Weekly Training Report: October 20th – 26th

Oct 20-26

Monday – 5.09 Miles

Since I decided to cut out the official long runs in the few weeks leading up to my big goal race, I figured it would be a good idea to work on getting comfortable with 5 milers. It is weird to lace up and head out for a five mile run and not be worried about it. But I finally feel comfortable again and I am loving it. The weather was that perfect fall weather and I was glad to be out on the LFT. Even more so, I was thrilled that the water fountains were still on. I was worried that with the drop off in temps on Saturday that they would turn most of them off… but they are still on! I know my days are numbered there but I am still going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday – Rest

The weather was horrible. It was chilly and overcast and windy and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to take a rest day. I ended up being super productive though… Errands and laundry got done! I also did an insane amount of walking and ended up walking over 7 miles… so… not a true rest day but oh well.

Wednesday – 5.04 Miles

When I started this run, I just felt incredible. I was also insanely excited because during a cleaning frenzy (one of the advantages of being laid off… I clean more), I found an older pair of running tights. They weren’t worn THAT many times but I got them at the end of 2010 when I was at my skinniest… and THEY ACTUALLY FIT!!! I decided to take them out for a test run. I had no issues and was thrilled. This run was just one of those perfect runs. It was also a perfect negative split 9:42 / 9:25 / 9:16 / 9:09 / 8:46 / 6:33 (last .04)

Thursday – 4.03 Miles

Highs and Lows of running. I felt so amazing on Wednesday but then not so great on Thursday. I just felt very off when I headed out for this run. I wanted 5 miles but I just didn’t have the mental capacity to fight for it. I was also significantly overdressed and overheated big time right away. After doing some quick math and having a very long internal debate between running 5 miles or running 4 miles, I decided to just call it a day at 4 miles.

Friday – 5.06 Miles

I still wasn’t really feeling the run but I knew I could hang in there for 5 miles. The whole week I had been debating whether or not I would run the day before my race or the day after my race. Some might say it would be smarter to take the day before as a rest day… and normally I would agree. But, thus far, I have had a LOT of luck with running the day before a race, so I figured why mess with what was working. We got a brief warm-up and I was able to break out the tank top again for the run which was a nice little thrill.

Saturday – Pumpkins in the Park 5K 

I was completely pumped for my favorite 5K with friends! You can read the full recap here. The short version… I went, I saw, I conquered. I have a brand new shiny PR! It wasn’t a perfect race since I positive split it but I am still very happy with the end result. Most of all, I am happy that I got to spend time with friends.

Sunday – Rest

Since I had already run 5 days for the week, I decided to take a rest day. It was a gorgeous day outside though so I did enjoy it by walking around. I am perfectly content with the rest since my last day I managed to walk over 7 miles… oops… Errands. So a full rest day was definitely in order.

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It was a great week of training and I am so excited to have a new PR! This week I need to get ready for my trip to NYC! Of course, there will still be running. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Race Report: Pumpkins in the Park 5K 2014

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I may or may not have mentioned (Note Sarcasm) before that this is my absolute favorite 5K. I tend to try to gather as many people as possible to run this race with me. It does not always work out though. But I still had a nice showing of friends this year….

But I am getting ahead of myself.

This is usually a goal race for me. The start time is 4:00 in the afternoon race. I may be a morning person but I really do NOT enjoy running in the morning… one of my quirks.  It is also at the end of October which typically means cooler weather… and I run better in cooler weather. As a last flip of the coin in my favor, it is held in the park that I run often so I know the course by heart and therefore know the terrain.

Three things stacked in my favor… oh yea.

Over the past few years, it has been difficult for me to see this race as a true goal race. My running has been less than stellar and even last year when I felt like I was in a better position to hit a goal, I knew realistically that it was a lofty goal.

But this year has been a whole different ball game. After crushing a goal I had been chasing for three years in August and then getting a massive PR in September without really trying, I knew I could go into this race with a goal time.

