Training: December 23rd – 29th

Dec 23-29

Monday – 1.87 Miles

After a morning of last minute grocery shopping with mom, I spent some time relaxing and my TX visiting guilty pleasure TV watching… Re-runs of One Tree Hill and Beverly Hills 90210 on Soap Net. I went to run some errands with dad and drive (for the first time since the car accident over a year and a half ago). Got home and made the decision to hold off on the run because I was starving but it was too early for dinner. Besides, the run last week ok after a very full tummy. So after tex mex dinner, I headed out. Towards the end of the first loop I was nearing an outcove where a gaggle (I think that’s the correct term for a large group of ducks) of ducks all sat. My approach caused them to become scared and scatter which in turn scared the living daylights out of me. I was feeling good after the first loop so went for a second… and luckily the ducks had moved so there were no more scares.

Tuesday – 1.07 Miles

Headed out for a run before dinner. I had an inkling that I might want to do a second loop but my Wendy’s fast food lunch wasn’t going to allow that… Pizza lunch fine – Wendy’s lunch not fine – Got it. So after just one loop I called it a day and then saw my pace and was rather surprised… though it explained why I felt much more winded than I should have been… even with the hills

Wednesday – Rest

Merry Christmas! Woke up far earlier than I wanted to and once I heard my dad in the kitchen I got up to bring the rest of the presents downstairs… IE all the ones my parents bought for each other but had me wrap. We had fun opening presents and the cat had a blast playing with all the paper and bows. Afterwards, mom started with her cooking magic and I chilled while I watched my father repeatedly ask if he could help and my mom repeatedly request he stay out of the damn kitchen. This has become a normal routine and it tends to make me chuckle because dad tells me that if he didn’t offer he would be in the dog house but mom insists she is ready to chase him out of the kitchen with a knife. Ahhh Holiday memories 🙂 My parents friends came over and we all had fun chatting and I had my regular Drink of Sambuca with my dad’s golf buddy… luckily without the killing two bottles of the stuff this year… But that is a funny story for another day.

Thursday – 1.13 Miles

Went to see, Saving Mr. Banks with my parents after a lazy morning of more guilty pleasure TV Watching. So went for a run shortly after getting home. It was an uneventful run except for the fact that the grass was being cut in the subdivision common areas so I had to cut over to the residential side and off the lake-loop path. Oh well. And yes, the grass still needs to be mowed in December in TX.

Friday – 1.09 Miles

My Favorite – Shopping in Southlake Town Square with mommy. That is how we spent our day while dad golfed. I got home and had visions of doing more than loop before I got out there but knew I was a tad dehydrated… so figured I would go by feel. I wasn’t feeling the second loop so called it quites after one. Plus, we were going to Babe’s for dinner… and the sooner I showered and was ready to go the sooner we would be there. Babe’s is a great hole in the wall spot. They have two items on the menu, Fried Chicken or Chicken Fried Steak (hey – it’s TX people) and it all comes with salad, biscuits, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. YUM! Totally worth the one loop 😛 But despite only doing one loop it was at least a rather fast loop… which wasn’t the intent but I was happy to be doing quicker miles with the hills.

Saturday – 1.03 Miles

Last TX run and I had high hopes for the run… I had visions of two… even three loops. But my body quickly told me that it wasn’t having that. It was a nice sunny 60 something degree day… so perhaps my body just got really confused by the weather… Regardless, I was done after one loop.

