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 ;)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Weekly Workout Wrapup (Monday 11th - Sunday 17th)

Get ready folks, it was not the best week.

Cam and I had a rough weekend, and until things started looking up I decided to chill on everything. I didn't run, workout, or take part in my C25k group at all until Wednesday. After that, things picked up and went well for the rest of the week. So here it is...

Monday, April 11th

Tuesday, April 12th

Wednesday, April 13th - C25k, W3,D2
On Wednesday I kicked myself in the pants and got up for C25k. On Monday I'd come in to emails that one of the other coaches would be out for a bit nursing a back injury and the other wouldn't be there on Friday, so I pushed myself a bit just in case something happened on Wednesday too. We made it through Week 3, Day 2, and we're officially down to one member! Apparently it's really hard to get up for a 6am running group, but I'm so proud of the one runner we have sticking with us!

I know when I post these that it looks like we're not doing our due diligence, but I don't count our warm-up and warm-downs. We're usually out there for 30 minutes, it's just annoying to have my watch beeping the intervals when we're supposed to be walking! That said, I think I've finally figured out how to add workouts using Garmin Connect, so from now on I'll have the full workout included in what I post:

Thursday, April 14th - trainer cycling
I wanted to break in my new bike trainer, so I decided to get up extra early to make sure it happened. I woke up at 4:30 and was on the trainer by 4:40, pedaling my way through an episode and a half of The Office (I'll finish it one day, I swear!).

I actually really enjoyed the trainer ride (apart from how sweaty it was). I set everything up in my garage since it was a bit cooler and I wasn't sure how loud the trainer would be:
Nigel kept me accountable, and those pop tabs are a reminder of why I'll be sweating my way through the summer!
The ride itself was challenging but I didn't feel like I was dying, and overall the trainer isn't too loud. My mom didn't hear it until she came downstairs, and even then she only heard it because I had the door into the house open.

It would be helpful if I could get the bike computer to work so I could give you stats, alas, I couldn't. So, uh, sorry :P

Anyways, here I was, sweaty but ready for the day at 5:15 (don't worry, I took a shower before work):

Friday, April 15th - C25k W3,D3
I met up with Susan (our one remaining runner!) and we got our run on. She's doing so stellar, and I'm so proud of her!

Saturday, April 16th - 5k
Oh.em.gee. Well. Saturday.

I planned to attempt 8 miles on Saturday, no matter what combination of running and walking I had to do, in order to account for the HRC's Final Inaugural 'I Must Not Tell Lies' Dolores Jane Umbridge run 13k...Or Until It Sinks In" run.

My plan was to run at least 10k, and then walk the rest of the way. I was a bit worried about the run though, because Cam and I kind of let loose and ate like crap for dinner on Thursday and Friday, and I was having some upsetting GI issues. Like...worst I've ever had before a run. I decided to attempt things anyways, and honestly I probably shouldn't have.

Within the first half mile I knew there was no way I could run six miles. No way at all. I'd had a Clif bar with peanut butter and some water about an hour before I left, and as I started running I could feel everything just sloshing around in my stomach. By one mile, I was starting to get major cramps. So I decided I would try to run one mile, walk one mile (to see if my stomach would calm down), rinse and repeat...and basically just see how far I could get, deliriously hoping for 8 miles.

As I started running for mile three, I realized it was a totally futile effort. My stomach was cramping so badly I could hardly stand up straight, and after just 1/4 mile I stopped and decided to just finish walking telling myself that I could use the 3.1 miles I would acquire towards another HRC race that I'd yet to 'earn'...The Weasley's Wizarding Wheezer 5k. It felt completely adequate and warranted, given how I was feeling:

To me, those splits are pretty good, given how shitty I felt.

I went home and took an actual bath to ease my stomach cramps a bit, ate easily digested carbs for lunch, and was good to go after that.

