My Favorite Running Gear

Have you ever seen an inspirational running quote that you disagreed with? Everyone has their own opinion and outlook on what makes a runner a “runner” and what the sport or activity provides them in their personal/professional lives, to be sure. I hear this statement from runners and non-runners—and each time someone mentions it, I stop and think about whether or not it’s true.

Anyone can be a runner because all you need is a pair of shoes.

Ok, I get it. At the bare minimum, you need a solid pair of shoes that are appropriate for your body frame. Grab some shorts, a shirt, (a bra if you’re a lady) and strap those shoes onto your feet. You’re all set. But if you’re an avid runner, you have likely discovered that the right gear can make all the difference. In reality, these are just little things we get for ourselves that make us more comfortable and happy.

I’m not an extravagant “I need all the newest, coolest gear out there” kind of runner. But I have invested a pretty penny on shorts, a Garmin, vitamins, singlets, etc. in the past year or so.

Here are my favorites:

Saucony Kinvaras. I’ve raved about these shoes several times in the past 10 months or so. I have 6 pairs of them (all in different colors) and really don’t anticipate removing them from my small rotation anytime soon. They’re ideal for my bodyframe and stride; I’ve been able to log well over 300 miles on each pair and won’t have a problem adding more to the pairs I currently own. I recently bought the Saucony Mirage for a little additional support when I need it, but haven’t really relied on them much. Keep in mind that it has a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. If you’re transitioning into a shoe like the Kinvara, do so gradually so that you don’t add extra strain to your lower leg. [ALSO: Keep an eye out for a Kinvara 3 review from me in the next week or so!]


Nuun Hydration. I fell in love with Nuun after seeing several people tweet about it. Running consistently through a hot Chicago summer means hydrating properly and I’m glad I found Nuun. The small tubes are easy to throw in your gym bag, briefcase, or purse. And adding them to a glass of water and waiting for them to fizz is fun. After trying almost all of their flavors, I can honestly all delicious (although tropical fruit could be improved). My favorite is Citrus Fruit. I consistently drank Nuun before my first marathon and didn’t have any hydration issues despite high temps the last 10 miles or so. I will take Nuun over Gatorade any day. Nuun sells single tubes or 4-packs depending on the flavors you want.

Nike Phantom Training Shorts. I bought these 2 days before the 2011 Chicago Marathon and loved them on race day (yes I broke the classic rule of changing gear on race day!). They have a thin compression short layer underneath the outer lining, which makes them super comfy. They also wicked away plenty of sweat during the race, PLUS they come in fun contrasting colors. (Confession?: I may or may not have peed my pants in them that day…)

TruMoo Chocolate Milk. It’s chocolate milk. And it’s delicious. And it’s the appropriate protein-carb ratio for recovery after a tough run. ‘Nuff said.

Trigger Point Foam Roller. I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Foam Roller. But at least he makes me feel good. He doesn’t always treat me right, but then again I probably don’t treat him right either. I told you it was complicated. But in all seriousness, this foam roller is the best. I’ve tried some other brands’ models and they don’t compare. The inner structure is so strong that I doubt I’ll have to buy a new foam roller at any point in the next 10 years. It hurts so good! (Tip: search YouTube for the proper use of a foam roller so that you know the appropriate positions to focus on certain muscle groups OR just get creative about how you use it!)

Hammer Endurolytes. In addition to drinking Nuun throughout the summer, I also relied on Endurolytes to get my through long runs on hot days. They come in either pill or powder form, but I’ve taken the pills with water (or Nuun) a few hours before a race in order to avoid dehydration. Taking salt tabs doesn’t interest me much for some reason, but popping two Endurolytes before a long run or race is easy.

Pretzel Dipping Sticks and Nutella. Ok, so these items are clearly not ‘gear’, but they make me and my stomach happy. Paired with some TruMoo Chocolate Milk, it’s a great recipe for recovery on the couch. :)

What gear can you NOT live without as a runner? What do you splurge on? Do you agree with the statement, “anyone can run because all they need is a good pair of shoes?”

-J

Staying Centered & The Little Things

One week left in January and I feel like I’m off to a good start. I’ve been very busy. Outside of my 9-5, a lot of other things are brewing. Some days I wonder how I’m going to get it all done (secret: most days… I don’t). I don’t know what I’d do without my giant yellow planner with plenty of doodle space. I really should start using pencil to jot down my TO DOs because over 70% of what I scratch in it occurs on a different day than I intended. But so it goes.

I feel like a broken record on my blog. In the past few months, life has been so busy that this blog really just allows me to take a step back and look at where I’m at and what I could be doing better (running, or otherwise). But I guess it’s important to reflect. And so, I will.

I wrote about my 2012 goals a couple of weeks ago and I have to say, I’m doing very well so far! 10% of my income has gone into my savings account where it shall not be touched. And I have been writing down my “moment of the day” every night before I go to bed. Some days I forget, but I can always think of something that made me happy from the day before. If you’ve ever kept a journal before, you probably know that it can be time-consuming and become more of a list of things you don’t actually enjoy about your life. I’ve side-stepped that process and so far, I think it’s working. Let’s call it “PAUSITIVITY“.