Sunday – 1.00 Mile and Leg Day

After an early flight (and short cat nap on the plane), I got home and had a late lunch/early dinner and proceeded to unpack. A lot of people hate packing… I hate UNPACKING. So I was rather proud of myself for getting it all done the day I arrived home. Then decided to vacuum because I feared that if I stayed on my couch I would fall asleep. In doing so, I opened my closet door to vacuum the edges there and hit one of my shoes on the floor. When I went to move it back in place I saw water drip from it. WTF?!?!?!?! Immediately pull everything off the floor of my bedroom closet to find a lovely pool of water (note extreme sarcasm). Apparently a pipe had burst while I was gone… and long story short, due to a F**k up by the maintenance guys in my building, I was not only NOT informed when it happened but it also meant I had water sitting there for several days. Needless to say there is some damage. I might get into more details later but will leave it at that for now. After making sure I got all the water off my floor I decided to head to the gym. If ever there was a need to go to the gym… I did my mile and then did a light leg day.

~~~~~

Sunday was one of those days where I didn’t want to go to the gym but did want to go to the gym. I certainly needed to work off some frustration and really… I had made it a solid 3 weeks into the Holiday challenge and only needed one more day to make it a solid 4 weeks. So I went and I am glad that I did.

Coming up this week – New Years Day 5K with Chris. It will be cold and snowy. This race is intended to be more fun and given Chris’s chosen race attire it will likely be clashing as well.

This will also be my last week of the Holiday Challenge at which point I will have a solid 5 weeks of 6 days of running. Pretty impressive for me considering I typically rarely run in December.

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Training: December 16th – 22nd

Dec 16-22

Monday – 1.00 Mile & Upper Body Strength Training

This run and workout were in danger of not happening since the previous week. Work announced that we would have a little holiday dinner and I agreed to go. So I brought my gym bag to work and vowed not to drink anything other than water at the dinner. My co-workers kept insisting that I would never make it to the gym but I was determined to prove them wrong. I left once we were all done eating (and after drinking only water) to take the train to the gym but a co-worker also going to LP offered to drive me to the gym so I accepted. I knew the run wasn’t going to be pleasant after eating a ton of food but I also knew that it didn’t matter how fast I went. I was quite please with my 10:29 time because I had fully anticipated the run taking me at least a minute longer to complete. I then hit the weights… and weight lifting is so much easier on a full tummy than running.

Tuesday – 1.13 Miles & Leg Day

After my sinfully indulgent Monday, I decided to add a little extra to the run… and decided to just do extra laps until I felt like I was done… so one additional lap later I decided I was done :-p BUT my mile time was faster than the day before… so progress. I started to notice that the runs were feeling better and they felt easier (excluding tummy filling adventures) so I was happy about that. I then headed to the weights area of the gym and worked pretty hard knowing it was my last leg day before vacation.

Wednesday – 1.00 Mile & Upper Body Strength Training

I had visions of doing extra laps but I just didn’t have it in me. I still needed to finish my holiday cards and start packing… I was also telling myself that I would do Laundry… So I kept it to my normal 8 laps and then strength trained. I wanted to get in a good strength training session knowing it would likely be my last until I got back from vacation. I felt pretty good after the workout and managed to get the holiday cards done. However, Laundry did not happen… so I brought home a small load of dirty laundry… That whole being an adult thing was kind of aloof this week…

Thursday – 1.95 Miles

The entire week the weather forecast called for rain and I was freaking out all week. My gym would be closed for regular maintenance… though why they can’t close on a Friday/Saturday or even Saturday/Sunday is beyond me. I am not thrilled with running in the rain but after the Zoo race this year, I decided I can deal if I need to. However, barely warm enough to actually BE rain instead of snow… Yea… Hell no. I had been trying to work out contingent plans (like running after a LONG day on Friday which I was NOT thrilled with) but luckily, when I got home from work, I saw that the rain would hold off long enough for me to get in a run. I was THRILLED! I felt pretty good during the run too. After the run, I finished packing and then headed to my buildings condo association meeting.

Friday – Rest

I woke up long before my alarm went off at 2:45 and could NOT get back to sleep… It was going to be a VERY long day. I got dressed and did my last minute leaving town stuff and then headed off to work with suitcase in tow. The morning at work was super busy and the phone just would not stop ringing. But things slowed down enough in the afternoon for me to wrap up all my lose ends and leave work a tad early to get to the airport. After a trip on the train and a fairly hassle free trip through security, I had some dinner and then had a little time to kill before we boarded. Flight was on time leaving and I was happy about that. It was a very packed plane but the plane was a mere two weeks old (and BTW – there is such a thing as new plane smell) and therefore had TVs at each seat so I passed the time with episodes of Big Bang Theory. We were actually going to land about 5 minutes early until Traffic control suddenly decided we needed to come in a different way so instead of touching down we were going back up to turn around… Which meant we landed late instead. *sigh* this is why I planned to take the day as a rest day. Got back to my parents and went to bed fairly quickly… Only to have issues with a pillow that I have been using at my parents for WAY too many years. And the thunderstorms didn’t really help me stay asleep much either….

Saturday – 1.05 Miles

Woke up bright and early Saturday and just did not want to get up… it was rainy and gloomy but dad and I still had our Christmas Shopping to do. So off we went to Starbucks for coffee and breakfast and a chit chat while we waited for stores to open. It wasn’t exactly pleasant shopping in the rain but once we were done we headed to Bed, Bath and Beyond so I could get a new pillow (YAY!). I then proceeded to nap when I got home. Luckily the rain stopped and I was able to head outside for a run. After a quick check of the weather conditions I bundled up and headed out…. and quickly remembered that 15mph winds in TX are a LOT warmer than in Chicago… so I was a tad overdressed and got way too warm way to fast. Oops… I also got killed by the “hills” in my parents subdivision around their (man made) little lake. From door, loop around the lake back to door is just over a mile. The loop around the lake itself is roughly .80 around and though the hills are short some of them are STEEP. My flat track running legs were not prepared for that… But I survived… even if I was far more winded than I should have been.

Sunday – 1.24 Miles

After some shopping and the grocery store with mom (and some left over pizza for lunch), I headed back out to tackle the hills again. And… It really didn’t go that much better. After a stop at the water fountain (thank goodness it was still on… yay for rarely below freezing weather) I started on a second lap but the full lap wasn’t going to happen so I turned off the lake-loop path and headed back home instead.

