Friday, November 14, 2014

It was a P.R. kind of day...

It's hard to believe that the Naperville Marathon and Half Marathon was 5 days ago! I so wanted to run it last year, but it sold out in record time. So this year I was thrilled to have a chance to run the Half Marathon....I knew it was the perfect way to keep me moving after finishing Chicago.

I completed the Monster Dash Half 13 days after Chicago, and 15 days before the Naperville Half. It actually felt great to get out there running again, and I had a blast sharing it with my lovely friend Christine. She kept me on track until we hit mile 11.5, and ran smack into a Breast Cancer Walk that was joining the lakefront path with us. That bottleneck lasted about a mile, but we were still able to finish with my second-fastest half time, at 2:53 and change.

This awesome skyline never gets old!

So glad I got to share this beautiful day with so many friends!
I ran a couple of very short runs leading up to Naperville, but that was it. Now that it gets dark around 4:45 or so, it's a lot harder to get out after work for lots of miles. So my goal for this half was just to have a great time, enjoy the run, and celebrate finishing the last (finally!!) long run I would do in 2014. My friend Pat, who is incredible, is one of the race directors for Naperville, and I couldn't wait to share this with her. I also had several friends running the half distance, as well as a few running the full marathon.

We lucked out with some pretty decent weather on race day. It was going to be cool, in the upper 40s in the afternoon, but luckily there wasn't any rain and very little wind at the start.

Beautiful sunrise to start out the morning

Love these ladies!! And man....I am short :)
The energy was buzzing around the starting line. I got my bag (packed with some warm clothes) dropped off, made a couple of stops at the porta potties, and found a spot around the 2:30 half marathon pace group. I knew I couldn't stay with them the whole time, so I hung back from them a bit. The starting gun went off, and within just five or six minutes I was on my way. I settled into a very comfortable pace, just a bit under 12 minute miles. My plan was to keep running for almost all of the first 4 miles, then switch to my run/walk of 3 minutes run/1:30 walk. That went really well, and the only time I walked was through the first water station. I felt great, and kept plugging along.

The route went through several different neighborhoods in the city of Naperville. I was pleasantly shocked at the number of spectators. It was great to see so many people in front of their homes, cheering on the runners. I saw my friend Melinda and her son V going through one of the neighborhoods, and that put a big smile on my face. 

Around mile 4 I turned on my Gymboss, which keeps me on track for my run/walk. My pace did slow down a bit, but not too bad. I also took my first GU (LOVE the Salted Caramel!) around 4.5 miles in, so that dropped my pace back a bit, too. Luckily I actually started to speed back up a bit around mile 7, and kept that going for the next couple of miles.

Miles 9 and 10 were the roughest stretch for me. It was on a stretch of road that had very few homes (so very few spectators), and it was hilly. But I knew I was getting very close to just having a 5K to go, and with the pace I had going I also thought I *might* be able to beat my best time. I saw my friend Karen around the end of this part of the half, and that perked me up a ton, too. 

The spectators started to grow as we were getting closer to Naperville Central, where the race started and would finish. I picked up my pace a bit, and it really hit me that "Oh my gosh...I might actually PR today!!". That thought kept me moving as we got to the split, where the marathoners turned left and those of us running the half got to turn right. I could hear the finish line excitement, and everyone around me could feel the energy pulling us in. 

I saw my friend Denise about 0.3 miles from the finish. She cheered me on, and I yelled back "It's a PR for me!". I made the final turn, and could see the finish line looming in front of me. Once I got to the fences marking the finisher's chute, I took off and sprinted across the line, and finished with a time of 2:46:22 - about a minute faster than my best time! I had a HUGE smile on my face, and put on the jacket a volunteer handed me. We had these instead of the Mylar blankets, and I really liked it.

Right after getting my medal my dear friend Michelle found me and gave me a great big hug. She ran a great half! I know she was freezing (she had finished well before me, and was sweetheart to be out there for me), and luckily another running friend Diane gave Michelle her jacket to help her warm up.

Happy runners!
Another great perk of running the half is that I actually got a massage this time :)! And was amazing! My calves had been cramping up the last couple of miles, and this helped a ton. I also saw Pat and Craig as I was laying there, and got hugs from them. After that, I picked up my bag and headed into the gym at the high school to warm up a bit. Andrea finished just a bit after me (so awesome...she's been injured, so I know how tough it was!), and after some more time warming up we headed up to eat our way through the food tent.

