Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Corporate Challenge

I knew I was setting myself up for a bad race day. I had a very solid feeling down in the pit of my stomach that Thursday's race was not going to be anywhere near my best run. I was pretty sure I would feel like crap for most of it. Let me summarize why:

My sleep was off.

I planned to go in to work late, but then I also overslept so my whole work day was thrown off.

I was nervous and anxious all day.

I was going to start running three hours later than I was used too.

Just...nothing felt right. I felt okay...I didn't feel bad, but I didn't feel right.

And apparently I run great in those circumstances!

I will back up now and explain:

So the Corporate Challenge takes place in several cities around the country on different days. The Chicago event that my company participated in was this past Thursday - and apparently it was the single largest event that will be held! It turns out New York has two consecutive days for their event, which is why it's not larger.

I mentioned earlier that I was going to be flying solo this time...but it turns out I didn't have to, which ended up being a really good thing because it served as motivation in the end! I found out that my friend Travis (who works on my floor) was going, and he was planning on running way slower than he normally does because he'd had a very persistent headache the last few days. So I told him I normally run at an 11:00 min/mile pace, and he said that sounded good. Of course, with the adrenaline of the crowd and the whole race atmosphere, we ended up going a bit faster.

And then...I ran the entire race, which my Garmin clocked at 3.69 miles, which was .2 miles longer than the stated course (3.5 miles). Given that I have never run for more than 2 miles without walking, I am so super proud of that.

You see, on the way to the race I felt pretty good, and I was determined to run at least the first two miles without stopping. Then I started thinking, 'Well, I could probably run which case I might as well just run the whole thing.' And then Travis suggested we run together, and I couldn't be seen a a wimp, so my ego solidified that, unless we got separated, I would run the whole thing.

Hah. Easier said than done! But honestly, I felt pretty good for the whole run, apart from the stitch in my right side that I've had trouble with lately. Once I settled into my stride and got used to dodging and weaving through all the people on the course I felt like I could do it. I stopped thinking about taking a walk break and just pushed myself through it, and by 2.5 miles in I realized that because I'd been running so much faster with Travis, that I was probably going to PR a 5k...and that thought gave me the motivation I needed to finish out the race!

Now, I didn't realize it at the time, but during the Cinco de Miler Cam and I PR'd our 5k time at 33:34, which was a huge improvement on my time from the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5k in January (which, as a reminder, I ran inside on a treadmill in 36:24!):

CdM was also our longest distance run!

And then on Thursday, I killed that PR! So for the second time in less than three weeks I PR'd a 5k, and I rang this one in at 31:40.8!!!!!!!!! I beat my last 5k time by almost TWO MINUTES!

It's pretty cool and fulfilling to see that, and I'm hopeful that at some point this summer I will be able to achieve a sub-30 5k time!

Here are my splits for the rest of the race:

Obviously this shows that I need to work on pacing, but it was honestly very hard to stay consistent during this race because there were so many people, and they were doing weird (and incosiderate) things like stopping to walk in big groups in the middle of the track, and we had to figure out how to wind through or around the groups.

Anyway, my official race time was 37:34, and I am more than happy with that. Here I am at the end of the race, looking proud as a peach, and ready for some food!

I gotta say, I'm glad I was wrong. I'm glad I had a great race day, that I PR'd, and that I met a few new people from work. The Challenge was a great experience overall, even if I did have to shake things up with my work schedule to make sure I got enough sleep and everything. I was really happy to be able to go in to work the next day (even if I did have to go in early...blahhh) and say that I had a good race and did well.

And you know what? Even though yesterday was not the best work day (I was tired from going to bed late and getting up early, and I encountered some major last minute frustration during the day), the happy and proud feeling lingered through all of it.

It even served as a reminder that I am more than the things that happen during the day, or the forces that act on me from outside. I am my experiences, my challenges, and my efforts.

And that was the thought that pushed me through my frustrations with yesterday and helped me end my day with a smile.

With that...I hope you have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mental Challenges

For once I feel like I actually have a good excuse for not posting!

I did intend to write something last night after our workout, but I didn't realize Cam had other stuff he needed to do. He left for Summer Camp today (the music festival in central Illinois...not an actual summer camp) and had to get his packing list ready and get a bunch of stuff ready to throw in his car after work today. But we also had to get to the gym (because I demanded it), so right away when we got home we changed and headed over to get our workout in.

So to divert a little (it will all come back together, I promise), I haven't mentioned yet, but a friend convinced me to sign up for our company's team for the Chase Corporate Challenge...which is tomorrow in Chicago!

