Sunday, September 22, 2013

Racing for Others

There are lots of reasons to sign up for a race.  Some people like the idea of running through certain cities, while others do it for the experience.  The majority of time I race for one thing - a new PR.  However, today was the the second time this year (the first being the Boson Marathon) where I lined up at the start of a race knowing that the main goal was to run with a friend.

I signed up for the Fox Valley Half Marathon in December, with the intention that it would be my goal race of the year.  I had such high hopes, and the idea of a new PR danced around frequently in my head.  Then I got sick.  I had a fever for a few days, a nasty cough and cold and couldn't breathe well.  I didn't run until Thursday, when 5 miles felt like a marathon, and my 9:16 overall average felt like a dead out sprint.  Friday I decided that I would need to adjust my goals.  I would run the race with my two friends, helping them to reach their goal of a sub 2-hour half marathon, rather than running this race for myself.

Sunday morning rolled around and I felt no pressure whatsoever.  The weather was nice and cool, made for PRing.  I lined up with my friends and our 13.1 mile journey through the western suburbs began.  I had the most fun I have ever had in a race before, and truly did not feel like I was actually in a race.  We ended up running a 1:57, which averaged out to a 9:00/mile pace.  In the end, I got my medal but more importantly, my friends got their PR.  I'm happy I could help them achieve this goal.

Life is funny.  I thought that this race was going to be awesome all spring and summer.  I looked forward to it with such great anticipation, but it was not meant to be.  Surprisingly, I am ok with that.  Because just like a lot of other runners, the first thing I did when I got home from the race was sign up for another half marathon in November.  PR's can happen at any race, but helping a friend can't.  I am glad I could help them out today.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013: DNF and DNS

A few weeks ago, I DNF'd my first "race".... the beer mile my friends were putting on.  It was hard, and my stomach can only take so much liquid.  Rather than getting sick, I quit half way through.  My friends think I need to practice more so I don't DNF the Chilly Beer Mile, held in November.  Thus far I have done zero work in order to remedy that problem.

On to bigger issues...2013 will be the year where I have my first DNS.  As I "recently" blogged about, my training hasn't gone well.  I traveled a lot in July and August, and struggled to get quality miles in.  Last week was the icing on the cake.  I was supposed to run 20 miles and made it 1.5.  Yes, you read that correctly.  After doing some stupid training that week, including an 8 mile track workout that involved 5 x 400s at 1:23 pace and then a 5k in 21:30 Friday night followed by a 6 mile tempo on hills the next morning, my body couldn't handle it.  Not only did I have a blood sugar problem and went low, my legs were hurting from the first step I took that day.  My running friend walked back with me to our starting point.  It was at that point that I knew I would not run the Chicago Marathon.

This past week I have felt sad, and have had a "pity party" for myself.  I know I could run the marathon in sub-4 hours, but I don't want to.  I'm not in the best shape right now, and I think it would be mentally taxing on me to do the race.  I don't want to hate running, and I know if I continue to train for the marathon it is not going to be enjoyable.  It has been disgustingly humid and hot outside this week, making it hard to run.  I've been doing my fair share of sweating, and my once "easy pace" has seemed incredibly hard.

The year is 2/3 of the way over as of today.  I started the year with my best running ever, and have gotten into a major slump this summer.  I have a half marathon at the end of September that I am still doing, but other than that, I know I need to run with no goal other than to enjoy the activity.  Who knows what the rest of 2013 will bring, but I am hoping it ends as good as it started.

Monday, August 5, 2013

In a Slump

I'm running the Chicago Marathon for the second time in three years on October 13.  Two years ago when I trained for it, everything was new.  It was my first marathon, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment with each new distance.  "I just ran 18 miles!"  "I just ran 20 miles!  Yay!"  With my excitement, I also had a few really good races and became a lot faster.  

This time around, it hasn't been the same.  I feel like my running is at a standstill.  I'm not making progress, but actually running worse, or so it seems.  Runs are becoming harder and I'm not making progress, which has greatly hindered my motivation.  I'm frustrated to say the least.  

I once heard that when a person is trying to lose weight, they go through certain plateaus.  One week, they may drop 2 pounds and then do the exact same thing the next week and not lose any weight.  Or perhaps it stays the same for the next few weeks before dropping a pound or two again.  

I am not sure if this is where I am with my running or not, but I hope so.  I wish I could get instant gratification with my running and see results every day.  However, with all things, that is not how the world works.  I will just be patient and wait...for however long it takes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Diabetes in Zero G

This past week I had the opportunity of a experience Zero G and 2 G on a NASA plane.  Three other teachers from my school and I were in Houston, Texas for 12 days.  Back in the winter, we created an experiment that our students at school could do and that would have different results in zero and 2 G.

NASA has a special plane (the weightless wonder) that we got to ride for 2 hours while testing our experiment.  I was nervous for a few reasons:

1.  In order to prevent motion sickness, you should take a pill or shot.  I hate needles.  However, I sucked it up and took the shot, which makes you dizzy.  In reality, I didn't get too dizzy and it was similar to getting a flu shot.