Sunday, April 17th - 25 mile bike ride
The best part about the weekend was being blessed with amazing weather (which is one of the reasons I was so disappointed by Saturday's run). I asked Cam to bring our bikes over to my house for a Sunday morning ride, and he obliged. We headed out just before 10, and managed 25.3 miles in 1:46 (I forgot to pause my watch when we stopped for a break) to start the outdoor biking season off:
It's looking like my "easy" heart rate while cycling is around 138 (10 bpm lower than my easy running heart rate). Works for me!

We were both commenting on how good we felt during the ride, although we both need to nudge our bike seats up a bit, and I had a bit of a headache the whole time. But other than that...we are so ready for summer riding!

I also snagged some cool pictures of us at "The Keep" (that's what I'm calling it) right were we turned around to head back:

And there you have it!

It was a slow, upsetting start to the week, but I'd like to think we finished it strong. Things are back to normal as of tomorrow (C25k in the AM, swimming in the PM), and hopefully my posting will be more frequent too.

I won't lie, this new job and some of the stuff I'm doing at work has me super busy and I feel like I'm leaving bits of my attention plan scattered all over the place, but I have some posts in the docket that I'd like to get up, so hopefully I can get those up soon!

Peace out, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Weekly Workout Wrapup (Monday 4th - Sunday 10th)

Sorry I'm a bit late with this. It's been an...exhausting...weekend and week so far. You'll be lucky to even see one of these next week...but here goes for now.

Monday, April 4th - C25k W2D1
On Monday I strongly considered skipping the C25k group. I was still a bit worn out from the Shuffle (and all the walking that followed) and I honestly did not sleep well, as you read about in Thursday's post.

But I didn't skip. I got up in the cold and the wind, and went out for group:
I was almost late for work afterwards though, because when I went to shower, ever stall was taken. Womp womp. I hurried through everything though, and made it to my desk by 6:58. That has to be a record.

At the end of the day, however, I decided to skip my swim. It makes me happy that most of my summer rest days will be on Monday, after long weekend runs. Phew...planned that okay.

Tuesday, April 5th - lift
Per the routine, Cam and I met to lift. My hypothesis from last week (that Monday swims affect Tuesday lifts) might just be bunk. I had just as much trouble during bench this week as I've had in the last few weeks. I think it's time to start looking at other areas (sleep, diet) instead of just muscle usage. Le sigh.

Here's the log:
I went lighter on my first deadlift because Cam surprised me with wrist straps, and I wanted to give myself a chance to get used to them. My grip strength sucks (most likely from doing massage for the short period of time I did), but these should help in the long run (and already did on Tuesday!):
Rockin' my Shamrock Shuffle shirt!
And I took a picture of Cam in action:

Wednesday, April 6th - C25k W2D2
It was still a bit chilly and windy, but not terrible like the last few days had been. So out of bed I hopped tumbled, to meet up with my group!
I was not almost late to work on Wednesday, either! Wahoo!

Thursday, April 7th - swim and run
Cam worked really late on Thursday and I didn't feel like lifting. I did, however, feel like swimming and running. I fit in a quick 1,000 yards before the kiddy swim class started, and then did 3 (hella long) miles on the treadmill:

For the swim I did 100 yard repeats of swim, kick, pull, swim. The first group was done without tools, the second with fins and then paddles, and the last set with no tools again.

Friday, April 8th - C25k W2D3

And after work? A whole lotta nothing.

Saturday, April 9th
Saturday morning was full of adulting, but I did managed to make it to yoga with my mom. Afterwards, I drove to Cam's and we drove down down down south to the University of Illinois for my Sunday race with Papa Bender!

Sunday, April 10th
Race recap coming soon! It was a 5k though, I'll tell you that ;)

And that's it! A bit lame (pretty much my life lately), but...oh well :(


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shamrock Shuffle Race Recap, April 3rd 2016

Here it is! My first (run) Race Recap of the season! Thanks for your patience while I got this up (a day later than planned). I need to get better about recapping these right away...there are lots of races this season so I need to keep up!

I'll start at the beginning!
On Saturday I slept in then went to yoga with my mom, and after we got home and ate lunch I got ready to leave. My mom was driving into the city for a play, so I drove in with her. The weather was mildly (hah hah) worrying. It basically alternated between gray skies, white outs, and perfectly blue skied weather. This pattern repeated randomly for the entire drive.
It was even snowing Dippin' Dots at one point! All I was hoping was that Sunday's weather would be much nicer, and that I wouldn't be running in the snow!