~~~~~

All in all it was a good week of training and I still had a week of those lake-loop hills to go…

Sunday – 1.24 Miles

A Holiday Letter… Blog Style

Those who know me well (or anyone that has met me during the Holiday season) knows that I am mildly obsessed with Christmas… Ok fine… I am REALLY obsessed with Christmas. Give me a string (or several) of lights and a bunch of glitter covered ornaments and some Christmas carols and I am in heaven. And if you happen to walk into Crate & Barrel with me when I discover that their Christmas Ornaments are out… well… you may lose hearing for the next several hours due to my squeals of excitement

As a kid, as I am sure is true with most children, Christmas was all about the presents. And though, that is a part of Christmas that I still enjoy, it is not the point of the holiday anymore. I truly love the sights and sounds of this holiday. Something I do several times a year and really just LOVE is (Lincoln Park) Zoo Lights. Thousands of strands of Christmas lights set to Christmas music… Oh HELL YES!!!  And if you have ever seen my home at Christmas time… you might assume it is visible from space because of the number of Christmas lights I have up. But another thing I love at Christmas time is my Holiday Cards.

Back when I moved from NJ to TX, I started to send out Christmas cards to friends in states where I had previously lived (so NJ and MI). It was a very small list and it was something I started to do to feel more like an adult (let’s ignore the irony there). Slowly but surely, the list grew. Now I have a list of over 100 people divided up into three categories. I also have this all color-coded and in an excel spreadsheet… and… But moving on.

What some may or may not know is that I write two holiday letters. One for the family that essentially sums up my
life over the past year and the other one for my friends and is usually whatever I felt inspired to write for the year.