In case you missed my last post, The goal was to go sub 29:00. I knew this goal was very doable assuming nothing major went wrong on race day. But weather wise, there was nothing to worry about, so I figured as long as I didn’t do anything foolish like eating something weird, I was golden.

Since I am unemployed and find myself with lots of free time during the day, I headed to packet pick-up on the first day fairly early. I had to pick-up for myself and a friend and figured there was no point in waiting.

Race day arrived and I was feeling ready… even if it was a tad warmer than I would have liked. Still a nice fall day but I would have liked it a little cooler… Oh well.

I had 5 friends that had signed up to do the race… but at the last minute two of them had to bail on the race due to unforeseen circumstances. Oh well, I still had one friend running the race with me, Sarav, and two others, Eric and Michael, to (hopefully) celebrate a new PR with afterwards

We all met at gear check before the race and chatted briefly before lining up to start.

One thing about LP Races… I love them but the first half mile is insanely crowded. You can try to get around people but you will do a TON of weaving and tire yourself out. So I tend to hang back just a tad and settle into a comfortable pace. I have been better about negative splitting lately so I know I can make up some time if I need to.

Except for some reason, I went out insanely fast… not TOO fast, but it was a pace I couldn’t keep for the entire race. I kept looking down at my watch and seeing a sub 9:00 pace… GRRRR

At the first mile marker I saw a 9:00 even split. Well… I can’t hold that pace for the entire race. But I also know as long as I stay 9:20 or under, I am still golden. So I kept on my way… but I knew I was running faster than I should be. I was also dying for water. We had a nice little head wind which was making me very thirsty. So I totally grabbed water at the water station and walked for a few seconds while I took a few sips to wet my throat. I wasn’t feeling dehydrated… I just couldn’t swallow because my throat was so dry… always fun

As I approached the mile two marker, I saw that the time was 18:XX so I knew I had 10ish minutes to hit my goal. Checked the watch and saw the second mile split was 9:10 so I was still on pace… even if I was slowing. And today was one of those lovely Chicago days where no matter which direction you are running, it is always into the wind… Blah

Sarav started to try to push the pace for the last mile but I knew I was fading and I didn’t want to fade too much so I kept asking him to slow down. The end of the race had some down hills that I could use to give my body a slight break for a kick at the end but I also knew I had one hill to climb first and I couldn’t fade too much. I was also dying of thirst!!!

I hit the downhills and headed in for the last turn for the straight away to the finish… but got stuck behind someone and couldn’t go around so I had to slow a tad before I could go around. I didn’t bother to check my mile split when I saw the 3 mile marker, but I saw the time on that clock and knew I had my goal in the bag.

But of course I still sprinted to the finish line.

And it was all I had left. I was done after crossing the finish and REALLY needed water. I don’t remember seeing the finish line clock at all but I did check my watch…

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TOTALLY NAILED IT!!!! Not only did I get my sub 29:00 goal but it was a PR by over a minute!!!

Except I was too thirsty to talk… so water was my next mission.

Sarav and I grabbed water and raided the post-race goodie table and found Eric. Sarav wanted his beer but we need to get my bag to get our IDs out first. After getting our beers (I gave mine to Eric since I don’t like beer), we waited for Michael to finish while Sarav signed up for a pie eating contest. He ran 20 miles in the morning before doing the 5K with me and was apparently hungry :-p

After we were all done, we watched the costume contest before watching Sarav in the pie eating contest… Lets just say he didn’t win but at least he got pie.

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He then had to leave for a work event while the rest of us decided we wanted ribs so off to Twin Anchors we went. Chris met up with us there as well. I had a celebratory drink compliments of Michael (Thanks again!) and totally scarfed down everything on my plate

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It was fun chatting with my friends after such a good race.  It was also nice to be eating out for a change.

At some point, Eric checked the official times. Yep – PR by 1:03!!!!

Pumpkins in the Park 2014 Results

Racing with a Goal

Over the course of my 5 years as a runner, I have definitely participated in a LOT of races. You could easily say that I am addicted to racing. And really, there are worse things I could spend my money on.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t always “race” my races. A lot of them I do just for fun and to be with friends. There are a handful of races that I plan to run for time every year. And occasionally, when the weather decides to work against me, I will choose, instead, to run for fun.

