Friday, April 29, 2016

Illini Veterans Memorial 5k Race Recap, April 10th 2016

I have to apologize for how long this took. It was not intentional, but with some of the personal stuff that was going on in the week after the race I just needed to disconnect for a bit and recenter my perspective. It's been a busy and stressful couple of weeks, and I think I needed some time off from the blog (aside from 'easy' posts like random thoughts and workout recaps).

I actually have another post sitting in my drafts about how busy work has been (because it has!), but that's for next time. I'm definitely getting busier and trying to rebalance everything as I do.

That said, I did promise a race recap, so here goes!

Saturday, April 9th
The day before the race was totally up in the air until I got in my car to drive to Cam's. He ended up working something like 10 hours that day, and I wasn't sure he'd even want to drive down to Champaign with me. But he did, so off we drove.

Somewhere like an hour into our ride I realized that all the signs we were passing not only said the distance to different places in Illinois...but how far it was to Memphis. It was so random that I had to get a picture (which took a ridiculous amount of time and strategy...and note the perfectly perfect weather):
I mean, that many people drive this route to Memphis that it needs its own sign??

It's odd to me, but maybe they do. Anyways, moving on!

We made it to Brian and Steph's sometime around 5:30 (we stopped to grab some snacks and liquor before we got there), but sadly Steph had already left to go to school. It was tech week for a show (she's part of the U of I theater program) so we didn't get to hang out with her much. Instead, I bought the boys pizza, we watched a bit of The Office, introduced Brian to the wonderful world of settling Catan, and then I crawled in to bed while Brian and Cam played video games and caught up.

Oh yeah, and I cuddled their cat, Cookie Dough a ton. I think she's the oldest and sweetest cat I've ever seen...and her nose looks exactly like cookie dough ice cream!
Funny story: The entire time we were waiting for pizza we kept ourselves busy looking for Brian's house keys. He'd been looking for them before we got there and he couldn't find them anywhere. And we looked everywhere, including places that those keys never would have been.

At one point I eyed the garbage can and asked if he'd thrown them out on accident, but he said he'd already checked the garbage can.

I'm gonna give you one guess where we eventually found those keys...

Keys aside, I slept really well, on what was probably the world's most comfortable air mattress!

Sunday, April 10th: Race Day!
I've mentioned before that I was really looking forward to this race. The weather wasn't supposed to be great, so I packed three different outfits so I'd be prepared no matter what. I ended up wearing crop leggings under track pants (I'd planned to take the track pants off before running but didn't), a thermal long sleeve shirt, and the U of I Architecture shirt Papa Bender bought me (pictures further down!).

And speaking of Papa Bender - that's the reason I was excited! I'll explain our relationship a bit so you can understand:

My freshman year of college, probably about a day into living there, I was sitting in my dorm room doing nothing when this guy knocked on my door, said "Hey! I'm Bender!" and he's been one of my best friends ever since.

During our senior year I finally met his parents, and they've had a special place in my life ever since. The Benders are some of the best and most generous people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and fortunately, they happen to like me. They even surprise me and send me Chex mix sometimes, and those are gestures that you only make for people you really love ;)

Through the years, we'll meet up with Papa Bender when he's in town for work, and we usually take a picture together. Sometimes it's all of us, sometimes it's, have a collage:

So it's pretty safe to say I'm close with the Benders, they mean a lot to me, and I've always felt special because Papa Bender especially goes out of his way to make plans to see me when he's in town for work.

What made this 5k so special to me is that it's been a journey for Papa Bender, and in asking me to run with him I got to be part of his journey. He's always been so supportive of me, so it was pretty humbling to be asked to be part of this with him. Over a year ago some stuff happened and Papa Bender decided to start losing weight. He started walking a lot, and last fall (around the time I should have run my half) he started asking me about running and 5ks.

So really, this 5k felt like a culmination of all the work he's put in...not just with running, but in losing a lot of weight as I got to tag along for a rather momentous event in his life: His first 5k in 25 years!

I'm sure at this point you want to actually know about the race. We'll start here:

It was miserable weather. It was even worse than the Shamrock Shuffle. Not only was it cold, but it was also windy and rainy. Like, really cold and windy and a steady, cold drizzle the entire time. I took this picture of the bell tower because it's how the weather made me feel about the race:
Looming and Ominous.
The race was small, but well organized (except that it started late, which sucked because it was so cold). The swag bag was pretty decent, although I wasn't able to use most of the coupons and stuff since they were for a local store. Oh well :P

Since it was a race for veterans, they had the presenting of the colors (done by the Air Force ROTC, I believe) and that was followed by the national anthem - then it was off to the start line!

