Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
A gorgeous day in the high '60s (when I started out), with trees still holding on to those last fall leaves -- yellow and red and a few green. As you may recall (it's been a while, folks -- I know) I've had some major ITB issues since The Marathon. Well, since the 18 miler in Marathon Training. It's not totally subsided -- and after three weeks of sitting still, I was beginning to spin in my head a little. Actually, I was spinning a lot.
So, about a week and a half ago, I took myself to Athletico to get an injury screening. Alex, who both settled and entertained me (which is not easy at 7:30 a.m.) assured me that it was "only" ITB -- nothing permanent, and that Someday, One Of These Days, I would be able to walk stairs (or just walk) without pain. And she encouraged me to do the exercises that she prescribed, but also to try to get back out on the path as soon as I felt able. (She also cautioned me to Be Smart this time, and stop if something hurts.)
Over the weekend in Montreal (ooh la la! oui! oui!) SJV and I walked... and walked ... and walked... And even though my leg let me hear about it, it didn't complain long into the night. So this morning I thought was the perfect day to try to run again. The last three non-running weeks have been the longest that I've not run since I started two years ago, so it was actually a little emotional when I put on my shoes, my Chicago Marathon hat (seriously earned that one...) and my favorite fall running jacket. I-pod in tow playing a little Iron & Wine... And off I went into the fall colors and robin's-egg-blue-sky that I otherwise could only admire through my window.
I was careful -- very, very careful. And I'm trying a new running form/style (Chi-running, for those that are curious) that seems to help. I ran a smokingly fast time for being out for three weeks and still being injured, and I only ran 1.5 miles. But I ran. I got to feel the ground under my feet, and the breeze on my face, the sun on my skin... it was exactly what I needed.
But it's clear that I'm starting over -- I was more winded than I normally would be, and this new form will take time to get used to. So it's good that it's The Off Season, and that now I can focus on form rather than speed, and the love of the outdoors rather than the PR.
More on Montreal soon, and maybe someday I'll post that Marathon Race Report. It's a hard one to write...
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Perhaps the best way to recap the marathon is with photos -- and SJV provided plenty of gorgeous ones for your review. Bless him for being so patient the entire day -- it was a hot one for runners and for spectators alike, but he and Connie (my amazing buddy) were there around every corner.
And a HUGE thank you to Reed and Vickie -- my amazing friends who happen to be my next-door-neighbors (boy did I ever luck out!). Vik ran about a mile with me, and Reed ran about 15. His company was so wonderful -- particularly since he had to slow wayyyyy wayyyyy down to hang with the likes of an Injured Belly. Still, I was glad that we had multiple hours to chill.
I'll begin from the beginning -- the day before at the Expo. SJV and I headed down to the expo to pick up our numbers and such -- even though SJV wasn't planning on running, he still needed to pick up his goodie bag, etc. Great swag -- and the expo was pretty fantastic. We both got to hold a gold medal! See?
Then, we went over to the pacer area to say howdy to some folks we know who were running the pacer groups. I toyed with signing up for a group -- I decided that it would be cool to have one of those nifty temporary tattoos to help you keep on pace. Now, I had said (many, many times) that I wasn't going to "race" this one -- just run and jog and walk, and generally do whatever my left leg would allow. But my ego was beginning to remind the rest of me that we really could go faster if we wanted... and so we compromised and got a temporary tattoo for 5:00 -- a really slow marathon for what I knew I was capable of. So, that decision made, we started to go through the rest of the pacer line. That's when we saw our friend Lora (super-fantastic runner and the 5:45 pacer) who was chillin' with another pacer.
(Adorable photo, guys!) Lora had a great time at the marathon -- sounds like she did incredibly well, and really enjoyed herself. Fantastic!
We left them, mingled around a bit, and got our stuff.
Then we went home, and I started to set up. I put medical tape on my favorite running shirt, and started to write "Belly" across my chest. (Note the Stick in the photo -- I have not been far from that little piece of equipment for some time, now...)
A note: the tape worked well, but next time I'm going to secure it with some safety pins. It kept rolling up, (at the end, people were yelling for "Kelly" because they couldn't see the top of the "B" anymore) so that I finally had to just rip it off. End note.
It was a pretty, pretty morning - although it warm, the sky was beautiful, and the sunrise! Well, it was a really gorgeous sight.
And off I was. There are a lot of folks in this marathon. Exhibit A:
Holy frijoles! Lots of peeps. So, I started off toward them, thinking that I'd go to the 5:00 hour folks and see what that did for me. I was shocked when I had enough time to do that (I was still anxious from thinking I was going to be "late"), and then we just sortof started shuffling forward, really slowly. It was then that, lo and behold! SJV found me! If that's not a testament to us being eerily aware of the other, I don't know what is. I was super happy to see him:
I had given him a very quick kiss goodbye, and missed him immediately after walking away. Now I figured I had a second chance, so I took it! We walked together for a while:
And stood by each other (and by some folks that looked like they had just woken up...)
