Picture Friday

1 Friday 5-30-14
It is going to be a beautiful day in Chicago!

5 NYY @ CHC 5-20-14
As you all know, I took some time off work last week. I am not going to lie, I mostly took the time off because the Yankees were in town all week and I had tickets to 4 of the 6 games. Started off my week of baseball at Wrigley Field on Tuesday

8 NYY @ CHC 5-20-14
We got to see the Jeter Dedication while there 🙂

2 NYY @ CWS 5-22-14
After a two game series (which NYY Split) on the North Side, they headed to the South Side for a 4 game series. So on Thursday, we headed to US Cellular Field.

11 SF10 5-24-14
Saturday Morning I ran SF10 – Easily my favorite race of distance. This will be a recurring race on the calendar

2 NYY @ CWS 5-24-14
After a quick shower at home, I met up with Vijay and we headed back to the Cell for the third game in the series. We had awesome seats!

2 NYY @ CWS 5-25-14
Sunday it was back to the Cell with Vijay for the last game in the series.

4 NYY @ CWS 5-25-14
Sunday was also the Jeter Dedication – I am REALLY Glad I got to see it

22 NYY @ CWS 5-25-14
This was Jeter’s Last at bat for the game… and probably the last time I will ever see him play live. He had an awesome day and went 4 for 5 including a triple. He has not been my favorite Yankee, but he does rank up there in my favorites list. I will greatly miss seeing him play. He has been a wonderful player and will be a fantastic edition to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Streaking

First of all… get your mind out of the gutter 😛

The running world has a challenge that was issued by Runner’s World – To run at least one mile a day from Memorial Day through the 4th of July.

Well… Challenge accepted

Streak

This time around, I am doing the full challenge. I know during the holidays I gave myself one full rest day a week. But really, during the holidays, it is REALLY difficult. And I get that was part of the fun of the challenge but when you get up at 4:30 am just to get to work on time, then go straight to the airport from work to fly home and land close to 10:00 pm… a run is just NOT going to happen. And that was the MAIN reason I choose to modify the challenge.

This time, I don’t have any crazy plans that will work against me so I decided to give it a shot. Although, I do have a few days were I will have to run in the morning (I loathe running in the morning) and one day where I will have to pray that I get off work on time and the bus is not delayed in order to get the run in. But overall, it should be manageable.

Mostly, I need to get my running back on track. The holiday challenge served it purpose to get my running back on track so I am hoping this summer challenge will do the same.

Three days into the challenge already, I have been keeping my runs between 1 and 1.50 miles. I am coming off a pretty lazy few weeks and therefore the weekly mileage has been low. To avoid a HUGE jump, I need to keep the daily run short for right now… mostly because I have a 10K on Sunday.

Next week, I plan to increase most of the runs to around 2 miles and have one or two runs at just over a mile. I also have one race next week.

After the race next week, I am done with racing until mid-July so I will use the rest of the challenge to maintain a base of around 3 miles. I will definitely keep at least one run week at just over a mile and I am hoping that towards the end of this challenge I will start doing one longer run a week again.

Lucky for me, this challenge fits in nicely with my overall summer running plan. Since I really don’t do well in the heat, I had always planned to sort of “taper” for the summer months. Focusing more on my running base and just running consistently. Then start to increase the mileage at the beginning of fall.

I will also state that if I feel like I really need a break, then I will end the streak early. It would not benefit me to run when if I truly need the rest. But since I plan to keep the mileage on the lower side, I should be ok.

Wish me luck!

 

Race Recap: Solider Field 10 Mile

 1 SF10 5-24-142 SF10 5-24-14

Given my lack of training over the past 6 weeks… I really didn’t go into this race with high hopes. But I wanted it… I wanted it bad. Still, I wasn’t confident that I could hit my goal of breaking 1:56:00. Instead I went in with three time goals in mind… one (hopefully) easy, one slightly more difficult and my dream time. My easy time goal was 2:05:00 or under. My slightly more difficult goal was under 2:00:00 and my dream time was 1:55:59 or better… and in all reality, I would have been ecstatic with a time of 1:56:00 on the nose.

Despite my lack of distance running, this race is one of my favorites. I feel like the distance is manageable for me and this race is so much fun. It has quickly become a race that has to be on the calendar year after year.

But despite my like for the race, it was also looming over my head for weeks… all those weeks in which I was barely training. It was the constant reminder that I more or less gave up. I went into this race with a max run distance of 6.64 miles in training done on the first Saturday in April… and though it was an excellent run, my lack of running… especially my lack of distance running scared me a tad. Yes, I consciously knew what I was doing each time I choose to bail on a run over the past several weeks but that didn’t change the facts. I had a goal DISTANCE race coming up and I was feeling less and less prepared by the minute.

