Showing posts with label Weekend Update. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weekend Update. Show all posts

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The ego

Today, I had a really tough run. I had my last long run, 12 miles, on my half marathon training plan. Most of my runs have been fast and comfortable lately, and I didn't expect this one to be any different. I've run this distance many times, and wasn't feeling particularly nervous about it. But the universe has a way of balancing everything out, and I was schooled today in pushing myself hard. This run started out tough and never got easier. Lack of sleep and a little tummy troubles didn't help, either. My last half marathon, a month ago, was run with an average pace of 8:34 min/mile, and while I didn't expect to run this long run at that pace, I hoped for sub-9. I got that, but it was tough.

Humbling, in fact.

When I grew up, my mom always said never to get "too comfortable" with how things were going. One day you're up, and the next day, the rug comes out from under you. That can apply to the road as well. I think you have to be willing to accept your shortcomings as well as your bad days to really appreciate when things are going well. Everything does tend to even out, right?

Seinfeld "Even Steven"
You do have to keep your ego in check. Because if you push too hard, you're going to get hurt. Actually, every yoga teacher I have taken a class with has said: "Check your ego at the door." There's so much wisdom imparted at yoga class, but this is my favorite. It is such a great reminder that we're all students, and that we're always learning. Whether its at a job or on the road, we should have our minds open and willing to accept ourselves where we are at, at that point in time. Not every day is going to be good. Not every run is going to be easy. Some days, we just won't be able to hold a balance pose. Last week I was talking with a woman who hurt herself at CrossFit. She took some time off to train for a marathon, and when she went back to the gym, she started lifting weights she was lifting at her peak. Hurt her back, and she can't do anything right now. Her comment to me? "I let my ego get in the way."

A while ago, I wrote a post about finding the right coach. One of my friends reminded me in a very insightful comment that you have to be willing to put your ego aside and allow yourself to be coached. This is great advice. After this post, some people commented that they know enough to coach themselves. While I don't doubt that, an objective outsider may see something you might be missing. Let's face it, it's hard to be objective about ourselves. In working with Becky, I've been humbled many times--and it can be a little uncomfortable. When she was teaching me how to "clean" a bar (not what you're thinking), I was mortified at my lack of coordination. Truth be told, I felt stupid. But I was willing to laugh at myself--why not, she was! Eventually, I did get the mechanics of that move. By learning how to do that and other new activities, I've become stronger in the gym and faster on the road. But I had to be willing to put my ego aside.

Putting your ego aside is not easy for anyone. Especially in the world of distance running. I see this on my Facebook feed a lot. One of my favorite sayings is that we are all on our own journey, but when you are constantly seeing posts about people running faster than you or farther than you, it starts to make you question yourself. Am I a real runner? Why am I not faster? Playing the comparison game is a trap that is easy to fall into through social media, and I'm not immune to that either. I've got a few friends running ultras this year, and the race they've chosen sounds like fun. Lucky for me, they've included me in plans for training runs, and I'll go run a portion of the ultra with them. I have to remind myself that my body can't stand up to the grueling distance, and besides, I'm working on a different goal--a sub 4 marathon. Plus, I really have no desire to run farther than 26.2. Still, I can't help but feel a little tug that I should be running an ultra too. After all isn't the ultra the new marathon? I just read that somewhere.


The ego can get in the way of relationships too. I've heard stories about running friendships becoming too competitive, and eventually ending. Guess it's a good thing I train alone! I'd sure hate to lose a good friend because of running. Years ago, I lost a friend because of competition between our boys. Trust me, it wasn't me who was having the issue. Boy, did that one hurt.

Interestingly, I've had this issue with my sister, the one I'm so close with. She gets really uncomfortable when I talk about running, in fact, last year she pretty much told me not to talk about running at all. Because running is so important to me, it really bothered me a lot. I had to step back and think about this for a long time before I came to the realization that this wasn't about me at all. It was about my sister's ego, and how much my success at running made her feel inadequate. I don't know how things are in your family, but my sister is supercompetitive, and has to be the best at everything. Growing up, I was always the one she could best in most things, and it still plays out, even in adulthood. Since I love my sister and every other aspect of our relationship is good, I just roll with it.

In spite of the problems it can cause, the ego isn't all bad.

Today, my ego wouldn't let me quit. While I tried to keep my thoughts positive, I couldn't help but chastise myself at times for feeling so crummy. I analyzed what I had eaten the last couple of days. Sipped my Tailwind and waited for the magic to happen. Tailwind isn't a magic potion, but it gave me the energy I was lacking to push hard on today's run. Mentally, I needed this run, and I worked for every mile I ran today. I don't think that's a bad thing. I ran hard and I ran uncomfortable. My training with Becky has taught me to do that. And finished with a time I could be proud off. Miles are miles, after all. After today, I know that I'm ready to run that half no matter how I feel.

What would you have done? Would have have called it a day and stopped? Pushed through? Have you lost a friend over competition? 