Due to my current employment situation, I have had to take a LOT of fall racing off my schedule. Which is a total bummer because I have been itching to race. My running has been going so well over the past few months that I really want to see I do in a 10K and an 8K. But, I have to be an adult sometimes.

Luckily, my wonderful mother, did pay for me to do my absolute favorite 5K. Pumpkins in the Park has been my favorite 5K since my first year running it in 2010. I PR’d at that race. Since then, I have been no where near that time… until this fall. I had never intended to PR at Oktoberfest… but I did.

However, I still want to go for a PR at Pumpkins. It is weird (though I have never claimed to be normal) but I want Pumpkins to hold my PR. Sure, a lot of it is nostalgia. But I also know that I will return to Pumpkins each and every year I am capable.

This is also a 5K that I try to get as many of my friends as possible to sign up for. And really, since it is a 4:00 PM race, there is very little reason to NOT sign up :-p

I have talked before about going into a race with a time goal in mind. In the past, I have not put that time goal down on paper (So-to-speak) until after the race. Perhaps I should not tempt fate but I am going to lay it all out.

Sub 29:00 is my goal

This is only 9 seconds away from my PR in September so it is a very realistic goal. I have been doing more 4 and 5 miles runs lately and even those have been at a faster pace than my PR 5K time.

Even if I miss my goal, I will still be amongst friends. So either way, I know I will have a good time.

But I want it and I am going to fight for it!

Highs and Lows of Running

Running is a funny thing. On any given day you can have either a great run or a horrendous run. Sure, there are always those factors that can contribute to either but sometimes you have a horrible run when you least expect it.

As a runner, I live for those perfect running days. Where everything lines up perfectly and you have the most magical run.

But then there are those horrible days. We all know the days, we have all had them.

Failing comes with the territory. You are not going to PR every race and not every training run will go well.

After running for nearly 5 full years, I have definitely known my fair share of failure. But I have also had some success.

Sometimes, when you are struggling, it is difficult to look back on the successful runs. Often times, when you are the midst of a running rut, the only thing on your mind is failure. You can’t see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel…. Or if you do… you assume it is a freight train barreling towards you.

Three years of failure, multiple training plans ditched with weeks still left on them, dozens of races with times I didn’t want. I didn’t see success on the horizon. In fact, I failed to notice the success that was right in front of me. The fears of three years of running struggles haunted me and I couldn’t see past them.

But then I nailed a run that terrified me for years. A run that had me so freaked out that I was nearly in tears before putting on my running clothes to head out for a run. I still had to struggle through the run. I KNEW I was physically capable of completing the run. Mentally, all I had was doubt. For the entire run, I battled between the physical and mental. Knowing I was physically capable, even if I wasn’t mentally capable.

The truth is, I was mentally capable all along… I was just too scared to know it. In the weeks leading up to that run, I was determined to nail it… I knew I HAD to nail it in order to move on. When I headed out for the run that day, the conditions were not the ideal conditions I was hoping for. A HUGE part of me wanted to cut the run short and try it a different day. Another part of me wanted to just walk back inside and bail entirely. Then there was the part that wanted to move to past the fear… that wanted to FINALLY get over it.

So I went for my run and I refused to give in. At the end of the day, I had done what I set out to do.

That was my sunshine moment. The following week, I had another long run on the schedule but I never feared it. I was no longer freaking out. It was just another run.

Of course, that hardly stopped me from prepping like I normally would and from sticking to my safety net route. But at the last minute I added on an extra mile and a half to the run.

Sure, I have had support along the way too. Certain people who have had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself. But that doesn’t mean that the battle wasn’t mine.

I know I will still have failures ahead. I know I will have success ahead. But for the good, the bad and the ugly, I am in it for the long run.

And truly, THAT is the ultimate battle. Continuing to lace up and head out there even when the running isn’t going well.