I made the decision to go into the race with the same strategy as last year. It worked for me then so why wouldn’t it work this time?

I barely slept the night before the race… race anxiety is always there for me and when it is a goal race it is ten times worse. So I was up before my alarm clock went off and went through my normal morning routine. Eric met me at my place and we headed to the red line. The red line was REALLY slow for some reason and we made it with pretty much no time to spare for Eric to get into his corral (he did make it just in time). I found an indoor rest room, took some pics of the finish line and then checked my bag and headed to my corral.

6 SF10 5-24-14 7 SF10 5-24-14

I waited about 30 minutes before my corral was released but at least this year I started before the winner went flying by… small things make me happy.

My race strategy was to run 5 miles legit… in other words, I would actually RUN the first 5 miles… walking through water stations, of course, and then do a full body check at each mile marker to see how I was feeling. If I needed to walk then I would walk but otherwise I would go ahead and keep running.

The first 5 miles flew by relatively quickly and I was feeling pretty good through 5 miles all things considered. I was having some GI issues but nothing dire. I did notice, however, around the 4.50 mile mark I had the first signs of a dehydration headache.

The weather was probably my biggest fear going into the race. I have not done a lot of warm weather running and I don’t fare well generally. The addition of full sun exposure and not a cloud in sight worried me further… I knew the sun would make it warmer.

So I decided that I would start to take two cups of water at the rest of the water stations and hope that would be enough.

The third water station was shortly after the 5 mile mark so I did my body check and the extra cup of water seemed to help and I was still feeling good. So I decided to keep running.

Then I saw the big hill… the biggest hill on the course (by Chicago standards) and I knew walking up was the best choice, so I did. I recall doing the same thing last year. As soon as I reached the top, I took off again. At the six mile mark I was feeling pretty good and I was actually really surprised. I had expected to start falling apart around this point but I wasn’t.

I still wanted that 1:56:00 and I was fighting for it.

I had been having some slight GI issues but I noticed it was starting to get worse… not emergency worse but it was becoming an issue.

At mile 7, body scan, still doing good, keep running. GI issues… still present but not dire. I did briefly consider stopping in one of the restrooms on the trail (not a port-a-pottie) but decided against it. I have never used a restroom during a race and this was not the time to start.

The next mile went by quickly for me and I was really surprised when I saw the 8 mile mark. I started to feel a blister on the bottom of one of my little toes on my right foot… Please don’t get any worse.

I also started to notice that I wasn’t sweating as much any more… I knew I was getting a bit more dehydrated but I also knew there was another water station coming up. This is where my mental battle started. I WANTED my goal… I wanted it BAD but the GI issues were getting worse and I knew I was on the slightly dehydrated side. I considered my options and I knew that I wasn’t in danger territory with the dehydration so I choose to keep fighting.

One thing I should point out here… When I run, I only have the pace and overall miles displayed on my watch. I always run better when I have no idea how long (time wise) I have actually been running. As such, I had no idea where I was time wise on the course. But I felt like I was borderline comparing the current race to the previous year.

I was thrilled when I saw the next water station and took my two cups of water. I could see Soldier Field and I knew I was close.

I started running again and saw the 9 mile mark… I am almost there. I just fought for 9 miles, I can fight for one more…

Or so I thought… here is where the GI issues started to catch up with me and it was much worse… Like I really regretted not using the restroom around mile 7 worse. Running also wasn’t helping so I started to take short walk breaks… about a tenth of a mile each time and I tried to limit them but I was forced to do three. I hated having to walk but sometimes you just don’t have much of a choice. Some things you can’t battle through.

The final downhill into the stadium and I started to pick it up and bolted as soon as I hit the field and passed everyone around me. I was almost there. I had no idea where I was for time but I didn’t want to lose any time here, in this moment.

Race Photo 1 Race Photo 2 Race Photo 3

I crossed the finish line and felt really good about the race I had just run. I had no idea what my time was but I felt good… for the most part. I knew I needed water and I knew the GI issues were not going to away anytime soon but I ran a good race.

I checked my watch for my unofficial time…

I was devastated… I had missed my goal by about a minute. Those walk breaks during the last mile killed me.

BUT… I was only 20 seconds slower than last year and I was still under 2:00:00 so I at least hit one of my goals.

I told Eric before the race I was going to leave immediately after the race because I was going to the baseball game with a friend and we wanted to try to be there by first pitch and I wouldn’t have a lot of time to spare.

