Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Race Recap: ZOOMA Half Marathon

There is a reason I love small races.... and ZOOMA Women's Series demonstrates in every aspect how a small event can be MORE.  Before I get into details, I feel like I need a disclaimer: This was my birthday getaway weekend - two days away from the busy duties of motherhood and housekeeper. Two days of girlfriends, running and beautiful fall weather.

After a three hour drive, I arrived in scenic Lake Geneva on Friday afternoon. As a Wisconsin native, I was familiar with this ritzy vacation area, but never actually stayed here. The Abbey Resort was my home for the evening, host hotel for the event. The resort was huge and I nearly got lost trying to find my room.
My gorgeous home for an evening

I hurried off to the race expo to pick up my packet, but more importantly, to stalk find the ladies of Another Mother Runner.  Run Like A Mother was the very first running book I ever read. I can not express how much the words of that book echoed my thoughts when I first started running. The book literally fueled my run in those early years. Their second book Train Like A Mother is just as timely as I continually progress into more serious training plans.
Dimity McDowell, me, and Sarah Bowen Shea
They were much taller than I expected, but who isn't standing next to me?
I absent-mindedly forgot my books at home (duh?), so the AMR's signed my race bib for me.

The expo was perfect sized, not real big but plenty of interesting booths to stop at. I walked away with a new pair of running shoes and a coffee mug. Trek Women spoiled me rotten with a whole bag full of goodies. I scored a cool wine stopper at the Barefoot Wine booth (love their sweet red), and oh'ed and ah'ed over the apparel at Skirt Sports and WHOOHA Gear. A great selection of companies considering it was a race of only 600 runners.

Dimity and Sarah gave a casual, yet entertaining, "Race Tips" presentation at 5pm, followed by a course talk from the event organizers. (Just a note, the ZOOMA series is conducted by three women and it shows. If you're someone who appreciates the little details in a race event, you will like ZOOMA races. No offense to the male race directors, but women are just super organized and better at making an event warm and welcoming.)

twisted the arm convinced four other ladies from Peoria to run ZOOMA with me. I made a second loop through the race expo with them and then we hit dinner. No carb loading for us. Instead, we enjoyed the upbeat and fun environment of the resort restaurant. I loved that bar and dream of the day that my hubby and I can revisit in the summer to enjoy some brews on their deck overlooking the marina.

After dinner, I snuck in late to the ZOOMA Mocktail Hour. As a new cyclist, I ate up every word of the Trek Women presentation (with blogger Skinny Runner as the model). Biking is such a great cross-train to pair with running.  All the chairs had a complimentary pair of athletic socks and a Bike Guide (awesome center pullout on how to change a flat tire). At the end, I even won in the prize drawing... a Badass Mother Runner headband!

Whew! What a fun time so far (for this mother on the loose) and it's not even race day yet!

Race morning came early and I was surprisingly calm. I had no expectations for this race. I was using it as a training run. I knew it would be hilly but wanted to test out my pacing for the marathon. My goal was to run the entire 13.1 as evenly as possible around the 9:45 min/mile mark. At that pace, I wanted to feel like I could "run forever" near the end and have good energy left for the finish. That was the goal.

The ZOOMA course was a point-to-point route from Lake Geneva to Fontana. We loaded up school buses to take us to the start. Our school bus driver was fun and shared some stories of landmarks along the course to look for. It was a chilly fall morning, but exactly how I prefer it.  I brought a throwaway sweatshirt and actually tossed it before we even began.

This was our starting line...

