Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pick up the slack, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan. While I have been out running several times a week, it has been anything but regular. After my first (presently only)half, I figured I would give myself a break to rest/recover and then pick back up in training where I had left off; maybe I would even make it up to nearly full marathon mileage. What I didn’t count on was that after a week of rest (read: not running), my body freaked out and it was almost as if I was starting (not quite) from nothing again! Granted, I was in much better shape and much better trained than I had been even just weeks before that, but for some reason getting back out and just running a regular two six mile runs and a ten mile run (as I had been doing in addition to another three mile run for about a month before this) felt like a struggle. I took it down to two three miles runs and then worked my way back up.

Now, my biggest obstacle seems to be time. Partially, things have been busy at work the past few weeks and I have been getting in earlier and staying later. Another part is that it has been summer in Chicago and there is SO MUCH to do! Between concerts, festivals, Bristol Ren Faire, Baseball games, and general tomfoolery with friends, I have been struggling to find time to squeeze in a run. Quite a few times I have ended up throwing on my running gear and packing a change of clothes to run over to or back from doing something else.

I need to get back on track. Both with my running and my writing. NaNoWriMo has a way of sneaking up on you unawares and I mean to be better prepared this year…but then, how often have I said that before? Mayhaps it will have more effect this time since it is written down. At least it is supposed to be a nice weekend! I just may get some running in yet! …Lollapalooza…lots of walking around briskly through crowds is like weaving around in a race though, right? Oh well, at least bouncing around to music is sort of like cross training, the way I do it anyway :-P

Tegan and Sara - Closer [OFFICIAL HD MUSIC VIDEO]

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Strike Out ALS Race Recap

I don’t always run in humid, over ninety degree weather, on pure asphalt, but when I do, it’s for a
good cause. Strike out ALS 5K seems to have become a regular race I do each year since my friend Eric got me to join his team last race season. I know this race is in the middle of July and in the parking lot of an enemy territory ball field (go Tigers!) while the sun is still high in the sky so the runners can finish in time to sit in the stands and watch the All-Star game on the jumbo-tron, but this race was even warmer than expected this year.

Since the race started early on a weekday, I worked from home that day so I could make the trek from the boarder of Lincoln Park and Lakeview down to US Cellular field with the CTA Red line out of commission for construction until [theoretically] October. Fortunately we found out that the Red Line was still running, only on Green Line tracks. I ran into Eric on the way to the Brown line to make the transfer and ended up making it down to US Cellular field much faster than we anticipated. We decided to kill the extra hour by relaxing at a table in the shade. A chatty fellow decided that we would not enjoy some silent contemplation before the race and proceeded to talk to us until Jennifer and Courtney arrived after catching a ride from Kurt. We all caught up and did gear check when Eric spotted some fellow bloggers and we ended up doing a little photo shoot before proceeding to stretch before the race (still in the shade). Announcements were made, a touching story was read, and we were headed to our corrals. I knew I should have grabbed a water with all the time I was relaxing in the shade, instead I ended up in my corral on the opposite side from the water table with several hundred people between me and liquid refreshment.

‘It’s only a 5K’ I thought, ‘I can make it to the first water stand and be fine.’ Famous last words. I underestimated the blistering heat as well as the effect of the sun on the black tar underneath my feet. It was debilitating hot to say the least. Hope remained that water would be ahead shortly and I would be able to rehydrate and continue to slowly make it through to my seat for the All-Star game. The first water station was farther away than I had hoped, but I managed to make it. I grabbed two cups of water and walked while I drank the first before tossing the empty cup. I took a sip of the second and continued along my way with the mostly full cup still clenched in my hands. I was glad I did, as the first water station turned out to be the only water station. Fortunately we ended up passing the first water station again on our way back as we headed into the stadium and the second cup of water I grabbed turned out to be a life saver. For one thing, carrying the cup full of water forced me to slow my pace, second: it was a cup of water. I had to force myself to drink the water slowly but still drink it fast enough that it would not evaporate into water vapor as the sun seemed to nearly bring the liquid to a rapid boil just sitting in my hands.

As I rounded the last turn in the parking lot into the stadium I was grateful for the shade. Even though
it was still warm inside, it felt like a cold front had hit me as the temperature dropped only due to the absence of the glaring sun. We ran inside around the stadium for what seems like an eternity (not an unlikely measurement as GPS signal in the stadium is basically useless), until we finally emerged onto the warning track around the field. Some of the faster runners had some trouble, as there was no one directing them to go all the way around the stadium like there were for the later runners and so, since the first set of doors was open and not blocked off, many faster runners ran out those doors and did not end up running the full 3.1 miles. They corrected this quickly and by the time I got there they had this area blocked off and people stationed there to alert runners that they needed to continue around the stadium and emerge from the other side. . Even though it was hot, this is still one of my favorite ways to finish a race.