I got my medal and my bottle of water and headed off the field. I got a cup of gatorade and started drinking my water. I walked up to get my gear check bag and as soon as I walked to the section where my bag was one of the volunteers handed me my bag… he must have seen me walking up and grabbed it for me. How nice of him!!! I didn’t have to wait at all. I went to grab my runner refresh bag and briefly considered using the restroom before leaving the stadium but decided against it. Soreness was starting to set in and I wanted to get to the train.

Going downhill was starting to become and issue… going downstairs was DEFINITELY a problem. Hello soreness. Although, it took longer to set in than it had last year… this year it waited until after the race instead of mile 7… so slight improvement.

I switched to the bus at Division to avoid the approximate mile walk home from the train and as soon as I got home I bolted for the restroom… not using the restroom before leaving the race site was a horrible idea… My stomach was not happy with me for the rest of the day…

My official time – 1:57:05 for a pace of 11:43

SF10 Results 2014

This is not the time I wanted but I also know that I ran a good race. And given my lack of training for the 6 weeks leading up to the race, I really am very happy with my time here. I have full confidence that if I had kept up the training, I would have smashed my time goal and gotten a sizable PR… next year…

 

Race Strategy – SF10

Need to get one order of business out of the way first and then I will move on to the actual post. I am taking a little stay-cation this week. After today, I have the rest of the week off from work. I am going to enjoy baseball and the lovely spring weather we are getting. I am also going run errands and do laundry and clean… and you know, be an adult. There will be plenty of fun mixed in for the week but I also really need to get some stuff done. I will be stepping away from the blog until next week. But I might do a picture Friday… not sure yet. Either way, hope everyone has a good rest of the week and wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

~~~~~~~~~~

When I signed up for this race last year, it went on my calendar as a goal race. All of my training through the winter months was with this race as the focus… as the end goal.

It is no secret that my training for the past 6ish weeks has pretty much stopped.

Before the training stopped, I was actually on pace to smash my time goal. And I feel like I would have done it with relative ease… well… with as much ease as running 10 miles can be. But the caveat here is I would have accomplished this had I continued with my little training plan.

A check of the weather shows that the weather will NOT be in my favor for this race. It will not be scorching hot but it will be sunny and far warmer than I prefer… Last year, the weather was in my favor – Overcast and cool enough to wear a long sleeve for the entire race without overheating. This year, a tank top will be worn and there is a good chance that I will be too warm for most of the race in that.

Now I have a decision to make… do I go for my time goal or do I completely bail on the time goal and instead just focus on finishing and having fun.

Truth be told, I have known with each passing week that my time goal was slipping further and further away from me. So mentally, I am already prepared for missing my time goal. But my heart still wants it.

But the weather is another factor I have to contend with… the warmer conditions make it more likely that going for my time goal will put my body through the ringer. And really, that just isn’t smart either.

My race strategy… go with the flow.

Last year when I signed up for the race with NO training for a 10 miler (because signing up for a distance race two days before is smart… note sarcasm), I went into the race with the strategy to use the first 6.50 miles as a training run and just go from there. If I was feeling great then I would keep going and if not then I would start a run/walk strategy.

Somehow my strategy last year worked… and it worked REALLY well. I ended up having an amazing race and getting a shiny new (Almost) 7 minute PR.

Not only was I utterly shocked after the race but with each passing mile DURING the race, I was surprised by how good I felt. Which ended up with a nearly tearful filled last mile… Where the shock of how I was faring and the knowledge that I was actually running a really good race started to overwhelm me… the number of times I almost shed tears for joy during that last day surprised me. I had never had that kind of race experience before but I imagine it is similar to the feeling of completing your first marathon.

I have no disillusions that this year will be the same. In fact, I think I have mentally prepared myself to have just an overall miserable race.

I know I stopped training. I know I am not as prepared as I would like. Hell, I know I was running better at this time last year than this year. I also know this race will likely hurt.

But I also still want that time goal

Let’s go with what has worked before… Run the first 5 miles as a training run. Go out slow and steady. Walk the water stations and walk the hills. After 5 miles if I need to go into a run/walk strategy then I will. If I am feeling good then I will keep running.

And if the heat gets to me early on then I will bail on my race strategy entirely and just focus on finishing the race while still being upright…. which could mean walking more than I want to.

Most importantly, this race will be entirely about listening to my body and how I am feeling. I know I can finish. I have no doubt of that. The only question is whether or not I can finish well by MY standards.