I’ve been pretty inconsistent with my training since the Chicago Marathon. Just check out the image below to see how sporadic it is. October through December was a period of “run when I want to, don’t run when I don’t”. I dedicated some time to exploring a yoga routine. And…I rested. Yes, rest! Sweet, glorious rest. I didn’t obsess over when I should run based on my busy schedule. I didn’t think to myself, “I should have run ONE more mile this week just to make it to so many miles”. It was nice to have some down time. And now I’m back at it (if you could consider 3 weeks of 25+ miles consistent!).

Weeks #42 and #1 are the only weeks in the past year when I didn’t run 1 mile. Week 42 was the week following the Chicago Marathon when it was incredibly important to stay put. And Week 1 was a sick week spent at home under the covers and drinking hot tea. I don’t like to see gaps in my mileage, but hey. I worked hard and resting was my reward.

[Another confession: The last time I ran over 100 miles in a month was September and I'll surpass 100 this month. It's the little things.]

The little things that have made me happy lately:

  • Rearranging furniture and making the apartment feel a bit more homey (if that’s even possible). Manny and I had some of his family over a few weeks ago for their first visit to the new place. We had mimosas and they told us how proud of us they are. :happy:
  • Hot tea. Every night lately has been a ‘tea night’. And I can’t get enough of my peppermint fix.
  • The option of running inside OR outside during the winter months + my short commute to the gym. My gym is a few blocks from my apartment, rather than a train ride away like last year. It’s allowed me to be consistent and relaxed at the same time. (I thrive on my alone time at home to keep me sane!)
  • Puppy cuddles. ‘Nuff said.
  • Time with loved ones. Nothing’s better than a lazy hotel stay with my mom, drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching House Hunters International (before falling asleep around 10 pm :-))
  • Nuun! I depended on Nuun for my hydration strategy through my training and racing of the Chicago Marathon this past year. I am addicted. And I was so excited today at work when I realized my shipment would be waiting for me at home after work. (Again, it’s the little things).
  • A good book (or two). I finished 1Q84 last week and will finish Bossypants by Tina Fey this week. The first–deep, methodical, whimsical, and intriguing. The second–fresh, chuckle-inducing,  and silly.
  • Lavender-scented candles at night. :Relaxation:

I’m going to continue to be patient with myself and realize that not everything I want to accomplish will be accomplished this week, but that it will be accomplished eventually. What are your “little things”?

-J

Chicago Marathon 2011: Race Recap

I know I’m not going to do this race recap justice. There are just some experiences that you can never put into words. And the Chicago Marathon, the mother of all races (so far), is one of those experiences.

I woke up on Sunday morning really refreshed and relaxed. I managed to fall asleep easily. I think I’ve mastered my pre-race schedule after 9 races this year. I used to get really nervous before races and anxious that I would forget something important in the hours leading up to the race, but it’s become routine. I woke up at 4:30 and had enough time to: eat some oatmeal, drink some coffee and Nuun, make sure I packed everything in my bag, chat with family and Manny about where they would be on the course, and head to the train.

I got to Buckingham Fountain at 6 am and saw the city transform from this:

To this…

The morning was calm. I found a quiet spot by the fountain and did some last minute stretching next to some runners dressed as superheros. They gave me a chuckle and I enjoyed the hour leading up to the race. I made my way to Corral C and tried to fight the goosebumps. I decided I would wear an old long sleeve shirt to the corral and toss it when I got hot in the first few miles. I sat on the street while runners entered the corral and thought about how much hard work I had put into this year. Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks came on. I tapped my toes and enjoyed the moment. :-)

Before I knew it, it was time to stand up and prepare for the starting gun. I wasn’t anxious. I took a last look at the two past bands on my wrist: the first at 3:40 and the second at 3:35. Going into the race, I knew that I had to be smart. I didn’t want to run a great race and be disappointed at my overall time because of an over-ambitious goal. I was going to be happy with anything under 3:45. Anything under that would mean that I ran a strong, smart race. As we started off, I tried to keep my cool. I didn’t want to go out too fast and blow the energy out of my legs. I kept telling myself, ‘keep your cool, Jenny’.

I threw off my long-sleeve tee around mile 2.5 and before I knew it Mile 4 had arrived. I saw my mom, two sisters, and Manny cheering on the corner of Division and LaSalle. As I went to take a swig of water, my friend Abe said hello. After choking on some water, we exchanged words and wished each other luck. It’s always nice to know that you’re running a race among friends in the city that you love.

Peppy at Mile 4

Miles 4-10 were pretty much a blur. In fact, the majority of this race was a blur. I felt the energy of the crowd through Boystown, grabbed a water bottle from the FFC cheer group, and remained consistent. My Garmin displayed my average lap pace for the entire race. I was only concerned with doing what I could at each moment to make sure I had a strong race. I didn’t start keeping an eye on my pace bands until mile 8, when I realized that I was closer to the 3:35 pace than the 3:40.

At mile 11, I expected to sight my family and Manny again. Turns out they were on the wrong side of the road and I didn’t hear them yelling my name! I was a bit disappointed, but I knew they had to be there somewhere. I told myself that they must have been screaming their heads off and focused on the next mile. At mile 11, I ran into a runner I’ve been following on Dailymile for awhile.

You know you’re a runner when…you meet another runner you’ve “dailymiled” and “tweeted” in person for the very.first.time.

