Sunday, October 7, 2007

chicago marathon 2007

88 degree heat + humidity = one brutal first marathon course.

we stayed on pace pretty well for the whole first half of the race, and for the 3rd quarter even we were running a pretty respectable pace. after that, it all blew up.

the first half was the way i remembered the marathon from watching it in past years: early morning sun, beautiful fall trees, crowds on the sidewalk, a sea of bobbing runners that goes on endlessly, festive atmosphere.

the second half was more like a news clip of people trying to leave new orleans after katrina. (okay, that's a little dramatic. but you get the idea). it was hot and bright out, with no shade, and the sun just seemed to blaze down on us relentlessly. just miles of pavement, industrial buildings, no trees. people were dropping like flies. we saw a guy collapse right in front of us, just outside of a water stop. callie screamed over her shoulder for a medic while several other runners stopped and got him up, but it was like his legs had turned to jello and wouldn't support him as they stagged over to the curb. there were people sitting on the sidewalks, heads hung in defeat, bags of ice pressed to their necks.

at mile 21, race officials along the course started announcing that the race had been canceled. they were out of water, out of ambulances. 300 hundred people had been sent to hospitals.

canceled? we had paused at a water station when the rumor first reached me. i burst into tears. 30 seconds ago, i was miserable, in the trenches, so far from the finish that i couldn't even see the end. but in the next moment, to have the finish line moved back, not six miles but another six hundred?

i don't wallow in despair for long, it's never been my style. a moment later, a new determination boiled up in my core, and it burned my tears of disappointment dry in no time. (besides, i had no breath to spare on crying). they can't take this away from me. not now. here was the belly-fire i needed to finish the race. it arrived in the most unlikely form (someone giving me permission to quit), but it was exactly what i needed at that moment. (extrapolate into a larger life lesson, anyone? the things we need sometimes arrive in the most unlikely packages).

you want to see determined? try telling a group of marathoners at mile 21 that they should quit. ha.

conflicting rumors and misinformation spread through the crowd of bobbing runners as we pressed forward, unclear when or if we were going to be stopped, loaded onto buses, turned around, or just what would happen. helicopters flew overhead with megaphones telling runners to stop running. police cars drove slowly up the sides of the course announcing the race was over and would everyone please walk for their own safety. we walked, we jogged, we trotted. we tried not to hurl. i was wracked with waves of hollow nausea from miles 20-24, callie bent over with stomach cramps from the heat. our legs ached, feet ached, my fair skin (sunscreen long forgotten) reddened with the passing hours. there were dark (metaphorically that is) moments when it hurt and it was emphatically not fun, not even in that grueling i'm-a-tough-i'm-a-runner sort of way. there were miles that just really sucked.

that final trek up south michigan avenue seemed to take a hundred years, the city skyline beckoning us all home to grant park where we'd begun hours earlier. the first few miles of the race seemed to have taken place on another day, in another life time. we came home changed; something happened out there on the pavement that brought us back to grant park different people. when we came around the corner and into the final stretch, i remembered the passing advice i'd gotten from an ultra runner i met on the trails earlier this year. she had told me, finishing your first marathon is the best feeling in the world. that last mile just soak it all in, the crowds, the accomplishment. you'll never get to experience that again.

she was right.

so we finished with a time of five hours and fifteen minutes. it never entered into my head that i'd run a five+ hour marathon. because it was my first, and the day was warm, we were aiming for a pace of 4:15, and really, i think (thought) that i'm capable of a four-hour marathon. maybe not yet, but i will get there. i have a four-hour in me. so i wouldn't say i conquered the marathon so much as it ate me for breakfast, but i'm proud of having finished, even when i was given plenty of opportunity, a perfectly good excuse, to quit.

paradoxically, twenty minutes after completing the most hellish five hours i've ever run, callie and i were seated in the grass, in the shade, stretching and nibbling on fig newtons and discussing which marathon we should do next year: chicago? montana? big sur?

it's not over between us, chicago marathon. you and me have got unfinished business.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

mile 598: blistered toes, freckled arms, new determination

i ran twenty miles yesterday!

marathon, i am ready for you.

go see this:

it's a dramatic bit of film-making, to be sure, but more than anything it made me realize how much this marathon has got under my skin. i know they tell you that training for and completing a marathon will change you, but until you do it, it's hard to see how. but they were right.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

we're still in the game!

so we're way overdue for a post, especially now that callie and i actually go our first chance to run together since high school. has it seriously been 10 years? 11 years, in fact, i think. anyway, i had an amazing week of running in idaho, a complete break from running the city streets of chicago. instead i got to run on forest trails and logging roads, saw deer and other wildlife, and best of all, had someone to talk to while i ran for once. we did our 14 miler together (a new distance for both of us) and seriously, the miles flew by because i had someone to distract me. it turns out we're both the same running chatterboxes we were in high school cross country. or maybe we just had 10 years of life to catch up on. anyway, here are the pictures to prove we were there:

mmm...dirt tan.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

running with ghosts

The following post I actually wrote on the 12th, nearly two weeks ago. I have been intending to get it posted ever since. I have not re-read it since. I am choosing not to because I would edit it in some way and am afraid I'd loose the flavor of that moment in time. Since the 12th of June, I have reached a much more challenging phase in my training. My knees hurt and I struggle to get myself out for a run everyday. (That is not to say there are not days I can not wait to put on my shoes and get out the door.) I was studying the 18 week plan and realized I am going to have to dedicate A LOT of time and energy toward training in August and September. I won't say I'm down on the idea; the magnitude of what training for a marathon means is starting to sink in. I'm starting to find ways to keep myself motivated. This week is a step-back week in mileage, which is helping both the knees and motivation. I've been invited to run the Mt. Misery relay on a team next weekend. It all keeps me going. And let's face it, I feel good about myself after every run, and think I am starting to look better than every despite the fact I keep adding 1-2 lbs every week. I ought to just throw the scale out.

