2015-10-02 12.50.40

Back to Running Post-Fracture!

I….have…returned. :)

I mean, ‘returned’ in the sense that I can now run 50 min straight pain-free and I’m starting to build up my endurance again. After 6 weeks in the boot and 8 weeks on a return to running program that started very conservatively, I’m so happy to be back at it.

2015-10-02 12.50.40

As this was my first stress fracture (and hopefully my last), this was all new territory for me. I tried not to have any expectations about what running might feel like or how fast/slow I would be running. I think one of the biggest surprises was that, even after the boot came off for good, I didn’t have much motivation to actually go running. :gasp!: I put my run/walks on my calendar just like I had with my cross-training sessions all summer, but when it came time to actually lace up my shoes and head out the door, I’d kind of stall. I think that happened for a few reasons. First, I was scared. Scared for mostly nonsensical reasons, but the most legitimate being that I thought I’d injure myself again. I think most runners feel this way after any injury, not just stress fractures. Second, running does NOT feel good when you’re not in shape. Seriously, this was a revelation for me. I think we (the Royal ‘we’ of runners) take for granted the periods when we’re in shape and running feels like meditation. Because getting back to running, even in 5 minute segments with a walk break, can be really tough. On one hand you’re so happy to be *able* to run, but sad that it doesn’t feel the way you remember it. It takes patience and time.

My first run/walk was 2 x 5 minutes the week of September 28th. I took a few days after my doctor cleared me to just get used to walking around in a PAIR of regular shoes. I’m glad my doctor recommended this to me – even my hips had to get used to walking like a normal person.

2015-10-02 12.52.58-1

Running for 10 minutes total had me smiling literally the rest of the day. It was weird and glorious and awkward and amazing.

I couldn’t believe how weird running felt on that first run. Within the first minute, I thought, “Does running normally feel like this? Do I pound the ground like this all the time?”. It’s a really disorienting experience when you haven’t done it in awhile. I realized that there’s a reason why so many people say they “gave running a shot once” and didn’t like it! Despite the amount of cross-training I did, returning to running wasn’t as glorious as I thought it would be. But I took it day by day, stuck to the schedule, and tried to stay patient.

I really like the plan I followed. I don’t think I would have had much fun trying to run even 1 mile straight the week that I was cleared by my doctor. I’m glad I eased into it and took my time (and that I’m still doing that). The plan started with 1 run, followed by 2 rest days. Then, it was a run every other day. Then it was 2 runs, followed by 1 rest day. You get the idea!

Screenshot 2015-11-23 16.02.54

Feel free to click on the image for a closer view. 

The first few weeks, I continued with a decent amount of cross-training. I had been doing 5-7 hours of cross-training while recovering and it helped keep me sane. I still needed that dose of sanity while starting the run/walk program.  I also had the opportunity to connect with an ElliptiGO rep, Chuck (now friend!) a few times to cross-train that way and honestly, I was so giddy to be OUTSIDE exercising and getting a great workout. Being injured in the summer while everyone trains for fall marthons was maddening at times, so having an opportunity to get out of the gym and exercise outside meant a lot to me. [If anyone has any questions about the ElliptiGO, I’m happy to answer or to connect you with Chuck!]

2015-10-25 13.32.59 2015-10-25 09.36.38 2015-10-25 09.02.39

All of my runs, so far, have been time-based as opposed to mileage-based. Some days, 35 minutes straight of running would feel effortless and others it felt so.darn.long. And sometimes a 3 hour long run during a marathon training cycle feels worlds away from what I’ve been doing. But I think, ultimately, a time-based schedule forced me to just get out the door and not focus on the mileage — just to get moving was important.

I’ve had some really, really great runs too. My first tempo effort was 3 x 5 minutes tempo a few weeks ago (note: I waited 6 weeks until I did anything up tempo.) I was ecstatic when I got home from that run. Tempo pace felt so smooooooooth and my stride felt like it had come back. Each week, I feel like the little pieces are starting to fall into place. My second tempo was 3 x 1 mile and it felt just as great. It’s a good feeling to do 20ish minutes of work!

So, what’s happening now?

Well, I’m going to slowly build my mileage through December. I’ve put a plan together that should help bridge between where I’m at right now (20-25 mpw) and the beginning of a 16-week spring training cycle in January. I’m registered for the Shamrock Half in Virginia Beach and honestly can’t help but think about how much fun that weekend will be with Corey, Liz, and Chanthana. It’s doubtful that I’ll be in shape for a PR in the half by then but I have a feeling it’s going to be a great chance to get to a start line again. It will be my best shot at a good effort before racing the Carmel Marathon near Indianapolis in April. I ran the half at Carmel in 2012 in 1:36:08. [I seriously feel like that was 5-6 years ago…so much seems to have happened!] I’m looking forward to the ‘hometown feel’ of Carmel, just as I did at Monumental 2014.

2015 was a poor year of training and racing for me. Looking forward to a fresh start in 2016!




2015-09-13 19.16.58

Recovering From a Stress Fracture: My Experience & A Guide for Others

Today marks the beginning of the final & 6th week in #dasboot. To be honest, I kind of can’t believe I only have a week remaining in this thing. The day I first strapped it to my leg, I thought, “well, shit. This is going to be the worst 6 weeks everrrrrr.” I was pretty crushed that a fall marathon would be out of the picture (I’m not crazy enough to attempt 26.2 after 6 weeks off.) But I’m happy to report that with a little bit of consistency and a cross-training plan that felt oddly similar to a running training plan, I’m making it through just fine. A big mental boost was reaching the halfway 3-week point and thinking, “that wasn’t so bad. I can do it again.”

Recovering From a Stress Fracture: Life In the Boot

An attempt at making the boot look fancy.

I think one of the most frustrating things when I first found out that I had a stress fracture was that no one seemed to have information collected about what you can and cannot do while allowing a fracture to heal. Sure, there’s a LOT of information out there. But not all of it sounded wise to me and a lot of it just sounded entirely mind-numbing. [The only exception to this being Camille Herron’s blog. I devoured her posts about her own experiences with stress fractures and found them really helpful. I can see why more than a few people recommended them to me.]

So, I set about collecting information that seems reputable and trustworthy. I gathered it for myself at first, but I want to share everthing that I’ve done in the past 5-6 weeks so that anyone out there dealing with a stress fracture can get a good picture of what they can do while injured. I’m not the type of person to just sit on my a** for 6 weeks & hope to stay in some kind of shape. I wanted to do everything I could to stay fit so that getting back to running wouldn’t be a complete strugglefest. I realize I am *also* not a doctor or therapist authorized to give this advice. Everything I’ve done to recover has been 100% pain free. If my foot hurt or was uncomfortable, I would stop. I think it’s important to keep moving through an injury as long as you’re not experiencing pain.

So, the first step was obviously following doc’s orders.