The course lived up to its reputation. This is no chick course. It's a "I am Woman; Hear Me Roar" kind of course. The hills started inside mile 1 and rolled and rolled without end. There was little flat in between. It felt like we were either going up or down at every point.  I ran side by side with my friend Cassie, who was doing her first half. I focused on keeping my breathing steady and the pace comfortable... which proved challenging with the constant elevation changes. My splits were all over the place, more uneven than I like...
Geesh, the only photo I got on the course...
Mile 1 - 9:28
Mile 2 - 9:05
Mile 3 - 9:53
Mile 4 - 9:20
Mile 5 - 9:38
Mile 6 - 9:45
Mile 7 - 9:47
Mile 8 - 9:35
Mile 9 - 9:45
Mile 10 - 9:40

At mile 9, I slowed to a walk to take in some GU and water. Cassie cruised ahead, but after a mile, I caught back up to her.  As we entered into Fontana, there were a bunch of spectators near the mile 10 turn. I was happy at this point with how the run was feeling on my body. Not sure if it was the "run forever" feeling, but I was in a good place for 10 miles in.

We ran past the finish line and headed out the 5K course. This part of the race was hell hard. Awaiting us were more rolling hills, up and down, up and down... and then one giant mountain to crawl up. It felt like I was on a stairstepper, not actually moving forward but going through the motions. I looked up ahead and there was NOT ONE PERSON running. Everyone was walking up that hill. I said, "Screw it" and joined in. It was still difficult walking.  Happily, I reached the turnaround (with some dumbass driver in a vehicle right on my heels!). I wish I could say the return trip was easier, but somehow not. I hit the mile 12 marker and wanted to see what I had left and tested my energy reserves.  The final 1/4 mile stretch was downhill, but hurt the quads just as much.
Mile 11 - 10:07
Mile 12 - 11:03
Mile 13 - 9:18
Mile 0.2 - 1:35

This was by far the most challenging course I've ever run. Yet at the finish, I felt great pride in overcoming the obstacles... and extremely happy with my pacing and final time.

Remember how I wanted a 9:45 pace? You don't get any closer than that folks!

The post-race party on the lakeside lawn of the Abbey Resort was really fun. It was a perfect autumn day to just hang outside and rehash the course with girlfriends. There was more shopping, music and food.  Muscle Milk had a large tent setup where you could stretch, foam roll and grab a massage. I met up with the other ZOOMA Ambassadors there for a post-race photo...
So excited to see many of the Chicago Running Bloggers!

And I met thee Sara Hall ... and fun blogger Skinny Runner... 
Yeah, definitely a run celeb filled weekend!

Finally, I found the wine with my running partner Cassie...

It was a tough course, but all the extras included in this event made it a special and fun day! ZOOMA Women's Series is more than just a race - it is a special occasion that you should pick only your favorite girlfriends to spend it with. Check out their upcoming race schedule here.

Orange-Up Week!

Many runners dream of Boston.
Not me.
I prefer the medium sized city races where registration, hotel, parking and just about everything is a breeze.

The only big race that has ever enticed me is the ING New York City Marathon.  Something about that one calls my name. I promise you someday I will run the Big Apple. It's difficult to guarantee an entry, and even harder to strike the lottery. However, if you're really determined and willing to put in some fundraising work, there is always the charity team option.

One charity that has caught my eye is the ING Run For Something Better, also known as the Orange Laces Nation.  They are tackling childhood obesity by helping kids become fit through free, school-based running fitness programs. As a mom of two little girls, programs like this really touch my heart. How I would love to bring an ING KiDS ROCK event into my town!

As a fun way to celebrate the upcoming ING New York City Marathon (held Sunday, Nov. 4), I invite you to "orange-up" your fitness routine that week before.  By participating, you'll be supporting the 47,000 runners in the ING NYC Marathon, as well as the ING Run for Something Better campaign that creates running programs for kids.  (Make a $10 donation here and you'll be sent a pair of orange shoelaces to show you are "tied" to supporting kids' fitness.)

Plus... it's Halloween week! Orange is definitely the spirit color of the week! So gather up your friends and family, wear something orange and head out for run/walk... Join the ORANGE-UP movement!

Monday, Oct. 29 - Sunday, November 4

It's free and easy to participate! Wear something ORANGE during your run, walk or workout the week of Oct. 29 - Nov. 4.  It can be your shirt, shorts, headband, socks, shoes, or all of it!  Snap a photo of yourself (or your group) wearing ORANGE for a chance to win one of many Orange-Up prize packs that I'm giving away!  It's all about fun on the run...