12 June

I made it through week 1! As mentioned before I am following Hal Higdon’s 18 week program, so it is just the start. I’m feeling good about it though. I did make one minor adjustment, however. I did my 8 miler on Saturday, in the early evening rain instead of the mild and beautiful Sunday. My intent was to run the running path so that I had mile markers to pace myself off of. I think I ran the one 4 mile stretch (out and back) that didn’t have a single marker! It was an enjoyable run despite the rain and lack of mile markers because it ran my right though town and the UI campus where I ran regularly for 4 years! Some things have changed, some have not. At moments I felt 19 and invincible again. However, I made sure I took it easy not to burn myself out and have to stop for a break. I turned around at 38 minutes and made it back to the car by 1 hour 11 minutes. I guess I didn’t push it too hard going out, but I’m not entirely convinced I did a full 8 miles at about a 9 minute pace. I thought I would be much slower than that. I was more frustrated by having to run on pavement with my broken down training shoes (on my “to purchase” agenda) than I was at not being able to catch my pace. Oh well, there is a 9 miler in order for this weekend and my wonderfully supportive husband has agreed to drive out the miles on a dirt road for me!

The reason for switching-up Saturday and Sunday’s run was so I could meet a college friend of mine in town for a visit. We ran together throughout our freshman year. It is really the foundation of our friendship. She is another blond named Jen that I have not talked to in years. Noticing any patterns? It was terrific getting her message that she would be in town and wanted a reunion run. We caught-up on life and then headed to brunch with our significant others and some wonderful friends of hers that she was visiting while in the area.

Jen and I did a half-marathon together in April of 1996. I still have the T-shirt. Oh memories. We had to find someone willing to give us a ride to the race (neither of us owned car), about a ½ hour away, at 7 am, and with an inch of fresh snow that morning. Fellow dorm residents already thought we were nuts because we got up early one day on spring break just so we could run to Pullman (about 7 miles?) and back, which made it easier to convince our driver (Dan) that we were serious and not joking.

That reminds me, last night I sat down to dive into reading Marathon and had a riot reading Chapter 4. It is a series of quotes non-runners say to crazy marathoners. One of my favorites was a quote that a runner received from a co-worker about how boring long runs must be, just after explaining how he spent his weekend in a deer stand for 9 hours! It hit home because my husband hunts and I run, and just respect each other for it. One quote reminded me of the time I had a polite man tell me I must be dense in response to my answer when he asked how much I weighed. The more enjoyable part of the whole episode was watching him back his way out of a comment like that!

Yup, so I have gained nearly 5 pounds in the past two weeks. I guess I’m running enough to build and apatite now. It is not all bad, but I rather enjoyed being at my steady 125 lbs for the past several years. I was a steady 137 lbs from about the time I was 17 years old until I fell very ill my senior year of college. I guess I knew that the weight would come back some day. I guess I also knew that it would come back the minute I started “really training” again. (I was running college cross-country and track when I fell ill.) I’m also discovering I should not have gotten rid of all my “running pants.” My current wardrobe consists of several pairs of straight-legged fitted slacks that looked great. This week every time I put them on, however, all I see are bulging quads. I’ve heard of “apple-shaped” and “pear-shaped” people, but now I wonder what I am. I should clarify that this weight gain and larger legs did not happen overnight. Although I have only been formally training for the marathon for a week, I have been preparing for training since February by working out several times a week for at least 35-40 minutes and getting in at least one hour-long run a week since April. Pardon me: I realize that in a very snooty way I just bragged because I have found that I can (and am proud of it) gain muscle mass!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