The Expo
When we got downtown I took an Uber from the theater to McCormick place for the packet pickup. I've never been to a race expo, so I was looking forward to wandering around and checking out some of the booths for things I'm doing this year (both Lifetime Tri and RMHC supposedly had booths!).

After much confusion with drop off, I got inside and headed for the expo, meeting up with my friend Steffi on the way. We've been friends since high school (age 14ish), and she was the one who asked me to do this race with her. It felt like I'd been waiting for this weekend for months, so I was really excited that it was finally here!

We grabbed our packets, then wandered through the expo to the back where the T-shirt pickup was. The shirts this year were pretty cool, but I gotta say...I'm a bit miffed because there weren't any sunglasses in my bag (which I didn't realize until we got back to Steffi's). Alll the other stuff was in there...but no cool green sunglasses. They were actually decent quality too! I hate being the person to complain, but when you pay for a race and end up missing out on the swag, it kind of sucks!

Annnnyways. We did wander through the expo, and I was excited to see a Ragnar booth since I'd love to plan a relay team for next year (what what Tamara Shazam!). I signed up for their email list and chatted with them a bit before getting out of the way for other people. Then I had some fun telling Stef about Ragnar while she shook her head and told me I was crazy (sadly, I don't think she'll be joining the team...but maybe I can convince her!).

I did also stop by the RMHC table just to say I'm excited to be on the team, but I couldn't find the Lifetime booth anywhere. I'd wanted to ask some questions about rules and the course for the Chicago tri, so I was kind of upset that I couldn't find them! I'd even gotten an email saying they'd be there! There was a wide open area that looked like some vendors hadn't shown up on Saturday, so maybe they were only there on Friday? Who knows.

Dinner and Tutus
After the expo Stef's boyfriend Shawn (who I've been waiting to meet for ages, I'm happy to say he was very nice and polite, cool, and reminded me a lot of Cam!) drove us back to their apartment and dropped us off to "do our girl stuff". Our plans were to have dinner and make tutus, so I don't blame him for peacing out on us :P

I made Stef take a selfie with me almost immediately, and I also snagged a picture of the view from her apartment:
Also, check out how good I'm getting at using PhotoGrid! Wooo skillz :P
We settled on Lou Malnati's for dinner - everyone has their race routines when it comes to food, and mine is pizza the night before! I don't know what it is - maybe the carb/fat/protein ratio - but if I have pizza the night before a race I'm golden the next day. I'd warned Stef about this way in advance though, so she was ready. We got a thin crust with sausage, onion, and mushrooms (three slices each), and split a dinner portion house salad as well.

Sidenote: If you aren't from Chicago then you probably don't understand deep dish crust. At Lou's they call it "Buttercrust" and it is the absolute best. I could eat it all day long, it is that delicious. So yeah. Amazeballs. Best pre-race dinner!

I forgot to take a picture until we were halfway through:
Oh yeah. And ranch. There was ranch, too.
This totally hit the spot, and after waiting for 20 minutes for the bathroom (only a slight exaggeration) we went back to her house to make tutus!

I've never worn a tutu for a race before, but I'd found some easy DIYs and it seemed like a fun way to add some sparkle to a boring ol' running outfit. We ended up using these instructions to make ours.

When we started, I realized I'd kind of underestimated how much tulle we'd need, but it actually worked out okay. We used the following for each skirt:
  • 3/8 inch elastic (enough to go around our waist, minus a few inches)
  • 1 6-inch roll of green tulle, 25 yards
  • 1 3-inch roll of purple tulle, 25 yards
  • 1 3-inch roll of silver glitter tulle, 10 yards
  • 1  18' roll of thin green ribbon
I didn't think it would be enough, but it was! (I was actually kind of panicking that it wouldn't be...) My skirt ended up being about 18 inches long and very flowy looking (left), and Stef's was a bit shorter and fuller (right):

We also got glitter everywhere in the process of making these (that's the bottom picture). Seriously, anywhere they step for the next year will be glittered. I'm actually kind of jealous. I don't look it, but I love glitter!!!!

