Motivation: Running Songs

One of the questions I get a lot when people ask me about my running is whether or not I listen to music. And the answer is always an emphatic “YES!”. I am a huge music lover and there’s nothing better than finding songs that help motivate and push you during a run. I understand some people have an aversion to depending on music. Music should never take over–I think it should just be an added source of entertainment. πŸ™‚

I rotate through songs quite often and find new ones to run to all the time, but this year there have been a consistent list of songs that always ‘pick me up’. I’ve included a list here with their links on Spotify so that you can listen to them right away (and if you haven’t downloaded Spotify yet and would like an invite, please let me know.)

Looking back on this list, I realize it is completely random. Enjoy!

Do you listen to music when you run? What’s your ‘go to’ running song lately?

-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”),Β  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

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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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

Inspiration Friday: Week 2

I thought about what this week’s inspiration could be for a couple of days and couldn’t think of anything. Inspiration doesn’t always come when it needs to and sometimes you find it in the least likely of all places. I’m beginning this weekly ritual so that I can stay mindful of my goals and remember that there’s always going to be something to be happy about when I’m running/active. Anyone that has ever trained regularly for a race or followed an exercise regimen knows that it’s often not easy. Luckily, the hard work pays off in the end and you can look back on those hard days and know why the pain was necessary.

This week’s inspiration is more simple than that. This past week, I had the pleasure of taking Manny to Fleet Feet to get his first pair of official running shoes. Many of you may know Manny as my “cheerleader” (how I refer to him in most race recaps). Others may know him as “DJ extraordinaire”. And without him to support me through my running in the past couple of months, I know that I would not have come so far. After the Shamrock Shuffle this year, Manny started to drop hints that he wanted to start running and take advantage of some running swag. I have a feeling spectating just wasn’t enough for him anymore. (And, really, when is it enough?) I’m finding inspiration in the fact that he wants to try something new, become more active, and enjoy some therapeutic alone running time. It’s therapeutic for me and I know it will be for him too.

He walked out of Fleet Feet with a fresh pair of Mizunos and today, on his day off, he’ll be running in his first pair of running kicks…EVER! I think everyone probably knows someone that has thought about running before, but never taken that first step. It might inspire you to do more if you reach out to that person and share your passion for running–and who knows, they might just beat you at your next race.

-J

Inspiration Friday: Week 1

Yesterday I came across the inspirational video and highlight reel of the Chicago Marathon 10.10.10. If you are a runner, strive to ‘become’ a runner, or love the atmosphere that the marathon brings to the city, I suggest you watch it here. But be sure to have some Kleenex ready because you might just shed a tear or two.

Side note: the runners themselves aren’t the only ones to cry during or after a race. I’ve experience a lot of emotion watching loved ones run and my twin sister confessed to me yesterday that she cried when she saw me run by her during my first half marathon. There are probably countless reasons to shed a tear in this situation, but I have a feeling it all boils down to feelings of pride–whether it be for your own hard work or for others’.

The Chicago Marathon on 10.9.11 will be my first marathon. And I have a feeling I will be bawling at the end, proud of myself for dedicating at least 9 months of time and effort to training for the big day. What inspires you to do the same?

Smile When You’re Happy

“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, & admit to being human & making mistakes, hold onto her & give her the most you can.

She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze & don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, & miss her when she’s not there.” – Bob Marley

A friend posted this on Facebook recently and I just can’t get over how beautiful and honest it is! Enjoy!

-J