ING orange glasses and shoelaces + samples of orange-flavored GU gel and electrolyte brew

(each prize pack may vary)


  • Facebook - Post your photo on the ING Runners Nation page (like it while you're there). Include this caption with your photo... I support the ING Runners Nation by wearing orange with for the #orange_up.  Feel free to add more to your post, perhaps a hearty good luck to the Class of 2012 runners.
  • TwitterTweet your photo with this caption... I support @INGRunnerNation @INGNYCMarathon by wearing orange with @RUNwJESS #orange_up 
That's it!  Easy, right?

Your photos must include the caption highlighted in orange above. Maximum of two entries per person (one on FB, one on Twitter). No prior registration necessary, just submit your photo when you're done.  Winners will be selected randomly from all entries on Nov. 5, 2012. However... one prize pack will be awarded to the most creative photo and one for the best group photo (per my discretion). Have fun getting orange!

Good Luck to the Class of 2012 ING NYC Marathon runners!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Race Recap: The Cupcake Classic 2012

I ran for my cupcake in 28:58
The only way to recap this one is... YOU ARE ALL AWESOME! Over 1000 people across the world (yes, it went international!) finished the the 2012 Cupcake Classic. Some of you ran solo in the darkness of morning or on the treadmill.  Many of you grabbed friends, children, and husbands to organize local group runs. I love to see YOU inspiring others in your life to become active, especially the kids.  It's like this big chain reaction... I tempt you with the idea of cupcakes and in turn, you motivate others to get moving too. <big smiles>  Thank you for participating in such a huge huge way!

Personally, my local Cupcake Classic in Peoria was a bit of a letdown. The original scheduled date was postponed due to looming thunderstorms. On the raindate several days later... it didn't just rained, it poured! The group was much smaller than originally planned (schedule conflicts with new date and inclement weather). But the Sole Sisters that showed up splashed through the rain and made fun of the situation. Coincidentally, I had just enough goodies that everyone walked away with a cupcake and a prize! I'm so proud of the women who ran through the dark and rain with me last Wednesday. You are all Tough Chiks in my book!

Thankfully, I use to pick for prizes... because you are all WINNERS in my book. From the speedy runners to the walkers to the those completing 3.1 miles for the first time, congratulations on your finish line!  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your stories and smiling at your photos.  Below are some of my favorites...

Events like this wouldn't be nearly as much fun without prizes from the generous sponsors who support the running community. Each company's name is highlighted with a link to their website. Please visit their websites and create your holiday wish list (or do a little pre-shopping for yourself!).

Milestone Jewelry (run happy hoodie) - Tonya Klausing-Kuzmik

Parsecent (heart rate monitor watch) - Abby Drinka

CLICK Espresso Protein Drink (deluxe prize pack) - Micky Schembri

Aquaphor (deluxe prize pack) - Noelle Evans

Tribute Sports (necklace) - Pamela Weston

Pro Compression (compression socks) - Abagael Shrader, Jacie Crawford

Endorphin Warrior (training bracelet) - Jaleesa Haynes

Injinji (toe socks) - Stephanie Williams, Stacy Jensen, Jennifer Morrison

GU Energy (strawberry lemonade electrolyte brew) - Penny Long

Road ID (gift certificate) - Tina Pratt, Bree McGuire

Hydrapak (sports bottle) - Crystal Raines  (soft flask) - Alice Girton

RunnerDecals (custom drink tumbler) - Carrie Miller  (will run for cupcakes decal) - Sheila Achey, Anitra DumlaoThompson, Kristi Cleary, Angela Green

Perfectly Posh (Rubby Scrubby foot treatment) - Libby Dillard

LockLaces (elastic shoelaces) - Lorena Stuart, Amy Sue Hasselbaum, Becky Joy, Jennifer Roberts

Tough Chik (shirt) - Kacie Williams

Quad Cities Marathon (shirt) - Terese Howell

I have all of your addresses already from when you submitted your times, so let a YaHoo! and then sit back and await your prize arrival.