Checking the vitals:

  1. MRI – confirmed stress fracture in 2nd metetarsal on the left foot, possible neuroma in between 2-3 metatarsals
  2. Began wearing Aircast (AKA #dasboot)- ordered for 6 weeks non-weightbearing – Approved exercise included seated-only spin, pool running, and mat-based pilates.
  3. Bone density scan – completely normal result [This was more a precaution than anything – I have no history of female athlete triad problems, but checking bone density was a smart step to take.]
  4. Began taking 600 mg calcium 2 x a day, 1000 IUs vitamin D 1 x a day
  5. Blood test (Vit D & Ultimate Panel from InsideTracker) – more on this in a future post, but Vit D and calcium levels found to be in healthy range. [Note: If you’re interested in giving Inside Tracker a try, they’re giving my connections the best discount possible only through December 1, 2015! Use this code when checking out: “BFRJENNY”]

Next, I made a list of things I *could* do instead of thinking about the one thing that I couldn’t. So, I decided to …

GivE Pool Running A Shot:

I decided that in addition to spinning (only seated; standing was ruled out because it’s weight-bearing), I wanted to give pool running a try. I’d never done it before and from everything I read, it was an activity that would keep my running-specific muscles in shape without impact on my foot. My first trip to the pool was pretty comical. It was a gorgeous Chicago summer day. The public pool in my neighborhood was fairly busy in the later afternoon. While the shallow end was full of kids splashing around, the ‘grown up’ area in the deep end was …completely empty. Adults were sunbathing on the pool deck and I sauntered in wearing my boot and carrying an AquaJogger a friend let me borrrow (thanks Lynton!). I’m fairly certain that at least 70% of the pool goers thought that I couldn’t swim and actually needed the AquaJogger to enjoy the deep end. In fact, I am able to swim. :)

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I wrapped my iPod cord around my ponytail and clipped it to my hairband. Works wonders for pool running!

That day, I did 30 minutes of ‘easy pool running’ and it felt like I had gone for a long run of at least 90 minutes. It’s definitely not easy and it takes a little getting used to, but once you get your balance and your body gets used to the movement, it’s a great workout.

I was really looking forward to getting some fresh air while doing workouts at the outdoor pool, but it closed for the season on Labor Day. For a small fee, I added another one of my gym’s locations to my current membership in order to use their indoor pool. Logistically, it’s more difficult but well worth it.

*Note: an unexpected hassle of all of this cross-training is that I have to constantly work around the group fitness schedules for the spin room and the pool. I didn’t want to attend a spin class and be the only one seated for the duration (even though I’m sure the instructors would understand) and I don’t want to get in the way of others doing swim workouts in the pool. I put workouts on my calendar just as I would work meetings because of these conflicting schedules!

Here are some helpful pool running resources I found:

Cross-Training Plan:

The first few weeks, I struggled to find the motivation to actually commit to a cross-training and strength-training routine. I wallowed a little bit while I collected resources & tried to figure out what I wanted to do. Looking back on my training log, though, I’m actually surprised I dragged myself to the gym after just two days in the boot and then to the pool for my first pool running workout just two days after that. In the first week, I had my MRI & bone scan — and spent much of the rest of the week pretty bummed.

Here’s a short synopsis of the cross-training I’ve done the past 5 weeks:

Week 2: 
Monday – 1 hr spin

Tuesday – 45 min spin + 30 min Pilates abs DVD

Wednesday – 1 hour spin with 10 x 2 min sprints, 1 min RI + 25 min core & glute strength routines

Thursday – 36 min pool run – 2 x (6 x 1:30 hard, 30 sec RI) + 30 min glute & arm strength routines

Remainder of week – traveling to Copenhagen! 

Week 3: entire week in Copenhagen on vacation! No exercise

We spent at least 6-7 hours of each day walking around the city. Because I was on my feet so much (in the boot the whole time), I didn’t have much energy to workout in the hotel gym. I slept soundly, enjoyed every single delicious meal, and enjoyed time off.

This vacation had been on the calendar for months but I think having a getaway while injured is a great idea. Getting completely away did wonders for my mood & distracted me from thinking about how many more days I had left in the boot. Put fun things on the calendar if you can!

Week 4: Back to it!

Monday– Rest + jet lag

Tuesday– 80 min spin

Wednesday – 90 min spin + 30 min strength (core, arms, glutes/hips)

Thursday – 45 min strength (Pilates DVD + random YouTube videos – this channel is particularly challenging and has a lot of workouts that can be done while injured)

Friday – 60 min spin + 20 min core strength

Saturday– REST

Sunday – REST

Week 5:

Monday – 60 min spin with 12 x 2 min hard spints, 1 min RI

Tuesday – 45 min pool run (ladder workout) + 35 min strength (core, glutes/hips, arms)

Wednesday – 90 min spin endurance

Thursday– REST

Friday – *55 min pool run (8 x 2:30 hard, 1 min RI) + 90 min spin (endurance with 10 x 1 min sprints at finish) = 2 hours 25 min cross-training session!

Saturday – REST – so much fun with friends in town & spectating Corey’s tri + beer festival

Sunday – REST

*I made a point to do one longer cross-training session this week to replicate the feeling of a long run. Splitting it up between the pool and the spin room was nice. I listened to my iPod in the pool and to a few podcasts on the bike so that the time would pass quickly. I definitely left the pool feeling like I worked hard. And the next day my legs were sore for the first time in weeks. Success!

Week 6: 

Monday – 75 min spin inc. 10 x 3 min sprints, 2 min RI (almost almost almost felt like 10 x 800s!)

Tuesday – 55 min pool run (2 sets 8 x 1:30 hard, 0:30 sec RI) +

Wednesday* – 60 min spin + 30 min strength (core, hips/glutes, arms)

Thursday *– 60 min pool run including 45 min ‘steady’ + 30 min Pilates core DVD

Friday* – 60 min pool run (7 x 5 min hard, 1 min RI) + 90 min endurance spin

Saturday & Saturday – REST + fun plans!

*Wednesday-Friday = what I have planned the remainder of this week

Once I got into a routine, I found it pretty easy to do 5-6 hours of cross-training a week and commit to strength training.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been some days when the absolute LAST thing I want to do is go to the spin room at my gym or take the bus to the pool to run. I miss my favorite running routes and especially the lakefront, especially given that it’s been so nice out lately. But lacking motivation to work out isn’t far off from a normal training cycle, especially when training for a marathon. It’s not all going to feel good and you’re not always going to want to do the work.

Strength training:

I had to modify some of my strength routines slightly to be non-weightbearing. I cut my hip/glute strength routine down to just two simple exercises because the rest of them put pressure on my foot. I know that once I’m cleared for normal exercise, I need to vigilant about committing to that routine again. The core routine is pretty similar to what I was already doing but I swapped out a few exercises. (Example: hip bridges were swapped for other exercises because I normally do these on a single leg – and didn’t want to put all of my weight on my left, injured foot.)