and…we’re back in the game. I’m in Salt Lake City for a couple of days and was determined to get a run in the foothills of the spectacular Wasatchs. The company apartment where I’m staying is near the University of Utah, nestled into the eastern front that hugs Salt Lake City. I wasn’t able to get really clear directions on where exactly go for some off-road running, but when I looked on google maps it looked like there were some trailed worn into the hills just above the university. So I pretty much walked out the front door and just headed east, uphill. I was trying to take it really easy because of my injured heel, especially since I was doing hills which are hard on achilles tendons to start with. Between the hill and the difference in elevation between Chicago and SLC, I was working pretty hard even though I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace. Anyway, it took me 20 minutes to get up behind the University and wander up through Fort Douglas, but I finally did find my way to a little dirt path cut into the foothills, switching back from side to side up the canyon. I probably should have turned around about the time that I got to the trailhead, considering that I was already 20 minutes out (and have only run 3 miles in the past 12 days), but I had finally found what I had been looking for, and I wasn’t about to turn around now! So I jogged, sometimes mostly hiked/climbed, up this dirt path that wound into the foothills till I had a spectacular view of the whole valley, and then followed the trail along a green fold moving deeper into the hills. Eventually I dropped down the hillside from the path and went back along a dirt access road that followed a little creek. It was SO GREAT to be out running on trails in the hot, dry, western desert air. Reminded me of running in the Eagle foothills when I was in high school. It was pretty warm out but with no humidity it was quite manageable. At one point as I was skidding, slightly out of control, down a steep descent, Callie’s last post came to mind. It occurred to me that no one really knew where I was, so I really ought to be careful. I mean, I really wasn't that far away from civilization or anything, but if I twisted an ankle or got dehydrated, there was no one who would notice I hadn’t returned from my run for at least a half day or so, and no one at all who knew where exactly I’d decided to go.

Anyway, the change of scenery was invigorating, and with proper stretching and attention to ice, my achilles tendon didn’t feel as bad as I thought it might after a five-miler in the hills. On the plane on the way back to Chicago today I read this month’s Runner’s World cover to cover, and between that and my return to running I’m feeling motivated, invigorated, excited again. They say that mental breaks are as important as physical rest on long training periods. This seems to be the case. Take away running from me for two weeks and I’m clamoring for it. Of course, tell me I can’t do/have just about anything and I’ll be wanting it, but that’s just my nature. I’m psyched about the possibility of spending 7 or 10 days in Idaho this summer. I mean to adjust my training schedule around that trip so that I can get as much quality running in during that week as possible – runs in the desert along the Snake River, in the Boise Foothills, and on logging and hiking trails around McCall. Best of all, I’m looking forward to having someone to do at least a few of those runs with!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Oh yikes, I just read that last post. I was asleep while writing it, clearly. Disregard the large number of typos. My favorite is that fact that I used Celsius instead of Fahrenheit for they day's temperature. I'm a chemist and absolutely should not make such a typo!

Trail Run Number One

I actually wrote the following post last night, but didn't get it posted. So here it is day one of week 1 of Hal Hidgon's 18 week training program. I'm excited. Now I have to hold myself to it!

We all enjoy a little entertainment, so I’d like to share with you how NOT to accomplish a safe and happy Sunday run!

I awoke at about 7:15 am to an ill dog. I picked up the soiled throw rug, threw it outside with the dog and went back to bed. At about 8 am it began to pour rain. I decided that was my sign to sleep in and not get up for my early run. At 9:15 am I rolled out of bed, made a pot of coffee and used-up a small box of Kleenex sneezing. I was tempted to O.D. on allergy medication. My husband held me to his promise and loaded the dog and I up in the truck to head up Moscow Mountain to run trails. I ate ½ a Powerbar and gave the dog a small bite. He likes peanut butter.

After a mere 15 minutes we arrived at the bottom of a trail that my husband remembered four wheeling years ago when Moscow Mountain was open to motorized vehicles. Since being closed off to motorized vehicles, however, many of the wider trains started out with two or three “Kelly Humps,” which are mounds of dirt pushed up just high enough with small trenches on their backsides. The idea is that the average dirt road-worthy vehicle would be high-centered should they try to pursue the trail on the other side. I took my two-way radio and my dog and headed over the first abnormally large Kelly Hump. I scrambled over the next and up the third. The third was topped with a large-girthed tree across it. Once mounted at the top of the tree, a man-made Grand Canyon awaited me on the other side! Geeze these people are serious! I carefully sat down on the log and dangled my feet over hoping there was no sunning snake under the tree’s undercut. I dropped myself onto the hard-packed sandy ground and did a skid-jog down the steep side. Hands as well as feet required to get up the other side. I finally surmounted the all five Kelly Humps and headed up a steep washed-out old sand road. The dog was panting and so was I!

Eight minutes after being dropped off I made I to the make-shift parking lot, with a lot of Sunday riders’ stares. Since I had my 2-way radio, I decided to head down the main road away from home. I mumbled something about “tell the silver 4-door Dodge I’m headed to Potlatch” as I jogged by the cyclers.

Five minutes later I realized that I should not have slept in and believed the weatherman when he forecasted the area’s first HOT day of the year. It was already pushing 90°C at about 11 am. Our hottest day to-date was mid-seventy, three weeks ago.

I heard the truck rumbling up behind me, grabbed the dog by the collar, dodged off the road and climbed into the AC. I stopped my watch at 12 minutes and 54 seconds. I grabbed a sip of water. My husband offered to take me to the next trail, but I volunteered he just drop me off at a gated logging road I knew well (and was well shaded) so I could do a brief out-and-back jog. The 2-way radios were not working: forgot to charge them.

We have a nice little locally published mountain biking trail guide. Easy enough, I’ll follow this well-traveled trail to the gate at Rock Creek Road and meet Duane there. Approximately 2 miles and appears to be shaded. How hard can that be?