Thank you everyone for making the 2nd annual Cupcake Classic a huge success!
Keep On Running...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Birthday Thoughts

Today is my birthday. I celebrated that occasion by... running of course! What else did you expect? In the final week of being a 37 year old, I ran three races of different lengths.
This means I have lot of race recaps to write!

When I was in my twenties, I used to look forward to birthdays. Not so much anymore. I feel like I'm coming dangerously close to a pivotal point in life... you know when things start falling apart getting harder.  This past year was really really good to me. My family is at this perfect "frame-it, bottle-it, just pause it" stage. I'm learning how to prioritize activities/people in my life better. And my running definitely got faster. Mind you, running is not all about about speed for me, but it does give me great satisfaction when I'm constantly improving. I broke all my PR's this past year and now I chase them...

These will not be easy to break. I can't help but wonder, "When do I stop getting better? When do I hit the peak and start the slow deterioration?"  That is such a sad thought for me. My body feels so good right now (despite the extra 20lbs that I continue to carry).  In fact, I feel the youngest I have in the last decade. I'm still learning about how my body reacts to training, racing and how best to recover. Each training cycle gives me new insight and methods to the madness. I'm pretty sure this next year is gonna ROCK, but I'm also realist enough to know that one injury can sabotage it.

A couple things I've learned this past year...

  • Every run should not be a training run. At least once a week, run simply for the fun of the sport. No watch, no music, no distance goal. Just run and love the freedom of the road. 
  • Cross training will not only prevent injuries, but it will make you a stronger runner. It's ok (and kinda cool) to be a multi-sport athlete.
  • Listen to your body. When you're tired, sore or training stressed, take a day off... or two. 
  • The 'right shoes' are not always the ones that the so-called-experts tell you to wear.  Run in what feels good and causes you no pain. 
  • Surround yourself with people who make you a better person... just by their presence. Let the others go.
  • When you get a 'little twinge', stretch it, roll it, ice it... but by all means, don't ignore it.
  • Most importantly, constantly strive for balance. Adjust accordingly... daily. Running is not the be-all, end-all. Embrace all aspects of your life to the fullest.

So CHEERS! Here's to 38! The best is yet to come, right?!?! After a busy race weekend, I will spend today catching up on the homefront and giving my body much needed rest. Perhaps tonight I can convince my hubby to grill up a juicy steak in my honor... 

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crack the Track

This week I'm feeling the motivation and drive return. After a good 20 last weekend and a fairly easy recovery, I feel on-target again for the marathon (Nov. 18). I've been running the miles, but babying it in fear of re-injuring the toe.  Today I said, "Enough!" and got myself back on the track for some speedwork.

Speed intervals may sound complicated, but they're not. It's a simple process of alternating spurts of high-intensity runs, followed by a few minutes of recovery. First, you stress your cardio system and build up lactic acid in the muscles (which boost body fuel, strength and stamina), and then let yourself rest and prepare for the next interval. Research has shown that interval training improves how well your body converts oxygen to energy. The more oxygen your body can process, the stronger and faster you can become. Intervals are also a great exercise for weight loss or at least that's what I tell myself.

I first started practicing intervals last year and it made a big difference on my race times. The first training cycle that I included speedwork on a weekly basis... I finally got my sub-2 half marathon. The proof is in the PR.

Running speedwork, however, isn't easy. It takes an inner strength to push yourself (or a track buddy by your side). To be honest, I have been a little slack with my speedwork since spring training. Today it was deadly obvious. My heart rate was skyrocketing as I raced the stopwatch.  Here's how today went for me...

1.65 mile warmup jog (17:19)
I ran a nice big loop through Parkside Cemetery. The fall colors are so pretty right now and this environment is quite serene and peaceful away from the flow of traffic.

