part) of the club Monday night run.  My hammies were sore and it was so HOT out (this was the start of our little heat wave last week…I think it was in the upper 80’s this day), but I’m glad I convinced myself to go.  I had a nice quick run and some good conversations with my friends.  I felt pretty good, but was never so happy to see my street coming up.  I was drenched in sweat and really wanted a swig of Gatorade.  After I ditched off from the group, I walked the half block to my house, made myself a nice cold glass of Gatorade and dizzily sat down to drink it.  After a few minutes I had my husband take me back to The Foot so I could pick-up my car.  I felt really silly and almost like I cheated!  Anyway, here are my stats for that run:


Tuesday (7/16/13) – Midweek Long Run (5 Miles):

This day was absolutely, positively the WORST running day of my life.  My Beginning Running buddy wasn’t going to be able to make it to our usual Thursday night run (which turned out to be canceled anyway due to the extreme heat), but we agreed to meet so I could help her get in her scheduled 3.5 miles.  I left work and should have known this run would end up in failure due to the extreme heat and humidity.  We agreed to meet at 6:30pm and since I had to get 5 miles in for my training I decided I would run to our meet up location (about 1.5 miles) and would then run home.  Because traffic was pretty heavy, I had to put a hustle on my run to our meet up location, which wasn’t easy in the heat/humidity.  By the time I got to the OPRF track (our meet up location), I thought I was going to die of heat stroke and wasn’t surprised when I looked up at the billboard that indicated it was STILL 91 degrees at 6:30pm!  After a quick break so I could catch my breath, we were off, choosing to try out a new route.  After about a mile we stopped for a traffic light and I started to feel queasy and light headed.  I was so embarrassed that I was the “teacher” and I had to walk…some role model I am!  We walked for a block or two and tried it again.  Another mile down and guess what, I had to walk again…my face felt like it was going to pop it was so hot.  This time we walked quite a bit further (about a half mile) before the sun retreated behind the clouds and the air seemed to cool off quite a bit.  We finished the run strong and I walked home with my tail between my legs, wishing I had brought some cash with me so I could stop and get an ice slushie to cool me off!  After my walk of shame I gulped down some ice cold water, took a cold shower and started to second guess myself and my ability to even finish a marathon.  Determined to finish, I decided that, as much as I hate them, I would do my training runs on a treadmill if the weather was above 90 degrees or excessively humid again.  Here are my stats for this horrible, horrible run that I will now repress any memory of:


Thursday (7/18/13) – 3 Miler:

I thought Tuesday was hot until Thursday rolled around with it’s 96 degrees and oppressive humidity.  I walked into the underground parking garage at work and it was like walking into a wall.  I was glad I planned ahead and brought my workout gear so I could run on the treadmill in the building’s gym.  I also decided to try out those new Brooks sneaks I told you about awhile ago.  Yes, they have stayed in my closet that long…I told you, I felt like I was cheating on my old trusty Saucony’s!  Anyway, I changed into my workout gear and hated the shoes immediately…they felt too small, like if I ran any more than 3 miles in them I would lose my big toenail for sure.  Having no other shoe options with me, I decided to give them a shot.  I turned on the news, positioned the oscillating fan for optimal cooling and began my run.  I was pleasantly surprised, the run was really easy and I felt really good.  I ran 3 miles at sub 10-minute pace and didn’t even feel winded.  Weird.  I’ve been struggling so much while running outside lately, I have to wonder if it really is just the heat and humidity slowing me down.  I have only run on a treadmill once before and I hated every seems-like-an-eternity minute of it, but that could be because I was used to running in the cold winter temps (I was running inside because it was in the negatives with wind chill that day and I didn’t feel like getting frostbite!) and the inside temperature was obviously much warmer.  I haven’t really made any adjustments to my food consumption, and the only change has been of the meteorological variety…could it be that I’m really that sensitive to the weather?  If so, how to I overcome that obstacle?!  It’s not like I can train solely on a treadmill in a climate controlled environment, or run a marathon on a treadmill for that matter (OMG…I would want to gouge my eyes out from the boredom!).  One thing is for sure, I’m really looking forward to the Fall!