Let the adventure begin. I took off without the dog (he does not like heat unless there is water to swim in) and my 2-way radio. At about four minutes, I cut off the logging road and onto the trail. I ran by some pretty creative and intimidating mountain bike obstacles constructed just off the edge of the trail. Then I mounted a neat little hill to a small clearing with ankle-high grass. The trail sort of petered out into several spurs. Eight minutes and thirty seconds since Duane dropped me off the second time. I consulted the map and went left. I went down a hill, over and around some downed trees and past an old cabin I was sure I recognized from one of those off-the-wall nightmares I have occasionally. Then I snaked around, through a small bog where a stream fed a small meadow, up a hill and ended at an old decking spot. Okay, must have taken a wrong turn because I just went through a lot more than the average mountain biker would dare to.

At 24 minutes I turned around and headed back for the meadow where the well-marked trail had ended. At about thirty minutes I was back in the clearing and headed down the other well-used looking trail. Appeared more used. I ran through some waist-high tall grass and realized I did not have an inhaler or epi-pin with me. Thank goodness I did take my Claritin with that cup of coffee. However, Idaho’s blooming Timothy and pollinating pines have both managed to put me in the ER with sever allergies.

The trail was mildly sloped, but situated just right that the sun could beat down on me between the trees. At 40 minutes I was on what looked like a maintained trail, but saw no signs of meeting a road soon. Knowing that I was about 2 miles from the point where Duane had initially dropped me off, I headed back. Why risk getting further into the mountains when your lost?

At one hour and one minute I arrived back at the drop off point. I was a little freaked out about how I must now have panicked Duane. What is he thinking and where could he be waiting or looking for me at?

I had hoped for about 5 miles today. I think I definitely got that in. Not bad for the heat. I walked the ½ mile back to the parking lot, figuring it was best to be at a frequently used rendezvous point should Duane have gone looking for me. It was not long before two cyclist came up the same steep trail I had taken on my first jaunt out. I asked about seeing a silver Dodge out looking for me. Nope. One man offered me his cell phone. Whew, we had signal and I called. No answer, so I left Duane a message stating I was at the parking lot and I’d wait there. The two gentlemen agreed to ride down to where I was suppose to come out to meet Duane and let him know where I was.

An hour later a very furious Duane arrived. He never saw the cyclist or received the cell message. We yelled at each other some coming off the mountain, I think both venting the fear we had just experienced and relief now setting in.

Several hours later Duane and I made trip to Wal-Mart to grab a few necessities we just could not practically get anywhere else in this quaint town. (Yes, there is some irony in that statement.) While there we got distracted at the magazine isle. We like our reading material. I do not have a subscription to Runner’s World, so I thought I’d skim the latest issue. Humm, interesting the longest article in the magazine was about a women who spend three days stranded in Moab after taking a spill on her trail run. Duane was not impressed when I pointed it out! I should have bought that issue, but I did skim the article and how to avoid such mishaps. Communication device. I guess I should not have gone trail running with the 2-way radios were not working. Water: guess I’m gonna learn to run with some of that.

All-in-all I guess I’m lucky this go-round. I had one minor fall and my ankle is sore tonight, but there is no swelling. I was dehydrated to the point of feeling ill when I got home, but no delirium or chills. I thought I was a safe trail runner, but so did Duane when as an experienced dirt bike rider he took a spill off the same road I ran today (the main road does lead to trail that permit motorized vehicles some miles back) and ended up in the hospital for 10 days. Fortunately he crashed at just the right spot to get cell signal, and was conscious just long enough to make a cell call to a friend also on the mountain riding that day. It is for that reason we do own 2-way radios I can run with.

I just got interrupted by a call from an old running pal. I told her about my day’s adventure. She informed me that while mountain biking on Moscow Mountain a few years ago a rider came up missing and in the search she made a 911 call. Apparently there was a time when you could get the 911 answering machine. Gotta love Idaho! The moral of the story: one can never be too prepared. Run safe. Run well.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

so i haven't run in...counting up...10 days...and it is driving me crazy! my achilles tendon is still sore, so i can't really tell if it's getting better with rest or if all the time i spend on my feet in general, at work, etc, is keeping it from healing.

the big thing of course is that i'm just afraid of losing all the strength i've built up over the past 5 months - you stop running and zip! it's gone so fast. but my coach swears that i'll be okay with a week or two off - she said she took 2 weeks off with a similar injury a month before her last marathon and it was fine. and i'm biking, and going to aikido, and yoga and generally staying active. but it's not the same. i jogged a couple of steps the other day crossing the street and it was like a long-lost friend, the feeling of rolling smoothly across the soles of my feet. you'd think i'd been bed ridden for weeks or something the way i complain! sheesh.

but the thing that has sustained me, and kept my focus on the goal of the marathon, this week is that i sent out a batch of fundraising letters and am amazed and touched by each person who has sent me money. and it's never who you expect. acquaintences and distant friends that i wasn't even sure i should send the letter to surprised me with their generosity and support. co-workers go out of their way to ask me about running, ask how they can make a donation.

i continue to be simply amazed by the generosity of spirit in my friends and family since i started this project. amazing how decided to run a marathon can result in not just discoveries about myself, but it also bolsters my faith in humanity around me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Still Going...

No, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth, but at times, admittedly, I feel as though it would not be such a far off place. I have let life consume me. That is why I love running. What an escape!