The race was a one mile loop around the quad that you had to do three times (duh). I'd actually never been on the U of I campus, so it was pretty cool to finally see a place that people I knew from high school had talked about during the summers - although that was totally trumped by the fact that Papa Bender got to run this 5k at his Alma Mater. I mean...that's pretty rad, as far as race stories go.

The race actually ended up being just shy of 3.1 miles. My Garmin clocked it at 2.99:
The loop was flat for about .75 miles and then the last .25 miles there was a slight uphill into the wind. And for the first time since the Hustle, that annoyingly optimistic cheerleader in me came out, and I (at least feel like) I coached Papa Bender through that crappy feeling of running uphill into the wind (and rain).

I assured him many times that we weren't last, and that we'd finish the race no matter what. I also told him that it was okay if it felt hard - running in bad weather is never easy, and that there were definitely people who stayed at home that day rather than run in what we were up against.

And we weren't last! No where near it, actually. Although there wasn't any coffee left when we finished, which really sucked because I wanted something warm to drink :P

We grabbed some water and chatted for a bit, then took some pictures (always a requirement when I get together with the Benders). Here we are showing off our matching U of I Architecture shirts:

I loooove this shirt! It's one of my favorites (and matches a customized NIU shirt that Papa Bender got me a few years ago).

After that we walked back to our cars and said our goodbyes, and I journeyed back to Brian and Steph's.

I stopped at a random Starbucks on the way to get that coffee I wanted, and I waited the longest I ever have for a drink: A solid 20 minutes. Perhaps it seems petty, but I can't stand when I have to wait like that, especially at Starbucks. Part of my impatience comes from having worked at a small-business coffee shop, and I know I never had a customer wait that long. Starbucks also has machines that automatically pull espresso shots and they don't steam their milk with any technique or finesse (note: pulling a good espresso shot and steaming milk without scalding it are the hard parts of being a barista). People four orders back in line were getting their drinks before me, and then the barista gave me sass when I asked her for my drink. I was already cold, damp, mulling over personal issues, and had waited 20 minutes for my drink: I didn't need sass to go with it. Won't be going back there.

Originally we'd planned to hang out with Brian and Steph a bit before Steph had to go back to the theater, but our plans completely fell through because it was Mother's Weekend at the university so every eatery was completely packed. Cam and I opted to hit the road when it became clear that we wouldn't find somewhere to eat - so off we went.

I'm not going to dwell on the afters of the race. The 5k was the only good thing that happened that weekend, and despite the other stuff that happened, I refuse to let such a great and personal achievement I was blessed to take part in be tarnished by outside events. The race is stand alone in my mind, and I will always cherish getting do run it with Papa Bender.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Workout Recap (Monday 18th - Sunday 24th)

I have surprised myself so far this week with how much I'm capable of cramming in if I allow it. For some reason, I decided two-a-day workouts would be a great idea, and I started that great idea this week. Perhaps making up for lost time last week? Who knows.

Monday, April 18th - W4D1 and Swimming
I met up with Susan at 6am for our normal C25k session. In week 4 of C25k you up the ante with the first 5 minute runs, and Susan crushed them. I successfully imported the rest of C25k into my 920xt as workouts, and we used that to time ourselves - worked like a charm:
After work I met Cam to swim. I was tired and he was really tired (and planning to be at work by 4:30 the next day) so we did a shorter swim. I managed 25 laps, all a mix of crawl, breast, and back stroke with some kick drills thrown in:
After that I went home and had dinner and watched TV because I was tired :P

Tuesday, April 19th - cycle, lift
Annnnd then I got up at 4:30 to use my trainer for half an hour. I don't have any fun nifty stats for you though, because I don't have a power meter. Too bad. It was a 30 minute ride at moderate intensity. My legs (and saddle parts) were still feeling it from Sunday's ride, so I didn't want to go all out.

Oh! Good news though - my new Tri kit came in the mail on Monday, so I was able to rock my tri shorts for the ride. They fit well and are super comfy (if unflattering), so sometime in the future I'll update about the new kit. I'm worried the top will be too short, but I'll decide later.

After work, Cam and I met at the gym to lift for the first time in *gulp* two weeks. I was not happy with my deadlift or bench. My deadlift was just sad (10lbs off my 3-rep max instead of increasing it) and my bench is stagnant. *sigh*

(I have, once again, forgotten to take pictures of the lift book. I'll snag them tomorrow and update with our weights.)

Update! Edited to add that Cam's PR was on his BENCH, not his Squat (he benched 300lbs this day!).

Wednesday, April 20th - W4D2
Wednesday morning started with C25k, per usual. I totally messed up starting the workout on my Garmin (that's what I get for being so smug about figuring it out), so this record doesn't include our warm up walk:
Susan noted that we went slightly further on Monday...I blame the deadlifts for that. My legs felt like lead, and today's run made me glad that I'm getting used to these things now, rather than waiting for training to start to get used to them.