  1. Slow bicycle
  2. Side plank – on knees!
  3. Bird dogs
  4. Leg lifts
  5. Locust pose/ Superman
  6. Australian crawl – (swim freestyle on stomach)
  7. Donkey kicks – 15-20 each leg
  8. Pushups with bent knees
  9. Side crunches- obliques
  10. Crunches with knees up – chair or couch
  11. Long lever crunches
MODIFIED Hip/Glute Routine:
  1. Clamshells with resistance band
  2. Lateral leg lifts

“Return to Running” Plans:

This advice is completely premature, as I’m not out of the boot quite yet. That said, this return to running plan caught my eye. A lot of others I found didn’t seem suited for a somewhat competitive runner. This seems like a conservative plan that aims to get you back to a full hour of pain-free running in about 7 weeks.

Screenshot 2015-09-24 16.03.00


  1. Do something OTHER than obsessing about not being able to run. I picked up 2-3 books that I’ve been meaning to read and enjoyed actually having the time to read them! We fill our time so much with running sometimes that we forget there are other ways to enjoy an evening. I also went to a concert, joined some friends at a beer festival, celebrated a friend’s engagement, and scheduled dinners with friends on nights when I’d normally be running. 6 weeks is a good mental and physical reset.
  2. Podcasts podcasts podcasts, music music music. I listened to music in the pool and podcasts on the bike. There’s endless entertainment to get through hours of cross-training.
  3. Drink beer. There’s really nothing more I should have to say about that!
  4. Especially if you’re wearing a boot, wear a shoe with a heel or higher stack height on the opposite foot. I attempted to wear flats for all of 2 days after I started wearing the boot and my back was already noticeably sore. If you wear a higher shoe on the opposite foot, your hips won’t be all out of wack. (I was tired after walking so much in Copenhagen but not nearly as much as I would have been had I’d worn a flat.) ALSO – if you’re using the standard Aircast, buy a cheap insole to stick in the bottom of it. The boot itself is completely flat, so my doctor advised me to buy an insole so that my arch didn’t become sore and cause other problems. 2015-09-25 12.54.31 2015-09-25 12.55.22
  5. Complain to people that love you – to a point. A group message with friends can really help your mood when you’re feeling down and out. I tried not to complain about my own situation but whenever I did, I felt like my friends were there to make me laugh and ultimately get through 6 weeks without going crazy.
  6. Think about what your next race might be but do NOT register for it. I’m reminding myself of this even more now that the boot is close to going in the trash :fingers crossed: At first, I thought, “Oh, well I can definitely run a half before the end of 2015!”. Now, I feel like the last thing I want to do is rush back into a training plan. I’m looking at a run/walk plan for the first 4 weeks that includes 1-2 rest days between every single run before I get back to a normal schedule again. I’ll register when I feel ready but I haven’t spent much time dreaming about racing lately.
  7. Know that a lot of other runners have ‘been there, done that’! I was surprised at the number of strangers that asked me what happened to my foot and had a story of their own to share. While I didn’t really welcome it at first, it gradually started to make me feel like I wasn’t alone and that 6 weeks isn’t an eternity. Know that your life will still carry on and there are so so so many more miles to run in the future.

In my last post, I wrote: “I figure I either have 6 weeks to get a 6 pack OR 6 weeks to drink a many 6 packzzzz. I have a feeling those goals are not simultaneously compatible, but I think I’m up for the challenge, as always.” I can’t say whether or not I have a 6 pack and I lost count of how many 6 packs I consumed in 6 weeks so… let’s just say I’m feeling much better about running and *enjoying it* the rest of this year.

I hope this post helps someone else recovering from a stress fracture!


2015-08-18 13.32.22

Injury: My First Stress Fracture

The last post I wrote was a brief recap of my first few weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, 12 weeks out from race day. Now, the race is just over 7 weeks away and I’m on day 3 of wearing a walking boot. I had an MRI done on my foot on Monday, a stress fracture in my second metatarsal was confirmed early Tuesday morning by my doc, and I picked up the boot the same day. I have 6 weeks to let the bone heal. If all goes well, I’ll be able to go for my first test run at the end of September, just 2 weeks before the Chicago Marathon.

BarkleeAnn doesn't like the boot either.

BarkleeAnn doesn’t like the boot either.

This isn’t exactly how I pictured the rest of the year going. I was finally piecing together some good weeks of training, with solid speedwork and tempos. My mileage was steady, as it has been basically all year (between 40-50 mpw). I hadn’t even made it over 50 miles for the week yet. I was getting an extra boost of confidence by running speed workouts with others. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my left foot was slightly sore. It would come and go but the discomfort (not pain) didn’t stick around. I’m cautious about these types of things because I know it’s a bad sign when one side doesn’t mirror the other. I wore compression socks and iced it when it felt like it was tender. I honestly thought it was just a muscle or tendon issue. I even decided to do speedwork on the lakefront path instead of the track to avoid turning too much on my left side.

I didn’t think it was bone-related until I went for my long run while I was in Milwaukee. I felt fine the first 5 miles. Then, each mile after that didn’t feel great. It was a cutback run of 14-15 miles, but I called it a day at 12.5 mi. The next day, I had a feeling it was bone-related.

Tuesday was a rough day this week. Even though I was 90% sure I had a stress fracture even before hearing the results from the MRI, reading the email saying that it was confirmed was heart-breaking. I cried for a bit, pulled myself together for the work day, but all I wanted to do was sit around and wallow.

I really appreciate the comments and texts from friends and runners. The comments like “shit shit fuck fuck noooooooooo” or “whyyyyyyyy. This sucks!” are my favorite. Because that’s exactly how I feel and there’s really nothing anyone can say to make me feel better (temporarily!). I’m really sad and frustrated and angry about the whole thing but it’s been a weird mixture of all three so far. Don’t worry – it won’t last long.

I’ve had a few days to process it and get used to walking around in the boot. I’m able to cross-train by spinning (seated only) or swimming, but all weight-bearing exercises (including yoga) are out for the next 6 weeks. I’m going to give some mat-based Pilates DVDs a try and do what I can on the bike. My doc ordered a bone density scan [UPDATE: ““Bone mineral density is within normal limits.” Check!] and extra calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplementation, so those are immediate next steps as well. To some extent, this injury is easier to deal with than others because it’s very clear what I need to do in order to recover: sit on my butt for 6 weeks and cross-train in the ways that I can. Past injuries haven’t been so black-and-white and I was stuck in limbo between deciding to race or cutting the training cycle short to recover.

