Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LA to CR and Beyond

After I get home for the evening I typically log my workout stats in for the day on a spreadsheet I started back in January.  After realizing that I have logged over 100 miles for the month of December, I wanted to see just how many miles I have run all year. 

I added up all  my monthly totals to find that I currently have run 1,795.3 miles in 2011.  I am surprised that my legs have carried me that far. 

I feel confident that it is safe to say that I will run over 1,800 miles this year.  For a frame of reference, that is farther from Los Angeles, California to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a city located in the eastern part of the state between Des Moines and the Mississippi River).

Back in January I would have never guessed I could have run this much and felt so good while doing it.  My body  never ceases to amaze me.

If I log just as many miles in 2012, I'll be just as happy.  If I log more, great.  I don't really care about the number of miles I run, although it is fun to look at, I really care more about being healthy.  I'm excited for 2012 and all that it has in store.

Do you keep track of how many miles you run?  I used to never do it, but 2011 was the first year and I'll keep track of everything from now on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season

Favorite Christmas Cookie: A Reese's peanut butter cup in peanut butter dough.  So, so good.

Favorite Christmas Song: Christmas in Killarney by Bing Crosby.  It is not well-known, but I love it. 

Favorite Christmas Tradition: Every year my parents get a real Christmas tree for their living room (they have a fake one in the basement).  As a family, we decorate the tree on Christmas Eve together.  My dad is in charge of getting the ornament hooks untangled, while my mom, sister and I put ornaments on the tree.  Typically, my brother watches, although this year he is not coming to Iowa for Christmas (he'll be in LA instead vising other family members).

Christmas Plans: My immediate family always exchanges gifts on Christmas Eve before going to church.  On Christmas day we travel south to see my mom's siblings and their children (my cousins), and my grandma. 

Number of People I know that have a Christmas birhtday: 1 - my great aunt was born on Christmas. 

Favorite Christmas ornament: I wish I had a picture of it, but you'll just have to visualize it.  When my brother was young - like 5or 6 - he made my mom a teenage mutate ninja turtle ornament - I believe it is Michelangelo.  He drilled a hole through a round rock and painted a face on it.  I'll take a picture of it and post later.  It is pretty quality.

What I'm hoping to get this year:  I don't ask for a whole lot for Christmas.  In my family, we always make lists of items we want my parents/siblings/grandparents to buy for us.  This year I asked for a running medal hood that was custom-made and purple.  I'm not sure if my mom found one/got someone to make it.  I hope so.  My birthday and Christmas gifts are typically combined, and I'm sure I'll get stuff, I just don't know what.  It is a mystery.

Favorite Christmas Movie: White Christmas by Irvin Berlin.  It is old, but my favorite movie.  My sister and I typically watch it together and she quotes the entire thing.

What tops my Christmas trees (both in Illinois and my parents in Iowa): Angels.

Do I send out Christmas cards: I used to, but now I only send a few out to my favorite people and friends that live far away.

Do I wish I had a birthday a different time of year?  No, not at all.  I love my birhtday being in the middle of December.  I love the whole month.

Thoughts on Snow: I love the first snow and think it is absolutely beautiful.  I hate driving in it, though.  I get very nervous, even after living in Minnesota for 3 years.

Ultimate gift i want but never get: I wish I could be chauffeured around everywhere.  I really do not like driving, in the summer or winter.  If someone offers to drive me somewhere, I'll happily agree.

Family and Christmas: No matter what place I am in in my life, I will never have Christmas away from my family.  They mean too much to me, and I love seeing them.  It is the only time of year I am guaranteed to see my sister, which I enjoy even though we are complete opposites. 

Favorite Gift Ever Received: This is a tough question for me.  My mom framed old artwork that she made in high school a few years ago for me, my sister, brother, and dad.  I got a flower piece of artwork which I love and have displayed.  Last year she gave us each the Time magazine from the year we were born.  A few years ago she framed old post card stamp envelopes that had my (deceased) grandpa's name and address on them and gave them to the kids and all of her siblings.  Each of those gifts is very special to me.  None of them were asked for, but things my mom gave just because she is generous. 