We got into River North, and I was running with the BatMan crew -- group of about six folks dressed like Batman, Robin, the Joker -- you get the picture. I took their camera and took a photo of them running together -- very cute photo, and i wish I had a copy! Leg still hurting (that's pretty much a constant through this marathon, unfortunately).
Frankly, I think these are both from 14, but they may be from 16 -- like I said, I got the miles all jumbled in my head...
(That photo of me on the train is Exhibit A on why I won't allow photos to be taken of me in mylar.)
And that, my friends, is it. A marathon race report that gives you a taste, and a view, of what it was like for me. ;) My time is unimportant, but it was something like 5:33. I finished, and that's what matters.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It's a very buddhist feeling thing, really.
I suppose my zen-like-couch-state has been precipitated by my marathon recovery -- as this is my first marathon, I'm not 100% sure what my body is supposed to be doing at any given point. I've peppered dozens of other runners that have attempted the distance with questions over the years, and I've read dozens of articles and books about marathons and recovery, and all things related. But, at the end of the day, This Girl knows This Body better than any of those Experts do. And this body wants Couch. NOT a two mile run (my ITB would scream in protest, I'm sure) or lots of food, or some pool-time (that's for next week, we've decided), or Bikram (I've been dehydrated enough this week, thank you very much...). Couch, it tells me.
And so, Couch it is.
And tomorrow Sweet Johnny V and I take off for points south, to visit my sister and her family while SJV gives a talk/moderates a conference. I'll be in a spot where the weather is perfect for running, but I'll have to satisfy myself with a walk. Maybe a long walk on Saturday, to celebrate the 33rd year of Belly. That's right, folks! Saturday is the National-International Day of Belly. Mark it on your calendars, and make sure you do something fun that day.
Maybe some Couch...
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Two days ago I ran The Chicago Marathon -- I finished, which was a feat for my poor feet, which were ready to have it over with. The day was challenging -- a high of 84 (we thought it was hot) which made for some re-calibrations of expectations. Of course, I've been in re-calibration mode all season -- with nagging injuries and shifting priorities, I went from wanting a 4:00 marathon to wanting to finish.
And I did finish.
My race report will come later, when I have all of the gorgeous photos that Sweet Johnny V took before, during, and after the race. But I wanted to let everyone know that yes, I did finish, and I'm alive and kicking, and generally healthy (although feeling dizzy and strange, which I suppose is par for the course).
My body handled the running better than I thought, but once I stopped, it started to give me some feedback that I didn't appreciate. I couldn't eat well for at least a day, which sent me into major blood sugar problems. And I couldn't sleep at all on Sunday night -- after running 26.2 miles, my body was quite confused as to what it really wanted. So, even though I went to bed pretty early, I didn't actually get to sleep until 5:30 a.m. And then I was up at 7:30. I didn't appreciate that much. I cat-napped yesterday all day, but never really caught up. If I ever attempt the marathon again, I'll have to remember what my body does and when, so that I'm not caught unawares again. And maybe next time I'll take an ambien or unisom the night that I finish...
I'm headed back to my favorite spot on the couch to relax and kick back. More to come on the race and the day...
Saturday, October 11, 2008
And Tomorrow Is The Marathon. 26.2 miles of running through 29 Chicago neighborhoods, and I'm going to be there. For the whole thing, I hope. For the Elvis impersonsator; for the boystown cheerleaders; for my friends in my 'hood that will hopefully be up and at the end of our street cheering me on; for the Pilsen mariachi band; for the Chinatown dragons; for the "International Mile"; for the countless childrens' outstretched hands and yells of support; and for the final stretch down Michigan Avenue that I know from word of mouth and from spectating experience is one lonely piece of road where it's just you, your feet, and your determination.
I'm hoping to finish -- nagging injuries all season have kept me from my initial goals, so now I'm wavering between signing up with a pace group and just slogging it out on my own. I fear that with a pace group, my natural inclination toward competition and pushing myself too far will take over, and I'll blow up around mile 20. Or mile 25.
And blowing up is just unacceptable. I've vowed that, no matter what, I'll finish this darn race. I've run my long runs, and I've put in the time. At 32, this summer I've gotten my body into the best shape it's ever been in, and I'm just asking it to do this one last thing before it can soften and slow down for the winter. I'm really hoping that it cooperates... But even if I have to Woman Up and walk it for the last 10, I want that medal. I've earned it.
I've got to get ready to pick up SJV and go to the expo. I'll send updates tomorrow, after the race, and in a few days I'll have some photos from Belly's First Marathon...