Sunday (7/21/13) – Long Run (7 Miles):

It was another warm and muggy morning, but much cooler than it has been for this long run.  Since it was a step down week, I only had to log a 7 miler for my long run, but after a late night celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown, I found it hard to get out of bed and out the door by my goal time of 6am.  Instead, I took my time waking up and eating and headed out at 7:30am.  I stuck to my long run interval plan for this run and felt pretty good throughout the whole 7 miles.  I have been starting to pay attention to my energy levels on long runs in an attempt to nail down the perfect “refuel” timing to head off any bonk that might occur.  After talking with my run club bud, Jess, last weekend, I realized that my stores might deplete faster than the “normal” person since I seem to run out of gas somewhere between 4 and 4.5 miles.  To head this off, I decided that I would eat my gel at mile 3.5 and see how it went from there.  Holy amazing…it worked!  I felt great the entire run and didn’t see the “Average Pace” time on my Garmin sliding up like I usually do.  I was finally able to keep a nice, steady pace throughout the entire run.  Also, I think this is the first long run that I have ever done where I didn’t totally bonk out and suffer through the back half crawling along at a snails pace.  My only mistake is that I didn’t plan out my route very well, changing direction on a whim instead, leading me to finish the run about a mile and a half away from my house.  Ooops!  At least I got a nice cool down walk in!  Here are my stats for the run:


Monday (7/22/13) – 3 Miler:

Monday was another hot day (89 degrees), but much less humid, which was nice.  Since I didn’t bring my workout clothes with me, I contemplated doing 3 miles on the elliptical machine I have at home.  After some convincing from my husband I sucked it up, changed out of my work clothes and complained my way out the door.  Since I hated that pair of Brooks so much, I tried to return them over the weekend, but I was only allowed to exchange them for another pair of shoes.  The only color Saucony Guide 6’s they had in stock was black…no thanks, it’s hot enough…so I let them talk me into a different pair of Brooks.  This time I ended up with a full size larger than my street size (8.5 vs. 7.5) and the Glycerin’s instead of the Adrenaline’s.  I thought I might as well get the test run over with so I decided to test them on this run.  I absolutely hated them the first mile…surprise, surprise – they felt too big!  I’m really starting to feel like Goldilocks now.  By the end of mile 2 I was getting used to them, but by mile 3 I just wanted to be done with the run and in an air-conditioned room somewhere.  The run went relatively well, considering the heat and new shoe learning curve, I was happy to see a more “normal” pace.  I plan to give the Glycerin’s another shot on Thursday this week.  Here are my stats for the run:


Wednesday (7/24/13) – Midweek Long Run (6 Miles):

FINALLY!  The hot weather has broken…today was an absolutely GORGEOUS day!  Low humidity and much, much cooler temps (high of only 76 today!) made for a lovely sunroof open, windows down drive to work this morning.  I was anxious to get out of work and get my midweek long run in today, but after a slice of Chocolate Moose Cake from Gibsons (because I have absolutely no willpower) I wasn’t so sure how the run was going to go.  My stomach was rebelling before I even started to run so I was afraid the jostling would only make it worse.  By the time I got home, the brick in my stomach started to subside and just to be safe, I took my sweet time gearing up and planning out my route (so I wouldn’t end up a mile or more away from home at the end of the run again!).  After a short warm up walk I was ready to go…and go I did!  The weather was amazing and I found it easy to breath even though I was maintaining a sub-10 minute pace.  Thinking that the pace was too good to be true or last for the whole run, I decided I would continue to push as long as I could.  To my surprise, I finished the run feeling fast, strong and as though I had a lot of energy to spare.  This further proves my theory that weather severely affects my running speeds and leaves me hopeful for a nice crisp Fall day on October 13th (the big day).  Here are my stats for tonight’s run (I actually ran a 10K to see if I could beat my 10K PR race time from last year…blew it out of the water by 4 minutes!):


Recapping a Race and a Streak

Community Bank of Elmhurst 4 on the 4th Race Recap

I had a hard time sleeping Wednesday night, likely because of the pre-race nerves I seem to get before every race.  It’s so weird that even after running 26 races in the last two years I still get nervous before a race.  Do you get nervous before races too?