Michelle, me, and Andrea post-race
The beef sandwiches from Buona Beef were just about the best.thing.ever., and yay!! - they had Nestle Quik chocolate milk as well!! It all tasted soooo good, and helped me warm up a bit, too. After eating I grabbed my bag from the Dick Pond Fast Track Team tent, and finally was able to get my nice, warm, down coat on. We headed over to the Two Brothers Beer Tent, and our friend Jitka met up with us there. I am SO proud of her - she rocked her marathon and finished right about 3:45 and change!!

This was just about the perfect way to round out my 2014 races. I do have one more, but it's just a 4 miler on Thanksgiving. I got to share it with so many friends, had a blast, and beat my best time from over 2 years ago when I was faster. And to top it off - I qualified for the Half Fanatics since I did two half marathons in 15 days! That wasn't my goal at the beginning of this year, but it felt pretty good to cross that off my list.
Happy finisher here
This year has definitely flown by, with the races and training keeping me busy. I'll be working more on cross-training this winter, and shedding the 20 lbs I've put on the last year or so. I'm ready to get back and track, and can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for me!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chicago Marathon 2014 recap

I needed to wait at least a few days to let the emotions from this past weekend die down a bit before putting all of my thoughts down here. It's hard to believe another Chicago Marathon has already come and gone, and I have a whole lot to share (yes...that's a warning!).

Why does the year have to go by so quickly? When I registered and signed up to run the Chicago Marathon for the second time as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities, we were still stuck in the Polar Vortex and dealing with snow/wind/ice runs. It was nice to think about that fact that eventually it would warm up, and I'd be complaining about training in the heat (and yeah...I'm pretty sure I did). I went into this marathon season with the best-laid plans, and vowed to train better and smarter than last year. Unfortunately, due to a whole lot of other circumstances, that didn't happen. I trained....but I definitely didn't train my best. So this marathon really became about survive and move on.

My emotions leading up to the big day ranged from "meh" to "yikes" to "woo hoo!". Chad, the boys, and I had a room booked at the Embassy Suites on Columbus for Saturday night, which was the perfect spot for us. I headed down on Friday to hang out at the Expo, pick up my Team RMHC wristbands, and meet up with some other amazing women I met through a group on Facebook.

Always exciting to see this at McCormick Place!

On Saturday the family and I headed back down to the city. The boys enjoy checking out the free samples, spinning to win things, and I like to share some of the excitement with them. It was a beautiful day, and tons of people were out enjoying all Chicago has to offer. Unfortunately, since traffic was so bad after leaving the Expo I missed the Team ADPi meet-up by the starting line. But luckily I was able to say hello and share hugs with my sisters at our incredible Team RMHC dinner at Union Station.

Dinner was over fairly early, and I was back at the hotel by 8:00. Luckily I remembered all of my gear for Sunday, so I laid everything out and attempted to sleep. That was easier said than done, but I had caught up on sleep over the days leading up to marathon day and I woke up without a problem at 4:45. After getting showered and ready, I joined the mass of other runners making their way to the start. The sun was just starting to come up as I got into our Charity tent for breakfast. We got a team picture, and before I knew it, it was time to head down to my corral.
Team RMHC - 811 runners strong!!
The excitement among all of the other runners in the corral was electric, and it was like one big party back in corral K. I ran into Sara, and it was great talking with her so I didn't freak out. Luckily I was able to make one last quick pit stop before we crossed the starting line, so that was one less thing to worry about.
Chilly, but excited! much better could the weather have been?!

Almost there!
I had one huge embarrassing (and painful) moment less than a mile into the marathon. On the first bridge I decided to run on the mat covering the grates, and TOTALLY wiped out. It was road rash on the knees, bruises on both knees, and the right side of my body. It hurt like a mother, but I tried to shake it off. 

I felt really strong through mile 13, but when I didn't see Chad and the boys where I was hoping to see them I started to get a bit emotional. Last year they didn't get to come down for the marathon, so I was looking forward to seeing them this year. But I knew I would see several friends at the aid station just up the road. Getting hugs and high fives from them gave me a great boost to get me moving strong again.
SO happy to see Pat, Mark, Tom, Jen, and Megan at Aid Station #10!
I finally saw my family right before mile 17, and had a bit of a breakdown. At that point, I was in a lot of pain, and was starting to doubt if I had another 9.2 miles in me. They all gave me hugs, said they knew I could do it, and that they would see me after I finished and earned that medal. So off I went! I shared some time with a fellow LOCM runner, and another couple of ladies. I made a comment about how I was starving, and one lady gave me a fun-size Snickers bar....OMG, it was heaven!! 