Wish me luck!
One foot in front of the other...
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
So, it's been a while since I posted, in part because SJV and I went to my grandma's early on Sunday (we started out at 6:30 a.m.) and came back very late that night. It was a grand day -- grandma's 91st birthday! She opened presents:
And then I opened mine (thanks Aunt Pat and Uncle Dave for the most excellent footies, bag and moisturizers!):
And then we went out for lunch and, later, for ice cream at the favorite Johnson's. I swear, their ice cream is de-licious. Mmmmm.
Now, this is the second week of Operation Bikram Yoga -- my attempt at limbering myself up enough to finish the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. As you know, it's been a difficult few weeks/months, with my IT band singing and whistling every long (and now, every short) run that I do. Yesterday's run was no exception -- I went on a 2-3 mile run, and it started smarting around mile 1. By "smarting" I mean that aching sensation -- not the jabbing pull that will make you hop for a minute, grimace, and shake your head. It's the kind of thing that you honestly can run through, but you spend the time you otherwise would have spent pondering the yonder pondering how you got yourself into this mess, and why on earth your leg won't cooperate with your otherwise willing body/mind.
And that's the kicker-- everything else feels fine. I'm convinced that, without that leg bugging me, I could have an incredible marathon. I'm also convinced that, if I don't start out and continue conservatively, that leg will keep me from finishing. Seriously. So, rather than keeping to my pre-marathon-training goal of somewhere in the 4:30s (or under -- easily achievable when you look at my past race performances) I'm looking at somewhere under the 5:30s. And, for a first marathon, I should be excited to finish. *sigh*
Adding insult to my injury, the forecast keeps changing -- two days ago it was supposed to be a high of 60. Perfect. Now, it's a high of 76. Not so perfect. Visions of last year are creeping up in my head, and I'm a little scared of what the forecast will say in two more days. Not much I can do about it, and I'm lucky that I run well in the heat (and perhaps a few days of Bikram Yoga will help me with this, now that I think about it). Still, not optimal...
But, in less than a week, I can add "marathoner" to my personal list, and that's pretty darned fantastic. :) I'm getting excited, so if the next few days are full of nervous posts, and some jittery conversations, I apologize in advance.
Start slowly, then taper...
Thursday, October 2, 2008
and a great veggie garden (I don't think they really need the tractor) with butternut squash, curly kale etc all growing out where folks that aren't from the country can see how they grow. Our favorites were the piglets -- they were all cuddled up over/under/around each other, and every time one of them moved, it caused a chain reaction of squirming, pushing, and nudging until they all got comfortable again. They were a month old, so they're still in the oh-my-gosh-how-cute-when-can-I-take-one-home stage. See?
Totally relaxing, wonderful day -- the garden that's right outside of the zoo is really gorgeous, and we walked through the conservatory on our way to the zoo to enjoy the flowers.
It was a great day, and when SJV sent me those photos, I just had to share. :)
In other news, I did get to run outside yesterday morning -- gorgeous crisp morning that it was. I was pretty excited -- got up early, got some coffee, threw on the shoes and i-pod, garmin in tow... By the time I was near the lakefront path, I was pumped to get going... I started up, and that darned familiar pull on the knee started right with me (well, maybe about a 1/2 mile behind, but close enough). So, slow and steady won out yesterday, and I logged about the slowest 4 mile run I've done in quite some time. Still, I never felt a ZWING or a serious pain, which I attribute to the stretching during Bikram the other night. So, that was positive, and I'm heading back to Bikram again this evening. And as many times as I can fit it in, to be honest.
Talk about an interesting forum: a bunch of folks with mats and beach towels in a room that's 105 and 50% humidity, sweating like crazy and bending all over the place. I have to say: I loved it. Well, once I really got into it, I loved it. So, this will be my new "hard core" activity for the next few months, to give my body some time to restore itself from the past season of hard-core-ishness. (Whilst allowing me to continue the eating pattern that I love without gaining a second Belly...) And maybe that heat will feel better once the weather cools even more...
"Warmest" regards -- literally,
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
We drove up to Wisconsin, attended the expo, got me bodymarked (my first bodymarking!) got my event shirt,
Much different from the day before. There were big floating pallets on either side of the alley that the swimmers were (supposed) to swim. There were also kayaks. So, if you got tired, you could just swim over to one of the pallets or to the kayaks and hold on for a minute, and then go on. But there were A LOT of ladies in that lake.