When the alarm went off at 5am I was already awake so I rolled out of bed, walked the dog and went through my usual race day rituals.  Shower…check.  Comfy race gear…check.  Garmin…check.  Inhaler…check.  Race bib and pins…check.  Diet Coke…check.  CLIF Bar…check.  At 5:45am I was ready to walk out the door, happy that my husband could finally make it to a race to cheer me on and meet my new run club friends.  The garage door opened with a few unusual creaks and bangs and we knew something was wrong.  Since we were supposed to meet for the club carpool at 6am and there was clearly something wrong with the garage door, I had to leave Josh behind so we wouldn’t come home to a very clean garage and missing lawn tools.

I arrived to the carpool meet-up location right on time, we loaded up and were on our way.  The race was located in Elmhurst, a really nice suburb about 15-20 minutes away (if traffic is good).  Since it was the 4th of July, traffic was very light so the ride was fast and easy.  We arrived and quickly found parking, which was free.  Hooray for free parking!  I usually end up paying anywhere from $15-$36 for parking on top of pricey registration fees for races downtown, so I really appreciate free parking.  The registration fee for this race was VERY reasonable too at $25 for pre-registration and a $5 CARA discount.

After meeting up with other club members at the club tent and chatting for a while, it was finally time to line up.  Due to a lack of sleep the night before and my “tired” legs, I wasn’t feeling up to “racing” but was looking forward to a nice relaxed run.  Thinking about it, I have to say that I’m not really “racing” when I run any of my races.  Sure, I’m working to PR and I’m racing against myself, but I’m not really a competitive person by nature and I’m certainly not fast enough to even come close to placing in my age/gender group.  Maybe someday, but certainly not yesterday!  I’m just happy that I can run and that running affords me an opportunity to meet and hang out with a cool group of people.

The gun went off promptly at 7:15am and we were on our way.  I had a great time running, chatting and cheering on fellow OPRC members with Laura (another club member).  The course was great – it offered a good deal of shade (a welcome perk on a sunny summer morning), beautiful views of residential streets and the neat downtown Elmhurst area, and a nice challenge.  As I’ve said before, Oak Park is very flat, so any course that has more than one hill offers a bit more of a challenge for me.  This course had three…one just after the one mile marker, another at about mile 2.5 and then another right at the finish, which is just cruel.  🙂

Even though I wasn’t racing, I was still happy with my time. I felt good the entire run, despite forgetting to use my inhaler before the start, and I was pleased that the hills didn’t totally kill me.  Here are my stats for the race:


The Elmhurst Running Club did a great job organizing this race.  There was plenty of water at the finish, as well as Gatorade, bagels and bananas just off the finish line area.  I didn’t take any, mainly because I never take bagels after a race and the bananas were cut in half and I’m a bit of a germaphobe that way.  There is just something about a ton of sweaty hands potentially touching (or even just sweat dripping onto) something that I’m about to ingest.  Blech!

After the race, we all gathered back at the club tent to enjoy good conversation and all of the yummy goodies everyone brought for the pot luck.  We also took a group photo and what a group it was!  There must have been 50 or more club members there…way to represent OPRC!  Have I mentioned how lucky I feel to be a part of this group?  They are truly an awesome group of people.  They all inspire me to be a better runner and person.


Photo by club member Erin’s husband, Jason.

Runner’s World Run Streak Challenge Recap


That’s right friends, I am a Runner’s World 2013 Summer Run Streak Challenge finisher!  I have made it through a 39 day run streak, running at least one mile a day from Memorial Day to Independence Day.  There were so many days that I would much rather have been lazy or taken a rest day after a long run (or brutal half marathon), but I’m proud that I kept going.  I kept going through a nasty nagging leg pain, blisters and pug induced sheer exhaustion. I ran through rain, sunshine, heat and humidity…I even ran after a nasty storm hurdling tree branches and dodging downed trees.  The bottom line is, this was a great experience.  I’ve gotten so used to running every day that I feel guilty taking a rest day today.  I might just have to lace up and get in an easy one miler…we’ll see.