I feel like this is a big step for me...I debated long and hard whether to include a photo with my company logo...but there you have it. There's every chance of me being photographed in this shirt anyway, and with minimal sleuthing you can find out my last name and where I work, so why not just own it here too? So this is the company swag...a shirt, a shoe lace (for the left one), a shoe dazzle thingy, and then the race bib from Chase.

So, there's a lot that I didn't realize about this race, and I feel like it's putting me a bit on edge. First up, it's 3.5 miles - I actually thought it was a 5k. Not a huge difference, but still. I keep thinking I won't be able to do it, which is honestly a totally silly thing to think because I just ran a 5 mile race a few weeks ago. That said, up for #2 is that the race doesn't even start until 7:00pm. Hah. 7:00? I'm basically in bed at that point on a normal day! And number three: I'll be on my own for this one.

As far at the first point...of course I'll be able to do it! I can move myself for 3.5 miles and I know it. For the second: I talked to my (new) manager and she agreed that it's totally fine for me to come in an hour late tomorrow, though I had to be at work early today (I normally start at 6:30 but today I started at 6:00). But I still feel like I'm not setting myself up for optimal performance with this thing.

And finally...being alone. Well, there's no real remedy for it, and I feel like that's where the real insecurity is coming from. Not only am I really used to running with Cam now, but the friend who convinced me to sign up has since decided not to do it, and I only know one or two other people who are going (one of whom is walking it). And to top it off, neither of them will be on my bus too or from the race.

Bu...oh well. It's just another mental challenge. It won't be the first thing I've done by myself, and it won't be the last (I'll be doing that half alone, afterall!). At the end of the day, it's my own two feet that will carry me across the finish line...not the fact that someone I know is or isn't participating. And who knows, maybe I'll make a friend on the bus!

Anyways...gym last night. Because of the Corporate Challenge (and for my own sanity) I needed to get a run in. This meant that even if we had to truncate it, I wanted to get at least 1.5 solid miles of running in on the treadmill. Which I did. It may have been 1.65 though...I can't decide. My Garmin is definitely not calibrated to the treadmills at our gym, but I figure after 2 months of running outside it knows my cadence enough to judge distance (or not? I don't actually know how that bit works). But the treadmill said I went 1.5 miles, my Garmin said 1.65, so it had to be somewhere in between! And a little extra obviously won't kill me at this point.

We followed up our run with a pretty solid (but quick) upper body workout. We did three sets per exercise at 5-5-10 reps, and I used the following weights per set:

I'm happy to say that I didn't lose all the muscle I gained early in the year. While it sucked not having a gym the last 2 months, I'm happy with these weights, especially for my Bench and Tricep extension. I'm also happy to report that my form for Bench Press is getting better and more comfortable...and it's because I'm taking advice to heart!

You see, the other day when I was doing the leg press Cam said he noticed that I slow down during the down motion of certain exercises (mostly with leg and bench press). I told him I do it because I'm afraid I won't be able to push it back up - another mental challenge! He pointed out that I was wasting energy with my resistance during the slow down, which is why it felt hard to push it up. So yesterday when I did my bench I let the bar come down to my chest a bit faster and more naturally, and I made a conscious effort not to slow it down with resistance.

Guys, it made SUCH a difference. The upward "push" was much easier, and I told him at the end that the bar will always have to have weights on it from now on, because those 10 reps with 45lbs (just the bar) weren't "enough".

The other thing I didn't mention yesterday day is that I went on Amazon and got this book about weightlifting for women that I'd heard about on Reddit Two-X Fitness. I'm excited to see what I can learn from it. I also went ahead and bought the journal companion, so hopefully that will help me see my progress as the days and weeks go by. Hopefully I'll be able to do an update post in a few months!

I've been taking selfies for Instagram when we leave the gym...I love the faces he makes!

When we got home from the gym I showered and made dinner while Cam started to get his packing list assembled. There was enough of all that to keep us both busy and running around until almost 7:30, when we decided it was in both our best interests to sit down and watch some TV since we won't see each other again until Monday (excepting when Cam drops off King Ned the Lizard at my house tonight...I'll be watching him all weekend since Cam's parents are leaving for Idaho on Saturday). We put on The Inbetweeners (which I promised Cam he'd love) and made it through one episode before we both fell asleep, exhausted.