At the half, I had an overall time of 1:46. I thought, “okay, let’s do this again”.

I tried to stay conservative in the next 6 miles. I kept an eye on my pace band and at every mile,  I was consistently under the 3:35 pace. I didn’t want to lose sight of that number. I took a Gu every 4 miles and drank only water. After mile 16, I broke the race down and told myself I had two more Gus left.

I got the goosebumps as I ran down Ashland toward the left turn on 18th street. I used to live right on the corner and last year I spectated my brother’s marathon race from that corner. It was nice to ‘come home’ during this segment and run down the street that I trained most of the summer on. Coach jumped in on my right hand side with camera in hand. And, I’m not sure why, but the only thing I could say to him was “fuck yeahhhhh”. And I didn’t say it once. I said it TWICE. I know, I know. Pardon my language and all that jazz. But the adrenaline was getting to me and I was so excited to see Chris and run with my sister, Brittany, for a short stretch. I grabbed my last two Gus from her, put them in my gear belt, and focused on the last 7 miles of the race.

Chris (Coach) told me, “You’re dialed in. You’re perfectly on pace. Just get to mile 22 and let the legs go”.

Chris is in the blue. So glad he had a tight grip on that camera.

I took my time at each water station whenever I started to feel thirsty. And after drinking well over 100 ounces of Nuun on Saturday, I had a pretty easy time with the heat.

Two things happened at Mile 22.

The first: the kick began. I started to pick up the pace and set my sights on sub 3:35. If could get closer to 3:30, I would. But that kick would come later.

The second: I peed my pants.

Yes, it happened. Let me just preface this by saying that I have never done this in a race before. It was uncharted territory. First marathon. First potential BQ. First race pee session. I’m a stronger person after going through that. There was no way I was going to stop and use the bathroom. Besides, come on..it had to have been about 90% water and 10% uric acid after all the water I drank!!! Think about that.

I’m not ashamed. It was exhilarating. Just glad I don’t have a photo with water spewing everywhere. hahaha!

By Mile 22, I knew I was going to qualify for Boston. (Woah, that’s the first time I’ve admitted that.)

I wasn’t playing any mind games. I just knew that my legs weren’t going to slow down. I had worked too hard to let them give up on me now. I wanted to leave everything out there on the course.

I will say this, Mile 25 was the longest mile I have ever run. And when I saw the sign for 800 meters remaining and again the 600 meter sign, I thought to myself, “that was only 200 meters”. The Roosevelt bridge was no cake walk but I kept my head down and moved my legs as fast as I could.

And just like that, it was over.

I paused my Garmin and the waterworks began. I couldn’t stop crying. I looked down at my watch and it read:

3:32:53

I was in shock. I must have looked at it 10 times before I truly understood what that meant. A girl working at the 312 table came up to me with and asked, “would you like a beer?” and I instantly replied with a heavy sigh, a scoff, a smile and an ADAMANT YES! She laughed. :-) I sat down in the grass and tried to soak it all in. It hasn’t soaked in yet. Every time I look at the photos, I can hardly believe that it’s me. I look at my splits…that’s not me either. Maybe next week I’ll feel differently. But for now, I’m still in shock and I can’t believe that I qualified for Boston in my debut marathon.

I feel lucky to have a supportive family–it’s tough to get a family of 5 kids together for any kind of event, but they all made a point to be there on Sunday. And it makes me all teary-eyed just thinking about it. I’ve said this before and I have to say it again. I could have never gotten through this year of training without Manny by my side. What a rock.

Even BarkLee was tired after this weekend…

-J

Chicago Marathon 2011: Marathon Weekend

I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and tell everyone how amazing this weekend was. It was that good. It was smart, fun, relaxing, surreal, and everything I had hoped it would be when I first shot out the idea that I wanted to run a marathon last February. I’m not really sure how it flashed by so quickly, but I tried to savor each moment and pop each memory back into place so that I could look back on Sunday and remember how great it was.

I think I am a pretty level-headed person. In general, I know how to keep my cool. I’m a problem-solver. I break down each task into a million tiny ones that I don’t get overwhelmed with the goal, as opposed to the process. And for the past 8 or 9 months, I’ve done a really good job of that. Each race was a checkpoint and throughout this year, I’ve mentally checked myself at the start and finish line. There was a purpose to literally every single run (thanks to big bro and Coach with a capital “C”),  whether or not it was a race or a training workout. The two weeks leading up to the marathon, I went through a series of emotions–which, understandably, is completely normal.

Step one: 2 weeks to race day

Nervous ball of energy. Every time I read someone’s Chicago Marathon race report of years past or looked at Runner’s World mile-by-mile pacing strategy for the marathon, I got nauseous. No kidding. I literally wanted to throw up just thinking about it.

Step two: 1 week to race day

Excitement sets in. I’m no longer nervous. I’m excited and anxious …just not nauseous. I sleep well, I eat well, and keep myself busy. I fret about what to wear. I paint my bedroom. I give the pup a much-needed bath. I keep myself busy.

And finally, Friday was here.

I decided to take a half day off of work on Friday to go to the expo that afternoon. I was happy that some other friends planned to go that day and that I could skip all that hectic crazyness that would ensue there on Saturday with people coming in from out of town. (I’m not a huge fan of expos, but I knew this one would be an exception. It wasn’t just any race.)