Anyway, here are my final stats for the streak:

Total Miles: 104.34

Consecutive Days:  39

Miles to Goal:  25.66 (close, but no cigar)

Total Time Spent Running:  17 hours, 54 minutes and 32 seconds (wow!!)

Elevation Gain:  512 Feet

Calories Burned:  11,092

Playing Catch-Up

Well friends, it’s back to reality after my little staycation.  I don’t know if it was the busy week I had last week or just pure staycation induced laziness, but it seems I have quite a bit of catch-up to do here…so here we go!


Wednesday was my first time back to speed work with the club after a few weeks off and oh boy did it kick my butt!  I arrived a bit late and decided to skip drills, fearing that any lateral drills would bring back the leg pain I struggled with a few weeks ago.  Instead, I ran a few warm up laps and then joined everyone for stretching and stiders.  This week we did 4 stiders and moved on to a modified fartlek workout.  The goal was to run a consecutive 30 minutes – alternating 3 minutes fast, 1 minute slow until the workout was complete.  Well, all I can say is…epic fail.  I went out way too fast for the first two sets (sub 9 minute pace even with the slow jogs) and by the third set I was walking the 1 minute slow.  It kept going downhill from there resulting in a complete stop to use my inhaler (like a dummy, I didn’t puff up before the workout) and another complete stop to fix the bandaid on my giant blister (it was coming off and causing more damage).  After that, I finished the workout.  I can’t say I finished strong, but at least I didn’t give up.  By the end of the warm-up (2 laps) and workout I had logged 3.25 miles…not too shabby, I guess.  Because I took a “rest” day on Monday, my marathon training runs were pushed back a day so that meant I had to get 4 miles in for the day on Wednesday.  To finish up my mileage for the day, I jogged another .75 mile barefoot on the turf and went home with my tail between my legs.


Wednesday’s track workout stats.


After Wednesday’s speed work I was looking forward to resting my legs with an easy two miler with my CARA Beginning Running program participant.  Unfortunately, the weather got the best of all of us and the program was canceled for the day.  What a crazy storm!  It didn’t seem too bad to me as I was driving.  Sure, it was a torrential downpour and it was a bit windy, but not a storm I would consider to be “severe” by any stretch…until I drove North of Lake Street.  Somewhere between Chicago Ave. and Augusta I came across my first huge tree branch laying across the road and as I continued North to my house I came across flooded streets, huge tree limbs and even whole trees down.  I wove my way home, admiring the beautiful double rainbow that had formed, to find a lot of tree damage and the power out.  All of my neighbors were in the street surveying the damage and helping to clean up the street.  Since the sun was out and the radar looked clear, I visited with my neighbors for a minute, took the dog out and went for a run.  Why not, right?  I had to get my marathon training run in for the day and the power was out so there wasn’t much else to do.  The devastation was unreal.  I was dodging huge tree limbs and whole trees just about every other block.  I was shocked at the extent of the damage and that it seemed to be in such a concentrated area.  After my run I returned home, cleaned up and sat in my car trying to cool off and charge my phone since we were still sans power.  After a restless (and hot) sleep, I was awakened at 4am by the sound of loud voices, diesel trucks and chainsaws directly outside my bedroom window, as the ComEd guys worked to restore our power by removing the tree limb that had fallen on our power lines.  Generally speaking, I would be complaining about all of the noise, but if the noise meant that air conditioning was in my near future, I was all for it!  🙂


Thursday’s sweaty run in post storm humidity.


After an air conditioned morning nap (I went back to sleep after the power was restored), I dragged myself out of bed and spent the morning being lazy.  My Mother-In-Law picked me up close to Noon and we took the “L” downtown for a fun girls day filled with lunch at Berghoff’s and a visit to the Art Institute to see the new Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibition (very cool by the way!).  It was a great day and I had a ton of fun.  It’s always nice to spend time with my Mother-In-Law.  I know I’ve said it before, but I really lucked out in the in-law department!  It was also fun to feel the excitement in the air, since the Blackhawks rally was also being held downtown on Friday.  When we got off the “L” there was a sea of red as people made their way from the rally that had just ended in Grant Park.  It seemed like we were surrounded by Blackhawks fans all day…it was really neat.  After our fun outing I returned home and squeezed in a quick one miler.  I felt really good, but was glad I only had to log one mile since my feet were killing me from being on them and wearing flip flops all day.