This year, I have decided to sort of write a third – one for my blog. And since it is my blog… I am going to do what I want with this letter

~~~~~

It has been an incredible year in general. There have certainly been some curve balls thrown my way but overall it was a great year. As someone who has always had an incredibly small family, I have always looked to friends as a sort of extension of my family. This year is no different and I am beyond thrilled that I have several new additions to my “family” and I want to take this time to talk about that… and I am going to keep it run specific because this post will be long enough as it is.

I wasn’t sure what I would get out of this blog when I started it. But I have been pleasantly surprised. I have never considered myself a stellar runner. I can usually accomplish the goals I have set for myself but I am also conservative when I set those goals. Not because I don’t think I am capable of more but more because it is all I am capable of for that moment in time… if that makes sense at all.

Races are a good example, I look at how training has gone and the weather forecast reports before I set a time goal (if any) for a race. Granted, I have certainly surprised myself with some races this year. But I still feel like the goals I set for the races (that I ended up blowing out of the water) were appropriate given the training. I also believe that there are just those magical running days… the days where everything lines up perfectly for you. Those kinds of days are rare but those days are also part of the reason why I continue to run.

Running is typically a solitary sport but there have been so many people that I have shared my running experiences with this year. These people have not only supported me but they have helped me fall back in love with running again… after 2012 it was no secret that I was sort of lost when it came to running but this year I was able to get it back and keep it.

The hardest part of the run is that first step out the door. There is no doubt that there have been many days where this statement has been incredibly true. But with all the support I have gotten this year, that first step has been a lot easier to take. So, I would like to thank these people especially for supporting me over this past year. There are lots of other people as well, but I choose to limit the list to people that I have actually shared experienceswith this past year. The list is in first name alphabetical order…  Simply because I cannot color-code this in excel… well I guess I could but I am not going to :-p

Ann
Bridget
Chris (Altruda’s Alley)
Chris (My Kind of Run)
Courtney
Declan (Stop Running Dad)
Eric (This Hobbit Runs)
Erica (Erica Finds)
Erin (Eri-thon)
Karen (Trading in my Heels)
Katy
Maggie (Mag Mile Runner)
Maureen
Pete (Lakefront Trail)
Rebecca
All of my other Blog Followers and Friends

And as always, a thanks to my parents for always supporting me in
my life and especially on this crazy running journey I have taken.
I know you cannot always be there cheering me on in person, but I
know you ARE always cheering me on.

What to Expect Next Week

Since next week is Christmas and I will be in Texas, you won’t be hearing from me much. I have a couple of posts drafted up already, but outside of those, I don’t plan to blog. But I may decided to throw in a few posts with pictures of the Cat or the Christmas decorations my parents put up…

This means no training reports or Throwback… I know you are disappointed but I promise to catch you all up once I return.

I still fully intend to keep up with the Holiday Challenge while I am in Texas… and hopefully the weather on Saturday will cooperate… or my mom will take me to her gym (hint hint mom). Also going to try to keep up with some sort of strength training. I do have one set of free weights at my parents house and there are tons of body weight exercises that I can do as well… so we shall see.

In other news… I was thrilled that it was NOT raining when I got home yesterday and I was able to run outside. With my gym being closed I was stressing out over what to do about running. In fact, I even considered running after landing in TX. I am SOOO thrilled I do not have to do that now since it looks like it will be storming there so there is a decent chance my flight will be delayed. Plus, I just did not sleep well last night… I think this is becoming the norm when I travel…

It’s been a very busy week and I am looking forward to some downtime next week. I wish everyone safe travels and a very happy holiday season!

2013 Race Reflections

I started off the year promising myself that I would race less than last year…. Yea… clearly that happened…

I never had the intention to PR at all this year. I went into the year with zero expectation and lots of hope. And, no, I do not consider them one and the same. I knew that the running needed to get back on track and I really wanted to improve my race times over last year. So, I guess you could say those were two goals that I had for racing this year.

Surprisingly, I managed 3 PRs this year… and I also managed to put up some of my worse times for a few distances… which I find ironic and amusing at the same time. The worse times can definitely be attributed to weather (Jingle Bell) or falling off the training wagon (Navy Pier). But overall, I consider the year a success.

When I look back over the year of racing, there are certain races that rank up there for me in terms of wonderful memories.

New Year’s Day 5K

The year started off with a race… and in my mind it set in stone that I was committing to getting my running back on track. I was lucky enough to have my best friend and her husband in town and I got to spend the day with them. The husband joined me for the race and we ran it together. And though neither of us was truly pleased with the time, I still rank the race and the day as a fond memory.  (Full re-cap of the race to come in the New Year)