I’m glad I stopped when I did, that it’s not more serious, and that I saw a doc when I did. I think I’ve been fairly lucky when it comes to injuries since I committed to long distance running, about 4 years ago. I’ve pretty much only dealt with one overuse injury and one ridiculous injury to my knee after a clumsy fall. I’ve never even broken a bone in my body before. And now I’m dealing with my first stress fracture. I’m 9 weeks into a training cycle and the past 3 weeks have made me especially excited to tackle goals at Chicago in October. Big goals. Big scary ones. Now I’ll be lucky if I even get to the start line of half the distance in November or December. I know it’s a small, even miniscule thing in the grand scheme of things. Running long distance is such a mindfuck. You get so few chances to show how hard you’ve been working and then it all has to come together on ONE day, at a certain hour, with a certain mindset. This year hasn’t really been a stellar year for me in many ways – I was hoping it would come together this summer and fall. And it was. I was just dealt a bad hand.

Still, there’s an upside! I’m happy that I’m still able to sweat and try to mimic the effort I’d spend running on the bike. I’ll be strength training just as much, if not more, than I was before (with appropriate changes to certain exercises, of course). And that complaint that I always make about not having enough time to read? Poof. Gone. I’m going to read ALL THE BOOKS.

Also, I figure I either have 6 weeks to get a 6 pack OR 6 weeks to drink a many 6 packzzzz. I have a feeling those goals are not simultaneously compatible, but I think I’m up for the challenge, as always.

2015-08-20 12.02.47

Counting down the days

Run some miles for me and enjoy every step, my friends.


  • If you’ve ever had a stress fracture, what has helped you get through it? (From sanity-savers to specific workout DVDs you’ve used)
  • What races should I set my sights on for spring 2016?
2015-07-21 19.16.53-3

Update on Chicago Marathon 2015 Training: T Minus 12 Weeks!

After the blunder at Bayshore, I took a full week to sulk and run whenever I felt like it. My uncle suddenly passed away the same week. I slowed down, shed some tears, and ran less than 10 miles that week. I felt like moving, but not moving. Processing both the race and Uncle Jim’s passing was tough.

The next week, I hit reset. With 18 weeks to Chicago, I felt like I was ready to get back to it. I don’t think I’ve ever had this big of a base leading into a marathon training cycle before.

OH! BEFORE I FORGET… July 20th was the horrible summer day last year when I tripped and fell straight on my right knee cap a half mile into a 15-miler. This and this will give you an idea what recovery from bursitis was like. I still can’t believe that happened or how long it took to get back to normal (or that I hobbled to/from/through a photo shoot with Competitor and Saucony the very next day). So, be mindful of tricky patches of trail/sidewalk and pick up those feet, people!

Week of 6/1: 36 miles, 5 runs, long run 11.76 mi [1 mile time trial: 5:35]

2015-06-05 17.00.16-1

Week of 6/8: 40 miles, 5 runs, long run 12.8 mi [10 x 400, 4 mi steady state]

Week of 6/15: 43 miles, 5 runs, long run 14.7 mi [16 x 200, 4 mi steady state] + a fun run on the West Side with Jocelyn while I was in town for work

2015-06-15 19.24.10-1

Week of 6/22: 40 miles, 4 runs, long run 15.0 mi [10 x 30 sec strides, 4 x 1 mi cruise] + Saturday flight to San Juan for vacation

Week of 6/29: 39 miles, 4 runs, long run 15.0 mi [10 x 2 min at 5k pace, 8 mi with fast finish 3 mi sub 7 min/mi] – 5 nights in San Juan and 3 nights in Holland, MI with my family for the holiday

2015-07-04 11.31.40-1

Week of 7/6: 46 miles, 5 runs, long run 17.0 mi [4 mi steady state]

Week of 7/13: 45 miles, 6 runs (1 double day), long run 15.25 mi [5 x 1k]

2015-07-14 19.13.59

And that brings us to this week! I can’t believe I’ve been in ‘training mode’ for 7 weeks already. I’m making a few changes to my training this time around.

I’m extending my mid-week recovery runs to 8-10 miles. In the past, I’ve just run 5-6 miles easy in between hard workouts but I feel ready to bump that up a little bit. Getting a solid 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes on my feet on a Wednesday for the past few weeks was tough. At first, it felt like running through sand (and I started with 8 mi). I’m starting to get into shape again and yesterday’s 75 min run on the lakefront felt actually really good! I’ve also been wearing my heart rate monitor more on recovery runs to be sure I don’t run them too fast (goal bpm: 150-155).

Another change I’m making is seeking out others to do speed workouts with. I’ve been to a few workouts with Syndicate and I’m really excited about what can happen in the next 11ish weeks if we continue to push each other. I think the danger in training with others is pushing *too hard*, so I’m reminding myself that running my own pace on a certain day is just what I should be doing. This Tuesday, I ran a 2 x (800, 600, 400, 200) workout that left me feeling surprised and confident for the first time in months. I saw times on my watch that I’ve never seen before. Soooooo that’s exciting!

2015-07-21 19.16.53-3

I’m also being more consistent with how I recover – including recovery shakes and ice baths. If you saw how I ate during my first marathon training cycle, you’d probably barf. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing ….OR why I was so hungrrrrrrryyyyy all the damn time. I was also really good at ‘being too tired to cook’. I’d come home from a hot, long run and crash on the couch for like 3-4 hours before I considered eating a full meal. It’s a wonder how I got through that cycle or race, really. Taking the time to plan what I’m eating for dinner 3-4 nights a week instead of sitting around and wondering what I should order from GrubHub or Seamless at 7:45 pm is a good switch, I think. (Runner’s World Cookbook is where it’s at, guys. Most of the recipes don’t require bizarre ingredients or more than 30 minutes to prepare and cook.) As much as I’ve been cooking lately, I also have a confession. I’ve been ordering delicious dinners from Sprig probably 1-2 x a week. Can’t argue with the price point, quality of the food, or the speedy delivery. It’s saved me from extreme runger approximately 7x already so I’m sold.

2015-07-18 09.29.50-1

Dare I say I enjoy ice baths now? Don’t get be wrong. Those first 2-3 minutes are pure torture, but once you can’t feel your appendages everything’s gravy. I’m making my weekly trip to CVS on Fridays for two bags of ice and I’m sure the cashier thinks I have a decent sized party with a full cooler every Friday. I won’t argue.

Summer temps and humidity have finally arrived in Chicago. The whole city complained about how cold the summer was (myself included) and then we couldn’t stop talking about how gross and muggy it was outside. During a normal summer, we’d all be acclimated by mid-July so it’s a weird feeling to be fighting through it so much now. A slight lakefront breeze always helps.

So, that’s where I’m at! I’ll probably update every few weeks. I really like looking back on recaps once I get closer to a goal race, so read if ya want. :)

– J

Strength Training Resources I’ve Found Recently

Strength Training Resources I've Found Recently

I admittedly fell off the strength training wagon this spring. I was deliberate and diligent about it in January and February when I was going to the gym a lot. It’s easy to spend a lot of time there when the weather is sucky and you have to go there to use the treadmill anyway. You say, “While I’m here, I might as well get strong.” But once the weather shifted a bit, I spent less time there and only managed to do core routines when I felt like it. Which, let’s be honest was probably just once a week on a Sunday night before the week ended.