I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over to her blog to check out all the other posts. And don't forget to link up with me for the Taking the Long Way Home book club!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Running happy

Today was the day that showed me spring has officially arrived. Not just because it's opening day at Wrigley Field! One week ago, we left sunny Florida, where it was in the 80s, and landed at O'Hare airport in 33 degrees and sleet. Hello Chicago! The weather improved over the course of the week, thankfully. Springtime in the midwest is really fickle. But today on my run, I saw a lot of the changes that come with spring. Better days are ahead. They have to be.

I put on my most Eastery shirt (Swirlgear) and I headed out the door to run my 10 miler. The sun was shining and the temperature was 50 degrees. As my first "official" spring long run, I decided to take it to the bike path, where I do so much of my training. During the winter, the park district plows part of the path, but most of it is left snow covered. I have to be creative and find alternative routes to get my miles in. Lots of those miles are on the road, and we all know that isn't optimal.

Today I knew my path would be clear. I was excited to run it. The round trip distance from my house to the end of the path and back is about 10.5 miles. The parts that are the prettiest are also the most wooded and isolated. I went early, figuring that I'd be alone on the path. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of other runners and some bikers too. There's safety in numbers, and so I was able to relax the entire route.

As I ran along the first of several retention ponds I pass along this path, I was struck by the way the sun was hitting the water. The water was calm, and there were several loons swimming, making a wake in the water. It was very peaceful, and very beautiful. But this pond does serve a purpose, as you can see by the big drain pipe in the forefront of the picture. Behind me is a creek, which meanders along the length of the path. The creek floods easily when there are big storms. This pipe runs under the path and helps keep the creek from overflowing its banks. Sometimes it works.

And altho you really can't see it in this picture, at the far end of this pond is a major highway. Ah. Suburbia.

While I'm really grateful to have this peaceful place to run, the majority of the path is under these high tension wires. I think it's a great idea to use this green space for a fitness path (hello, Arlington Heights? Can we do that too?). But I wonder if there are any ill effects from being in such close proximity to this high voltage. Maybe that's where I get all my energy from?

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles....oh yeah...
I stopped to say hi to the smiling tree! Actually, when I stopped for this picture, I had a message on my phone from my one of my #tribe wishing all of us a Happy Easter! I sent them this shot, and continued on my run, catching up with them after I finished. That message sure put a smile on my face and a spring in my step!

Doesn't this shirt look like it was dyed with Easter egg colors? I just love it. 

I saw a lot of fat robins pulling worms out of the ground. Squirrels and chipmunks playing. And I noticed that the grass is turning green...

Me and my shadow! I look so tall...

Even though the path is mostly flat, there are some really steep hills. One of them almost took my breath away as I chugged up to the top. The reward is that on the way back, I'm able to fly down. When I'm on my bike, it's almost scary! At the bottom of the hill is a bridge across the creek. I stopped to take a picture and was interrupted by a man walking with his toddler and dog. I asked him to take this picture. He seemed to think it was weird, even though I explained to him that I needed it for my running blog. Must not be a runner...

Another pond, just around the bend...3 weeks ago I was here was on my bike and the pond was completely frozen over.

I saw a lot of these guys! I expect to see ducklings in a few weeks.

Outta my way!

And finally, the true sign that spring is officially here--the portapotties are back! And bigger than ever...

And I didn't even have to use it!

Today's stats:
10.43 miles
8:39 mins/mile
Definitely started off slow, but love those negative splits on the back half!

Has spring sprung where you are? What signs of spring put a smile on your face? How do you celebrate your first official spring run of the season?


I'm linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to check out her blog and all the other blogs too!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The 5 R's of vacation

Seen on the run...this sign was at the entrance to someone's driveway!
Being the goal oriented person that I am, I approached this vacation no differently than I do anything else in my life. I've made no secret of the struggles my family has endured the past couple of months, and I wanted more than anything to make this vacation a great trip for all of us. This was the first time that I was nervous about a family vacation. I had high hopes that all this family time would help us reconnect. There were 4 other things I wanted to accomplish with this time away: rest, relaxation, recharging, and of course, running. While initially we were all really tense, as a few days passed, it looked that the goals would be met. The trip ended on a really, really pleasant tone, and I think as family vacations go, this one was a success.

Stay with me here.  I know what you're thinking. "Oh geez, here goes Wendy sharing her vacation photos with us". This post isn't really a recap of my vacation. Because who wants to read about that, right? Being a running blogger and all, I wanted to share how it is possible and actually beneficial to stay active on a vacation even when you are away with your family. The benefits aren't just physical. The old saying, "the family that plays together, stays together" became an internal mantra for me this week. Staying active can be a challenge for some of us whose spouses are more--umm--sedentary. But find something that everyone likes to do and you can make it work. sunset photo
Rest: We didn't make many plans for this week. Time passed by the pool, catching some rays. My oldest son and my husband spent time fishing off the pier behind the house. Early to bed, early to rise. Walks to the beach, a short 2 blocks away, at sunset to watch Mother Nature perform her nightly ritual. When the boys were little, they used to complain: "not another sunset!" Now they know it's just something we do. And on the way home, there's an awesome ice cream shop. We stopped there twice. One night I had a scoop a couple scoops of salted caramel ice cream with hot fudge on top. When I ordered it, the guy behind the counter said, "oh yeah....!" Yep, those were my words too.