Rave Run 5K

The race itself was just so-so. But on the way to the race, I met Courtney on the bus. We ended up chatting most of the evening and though we didn’t actually RUN together during the race, it was wonderful to have met someone new and have a new friend. She was instantly added to the racing crew and was promptly sent an email with a list of races she should sign up for… This became a common thing throughout the rest of the year

Chicago Spring 10K

Yea… Not going to lie… I was beyond disappointed and pissed after this race. It was the first time in about 2 years that I was doing a 10K race that I actually felt prepared for. But hot temps and not enough water on course proved to be my downfall. Though this race memory actually stings still, had it not been for this race, I would not have done SF10…

Soldier Field 10 Mile

After Chicago Spring, I wanted redemption and this race had been on my mind for several months already but I was afraid to take the plunge back into distance. However, after that 10K, I just needed a running ego boost. So two days before race day, I signed up quickly acknowledging that this might not be my smartest move. I wasn’t trained for a 10 mile race since my longest run to date had been a 10K but I went into the race with the knowledge that I was going to give it my best effort and that it was going to hurt. Having some friends there helped to calm my nerves on race morning. I had a solid plan for the race… run the first 6.50/7.00 miles like it was a “training run” and play the rest of the race by ear… if I felt good, keep running and if I didn’t, I was perfectly content with walking. The weather and running gods were on my side that morning though and I ended up having an amazing race. Not only was I able to run 90% of the race, but it was also my first occurrence of getting very emotional on a race course as I struggled with tears of joy the last mile. I was so beyond thrilled with how this race went for me… and bonus… I didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought I would.

United Run for the Zoo 10K

This is and probably always will be my favorite 10K but when I woke up on race morning and saw that it was drizzling, I was very disappointed. Dad was in town to watch me run this race and the week prior I had secretly laid out some goals for myself… One outlandish goal that I really WANTED but assumed I just wouldn’t hit because I had been nowhere near it in training, One realistic goal that I had every possibly of hitting if I pushed myself a little and one easy goal… a goal that I knew I could easily hit unless something went seriously wrong during the race. Again, the running gods were on my side (even if they did cause the rain) and I ran amazingly well. I had no idea of what my time or pace were until I crossed the finish line and checked the watch… not only had I blown my outlandish goal out of the water but I finished the race a full 6 minutes earlier than I had predicted… and the time I told my dad to head to the finish line (he hung out inside to stay dry)… Oooops. Despite what the watch said, I wanted to see the official time before I got too excited but over brunch with my friends (including new addition to the crew, Maureen) I saw my official time and was overjoyed. I had never expected to PR in the 10K this year but was pleasantly surprised given I didn’t feel like I had run hard at this race.

Bastille Day 8K

A race that I came to love the previous year… and really… I love all of my LP Races. I decided to do this race again despite my dislike for running in the heat. And in all reality this race will continue to show up on the schedule. But, as luck would have it, the heat broke and it was the perfect evening for a race. I wanted to PR but after getting sick in the beginning of June, I hadn’t run more than a 5K in quite some time, so I figured it was out of the picture… that is until I saw the 4 mile marker on the course and I suddenly realized that I was actually on pace to PR. I held on and flew into another PR for the year…. And it would be my last for the year. I was especially excited that I had my friends to share the experience with and the trip to get frozen yogurt after the race didn’t hurt either.

Nike Get Fly Track Meet

Though not a race in the typical sense, it was the end to a month long program where I and three of my fellow bloggers met for a relay track meet where we would run a mile and try to better our time from the beginning of the month. I was incredibly nervous when I agreed to this because I knew that my teammates were stronger and faster runners than I was. But I threw caution to the wind and had a BLAST with the whole program… and of course the boat load of free Nike gear and the Free Training Session with a top personal trainer didn’t hurt either. We all arrived at the track in our coordinated outfits ready to run. I definitely had a goal in mind… I wanted to knock a minute off my mile time… in a month. When it was my turn to run, I lined up for the hand off and… forgot to check the clock for the start of my lap but remembered to check the mid-way clock… and then promptly forgot to look at the clock for the rest of my laps (4 in total) so I had no idea if I was on pace or not. I originally thought it would be difficult to accomplish this goal but with the support of my teammates, I not only nailed it but bettered it. All in all it was a fun evening spent with three amazing women.

Women Rock 10K