This was the part of the marathon where I had to dig deep and just keep moving. There were several other RMHC runners in our little pack, so we all checked on each other to make sure we were all okay. Yep, we all hurt, but there was no doubt that we would all finish. The spectators at this point were incredible, which really helped. One woman had two bowls of food, and asked me if I need sweet or salty. I yelled back "salty!", and she ran over to me with a bowl of almonds and nuts. Others gave us Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, and even little cups of beer! Hearing them yell my name (I had used sparkly letters to spell it out...if I'm going to be slow, I might as well shine!) helped me put one foot in front of the other. 

Just as I was getting to Chinatown I saw my friend Andrea - otherwise known as the "Do Epic Shit" lady! She jumped in, gave me a hug, and walked and talked with me as we got into the main part of Chinatown. Just as we were getting to the great photo op spot she said we were going to run through here so I could get some great shots. She was a lifesaver for me!! And luckily I got to see here again around mile 24-25.

Finally we turned on to Michigan Avenue, and it started to hit me that I was going to finish my second Chicago Marathon. I got a bit emotional, but struggled with some disappointment. I had been on pace to finish under 6:00 until I got to about mile 15, and at this point I was just hoping I'd be an official finisher, coming in right under 6:30. The sweeper car wasn't too far behind, so I kept running as much as I could. I even ran up most of Mount Roosevelt, but backed off right towards the top so I'd have some in the tank to finish strong. I ran into my friend Jamie right as we made the turn onto Columbus to head for the finish line, and getting to see her finish her first marathon was so moving. We hugged and sobbed once I got through the finish line, then went to collect our wraps and medals.
Yep...totally worth all the pain!
We had to part by the gear check, since I had to head on down to the RMHC tent. Luckily some marathon official showed me a shortcut so I didn't have to walk quite as far as I though I'd have to go. I rounded the corner on Jackson, and finally I was back! Everyone gave me a rock star welcome - cheers went up, I saw my lovely ADPi Sisters, and I made my way down the red carpet to collect my well-deserved champagne. Renee, our team "mom" and amazing supporter, jumped over the ropes and gave me a huge hug....I was so happy to see her! Chad and the boys were there, and I made them my personal assistants from there on out.
This was pretty freakin' awesome! Thanks for the great picture Jen W.!

Throwing diamonds with my sisters
All throughout my training, I swore this would be my last marathon. But before I left our happy little team village I told Renee I'll be back to run Chicago again next year. After all, I get to raise money for such an incredible charity! And I want to redeem myself from my less-than-stellar time this year. I know I have it in me....and I will welcome the challenge next year!

Monday, August 4, 2014

I swore this year would be different...

I really went into my marathon training with the best of intentions - I was going to do all of my mid-week runs, I was going to do my tempo work, blah blah see where this is going.

The only thing I have stuck to is doing my long runs. I've been so frustrated, and keep beating myself up for not giving it my all. Heck, I'm not even giving it my half. I could blame it on being busy with work. I could blame it on having to cart the kids around to different things. But really, it's just that I'm feeling very defeated.

Two years ago I was feeling awesome! I had lost 60 lbs in 2011, I was running my best times, and I was loving my new healthy lifestyle. Then I slowly started slacking off on my exercise and running, and didn't watch what I was eating as well as I had previously. By the time I ran Chicago in 2013 I had put back on about 20 lbs. I took training for a marathon as an excuse to eat anything and everything. Because, you know, when you run 16 miles you can eat the whole double scoop sundae....every other day (I really need a sarcasm font). It REALLY became a problem when the marathon was over - my body knew I wasn't running as much, but my mind kept me eating the same crap I had been eating.

Fast forward to now...I'm up another 5-8 lbs (depends on the day), and it sucks. I know what I'm eating isn't providing me with the fuel I need to keep me going with my training. There are some days that I do really well with my food choices. But then there are days like today - Chick Fil A for lunch, Papa John's for dinner, and I didn't run at all. Although with the awesome chafing I got on Saturday, I still needed to give that another day to heal.

After my 16 mile training run on Saturday I was seriously wondering if there is any way I can actually do the marathon again. I mean, I know I will do it, but I don't want to hate every minute of it. I hurt, I was slower than slow, and it sucked. I keep telling myself "at least I'm out there doing this", but I'm not giving it what I should. I found myself pretty depressed after the run this weekend (guess that explains the random bout of tears after I finished the run), and wondered how I could shake it.