Favorite Gift Ever Given: I am not a very good gift-giver for the holidays.  As far as gift for my family are concerned, I once made a generous donation to a domestic violence shelter in honor of my parents one year for their gift.  I also made my brother a scrapbook of various pictures from our childhood and adult lives which I was quite proud of.  This was before my blogging days, otherwise I would have photographed it.  It took a lot of time to assemble, going through a lot of old pictures. 

Absolute favorite thing about Christmas: I get to spend time with my family.

Your turn: answer one or more of the following questions.  Are you like me or different?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 2 of Marathon Training

After completing week, 1, I set 2 goals for myself:

1.  Complete track workout - success!
2.  Run slower on Sunday. - fail.

Week 2 didn't go according to plan, just like week 1.  I  hope this trend does not continue.

Week 2 started off great when I completed a modified ladder workout.  It was so nice outside which made it pleasant to run in circles around the track.  Originally I was disappointed with how my ladder went, but after further review, it is decent.  I have to remember I have not completed track workouts in 2.5 months so it is kind-of like starting over. 

Wednesday was a nightmare of a run.  I was feeling okay to start, and then things turned awful.  My stomach hurt so bad and I just couldn't continue.  Thursday was better, and I ran 7 easy miles with a friend. 

Then came Friday.  I was all set to go running right after school got out before meeting up with friends for dinner.  But, other things came up and my run didn't end up happening, so it ended up being an unplanned rest day.  Saturday my legs felt great and ran well.  Today, my run was okay, but I felt sluggish throughout the entire thing due to improper fueling. 

What went well: I successfully completed my track workout, and had a great run on Sunday.

Goals for week 3: Complete all runs according to schedule.  Run slower on Sunday.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I cannot believe there are only 18 weeks until the Illinois marathon.  I am looking forward to it.  Another runner from my running group ran a marathon this weekend and qualified for Boston.  This will sound mean, but I was shocked.  She occasionally ran in my track group this summer and I was ahead of her.  On tempo and long runs, I was also ahead of her.  If she can BQ, then I know I can do it.  But, that is not the way I want to be thinking.

The mind is powerful.  I have run races where I believed I could truly run a certain time and have succeeded.  I have run numerous races where I told myself I could do it, but not actually believed in myself and my ability.  For each of those runs, I came up short of my goal. 

When I ran my last race, the Hot Chocolate 15k, I truly believed I could run a sub-1:09.  What happened?  I have 1:08:27.  There were some other motivating factors for me to run well, but my mind truly believed I could do it. 

As 2011 comes to an end and 2012 is just around the corner, I am starting to realize that my mind is holding me back.  I feel proud of what I accomplished this year, and know next year will be even better.

Does your mind hold you back?  Or, have you mastered that area?

Monday, December 12, 2011


Tonight I was going through old blog posts, re-reading them to remember what my life was like last year at this time.  The winter is always hard - cold temperatures for the most part - although this year thus far has been abnormally warm - little sunlight, a lot of darkness, wind, and many gloomy days in Chicagoland.  I am a person who is always cold, so when the weather turns cold, it is more of a challenge to me than most people. 

However, the coldness of winter is not what this post is about.  I was reflecting on how different I am today than I was one year ago today. 

Last year at this time I:
  • Was still trying to build up my iron
  • Was sick with a cold
  • Went out to bars on weeknights
  • Went to bars on the weekends
  • Was skiing in Wisconsin
  • Thought 10 miles outside in winter was a long distance to run
  • Thought I knew what my race schedule would be for 2011
I can say I am a far different person than the person above.  It almost amazes me how much I have changed in just one year.  When I turned 26 last year, I was in a post-college-wish-I-would-have-enjoyed-college-more mindset.  Every weekend was consumed by staying out late at the bars with friends.  Although I grew out of this behavior after only a few months, I think it taught me a lot.  In college, all I did was study.  I spent more time at the library than 99.9% of people.  I studied, and then studied some more.  I can probably count the number of times I was in a bar in college on my two hands.  My college experience was very different than the typical person, which is why my phase of life last year was necessary.  I'm just glad I grew out of it rather quickly.