And truth be told, MY standards may very well change once I cross that start line.

Despite doing a large number or races every year, I rarely go into a race with a time goal. In fact, I would say there are only one or two races a year that I ever truly peg as a goal race. I usually see how I feel that morning and in the first half mile of the race. After all, if there is one thing I have learned about myself and my running over the years is that I can usually tell in the first half mile if my body will cooperate or if it will say, “screw you! Why the hell are you running right now?!?!?!”

My only hope is that my body doesn’t start screaming that until mile 9….

Race Recap: Chicago Spring Half & 10K

 3 Chicago Spring 5-18-14

The only reason I signed up for this race is because I was able to do so for free and a friend, Jim, signed up to do his first ever half-marathon. If I am going to be at a race supporting someone, then I guess I will race as well.

I did this race last year and didn’t have the best time. It ended up being insanely hot and I thought they needed more water stations… all of which added to a bad race time when I had been expecting to do better. So I was rather angry after the race last year… and a year later… then anger lingered still.

But with training being almost non-existent over the past several weeks, I went into the race this time with an entirely different view point.

My race plan was to run/walk from the very start. My second goal was to finish the race before Eric and Jim did. The Half Marathon starts 30 minutes before the 10K so I thought this was a decent mini-goal.

Packet pick-up was easy and I was glad that this year the packet pick-up was at Fleet Feet instead of having to hike to the Lakeshore East area in some obscure location that is always difficult to find. I also really dig the race shirt this year.

1 Chicago Spring 5-18-14
Front of Shirt

2 Chicago Spring 5-18-14
Back of the Shirt

Eric, Jim and I had come up with a plan for meeting up in the morning. We got to the race with plenty of time to spare. It was a tad chilly though but I knew it would warm up. We snapped a quick picture and then Eric headed to gear check and I walked Jim to his start corral.

4 Chicago Spring 5-18-14

I was giving him some advice since he had only done one race before and it was a trail race. Road racing is a bit different. Plus this was a significant distance. I had complete confidence that he would do well since he had done with a 13 mile training recently but still figured he could benefit from some experienced racing advice. To be honest, I was far more excited about his race than I was my own.

At 7:00 I wished Jim good luck and then headed to gear check. I didn’t WANT to part with my warm jacket but knew I needed to. I then headed back to the race start line to watch the rest of the half marathon start. As I was approaching I heard that Corral E was next to go and Jim was in F. I was excited that I would to get to see him off! He waved at me and was off and running.

I looked down at my watch and it was 7:30 and they still had a few corrals to release before the 10K would start… so I would be starting my race late. And in my mind, I just KNEW Eric would catch up to me…. which admittedly did not thrill me.

Eventually we lined up and took off 15/20 minutes late. Meh

The first water station came before the 1 mile mark. I happily walked through the station with my water and as I was walking toward the trash can a biker came towards and yelled, “Move! You’re on the bike path!” Umm… no $hit Sherlock. My next thought was you need to share jack @ss, the path is not JUST for bikers and there is a race.

Grrr… ok now I am tad angry and my loathing for SOME bikers continues.

But I started running again. About a mile later, I knew it was just going to be a horrible race day for me. My stomach was NOT happy and I was walking more than I would have liked despite my race plan of run/walk. I was, now,  completely convinced that Eric would pass me.

I kept on moving with my unhappy stomach and was definitely feeling the soreness early on due to my lack of training. Oh yea… my 10 miler next week is going to go so well…

At one point, I saw the 1:45 pacer pass me and I kept waiting for Eric to going flying by me with a smack on my butt.

I finally made it toward the finish line. There is a pretty steep, although short, hill right after the 13 mile marker. I walked up it and saw Chris spectating. I waved to him and then took off picking off every single person in the area.

Ok, fine, I probably could have pushed it more during the race but I just didn’t care about the race enough…

I looked at my watch after crossing the finish line and saw a time below 1:15. That morning I wanted to be near 1:10 but mentally prepared myself for closer to 1:20 so being under 1:15 was great in my opinion considering my lack of training.

I got my medal and post-race goodies and then my main goal was to get to Chris to make sure he stayed put since he managed to be spectating in our meet-up spot. I told him that and then went to grab my bag. And I was surprised at how quickly I received it. They definitely seemed to have a pretty decent system.

I went back to Chris and he said that he saw Eric go by a few minutes ago. Ok good, I DID stay ahead of him.

Eventually Eric made his way back to Chris and I and we waited for Jim. We saw him heading toward us and shouted out to him.

6 Chicago Spring 5-18-14 7 Chicago Spring 5-18-14

After Jim met up with us, we went to check his official time and we all figured while there, we would do the same. I checked mine and saw 1:16 when my watch had said 1:13… cue anger. I didn’t have a time goal but damnit, I wanted those three minutes!!!! Further, my watch has NEVER been off by 3 minutes before… 3 seconds maybe but NOT 3 FULL minutes.

