Meeting Rita Jeptoo

If you are familiar with the Elites in distance running, the marathon specifically, then you already know who Rita Jeptoo is. But if you are not, then she is the most recent female winner of Boston with a course record. She also won Chicago last year and will be returning in October to defend her Chicago Title.

When I first heard of the opportunity to meet her… I had mixed emotions. Of course I wanted to take advantage of this incredible opportunity but it was also on an evening that happened to be my mom’s last evening in town. So I tried to put it out of my mind… But I just couldn’t. Luckily my mom is awesome and knows how awesome an opportunity this is so she happily gave her blessing.

I stayed at work a little later than normal… which ended up being good since I had major email issues. But once I left I made the short walk to the Blue Line train to go to the Nike Store in Bucktown. The train ride took less time than I anticipated and I was super early… par for the course for me. So I opted to wander around just a bit. Eventually I made my way into the Nike Store.

It was then that I found out that there was a delay and Rita would be a little later than anticipated (due to a run and traffic). I was the first one there so I just hung out and tried to avoid looking at all the pretty things that I really shouldn’t tempt myself with purchasing.

Eventually, one of the coordinators of the event, Lisa, came up to me and we started to chat. It was then that I learned that we would be given an outfit to wear (if we so desired). Of course this thrilled me. First of all, who doesn’t love free stuff? Second, I happen to LOVE Nike bottoms (shorts, tights, capris, etc). Pretty much the only bottoms I run in are Nike… I have one or two pairs of bottoms from other places but I still always prefer my Nike ones. They just fit me well.

6 Jeptoo

Soon, my fellow bloggers, Erica, Emily and Zach, arrived. Of course we had to take the obligatory blogger picture.

1 Jeptoo

Then I decided to take a selfie… Even though I am HORRIBLE at Selfies. If anyone has the secret to good selfies, please let me know.

2 Jeptoo

Shortly after that, Rita arrived. She met with the bloggers privately for a Q&A. Since she is such a huge part of the sport, I had expected her to be a bit more outgoing but she was very shy and soft-spoken. However, she seemed to relax and open up to us quickly. We each asked her a question and she responded honestly to each of us.

We then joined the large group of runners who gathered to go on their weekly training run. Rita was given a mic and she talked openly about her training and a little bit about how she got started.

4 Jeptoo

She used to run a 40K a day in order to travel to/from school. I later found out that she had joked earlier about how she couldn’t believe she had to drive her son to and from school… this is her equivalent of the whole, “I used to walk in the cold and snow up hill both ways to get school” joke that we used to hear.

Her training is intense… She starts out doing 3 a days to get her body prepared for the beating it will undertake. Then she moves to 2 a days but the time she runs each time is longer. This is how she prepares for a marathon. She mentioned that she really does love the Boston course because she likes hills. But she also mentioned that she loves Chicago because of the wonderful crowd support. Chicago is not a course to be taken for granted because it is fast and your competition will be fast as well.

One of the things she mentioned that struck a chord with me was that in order to be an athlete, you should cook your food. You need to eat rice, fish and chicken. Oils are ok but should be consumed in very low quantity. Eating out should be a treat but done seldom. As someone who used to always eat out and almost never cooked who now rarely eats out. I thought it was great advice. She also mentioned mango juice over any other type of juice. Coffee is ok but tea is better.

Once she was done speaking, we took a large group photo and then she took a photo with just the bloggers (which I do not have a copy of). I loved the fact that she wanted a picture with the bloggers on her own personal cell phone. I thought that was very cool. I was then able to get a personal picture with her.

5 Jeptoo

After, a bunch us were chatting for a little bit and we were told a story about how, after she won Chicago last year, she saw herself on the cover of the newspaper and couldn’t get over it. She was so surprised and so giddy at the same time. She is truly down-to-earth and modest. It is very easy to like this incredible women. I look forward to cheering her on when she goes zooming past me around the 9 mile mark in October.

 

Q&A Wednesday

What is an IT Band Injury and How do you deal with it?

***Disclaimer***

I am not a Doctor but I did go through this injury myself. Everything in this post is what I learned from my experience and what I was told while rehabbing the injury.