Last year I also had all of these dreams about getting certain times in races (see: half marathon goal of 2011), but failed at nearly every one.  In the past month I've realized that when I concern myself purely with time, and not with enjoyment, running becomes a chore that must get done rather than my favorite thing to do.  And I don't like all. 

What have I learned in my 26th year to make me wiser going into year 27? 
  • Running with friends is better than running alone.
  • Some races will go far better than you ever anticipate.  Others will be a complete disaster.  Learn from each one and take that knowledge with you to the next one.
  • Confidence is impossible if you beat yourself up for not being perfect. 
  • Being patient is hard, but it is necessary for success.
  • Never be ashamed of how you did at a race.  If you gave your best effort, that is all that matters.
  • Sometimes what we want and what happens in life are not the same.  Take time to adjust and then move on.  Life goes on and some people/things don't need to be a part of it.
Although life has taken many strange twists and turns the past year or two, I am ready for the year ahead.  I am excited to see what it will bring.

What did you learn this past year? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reviewing Week 1 of Illinois Marathon Training

Most marathon training plans take 18 weeks to complete.  Depending on how many you have actually competed, or your goals, they may differ.  I am confident that none of the plans say run 17 miles in week one just for the fun of it.  Although, Tuesday's 17 miler was wonderful. 

Below you can see what I was actually supposed to do this week (in black), and what ended up getting done (in purple). 

What went well: I felt great on both Thursday and Friday during my runs.  Although Thursday's average was a 7:52 pace, the first mile was done in 8:43, with all of the others between 7:29 and 7:45.  Friday I felt so great while running and didn't realize how fast I was going, therefore, it became an unintentional tempo run. 

What needs to be done better: Pace.  Pace.  Pace.  I need to retrain my body to run at training run speed, not race speed, for all runs.  I did better on my 11 mile run today, but the average was still 8:26.  I need them to be around 9:00 pace instead.  Also, I want to do my track workout every week.  Yes, the unconventional 17 miler on Tuesday was rather sporadic and nice, but track will help me become a better runner, which is what I want. 

Goal for week 2: Complete Tuesday track work and run slower on Sunday. 

For this marathon, I am going to keep track of everything, including workout types for track and pace.  Although I kept track of my mileage during Chicago Marathon training, I did not note my pace.  From what I know and have read and learned, pace plays an important role in preparation for the marathon. 

On a side note, I have once again managed to get almost no Christmas shopping done yet.  I have 1 gift for my mom.  Other than that...nothing.  I'm going out of town next weekend so no shopping will be done.  I guess that leaves the few days before Christmas, just as in years past. 

Are you a person that procrastinates shopping for Christmas presents, or do you shop the day after Thanksgiving?  I have never shopped on Thanksgiving weekend (Friday - Sunday after the holiday) and  plan to keep it that way. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rethinking the Plan on Day 2

This weekend I made myself a plan that I thought I could stick to while training for the Illinois Marathon.  I based it off of what I knew worked for my body and what I learned from running the Chicago Marathon.

I am only on day 2, and as far as my success rate goes, I am at 0%.  I ran 10 miles on Sunday, the day before my training plan officially started, and decided to run an easy 2 mile recovery run before biking and lifting. 

And then there was today.  Track Tuesday turned into a 17 mile training run with a friend.  That would be 10 more miles than I was supposed to run.  Although we ran slow, about a 10:00 average, I am hoping it doesn't alter my plans for the rest of the week too much.  I feel great right now, about an hour post-run, so I'm hoping recovery will go well.  It kind-of amazes me that my body remembered running that many miles from marathon training this summer/fall, even though it has been over a month and a half since I ran that distance.  It gives me hope for this upcoming training plan. 

Will I complete my track workout this week?  I'm thinking it will either be on Friday or else I will have to end up skipping it.  I'll make the call later in the week and analyzing how I feel. 

I do not want to make running this many miles on a weekday a regular occurrence.  We were running close to 3 hours, which is a lot of time to devote to running on a weekday night.  But, I'm glad I did it for my friend.  Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself to run that many miles and having another person to hold you accountable and just run the miles with you really helps.  