2x400 with a 400 recovery
I crossed the street over to the old track at Shea Stadium. When I kicked in the first 400, I thought, "Oh-dear, I really don't want to do this." The pace felt difficult and I could hardly catch my breathe (especially when I hit the wind). One lap felt like forever. Lap 1: 2:02  I always use a 400 to recover (one lap on a track). During this time, I take a drink, walk, jog or whatever it takes to catch my breathe again.  Lap 2: 2:01  My legs are starting to remember what intervals are all about...
4x800 with a 400 recovery
I hate running 800's (2 laps on the track), but they are so impactful on my training results. I try to keep the pace as uncomfortable as the 400 but push it twice as long. I'm always hurting at the end and need at least a 100 to walk it out before I jog again. Intervals: 4:06, 4:04, 4:09, 4:10  I'm okay with these splits. They are slightly slower from this past spring when I was squeaking in under 4:00, but it's to be expected. Room to grow...
2x400 with a 400 recovery
By time I completed the 800's, I was elated to finish up with a couple shorties. I like mixing up the distances of my intervals; it keeps my mind on something other than the throbbing in my chest. As expected, I nailed them faster than in the beginning... 1:57, 1:57. That's a wrap... and I didn't die.

1.15 mile cooldown (12:00)
My favorite part of speedwork is the cooldown. I allow myself to go whatever pace I want...usually slower is better. Today however, despite the tough intervals, I felt good and cruised along without much distress. I crossed the road again to head into the cemetery for another short loop... and who do I run into... my fast friend Anna, who is out doing intervals of her own (4x1600's... ouch!). Perfect timing, we get to run our cooldown together.
Total: 7.8 miles in 1:15

Remember, you don't need a track or stopwatch to do intervals and work on your speed. As a beginner, I felt awkward at the track, like I didn't belong. So I used a secluded road where no one could watch me die, where I sprinted one way to the end of the street, then jogged back, and repeat as many times as I could handle. It can be just that simple. I then added a stopwatch and (for fun) tried to beat my time each sprint.

Do you practice speedwork? How often?
Have you noticed an impact in your race times?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's Raining Miles

It is a soggy weekend in the Midwest. But when you're training for a marathon, there are no rainouts. This weekend posted little to no flexibility for me. The long run was happening Saturday morning no matter what. Hubby was working all weekend and my kids had a sleepover at Grandma's Friday night. Saturday a.m. was my only window... for 20 miles.

I had mixed emotions going into this big run. On one hand, I was nervous after the disastrous 18 I had the week before. It was a great big slap in the face that said, "You are so not ready for 26.2." But being a stubborn runner, I was also anxious and pumped up to prove that wrong. Time to turn this training around! 

So I did everything smart on Friday... ate clean with plenty of healthy carbs, hydrated throughout the day and gave myself a true rest day. Up early Saturday morning, I made time for an oatmeal/banana breakfast. Leading into the weekend, forecasts were threatening thunderstorms all weekend. Nothing yet, but as I left the house, here's what the radar looked like...
Yup, it's coming... so I better get running!

Literally as soon as I stepped out of my car, the rain started. For the first 10 mile loop, it was a light drizzle and actually felt pretty good. I had dressed perfect and was super comfortable (compression capris, Injinji socks, compression calf sleeves, short-sleeve moisture-wicking top with a waterproof vest overtop and a visor to keep the rain out of my eyes).  The route I mapped wasn't a baby course - there's just no avoiding some hills in Peoria if you're running major miles. My legs were definitely feeling the constant elevation changes.

My friend Anna met up with me for the second 10 mile loop. By now, the rain began to get heavy. I quickly found out that my toughie friend doesn't run in rain. Say what?  Complaining and cursing the whole way, Anna stuck it out with me (thank you girl!). The rain was coming down fast and puddles formed everywhere. The sides of the roads were like mini rivers. We jumped and dodged as much as we could... but it was inevitable. Our feet were soaked, along with everything else.

The end of 20. Man, I look exhausted, huh?