Today has been another long day - extra hours at work combined with unpacking cars and setting up lizards and the like, and tomorrow's Challenge weighing on my mind just a bit. I'm looking forward to heading off to bed and getting a little extra sleep tonight, and even more looking forward to my company's Summer Hours, which start on Friday (we get to leave work 2 hours early and still get paid for the full 8!).

I have so much planned for this weekend - movies and cleaning and stuff - but I'll see what I can do about posting...because this blog is always in the back of my mind!

So Happy (end of) Hump Day, and see you sometime this weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Back at it...and a half!

Holy hell am I sore. But I am happy, so that must count for something!

I apologize for the sporadic nature of my posts lately. I'll spare you the "I've been busy" mumbo jumbo and just get on with it!

It's been a good and eventful week - my American Express will certainly tell you that. Next month's statement will be 100% ridiculous for all the random things that were thrown on it in the past 10 or so days.

First up - plane tickets to Idaho: Yay! It's finally on the horizon! Cam and I are heading to Boise the second week of July (11th-18th) to visit his grandparents and his brother. We are both so excited! I've never been to Idaho (so I get to check another state off the list) but I'm mostly looking forward to a week filled with camping and mountains and the beauty of the great blue yonder. Cam's brother (whose name is Henry Brennan and is referred to by various names...Henry, Hen, Brennan, Henry Brennan, etc) moved to Idaho in November, and likes to send pictures of himself doing fun stuff that I wish I was doing. July is our chance to do those things, and it can't come soon enough!

Next on the Amazing AmEx Bill: Mother's Day Brunch. My brother and I took our mom for brunch at a restaurant called Montara Grill, known in the area for their mouth-watering, prime cut beef. Their brunch has everything from Crème brûlée French Toast, biscuits and gravy, and a variety of morning rolls and muffins, to a seafood platter (scallops!), meatloaf, mac and cheese and pork roast. It costs $37 per person, and is totally worth it. So that's on there.

Thing #3: Entry for 4 into the Illinois Special Olympics Color in Motion 5k! It's a color run, and I've never done a color run, and I convinced Cam and two of our friends (Eric and Sarah) to do it with me. The registration until Monday night was $27.50 (going up to $50 the following day) so I ninjaed that deal. Sarah and I are going to make skirts for it too! Woot! But before you think I'm a super generous friend...they're paying me back for their entry.

Then came the big ones (because plane tickets aren't big...?). I feel as though these are pivotal moments for me in terms of self confidence.

While I was sitting at work on Friday I decided to throw all caution to the wind. I was (still) feeling good and accomplished after the Cinco de I put my money where my mouth is and registered for a half.


I spent a few days looking at some different halfs...debating..deciding...and decide I did.

I registered for the Women Rock half marathon in Chicago on September 19th. There are a few races and different race challenges, but I picked the half because in January I said I would. And now I have all summer (123 days) to worry and prepare...eep!


I know to some people out there that's like nothing - done a million of them and whatever. But for me it's pretty big! And it's the one goal I set for myself this year so I want to make it happen, damnit! My mom and Cam promise to be at the finish line, and even my brother implied that he'd try to get the day off for it. So I'll have at least a few people there for me when I collapse at the end!

I decided at the same time to register for the Beat the Blerch virtual race. We all know I just want the swag...but perhaps I'll use that for an "official" 10k? Why not.

And that's not all! One of the things I'm most excited about is that Cam and I finally signed up at a gym! He finished his physics class (and passed! Wooooooooooooooooot!) so I pushed him out the door to the gym on Thursday. We had guest passes for an LA Fitness near his house, and were going to try there and an Anytime Fitness slightly further away. That plan went to pot because we both really, really like the LA Fitness. I wasn't sure because the reviews were kind of iffy (I feel like that happens with every gym...) but we were both very pleasantly surprised, and the membership includes multiclub access so I can go to the one closer to my house as well. We signed up right away, and because I have a love affair with getting American Express points, I put it all on my card...including the recurring monthly payment for our "couples" membership...weird!

We've been twice already (killed our legs on Saturday, as it happens, still hurts to walk) and it's definitely a good fit for us. I'm actually looking forward to going back this evening! Perhaps (hopefully) I'll post some workout details and progress stuff here...Cam and I are focusing on lifting more, and I'm hoping to find a good balance while I train for the half.

The funny thing is, I've got some other ideas for posts, I just really need to get better about posting them. Which means I need to get better about falling asleep right after I eat dinner...and mostly not do that.

I'm hoping to write something up to post again tonight. Maybe writing that down means I will actually do it...but we know how that always goes... ;)