Thursday, April 21st - Race-pace run
I wasn't sure what was going to happy on Thursday because there was a chance Cam would have to work late...and he did. Very late. I (illogically) feel like I haven't been running enough lately - illogical because I have been doing C25k in the mornings, and even though it's not straight running, it is physical activity and has been helping my pace. However, this thought process pushed me to do a tempo run on Thursday, which I don't think I've ever done.

So I set out to run 5k at the fastest pace I could maintain for those miles. My true intention for this was to discover what kind of base I'm dealing with for the next 5 weeks of training since I want to PR my 5k. I'm fairly certain it's doable. Here it is:
5k in 31:52! I won't lie, it was difficult - which is what it was supposed to be, but it was harder than I'd planned. It was kind of hot and I was a bit under-hydrated and pretty tired from the day. I've also been having this issue with side cramps (which I talked about on Thursday), so I walked for one tenth of my third mile. And since it was a difficult run...I decided to reward myself by counting it as my Dementor's Kiss 5k for HRC!

I counted it because there are two kinds of runs that scare me and make me think twice: Long runs and fast runs. And still doing them when you're afraid you'll fail is something to be proud of every time - just like casting a Patronus to defeat your Dementors.

This also means I've officially completed all of last year's races, and EARNED this bad boy medal for the Marauder's Challenge:
This is definitely the sweetest medal I own. #somuchgood goal for the race on 6/4? I don't even want to say it but...31:00. Yeah.

It's worth noting...I totally realized I submitted the wrong time for my PR for this race in June. I submitted 31:12 as the 'time to beat' but it's actually 31:41, which I came really close to hitting on this run. That time is also probably wrong...when I went back and looked at the course map from the Corporate Challenge where I set that PR, I realized my Garmin was all over the place because Chicago Buildings. So yeah. I've probably made this challenge way more difficult for myself than I needed to, lol.

Sub 10:00 min/miles, here I come!

Friday, April 22nd - W4D3 and lifting
Friday I was up early again for C25k:
We're getting better and better every day!

After work Cam and I met to lift, and managed to squeeze in a good workout before we headed our separate ways for the evening (I went out with work peeps, he went out with a friend).


Saturday, April 23rd - rest day
Saturday I woke up and felt like doing nothing. I was planning on an 8 mile run/walk (you'll remember), and totally threw the idea out the window. I was just plain tired.

And sore. I was so, so sore from Thursday's run and Friday's lifting.

So I did nothing on Saturday. :)

Sunday, April 24th - easy run
A few months ago I signed up for a massage Continuing Ed class that was slated for this Sunday. Because I did nothing on Saturday I knew I wanted to get a run in on Sunday before the class. So I leashed up my Nigel and took him out for an easy three miles. I was ECSTATIC to realize my "easy" pace has dropped so much! When I started doing heart rate training my easy pace was about 12:30 min/mile. During this run, it was almost a full minute faster!
Here's hoping I can hit that PR with this method!

And that's it!
A week of workouts in the book again - nothing stellar except consistency. And after Saturday I can tell how much I'll need my rest days during training :P

Until I write again...have a good one!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Random Things on a Thursday (#9) - Running Things

I still have a 5k recap to get up. I know I do. I've started it, it's coming, I promise. I run into this issue of not having all the stuff I need to write it (pictures) on one computer, and then not having time to write it when I'm at my house, but I promise it's progressing and I'll get it up soon, especially since it was such an important race to me personally.

That, and I do think you'll find it inspiring.

Until it goes up, I leave you with a week of random things related to running!

Shout Out to My Sports Bra
I'm sure this is exactly what you want to read about, but I actually had someone ask me about this last week so I thought I'd put it here.

With all the running and cycling and everything, my new favorite sports bra has been getting a workout of its own. When I decided to buy my Tri kit, part of that decision was to find a good sports bra that I could wear under it (for all three events, swim-bike-run). Although I haven't tested it with my kit yet, I'm more than happy with this one particular bra for running.

The first one I tried was the Fiona, but it didn't wow me (scroll down and read the sidenote). I didn't like that it wasn't racer back, so I decided to try the one racer back option offered for stability: The UpLift.

So my thoughts: It's a great bra. It's very supportive but doesn't crush stuff or suffocate you, the whole bra (straps and all) is super comfortable and doesn't chafe (even during extended activity), it's very breathable, it was decently priced*, and it's cute.

It also makes The Girls look nice (sorry parental figures, but ladies want to know these things).

Cons: Limited sizing and the J-hook can be difficult to undo, especially if your arms are tired :P

*This color was on sale for $28 on the Brooks website when I bought it. The new color combos are the regular price of $48. The mint green one is verrrrry tempting, and I'm willing to pay that much for a second one...