Relaxation: That goes without saying... the setting of an island vacation just begs relaxation.  My oldest son really gave me a tough time the first couple of days we were here. I guess I was being punished for making him go on vacation. He was sarcastic and indifferent, no matter what I said. As the week wore on, he began to thaw. After getting bit by the kayak bug last summer, I rented 2 kayaks for 3 of the days we stayed here. The house we stayed at is on a canal, and I thought it might be fun to explore the canals. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done. Not only did kayaking keep us active, it was a great way to spend time with my family. Between the fishing and the kayaking, my son started to relax, exchanging the attitude for laughter at my dad's bad jokes, and finally going shell seeking with me the last couple of days we were there. I also kayaked with my mom and my husband. We explored the canals and took the kayaks out to the intercoastal waterway. I wasn't brave enough to head out to Tampa Bay, but maybe next year?

Getting him to smile for a picture would have been pushing it....
Recharging: I also was off work the week before we came to Florida, and that helped put work out of my mind. I didn't realize how burnt out I was before having the time off, and I feel much better and ready to return to my responsibilities. I don't blog much about food, but I really ate well this week. Maybe a little too well! One reason I like to travel to Florida is the opportunity for fresh fish and produce. I wanted to have fresh fish every day and I was able to do that. Sometimes we go to the fish market and buy fish to prepare at the house, other times we eat out. I made Key Lime Pie a few times too. Had a beer with lunch every day and wine with dinner every night. It felt great to eat light foods after all the heavy foods we eat during winter. Even though we really indulged, we did so much kayaking and walking that I didn't feel guilty at all.

Feeling inspired by the great studio class I took that day..
Every year, I take at least one class at the yoga studio on the island, and this year was no exception. This instructor is really amazing, and her class is a treat. This was a gentle flow class, and after all the running I did this week, I felt great after we finished.

Running: We runners always joke about how much more we have to pack since we bring our running gear on vacation! My shoes saw 26 miles this week. Last year I struggled with the famous Florida humidity, but it was a non-factor for me this year. I really enjoyed my runs. I strive not to let my runs interfere with family time, and so I get up with the sun, drink some coffee, and head out. By the time I return, everyone is just waking up. Since I've come here before, I already have running routes plotted out. I know where the bathrooms and the drinking fountains are located. Running in a tropical paradise is an amazing experience. There's so much to see and look at. I am always amazed at all the beautiful homes lining the beach roads on this island. The lovely tropical birds flying overhead. Tourists riding in those bicycle calliopes built for 4. Trying to pick out who are the real runners and the ones who were inspired to try running for the first time because it seems like a good idea in a beautiful place. The clown that tried to run me off the road. Oh and that post run cool off...

Felt great!
I don't run along the beach, though. I tried that in the past, and between all the people you have to weave around and the uneven surfaces, I really hurt myself one year. I save the beach for relaxing. And snapping running selfies.

Doesn't it look like I just finished a great run on the beach?

Reconnect: To me, this was the most important goal of the entire week. Keeping active was the key for all of us to reconnect with each other. My youngest son spent the entire time in the pool, and my husband and I played football and volleyball with him. I really think the key to engaging with teenagers is to distract them with activities. I had the best conversations with both my boys while we were doing other things. I'm really grateful that I had this week away with them. I hope the momentum continues forward. I really do.

Until next year...

How do you stay active on family vacations?

I'm linking up with Tara at ReadingNRunning for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head on over to her blog and see what everyone else has been up to!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recovery is a many splendored thing...

"Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ~Hermann Hesse
This past week was all about recovery, both physically and mentally. How often do we get a chance to take a break from responsibility and come back to ourselves? To refocus and recharge? I had the week off from work and hoped to get some cleaning done and maybe organize my closet and drawers. I wanted to run, of course. Catch up on some sleep. Other than that, I had no big plans.

Running-wise, I tried to take it easy. The day after the race, I went out to do an "easy" 3, to shake out the legs. The weather was gorgeous and I hated to pass up a perfect day for a run. The legs were stiff and sore from pushing it so hard the day before. The rest of the week, for my runs, I ran my usual 6. And that 6 8 on Saturday. Oops. It was nice to run without worrying about slipping on the ice. The weather was pretty decent all week, and I liked being unencumbered by layers of clothing. Less laundry too. That was a huge plus.