What I did was go back and read my blog posts from last year, with my Fox Valley Marathon and Chicago Marathon training and recaps. Marathon training really is a lot like childbirth...your mind selectively blocks out the incredibly sucky parts. Luckily I wrote about them last year! I had a lot of the same fears, the same doubts, and then I read about finishing my two marathons in 3 weeks.

So I'm back in the game now. I know it's going to be tough, it's going to take some sacrifice with cutting out most of the treats, and it's going to take some blood, sweat, and yes, tears. But I can't wait to have that moment of crossing the finish line again, knowing that I gave it my all.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hard to believe it's almost May!

I have to say 2014 is already flying by. The boys have about 6 weeks of school left, and I'm getting into my busiest month at work. I think having such a rough winter that went on forever gave me a false idea of where exactly we are in this new year. But we survived, and now we've had a pretty decent spring - at least decent for Chicago.

This winter was a bit rough on my running, but I did try to get out at least once a week for a good run and did workouts during the week at home. I still haven't shaken off the extra pounds I gained while training for Fox Valley and Chicago last year. I could blame it on the winter, but motivation just wasn't there. I haven't slept well in months, and I'm just thinking of quick and easy (but not necessarily healthy) meals by the time I get home from work. So now I'm re-committing to eating healthy and staying active...again!

This time next week I will hopefully have another half marathon under my belt. I'm traveling up to Door County, WI to run the Door County Half Marathon with several friends from the area. It's supposed to be a beautiful and challenging/hilly course. I'm pretty happy with my training, especially with getting a great 11 mile run in last weekend. However, the 10K race I did in Batavia on Saturday has shaken my confidence a bit.

It was a perfect day for a race - sunny, low 50s at the start, and a bit of a breeze. I got to see my sweet friend Jen and some of her friends from the gym, and soon we were off. The first three miles or so went really well. I was keeping a decent pace, and was feeling optimistic that I might beat my PR. However, after mile 3 my feet started feeling numb...almost like how your face feels after getting a shot of Novocain. So I stopped once to retie my shoes. Things were okay for about a half-mile or so, and then it came back. I felt very frustrated, and completely out of sync. Everything My left hip started aching (which is new...that side has been fine through both marathons), and I just wanted the race to be over.

Luckily my good friend Aldona was out on a run, and came up on me from behind. She gave me that boost I needed to make it the last quarter mile. She was 9 miles into her run, and looked amazing! I wish I had had an ounce of her energy, since mine was shot by then. My time for the race ended up being a bit over 1 hr 15 min, and while it wasn't my best it wasn't my worst either.

Then I came home to see this picture posted on the Run the Edge Facebook page:

This really put the run in perspective. The afternoon after the race I attended a memorial service for a friend who left us way too soon, due to brain cancer. She loved being outside, and would sometimes run over to my house with her boys leading on their scooters, and our boys would play together. I'll miss her spirit, her smile, and her zest for life....and I know I'm so fortunate to be able to spend time outside, putting one foot in front of the other.

So when I run the half marathon this weekend I will carry her in my heart....and no matter what my finish time is, I will be so thankful that I'm out there, sharing the road with great friends and hundreds of other runners in this great, beautiful world.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh wow...snow!'s snowing yet again...and it's supposed to bring us close to 7" by the time it ends. It's hard to believe we had only had 10.7" this time last year. We had a little bit Saturday night/Sunday morning - just enough to mess up the streets again. I will take snow instead of ice any day, though. And with the promise of warmer temperatures coming later this week some of this will hopefully melt at least a couple of layers.

Thank goodness I got in two runs this weekend! I did 4.2 with the NSRC at Dick Pond St. Charles Saturday morning, and then did 4.1 the next day with the group again as part of the #runlove event they were sponsoring. We did the same route as the day before, but in reverse. There were many hills mixed in on the route, and it was definitely tougher the second day. It felt great to get out there and push myself, though.

After I finished my last post on Saturday, my day went downhill fast. I found out that someone had stolen my debit card number, apparently hacking into my account, and completely wiped out every last penny that had just been deposited on Friday. I felt so violated, and dealing with the bank was so frustrating! Essentially I have to wait for the purchase to be released before I can dispute them. Just one more headache I don't need.