This all women’s race was perfect for the female members of the race crew and I was thrilled that Maureen convinced her sister and roommate to join us as well. It was unfortunate that one of us had to fly home for a family emergency as she was greatly missed but the rest of us did enjoy the race. The race itself was decent but after two races earlier in the week, I was a tad tired so ran well but definitely didn’t push it at all. After the race, we all enjoyed our glass of Champagne and chatted. It was just a fun morning for the girls.

Pumpkins in the Park 5K

When it came time for my favorite 5K, I definitely did my part to convince as many people as I could to sign up and quite a few from the crew did. We all ran our own races and my own race was run foolishly considering I had a time goal in mind… break 32:00 at the very least but I really wanted to break 31:30… Due to my foolish mistakes of going out too fast and then the extreme weaving I did… I essentially spent the race running intervals which caught up to me by the end… especially with the hills. But I managed to hold on enough to break 32:00. Post race, we mostly parted ways but a few of us went to get ribs for dinner… because… you know, you are supposed to eat protein after you run :-p

To recap the race year in numbers

Number of races signed up for = 25 + Nike Get Fly Track Meet
Number of races ran = 20 + Nike Get Fly Track Meet
Number of races I took a DNS on = 5
Number of race miles = 95.10
Number of PRs = 3

It really was a great year of racing for me… lots of highs and lows and many more fantastic memories. I can’t wait for next year!

 

 

 

Throwback Wednesday – Running Goes to Hell in a Hand-Basket – Summer 2012

Since the day I moved into my Apartment back in December of 2005, I knew the only way I would move out of the apartment was if I either got married or could afford to buy a condo… whichever happened to come first.

As someone who is a tad (fine – a LOT) OCD about my finances, I knew what I could afford. I had been looking at stuff online for months but hadn’t actually started to hit the pavement so-to-speak. So while mom was visiting in July, we started the process.

It started off easy enough. I knew what I wanted… and what I could afford. What I wanted and what I could afford didn’t exactly match up. So instead, I had a small list of requirements that I refused to budge on (primarily location) but could also afford. I fully understood that when I found something, I was likely going to need to put in a little bit of work over time to make it what I truly wanted. But, for me, as long as I had my location, the rest I could deal with.

Essentially, I wanted a Kitchen that was larger than the one in the apartment, which really was not too difficult… though I did see some that were smaller. With regards to the kitchen, I also wanted something that was at least in the same condition of the apartment. Although, ideally I wanted a better condition if I could find it. I also wanted a bathroom that didn’t need to be all pretty and new but I also didn’t want something that would need to be gutted. Outside of that, I wanted at least a one bedroom.

Location, Location, Location. I had my priorities

Mom and I found a place that I really liked pretty quickly. It happened to be the first place that I looked at. And after looking at a handful of other places after, I kept going back to that first one. So I put in an offer.

On a Friday afternoon, I was given a verbal that my offer was accepted. But the seller was dealing with a re-location company (essentially the company she worked for paid to move her to a new location). And they were closed for the weekend so we would get everything signed on Monday.

But come Monday, there was still no paperwork and we found out that two more offers had come in over the weekend. Since nothing was signed after my verbal acceptance, I was now in a bidding war… sort of. We were told to submit best and final.

After lots of stressed time had passed, I found out that my offer was accepted and paperwork was signed.

I started to make plans for the move. I scheduled my inspection for the following Sunday and was rather excited about my new adventure.  I had the BTN Race on the Saturday before and so the following morning, mom and I headed to inspection

My Uncle (Parents best friend) just happens to be an inspector, so we met up on Sunday morning and after snafu with the keys, we were finally in. This having been my first inspection, I wasn’t actually sure what to expect but also knew that there was the possibility to find stuff wrong so I was nervous.

And find something wrong we did… To sum it up… the AC was grossly inadequate and for anyone that knows how cold I like my place (particularly when I sleep) knows that was a non-negotiable point for me.

After a serious discussion with my uncle about all the options and then further back and forth with my mom and my dad, it was decided that I would walk away. I still have no doubt that was the correct decision.

But right decision or not, it meant I was thrown back into condo looking… and needless to say this is not a quick process. I kept a close watch on properties that came available and searched for the criteria I had. I essentially felt like I had another job.

Looking for a place to move into became the priority because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in my Apt for another year and though I had time left on my lease, I also knew that I needed some sort of cushion. The beginning of August was consumed with condo hunting. I became more and more stressed worrying that I wasn’t going to be able to find anything that made me happy.

As much as I tried, running had to take a back seat. Condo hunting became the priority.

Of course, in the middle of all of this, I had another race to get through…