2.  I had no idea how my insulin pump would work in zero G and 2 G.  From my limited research, there has never been a diabetic astronaut.  My endocrinologist in Chicago didn't think it would be an issue, and the flight doctor told me I'd be fine.  In reality, I was.  When we took off, I was 134.  When we landed, I was 103.  I'd say I was successful.

It is hard to put into words the experience I had.  Being weightless was one of the neatest things I have ever experienced.  We also go to experience Martian and Lunar gravity, which made doing push-ups very easy.  If only it was like that in real life.

I can definitely say that I am more interested in space after this week, and had an amazing time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sunday's TdC Chicagoland Bike Ride

Continued from yesterday's post...

Instead of getting to the start of the Tour de Cure bike ride at 6:30, as originally intended, we instead arrived fashionably late at 6:55 AM.  Cleaning up my knees was more important than being on time.  Plus, my team knew what happened because we texted them.

After parking, getting all of my biking stuff out of the car, and finding my team, I wanted to get my Red Rider jersey.  I found it a bit odd that they did not give these out ahead of time.  I went into the venue to get it, asked a man where they were, and was told the wrong way to turn.  Then I asked another volunteer where to go.  Instead, I got this response:

Old Man Volunteer: "You shouldn't ride with your knees in that condition."

Me: "I'm fine.  I fell running this morning."

Old Man Volunteer: "It is not safe for you to ride."

Me (already pissed off at this point): "Where are the jerseys?"

Old Man Volunteer: "There is a medical tent outside.  You need to go there."

Me: "I'm fine.  Where are the jerseys?"

Old Man Volunteer: "You shouldn't ride."

At that point, my frustration had gotten the better of me.  I was already late because of falling, and now this old man was trying to tell me not to ride.  If he only knew that whenever someone tells me something is not possible it only makes me want to go prove them wrong even more, perhaps he would have stopped talking.  Instead of yelling at him, which is what I wanted to do, I simply turned and walked away.  I eventually found the area, got my jersey, and headed back to my team, my friends.

At this point it was already 7:30, and the first wave was long gone, as they started at 7 AM.  Me, my running friend, and another guy were starting together.  After getting to the street, we contemplated which way to go, and ended up following the arrows.  We were the only ones on the path, which we thought was odd.  We weren't even biking that slow.  By the time we reached mile 6.5, both of their phones rang.  We pulled off the path to see who it was, only to find out that our other team members, still at the start, called to tell us we were going the wrong way.

At that point, we turned around and made our way back to the start.  By the time we got back, we had already biked 13 miles, and I knew the century would not happen.  However, I was okay with it.  It could happen another day instead.

By the time we got to the first rest stop, they were packing up.  All of us, runners first and cyclists second, found it a bit funny.  The there of us run well, and often finish near the front of races.  It was like we became the slow runners.  It was a different feeling, one that I didn't particularly like.

When we reached rest stop 2, the same thing happened.  By rest stop 3, we had finally (!!!) caught up to some other riders.  By rest stop 4, we caught up with two other people on our team and biked with them for a little bit.  At that rest stop was the dividing for the century and metric riders.  However, the century riders had to leave that stop by 11 AM to continue on the course.  We got there at 11, so we knew the metric was what we were going to be doing.

My running friend was starting to feel tired and her legs hurt at this point.  She started to bike slower, with one of the other teammates, and by the next rest stop decided she would rather take the sag vehicle back to the start than finish.  This was at 100k, or 62 miles.  However, the guy (D) who was biking with us and me and the other two continued on.  D and I biked the last 13 miles together.  I was getting tired, and on the hills he would pull me up so I didn't have to work as hard, which was very kind.  We ended up crossing the finish line together, wheel-by-wheel, 75 miles later.

My knees did not hurt at all during the bike ride.  I did, however, get many interesting questions asked:

Many times, people would look at me, up and down, and then say, "what happened to you?" or "does that hurt?"

My canned response was: "I went running before the ride and fell this morning.  I feel fine, and I am ok."

D and my running friend joked that I should just put a sign on my jersey that said "I am fine."

Even though the day did not go as I thought it would, I wouldn't have done it any other way.  To live with diabetes is to overcome an obstacle every single day.  Therefore, biking with scrapped knees is only fitting.  It was just one more obstacle to overcome.  And I can say that not only did I overcome it, I demolished it in the process.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday's Run Before the Bike

One of my friends always says that when her family says her training is crazy, there is always someone out there who is crazier.

Yesterday was the Chicagoland's Tour de Cure, an event that I had a small role in helping out with and  was also a team captain.  My friend and I had these grand plans to ride 100 miles in this event ever since we signed up.  We both have never completed a century ride.  My farthest was 75 miles, done last fall, and hers 98 done at Ragbrai a few summers ago.  Plus, a century ride is on my bucket list for the year.  I thought it would be meaningful to complete it at the Tour de Cure ride.

However, as much as I love to ride my bike, running is my true love, and yesterday was the kick-off of marathon training.  I was supposed to run 12 miles yesterday, however, my friend (also a marathon runner) and I decided 10 miles would be good.