By mile 18, I was pretty much over this wet run... but pushed to finish. My legs were starting to stiffen up a bit, so I walked out the final blocks after my watch hit the magical 20. Done! Unlike last week, my body felt normal after this long run, tired but nothing out of the ordinary. I was so delighted with how the rest of the day went... a little soreness, but I'm walking around fine the next day.
Whoop!  That's a wrap on 20!
20.12 miles in 3:32 (10:33 pace)

This isn't the first time I've run long in rain. This past spring, I killed a 22 (here), drenched but on an absolute high.  Running in rain not only makes you feel bada$$, but it also prepares you for anything that can happen on the big race day. 

Unfortunately, the stormfront continued through the night and into this morning. We had to postpone our local Peoria Cupcake Classic. While I don't mind running in rain, this event involved a lot of beginners and the thought of soggy cupcakes is just gross. Hopefully, Wednesday evening will be clear so the local group can reunite and get our Cupcake on!

Did you have a big run this weekend? How did it go?
Who did their Cupcake 5k today?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fast Friends

My running journey began with solo runs, and I still highly appreciate the solitude and quiet of running by myself. I get lost in my thoughts and the miles tick off like clockwork. Give me a good hour and any stress is completely debunk.

Just some of my Sole Sisters!
However, there is great value in running with friends as well. The comraderie and support transforms running into a team sport. Finding fellow runners can be a tough task though... different schedules, varying paces, personalities, etc.  I was fortunate to find a large group of lady runners with the Sole Sisters, a local women's running club here in Peoria, IL.

On Wednesday night, I led the 10 min/mile group during the Sole Sisters run. (Leading simply means that you set the pace and make sure that no one gets left behind.)  My 'Perfect 10' group was so fun this week. I found myself getting caught up in conversations and before I knew it, 3.8 miles was done just like that. The next day several of my Sisters were thanking me for 'pushing' them. Hmmm, I didn't know I was? I sorta forgot about that rally at the end... If you ever run with me, heed the warning - I love to finish strong. I believe in developing the 'finish kick' on every single run.

Anyway, I got to thinking about it more the next day on my beloved solo run. As runners, we tend to classify ourselves by pace, speed, distance, etc. We naturally cluster towards those who run our same pace. We find comfort in knowing that we can 'keep up' before we even start running. We call ourselves "slow," or avoid others with a flippant "You're too fast for me."

I'm here to say...
Step out of your comfort zone!
Embrace your fast friends 
...and {gasp} even RUN with them!

Don't worry about holding them up, slowing them down, or whatever excuse you're thinking in your head right now. The fast fact is this:  If a (faster) runner agrees to run with you, that means they're not concerned about their pace that particular day. They just want to be with you!  So chill, stop apologizing for your pace. We all enjoy runs of different exertion levels. If your fast friend needed a 'training run', they'd either do it solo or run with someone else. Truth.

I'm pretty middle of the pack when it comes to pace. When I started running, a 12-13 min/mile was my average. As the years and miles have ticked away, I've grown faster through consistency and training. Today, I like to keep it in the 9's (10 when I go long). This is by no means "fast"... although just a year ago I thought it was.  How perceptions change...

I have several fast friends who are have taken me under their wing on runs through the years. They dragged me along stayed one step ahead and carried the conversation while I gasped for breath. While it was an easy run for them, it was a working run for me... pushing me to new paces and pain thresholds that I didn't think were possible for me. In the process of those workouts, I became convinced that I could run faster and hold that pace. Shoot, they proved it to me. My fast friends were like unpaid coaches, my own personal rabbits.
Karen royally kicked my butt the day of this photo... and gave me a great boost heading into my first triathlon. I'm so sad she's moving away from us now.  :(

Crystal is the ultimate fast friend.  Always a cheerleader & knows just the right thing to say when you're digging deep to keep up.

Anna is my regular fast friend, who pushes me to the best interval splits ever! She's joining me for the back-half of a 20 miler this weekend. Oh-dear, I just hope to survive...