After we made them, we cleaned up as best we could, and headed for bed.

Race Day
Race day dawned, bright and cold. I knew it would be cold, but that didn't mean I was looking forward to being outside in the cold. It was (of course) colder than the weather people predicted, and I wish I'd brought some cold gear leggings with. Alas, I didn't. I pulled on some black crops, a purple thermal Cuddledud, and my green HRC shirt. We saved the tutus until we got out of the car ;)

Shawn drove us from their apartment to Michigan Avenue, which was as close to Grant Park as we could get. They close a ton of roads for the Shamrock Shuffle (pretty much the entire loop) so this wasn't surprising. We hopped out of the car at about 7:15 and walked the rest of the way to the park...where we wandered around for the next hour and a half, trying not to freeze our assets off. We took a selfie while we wandered:

Hurry Up and Wait
During this time I also ate my breakfast (a Sierra Trail Mix Clif bar with a shmear of natural peanut butter) and drank a bottle of water. There was also a quick potty stop, which involved me getting a ton of glitter all over pretty much everything in the porta potty. It looked like a fairy had been in there, no joke. Note to self: TULLE STICKS TO EVERYTHING - especially work out gear!

Our corral was set to close at 8:45, so we went and lined up at about 8:20. Right after we walked into the corral we asked someone to take a picture of us together:
I love this picture of us together!
The building right in the middle is the Aon Center, the one to the left is the Prudential building, and all the way on the left...Well F You, Donald Trump (something I wanted to shout as we ran over the river).
Check out that HRC shirt! I bought it just for this race ;)
Sidenote: This race benefits the American Cancer Society, and the provided extra bibs (though no safety pins!) for you to write who you're running for. I wrote "In Loving Memory...Daddy..." and his name. I had to pin it to the front of my shirt because I didn't have enough pins to put it on the back :( I love this idea though and I'm glad they did it!

We spent almost the entire time in the corral talking to two women who were hilarious. They'd gotten some Goodwill clothes to wear as throwaways and they kept talking about how ugly their clothes were. We talked about a ton of other stuff too, like the city and running in general, races in the city versus the burbs, I even talked about HRC! Talking to them really helped the time fly. We didn't see them at all after we started, but it was fun to make friends for just those few minutes!

The Start
The Wave 2 start time was 9:15, and we were crossing the start line right around 9:30 (we were a few corrals back).

Right when we started running I realized my feet were entirely numb. Everything from my ankles to my toes. My feet literally felt like they were just flopping at the ends of my legs, and all I could hope was that I wouldn't fall over. I decided to see how long they'd take to warm up...and it took over two miles! At the 2 mile mark my toes were still numb, but by 2.5 they had that tingly-burning sensation you get when feeling comes back. That was half the race!

The course it self was pretty nice. It's fun to run through the city with all of the roads blocked off, and it's the first time I've done so! The Cinco de Miler and the Corporate Challenge are mostly along the lake front, so this was totally different. I had this strange, excited feeling during the first mile:

This is my first Chicago race this season. I've got two goal races. They'll both be on these streets, surrounded by these buildings and these crowds...whoa.

It was like being hit by this wave of emotion. At that moment, during that first mile I realize it was literally just the start...there is so much to come this year, so many ways I will challenge myself, and there are so many things I will accomplish in this city I love. And I cannot wait.

I also decided to be a nerd and look up the Shamrock Shuffle route compared to last year's Marathon route...good news, I will start and end in almost the exact same place, as long as they don't change too much!

And while I'm sharing routes, it's hilarious to see how much the tall buildings mess with GPS capabilities. It looked like my Garmin had a few drinks before the start of the race:

So squiggly!!!

This does, however, mean that my Garmin's recorded distance was definitely off. It logged 5.32 miles, but I'm guessing it was nose on the published 5 miles.