I could have turned to the comfort of a full box of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies (I'd be lying if I said I didn't contemplate that), or finished up that bottle of wine in my fridge. But damn it - these thieves have already made me lose control on one area of my life, and I wasn't going to let them take another part. So I asked Chad if he would take the boys to church on Sunday so I could join the Dick Pond group for the fun run. I wanted - no, needed - to be with the friends I love, and get my frustration out on the hills.

That fun run was exactly what I needed! It was actually over 20 degrees, and there was a great turnout. Plus, with a $10 purchase everyone could receive a #runlove/I love Dick Pond mug. I had $15 in Runner Rewards, and they were offering 10% off purchases as well. So I was able to get a lovely pair of SmartWool socks and the mug for $0.51 - yay!

I rounded out the morning with coffee at Arcedium with my lovely friends (thanks to the gift card I still have from there), and felt so much lighter. It's amazing what running and great conversation can do for my soul!

Now if it this snow would just melt quickly off the roads so I can get back out there for some more miles this week!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Glorious run this morning!!!

Ever have one of those runs that just feels incredible??? I've had a few here and there, but something about this morning's run just clicked. Yes, it was about 0 degrees when we started...and yes, it was a hilly course. But from start to finish it was amazing!!

Jitka was so sweet to offer to pick me up so I'd be sure to make it to Dick Pond this morning for run club. It's so hard to get out of my nice, warm bed on a Saturday morning when the sun is still sleeping and it's well below freezing. But with Jitka coming to drive me, I rolled out of bed at 6:00 and layered up.

It was wonderful seeing so many friends when we got to the store this morning! I joined up with the group going 4.1 miles, and just as we all set off the sun was coming up over the trees and was beautiful!

Amy and I set into a comfortable pace (at least for me...I may have slowed her down lol!), and wound our way through the industrial area and lovely neighborhoods on the west side of the river. Of course, along with the charming homes came a lot of hills! I was determined to keep plugging along, and knowing that Amy was by my side was what kept me running. We did have to stop for a few seconds to cross Route 31, and I'm pretty sure that's the moment when I realized my lower half was essentially frozen. We were almost back to the store, though, so we kicked it up a notch and made it back in one piece.

Oh, it was so lovely to get back in and thaw out! My face was covered in frost, and my hair was crispy with ice. We stretched out with the group, and headed out for coffee at Arcedium with the crew (thank goodness for bringing warm, dry clothes!). Warming up, sipping awesome coffee, and laughing with friends was the best way to start my weekend. I can't wait to make it back to Run Club again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thank you sunshine!

You know that saying "if you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get out there"? Well, that has been so true for me. Although, in all honesty, it just hasn't been safe to get on the roads to log some miles. I could try the trails, but from what I could see it's marked by many different footprints - which I'm sure have been affected by freezing and additional snow. 

But today it actually felt decent after we left brunch after church this morning, so I dragged out the layers, gloves, hat, and SmartWool neck-warmer and started bundling up. Matt and Nathan had youth group at 1:00, so after dropping them off I hit the streets of Geneva for some miles. I have a half marathon in 3 months, so training starts now.

It was cold, but the houses blocked most of the wind and the sun was out, making it seem warmer than it really was. Either that, or I'm just getting used to temperatures in the teens. Some of the roads were pretty clear, although the less-traveled roads were still covered with a layer of fresh snow. I plugged along, and was able to log 4.37 miles in about 47 minutes. My Garmin had me at 4.1, but I knew I had gone further than that since I did an out-and-back with a few extra blocks added in. 

Just another day in Chiberia!

It was glorious to get out in the fresh air and soak up some vitamin D!! My hamstring still gives me a little grief, but not like it used to. I seem to have found right where it needs the foam roller, and that's keeping it a bit looser for me. The weather is still going to be cold for the next few days (although after watching the Olympic story on Siberia, I'm starting to put the cold in perspective!), but they're calling for low 30s on Thursday. I'll stick to my 30 Day Shred for the next few days, and then get back out for some short runs later this week. many of you are so ready for Spring miles?

Monday, February 3, 2014

How is it already February???

So I thought 2013 went by really appears that 2014 is on the same track! Sadly the weather seems stuck in January, though. It's still super-cold (although I think I'm getting a little loony...22 felt warm), and it snowed on Saturday and it's supposed to snow again tomorrow/Wednesday.

I had a wonderful run through the snow yesterday on the trails at Fabyan East with some of my awesome running friends. Pat L. is so great at scheduling winter trail runs, and I really wanted to get out for some fresh air. Luckily Chad agreed to take the kids to church, so I was able to meet up with the crew.