After all, It never Gets Easier – You Just Get Better

With each run, each step, each mile, you are getting better. It may not seem like it at first but eventually, running through the icky stuff will get you to the sunshine.

Stick with it. And even if you don’t have faith in yourself, know that there is someone out there who DOES have faith in you. I will be that person.

 

 

Weekly Training Report: October 13th – 19th

Oct 13-19

Monday – 4.98 Miles

Even though the weather wasn’t the greatest, I was going for a trail run with S. I have never been for a trail run before so I was kinda worried that I would never be able to keep up with S. He runs trails all the time and is in far better shape than I am. Surprisingly enough, I managed to do a decent job of keeping up. I made it about half way through the run before I realized that the whole drinking water while running thing was throwing off my breathing a little too much. I had also drastically over-dressed for the run and was heating up way too fast. Luckily, I knew to bring water to run with. The hills and the more technical terrain definitely took its toll on me and I slowed a lot toward the end and did need to stop twice. But overall, I managed to mostly keep up. Even more exciting, I didn’t break an ankle. After the trail run, I helped S with a SISU workout… Basically I told him what to do while I watched… but I did need to tell him to what to do so I got to run the stairs a few times. We then headed to FTX for a CrossFit workout. I was originally going to do another intro class but they were doing the one that I had already done so they recommended I jump into the WOD. I was grateful that the WOD contained all exercises that I knew and had done before… even if it had been some time since I had done any of them. It was an awesome day of working out and I am really looking forward to my next trail run.

Tuesday – 5.09 Miles

I woke up to rain but it looked like there would be a break in the early afternoon. So once that it stopped raining, I geared up. At the last minute, I threw on a waterproof lightweight vest thingy. I also choose to wear an older pair of running shoes in case I got stuck in the rain. For the first mile, I was good but about half a mile later, a light mist started. Since it wasn’t all that bad and it was pretty warm, I decided to continue on. But about half a mile later, it was more of a light rain and another half mile, it was a steady rain. Well… lovely… Since I don’t run with my bus pass, I really didn’t have much choice for how to get home. So running in the rain was what I did. I actually did not hate it. Except I really wish I had grabbed a baseball cap since it was a little difficult to see. I was also glad that it was still relatively warm. When I got home, I was completely soaked. And yet, it was still an awesome run. Hmmm… Guess running in the rain isn’t so bad…

Wednesday – Rest

It had been a few nights since I had gotten a decent amount of sleep. Usually during the spring and fall when the weather is changing and it can be either really cold or really warm, I will have at least a few nights where it is way too warm for me to sleep. As a result, I was feeling exhausted most of the day so figured a rest day would be beneficial. I knew as long as I hit at least 20 miles for the week, I would still be in a good spot training wise. I also didn’t have a long run on the schedule for the week so a slight cut back might not be a bad idea. I went to the grocery store, took a nap and watch Downton Abbey episodes 🙂

Thursday – 5.06 Miles

Feeling a bit more rested, I headed out for a run. Knowing that I was likely only getting 4 running days for the week, I knew I had to run at least 5 miles. Thankfully this run was rain free. I may not have minded running in the rain but I certainly wasn’t going to run in the rain if I could avoid it. I tried to skip water fountains so that I was only stopping once every mile or so instead of every half mile. Of course, I noticed on the half mile trek home from the LFT that the water fountains on the way are now all turned off… which isn’t a HUGE deal. But I like stopping at them as I walk home to start to re-hydrate or as a final boost to end strong. The days of water fountains being on are numbered…

Friday – 5.11 Miles

Knowing that there was a very high chance this would be my last run for the week, I headed out for 5 miles. I had been running errands earlier in the day and was very warm so I dressed a little cooler. But when I stepped outside, it felt like the temp had dropped in the 20 or so minutes I had been inside. I opted to just stick with what I was wearing and get the run done. I had felt warm the day before so figured I would be ok in what I was wearing as long as I didn’t stop for too long at water fountains… or as long as it didn’t cool off too much more. It was, however, one of those days where it felt like I was always running into the wind… I really don’t like those days. It was definitely a good run and I am glad that I can do 5 miles a day again… it has been a LONG time since I have been able to do that.