Packet pickup – For this packet pickup, I decided to run to and from Fleet Feet as part of my daily run. It was a warm day but it was a fairly slow and casual run with a brief rest in the middle where I actually picked up my packet before continuing back home. I expected the packet pickup to be in the back area of Fleet Feet as it usually seems to be for races, but for this particular race they had a table set up in the front of the store where I picked up my shirt (at tech shirt this year which is a nice step up from the cotton t-shirt they provided last year). This packet pickup run ended up turning into a much longer even (unrelated to packet pickup) and I will probably blog about that event at a later time…

Gearcheck/Waves and Corrals. –  Gear check was smooth and orderly as always. I got there early, so checking gear was lightning fast, others in the group who arrived later didn’t seem to take long to check their gear either. For this race it is nice that after the race, they move all of the gear inside the stadium so you can pick it up near where you finish as you check your times. Very convenient! Corrals were set up about average, though a little small but it isn’t that large of a race so it wasn’t a big deal. Wished there would have been water available on both sides of the corrals but I had plenty of time to get water beforehand so it is really just my lack of preparation for that one.

Course layout – This course is set up mostly on the black top of the parking lot outside the stadium. It loops around and zig-zags where it needs to in order to achieve the desired distance while making sure to end with a run through the stadium and a finish around the warning track circling the field. A great finish to a race.

Finish line – As I have said before, I love this finish. It is nice to come out onto the field with a camera on you so you feel like a ball player for a second and then to run around the outside of the field before crossing the finish line, grabbing a water (no snacks or bananas or anything that I could see but full concessions were open if you wanted to buy something afterwards), and finding a seat in the stands to watch the All-Star game. Good race, HOT day.

Official time:  25:20 [Distance: 3.1 miles] [Place: 65 of 567 Overall 10 of 37 age group]

MapMyRun Results: [Distance: 3.27 miles Time: 25:32] :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The ABC's (Brought to you by peer pressure)

A. Attached or Single?  Attached to being single.

B. Best Friend? My Brother with a distant second being whichever book I am currently reading.

C. Cake or pie?  Any time of day is a good time for pie. THE CAKE IS A LIE!

D. Day of choice? Saturday! Fridays are nice too, because they lead to Saturdays. Sundays are alright because at least I get a long run in, but then they lead to Mondays.

E. Essential Item? A Sonic Screwdriver.

F. Favorite color? Red.

G. Gummy bears or worms? Uh, do you know what those are made of? Neither. (but if ignorance is bliss, then worms go better in a ‘cup of dirt’) ;-)

H. Home town? Grand Rapids, MI.

I. Favorite Indulgence? Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Ice Cream

J. January or July? January is my birthday, but July sure is a lot warmer…

K. Kids? What about young goats?

L. Life isn’t complete without? Death? …or the pursuit of happiness.
M. Marriage date? See ‘A’.

N. Number of brothers/sisters? One Brother. Zero Sisters. Zero [first] cousins for that matter as well.

O. Oranges or Apples? I’m going to have to go with Apples.

P. Phobias? Do running injuries count? Maybe water.

Q. Quotes? Far too many… Choose your own adventure:

“And so I close, realizing that perhaps an ending has not been written.”

“Blood calls to blood like sirens in the night.”

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.   
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.”

“Take me for what I am, who I was meant to be, and if you give a damn, take me baby, or leave me.”

“I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar. I am the son and heir of nothing in particular.”

And I've come
To be untroubled in my seeking
And I've come
To see that nothing is for not
I've come to reach out blind
To reach forward and behind
For the more I seek
The more I'm sought

R. Reasons to smile? It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so I guess I’m just lazy ;-)

S. Season of choice? Autumn/Fall!

T. Tag 5 People
Five is probably more than read my blog! Here are some people  for ya:

It NeverGets Easier – You Just Get Better

U. Unknown fact about me? I’m not actually a real person. I’m a Ghost in the Machine.

V. Vegetable? All Your Vegetables are belong to me. (But I have a special place in my heart for raw green beans, peas, carrots, and Tomatoes).

W. Worst habit? Habitually late, habitual liar, habitually habitual, collecting habit’s [not from nuns you crazy kids], I don’t have any bad habits actually; I enjoy them all thoroughly.