8 Chicago Spring 5-18-14
Pretty Medal

We decided to head to brunch and I hoped that the official time would reflect 1:13.

Brunch was yummy and lots of fun reflecting on the race. Afterwards we parted ways and I headed home for a shower and a nap and the Hawks game. I ended up sleeping through about half the Hawks game… oops…

This morning I checked the official results and there was 1:13 time!!! YAY!!!!! My official time and watch now match exactly!!!

My official time – 1:13:48 for a 11:53 Pace

Chicago Spring Results

My overall experience with this race is a lot more positive this year! They had more water on course even though the temps were a lot cooler and the medal was also a lot better this year. Not sure if it will make the race schedule again but I am glad I did the race this year.

Picture Friday

 

I like big runsThis just made me laugh… It’s a nod to the music I used to dance to at school dances when I was younger.

Think
This is a very accurate statement and is a rule that I follow.

Take a Chance
Also very true…

Single-Taken-Training
Well, This could certainly explain a lot…

April in Review

April 2014

I start off the month so well and I felt really good about my training and all the progress I had made since November of last year. But things slowly to started to unravel…

It started off with pain in my left leg while running. It was never debilitating and I could work through it and I did for 4 runs before I started to worry that it might be an injury. It turned out to be shoes at mileage but I took the extra time off anyway.

The week leading up to my trip to Boston was filled with packing and making sure I had everything I needed and laundry and cleaning… and just the general stuff involved in leaving town for a week. The weather was also terrible for a few days and I figured the extra time off wouldn’t hurt before a goal race.

Except, I made a game day decision to not race the race like a goal race. I still feel like it was the right decision but hindsight… perhaps I should have run those days leading up to the trip.

When I got back I was exhausted from lack of sleep while in Boston. I had a blast while there but I could definitely tell that I was sleep deprived. I made a small effort and even headed out to attempt a 7 or 8 mile run. But my exhaustion and the wind made it mentally difficult for me to fight for that run. To make matters worse, I probably should have waited longer for my breakfast to settle before heading out for the run because I had one very unhappy tummy the whole time. So I bailed and didn’t run the 7 miles I had planned and was not even close to the 8 I had hoped for.

Then came a week that I knew was going to be busy and difficult given the forecast. The need for Laundry, a Baseball game with Friends and a work drinks thing meant running wasn’t possible. I was then going to try to run before going a friends but it was raining when I got home so I bailed on the run (I really HATE running in the rain… especially when it is barely 50 degrees). But three nights in a row of little sleep did me in and come Friday I was too exhausted to work up the mental energy to talk myself into a run. The weekend was filled with one of my good friends wedding and I knew going into the weekend that I was likely to not run at all. So a week with no running…

I know these are all excuses. I know that I could have just forced myself to get out there for even a short run more often than not. But mentally, I haven’t been there.

Often, when I get out of the habit of running, I find it difficult to get it back. I fell off the training horse for SF10 and now that race is just looming over me. This is why me and training plans just get along. If I have a bad week or two, I just give up because the training plan is already out the window.

I need to get back out there and my hope is that once this race is over and done with, I can get back out there. I will have MONTHS before the next goal race so if I need to start over it won’t be an issue.  The thought of starting over a few weeks before a goal 10 mile race… yea… mental slap in the face. But if I don’t run, I don’t know how much of my training I have lost.

Kind of a messed up way of looking at it but that is sort of where I am mentally right now. I keep telling myself to just get my butt out there but this race is still looming and it sort of scares me to a degree.

Last year I did the race without even attempting to train for it and this year I did try to train for it. But things kind of fell apart.

I feel confident that I can finish the race but I am facing the reality that this may not be the best chance to go for a time goal. I am still going back and forth with that. I am ok with needing to adjust… it happens. I knew when I made this a goal race that I was going to have a busy April and May. I had thought that I would be able to mentally fight for the race through the busy times but instead I have just been exhausted.

Perhaps listening to my body is better. I know exhaustion always catches up to me in the form of a cold. I would be even more angry if I had to miss the race entirely because I was too sick to get off my couch. So long term, the smarter move was to give myself rest. But short term it likely means my goal is already gone.

Then again, I really surprised myself last year so it is possible that will happen again. If the weather is in my favor, I do have a fighting chance. If it is not, then I won’t even try to go for it.

Hopefully, once the race is behind me, I can get back on track. I need to shift the focus from a race to my other goals. A solid running base and running 5 days a week…