Saturday – Rest

Rest is a very broad term. I did not run and I didn’t walk a ton but I had a huge task for the day. S had signed up to do a 24 hour endurance event weeks ago and asked me to crew for him. I had to make sure he ate, drank plenty of water and essentially didn’t need anything. Last week, the official event was canceled but the participants were still allowed to go out in a “Training” capacity. The 24 hour event was not available but the 12 hour event was. His task was 5 laps of a 4 mile course with around 30 obstacles… all while wearing a 35 pound ruck. We were on the road bright and early… actually… it was about 4:15 in the morning so it wasn’t all that bright. After setting everything up… well… correction, he was nice enough to pitch the tent while I slept in the car. He changed and geared up for the event and was off. There were 5 other people doing the 12 hour event but they were not doing the event with the ruck. Easier but still quite challenging. There was also one other crew person for me to chat with. I was chilly most of the day but it was absolutely gorgeous there and I really enjoyed just looking at the beautiful fall colors. I also got pretty good at keeping a bonfire going strong. In the end, he completed his 5 laps in 9 hours! So he was a FULL THREE HOURS ahead! Massively impressed and proud! We packed up and headed to get yummy BBQ for dinner. When I got home, I showered and then completely konked out as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Sunday – 3.01 Miles

I was utterly shocked when I woke up to a text from S… I was even more shocked when he said he was feeling good enough for a little run. So off to Waterfall Glen we went. It was a lot cooler out so I opted to wear a pair of running tights. Except they apparently didn’t want to stay up. During the run, I had to stop numerous times to pull my pants up to avoid having my entire butt being exposed. As comical as this was… I really was not enjoying having to stop every tenth of a mile to yank my pants back up. Eventually, tucking in both of my shirts instead of just the most bottom layer kept my pants up enough. They still didn’t stay all the way up but at least I was no longer worried about mooning everyone who happened to be behind me. Moral of the story… get running tights that stay in place…

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This week was incredible and I got in a lot of awesome runs. I absolutely loved my first trail run! The hills and technical terrain definitely slowed me down but it would be awesome to be able to cover that kind of distance at my normal pace. It is also beautiful. For the first time in years, I actually felt like I could take on 5 miles a day. I cannot even begin to describe how much relief I have felt after nailing that 8 miler and the confidence that it has given me back.

Coming up this week is my absolute favorite 5K… Pumpkins in the Park!!!

Weekly Training Report: October 6th – 12th

Oct 6-12

Monday – Rest

Second day soreness is always worse… and oh boy was it. My CrossFit workout on Saturday left my hamstrings and butt insanely sore. So instead of running, I decided a rest day would be a good idea. I did some walking and I definitely stretched and rolled out.

Tuesday – 4.04 Miles

Still sore from Saturday, but better than the day before, I contemplated taking another rest day. But knowing my schedule for the following week, I knew I would need to take Sunday as my second rest day. So I laced up and headed out for a run. I wanted 4 miles but told myself that if I wasn’t feeling it, I could cut it back to three miles. While running, I discovered that I was actually feeling pretty good so I decided to go for the full 4 miles. It was a gorgeous day outside and I loved being on the LFT. The run was fantastic and I was glad I decided to run the full 4 miles.

Wednesday – 4.01 Miles

Part of my wanted run 5 miles but I also try to not increase weekly mileage by more than 1 – 2 miles a week so I decided to stick with my original plan of 4 miles. I felt really slow and could tell I just wasn’t running on all cylinders. It was still a pretty decent run but I was definitely slower than the day before. It was also one of those infamous days on the LFT trail where it doesn’t seem to matter which direction you are running, it is always into the wind…

Thursday – 3.11 Miles

It was a gorgeous fall day outside and I was excited to head out for my run. I threw on a tank top and capris and headed out. But as I started to run, I realized that I perhaps should have worn a t-shirt or even a long sleeve. It took my about 2 miles before I was no longer feeling chilly. I didn’t truly have any goals for the run but decided it would be a good idea to do a tester 5K since it had been a few weeks since my PR. The run was a perfect negative split and faster than my 5K PR. I am feeling good about my next 5K Race.