The whole thing went by very quickly...I actually couldn't believe it was 5 miles when we finished. I mentioned the other day that I have a much better grasp on my perceived level of effort when I'm running, and it came in handy during the race. I was wearing my heart rate monitor, but because of the GPS interference the pace-prediction was all over the place. However, my heart rate stayed between 153 and 158 during the race, so I knew we were running somewhere between a 10:45 and 11:30 min pace.

Sure enough, adjusting for the distance, we ran a steady 11:16 mile (11:19 according to the Shuffle data). Here's all the data from my Garmin:

Obviously this was all thrown off by those few drinks my Garmin had, but oh well, I'll keep the data anyways.

And, of course, the official race data. I was pleased to see my 5k time has been creeping down, and it makes me confident that I can PR my June race.
So there it is! A finish time under an hour for another 5 mile race! Woot!

I demanded both a high-five (race tradition) and selfies from Steffi after we crossed the finish line, so once we were out of Grant Park we took a few:
Lovely and sweaty glistening!

I insisted on a medal shot as well. My favorite part of the medal is the GLITTER!!!!
Other Highlights

Hogwarts Running Club
There were some other pretty cool things that happened during the race. You can obviously see from the pictures above that I decided to represent the Hogwarts Running Club during the race. I bought the shirt solely so I'd have a green one, although I admit that it's now a favorite because it's super soft.

Only one HRC member tagged me on the course, and I managed to get my phone out so we could take a picture together on the fly:
Me and my new Ravenclaw-some friend, Vivian!
It's a terrible picture and I look insane, but whatevs! We were having a blast!! I posted it on the HRC Facebook after the race, and someone commented that they were behind me most of the race but didn't say anything. For the record...if you're an HRC member and you see me, SAY HI!!!!

There was a spectator towards the end of the race who saw me and pointed and said, "OH! THERE'S ONE!!!!" and waved, which was also very cool. HRC is a large community and we don't all know each other or anything, so it's fun to spot "wizards in the wild"...and to be spotted!

Age is Just a Number
Probably the most inspirational thing that happened along the course, however, happened during the last half mile of the race. There's a small climb on Roosevelt as you run the overpass that leads to Lake Shore Drive, and we're all digging down, getting ready for the turn onto Roosevelt for this climb.

This guy passes us, and right when he did he ran into (not literally) this other guy he knew. So they're doing this whole "Oh hey! How cool! What's up dude!?" thing, and then the second guy says, "Hey, look, this is my ma! This is her first race!" And he turns and points to this woman who was so short I didn't even realize she was in front of me. I'm not kidding, she could not have been 5 feet tall. And then the second guy says, "Yeah, this is my ma - she turns SEVENTY-FOUR next week!"

I'm not kidding, it was like everyone around stopped and turned to look at her, but without actually stopping. And all of a sudden there are all these admiring gasps and shouts of "Happy Birthday!" and this little old woman just nods her head in acknowledgement and she chugged along, taking it all in stride while she focused on her run.

Then her son starts coaching her through the climb. And she's still going, right there next to us. Let me tell you, it was awesome and inspiring to run the climb next to that woman, who decided that for her 74th birthday she would run her first race with her son.

These are the things I love about running and racing. Running itself is such an individual sport, but when you're racing it's just as much about everyone else and those small moments on the course as it is about you and your race.

At the end of everything, yeah, I'll still remember how my feet felt numb for the first half of the race...but I am also going to remember that woman who earned her first medal at 74, and I'll continue to chase that feeling and those moments, cold feet be damned.

This is why I'm a runner.

And finally, an honorable mention to my step count for the day. Between walking to and before the race, running the thing, and walking to the train station afterwards, I accumulated over 24,000 steps, which is the most in a long time (probably since my 12 mile run last fall). It was fantastic to see a number like that again. I'm trying to up my step count in general (aiming for 10k on all days but my rest day) and I think it's working!

That said...I don't think I have to worry about it too much this summer...

Peace out, people. I'll have another workout recap on Monday, and I'm hoping to put up a recap of this weekend's 5k much sooner than next Saturday.

Until then, have a good one!