I really like the strength work that I’ve done in the past. If you want a quick summary, here you go.

There are so many strength training routines out there – most of them are 80% identical and you kind of have to wing it, combine them, and hope for the best.This cycle, I’m committing to strength training 2 x a week and a core strength routine 3 x a week. Here are a few strength routines that I’ve come across lately that look promising (I’ve done all of them, but only for a week or two!):

I did this routine for the first time this week and all I can say is I’d like to install some handicap bars in my bathroom. I did many of these in PT a few years ago and have been doing clamshells like it’s my job since. The other exercises activated not only the glutes but also hip flexors and core. I bought the mini bands they recommended in the blog post (1 green, 1 blue). Thanks to Kristy for tweeting this resource!


  • The Dozen – I think I’ve had this saved in Evernote for at least a year and a half.

I just didn’t implement it until now. I’ve used this other core routine for many years, but the dozen challenged me. I think I’ll do a mixture of both routines to keep it interesting. I normally set a timer on my phone and do this while watching TV at night or right after a run.


Hallelujah! I think one of the things that can seem overwhelming about strength training is that it takes up so much time. (It really doesn’t.) If you have already have a hard time squeezing your scheduled runs into your day, it can be daunting to try to do more than that. I’m thinking this 7 minute video done 2-3 x a week would be a good solution.

I keep all of these routines and others that I find tagged as ‘strength training’ in Evernote and pull out my iPad when I get back from a workout. I try to keep hard days hard and easy days easy by only doing strength training that will make me sore on workout days. So, with the above routines, that means doing 1 set of all 10 mini band butt exercises + the Movement 108 video on a workout day and doing core strength  on easy/recovery days.

I thought I’d share! Enjoy!

– J

Bayshore Half “Race” Recap

“Racing” didn’t really happen at Bayshore. I was hopeful for a PR and sub 1:30 the weeks leading up to the race but it was just one of those days that didn’t go as planned. The last time I ran a really disappoiting half marathon was 2 years ago; I might have been due for another reality check.  Bayshore was a similar experience but in completely different racing conditions. It was 45ish degrees at the start with a slight headwind. Really, perfect racing conditions for a spring race. Give me 40 degrees and sunny and I’m (usually) ready to crush it.

But b mile 5, I knew sub 1:30 wasn’t going to happen. I felt like I had bricks in my shoes and couldn’t find a single rhythm to my running. I tried my best to stay smooth but just didn’t have the right gear and couldn’t switch to a faster one. My goal pace felt like a sprint and my right hamstring started to talk by mile 5-6 (the slight cant to the road might have had something to do with that.)

I’d like to point to specific evidence in my training that explains why 13.1 was a strugglefest. I do remember thinking that the elevation change in the first 1.5 miles was harder than expected. The race directors changed the course since I last ran it (in 2012). The start now runs east toward the bay and has several rolling hills before you reach the flats on the bay. I knew that there was one large hill that I should be prepared for but I didn’t expect the 2-3 rollers after that. Once we reached the flats, I felt good but knew I should settle into more of a rhythm. It just didn’t happen.

The absolute highlight of the day was being able to run the last 6.5 miles with Corey. We both had similar days – after I made a pit stop near mile 6 (I took advantage of a pit stop because I knew my race was over already), I saw her coming and we decided to trot it in together. Well, we trotted. And walked. And bitched. And took a shot of beer at mile 10. [We saw a big sign that said NOT WATER and made a bee line toward it. Because that’s what you do when you run the last 6 miles of a half at your long run easy pace!]

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There wasn’t a race photographer this year, but a local photographer snaps pics during the race and provides free prints at the local running store. Found one of me and Corey — this is clearly during one of our running segments…after a walk break. :)


I know that I would have been really disappointed and in a sour mood if I finished Bayshore solo. I’m bummed that we both didn’t have the race we trained hard for, but running the last half with Corey was my favorite part. OH! And….Manny beat me! He’ll never let me or Corey live that one down, that’s for sure. Spending the rest of the long holiday weekend in Traverse City with new and old friends was so much fun. As Corey and I trotted to the finish, I remember us talking about how we were totally fine with lackluster races as long as Holly and Elizabeth had the best days. And they did! They’re both heading to Boston and I can’t wait to cheer them on (either from Chicago or in-person! TBD!)

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I took this winter/spring as a break from training for a marathon…and I’m so so so glad I did. I feel more energetic; I have a really strong base going into Chicago training. After two years of training for Boston through tough winters, a step back and a refocusing was just what I needed. I’m sure I’ll fit in a half marathon into my schedule somewhere this summer, but I haven’t decided on anything. I’m enjoying the process of training and ready to jump into a fresh cycle.


– J

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Race Week!: Bayshore Half Training Thoughts

And just like that – a few days from racing, folks!  I decided to type some thoughts out about my training this time around. I opted to keep training “mine” this cycle and not publish weekly training recaps. I’m not sure any of you (the two people reading this) read them in the past, but I really like looking back at them, as a reality check before a goal race. As a runner, sometimes you can walk a fine line between over-obsessing over every minute detail of each and every run and having a healthy mindset about training, between reflecting backward and looking forward. This time, I decided to employ my short term memory each week and spend less time looking behind me – I focused on executing each workout on the schedule as much as I could.

So, this post will serve as a small dose of reflection leading up to Bayshore (more for myself than for anyone reading).

Last year I coached myself 100%. This year (a lil’ secret of mine), I purchased a training plan from a coach I’ve been following on Twitter for years. I’ve been coached one-on-one before and I really enjoyed it. I think I excelled with having a coach in my corner and someone that I could reach out to with every type of silly question to be asked. It’s nice to have that kind of support system – and an external viewpoint on how training is actually going (to balance the internal one that can be a wee bit dramatic). I made the decision to coach myself last year because I wanted to experiment a bit, figure out what kind of training I enjoyed and what I needed most before possibly hiring a coach again. I *really* liked coaching myself but , just with any other kind of coaching relationship, there was a period where I was just trying to figure things out. You find yourself second-guessing the training plan that you put together yourself, mostly based on gut instinct, loosely based on past training plans and books you’ve read. But once you get over that hurdle and become comfortable with 1) listening to yourself and actually believing that you are capable and 2) making minor changes to the plan that you’ve created, just as a coach would, it’s actually really freeing. I’m very proud of the fact that I ran a half marathon PR and marathon PR in 2014 – both as my own coach.

My mindset began to shift in January this year when I started thinking about spring half plans. Besides a lonnnnnnng recovery period after Honolulu (2 weeks off exercise, 7 running miles the 3rd week), I felt like I wanted a schedule with some workouts that I’d never tried before. I could have written up a unique training plan on my own, but it likely would have been more ‘comfortable’ than a plan created by someone else. I knew I could motivate myself to get the training done, having done it 100% on my own all last year. I just needed a little push from someone else, with fresh & “new” workouts to make me excited to train again.