X. X-ray or Ultrasound? Ummm, neither if I can help it.

Y. Your favorite food? Baked Spaghetti and/or Vegetarian Lasagna!

Z. Zodiac sign? Aquarius.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bastille Day Race Recap

Neighborhood races are my favorite. I get home to the Lincoln Park area after work, strap on some Vibrams, and walk out my door to line up for a weeknight, evening race. This is always a fun race and the weather was lovely (bit warmish, but hey, it’s July). I headed out a bit early, as there was a blogger meetup and it is always nice to see some fellow runners and bloggers. We were supposed to meet by gear check, but when I arrived there was no gear check in sight. I walked around a bit and eventually Jennifer texted to inform me that gear check was hidden behind the stage.
Pre-Race Amanda, Me, Eric, Jennifer, Maggie

Quickly after becoming aware of the location of the gang, I swung around behind the stage and found everyone hanging out talking, stretching, etc. We talked, pictures were taken, and then it was time to head toward the start line. We parted ways with Eric as he entered the 7 min. mile corral and we continued back toward a leisurely ten min starting pace.

When the ‘gun’ went off, we took off and eventually paced out at each of our own paces. I attempted to follow a couple of guys speaking French, dressed as stereotypically cartoonish French guys (complete with drawn on mustache), and carrying a baguette. They were running pretty well for their garb and in addition to totting a baked good. After about mile two they increased speed even more. Around mile three the man carrying the loaf of bread passed it to another of his cohorts who then took off at a faster pace. It was like he just handed him the French Bread Baton in a strange Bastille Day Relay Race. Breadless now, my former pacer poured on the speed to catch up to his lost
au revoir
baguette and I did not seem them again.

I like this run. It is in my neighborhood and runs along much of my usual training routes. It ended up being a PR as well so I was quite happy about this! I was just out for a leisurely run and after I lost my French friends I was even more relaxed. It was nice to get out and run. After the run I met up with Jennifer’s Mom and Eric. Courtney and Jennifer joined us as soon as they finished and got some water. Eric went to chat with the rest of the bloggers who had also finished and they went off to grab a beer and listen to the band. The rest of us sat and chatted for a bit as we drank in the refreshing manna from our water bottles and they made plans for FroYo. I had some things I wanted to get done (and showering was definitely at the top of that list) so I ended up parting ways with the rest of the gang to head home. On the way I listened to the band play for a few minutes as I got trapped in the gated race finishing area and needed to go around to get back to my apartment. On the way home I wondered if French Bread and his friends ended up sharing the baguette over post-race beer or if one of them was carrying a bottle of wine as well.
Post-Race Shot


Packet pickup – I almost forgot about this packet pickup. Eric reminded me that the only option I could make was on that particular day, while I was already on the other side of town hanging out with some friends. Knowing I would not be able to make any of the other pickup times, I reluctantly made my hasty goodbyes and was out the door to a blue line over to Fleet Feet. I made it just as they were cleaning everything up and getting ready to shut down. Thanks for staying open till the last minute guys or I never would have made it!

Gearcheck/Waves and Corrals. –  As I mentioned above, gear check was not easy to find, but it wasn’t difficult either. Since it was a neighborhood race, and in my neighborhood, I didn’t have to check anything and so I cannot attest to its organization or anything. Looked well-staffed though and since I would imaging many others like myself lived in the area and did not need to check anything, lines and organization probably were not an issue. Corrals were broken down in to the usual times and seemed adequately spaced for each. Spacing happened fairly naturally after the start with a couple choke points under tight bridges but nothing terrible.

Course layout – There was a 5K and an 8K, I did the 8K and so I can only speak to this. The course was a great run through a lovely neighborhood. Very similar to many of my training runs. It made it a little difficult during the times we were on Lake Shore Trail as it can get busy with other runners and bikers since they do not close the course but we managed to stray from the common path for much of the race and run closer to the harbor and the playing fields south of the Zoo so it was mostly just the racers for that portion of the course. Being a weeknight probably helped as well.

Finish line – They tricked me with the finish line! I heard the music and saw where the finish line should be as I approached what I thought would be the finish that I had scoped out before the race. Instead, the finish line I was approaching was much farther away than I anticipated as the course looped further north again before circling back south to meet up with the 5K runners as we then ran back toward the finish line. I poured on the gas early when I thought I was near the finish and had to dial it back a bit when I realized what was going on. I still managed to get a little speed toward the actual finish.

Official time:  43:15 [Distance: 5miles] [Place: 341 of 935?]

MapMyRun Results: [Distance: 5.3 miles Time: 43:40 and PR] :)