It's also worth noting that Brooks has a great 90 day return policy: Try it, sweat in it, and if you don't like it you can return it for a full refund. I'm probably going to test out some other styles in the near future.

(Sidenote: I've also tried Brooks' Fiona bra which got rave reviews from a bunch of people when I was still part of the Reddit xxfitness group on Facebook. As with many things that group recommends, I don't get the hype. The band was way less supportive, and the cups are a lot less comfortable - more smush than hold. I kept it since it's decent for lifting, but it does not provide the same high-impact support that the UpLift does.)

Chapped Lips
I've noticed with the last few races and runs is that my lips have been chronically chapped lately, and I feel like it has to do with running (I doubt the cold weather helped). I've been trying harder to put chap stick on them before and after running, but if anyone out there has any advice I'd appreciate it!

Side Stitches
To ride the Advice Train a little longer, I've been getting a side stitch on my right side every time I run. On my easy runs it will be a slight twinge and I can breathe through it and it goes away after about half a mile, but on my run today it hurt so badly that I stopped after 2 miles to walk for a bit. 1/10 of a mile helped (and I'll admit it was an intense run) but I'm sick of always getting these things, especially since I want to PR my 5k in June.

I feel like I've tried all the tricks: I make sure I'm hydrated and fueled (but not too soon before running), I breathe in and out on different steps, I exhale heavily when my left foot hits the ground. I supposed I could stretch more, but I don't think that's the issue.

So again...any advice is welcome.

I am (mostly) off the juice. Aside from one cup of black tea in the morning (I'm English and can't help it) and the occasional black chai or green tea, I have worked caffeine out of my system and routine completely.

I still drink coffee in the morning, but it's decaf. (Hush, you heathens who think decaf coffee is bad. It's just like all other coffee - if it tastes bad, it's because you're buying crappy coffee or you're brewing it wrong.) I drink coffee not out of habit, but because I love it, and I'm not giving it up because I don't want to drink caffeine.

If I'm going to a party and I want a little something, I splurge on a caffeine-free diet coke (even if it means I have to bring my own).

Need a boost in the afternoon? Fruit or nuts are my go to. I am saving caffeine entirely for my races this summer, and I want my body to react to it like a line of coke. Hopefully that's what happens!

Training Plan
Speaking of races...I love my training plan. I mean, I love looking at it. It's so pretty.
I'll share the actual plan closer to when I start, but look at how fun it looks! (She says before she has to do any of it.)

PRing my 5k
I've mentioned a few times that I want to PR my 5k on June 4th. I'm trying not to make too big of a deal about it in case it doesn't happen, but I did pay an extra $10 for a PR medal if I manage it (I know, I know, choruses of 'Hey, Big Spender' are going through your head).

Today I realized I'm an idiot and should look up an actual PR training plan. I'm going to check out the plans from 80/20 Running and see if I can fit one of them into the six weeks. I have about one minute to knock off my time (based on recent results) and I'm hopeful that I can do it. I hope.

I've put it here, so now I really have to try. *gulp*

I don't know about you, but I need a cute picture to help me recover from the nervousness that thought brings me:

Virtual Races
As of today, I have one virtual race left to complete! I don't know why I feel the need to mention it now, but I do! I used a run today (Thursday) for the Dementor's Kiss 5k, so all that's left is the Umbridge run!

I'm going to try to complete it this weekend (per the same plan as last weekend) since the next HRC race will be announced Saturday (at 5pm), so hopefully I'll have good news on that front soon :P If I don't manage it this weekend (because it does happen to be a fairly busy weekend), it will get done the following weekend. Yay for plans!

Corporate Challenge
So it turns out my company's Chicago office decided to fund the race this year. I totally get it...the Chicago office is market facing so it's a bigger deal to them to participate. I got half way through the sign-in before I decided to ask about busing to the event (in the past the company has bused participants from my office in the suburbs to the city) and was told that no bus would be provided. We'd have to carpool. Because of that I've decided not to participate.

Last year the ride took over two hours because there was a Blackhawks game the same night. Combined with the late start time (7:00 pm) and the drive back to the suburbs, I wouldn't get home until close to midnight, and my new job requires me to be at work at 7:00 am sharp. So I scratched the idea. I'm doing enough city races this year...I can totally pass and save myself the $50 this time around.

I think that's about it. I really don't have any more floating around in my head just now, so I will leave it there.

Oh wait, have another super cute dog picture from way back when I was watching the Olympic trials:

Peace out, and have a great rest of your week!


PS - I haven't updated my reading list because I'm still reading the same books. I will eventually finish them, and I will let you know when it happens ;)