Do you make training plans for yourself and stick to them?  When I trained for half marathons in the past, I always had "mental training plans" that I completed.  It is different with marathon training, as it requires so many more details than a half marathon. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spring Marathon

Since running the Chicago Marathon, and then deciding not to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I knew I wanted to try a spring marathon.  I learned so much training for Chicago that I feel can benefit me to reach my goals in the future.  The decision became not if I was going to run one, but which marathon I was going to run.

The marathons I was considering were....
  1. Flying Pig in Cincinnati
  2. Rockford (Rockford, IL)
  3. Chicagoland Spring Marathon
  4. Carmel Marathon (Carmel, Indiana)
  5. Illinois Marathon (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois)
And the winner is....

I signed  up for the Illinois Marathon for a few reasons:
  • It is flat (Flying Pig is too hilly to train for in Chicago)
  • It is at the right time of year (I wanted to give my legs enough time to recover before running the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay as part of an ultra team)
  • You get to finish at the 50-year line in the football stadium and watch yourself on TV doing so
  • I can most likely talk some of my friends into running it as well

Illinois I come!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Funny Things at Thanksgiving

On most holidays I get to see some members of my extended family.  This past weekend, I got to see members of both my mom's side and my dad's side on different days.  Since my brother moved to Colorado, going back to visit my childhood city is different.  There is no one to bug to go on a tempo run with, but that doesn't mean the trip isn't wonderful. 

As most people do, I love my family.  My mom's extended family is much bigger than my dad's, and is comprised of 23  people.  On Thanksgiving day, my mom's brother and sister came to visit, along with my aunt and 4 cousins.  Some of the following topics/comments were made on Thanksgiving:
  • One of my cousins in finishing her student teaching right now.  We had a funny conversation about names.  What would you call this name?  La-a.  It's La(dash)a.  Another variation is La-ia.  Although, it was sad to me when my cousin told me she had a student name Shithead, pronounced
    "Shitheed."  Would could possibly name a child that?  That is awful.
  • Many comments made from my Grandma about how windy the weather is.  My dad also informed me that Chicago is not named the Windy City for the actual wind.  Apparently it had something to do with politics, which I never knew.
  • My uncle said that the book "Run less, Run Faster" is a phenomenal book.  He's a big believer in it and thinks the training plan can get him to BQ this year.  We might run the same marathon in the spring.  I learned so much from training for the Chicago Marathon and know what I need to change this time.  I am not going to follow that plan, but will be making my own and starting in the next few weeks.  I'm excited for it to begin again.
Other things were discussed that had us laughing for many minutes, however, they all seem to escape me now.  The name comments were the ones that really stuck out, though.

On Saturday night my dad's parents and my aunt that lives in Chicago came to our house for dinner.  You must understand that my grandpa is EXTREMELY cheap.  He grew up in the Depression, which I think impacts his cheapness a great deal.  My favorite comment is below:

  • My aunt came back to my parent's house later that night to visit some more.  After discussing various things with my dad (nursing homes, traveling, cooking, and the like), I came in to talk to them.  My aunt told one of the best stories ever.
    • A few years ago, my grandpa asked my aunt if she wanted a burial plot for her birthday present that year.  My aunt, as she was re-telling the story, goes "Nothing says happy birthday more than a burial plot."  I just have to laugh. 

I love my family and all their uniqueness.

What is the weirdest birthday present you've ever received? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hill Training in Iowa

On Wednesday, I packed my bags and headed west to Iowa for a long Thanksgiving weekend.  In addition to visiting family, I wanted to accomplish a few other tasks:
  1. Run the hills
  2. Sleep in every day
  3. Not eat my weight in cookies
Task #1: Run the hills
I ran 2 days while I was in Iowa...6 miles each day.  I ran the same route both days and ran it much faster the second day.  When many people think of Iowa, they think of flat, corn, and farms.  However, some cities located along the Mississippi River are very hilly.  I don't run with my camera/phone, but I wish I could have taken a picture of the massive hill I ran up.  Instead, here the elevation chart:

In case you can't tell, that would be a 350 ft+ incline from miles 3 to 4.5.  It was like running up a small mountain.  I live near Chicago, where there are no hills.  Contrary to what many believe, it is actually hard to run down an incline that severe as well. 