I also was able to take out my bike. I'm a fair weather cyclist, and at 55 degrees, I was at the edge of my comfort zone. The air feels a lot colder when you're zipping along at 14 miles/hour! Initially, I forgot how to unclip my shoes and almost fell over the first time I tried to stop. But you know what they say about riding a bike...I took this one to my bike path and the forest preserve. I had a loose goal of 20 miles, because the 17 miles that this route takes me isn't an even number. I'm OCD like that. Part of the forest preserve path is a 3 mile loop and I had planned to repeat that, to get my 20 miles, but the workers were doing a "controlled burn". In other words, they were burning the grass in the center of the loop. I had to ride through thick smoke, and that wasn't pleasant at all. In lieu of doing an extra loop, I headed back home, past the guys backed into the parking spots looking for dates, and looped around my neighborhood to get my extra 3 miles in. Dare I say that I love riding my bike almost, yes, almost as much as I love to run?

For the first time in weeks, I went back to the yoga studio for a class. About 6 weeks ago, I had severe vertigo during a yoga class, and I was a little nervous to return. Once the vertigo passed, I was close to race day, and decided to postpone a studio class until after the race. I was so happy to be back in class. This instructor is creative and has an amazing positive aura about her. I always leave her class feeling happy. This class was no exception. She had us put our mats up against the wall, and we did all our poses against the wall. This is a great way to properly align yourself into the poses. Do you think you're getting deeply into a pose? Try it against the wall. Humbling. There were a lot of deep stretches and it was as if she knew what I needed.

Being able to focus on my workouts and not rush to get them in before work was really helpful with bringing me back to center. What does it mean, to come back to center? To me, being able to step out of my everyday life, where I feel so overwhelmed, to be able to step back, refocus and gain perspective...that is coming back to center, and to myself. We don't often get a chance to do this in our daily life, do we?

I also spent more time than I should have on the great time waster, the internet. I did a lot of reading and research. I also did a lot of writing, publishing a blog post every day. Writing is a great outlet for me, and I had fun writing some humorous blog posts. I connected with some new bloggers, and worked on some new opportunities to help grow my blog.

Not everything this week was about fitness, though. I had lunch with an old friend. And by old, I don't mean elderly. She's my age. She's not a runner but we've known each other for years. As I get older, I really value these long standing friendships. I love these friends, who accept me for who I am, without judgment. And vice versa. Maintaining these friendships is tough, time-wise, and I was so happy we were able to make it happen.

And even though I didn't have to think about work at all this week, I drove to the city, to UIC, to accept an award. In my life outside of running, my real life, I am a pediatric nurse practitioner. Besides taking care of kids, I train nurse practitioner students in my clinic, and was given this award in recognition for my efforts. I love teaching and mentoring student. I keep in touch with almost every student I've worked with over the years. It's fun to see what they're doing with their lives both in the profession and outside of it too. The award was a surprise, and I was honored to be chosen. After this ceremony, I was also able to reconnect with some colleagues that I've known for years.

Cleo is not impressed!

Finally, and most importantly, I was around to focus on my family. Since I normally work most of the week, my husband does the cooking. This week was my turn. I planned some new meals for the week. One of them, Southwestern Pork and Sweet Potatoes, was a win. Another, Moroccan Chicken Stew, not so much. Win some, lose some, I guess! I was sad about that, because I hate throwing out food. Plus I felt bad for picking such a turd of a recipe. It sounded good on paper! We celebrated my youngest son's achievements at his gymnastics meet this week. As for my oldest son, we had a little drama again towards the end of the week, and life with him continues to be a challenge. 

We're heading off for a family vacation in Florida now--yes, I have another week off--and I'm hoping this week to really reconnect with my boys and my husband. My youngest son told me that he doesn't want to go. He wants to go to gymnastics and work on his skills. He also wants to be with his friends. I get that. I don't think he realizes that this may be the last time we go on a family vacation like this. Next year, the coaches of whatever sport he participates in will fully expect him to be at practice over spring break. Topic for another blog post. And I have no idea what my oldest son will be doing in a year. Will he be in college? Will he be working? It feels a little disconcerting to me, that after all these years of raising kids, that this chapter in our lives is coming to an end.

But for now, I'm going to spend this time with them, enjoying their company, and yes, coming back to center. And then, I can move forward.

I never did get that closet organized....

What do you do to come back to center? Do you take time off for yourself, to regroup?

I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over to her page and see what everyone else is up to!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Get Lucky 21K Race Report: The backup plan

This was my backup plan race. Remember, I was supposed to be in Florida this weekend, getting ready to run a half in Sarasota on Sunday. I spent most of January and part of February running on the treadmill in fleece clothing to try to simulate running in the heat. Becky did her part at CrossFit with weights and intervals. I did get to do my long runs outdoors. And then my son decided to turn our lives upside down. Once the dust settled, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to travel to Florida for that race, although we will be going later this month for a family vacation. Besides missing the race, I hated to throw all that training away, and I looked for a local race. I found the Get Lucky Chicago 21k scheduled for the same weekend, and without hesitation, signed up. I learned that my friends Sara and Karen were also planning on running it, and that made my decision all the less painful.