I got the goosebumps. And my heart may have fluttered a tiny bit. The dude at packet pick-up took my ID and said “cool, you’re an organ donor”. And I said, “oh….yeah. Well, not yet. Maybe one day!”. He replied with a standard “touche” and I was off to collect my bag and t-shirt from the opposite end of the hall.

Me and the lovely Sara in the Nike area

I met up with Sara, who has become a close running friend, especially after my first ever 20 mile run a few months ago (can you believe it’s been that long, Sara!?) I walked around for a bit longer, indulged in some Nike apparel, and looked for my name on the Nike wall. It may sound really corny but finding my name listed among 45,000 others that would run the marathon in two days time made me feel really special. It kind of made the weekend feel concrete. One step closer to the finish line.

Luckily, this shorty was able to reach her name.

On Friday night, I was somewhat ambitious. I decided that I would paint my bedroom in preparation for family & friends coming over during the weekend to celebrate. I had plans to go grocery shopping and then potentially to an Italian restaurant down the street to carb up. Instead, I ended up eating pizza and enjoying a warm fall evening up on the rooftop with Manny, my brother, and some friends. I went to bed at midnight. [Note: there was a time when I thought going to bed at midnight was early. In the past 8 months, I've become accustomed to bedtime happening between 10 pm and 11 pm....and most often, it only happens that way because I fall asleep on the couch while watching TV :-)]

Guess what time I woke up on Saturday? Just guess. ….TEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING! Yes, I slept for well over 10 hours and it was weird. I have a hard time sleeping in past 8 am nowadays and I had to look at my phone several times before I truly trusted the time it displayed. I am so happy I was able to get a full night of sleep that night because I knew that sleep would be hard to come by the next night.

After downing a cup of coffee and finally working up the motivation to put my running clothes on, I headed out the door for a 2 mile shake-out run. It was sticky out. And I finally made the decision to skip the race day singlet and just wear a sports bra. BEST. DECISION. EVER. (More on that later)

When I got home, I felt refreshed and happy. Right when I walked in the apartment, Manny told me that my brother was up on the roof. I was like “uhhh…why??”. His answer to this was, “he said he was in the neighborhood”. I thought this was odd, considering the fact that I knew Cory, my brother, was staying close to Midway with his wife, Kristen. Immediately, I was stressed out. (Pre-marathon jitters make you that way??…just go with it). So I showered and got ready for us to go to lunch. I had no qualms about taking my time getting ready. I thought “if they had just told me they were coming over, I would have been back from my run and ready much earlier”.

Turns out I was the idiot. I walked up to the roof all flustered and annoyed. And guess who I saw?! ….My twin sister, Lindsey, just lounging in one of the rooftop chairs!!!!! (I guess I had it coming after surprising her in Oklahoma this summer.) I’m so glad they got the surprise in action.

We ended up going to Francesca’s Forno for some food. Side note: it was 2 pm and they wouldn’t give me pasta. Turns out their brunch goes until 3 pm on the weekends and they can’t whip up some pasta for a pre-marathon meal. Darn. I ordered a potato hash with plenty of egg and I was happy.

The rest of Saturday was spent grocery shopping, watching the third installment of the Swedish ‘Girl With A Dragon Tattoo’ movie series, and anticipating my mom and sister’s arrival.

Mom arrived with lasagna in hand, of course. We ate, THEY drank (I was all about my Nuun water), and I went to bed around 11 pm.

ONE SLEEP ’til my first marathon.

-J

I’m still digesting my marathon experience…

I’ve been a bad blogger lately. It’s now 4 days after my debut marathon and I have yet to sit down and write my race recap. I know! It’s horrible and I’m sure each time you log on and see that there hasn’t been a new post in 9+ days, you become even more frustrated and disappointed (ahem….Lindsey!).

I promise that I will sit down tonight and gurgle out the details of the marathon. I’ll let you know what worked, whether or not I peed my pants (can you guess?), and what I did to prepare and recover, among other things. But if you don’t follow me on Twitter or Dailymile, I will give you a tidbit of information now.

I shattered my marathon goal on Sunday.

I wore two pace bands. And I didn’t need the one that said 3:40 at the top. Hint hint. Check out the blog tonight for the full details!

-J

T-Minus 6 Days: Marathon Training Updates Week 2 AND 3

You know you’re training for a marathon when…

  • You become incredibly forgetful
  • You fall asleep on the couch before 10 pm (ok, 9:30 pm)
  • You only think about F-O-O-D (Thank you, Protein Bar!)
  • Your co-workers keep nudging you with those ‘counting down the days, eh?’ comments
  • and you can’t resist registering for three more races post-marathon before you’ve even run the marathon

Yes, all of those things happened. It’s been an interesting two weeks. Blogging became an after-thought because, hey, real life has to happen at some point along with all of these miles! Last week, I kind of continued on my mopey taper tantrum route that I mentioned in my last blog post. I was irritable and tired and just all around moody. In hindsight, that all just seems ….silly. It occurred to me today that I’m not nervous about 26.2 miles anymore.

Now, I’m excited!!!