I really liked the plan I received. It was personalized, incorporated two races I’d already registered for, and had me feeling stronger each week. Getting back into training mode was much more difficult mentally and physically for me this year – I was honest with the coach creating the plan that I needed a slow ramp up and that it would take me a solid 5-6 weeks for my legs to come around. I think no matter what kind of coaching situation you’re in (self, one-on-one coach, or following a plan), you have to be honest about your current situation.

Getting back to a training cycle felt like pulling teeth there for awhile. And then it very slowly started to click again. (This is *definitely* correlated to the change in weather – I begrudgingly forced myself to the gym in Jan & Feb, but started to feel more motivated to train in March when the weather slightly improved.) I worked up to a solid base in January and February (up to 40 mpw) and then began a 12-week half plan at the beginning of March.

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We’re nearing the end of “Runch Season” now that the temps are increasing!

These were my favorite workouts of this cycle:

  • March 11: 3 x 1.5 mi at tempo pace (each segment faster) with 3 min 30 sec recovery: 6:46, 6:36, 6:33. This felt like a breakthrough workout – it was the first relatively warm day of the year & I felt strong for the first time basically since November [10.83 mi total at 7:12 average]
  • March 19: 60 min thirds progression run (20 min easy/medium/hard): Splits: 7:51, 7:35, (7:33)/7:13, 7:12, (7:07)/ 6:47, 6:44, (6:46) [8.34 mi total at 7:11 average] I really liked focusing on 20 minute segments instead of mile segments. I’ve always liked progression runs but had never divided it quite this way. The last 20 minutes was HARD but I finished knowing that it was a good strength-building session
  • April 2: 10 x 45 sec hill sprints hard (paces fell between 5:35 and 6:10 pace) – I can’t believe I’m saying that this was one of my favorite workouts. It was HARD. Plus, running hill repeats in Chicago means finding an ugly highway overpass & dealing with traffic (because a treadmill isn’t pleasant either). I felt my form start to “click” a bit more because of this workout. [7.4 miles total at 7:10 average]
  • April 12: Cherry Blossom 9.5 Miler (Ha) – Shamrock Shuffle and Cherry Blossom were built into the training plan as workouts – they both felt really tough for different reasons but I felt like being able to sustain tempo pace for 9.5 miles when I’d only tempo’d for 3ish miles in the weeks leading up to the race was a big win [9.5 miles at 6:50 average). Besides, it was just a gorgeous day to run in DC with my sis!

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  • April 18: BEST long run! [17.22 miles at 7:32 average] I was so sleepy going into this run, so I was shocked when I reached the lakefront feeling like I could run for days. The wind was pretty bad going north and gave me a wind-aided fast finish once I turned southbound, with the last 6 miles under 7:15 pace. After this run, I wrote this in my training log: “Things are clicking again! Rustbusters Shamrock and Cherry Blossom apparently worked their magic. Sat’s long run felt amazing – I know wind helped finish but my legs felt strong”. My longest run of the cycle was 18 miles, but this one just felt the smoothest. CUE RUNNER’S HIGH.

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It’s funny how the simplest workouts seem like the best ones at the end of a cycle. In fact, none of my workouts this time around were all that complicated.

Another small addition to my training was a yoga challenge organized by @runnersloveyoga on Instagram (#runnersloveyogaHIPS). I had been following Ann’s account for awhile and thought about committing to one of her 14-day challenges. She decided to focus the challenge on hips and I thought “why not?”. I did each day’s challenge and often did the entire sequence as each daily challenge was added if I had time. I always tell myself that yoga should be more of a priority, but I struggle to devote a whole hour to it 1-2 x a week. It just feels like another thing I have to schedule. But, I really liked committing to 15-30 min a day at night while watching TV before bed. It was more manageable and I 100% feel like it made a difference in my running. So, for anyone that follows me on Instagram, this means that you were probably sick of “hyperlapsed yoga” at the end of 14 days. (But at least #BarkleeAnn even played a starring role in one of the videos! Does that make up for it??)

My mileage this training cycle was fairly conservative:

5 runs per week – 2 easy, 1 tempoish, 1 speedish, and 1 long run (pretty much what I’ve done the past 18 months).

Honolulu to Bayshore

Week 50 is the Honolulu marathon with my sister. Bayshore training didn’t begin until Week 10 and the base building in weeks 1-9 included all easy miles with only short tempo or speed intervals. I’m not a high mileage runner – I’ve only peaked at 60 mpw during marathon training. At this point, 40-50 mpw is a range that I feel comfortable running. I don’t really remember finishing any week with trashed legs, but just like I put in some good work. I’m anxious to see how this fitness translates into training for Chicago over the summer and into the fall!

The Man and I are driving up to Traverse City on Friday morning. And I seriously can’t wait to hang out with a badass group of runners all weekend. Sure, the race is going to be great (and the weather conditions look ideal right now!), but spending Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday surrounded by runners I’ve either known for years or will meet for the first time this weekend is something I’m really looking forward to! (Not to mention the # of breweries in Traverse City… I’m going to dive head first into a yummy stout as soon as possible after I finish…. hopefully with a PR to celebrate!)

– J


Cherry Blossom “10 Miler” Race Recap

Last weekend, I flew to DC to catch up with my twin sis, meet her new puppy, hang out with family, and run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday morning. I’d been looking forward to this weekend for awhile because it felt like some sort of marker that spring was finally arriving. Apparently, the cherry blossoms haven’t peaked on the weekend of the festival since 2007. Good timing!

I flew in on Friday around 4pm and went straight to the expo with my suitcase. Kirtana, a mutual friend, was planning on meeting me there along with my older sister, Brittany. Kirtana and I have crossed paths countless times in Chicago – I can’t believe we hadn’t met until this past weekend! I grabbed my bib and old school cotton race tee at the National Building Museum before we drove over to Eastern Market for some margs and food.

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The next morning, my mom, sister, and I were all incredibly lazy. We slept in past 9 am (which I guess isn’t that bad for me, considering that would be 8 am CT) and made plans to meet Lindsey for lunch/brunch. I had a 30 minute shakeout to do so I went out to get that done while they walked to lunch down the street. As usual, the shakeout felt like complete crap and I just wanted to be done with it. I’m sure the windy day and the slightly rolling hills around the neighborhood didn’t make it feel any easier. Still, a shakeout is a shakeout and it always feels good to move after a flight, even if it was the day before.

My route was pretty random. Can you tell?

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The rest of Saturday, we spent spectating a roller derby. Having never been to one before, Lindsey and Nick had to explain all the rules. Dude, those chicks are hardcore. Beyond wearing wrist and knee guards, I think they should also be sporting some kind of chest armor because I saw many elbows to the … bosom. Also, I’m not sure how anyone can move so quickly or change direction so swiftly on roller skates. Mad skillz.

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We walked a fair amount all weekend but this was the perfect activity to put our feet up and rest a bit. Later, we ordered pizza and chilled at my sister’s place.