The latest (and not necessarily recent) developments in my marathon adventure are:
I have in fact committed to running the Chicago marathon as part of the St. Jude’s Children Hospital fundraiser. I received my packet last Friday. I’m running for Mary.
I have purchased and began reading Hal Hidgon’s latest book.
I am getting out for jogs nearly every other day.

The evening that I received Hal’s book in the mail, I immediately sought out his training schedule. Yup, I’m a planner! I just had to know what I had gotten myself into as far as time commitments. I sat down with a calendar and started counting back 18 weeks from October 7th. Much to my relief, I realized I was not a scary 5-6 weeks behind. I for some reason had it in my head that if I was not running 6 days a week starting the second week in April, I was never going to be able to be fit enough in time for the marathon in October. I guess my overdramatic side had taken over. I am excited to say that week 1 (18 weeks out) is next week!

Looking to the future, I’m focusing on having a training plan and following it. I plan to do the Hal Hidgon’s Intermediate 1 Training Plan. Although this is my first marathon, which makes me a beginner, I have been a runner nearly my whole life. In fact last summer, without any goal in mind, I was putting myself through long runs, hill repeats and speed workouts. I love feeling strong. I’m disappointed with myself this winter because I did not maintain my usual rigorous cardio/weight/circuit regimen that I typically follow when the weather moves south for a few months. However, I feel like I’m coming up strong as I start to run more. My goal is really to following the training schedule to avoid burn out. I’ll throw in my usual hikes and horseback riding, along with some weight circuits, yoga and calisthenics. I’m convinced that since a horrible knee injury and some shin splints in high school, it is the 30 minutes of calisthenics drills that have saved my knees, hips and ankles over the years. That is not to say I don’t hurt at times. (Knees are sore today.) In fact, my next two major “To Do” items are to buy shoes, and find a group to run/train with at least once a week. I do a lot “by the book.” My husband gets such a kick out of the fact that my answer for everything is “I’m sure there is a book or some articles on _________.” I’m not convinced that running a marathon one of those things that can be accomplished completely solo just by reading up on it. (Neither is investing…)

Okay, so I’m trying to kill some time this morning by crossing a few items off my ever growing “To Do” list of life, but it is finally time to head out for my run and then get out to run errands on my way to work. As it is, I’ve killed enough time I will once again not be able to get a full 8 in at work today. I can not work late on Wednesdays because I give evening horseback riding lessons to four adults from an assisted living facility. It is the highlight of their week! I get to look forward to a longer day tomorrow to make up for the less-than-eight. And I wonder why I never have time and run my life a day late and dollar short! At least I’m running my life.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

so week before last i ran my 200th mile, and also that week hit my first week of training 20+ miles. i was feeling pretty good about this accomplishment (and callie, thank you for my 200+ mile card! it really made me smile).

the following thursday, feeling so good about my training and all, i pushed myself through a really hard speed workout. i felt great, but when i got home my left achilles tendon was kind of sore. for the next week i limped along, taking 2 days off, it'd get better, then i'd run and it'd get worse.i had two lower-mileage weeks and then called my marathon coach, who sidelined me for at least a week, telling me this is not an injury that i can "run thru". since my dad ruined his achilles tendons permanently by running, i realized i should probably take the advice seriously.

but, as with most things in my life, as soon as i stop worrying about a thing and actually have to face it, i'm pretty good at making a plan and moving forward. i was dreading having to take a week off, but now that i am, i'm using the week to focus on stretching (my lack of stretching mostly definitely being the source of this injury in the first place), doing more ab and core work, and supplementing with other cardio workouts. i was feeling a little stressed/burned out anyway, not with running so much as making time to run, so i think this break will probably be good for me mentally. also, the weather is beautiful in chicago right now, so i'm enjoying riding my bike a lot more.

as i write this i've got my foot up on an ice pack, and i am following my coaches' instructions to the letter: taping my heel, wearing shoes with low heels on them to keep the achilles tendon short, taking a lot of ibuprofen (vitamin I, as many runners refer to it), and of course, trying to stretch several times a day. i was complaining of tight calves over the past few weeks, but not really doing anything about them, so this is what i get.

i'm excited that i know a number of people running the marathon now, tho. myself and callie, of course, and also my uncle paul, my friends jack and rebecca, and a number of other acquaintances. of course, if you live in chicago, running the chicago marathon is nothing special - seems like half the city does it! still, it will be awesome to have company on the starting/finishing line.

tag, callie, it's been a while since an update - how goes with you?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

gosh, the weeks are flying by, and it's time for an update again.

the first, exciting news is that i've started collecting donations for Team in Training. thank you, you awesome people who have already made contributions! all money goes to support research and treatments at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. my fundraising goal is $1400 - so far i'm collected $350, so i'm off to a good start but have a long way to go still.

this past sunday i ran in the Shamrock Shuffle, which is the largest 8k race in the country (in the world?). 30,000 runners swarmed into downtown chicago on sunday morning to run the race. my marathon coach had recommended that we do this race to get some experience with big races - like the chicago marathon, it starts and ends in grant park in downtown chicago, and it's HUGE. i'm glad i did the race for the experience with the crowds alone - i was pretty intimidated by the whole rigmarole - getting downtown on crowded sunday public transit, fighting the crowds for the gear check, the portapotty lines, getting into a starting corral, etc. now i feel much more confident about what i need to do and where i need to be when on marathon day for a stress-free start to the race. and i have months still to look forward to that!

i also felt pretty good about my race time. i ran the 8k in 43:29, averaging an 8:45 pace. not that long ago i was thinking of myself as a 10-minute miler, it's cool to realize that in my second season back to running i'm continuing to improve. and lately almost all of my "easy jogs" have been coming in around 9 or 9:30 in pace - i guess i'm actually getting stronger/faster.

the past 3 weeks i've been doing much better about hitting all or nearly all of my workouts. the weather has been easing up a bit, which helps - less time on the treadmill, more time out exploring (what pass for) nature (in chicago).