I only did about 2.7 miles, but it felt like at least double that with running through several inches of snow at times. And my hip/hamstring have confirmed that today! I was sore after sitting at work, so decided to take tonight off from working out. I'm happy with the five days I got in last week, but I'm going to have to start running a lot more....those half marathons I want to do won't run themselves!

On a weight note - only down 0.4 lbs, but as Chad said it's down instead of up. I did indulge in a couple of cookies last night at a Super Bowl party, but the rest of the week went really well food-wise. Gotta love being a woman ;-). I'm planning on 4-5 days of workouts, and want to hopefully get out for at least three decent runs. Let's hope the snowstorms stay away!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Oops, I did it again!

Bring it on!!!
I am officially registered to run the 2014 Chicago Marathon as part of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities!! I'll still have to go in and register with the marathon once that opens, but I know I'm guaranteed a spot on the course this year.

Last year was such an incredible experience, and I am so looking forward to training and running it again this year. The support from Team RMHC, and my fellow sorority sisters running with us, was tremendous, as was the support from all of my friends and family that donated to support this great organization.

Along with the perks of having the team leader keep us all up to date on what was going on, we also had access to Coach Brendan, a great pre-race meal, and an incredible Charity Village! They took great care of us that morning, with breakfast for all the runners, and then took care of all of us (and our friends and family) once we crossed the finish line and made our way back.

To top it off this year - Team RMHC is covering our entry fee!!!! Either way I'd run for them again, but this is a great perk. Especially with how tough it's going to be to get in to the less thing to worry about now!

If anyone is interested, here is the link to my personal web page: Carolyn's Personal Donation Page for Team RMHC

Here goes nothing!!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ahhhhh - it was actually over 25 degrees finally!!! The sunrise was beautiful this morning, and I relished the fact that I didn't have to bundle up as I have for the last several days. Of course, it did have to snow a know, to let us know it's still winter.

The great thing about the snow - it provided somewhat of a cover for the ice on the roads in my neighborhood. So I decided to bundle up, lace up, strap on the Yak Trax (which I just discovered are!), and get outside for a couple of miles. It went so much faster than I expected, and before I knew it I was done. It felt great to get some fresh air, even if it was still a little dicey. And I needed the stress relief after riding in the passenger seat with my newly-permitted driver...oy, that was a LONG three minute drive! Actually he's a good driver, and I'm glad he's learning how to drive in the bad weather when I'm with him.

This week has actually gone very well, at least in the healthy habit area. I've tracked all week, have taken my (healthy) lunches and snacks to work just about every day this month, and I've worked out the last three days in a row. Tomorrow I'm planning to do the Shred or yoga, and hope to run Saturday morning. We're expecting another snowstorm, so we'll see if I can get out of my driveway!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby steps

For anyone who doesn't know, the temperatures around here have been colder than the North Pole. That means I have not been able to get outside and run recently. Plus, the sidewalks and roads are icy/snowy/covered in salt, and I really don't want to break anything. I kind of like my whole bones!

I know if I want to keep moving on with my weight loss and getting myself back to a healthy lifestyle I was going to have to step out of my comfort zone. While running isn't easy for me, it has become "comfortable", and was my only workout I did for the most part. I haven't pushed myself like I used to, and my times have slowed waaaaaaaay down. Distance has been the focus for the last year, and I'll be working on it again this year. I'll be adding in speed workouts, along with strength and cross-training.

So tonight, after making and enjoying a healthy dinner of baked pork chops, green beans, and mashed sweet potatoes (no butter...just a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon), I got into my workout clothes before I could get too comfy on the couch. One of my friends had given me the Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVD 4 or so years ago, and I haven't done it in a LONG time. Like I mentioned, running was it when it came to exercise.

Even though this workout is just about 25 minutes or so, it's great because it works just about every body part. And yay - it was easier than it used to be!!! Don't get me wrong - I'm sure I'll still be sore tomorrow...but I gave it everything and still had a tiny bit left in the tank. It felt great to break a sweat and work out some stress that's been building up.

Now I'm going to enjoy a nice cup of Sleepytime tea, and relax with a book - and no guilt!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back to basics

Over the last year or so, my weight has slowly crept back up. Not alarmingly so, but enough that I noticed over the summer that my shorts were getting a wee bit snug. I kept telling myself "everyone gains weight when they train for a marathon"...well yeah, if they eat like I did!