I prepared my race things and gear check bag for the next morning and finally went to bed around 11 PM. Well, I laid down but I probably didn’t fall asleep until after 12:30 PM. I purposely put my phone on the other side of the room so I wouldn’t be tempted to check the time. I wasn’t nervous about the race, really, but I just couldn’t turn my brain off. And all of a sudden, my 5:20 AM alarm was buzzing (4:20 AM CT….woof).

Race morning was very chill. There was no rush and everything was so easy about it. Lindsey and I met each other on the train (she took it 1 stop before I hopped on, as I was staying down the street from her apartment) and were on the mall before the crowd hit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race so organized with plenty of bathrooms to use before the race. We avoided waiting in line by getting there early, though, so I’m sure the lines were long and slow closer to the start time. Lindsey watched my things for a few minutes as I did a 15-minute trot down the National Mall. In Chicago, it can be difficult to find an open area to warm-up before races sometimes. I didn’t have to dodge around many people and you couldn’t really tell that it was race morning on my warm-up. Lindsey and I swapped places as she did a quick warm-up, we changed into our racing shoes, and dropped our bags at gear check.

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The last time Lindsey and I raced together was probably a Thanksgiving Day dash a few years ago (we really can’t remember) so it was fun to hang out with her beforehand! She’s training for the Chicago Half in May and was using Cherry Blossom as a training run – it’s been fun to be her “Sister Coach” the past few months. I jumped into my corral about 10 minutes before the start. About 5 minutes later, the race organizers announced that the course would be short due to some emergency or crime scene on the planned course. They couldn’t do an official measurement in time but estimated that it was 400m to 800m short. I was kind of bummed standing there in the corral, knowing that it wouldn’t be an offical 10 mile time but figured it wasn’t my goal race anyway and I was just looking for a nice, solid effort leading in to Bayshore in May. The only time-related goal I had was to hover as close to goal half marathon pace as possible. After a poor race at Shamrock 8k two weeks prior, I wanted to see if 6:40-6:50 pace was doable.

Mile 1: 6:50

There’s never much to say about the first mile :) I was warned that the first 2-3 miles would be pretty crowded but I didn’t have to dodge that much (probably relative to Shamrock).

Mile 2: 6:42

I spotted my family spectating and even heard a vuvuzela after I passed. I felt strong running across the bridge and felt like I was getting into a rhythm.

Mile 3: 6:35

Highlight of the race: @runfastandfab ran up to me and said, “Are you Jenny P from the internet?!” Ha! The running world is crazy awesome. I said yes! and we chatted for a few seconds. She seemed to have more energy (read: ability to speak clearly) than I did but we said we’d meet up after. It made me think back to running Chicago in 2011 when I met Jefferson for the first time during the race.

Mile 4: 6:30

I didn’t even realize I was pushing the pace a bit this mile. I had already missed a few mile markers & hadn’t lapped my watch so I wasn’t relying on my splits much. My friend Michaelene and her boyfriend James were spectating the race but I didn’t know they’d be around Mile 3-4 until I saw them, once on either side of the road before and after the turnaround.


Also note, the race directors told us at the start that the mileage difference would be between miles 4-6, but that once we reached the Mile 6 marker, the distance would be as planned through to the finish, so that was another reason not to rely on my watch too much. I liked this section, running down Independence toward the tidal basin. It was open and clear and everyone around me seemed to be running the same pace.

Mile 5: 6:41

Just kept chugging along at the same effort, as we ran toward Hains Point.

Mile 6: 7:01

This is where I think I took a bit of a mental hit. I was starting to fatigue and let myself get into a little bit of a funk. Potomac Park was absolutely beautiful with the canopy of cherry blossoms reaching over the path. There are few spectators here so you really have to grind on your own.

Mile 7: 7:04

I lost my rhythm and resigned to keeping my legs moving at this point. I don’t even think I looked at my watch more than 1-2 times from Mile 7 to the finish. I had a sip of water in Mile 7 (or maybe 8?).

Mile 8: 6:54

At this point, I was practically rejoicing that the course was short (but obviously not because of the emergency that caused it to be shortened). I remember thinking, “ouch, this feels like the end of a marathon”. Probably a bit dramatic but I felt like I was seriously fading even though my splits don’t show it much.


Mile 9: 7:05

Just willing my legs to keep moving and hoping that they’d stay on. :D


0.4 – 6:53 pace

The last section is up two small hills but they felt gargantuan (kind of how “Roosevelt Mountain” feels at the end of many Chicago races). It’s a bit of a struggle too because you look up hoping to see the finish line but you really don’t see it until you’re less than 400 m from the actual finish line. The crowds were awesome here!

Official Splits:

5.7 M – 38:15, 6:43 pace

Finish – 1:04:49 6:49 pace

Overall place 680

Place in gender 152

Place in division 56

At the finish, I saw Ellen, Mary, and Allie. It was nice to finally meet Ellen and Allie in person and to catch up with Mary before she runs Boston next week. No matter where you race, there always seems to be someone that you “know” — or just feel like you know after some mutual stalking.

Overall, I think it was a good effort. I know where I’m at in my training and what kind of pace I can sustain on a good day. I’ve really only been focusing on tough workouts for 6 weeks now (after a decent base-building period), so I’ll take a solid 6:49 pace for 9.5ish miles as a sign that I’m moving in the right direction. And, if anything, it’s a bit of redemption after running 6:55 pace at the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. Running Cherry Blossom was a good reminder what race pain feels like and I’m looking forward to giving my workouts 100% in the next 4 weeks or so. I know I need to get some pace practice in and get comfortable with being uncomfortable — be willing to hop on the pain train in the last couple miles of the half. I think I would have felt much better during the race if I had started closer to 7:00 min/mile and worked my way down to 6:30s by the finish. There’s just something about a perfect spring day that makes you want to run fast and I clearly botched my race strategy in the first 5 miles. You race and you learn.

Oh! And Lindsey surprised herself (and me!) by running an amazing negative split! Her first half was around 8:30 pace and she ended up running 8:06 average by the finish. I mean, we miiiiight just have to adjust her goal time for the Chicago Half (duh). :D

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Brittany, my mom, Lindsey, me — and not be missed, Apache! (16 week old Chesapeake)


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Shamrock Shuffle 8k 2014 [34:22]

First race of the year = rustbuster workout.

I’m making more of an effort to just get to the start line this year and the Shamrock Shuffle 8k was my first go at it. Considering I raced TWICE in all of 2014, this year is going to be very different. I didn’t have a big plan going into Shamrock. The longest tempo I’ve run so far is only 3 miles so I knew there would be a decent amount of grinding if I wanted to run 6:40-6:45 pace. As much as I wanted to run a certain pace, I was also fighting my 3rd cough/cold of the winter all last week. Huge bummer. I was completely drained by the end of the work day and all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and dose myself heavily with Nyquil. By Saturday, I felt decent but not 100%. And then add in the crazy weather forecast and I kind of threw a time goal out the window:

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Once you see that wind icon (especially in Chicago) you know it’s going to be a doozy. I met Corey and Chanthana at 7:30 AM so we could each do a quick warm-up before walking over to gear check and changing into racing shoes. CT was generous & offered to watch our bags while Corey and I ran a 20-minute warm-up a few times around the block. We knew there was a headwind from the south but we realized during the warm-up that there was also a crazy wind swirling from the west. Running north was effortless with a strong tailwind, at least!