Whichever 'pace bracket' you land in, know that there is always someone faster or slower than you. By running with friends of different paces, there are a couple opportunities that await you...

  • Run with someone faster... and push yourself beyond your self-imposed ceiling. Unveil your possibilities!
  • Run with someone slower... and take them to new heights. There's great satisfaction in helping someone realize their hidden potential.
  • Of course you can run with someone exactly your same pace (is there such a person?!) and enjoy feeding off one another.

But by all means, whomever you run with... 
RuN HaPpY!!
That's my only rule.

Keep in mind the terms slow/fast are relative to whatever our own pace is. The longer you run, the faster "fast" gets. On a personal note, the word "slow" drives me crazy, so don't use it around me!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cat Scratch Fever

Sorry for my lack of blogging... I've been slightly busy with a little thing called The Cupcake Classic. Are you running it?  P.S. Second chance to order "the cupcake shirt" is now available! Order here.

Outside of organizing the best virtual race around (that would be the Cupcake Classic!), I'm training for a little thing called a MARATHON. The Route 66 Marathon on Nov. 18 to be exact. Recovering from my clumsy toe injury has been smooth, but I definitely feel behind in training... and I'm trying to catch up. It feels like all the endurance I built up this summer is gone. That became crystal clear this weekend as I attempted 18 long miles.

The ideal situation was set-up. I was scheduled to run 10 solo miles early Saturday morning and then a running buddy was meeting me to carry me for the last 8. Unfortunately, I was up all stinkin' night with some gallbladder pain (odd, but it's been happening on and off to me lately?). Needless to say, I had to cancel those early run plans.  By afternoon, I was feeling better (weak, but no longer in pain), so I decided to squeeze in my 18 miler. Probably not wise, but it was really my only option this weekend besides skipping it completely.

It was chilly here on Saturday, but the sun peeked out occasionally to make my first 8 mile loop a really nice run. My average pace for the first 8 miles was right around the 10:00 min/mile mark. A little faster than where I should be, but it didn't feel pushed. I stopped off at my car to refuel with GU Brew and chomps... and then continued up the trail for an out and back.

To pass the time, I turned my iPhone on and found the Wisconsin Badgers football game. Just recently, I've found listening to games to be a great distraction on the run (when needed).  I greatly enjoy running solo, but 18 can get down right boring... especially when you're not "in the mood" as I was not on Saturday.
Pictures from my run

Autumn nature is gorgeous this time of year and I loved being out on the trails. However, not even the pretty scenery could distract what was going on with my legs. My quads were aching early in this long run. Everything from my feet, ankles and even IT band were hollering at me. (This is really abnormal for me.)  By mile 12, I was already counting down the miles. It was aggravating to feel this way so early in a long run. Geesh, I wasn't even at the half-mary mark yet.

For some reason, I got the song Cat Scratch Fever in my head... and THAT is exactly where I was mentally and physically for the last 5 miles... scratching and clawing to stay on my feet. Have you ever tried to lay a cat down on its back? Yeah, they don't comply very well. They squirm, twist and fight to land on their feet. That vision kept going through my head as I fought to keep putting one foot in front of another.

Eventually, I finished 18.2 miles in 3:15. I literally felt like I was shuffling in the final mile. My quads burned so badly that I actually had to walk up a few inclines. It was so demoralizing on my runner mojo.

My body's reaction to the whole run was just weird. I practically felt "sore" from the long run before it was even over. That soreness grew worse throughout the evening, but by the next morning, I was recovering already. This is not the norm for me... at all. Usually I'm tired the rest of the day, but no muscle aches until the following morning. Any insight?

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Rewind

September was a month of trial for me. After walking into a door at the end of August and severely hurting one of my little toes, I continued to run on it. That act hurt worse, and finally I benched myself like a good little runner.  I spent two weeks on the DL in which time I got real close with my bike. I closed out the month by running once again... 13 miles on Sat and another 3.5 on Sunday. The toe felt good so I'm giving myself clearance to proceed (with caution) in marathon training.