Last night, as I watched my three favorite shows on t.v. right now (count ‘em: Dexter, Breaking Bad, AND Boardwalk Empire), I thought “I don’t have another weekend to delay this marathon”. I don’t have one more long run to squeeze in there and I most certainly don’t have the luxury of saying ‘meh…I’ll get more sleep next week”. This week, eating and sleeping are a priority. And I’m most happy to oblige!

Throughout this taper craziness, I tried to keep myself as busy as possible.

I went dancing at a Puerto Rican restaurant for a friend’s birthday.

I became very anal about communicating with friends & family that are coming to cheer me on for the marathon. (i.e. where I will be at certain times + where they will be on the course)

Enjoyed some ‘rooftop time’ to take advantage of these crispy falls temps we’ve been having here in Chi.

Cooking delicious dinners with Manny.

Met my FundRacing goal for Back on My Feet Chicago !!!!! Thanks to everyone who donated…for those of you who haven’t yet, click here. Running with their 6 members will be so much fun!

I’ve taken full advantage of cable t.v.—after 3 years without it, I’m more than willing to soak it all up.

I got a massage. Mmmmhmmm! (I could write a whole post on this 60 minutes alone.)

Focusing on decorating the new apartment a bit more too.

AND…I finalized my race outfit. (I know, I still have 7 days to do that, but why not get it out of the way?)

Saucony singlet, Nike shorts, New Balance arm warmers, Experia socks, and hot pink Saucony Kinvaras. :-)

After my 3.5 hour 22.2 mile long run, I was mentally ready to recharge and focus on shorter distances.The past two weeks have been very focused. Just take a gander:

Monday:1 hour Power Yoga at home with my new friend, Rodney Yee

Wednesday: 6-mile Tempo run with tempo splits: 7:54, 7:51, 7:33, 7:34

Thursday: Speedwork 7 x 400s (Splits:1:30, 1:34, 1:32, 1:36, 1:33, 1:33, 1:31)

Friday: Recovery 5 miles

Sunday: 14 miles at 8:17 average pace :-) All smiles after the aforementioned dancing at Puerto Rican restaurant

Tuesday: Short threshold with 3 miles at 7:30 pace

Wednesday: 1 hour massage, during which the therapist proceeded to find every. single. one. of the painful tendons in my back. Of course, I knew nothing about these bad boys and we ended up focusing more on my back than my legs. Either way, I felt pretty loosey-goosey afterward!

Thursday: HOT VINYASA YOGA. (If you’re in Chi and you’re looking for a chill, quiet hot yoga studio, go to TruHarmony in River North!) I had the BEST class ever this day. 75 minutes of deep stretching, focus on the hips, strong powerful poses, and deep breathing was just what I needed after the massage and during my taper.

Saturday: Speedwork 4 x 1200 m repeats with consistent splits despite the wind!

Sunday: 10 miles at Marathon Pace (8:12 average pace)

Ok, I’m ready. I really feel like everything is going to ‘click’ at the start line and I will go into a mode where I’m comfortable and consistent. I will ‘find my strong’ and persevere. First marathon= instant personal record.

I’m so excited to meet up with some #runnerds at the expo on Friday afternoon and at Jake Melnick’s Tap on Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to relaxing, eating, sleeping for the next 6 days so that all systems are GO on Sunday. (Looks like even the weather forecast is going to cooperate this year!)

-J

Catching Up: Marathon Training Update Week 4

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since the Chicago Half Marathon. Time really has gone by quickly and I’m getting more and more anxious as I see my countdown calendar on my phone tick down.

17 days and counting! Can you believe it?

In 17 days, I will be able to consider myself a marathoner. Marathoner=badass. It’s official. No question about it. I may be ‘tiny’ and I may have midget feet, but I can definitely kick ass when it comes to running. And that’s just what I’ll do on October 9th.

These past few weeks have been a mixture of emotions. I feel like one day I’m super excited to run, the next day I’m just too tired to run, and somewhere amongst all of that, I find the time to get nervous about race day!

I’m not really nervous about waking up that morning, getting to my corral on time, or even that my Garmin will poop out on me that day. I get nervous when I think about timing. So let’s break this down.

  • Yes, this will be my first marathon.
  • No, I don’t have anything to prove.
  • Yes, I should have as much fun as I possibly can.
  • No, you should not be upset if you don’t run a BQ on your first marathon.
  • Yes, you should be smart.
  • No, you should not let other runners get into your head.
  • Yes, I should tie my shoelaces super tight.
  • No, I should not be mad at myself for taking a pit stop. It’s a marathon damn it.

Yes No Yes No Yes No…YES? Lately it’s just been a mental battle. Let’s just say the taper madness has begun–I think I realized that just now. Ok, moving on. Because you can’t dwell on how few miles you’ve run this week. You’ve gotta recognize how many miles you ran last week and how much of a badass you are.

After another PR at the Chicago Half, I was pretty much on Cloud 9. My body was tired after 18 miles total that day, but I think I realized how much my body has changed in the past 8 months and what I’m truly capable of if I set my mind to it.

(Btw, if you haven’t check out this article on deception and it’s role in a long distance athlete’s ability to push harder than ever, do it now. It will give you something to think about.)

Yes. This is me. I did this. Look how far my legs can carry me in one week!

That’s pretty cool. I took an appropriate amount of rest after my half on Sunday and slowly eased back into a heavy training week (and apparently ‘peak week’ of my training cycle). Tuesday called for a short oil change, which made me feel a lot better.