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ups and Downs - That's Life and Running

I'm inspired by reading Jen's posts. I'm reminded that all of us have challenges in life. We have ups and downs, but it is how we cope that really makes it an UP or a DOWN. I have had apparent phases in my life of extreme ups and extreme downs. I am now old enough and wise enough to recognize the onset of a downturn, and have developed skills to stop myself once in an arms-and-legs-flailing-as-I-skid-down-the-face-of-the-mountain fall. However, I am not always good enough to keep myself on track or pick myself up again once I have stumbled and stopped the downward slide. The metaphors between life's challenges and running have been explored extensively in literature and amongst running partners, but let's just say that running has become one of my greatest antidotes for curing "the downs" because I somehow have it in my head I'm always strong enough to finish the run, even when I'm not so sure I'm strong enough to cope with life's challenges. I will be putting that statement to the test over the next 7 months as I train and complete my first marathon. The challenge is really quite exciting.

It must be the season. I too have been challenged with trying to get out and run as I wait for the weather to break. I too have all the same excuse: work, personal life, weather... I did great for a week, getting in 6 workouts that week. Then I ignored the idea of running and going to the gym for a week. Now I'm back at it. The desire is to list all my excuses and all the going-ons of my life right now, but this week I've decided to toy with the idea of taking a positive approach to every excuse, complaint, and frustration. Skipping a whole lot of the details (I just hit the delete button) and focusing on the positive has made me realize and appreciate the amazing people in my life; my dearest husband, Shannon Brown, and Jen. My husband has a way of making me get out and do the things I love, when I'd rather stay curled-up in a dark corner. Shannon has become my personal life coach and counselor (which is not her profession), and boy what a weight that must be. Finally, I've recently had a dear friendship go through turmoil and it is currently not fairing well. I've let myself sleep at night by reminding myself that friendships do endure all, and that friends have a way of finding their way back into your life when you need that person most. Thanks Jen, for giving me the motivation to run and pursue what seems like a daunting (26.2 miles!!!) goal. (This is another one of those life-and-running metaphors.)

That being said, I'm home from work today (which is a gigantic story in and of itself), so I've got to get moving and take the dog out for a brisk jog in the present sunshine that has been rather allusive lately.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March already?!?

Yup, March already. This week marked my return to the full training schedule - I've been slacking, depressed by the winter, traveling, working too much - all good excuses, but excuses nonetheless. Anyway, this week I managed to hit all my planned workouts. Next week we'll work on getting that whole healthy-eating thing back on track (as I type I'm enjoying a post-run chocolate milkshake, so obviously, something's gotta change :)

It helped that the first signs of spring weather turned up in Chicago late this week. My marathon training group meets at the lakefront path at 8am on Saturdays, and the past few weeks, just getting out of our cars and not slipping on the ice has seemed like an endurance sport. Today the sun was shining and most of the snow had melted away, and the lake was blue blue blue, and I remembered why I like running out of doors so much - even in a city like Chicago, it makes me feel more connected to nature, just seeing the sun rise, the way the clouds recede over the lake, the color the water - very restorative.

Also, another great motivator is that this week I got my first TNT donation! Thank you very much to my brother and sister-in-law for their generous support. It was one thing when I had forked over my $50 registration fee and made it out to a few group runs, and I was pretty darn sure I was gonna do this marathon thing. Now, well, now I'm committed. And I'm really excited about that.

What's new in your world?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

February Recap

February hasn't exactly gone as planned for me, either. I wish I could say I had good excuse like Callie's, that I've been deathly ill with the flu or something (well, I don't wish for that, exactly, but you know). Mostly I've been too busy, training with my new, second job, and without overwhelming you, dear supportive readers, with the gory detail, my personal life has been kind of a mess which always results in no sleep which in turns causes me to be so tired that I figure I can't justify exercise because I'm so rundown and tired already that I need to conserve energy. Golly, that was a long sentence. That's kinda how life has been lately. Long, incoherent sentences. But anyway, I've been doing well at two of my training goals, which was to get started and get comfortable going to my two cross-training activities, aikido and yoga. Running on the treadmill has been a chore and I've really only been managing it about once or twice a week.