First of all, my best advice if you are feeling pain and you know you didn’t fall/hit/run into/get run into by anything is to go to a sports therapist. They will likely know how to correctly diagnose the problem and provide you with a long term solution instead of just suggesting you stop doing whatever it is you are doing and/or telling you to take a pill.

After a lot of success training for my first half marathon in 2010, I kept running quite a bit since I still had a couple of races on the schedule through the beginning of November. But after that, work got REALLY busy and I more-or-less took two months off from running. Plus there was this slight issue with not owning any winter running gear and not wanting to run on the treadmill anymore. As 2011 neared, I had put together a pretty aggressive training plan for myself since I had intentions of doing a couple of half’s and a marathon in 2011. So the first full week of January, I was ready to go and I was excited! I would be running indoors two or three days a week and strength training on those days and then I would run outside at least two days a week.

The first day (Monday) went well, a mile run on the treadmill and strength training. The second day (Tuesday), I headed out for a 4 miler and felt a little bit of pain towards the end of my run but didn’t think anything of it. The third day was another mile run on the treadmill but I felt pain in the same spot I had the day before. Day four, a Thursday, I headed out for my 4 mile run and after a mile and a half, I started to feel pain but it wasn’t too terrible so I kept goin. By mile 2 and my turn around point, I was in a LOT of pain… Like ready to cry kind of pain.

I stopped to calm myself down and drink some water. I carefully weighed the few options I had. See, I don’t like running with my phone (I almost never do) and I do not run with my bus/train pass. I considered trying to ask someone to borrow a phone but the only phone numbers I had memorized were my parents and they live in TX which wouldn’t be helpful. There was one person that I KNEW I could call, but I just didn’t have his number memorized and he lived too far away from where I was. Even worse, I was dressed for running in cold weather but nothing else. I knew walking home I would be freezing because I had already sweat through my bottom layers and it was windy. I mean, it is January in Chicago. It was COLD. There were only two choices, walk and risk health issues (like hypothermia or pneumonia) or run and just deal with the pain. So I ran home and just dealt with the pain but with each stop light I was in tears. By the time I finally got home, I was limping and in a lot of pain. I took a shower to warm up and iced my knee hoping this was just some weird pain that would go away.

When I woke up the next morning and was still in pain, I knew I needed to take some rest days so I decided that the next 3 days for resting and icing the knee. The following Monday I made it to the gym to get in some upper body strength training, knowing that I should be putting in SOME work while resting the knee.

Finally, on Wednesday, I went out for a little tester run. In hindsight, I should have gone to the gym for this but I decided to run outside. A mile into the run and I had the exact same pain in the exact same spot. And yep, I was a mile from home with no other way to get home other than run or walk… And again, dressed for running, I had very little choice but to run home…

Here is where I started to panic…. All my plans for the year were flashing before my eyes and Google was NOT helping to settle my fears as I saw the need for surgery and months of rehab. I booked an appointment with a sports therapist and that weekend hung out with a friend. He and I chatted about what was going on with my knee and he told me that he thought it was my IT Band… HUH? What the hell is that? He explained it to me (but in all honesty, his explanation went over my head). I was still flipping out and knew that he knew I was flipping so part of me just thought he was trying to calm me down. I wanted to believe him but was also still fearing the worse (Surgery). All of which I expressed to him.

That following Monday I went to my appointment and my diagnosis, was, in fact, my IT Band. My text to my friend immediately after leaving that appointment, “I have never been so glad to have to tell you that you were right”

I was prescribed rest and physical therapy sessions. Two months later and lots of exercises, I slowly eased back into running like I had when I first started to train at the beginning of 2010.

So here is what I learned…

The IT Band is a length of tendons/tissue that connects to the outside of your knee up to your hip bone, running along the outside of your thigh. Those that have IT Band issues will generally feel the pain on the outside of the knee (like I did) or around the hip area.

The injury is generally caused by any combination of the following: Increasing mileage too quickly, Weak muscles or lack of flexibility.

Mine was caused by thinking I could stop running for two months and then pick back up with the same mileage I was running before (WRONG!) and also by some weak muscles (outside thighs and butt specifically). The number one cause for runners is increasing mileage too quickly. But there is usually another issue as well. So generally, you will work to correct the weak muscles and/or flexibility.