Task #2: Sleep in every day.
The only morning I got up early was Sunday (today) so I could pack and get ready to go to brunch with my grandparents.  Otherwise, I got a quality 10 or more hours of sleep every  night.  I also learned that when I was a baby I slept a ton.  Some things never change.

Task #3: Not eat my weight in cookies.
I love my mom's sugar cookies.  I did my best at only eat a few every day.  This is a vast improvement...usually I just eat whatever I want.  I don't know the total amount of cookies consumed, but it was less than in past years which is a major success.

Some quality conversations were also had...and a lot of funny comments were made.  I'll share those tomorrow.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Do you like to run hills?  This year, I am going to love hills.  In the past, I've always hated them. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Geriatric Unit? No, noon at the gym.

I almost always work out at my gym in the late afternoon or early evening.  I can count on one hand the number of times I was at the gym before 10 AM in the past 3 years.  Given the fact that I go to the gym at the same time (more or less) every single day, I see the same people.  They include:

  • Ultra bike guy that ran the Chicago Marathon last year who always comments on me running it this year.
  • Girl who is on the elliptical for over 2 hours every single day.  One word for her: why?
  • Stinky man who only walks on the treadmill and wears Nike shorts from the 1980s.
  • Young guy who can't figure out what college he likes, as I've seem him wear Stanford, South Carolina, Cincinnati, and Florida State gear.
  • My friend's mom who always says hi
  • Man that bikes and wears black spandex and a neon pink shirt
  • My favorite guy who ran his first half marathon this year and always runs the Shamrock Shuffle
I honestly wonder if people think about what they wear before they go to the gym. 

Today, though, I went to the gym at noon.  We had early out at school and then conferences late afternoon through the evening, so I knew if I was going to run, it had to be around noon.  What did I notice today?

  • It felt like I was in the geriatric unit.
  • I was the youngest by about 50 years.
  • I've never seen so many people working out in bedazzled sweaters and black stretchy pants in my life.
  • 99% of the people had white hair.
  • I was the only person running on the treadmill.  Everyone else was walking.
Although the differences were evident, it was good to see different people.  I saw a cute old guy that I sometimes see at school at the gym.  He addresses me always as "here's that wonderful 5th grade teacher" even though he has never seen me teach.  He's just a genuinely nice man. 

It was nice for a change, but I think I think my normal group of people better.

What is the weirdest outfit you've seen someone working out in before?  The bedazzled holiday sweater takes the cake for me. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

10, take 2

Back in the summer, I posted 10 random things about myself.  I thought it might be interesting if I did it again.  So, here are 10 more interesting things about yours truly.

  1. I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order.  We had to learn a song when I was in 5th grade for a musical that listed all the states in order and I can still recite it.  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut....
  2. There are two types of people: those that have a ton of somewhat close friends, and those that have a small group of really close friends.  The second applies to me.
  3. My favorite meal by far is breakfast.  
  4. When I lived in Ohio, my friend K encouraged me to start a blog.  She had one of her own.  First, I started to read a few blogs, then, with her help one night, my blog came to be.  I am so glad she encouraged me to do so, too.
  5. My favorite kind of Gatorade is blue.  My least favorite is fruit punch.  I like grape better than lemon-lime.
  6. In the summer I made a list of goals for myself to accomplish in 1-2 years, 5 years, and 10 years.  So far, I have completed 1.5/15 for my 1-2 year goals.  
  7. It takes me 50 minutes to get ready in the morning.  My morning routine includes: showering, getting dressed, packing my lunch, packing my gym bag(s), eating breakfast and checking my email.  
  8. In high school, I was a varsity letter-winner 3 years for basketball.  In the past 3 years, I have touched a basketball 3 times.
  9. I have glasses and contacts, but wear my contacts every day.  
  10. People often tell me that I look 5 or more years younger than my actual age.  
What is something interesting about you?  Do we have anything in common? 