Meanwhile, because there was no point doing them, I stopped doing those heat runs on the treadmill and took it outside. Yes, it was cold, but those outdoor runs were therapeutic. They were also surprisingly fast. Maybe those heat runs did something for my endurance? I started to think that maybe I could PR this half. Who PRs at 52? I was quiet about my plans, because my original goal was a sub-2 half, and I didn't want to jinx myself. I'm a little quirky like that. I did tell Becky and she reassured me that a PR would be no problem for me.

Sara and I made plans to drive down together, and she purchased a parking pass to give us one less thing to worry about. After she did that, we heard rumors that the race director changed the location of the race to Soldier Field. There was no notification, and even the race's Facebook page did not give many details. Until 2 days before the race, we still had no idea about parking. Finally, they posted a link to prepay for a parking pass. But because of all this, I was really stressed about the details. The race was to be run on the lakefront path, which is a public path and shared by all. I was worried it would be crowded. That we'd be weaving around people. I kept thinking about what a disaster this race was going to be.

I slept really well the night before the race, which is pretty unusual for me. I took that as a good sign. Sara met me at my house and we headed into the city. Even though it was early, there was a good amount of traffic, and people were driving like maniacs. At one point, a jerk in a white SUV with 70.3 and 13.1 stickers on his car cut me off. I don't know how I didn't hit him or the semi next to me. Sara just about jumped out of her skin. That got my heart pumping! I laid on the horn for a good minute. There was a car next to me and that driver gave me the thumbs up. We were a little shaken after that experience, but the rest of our drive was uneventful, if not a little scary.

Karen, me, Sara
Parking was a breeze and we had an hour and a half to kill. Sara wanted to visit the portapotties, and we headed over to the staging area. We marveled at all the portapotties. There were tons of them. It was a runner's dream come true! This was a good omen! The wind was blowing fairly strong over the lake and it was cold. We went back to the car to warm up. Karen texted us a little while later, and we headed back to the staging area where there were warming tents to meet up with her. She was with her running group, and we got to meet all of them. As it got closer to race time, we decided to make one more trip to the portapotties. There was a short line, and it moved really fast. I stood in line next to 2 girls puffing on an e-cig box. Really? Before a race? We finished up our business and I took one last swig of my Tailwind as we headed to line up for the race.

There were no minute/mile markers, just pace leaders with balloons with times written on them in marker. Feeling optimistic, I lined up with the 1:50 pace group. The song Get Lucky by Daft Punk started blaring and we took off. I wasn't planning on pacing with a group, I just wanted to be with people running about that pace, to avoid the weaving I was so worried about. We headed south on the lakefront path, and had the wind at our back. My legs felt good, and at mile 1, I looked down at my Garmin. I saw 8:24 mins/mile and thought I should pull back a little bit. I still had 12.2 miles to go and that was pretty fast for me. I felt really good, though, and I didn't feel like I was working hard. The weaving that I was worried about never materialized, and I settled into a nice groove.

By mile 4, I was sweating a ton. I rolled up my sleeves and unzipped my top. I hadn't planned on starting my second bottle of Tailwind until mile 5, but I decided to take a sip. Good idea. I felt a lot better after a while, and kept sipping it every half mile or so. The reason I know this is that there were mile markers every half mile at this race. I don't know about you, but that made the race feel longer to me. It did help me fuel though, and I looked at it as a plus.

The race course was mostly flat with a few inclines up over some roads. The course was out and back, and I knew those hills would be tougher on the way back. My pace continued at that 8:24 min/mi pace. I was really happy with that, but worried that it might bite me in the butt in the back half of the race. I still felt good, so I continued on. I saw Sara a little before the turn around (mile 6.6),  and got a high five from her. We headed back north into the wind. Oooh, it was cold, but it actually felt pretty good, considering all the sweating I was doing. I continued to sip my Tailwind. I saw Karen a little while after that, and gave her a high five.

On the way back, I found myself running with a couple of men. I was behind this one guy who would not let me pass him no matter what. When we headed up those hills, I kept my steady pace while he slowed down. I would pass him but after the hill he'd speed up to get ahead of me. I kept laughing about it to myself. Was it the being "chicked" thing? Was it being passed by an old lady? Anyways, I decided to draft behind him, and he has no idea how much he helped me out by blocking the wind. I'm sure if he knew, he would have rethought his whole plan to stay ahead of me. And the guy next to me wouldn't look over at me. He just kept pace with me. I ran with these 2 gems men for a few miles, and lost them both at an aid station. See ya! I never stopped once. It was really nice having my fuel with me.