My flexibility has always been pretty decent so that was something that I did not need to work on at all. Instead, each physical therapy session, I performed a number of exercises and I was doing them at home too. As I progressed, I was shown the more advanced versions. When I finally eased back into running, it was just that… an ease. There were quite a few runs that were not more than a mile for quite a while.

Again, my advice is still to seek out a sports therapist.They will diagnose your specific issue as well and provide you with the correct steps for a long-term solution. Your strength/flexibility will be assessed and the areas that need the work will be the ones that they focus on while trying to get you healthy again.

I say a sports therapist over a regular physical therapist or a doctor specifically because they are aware that athlete’s do not enjoy being forced into rest. And in fact, I was told to rest only if I could not endure the pain while running… Since I had a pretty severe case, the pain was a little too much for me. But I was also told to keep the mileage low if and when I did go for a run. Note that I was NOT told to simply stop running. Plus my other experiences with doctors usually resulted in said doctor just telling me to stop doing what I was doing and/or just giving me a prescription to mask the issue but it would usually come back.

Generally speaking, if you are physically active and suddenly start to feel pain that you know is not normal then you developed some sort of injury specific to the the type of exercise you do. If you were to Google running injuries… you would likely find dozens of lists listing the most common injuries (IT Band is one of them).

Hopefully you never get injured but if you do, please at least consider my advice about going to a sports therapist.

 

 

Training Logs – Then & Now

You may or may not have noticed that I have a slight obsession with Excel… even more so when it comes to tracking my training. Luckily my boss also humors me and allows me to color-code the work related logs I have to keep… But that is a whole other ball of wax.

If you are new here, you may have missed the first post I did about my excel obsession. I have a second one in the works as well.

But surely you have seen my weekly training reports… All of which include brief glimpses of my training log.And they really are glimpses because I have many excels, all of which track different things and most of which have built in formula’s. I often joke that, “I have an excel for that” and in all reality, I likely do…

I have also mentioned many times that my training logs have evolved over the years. In fact, the first 5 full months of my half marathon training in 2010 were recorded in a paper log (and at a later date added to excel). So my first excel training log was in June 2010. I figured why not show you all how my Log has evolved over the years. And perhaps, if you are new to training logs, this may give you a little help in how to start your own.

June 2010

I remember when I started my log, I had no idea what to keep track of. I was training specifically for one race and after 5 months of slowly but surely building up my mileage, I knew I needed to start being diligent about my long runs and my weekly mileage. After looking at a ton of half marathon plans and not liking any of them, I decided it was best to create my own. I laid out what I would need for a weekly long run and then filled in the rest based on where I wanted to be for the weekly mileage. I also wanted a count down until race day (a practice I still keep but on a separate excel now). My pace at the time was roughly 11:00… in reality it was more 10:30/11:00 depending on the day but I assumed an 11:00 pace because so I knew about how long run each run would take me. This was pretty basic and rough but it served its purpose at the time. I was also playing volleyball weekly, so I counted that as cross-training of sorts. It also helped to know when I had volleyball and thus would be less likely to run. I was also putting a lot of emphasis on the planned miles versus the actually run miles. I think that helped me at the time but I never did actually run all the miles I had planned.

June 2011

2011 wasn’t much more advanced than 2010… except, I did start from the beginning of the year. I had been assigning myself miles to run per day/week and what not but if I fell behind then I would just delete them as if I never had a plan. I did at least start to do a lot more strength training, which I tracked. But at the same time, it would be nice to know more specifically what I did when I strength trained. I do know that I was lifting the same way I did in college and I was using mostly machines so I have a vague idea of what I was doing. However, looking back, it would be nice to see what weight/reps I was doing so I could see improvement (if there was any).

June 2012

I started to get a little more fancy in 2012. More colors to divide things up and keeping track of more information. Specifically, I started to add pace. I also started to track how many miles I was at for the week. In 2011, I had started to pay attention to weekly mileage, mostly to avoid the too much too soon issue which caused my IT Band injury. So if I ended up having to take time off, I would add up the mileage so I knew where I could be when I started back up again. In 2012, I started to keep track of that information so I wouldn’t have to go back and add it up manually if I took some time off. And as you can clearly see, I had major issues with sticking with my planned mileage.