On Wednesday, I had 10 x 800s on the schedule. I was originally going to run this workout before work but I’m good at hitting the ‘snooze’ button multiple times. Instead of shortening the distance or the reps, I decided I’d pack my gear and>>Home. The Urban Commute.” href=”http://wewanderandponder.com/2011/03/20/workhome-the-urban-commute/”> run straight home from work. (If you’ve never done it and it’s feasible…you definitely should). I ran from the office to the lake during my warm-up and started my 800 m repeats in the cool air. It was just cool enough to wear shorts and a long-sleeve running top. I felt super heavy when I started but eventually the ‘kick’ returned and I was able to power through. All of my splits were under 3:40 and the last two splits were the fastest. I feel like 10 x 800s was less strenuous than the 8 x 800s I did last month—again, Jenny, this is a good thing! And we must dwell on the GOOD for the next 17 days!

2.5 warm-up, 10 x 800 m repeats under 3:40 with 3:30 active recovery, 2 mile cooldown.

Splits: 3:38, 3:39, 3:38, 3:37, 3:36, 3:35, 3:35, 3:35, 3:34, 3:31

BAM!

I also realized at this point that I had yet to purchase my marathon pair of Kinvaras! I’ve gone through three different pairs (in three different colors) and wanted to make sure I picked the most badass color out there for the big 26.2. I’m NOT a pink kind o’ gal, but I decided to get the HOT PINK ONES!

They arrived in the mail yesterday. Aren’t they pretty?

The end of my week got a bit hectic and I didn’t have time to dedicate to a good run so I pushed it ’til Saturday. (My mom got back from a solo week-long trip to Helsinki and I had some time to spend with her and my grandma on Friday. I love how spontaneous she is! Maybe that’s where I get it from…). On Saturday, Chanthana, Sara, and I had planned a fun brunch at Yolk to celebrate the beginning of our taper for the Chicago Marathon. It was a nice day and I was running late anyway so I decided to run to brunch! Again, commuting my running is so much fun. PLUS, I probably got their faster on foot than I would have by public transportation. FACT!

About half of the group had just completed their last super long run of the season and were starving for some yummy breakfast food. Others (ahem…me) were “carbo-loading” for their own long runs the following morning. I ordered the banana nut french toast with syrup and peanut butter. It was DELICIOUS! And then…I ran home. And no, my stomach didn’t hurt one bit! I must have some type of iron stomach because I typically don’t have those kinds of issues. Please, stomach, let this be the case on October 9th, 2011 between the approximate times of 7:30 and 11:00 am!

On Sunday, I woke up, fueled with some oatmeal, Gu Chomps, half a cup of coffee, and some Gu Brew (weird mixture, I know). And then, I ran 22.2 miles. I did it!

It was overcast and windy and slightly misty but it was a great day for a run. My legs were pretty dead tired at the end and I tried to push for a stronger pace during the last two miles but my legs were kinda zapped. To be expected after a steady 20 miles, I’d say. It’s not even 4 days later and I still can’t believe that I ran 22.2 miles and feel like a rockstar already. That’s pretty neat.

Taper, welcome to my life.You are my friend. I like you. You allow me to dedicate some more time to yoga, stretching, foam rolling, and falling asleep on the couch at an hour much earlier than any normal adult would allow.

I am going to hot yoga tonight and I might squeeze in a few miles afterward. Not sure what’s on my plan for this weekend yet, but mentally? …Anything less than 20 is going to feel like a breeze. :-)

PSA Alert!!!!!

If you haven’t heard about the new ‘world record’ versus ‘world best’ women’s marathon regulations, check out this article. It will make you mad. Especially if you’re a woman. And a runner.

-J

Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap…Kinda

If you’ve been following my marathon training on Twitter, then this post may not be as interesting as you’d been hoping. :-) I usually like to spend some time thinking about a race before committing it to memory by recapping it here on the blog, but I don’t feel the need to do that this time around. Sometimes when there are no words to assign to a race experience. Sure, most of the time there are MANY words that come to mind when thinking about running long distance (most of these words go something like: ouch, painful, the “wheels came off”, I went out too fast etc.). I have 27 days left until the Chicago Marathon and I don’t even know what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling besides this:

“What am I going to do once all the training is done with and I race my first marathon?”

Let’s be honest. This is probably normal. I have a ridiculous fear that I will become depressed and slothful after October 9th. I may need to scrape myself off of the couch and work up the motivation to get out of the house (or onto my new rooftop deck). And you know what? It may just happen. But hopefully not for long. I figure I should be able to sleep, eat, drink, and relax all I want after dedicating EIGHT months to marathon training this year.

After 8 months of running at least 3-4 days a week, my reward will be a kickass first marathon.

A wonderful, supportive friend was there to see me and another friend, Dustin, complete the half on Sunday. :-)

This past weekend was a tiny peak at what that day could be like. I ran the Chicago Half Marathon yesterday and surprised myself…again. In fact, I think I have surprised a lot of people in the past few months. But, let me tell you, no one is as surprised as I am right now. Yesterday’s plan was to work the half marathon into a ‘training run’. I would run 3 miles before even starting the race, run a very smart race pace-wise, and run 2-3 miles cooldown afterward. And, just as it has been for the past couple of months, I can honestly say “mission accomplished”.