When it was time to go down to the shore, all of us chatty ladies shuffled down to the start. And that's when we got our last pep talk before we started. (See photo of us during said pep talk)
Note, too, the "noodles" that they have on the beach there. Those are for the "swim angels" -- ladies that swim along with you with a noodle that you can hold and rest if you want. It's a very sweet idea that makes the race accessible and less stressful for new swimmers. Great concept, very female friendly. If you wanted an angel, you could ask -- or they would find you if you were crying, or hyperventilating... ;)
Then they counted us down, and off we went. I started out pretty strong, and then, suddenly, I panicked. About 50 feet into the thing, I lost it a little. So I flipped over to rest on my back, and all I could see was what seemed like hundreds of yellow caps coming at me. Whaaaaa! I took a few deep breaths, flipped back over, and started swimming for broke. I couldn't see well - the sun was coming up on the same side that I like to breath, and I didn't have mirrored goggles at the time. So, I just went like crazy -- and I totally zig-zagged. (If you go too far off course, they come and get you... so it wasn't that bad, really...) But once I had hit my groove, I really hit my groove, and I felt good and relaxed. I noticed that I was passing folks in other colored swim-caps, and I thought that was good... there was a bit of a bottleneck at the end, but I fared well, even though the sand at the end was deep, and your feet sunk pretty far down after so many other waves had loosened up the ground:
I had finished the swim in 15:13. NOT BAD! I had hardly any problems ripping off my wetsuit, but it was a bit of a mess getting from A to B in that transition. I'm happy with my transition time of 3:04.
On to the bike! I started out feeling pretty good -- getting up those hills wasn't so bad, and I wanted to get done as fast as I could... I knew there would be a wind coming and it would get stronger as the day went on, so I wanted to get going. I blazed down that nice long downhill, and hit 25mph at one point, which got me a little scared. :) It seemed like another woman and I were just trading places -- so we started chatting, and encouraging one another. I was passing ladies left and right, and trying to keep up with my new friend. Once we hit the part of the course that was pretty bad road and some gravel, the wind hit straight on, and everyone got quiet. The wind was probably around 15mph, and when a gust hit, everyone slowed considerably. But the most amazing thing about this race was the support from other competitors -- lots of "you go, chica," and "looking really strong" -- both from folks you passed and from those passing. Finally, I was coming around to the last two inclines back into transition, and let me tell you how hard those were -- the wind coming straight on, and going up those inclines with no real training on hills... Everyone was having a hard time, and I was no exception. I just ground it out...
I was happy to get into transition -- my heart rate was through the roof, so even though I knew I could just run off, I dawdled a little to get it down.
The great news? I averaged 18.3 for the bike! Nice-- total time, 42:31. Transition: 2:03. Also not bad, considering.
Next, the run. This, I figured, was my "easy" event. Ummm... I hadn't ever run that hard after cycling that hard (I'd done a few bricks, but nothing like that...). So, a few minutes after starting, I had to pull over to the side to get my breath again... I was unbelievably thirsty (because I can't drink on the bike well, and hadn't taken my water bottle from transition) and then I got a side-stitch around mile 2.5, and had to walk for a bit. In any event, it's a good run course -- just all the way around the little lake, with a bit extra, and then you come in by the recplex. There's not much shade, and I was annoyed that there was only one water stop, but that's plenty for someone who hydrates well on the bike. Also, there's lots of room for spectators to cheer you on, and it's darn accessible to them.
Back to the run: after my crudilicious performance on the running path, and what I could tell was NOT going to be a PR on the run, I figured I'd miss my goal by a lot. I also couldn't really go any faster than I was going -- my side-stitch was pretty bad, and, well... the hard efforts were catching up. So I was really happy to see the finish line, and to see My Sugar at the finish line, and to get some water at the finish line.
Then, I checked my watch: I had run the run in 28:43.
Final results: Overall rank: 417/3655, 63/370 (age group); Swim 599/3655; Bike 543/3655; Run 756/3655.
I then started adding things up, and realized that I had missed by goal by only 1:36. That's right! (And that's using the official time) I had finished my first sprint tri in 1:31:36. I was very happy. Very happy! (Followed, of course, by kicking myself for not running faster... blah blah blah)
SJV and I hung around for a while, enjoying the day -- it was gorgeous, and then we had to figure out logistics for how to get home. That's really the only down-side to this race. We had to get on a bus, to go get the car, to get the car as close as possible to the race, so that I could ride my bike to the car... Doing all of that took longer than the race itself! Still, it was very well organized -- with that much of a logistical challenge, it would have been far worse if it wasn't well organized.
Sheesh, I'm long winded. :) So there's my first post-hoc race report about Danskin Chicago. I highly recommend it for first-timers, and for other ladies that want an easy-going race. Very supportive, very fun. But it's probably not a place to get a PR -- there are a lot of ladies that don't really understand the rules yet, so sometimes you just can't go that fast. Still, I did pretty well with my time, and I liked the course.
Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend everyone!