June 2013

In 2013, I got a lot more fancy.  I built in a formula for weekly mileage totals because I was tired of having to manually add it up or transport that data from one excel to another. I had reverted back to my old way of needing to run a certain number of days per week instead of miles so I was no longer sticking to a “Plan” for running. Miles, overall time and pace became regular things to look at because I found it was data I was seeking out. Everything got it’s own color… I, personally, find it easier to read. If I am looking for something specific then I can just focus on the color. I also started to actually keep the races on the calendar that I took a DNS on. I used to just remove them from the calendar but found that I was going back to see what races I had signed up for that I did not run. I had discovered that there was no shame in failing at the goals I had set, so there was no point in hiding/removing that data. I decided transparency was a good policy.

June 2014

That brings us to this year. Not too much has changed since 2013. I do like having my weekly mileage all laid out for me so I can just glance. I also create a new color-code if something new comes up… like a run streak. I did start to bold more because I found the contrast better. Strength training does appear on the main log when I do it… but I keep strength training details on a separate excel now… and yes, you will be seeing that in the future.

Is all of this a little crazy? Probably. Do I expect you to do the same thing? Absolutely not! This is for me. This is the information that I want to see and track. And yes, it does change. I have no idea what it will look like 5 years from now or I will even still have a training log (very little change I won’t though). What and how you choose to track your training is completely for you.

 

Weekly Training Report: July 21st – 27th

Jul 21-27

Monday – 2.15 Miles

Monday was hot and humid… like very hot and humid. Since that was the case, I decided it might be smarter to do a shorter run. Thank goodness for all the water fountains because they were definitely needed. When I stopped at my turn around point, I dumped a bunch of water on my head and it felt great. I was surprised by my pace when I got home since it was so hot and humid out… I had assumed I was running slower. Pretty sure since I stop at the water fountains, I am essentially doing intervals for each half mile…

Tuesday – Rest

I had been toying with the idea of starting a new mini-streak but decided against it. It was even more hot and humid and I just didn’t want to put my body through that. So a rest day sounded like a pretty good idea to me.

Wednesday – 3.05 Miles

The one good thing about the polar vortex thus far has been a cooler summer, which has made for some great running weather. We will get a couple of hot and humid days and then it will cool off again… totally loving it! This was a great run! It was a beautiful day along the LFT and the cooler weather seemed to drive away some of the crowds so I didn’t need to weave as much either which is always helpful.

Thursday – 3.04 Miles

It was another gorgeous Chicago day and I had a date with the LFT. The run felt great and I am still surprised by my pace. At some point, I am assuming I will slow a bit but it would be awesome if I could keep this pace… especially in a race…

Friday – 3.04 Miles

Knowing that I had a busy Saturday on the books, I knew there would be zero chance for a Saturday run which was ok… Especially since I am back to my 5 days a week running schedule. Overall it was a great run… even if I did see something very odd (and rather disgusting). If you are FB Friends with me then you already know but I saw a guy (maybe 15 years old) on a bike pick up what looked like hairpiece extensions. They had been on the ground for at least a week. He then proceeded to put them in his own hair. Yuck Yuck Yuck!!!! I have seen a LOT of weird stuff on the LFT but this one takes the top spot.

Saturday – Rest

It was time for my annual trek to CostCo courtesy of mommy’s CostCo Membership and car renting skills. Being single and living alone, there isn’t a TON of stuff that I can get at CostCo food wise. But I can stock up on other things that don’t spoil like Toilet Paper and face wash. I also REALLY like the clothes they have… mostly the jackets and their running gear is pretty awesome. We also stocked up on some things at Whole Foods and attempted to find a better fix for that hole in my shower. The building is pricing out the pipe job so I know eventually the walls will be torn apart. I was also told point blank by the building manager to NOT fix the hole and just stick with my temporary cover-up since the walls will be torn up and I will need to re-tile my shower anyway. The Home Depot trip was not successful but the other trips were.