But my biggest accomplishment for the month of February was that I picked a marathon training program, joined it, and today did my first run with the group. I decided to join Team in Training, which is the marathon-training program supported by the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The fundraising component of this program is, admittedly, a little daunting for me. $1400! And I certainly could have joined a regular training group for about 1/10th of the cost. But for some reason I kept coming back to TNT. And I figure, hey, if fate is nudging me that way, then I should just listen. If I'm going to go to all this work to run the marathon, why not have some extra good come of it? I mean, running it will be good for me, but if it can be good for me AND good for others, that's even better. So I went to my first group run this morning. Already I can tell that having a group will be good motivation for me - this morning's windchill was 14 degrees - and I made it out for a run. Normally I say that my temperature threshold is 45! And it was bloody, awful cold. I would never had lasted on my own. But I had people to chat with, about cold and about running and those good general small-talk topics, and the 45 minute run went by like nothing. I was actually a little disappointed when we got back to the starting place so soon.

This weekend I hope to get my fundraising page up and running, so more about TNT here soon! (By the way, a proper acronym for Team In Training, it seems to me, would be TIT. But I guess it makes sense that they're using TNT instead. Maybe if we were raising money for breast cancers instead of blood cancers...? Or maybe my sense of humor wouldn't wouldn't exactly jive for a career in Public Relations...)

Hope you're feeling better quickly, Cal.

Back on Track

I had big plans for February. I had set career, personal and running goals. On February 9th I developed a minor cough in the later afternoon. I hit the gym that evening for a spectacular 45 minutes cardio session. By 9pm I was not feeling well. I woke-up incredibly sick on Friday morning and ran straight to the doctor's office to ward off another one of my usual sinus infections. Wrong. I was a statistic; one of the hundreds in the area that week that came down with the 2007 flu. The doctor told me there was nothing he could do. I would be sick for 7 to 10 days with a residual cough for 2-3 weeks. He sent me home with instructions to stay in bed and take Tylenol for the pain. Guess what? Doc was right.

Needless to say I've hit a bump in the marathon training. Two days ago I attempted my first workout since falling ill. I did 30 minutes of early morning yoga and am STILL sore! My cough was considerably better that day, however. The good that has come from being so sick; I will not be able to complain of sever muscle pain no matter the intensity of the long runs to come. The identifying characteristic of this flu is the accompanying sever muscle pain. For nearly 4 days I was in so much pain that I could not sleep and was unsteady on my feet. Once returning to work, I found out campus doctors were prescribing hydrocodon for the pain! (I see an off-campus doctor.) The statistics are astounding. Our department sadly lost one elderly professor to the flu this year.

So I have now had a week back at work and am trying to get my life put back together after not doing much for 7 days. I am starting to return to my prior habits and incorporate exercise again. I am going to ease into it, however. This is unlike me, but the residual cough and unseasonably wet weather makes me leery of developing an upper respiratory infection, common to distance runners. Today, its horseback riding. It will be nice for us both to stretch our legs after the cold winter we have had. Next week, it's back to the gym with the goal to get in 3-4 days of exercise.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

the training plan

so, i wrote this up a few weeks ago, and i realize that i hadn't finished it or posted it yet, and suddenly the month of january is already gone. so, here's the rough sketch of my training plan:

+join aikido dojo and yoga classes at the gym
+run 6-9 mi/week (3 days, 2-3 mi each)
+do at least 3 days/week of cardio (running or other)
+register for the marathon

+pick a marathon training program/group in chicago
+train 2 days/week at aikido
+yoga at least once per week
+up running mileage to 9-12 mi per week (3 days, 3-4 mi each)

+train 2 days/week at aikido
+yoga at least once per week
+maintain running mileage at 9-12 mi per week (3 days, 3-4 mi each)
+ease into some outdoor running as the weather gets milder

~March 25 – Shamrock Shuffle 8k
~March 2-17 (FW tech)


+maintain yoga and aikido cross training
+add some strength training (anything that aikido is missing)
+up running mileage to 12-15 mi per week (3 days, 4-5 mi each)

~April 29 – Ravenswood 5k
~April 27 – May 12 (arcadia tech)

+increase mileage to 15 mi/week
+build up to 6 mi long runs on weekends and running 4 days per week
+maintain yoga and aikido cross training

~April 27 – May 12 (arcadia tech)
~May 18 – Gala

+shift focus to marathon training program
+keep up with aikido and yoga as time and energy allow

~Plan running trip to Idaho?


~July 1- Race to the Taste 5k
~July 29 – Fleet Feet Women's 10k

~Running trip to Idaho if not in June?

~August 12 – Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon

~September 9 – Chicago Half Marathon
~September 14-30 (thyestes tech, tentative)

~October 7 – Chicago Marathon!

obviously the first half is better planned out than the second half. but i can only think so far ahead. i'm not sure i can afford the entrance fees to all those races, either, but i'll wait and see which ones fit into my calendar and what i can afford to do.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Getting Started, Being Excited

Okay, so I finally decided to just make the time and write. Unlike Jen, I've completely abandoned the whole public posting of my thoughts over the Internet once I graduated from high school, 11 years ago. In a similar fashion to Jen's excuses, I found college an excuse to not write, then life just got in the way. You could say I let the pendulum seriously swing the other way after high school. I don't even own a computer! I'm doing this log on a computer a coworker loaned me over the holidays so I could work from home. I also have to mention that we don't have TV, so this computer is now our only form of entertainment besides a good book and the dog (whom I'm sure you'll hear more about later). There is a little more insight into just who I am, and a set-up as to how different Jen and I really are. The amazing part, when I need a friend, she is still there. (And, yes, our periods of complete disconnect have spanned more than a year at times.)