Sept run miles: 73
Longest run: 19.2
Sept bike miles: 141 + 4 Spin classes
Races:  IVS Half Relay (recap)
   Sept. 9 - 6.55 miles in 58:47
Air Force Half Marathon (recap)
   Sept. 15 - 13.6 miles in 2:06:47
Quad Cities Half Marathon (recap)
   Sept. 23: DNS, but PR'd at cheerleading!

Monthly weight loss: +4.5 lbs
Seriously?! Take running out of the routine for several weeks and the pounds come clammering back on. Admittedly, I've been lazy on the grocery shopping, meal prep and what I put in my body overall. I need to regain control in October... plan the meals, create the shopping list and make time to prepare meals so they are ready when I'm hungry. I need to hike up my water intake and start counting calories again. I gotta get back in the 150's before marathon day (Nov. 18). That's the goal. Bottom line... it's less painful easier to run when I weigh less. (...and I run faster too)

Books I'm reading...  I finished Dean Karnazes' 50/50 book just in time to meet him at the Air Force Marathon expo. Highly recommend this book, especially if you're on a quest to Race All 50 like I am. I found his journey to run 50 marathon in 50 states in 50 days enthralling.

The other books that I'm nibbling on are pickups from the library. The Runner's Rule Book (Mark Remy) is a classic that I've never read somehow. An easy entertaining read that I am enjoying.  The Ultimate Bicycle (Richard Ballatine) is teaching me a lot of history and mechanics of the bike, which I need to know if I plan on doing more of these distance rides. I am totally eating up the Triathlon 101 (John Mora) book. I'm so excited to do another triathlon next year and this is giving me some great information for training.  I have only skimmed through Strength Ball Training (Lorne Goldenberg), but it is chalk full of well illustrated exercises to do with big and small balls. I actually think I want to buy a copy to keep in our basement gym.

Song downloads this month...
"Secrets" by OneRepublic
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem
I haven't been listening to music much anymore while I run. It's become annoying background noise for me... kinda like the kids chattering nonstop. Yeah, I run to get away from that. This past weekend I ran while listening to the football game and I may be onto something there. I was completely distracted (debatable whether that is good or not) and the run flew by. This may be a good option for a long run in the future, especially if I have to do it alone.

"Tough runs don't last. Tough runners do."

I need to get control over the chocolate consumption. Seriously. Those Reese's peanut butter pumpkins? Yeah, not safe around me... and we got a long way to go before Halloween.

What I'm doing right... I took care of my injury (toe). Now that I'm back running, I feel proud of myself for taking the needed timeout.  Running through an injury never makes it better. While it was extremely hard to bench myself, it was definitely the right decision. I stayed focused with cross training on the bike... and my legs haven't completely turned to jello.
What I'm doing wrong... I'm not eating right (see above). I'm not strength training enough. My body craves more yoga. Just do it.

I've had to revise my current training plan. I prefer to have three 20-milers in the bank before marathon day. With the latest injury setback and less than 7 weeks to go until the Route 66 Marathon, I'm going to have to settle for two. With that in mind, I also have to be realistic about my marathon goal... odds are likely I won't be PRing in Tulsa... gonna have to save that for Eugene in the spring.

My workout goals for October...
• Run 5x each week, one of each: interval, easy, tempo, long, and recovery.
• Continue to cross train with 2 bike rides and 2 Spinning classes each week.
• Yoga 2x each week
• Core Strengthening 3x each week
• Boxing once a week (My arms are feeling jiggly all of sudden.)
• I should get my butt back in the pool, although that may be biting off more than I can manage this month.
Races this month...
Oct. 14 - Cupcake Classic 5k... Are you signed up for this FREE virtual race yet? Do it here!
Oct. 20 - ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon (Lake Geneva, WI)... still time to join me for my "birthday race". Use code GLAM5 to get a $10 off the Half or $5 off the 5k.