A total of 18.2 miles yesterday, with 13.1 badass racing miles. I’m all SMILES about yesterday’s race and what I’ve been able to accomplish in 8 months. This week will be another tough training week for me, with my last long run ( 3 1/2 hours) to run on Sunday. I’m really really ready to rest up and to taper. And I know once I do taper, those Taper Tantrums will come to get me. But taking it easy sounds pretty perfect right about now. Alas, I have just a few more short weeks until that big START LINE  flashes before me on October 9th. Until then, I’m going to keep my head down, put those miles in, see the hard work pay off even more, and sleep as much as I possibly can.

FINALLY!  A “flying feet” racing photo :-)

Pretty darn happy :-)

-J

Marathon Training Update: Week 6

I’m playing catch-up…again! As I mentioned in my last post, I had a lot going on in the past week and a half.

  1. Packing up my entire apartment in preparation to move to Wicker Park on Friday :-) All smiles!
  2. Selling some furniture and acquiring some new stuff for the new place, as well — Craigslist, you are wonderful!
  3. Going to North Coast Music Fest to celebrate summer’s last stand here in Chicago
  4. Unpacking and settling into the new place
  5. Eating…drinking…sleeping!
  6. Oh yeah, and RUNNING!

It was a long week and after only being at the new apartment for 4 full days, I am beginning to feel comfortable. New place= fresh slate and the onset of Jenny’s decorating frenzy. Yes, it has begun!

So in the middle of all of that, I managed to get my runs in last week. This week was probably the most difficult week I’ve had in awhile. I put in some serious mileage and felt like an insomniac at times, but I think that’s pretty typical for anyone trying to hold down a full time job, moving, and running all at the same time. I give myself props for this (although, Iwasn’t in the mindset to give myself props for it last week.)

I ran approximately 39 miles last week. It’s a record for me. (Even though I ran my long run on Monday–Labor Day–I’m going to pretend it happened on Sunday because DUH it felt like a Sunday!) I finally hit the 700 mile mark since I began my training at the beginning of February. Kind of an insane number when you think about it! And I’m only just beginning.

Monday, August 29th: Shakeout

3 miles/ 27:33

After running my first 20 miler the Saturday beforehand, I knew a shakeout would do me good. Despite the apartment looking like a mess and knowing that I needed to get those boxes filled of all my belongings, I went out for a short jog. Nice and easy.

Tuesday, August 30th: 1200 Meter Repeats

8.84 miles/ 1:16:05

Repeats can be daunting sometimes. Speedwork is always tough, especially on a Tuesday when you feel like you still haven’t jumped into your week full throttle yet. I decided to get a full night’s sleep on Monday and slept in on Tuesday, which pushed my run to Tuesday evening. I had a really difficult day at work–my motivation to work hard was totally zapped due to some commission technicalities and I felt helpless and useless. In the afternoon, when I was feeling pretty low, I knew that I was run the s*** out of these repeats. Yup, I always run fast when I’m mad. But when I got home, my energy was completely gone and I had to struggle to get myself out the door. I pushed through these repeats, but didn’t feel particularly speedy. That’s for another day.

2 mile warm up
1200 m repeats: 5:34, 5:29, 5:29, 5:25, 5:28, 5:24
1 mile cool down

Thursday, September 1st: “Threshold”

10.21 miles/1:25

At this point, the apartment was TRULY a mess, with moving day coming up on Friday. Boxes were in the hallway, furniture was askew in the living room, the kitchen was mostly packed up, and I couldn’t wait to get OUT. I managed to get up before work to run, knowing that I wouldn’t have the time or motivation that evening. So, the goal for this run was to find a groove as close to 8:00 min/mile and stick to it like glue (thanks, Coach).

I lost it at Mile 7. Mojo=gone.

Double digit runs during the week, especially before work, are not the norm for me, but according to Coach I better get used to it. After all, I only have a few more weeks to run run run before the Chicago Marathon.

Monday, September 5th: 17 mi LSD

17.01 miles/2:24/8:25 average pace

This run ‘almost’ happened on Saturday. And then it ALMOST happened again on Sunday. But then..it didn’t. My legs were zapped after standing for 6+ hours at North Coast Fest on both Saturday and Sunday and I knew I didn’t want to just struggle through it. Afterall, Coach let me run this one fast!!! (and totally abandon the 1 minute + goal pace for long runs–what a rebel!). It was my first run from my first apartment and I enjoyed taking in the new sights and coming to the realization that I was starting fresh and that my new view of the city was just as beautiful as I imagined. At mile 4, near the Oak Street Beach “S-curve”, the waves were crashing into the break wall on the trail. Some runners nearby and I had a laugh together as we sped up to avoid letting the cold waves catch our feet. All the way south along the lake, the waves were my entertainment. Just south of McCormick Place, the waves were crashing and spewing 25-30 feet in the air. I really wish I had brought my phone with me so I could share with you what this looked like on my run. The air was so fresh and crisp–fall is definitely in the Chicago air! After a not so graceful fall at mile 16 near some sidewalk construction, I finished 17 miles at a consistent 8:25 pace and went on with my day. Like nothing happened. Oh, but it did!