So about the running; I have continued to run nearly all these years. It has been my identity. Not because I am an outstanding runner, but because I have a serious endorphin addiction. I've noticed over the years that I exhibit all the normal withdrawal symptoms of a drug user or alcoholic when I don't get regular strenuous exercise. There have been some breaks in my running. For a while in college I played water polo, which is interesting because I'm "built like a runner" and I played on a co-ed team. Ever watched a water polo match? Good, then you know what the average player's build is. I also got lost while I was in graduate school and planning a wedding. It took LOTS of counselling and a year on Zoloft to recover from that little break in running. However, most notably I gave up running while I was living in South America in a large city that just wasn't easy to jog in (I believe drivers got points for hitting gringos). So I joined the university Tae Kwon Do club. Aerobics or basketball just weren't going to cut it for me. Anyone familiar with 1. living in a very different male-oriented society, 2. the average height of Hispanics, 3. TKD as a contact sport, and 4. learning a new language (Korean) from an already foreign and only moderately spoken second language, understands just how remarkable joining the team as a 5'8" athletically driven female with a limited sense of pain truly means. My Spanish improved as a I quickly learned to mimic body motions and the meaning of "eso." After about week 2 I was training 4 days a week with the competitive boys and learned to be more conservative when I was paired with the females for sparing or drills. I like to push myself. I like challenging sports.

So that brings me to today, sort of. I run semi-regularly. This past summer I ran several days a week at 5am and did at least two days of intervals or tempos. I joined the gym at work this fall and have been hitting the cardio machines a couple of days a week. (I've amused a few people at the gym, especially a former student of mine, with my complete lack of coordination. Did you know it doesn't work so well to actually lift your feet off the foot pads of the inclined elliptical machine?) I like to do circuits at home. I'm gaining courage to actually lift weights with an audience at the gym. My goal for the time being is to consistently get in 5 days a week of exercise, and lift (or circuit) at least once. I figure by April I really need to start focusing on running. I like to run outdoors and miss it. I'm hoping the craving will carry me through what will prove to be some very challengingly long runs. My mom, who was so not a runner as I grew up, has since become a runner and done a few marathons. She says it takes 6 months to train for your first marathon. I started looking at training schedules to get an idea of what I am in for. I'm excited, but fear the time factor. It will all depend on my job. (Sad but true.) However, once I set my mind to it, I seldom back down.

Tentatively I have a few things on the calendar. On April 1st is the Palouse 100K. The department (I work at WSU) is trying to put together a team for that. I'll run with them. Although my sister (a remarkable runner currently being recruited by colleges) and my brother (another outstanding runner) will be in town that weekend, so perhaps they'll run with me. In May is Bloomsday in Spokane, Washington. I ran it last year and got a terrible stitch with less than a mile to go. I have to go back this year and re-claim the race. I'm hoping a running partner and friend of mine from college who currently lives in Seattle and was there with me the first time I did Bloomsday and for my first 1/2 marathon, will come over to run it with me. It would be yet another reunion centered around running. Other than that, Jen and I have a not-yet-set training week this summer in Idaho. Finally, I would like to wrap up the year, post marathon, with a women's spa retreat weekend with friends and family. Even if they are not into marathons, everyone can benefit from setting fitness goals, and then sharing their stories. So that is my story, for now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

a little history to get us started...

so here it is. the chicago marathon blog. as of now, the team consists of me (res. chicago, il) and callie (res. moscow, id). we've been friends since the first day of 9th grade. a hell of a lot has happened in the 14 years since then. we ran together on high school track and cross country teams. we were part of the first graduating class of eagle high. went away to colleges in different states. i left idaho with plans to never look behind me. i lived in california, england, japan, new york, san francisco, buffalo, boston, and toured half the united states before settling down in chicago. i was callie's maid of honor when she married her sweetheart on a mountain top in idaho. my parents think of callie as their adopted daughter. we've grown into our adult selves, founded careers and relationships, endured successes and failures. but the amazing thing is that we're still friends, and that we're still running.

actually, i took about a 10 year break from running. there was college and all its distractions, then there was a ski accident that left me with an impaired sense of balance and dizzy spells that still linger six years later. there were long, cold winters and day jobs and night jobs and many many good reasons not to run. but somehow last year, i found my way back to running. and i discovered that my identity as a runner wasn't gone, just hibernating. running sustained me thru a very difficult period of my life recently, when i parted with someone very important to me. i really believe that it was divine providence that led me back to running not long before our relationship came to a sudden, staggering end. running gave me strength, physically and mentally at a time when i felt utterly emotionally destroyed.

at any rate, running a marathon has been in the back of my mind for almost all of my life. and something tells me that this is my year. so when the calendar rolled over to january 1, i wrote callie and asked her if she'd be interested in training for the chicago marathon. lucky for me, callie is crazy enough to have said yes.

we hope to plan some trips to train together, and to use this blog and email the rest of the time to trade training tips, thoughts, ideas, etc.

here we go! see you october 7...