At mile 10, I started to think that I was going to get my PR. My legs still felt really good. I was slowing down a little bit this second half, with mile splits in the 8:30s but still really fast for me. Then my GI tract started talking to me. Oh no. I realized then that I had not seen one portapotty on the entire course, except at mile 2. Seriously. What would I do if disaster struck? Well, I thought, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. This became my new mantra for the final 3 miles. I thought about the spare clothes I had in the car. The wipes I had tucked into my spibelt. NOT GOING TO NEED THEM. I chugged along.

Mile 12, I knew I could do it. I started pushing my pace again, but I was getting tired. I ignored that protesting from my abdomen. Sorry, I thought, not stopping now! I finished up my Tailwind and turned it up to 11. I flew across the finish line--saw that race clock with 1:52 on it!  Once I caught my breath I smiled from ear to ear. I knew I had PR'd!

I headed back to the heated tent to find Sara, who had gotten a PR of her own. We celebrated our victories, and I looked up my official time. I was shocked to see the AG placement:

My smile got bigger! It sure helps to be in the old age group, right? There was also a fun statistic on the results page, the age graded results, which gave me an age-graded finish time of 1:33:52, and put me in 49/770 finishers. I'd never seen that before, but I kind of liked it! I'm starting to embrace this whole aging thing, really. Soon I'll get senior discounts and that will be good as well. Especially if they have them on race entry fees...

Anyways, at the finish line, there was the usual water and snacks. We never did make it to the beer tent because we started to get really cold. We couldn't find Karen, and decided to head home. Later we found out she finished, but ended up in the medical tent with dehydration. She's fine now, and I'm sure had a great rest of the day celebrating her birthday! 

Sara and me
So the race turned out great after all. There were no glitches, as far as I could see. A few comments and observations, not really complaints: No national anthem was sung prior to the race, which was a first for me. There were no photographers along the race course. I hear that Get Lucky does post pictures on their FB page, but other than that you're on your own. I think that's ok, but I do like a finish line photo. What can I say? I'll keep checking the FB page and see what comes up. And no portapotties along the course? That was a little disconcerting. I don't know where runners were supposed to relieve themselves. Thank goodness my tummy behaved controlled itself, but it was touch and go at the end of the race! The half mile markers were a little much. But the weather was beautiful, perfect really, and the scenery along the course was spectacular. For this Chicago girl, there's no better view than that Chicago skyline, set along the panorama of Lake Michigan and blue skies. I fueled perfectly with my Tailwind Nutrition, and my training from Becky was spot on.

Would I do it again? I don't know, but it's always fun to race with friends! And a PR? AG placement? I doubt that I would have had this race in the heat and humidity of Florida. Silver linings everywhere. And that makes this one a win for me!

Did you race this weekend? How'd you do? Ever have a backup plan race?

I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over and see what the other bloggers have to say!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring forward...slowly...

One thing I like about my long runs, besides the running part, is that I have a lot of uninterrupted time to myself. Sometimes I just lose myself to the tunes that are playing in my ears and sometimes I do a lot of thinking.

Today was a thinking kind of day.

For the first 3 miles, I reflected on my week. I was really excited to get outside and run this morning. The temperature was above freezing and there was no wind. My legs felt light and my run felt effortless, so I didn't even really pay much attention to pace or anything. I thought a lot about my son and where we're headed next. He went back to school this week, and things went well. Together with the school, we've got a pretty good plan in place to help him be successful. We were all feeling pretty good about that. I'm still feeling a little unsettled about the future, because there's no predicting what's to come.

Kind of like what happened next on my run.

My plan was to head over to the retention pond, where I do so much of my training. I like running there because it is a flat 2 mile loop and there's a bathroom, which is even open in the winter. I haven't run there much this winter because the path gets really icy in spots and the park district doesn't do the best job keeping it clear. I figured with the warmer temperatures, the ice would be gone.

I figured wrong.

The snow may be retreating but that's pure ice on the path behind me.
The path was clear for about the first 3/4 mile and then it became treacherous. Black ice, thin ice over water...the path was impassible in spots. I ended up having to walk about 1/2 mile and that was even difficult. My mood turned from optimistic to grumpy. I cursed the park district for their negligence. Seriously, how hard would it be to throw some sand down so we could get some traction? As I carefully moved along the path (that mile was 10:35 on my Garmin), I felt a tug in my right groin as I tried not to slip and fall. I cursed myself for my stupidity, for thinking that the path would be clear. It's like this every spring when the snow begins to melt. That thaw/freeze cycle that makes getting around tough. Every year, as soon as the temperature begins to rise, I'm so impatient for better running conditions. I should know better.

I headed off the path into the neighborhood that surrounds the park and began to run on the road again, resuming my normal pace. My mood remained pretty negative, though, and as I moved along, I thought about all the things people said to me about my son this week. People try to be helpful but instead say insensitive things that hurt. Some have questioned the way my husband and I have chosen to manage his issues. I have a pretty thin skin. I started having thoughts of self doubt about my parenting abilities.