I felt congested during our warm-up and the cold wind wasn’t making breathing any easier. As usual, despite thinking that we would have enough time to relax, get to gear check, do a few strides, and get into the corral in time, we were rushed to get there! Corey, CT, and I huddled together in the corral to try to stay warm before the start.


Annnnd we were off.

Mile 1 – You can never trust your Garmin in the first 2-3 miles so I didn’t look at it. There was a lot of dodging and shuffling (heh) in the first mile and I felt like I was flying past so many people that had a slower goal pace that I did (big corrals will create that problem, and I started in the middle of the corral). I felt like I was running smooth – breathing totally normal. Once I manually lapped my watched at Mile 1 and saw 7:10 flash on my watch, I thought “what? That can’t be right! I thought I was running closer to 6:50!”

Mile 2- Running south on State St. was surprisingly not against a strong headwind. I was still fighting to pass people (and trying not to elbow people in the process) but found more of a groove in this mile. Split 6:45 – “ok, closer to goal pace at least”.

Mile 3- By the time I got to mile 3.5, my breathing was really labored. Despite feeling calm and controlled until that point, a lot of congestion was building. Breathing through my nose was basically impossible and the cold headwind went straight to the back of my throat. Derp. Still, I tried to push the pace and clocked a 6:42 here.

Mile 4 – the “holy headwind mile”. This was a big mental WOOF. I looked up at one point and saw everyone tucking their heads down and bracing against the wind. Effort was high here even if pace wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be. Those 40 mph wind gusts that were predicted became reality. Split: 6:53


Mile 5 – Just tried to pull it together. Once we made the turn back south on Michigan, my lungs and legs were burning. The headwind was still strong here and I had to stop to blow a snot rocket. :) Everything was backed up and I just wanted to be done. After the left turn to the finish, I tried to kick it in a bit but not sure if that was all in my head. Split: 6:51.

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All in all, these were pretty crazy conditions for the first ‘spring’ race of the year. I’ve only run the Shuffle one other time and that was 4 years ago when it was 75 degrees and sunny. This year, the weather turned the opposite direction. The effort was there on race day but the goal pace wasn’t. My legs felt good and my form felt strong, but the wind and my congestion made racing difficult. I’ll consider this a good rustbuster (and my first 5 mi tempo of this training cycle) and hope for real spring temps to arrive soon.

Splits: 7:10, 6:45, 6:42, 6:53, 6:51


My next race is the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 12! I’ve heard so many good things about this race and I’m looking forward to putting in another solid effort before Bayshore at the end of May.


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{Currently} March 25, 2015

Reading: If there’s one book that I’ve read lately that’s made me want to get in bed at 8 PM just to spend a few hours reading, it’s this one.

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I’ve had this book on my shelf for a lonnng time and I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up sooner (probably because there’s always a massive stack of books just waiting to be read around here). I found the receipt from the book store at O’Hare tucked in its pages; turns out I bought the book in October 2013! It’s a fast-moving adventure about a 24-Hour Bookstore, it’s owner (Mr. Penumbra) and a sort of secret society that the new store clerk is trying to learn about. If you’re in a reading slump, I really recommend this book.

Practicing: Nerd alert! A few years ago, I became obsessed with sudoku puzzles. I happened to pick up a Red Eye a few weeks ago and flipped to the last page to complete the puzzle. And then I bought a desk calendar with a daily sudoku to complete. Clearly, I have some catching up to do since it started Jan 1. They say that the most productive people have a solid morning routine and lately mine has been suffering (beyond my consistent coffee addiction, of course). I’ve been doing my puzzle in the morning, along with 750Words (when I remember) and I feel like my brain is ready to start the work day — as opposed to jumping head first into work right after waking up.

Running in: a new to me shoe! I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Nike Pegasus in the past. I’d been looking for a new shoe since I started base-building in January and I jumped on a pair of Pegs for $69 on Nike’s clearance section in February. (Who could resist that price?) So far, I’ve put 90+ miles on them and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve been running most of my long runs in them and some recovery runs. They’re heavier and more cushioned than my longtime favorite, the Saucony Kinvara. I’m not a fun of ‘pillowy’ recovery shoes (the Saucony Triumph really didn’t work for me); I like to feel the road/pavement. The Pegs have a good amount of cushion but I can still feel the road. I even wore them for a tempo interval session and felt like they could be a decent racing shoe if you’re into something a bit heavier.

Eating: with new friends at Underground Social Society. The Man and I are trying out new things this year. It’s probably because we had some crazy cabin fever this winter (and one can only watch so much HGTV before going insane), but we’ve been looking for unique things to do and places to see. He heard about Underground Social Society from a bartender/friend. The concept is smallish, intimate, 6-7 course dinners that are only put on monthly (for now). You subscribe to updates for their next event on their website. The next email will be for the event, along with details on the theme and instructions on how to researve a seat ($50 per person). The theme for this dinner was Asian and was titled “Chopsticks Only”. You receive an email the day before the dinner with details on the location. And then you just show up! We went this past Sunday and had a blast — and we might have had too much fun for a Sunday night, because Monday morning was most certainly difficult. The group that founded it all met at Little Goat – think badass people that just their ‘customers’ to experience a new way of dining and interact with different types of people. The menu was insanely delicious and the cocktail pairing was spot on – and I don’t even like gin. :) I’m introverted when it comes to groups where I don’t know anyone but everyone was so open and inviting. By the end of the night we actually felt like we had been close friends with the people we sat next to for more than one-two hours.

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Excited and nervous about: racing! The Shamrock Shuffle 8k is this weekend! I keep forgetting it’s race week, to be honest. At this point, I usually have some idea of what I’m wearing and what kind of pace strategy I’ll use. Haven’t thought about either of those. I just finished a stamina block of training and this week is the first week of speeeeeed, so it’s probably best that I go into it with zero expectations. Annnd then! Cherry Blossom isn’t that far away either. I’m getting my legs back and I’ve had several encouraging workouts the past few weeks – ones that make me feel like I’m back to where I was this time last year. Last week’s 60 min progression run and 15-miler felt smoooooth & fluid. It’s also encouraging to have spring temps come around every now and then. Chicago is on a weather roller coaster between winter and spring lately but I can deal with 40s for long runs each weekend. (Crossing my fingers that the forecast for Sunday changes soon though — supposed to be 30 degrees, with real feel of 17, including 20 mph winds from the south. DERP!)

Whatcha been up to lately?!

– J