I justified the amount I was eating by thinking it was okay because it was running 14/16/18 miles. But I knew in my  heart that I wasn't eating what I needed to effeciently fuel my body for all of the miles I was logging. And sadly, I got used to the amount of food I had been eating.

So last week I FINALLY went back to Weight Watchers. I know it helped me on this journey in the past, and I need the routine and accountability. Last Monday night I weighed in at 143.6 - yikes!! But I resolved to do better, tracked everything I ate, passed up a lot of desserts, and got some exercise in. That last part wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but between the snow/ice/slush and a business trip, I was happy with anything I got.

I went into my meeting feeling pretty confident, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. Luckily I was actually down - 2 whole pounds! felt great to see the numbers going down!

Now I need to keep tracking, drinking lots of water, lots of fruits and veggies, and kick up my exercise. It might actually crack into the 20s later this week - woo hoo! I can't wait to get back out for a run!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Polar Splish Splash Dash

Back before our winter had "really" hit, and gone to hell in hand basket like it did this past week, I jumped at the chance to run the Polar Dash with several of my friends. They had three different distances to choose from, and since I hadn't run more than 4 miles since Chicago I figured the 10K sounded like a good idea. Ha! Oh, I love how optimistic I can be after a glass or two of wine (that *might* have influenced me a bit as well).

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the weather around here this past week was less than stellar. The snow that had piled up over the last 10 days started to melt thanks to the rain we has last night - and started to freeze up again. Luckily the roads were clear this morning, other than the pothole that just about took us out on 90 on the way down to the city. Some places for walking were still a little sketchy, but we made it to the starting line (with about 10 minutes to spare for my friends running the 14 miler) without anyone biting it.

Photobombing Melissa!

Michelle, Melissa, and I right after crossing the start

The organization for this race was fantastic! They were great about updating last night and early this morning with information about the condition of the course. We had a head's up that there was going to be lot of standing water, and they were right on about that. Less than 1/4 mile in we encountered our first water hazard....and it suddenly became a trail/obstacle course. I could have been pissed about the slow going, or having to climb over snow piles, but I was running with friends....for I embraced all of it and laughed as we jumped/slid/ran/walked our way for 6.2 miles. Our good friend Deb made us some awesome tutus, which got us a lot of compliments, and really amped up our "cute" factor. The penguin hats were the icing on the cake!
Michelle and I hamming it up for the camera

Perfect spot for a photo op with Michelle!

Michelle and Melissa - looking great ladies!
The last 1/4 mile was probably the diciest part of the race. When we came back around behind the Shedd Aquarium, it was pretty much single-file thanks to the frozen slush and deep puddles. We obviously weren't going for a PR - this race was for fun - but I was getting chilly and was ready to be done. Once we got past that part, we just had to go up a slight hill and run through the finish. We had already decided we'd run through together, so we grabbed each other's hands and smiled and laughed together as we made it across the line. 
Love my awesome ladies!
Yeah, today was cold and not the best running conditions. But as one saying I've seen floating around says, if we wait for the perfect conditions we'll never set foot out the door. I may not have been fast, but I made it further than I've gone in the last three months - and it felt GREAT! And really, in the end, it's all about enjoying the miles, and being fabulous in the process.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

So is this how winter is going to go???

It's certainly been an interesting start to 2014, at least weather-wise. First we had a snowstorm New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, followed by another several inches of snow Saturday into Sunday. At least the snow made for some awesome sledding at the Fabyan Windmill! We even saw a couple who had just gotten married, and stopped by the hill to take pictures in the snow. Going up and down that hill was a great workout - especially when Nathan wanted me to pull him on the sled.

Luckily I made it out for an amazing trail run at St. James Farm with Pat, Melissa, Chris, and several other runners on Saturday morning. You know it's a challenging run when the ice-covered road was my preference for running! I did probably 1.5 miles through about 6" or so of fresh snow, and it really showed my how out of shape I am...yikes!! At least it gave just about my whole body a great workout, and I'm so glad I got out of bed for it.

Sunday afternoon was when the bottom dropped out. The temperatures started dropping quickly, and the wind picked up. By that evening the school district had already cancelled school for the next day. Between the falling temps, the bitter wind, and the drifting snow, it was definitely the right call. It was -25 or so when I woke up Monday morning (thank goodness I was able to stay home with the boys!), and with the windchill factored in, the temperature felt like about -45 to -50. This kept up all Monday, and into Tuesday, so we had another weather day at home. We finally thawed out to a balmy 15 degrees on Wednesday, so it was back to school and work for all of us.