Because the path was so icy, I couldn't complete risk another loop and so I headed back to my neighborhood, knowing I'd have to stay on the roads and reconfigure my route to get my 8 miles. That made me unhappy too. I almost stopped and called my husband to come and get me. Seriously, I was so over this run. But my half marathon is next week, and how stupid would it be for me to quit on myself? And really, it was only 8 miles. I was lucky I didn't have to do more. I swear, I am my own worst enemy.

This guy's really got the moves!
So I kept moving forward. Because, as moms and runners, that's what we do.

The most extraordinary thing happened next, though. Yesterday, I put some new music on my playlist. Sometimes when I pick out songs, I don't always know if a particular song is going to work for a run. I kept seeing a new song, Push-it, by iSHi, on several Spotify workout playlists. Well, this song came on and yes, I made a good choice. This song lit a fire in my blackened heart. All of a sudden, yes, I "pushed it" as I felt a spring in my step. My pace picked back up. And I felt my mood lift. Isn't it amazing how a song can do this?

I salvaged what could have been a really bad run. I could have quit when I wanted to. And had that black mood carry me through the rest of the day. Even though it wasn't my best run, I knew I couldn't help it, with the conditions I had to work with. And in spite of that really bad mile split, where I had to walk, my last mile split was 8:36.  I finished with an average pace per mile of 9:01. Seeing that put a smile on my face. I hope I can bring that tenacity, that push to my race next week.

And I hope that confidence extends itself to my parenting. I need to shut out those voices of self doubt and not let comments of others bother me. I like to follow my gut, as you know, and my gut is ok with what we're doing right now. The plan is always subject to change.

Everyone is a parenting expert.

Do any of us really know what we're doing?

I had some thoughts on the run, comparing my run, my problems with my son, the cycle of early spring. Spring is really a metaphor for life. It's a time of new beginnings, right? Spring is the time of saying goodbye to the bitterness and ugliness of a long winter. But the change in the environment doesn't happen overnight. Little by little, we see some signs of change. The birds start to sing, loudly. I'm hearing that! I smelled skunk on my run, definitely a sign of spring, but not a welcome one. Crocuses and daffodils sprout up through the brown grass. Once the snow melts, the grass starts to turn green. Buds appear on the trees and then begin to open. For me, having all that color is so pleasing after the bland palate of winter.

And the same goes for life. We move forward, but slowly. Letting go of the past, of old habits, is never easy. I see signs of hope, of positive change.

I'm not a patient person. But I'm trying.

Day by day.

Linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Make sure you check out the other blogs!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Coming back to the laughter

I do love to laugh. I laugh at really dumb things. I'm kind of immature like that. When life gets stressful, I really appreciate the little silly things that pop up here and there. Indulge me a bit, as I share a few things that have made me laugh this week. Just thinking about them puts a smile on my face.


The Student Driver

Earlier in the week, my youngest son, who recently got his driving permit, drove my older son and me home from an appointment. He drove on the expressway! Through road construction! Through the toll booth! On the exit ramps, which are shaped like cloverleafs. He did great, with a little coaching--"you're going too slow' (on the highway) or "you're going too fast" (on the ramps). We didn't end up in a ditch. We made it home safely. Or so I thought. He pulled up to the driveway, and I complimented him on his driving. But the turn into the driveway was tricky. There is snow piled up on either side, making it pretty narrow. To top it off, the recycling can was in the driveway. I warned him to watch out for it but it was too late--he tapped the can with the front bumper. Just a tap-- but it was enough to pop the lid and send recyclables shooting up in the air and all over the car. It looked like an explosion. Wine bottles, beer cans (sheesh, we look like lushes), milk cartons, name it. When he stopped, I saw the mailman, standing across the street, just staring at us. The boys and I started laughing so hard we were crying. I don't remember the last time the 3 of us laughed like that. All night we kept giggling about it. And that felt good....

Nurse NP Ratched

Yesterday at work, I had a full schedule of sickies, including 2 brothers, ages 4 and 5, with fevers. I've seen them before and they are funny and cute. I took one look at their throats and decided to swab them for strep. As soon as I swabbed the 5 year old, he vomited. His brother started to cry, and when I swabbed him, he vomited too. Their dad and I got them cleaned up, and as I walked out of the room to run the strep tests, I heard one of them say, "I don't like that doctor anymore".  I started laughing. When I came back, they were smiling again, but the older one stopped smiling as soon as he saw me and gave me the hairy eyeball. Even after I tried to bribe him with a prize. Little kids crack me up. And yes, they had strep.