She came over to where I live at 4:15 AM on Sunday morning so we could fit our run in before the ride.  We promptly left at 4:20 and ran out 5 miles, had some GU, and started to come back.  Then, at mile 7.5, this happened to me:


I tripped on the uneven sidewalk and scrapped my knees.  After laying on the sidewalk for a minute, my friend promptly told me I had to get up because if any cop cars drove by they would think she beat me up, which made me laugh.  Luckily, one of my hands landed in the grass and the other, which held a handheld water bottle, was unharmed.  The handheld, though, sustained all of the damage and broke. 

We ran the remaining 2.5 miles back to where I live, and maintained the same pace as my pre-fall.  My friend so kindly posted the picture above to Facebook, where the comments were entertaining to read.  I changed into my bike clothes and off we went to Aurora, the city where the Chicagoland Tour de Cure started.  Who says a little fall will deter me from riding my bike?

...To be continued tomorrow...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

5k is not the same as a Marathon

I had the pleasure of viewing this conversation on Facebook.  Two people I went to high school with recently got into running, and have been running all of the local 5k's or similar back in then tristate area.  

This was the conversation that happened under a picture that they posted.

Runner #1: I ran the race in xx:xx and placed 13th out of 75 in my age group!!!  I am starting to get the hang of this marathon thing :)

Person #1: You flew by me at mile 1 and I never saw you again

Person #2: I love your matching shoes!

Runner #1: You should join us for one.  We are doing the race in (city) next weekend.

Person #2: I can't because i have to work.

Runner #1: At the end of the month we are doing the Color Run.  We are also running two more marathons in July in the area.

It amazes me how Runner #1 interchanged the words 5k and marathon, acting like they were the same thing.  Personally, I have always known the difference because I grew up around running.  Marathons were a great distance, 5ks a short run.

Having trained for both 5ks and marathons before, I can, as well as anyone else, say that there is a gigantic difference.  It takes a few weeks to train for a 5k, but months and hours upon hours to train for a full marathon.  It would be like saying that you got a home run in baseball when really you were walked.  You still got on base, but it was only to first.  You did well, but could have gone farther.

This isn't to say that running 5ks is easy.  I think they are incredibly hard if you run them all out.  However, they are nothing like a marathon.  5ks are done in 30 or less minutes, while marathons take a few more hours to finish.

Are there other things that you often hear people confuse? I have heard 5k and marathon before, but also biathlon and duathlon often get confused.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rockford 10k Race Report

Do you ever have the feeling that you are capable of much more than your performance showed?  That is the feeling that I left the Rockford 10k with last Sunday.  After speaking with my running coach the races held that day, we decided that it would be most beneficial if I raced the 10k and not the half marathon, as I originally wanted.

Mile 5.5 

My goal was to run the first mile in 7:00 or 7:05 and then run the rest in the 6:50s, so I would average 6:55 or so for the race.  I'm here to say that did not happen.  It wasn't even close.  I ended up averaging 7:04 for the race, and ran about 20 seconds slower than my PR from last year.

Getting my check

There is a lot I should be happy about.  I was 13th overall and the 2nd place female.  This race gives out money to the top 3, so I got a $50 check.  This is the first time I have ever won money for running.  Three of my running club teammates were running in the races, and there were an additional 4 that came to spectate/bike/cheer for us.  Doesn't it all sound great?

This past year, I have had concrete goals for a lot of races and fell short every single time.  The races where I had no goals were the ones that I ran my fastest.  I don't get it.  I can get 3 hours of sleep before a half marathon and run a 1:36 on the hilliest course in Illinois, but actually get sleep and proper rest only to run a 43:53 10k on a flat course?

With all that aside, I'll continue to race and have goals.  Hopefully I can achieve them this summer/fall.  I did accomplish one goal for this race, although it had nothing to do with time.  I've always felt that my body is too fat to only race in shorts and a sports bra.  But, I wanted to overcome that, and I did.  I raced in my shorts and sports bra, and was thankful I did due to the incredibly high humidity.  At least I achieved one goal, right?  It is the small things in life that matter!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week #6 - Art Day

I dumped a plethora of used test strips from my meter bag and came up with this design: 

I think it is fitting, as I am racing tomorrow.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Diabetes Blog Week #5 - Switch Disease Day

When you consider all things, diabetes, although it is a pain sometimes, definitely is not the worst chronic condition one could have.  I thought about other chronic conditions and many are a lot worse, so coming up with a disease I would want to switch with was rather challenging.  Ideally, diabetes would just go away.  However, that isn't happening soon, so instead I would become Celiac in its place.

Changing my diet wouldn't be too awful to do.  I went gluten free for a bit last year during marathon training and it was just a different way to think about food.  Obviously, if you do eat gluten than that would suck.  However, there are so many people jumping on the GF band wagon that it is easy to find options to eat at most restaurants.  Some of my favorite foods are GF anyway, including my favorite: 

Although I don't truly consider myself part of the DOC, given the fact that not too many diabetes topics are spoken about here, I don't think it has impacted how I treat others' medical conditions.  I am a caring person by nature, so I am concerned when someone else gets hurt, injured, or sick.  But that is part of who I am, and would be regardless of other people.