Friday – 3.05 Miles

I started off the day early… my building renegotiated the cable/internet deal with our provider so I now get a lot more stuff included with my assessments… but this meant an early appointment so I could get upgraded. Since I really didn’t have any plans for the day except a three mile run, I thought it would be fun to check out the Marathon expo with Eric. Except he was heading there before I finished my coffee or ate breakfast… so he got to chill at my place for about an hour first. We then headed on out. The expo was impressive but since I currently have zero disposable income, I couldn’t have as much fun as I would have liked. But it was still cool seeing everything there. Lots of runners excited for the big day. I was excited too and it is not even my race! After the expo, we made our way back. I changed and headed out for my run right away before I could get comfortable.  The run felt comfortable but I wanted to pick it up just a tad for the last mile so I did. I am really loving this fall weather for running.

Saturday – 10.47 Miles

The plan was 9 Miles but I wanted to go for 10 if I was feeling up for it. Thanks to my wonderful running company for the day, I was feeling good. So I went for it… and then I tacked on a little extra. There was no set pace before the run but I was extremely pleased with a 10:00ish pace… especially since this is apparently my new conversational pace. If you want to read more about the run, you can go here.

Sunday – Rest

Marathon Sunday! I love spectating the marathon and this year was no different. A friend joined me at my usual spot this year which made it even better. I had a list of people I wanted to see but, sadly, missed a couple. I was also freezing the entire time since the wind decided to pick up and I was standing in the shade the entire time. It was an excellent race!

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It was an incredible week of training. I feel confident about my 10 mile race coming up in a few weeks. I am actually considering setting a very lofty goal for myself for the race. The next couple of weeks of training should be good.

Goodbye Demons!

I kept waiting for the freak out. With another long run on the schedule for the week I was just expecting it. For years, a long run on the schedule meant anxiety and freaking out. And after my utter freak out before my 8 miler last week, I was positive the plan to run 9 miles would result in another freak out.

But it never came. In fact, it felt like just another run. I prepped for the distance like a good runner but I was missing the freak out. It was an insanely odd feeling.

All along my hope had been that if I could get past the 8 miler, I would be in the clear. It would be the hurdle that I needed to clear for the straight away to the finish. I was never positive if that would, in fact, be the case. But luckily, it was.

Perhaps the calming factor was knowing that I had someone to run with. Someone who has believed in me all along. Someone who supported my efforts and knew what this meant to me.

Then again, perhaps it was a lot of both. Knowing I had full support for the run and knowing that I had cleared a hurdle that had been there for three years.

I have been putting in the work. With each and every run, I have been fighting the demons that I have carried with me for three years. I spent 8 miles fighting them with each and every step. Choosing to ignore the cries to stop and to continue on. Determined to finish the run.

All of my running problems over the past 3 years are now in my past. I can’t run from my past and instead I faced them head on. I learned a lot over the course of three horrendous running years.

My main goal for this year was to get my running back on track. I wanted to fall in love with running again. It was important for me to work myself up to a solid running base and to keep it. The need to set a training plan and stick with it… to actually be prepared for a legit distance race.

Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road this year. And even though I veered off course, I never let the end goal out of my grasp.

Now I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I ran 10.47 miles in 1:46:11 for a 10:09 pace. This kind of run wasn’t possible a year ago. Hell… I didn’t even realize it was possible two weeks ago. It was 1.47 miles more than my plan called for and I managed it without difficulty.

But the thing that thrilled me the most about this run was the lack of fear. I have come so far over the past year… even more so in the past four months.

And even though I lost faith in myself, there were certain people who never lost faith in me. These people know who they are. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Three years of demons are gone. I finally have my running back. I am in love again. The possibilities are there. And that is what I am most excited about… the possibilities.