As seen on the run

Today on the run, I saw a few things that amused me. I was out for a 12 mile run, so I had a lot of territory to cover. Since there is so much snow on the ground, I've gotten creative trying to get my miles in. I did a 6 mile out and back through 2 different parks. I have to run on the roads in between the parks, and on the side of the road, I came upon a condom box. I kicked the box while I ran, and it burst open, shooting condom packages out all over the road. I started laughing. Why would anyone throw a whole box of unused condoms out? I thought about picking them up, but I have no use for them anymore... At least they weren't used.  I do see those more often than I'd like. Ewww. As I kept running down the street, there was a radar/speed sign. The sign picked up a few cars going 25, 30 mph. I hoped to see my speed and was rewarded when it flashed an 8 at me. Oh yeah!!! That put a huge grin on my face. I gave myself an internal thumbs up. Once I got to the park, I looped around the lakes, stopped to take a yoga selfie (warrior 1 today) and headed back home. I saw this no swimming sign, which tickled my funny bone. I stopped again to snap this selfie.

I have to laugh. Laughter keeps me sane. It's so true that laughter is indeed the best medicine. It felt good to be reminded about that this week. As I continue to wrestle with my older son's issues, I'm finding less to laugh about. In yoga, we always come back to the breath. In life, we need to come back to the laughter.

Have you seen anything funny on the run? What makes you laugh out loud?

I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Be sure to head over to her blog to see what everyone else is up to!

Book clubbers: how are you doing with the book? Shoot me questions, concerns...and if you want me to ask the author anything, let me know!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Pretty much my plan!
I had some tough, fast, mind-clearing runs this week.

Earlier in the week, I ran on anger. When I finished that blisteringly fast (for me) run on Tuesday, I involuntarily did a double fist pump. I could have gone farther. I was not tired. I was not winded. I felt strong. I felt tough. I no longer felt like pummelling my son. Which is a positive thing, right?

As the week went on, my runs were still strong. My speedwork on Tuesday was cut short by fatigue, but as I look at my mile splits, I can see why. 7:50 mins/mi? I can't sustain that! I did for miles 2 and 3 though. Then I pooped out. I wasn't too sad about it, all things considered. I do need to do a better job pacing myself on my unreliable treadmill. Lesson learned. But I did take the day off from CrossFit. We're doing intervals right now and I didn't know if I had it in me to take the beating that those workouts bring. The day off was a welcome break from a tough training cycle and a chance to regroup and deal with the problems at home.

Yesterday's run was a 4 miler before work. The weather was the limiting factor. It was 25F when I started, but the winds were howling at 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. With the wind at my back, I flew. It actually felt like the wind was pushing me down the road. I considered running the entire distance like that and having my husband pick me up when I was done so I didn't have to turn around and run into the wind. No, that didn't happen. I forged ahead. Running into the wind was tough but I still finished with an average mile speed of 8:22. I'll take it! There was one point where the wind blew at me sideways and almost blew me over. Nope, you're not the boss of me, Mother Nature! It wasn't an endorphin producing run, really, it was more exhausting than anything. But I was glad to triumph over the conditions.

And then there was today's long run. It was so cold, my thermometer didn't register the temperature. As I contemplated today's run, I put on the news and the current temp was -2F, with 10 mph winds. Less windy is good, right? See, it's all relative. And the sun was out. Piece of cake, was my thinking. After all, I have the thermoball.

I had 10 miles to do and I sure didn't want to do them on the treadmill. Really, what's worse? Running outside in the cold with my thermoball to keep me warm or running on the treadmill for an hour and a half? You know what I chose.

I slipped on my Athleta wind pants and knee high Smartwool socks. Put on a long running bra top, my Chicago marathon long sleeve shirt for inspiration, and my jacket. Topped it off with a face mask and gloves. Oh, and to insure that my phone didn't freeze, I tucked my Spibelt in my pants and off I went. I headed to the bike path, which I knew would be clear. How far I could go on it, I didn't know. I was running at a nice comfortable pace, and once I hit the unplowed portion, I headed south on the sidewalk, which I was pleased to see was cleared. I decided to head to another park where there is a fitness path as well.

Me and my thermoball
I don't usually run at this park because in warmer weather, the path is really popular with walkers, who aren't very accommodating to us runners. I think they feel like this path is "their" path. But today, I had the entire path to myself. It was peaceful and beautiful. The 2 little lakes were both frozen, the golf course was covered with snow, the driving range was empty, and the playground equipment sat idle. I circled around and dreamed of summer. Thought about the triathlon that takes place here every year. As I headed back towards home, I looked at my Garmin and saw that I still had 2 miles to go. I think those last 2 miles were the hardest part of the run. Where to go, where to go, I thought? I circled around my neighborhood to make the last 2 miles.

When I finished today's run, I felt triumphant. I felt tough. I felt strong. I felt resilient. Ready to tackle the tough challenge that life is throwing at me right now. Compared to that, running is easy. Even in the bitter cold.

I look back at that Chicago marathon last fall. How I killed that tough training plan Becky gave me. Chased away my demons of self doubt and fear. How I crushed my PR. I was a different person after that race. Tougher. Stronger. Believe.

My mantra comes back into play. I can and I will. As on the road, as in life.

I'm linking this post up with Tara at RunningNReading! Be sure to go over to her blog and check out all the other posts.