Friday night streak run.


I felt like I lost my Saturday in a black hole.  Looking back, it seems like I got a whole lot of nothing accomplished and it took me all day to do it.  I woke up relatively early and managed to get sucked into a movie while I ate breakfast.  I knew I had a few errands that I had to run so after the movie I peeled myself off the couch and geared up for my long run.  This week was a step back week so I only had to get in 5 miles, but I was feeling really lazy and not into it at all.  The first 2 miles were easy and I felt really good, but I started to fade in mile 3.  I suspect the energy bonk was due to the fact that I didn’t eat lunch before heading out and I wasn’t really hydrated enough.  I seem to have trouble with keeping myself hydrated at home.  I think I’m going to set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to drink water during the day when I am at home.  How do you remind yourself to stay hydrated on the weekends or when you are at home?


Saturday’s “Long” Run

After my run I got ready for the day and set out to get all of my errands done.  First, I had to stop at The Runner’s Soul in Elmhurst to pick up packet’s for Thursday’s Elmhurst 4 on the 4th race, then I had to stop and return a suit I bought that was too big and finally I had to get a pair of black shorts to complete my club uniform for the race.  The weather was gorgeous so I took my time driving with the sunroof open and I didn’t even mind that I had to park at the opposite end of the strip mall (the lot was PACKED) and walk to the store to make my return.  In fact, I was even happy to walk down to DSW in search of a new pair of colorful and fun shoes to wear with the white eyelet dress I found buried in the back of my closet a few weeks ago.  I then had the bright idea to try and find a new pair of running shoes since my current pair has about 300 miles on them, so over to Sports Authority Elite I went.  I found an awesome pair of black running shorts and spent some time talking to a clerk about which shoes would be right for me.  After checking my arch and watching me run, he recommended the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13 since it provided support for my “normal” arch and my slight pronation.  I was starving by the time I left the store with my shorts and brand new kicks in a fun dark purple/lime green combo.  In high school I only wore Nike, but since I started running again two years ago, I have been a loyal Saucony fan.  I felt guilty buying this pair of Brooks and honestly, haven’t even taken them out of the box since I brought them home.  I’ve even been debating returning them and am finding myself making up excuses to return them (i.e. they feel heavier, the toe box feels really big, they are kinda dark for my taste, etc.).  Do you have a favorite brand of running shoes?


Since I was on a mini staycation, I decided Sunday would be a good day to do a deep clean of my house.  Working full time, going to school and running has really limited the amount of “free” time I have to do things like cook, clean and finish household and/or craft projects.  Taking the summer off has allowed for a bit more free time, but after months of spot cleaning, the house was in need of a serious clean.  After eating a bit of breakfast, I rolled up my sleeves and dug in.  After scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming the majority of the day, I finally gave up when the first and second floor of the house were sparkling.  After a quick shower, I geared up and headed out for a quick one mile streak run.  Despite feeling tired from working all day, I felt pretty good and was happy to see a faster pace for this run.  It must have been the beautiful weather!

Sunday night streak run.

Sunday night streak run.


Monday was the last day of my mini staycation and I still had a ton of “to dos” left on my list.  I was excited that my husband would be returning from his Canadian fly-in fishing trip after a week and a half of zero communication (in the 5 years we have been together, we have not gone a single day without at least talking on the phone), but I promised I would work on making a set of roman shades for our kitchen while he was gone and I hadn’t even thought about starting them!  So I got up early, ate some breakfast and decided to get my run in early so I could get to work on my to do list.  I wasn’t really feeling into running when I left the house, but after a mile and a half I got into the zone and felt good.  My legs have been feeling a little tired lately so it’s been hard to maintain a faster pace on runs longer than 2 miles.  I find myself slowing down and am disappointed with my slower average paces, but I have to remind myself to listen to my body.  If my body is telling me to slow down, it must be for a reason.  Also, I keep telling myself that the slower pace is OK, since it is well within the suggested easy run training pace for my goal 5K time (10:30-11:22).