After that, I had friends over and we took in my new view of the Chicago skyline. All the hard work is paying off, in more ways than one. Running this past week didn’t take a backseat. It was hard, but it also kept me level headed and prevented me from becoming frustrated with packing my life into cardboard boxes one at a time. 39 miles and a 17 mile training PR. I’ll take it!

My new view. I don’t think it will ever get old.

I’m running the Chicago Half Marathon this weekend. My plan until then is to get in two solid training runs, settle into my new apartment even more, rest, hydrate, and cook some delicious meals in my new kitchen. :-) Have a good week, everyone!

-J

Marathon Training Update: Week 7

This update is late! The days are getting ahead of me. Running is still a priority, but packing up the apartment to move this Friday is taking a toll on my ability to tell y’all about how I’m doing.  Woopsies! I promise to be better in the future. …At least, after I get settled into my new place and unpack all those darn boxes. In all honesty, that might not happen until after the marathon. :-)

So, to recap: last week I ran 17.5 miles, which is the farthest I had ever run. And I did it in the Oklahoma City heat while traveling to surprise my sister. It was a good weekend to say the least. Even after traveling I started off the week determined and was able to stick to the plan.

Tuesday, August 23rd: 1 km repeats

5.97 miles/00:54/8:58 average pace

Crisp, fresh air this morning as the sun was coming up! The plan called for appropriate warm-up, 1 km repeats with jogging recovery, and appropriate cool-down. I tried not to focus so much on the pace on my Garmin and instead on what that pace felt like in my legs. It was a difficult workout but I was able to keep a steady-ish pace:  4:21, 4:08, 4:06, 4:14.  Lost track of my target pace, which actually should have been 4:15-4:20 but I’ll take it. Slightly longer recovery than coach wanted, so it’s probably a good thing I pushed the pace a little.

Thursday, August 25th: “Threshold Run”

9.1 miles/1:15/8:14 average pace

Wahoo! I felt great this morning. I can already tell that the sun is rising later–it was pretty dark when I started the run at 5:30. The plan was to run: 1.5 warm up, 2 miles at 8:10, 2 miles at 7:50, and 2 miles at 7:30 + 1.5 mi cooldown.

Splits for middle miles were:
8:12, 8:08
7:49, 7:50
7:31, 7:25
I felt great during this run and it wasn’t as difficult to hold the 7:30 pace as I thought it would be. Warning: RANT!l. There were several dog owners out on this particular morning that need to learn how to handle their beloved dogs. Granted–it was between 5:30 and 6:00 am in the morning and they were walking down the sidewalk in their pajamas. What I don’t get is how they can be surprised when their dog freaks out by a runner trying to get by. I swear, I almost got my heels chomped on by two poodles and a bulldog—all with no “sorry” from the pet owners. Silly people! I wonder if my backwards running to avoid the dogs’ chomps factored into my average pace at all. ;-)

Saturday, August 27th: 20 mile LSD

Coach let me go long this weekend! Luckily, Sara B. asked to meet up with me this weekend and do a portion of our 20 mile LSD together. We ran the first 7 together and had some great conversation that made the miles pass by quickly, then we ran the last 13 miles solo. Miles 7-16 were smooth sailing. I was feeling strong and steady. I’m glad that Sara and I decided to run south from Millenium Park instead of north so that we could take advantage of some shade. It was a hazy kind of sunshine and the humidity was a bit higher than I expected (I’m getting used to this new fresh, clean ‘fall’ air we’ve been having!). We literally ran to where the sidewalk ends near the South Shore Cultural Center/Golf Course. I had no idea that this was the end point of the Lakeshore Trail until that day. I passed Sara and she told me that she just turned around, so we planned to make up the distance once we ran back north to Millenium Park. I took 3 Gus during the run and took full advantage of the water and Gatorade stations sponsored by Fleet Feet. I haven’t had stomach issues with Gu since I started to use them in May for all of my long runs. Now I can’t imagine running 12+ miles without nutrition, which is great. During the last ten miles, I tried to keep my eyes off my Garmin and run the pace that my legs wanted to. Ended up running a much faster pace than I intended, but I felt great.
I think this photo is pretty funny. And to think…I ran that before 9:30 am on a Saturday!!!
Afterward, Sara and I went to Intellgentsia for some iced coffee before parting ways. I made it home, showered, and immediately plopped myself in front of the TV for a long icing session and a movie. I’m not sure if this is normal, but I spent the rest of the day feeling like an insomniac. I ate a full meal, drank plenty of chocolate milk, and rehydrated. For the next 4-5 hours I tried unsuccessfully to sleep on the couch and in my bed and …again on the couch. I laid in bed for an hour and a half and managed to fall into a deep sleep for about 10 minutes before waking up again. Finally, at 4:30 I gave up and drank a beer instead. :-) Does anyone else have post-LSD insomnia?!
Despite only running 3 times last week, I ran a total of 35 miles and feel really comfortable with the work I put in. On Sunday, my legs were heavy but definitely not ‘sore’. This week is moving week and I think it will be hard to get my runs in but I know I can do it. Looking forward to a day off of work on Monday and a chance to unpack, sleep, maybe paint the new place, and get settled!
As of today, there are 12 days until the Chicago Half Marathon and 40 days until the Chicago Marathon!
-J