Sunday – 3.02 Miles

This run was a struggle. I wasn’t feeling it at all. The wind was pretty brutal as well… been a while since it was THAT windy. I seriously contemplated turning back at my two mile turn around point but figured three miles would be better given my weekly mileage the previous (which I apparently miscalculated while running) and what my plans for mileage would be this week. Whoops. Oh well. I manages to stick with it and get in 3 miles instead of 2.

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It was a good week of training and I am glad that I can finally get back into a running groove. My new training plan starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Picture Friday

All you need is love and a run
Well, all you need is love and a run and a water… But that might just be me :-p

Me July 2014

In a rare occurrence, I decided to wear makeup last Friday… First time doing so with the new haircut so I thought it was “selfie” worthy

Not Easy - Worth It

This is incredibly true.

Per fect Runner
An important reminder to all my runners out there. Be the best you can be on any given day.

Happy Friday 2

Hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!

A New Training Plan

I know I have said this often and I know that my follow-through has been less than stellar.

In case you missed it, I joined a new team at the end of June. I am really excited about my new venture with OCR Racing with this team but at the same time, I am worried.

I am a runner… have been for years. Back in my college days, I strength trained a LOT. In fact, I always strength trained instead of doing any sort of cardio… that is now reversed (for the most part)… go figure

My attempts to balance strength training and running have been futile. I usually do well until my running starts to go above 3 miles a day and/or 15 miles a week. Then running takes over and strength training pretty much stops. Just running and not strength training can get me through road races but it will NOT get me through an OCR.

Well, in all honesty, it might. But I also know that an OCR is more physically demanding than a road race and it will require the use of muscles not usually used in a road race… more specifically, I will need to use my upper body.

I don’t consider myself exceptionally weak in the upper body but I can hardly call myself strong either. And more to the point, running gives you strong lungs but not necessarily strong muscles. As such, my lower body could use a lot of work as well.

My first OCR will be September 27th and I have a 10 mile road race on November 8th. I have to train for the 10 miler and at the same time I have to train for the OCR. The OCR is around 8 miles, so luckily that will fit into my training for the 10 miler nicely.

But I HAVE to strength train. I know that my team is behind me and they will support me and make sure I finish. Knowing all of that, I also know that I can’t just show up on race day and expect to have a good race. More so, I don’t want to feel like the weak link on the team. And I am POSITIVE that none of them would make me feel that way but I would make myself feel that way.

Sure, I have bagged plenty of races where I just didn’t care about my time (usually because it was too damn hot for me to care) or I ran with a friend who was slower than me. But I am not part of a team when I do that. It is my race and my race alone.

And, truth be told, if I do not strength train for this race, the likely-hood of being sore for days after is really rather high. I do not expect to be able to complete all the obstacles, the rope climb currently being my biggest fear but I also don’t want to fail at all of them either.

In order to be (and more importantly feel) slightly successful, I need to strength train. I have a vague idea of what to expect on the course and what muscles will need to be used so I know what to work on.

I have two months. Not enough time to reach all the goals I might have but enough to prepare myself a bit. Most importantly though, I will have to remain consistent for the next two months. I have to find the balance between strength training and my running.

Strength Training officially starts next Tuesday… Anyone out there want to help keep me honest?

Storm The Stadium

Everyone, I am excited to announce that I have another great offer for you all. Storm the Stadium is an awesome event taking place at US Cellular Field on September 6th.

If you are a baseball fan, then this race is great for you because this takes place INSIDE the stadium where the Chicago White Sox play. But this is not your typical running event. You will be climbing stairs…. a LOT of stairs.

CWS

Those local to the Chicago-land area may be familiar with Hustle up the Hancock where you run up all the stairs at the John Hancock building, which is really awesome! This event differs in that it is held outside on the steps of the ballpark. How many steps? 6,000 Steps

How can this event be any better? Easy, music will be blasting throughout the stadium as you take on this unique challenge.

Don’t worry, if you don’t feel quite ready to take on 6,000 steps, you can do the half climb instead. So bring the whole family (Spectators get in for free) and get ready for a fun endurance challenge.

Use promo code RB10 for $10 off registration through August 9th

Click here to register