Even though I didn't get a chance to log any miles this week, I still worked on being healthy and active. I made an oh-so-tasty batch of low-fat whole wheat chili mac, and healthy banana muffins and banana bread. Plus I got all of our Christmas decorations down, packed away, and stored for next year. There was a lot of clean-up that followed, but our house if finally back to normal.

So what's up next??? The Chicago Polar Dash 10K...woo hoo!! I can't wait to run this with several of my friends...we're even going to have tutus thanks to Deb! And thank goodness it'll be around 30 degrees, so hopefully the roads will be clear. I honestly have no idea how I'll do. The furthest I've run in the last couple of months is 4 miles. But I truly don't even care. I just want to have a good time and finish. I'm happy to say that my hip/hamstring really has improved quite a bit, I think due in part now to the trail and snow runs. Now bring on the miles!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections of 2013 and looking forward to goals for 2014

I say this every year, but it seemed like 2013 just flew by. I sit at the end of the first day of 2014, and I can't help but look back at all that happened over the last 12 months. My kids can only tolerate small amounts of my reminiscing, so I'm putting it down here.

I started off 2013 with a 5K run with Sue Stein in Chicago. It was a cold but sunny day, and I was hoping it would be the first of 600 miles for me. 3.1 down...only 596.9 to go! I didn't do as much running outside during the winter, though, and sadly kind of gave up on running much for a bit. The Shamrock Shuffle was still on my radar, so by mid-February I started to get back to it. I ran it a bit slower than 2012, but still finished in less than an hour.

In May I ran the Great Western Half Marathon. My time wasn't as great as I was hoping for, but the heat had kicked in and there was very little shade due to a late spring bloom for the trees. I had so much fun training for that, though, so it was a win in my book. Once I was done with that it was on to getting serious about marathon training. Boy...I had NO idea what I was in for when I signed up in February for the Chicago Marathon!

May also marked the beginning of the Fox Valley Marathon committee meetings. What an amazing group of people to be part of!! I signed up to the be the Kids Marathon Expo captain for the first day of packet pick-up, and can't wait to tackle more this year. I lived for our Wednesday night was so great getting together with everyone. And the post-meeting margaritas and wine didn't hurt!

Training for two marathons during a hot and humid Chicago summer was definitely a challenge. If I hadn't had the Fox Valley Marathon training runs and running on the off weeks with Pat L., there is NO way I would have made it through. It's pretty amazing to look back at the support I received from everyone, and I actually looked forward to spending hours on the trails with Pat. We never ran out of things to talk about, and Pat kept my feet moving even when all I wanted to was curl up on the side of the trail and take a nap.

Even with all the training and actually running two marathons, I fell about 200 miles short of hitting 600 miles. I had to take about 5 weeks off after Chicago due to hamstring/hip issues, so I might have gotten about 50 miles closer without that time off (although it was much needed...both physically and mentally). I'm finally getting back to where I can run with very little pain, and with that has come the joy I had felt about running in the past. And getting to run with my incredible friends, who I love dearly, makes it even better.

One other thing that was so wonderful about 2013 is the amazing friendships I've made now. I've mentioned this before, but when I was overweight I honestly didn't have one close friend here. Sure...there were people I was friendly with, but there wasn't anyone I could really turn to - for good things or bad. There wasn't anyone I could call up and say "hey, let's meet for coffee". Now I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful friends I have. I don't even have to ask them to meet week was particularly rough for me, and Christine knew a girl's night out was just what I needed for that weekend! And I realize that I need to be much better about being the one to initiate the same way. I hope my friends know how much I love them.

So what do I have to look forward to for 2014? Luckily it started off with a 3.1 mile run and brunch with 40-50 of my running friends, thanks to Jj and his wife. It's been snowing here for over 24 hours, and it was absolutely stunning out there this morning. Yes, it was cold - but the beauty of the snow and being surrounded by such a great group absolutely warmed my heart. As I sat at the table at brunch, looking around at the love and friendships in the room, I was getting misty-eyed. They were happy tears, though.

What I'm planning for in 2014 is to be a better friend, and make sure they all know I'm there for them no matter what. The support I've gotten from them will be returned, as I know many of them have amazing plans this year. I look forward to sharing many races with them, and we'll be starting that off on January 11th with the Polar Dash. Some of us (myself included) are running the 10K, so I'll get to cheer on those running the 14 miler. I can't wait!