Monday Easy Run

After my run I mowed the lawn, showered and ventured out to JoAnn Fabrics and Home Depot for supplies so I could finally get started on the roman shades.  I returned home with supplies in hand (and flowers for the front of the house too) and got to work cutting the fabric.  I did a good job cutting the length but was too busy singing and dancing (if you can even call it that…lol) to my recently rediscovered Ray LaMontagne Pandora station and cut the width to size instead of adding the required 4 inches for the hem.  Ooops…good thing we got the fabric on super clearance and ended up buying the rest of the roll so there is plenty left over even after my silly mistake!  Anyway, after I regained my focus, I successfully cut both panels and even got the hems sewed on one.  I’m looking forward to finishing them this weekend…I think they are going to look awesome!


After a busy first day back to work after my mini staycation, I rushed home to get my training run in so I could spend some quality time with the hubs.  The weather was awesome and I felt great the entire run.  My legs still felt a little tired so I took it easy, focusing on continual movement instead of a faster pace.  I knew I could have pushed it and run faster, but I also wanted to take it easy in the hopes my legs would “wake up” for tomorrow’s (Thursday) race.  After my run, I settled in with my husband to catch-up on some shows we missed while he was playing in the Canadian wilderness.


Tuesday night training run.


My office closed a little early today so we could get a head start on our holiday weekend, so I was able to get home about an hour earlier than usual which was nice since I had a bit of preparation to do for tomorrow’s race and run club gathering.  After taking the dog for a short walk I geared up and went out for an easy one mile streak run.  Because of tomorrow’s race, I didn’t want to push too hard and basically used the run only to keep the streak alive.  I felt good and wasn’t winded at all so I guess I was successful in meeting my goal for the day.  After my run I started on making the cinnamon coffee cake muffins for tomorrow’s run club gathering after the race and ate my usual pre-race Noodles & Co. Wisconsin Mac and Cheese.  Now the challenge will be to keep my hands off the muffins until after the race tomorrow…they smell so GOOD!

Wednesday's streak run.

Wednesday’s streak run.

Stay tuned for a race recap tomorrow!  🙂



Miles to Date: 100.34

Consecutive Days:  38

Miles to Goal:  29.66 (this is so not going to happen :()

Days Remaining:  1

Tuesday Morning Run

Is it really only Tuesday?  Why is it that the week seems to drag on when you have a long weekend coming up?  If you couldn’t tell, I’m really looking forward to my little stay-cation.  🙂 

Today seems to be going especially slow, since my lovely pug had me up even earlier this morning…4:30am and as much as I may have wanted to, I couldn’t let myself go back to bed.  Tonight is the monthly OPRC Girls Night Out, which will be a blast for sure, but that means I won’t be able to squeeze in a training run after work.  Soooo…thank you, Zoe – this is the one time I half appreciated your early morning wake-up call!  Since it seems that my little pug princess makes it into my blog post just about every day, here is a picture of the little squirt all dressed up for Halloween two years ago:


Howdy pardner…looks like there’s a new Sheriff in town!

Isn’t she cute?!  Yeah…not so much at 4:30am!!  Thanks to the tippity tap of this little princesses nails on the kitchen floor, I rolled out of bed, grabbed my running gear and dragged my butt out the door.  I am finally feeling a little better after the lingering exhaustion and headache from Sunday’s scorcher of a half marathon.  My right hammie is still a little tight/sore and my lovely blister is begging me to keep my running shoes and heels in the closet, but overall I am bouncing back pretty darn well. 

I still wanted to take this training run slow since I didn’t really give myself an official rest day (recommendation is two rest days after a half…pffft so much for that…I take my streaking seriously!).  I felt pretty good and was able to get through the three miles easily without little miss negative in my head telling me to give up.  I still find running first thing in the morning to be more difficult than in the evening.  I suspect it has everything to do with nutrition and hydration.  I have a hard enough time getting out of bed early to run, let alone getting out of bed 30 mins to an hour earlier so I can eat and drink something before heading out.  I have no problems on race day, and I know how important nutrition/hydration is, but I love my sleep gosh darn it!  Anyway…here are my stats for this mornings run:




Miles to Date: 78.33

Consecutive Days:  30

Miles to Goal:  51.67

Days Remaining:  9