It's Been Too Long

I had not run with my running club on a Sunday morning run since before the Chicago Marathon - over a month and a half ago.  It had been way too long.  I've missed seeing my friends running on the trail. 

Why did I not go for 6+ weeks?  Sleep.  Although marathon training runs started at 6:30, and post-marathon Sunday runs start at 8, I still could not mange to get out of bed.  I live 30 minutes from where we meet, which means if I don't drag myself out of bed by 7 AM I won't make it.  Today I was determined to make it.  I wanted to get in a quality run with my fellow club members. 

I wasn't sure how far I wanted to run, or even what pace.  When we set out, I thought 6 sounded good.  8:30 pace felt good.  Then, I got talked into running 10 miles at a progressive pace, having our average be 8:15 at the end, with a mile or two under 8:00/mile pace. 

The run seemed hard to me, but I think that is beacuse I'm not used to running in the morning.  I do 95% of my runs in the mid or late afternoon/early evening and 8 AM is far different.  But, I am so glad I got to run with the group.  It was not the group I trained with for Chicago, and I didn't know a few of the guys, but it was a good time none the less. 

Could I have started my Sunday any better?  I don't think so. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.  It went from being incredibly nice outside to bone-chilling cold in a few days.  Tuesday I ran 10 miles with shorts and a long sleeve shirt on.  Today?  6 miles in my winter running tights, long sleeve shirt, jacket, and gloves and  was still cold.  I need to get used to this cold doesn't appear to be going anywhere as winter is just around the corner.

2.  I've made up my mind...I am going to run a spring marathon.  I am not sure what month I want to target or even what race or where I want to run, but I am doing it. 

3.  I'm trying to formulate my goals for the 2012 season.  I have many, but I need to really focus on a few, otherwise none will get accomplished well.  I need to think some more about many choices.  So many things I'd like to try. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Thoughts on and about WDD

Today is World Diabetes Day.  Many people celebrate this day, or the day they were diagnosed.  I don't celebrate either.  It is just another day in my life.  In a recent card, I was encouraged to take part in the Big Blue Test.   

I had to go to the website to see exactly what they wanted me to do.  I knew it related to exercising and testing my blood sugar, but that was all I knew. 

The premise of the test is to test, exercise for 14-20 minutes, and then test again.  Theoretically, my blood sugar should be lower because I exercised.

Here's what they don't know or get: I really don't like it when my blood sugar drops when I exercise.  Also, I don't know the last time I exercised for only 14-20 minutes.  Don't get me wrong...I think that is a great goal when you start exercising.  But, for me, I feel like I am beyond that in my exercise routine. 

Anyway, I did complete the Big Blue Test.  Please note that my meter is still set an hour ahead...I have not changed it yet for Daylight Savings Time.

Before running blood sugar:

Before running snack:

Chocolate Chip Clif Bar (no bolus)

A little less than one hour (7 miles) of glorious running outside on a trail later...

I wore blue for World Diabetes Day when I was running.

Post-run blood sugar

I really, really wanted to keep running, but it was almost dark, and I do not run outside on a trail when it is dark by myself.  It is just not safe.

I drove to my gym to do some more cardio, which included:
  • 1 mile running on the treadmill (8 miles total for the day)
  • 1 mile on the elliptical
  • 1 mile on the stair master
  • 8 miles on the stationary bike
My post-cardio gym blood sugar was:

Other stuff....
  • Can someone please explain to me why people are not honest?
  • I am extremely disappointed in person/people (see above) for not being honest.
  • These are not people/a person who I interact with on a daily basis (thankfully).
  • People who are not honest and kind are people who I don't want to interact with.
  • Now that I learn more, things are starting to make more sense.
  • It is their loss more than mine.
I think it is only fitting to close this section with a saying that my dad and I joke about: I am wonderful...if I do say so myself.  One must say it with her nose in the air, though, and in the snottiest tone possible.  And then "uh, huh" after done speaking the words.

Back to today....

I did tell my homeroom students that it was World Diabetes Day, and that they all were celebrating it because they were wearing blue, which is part of their uniforms.  I, on the other hand, was wearing purple.  They liked it more when I told them about National Cookie Monster Day.

A student then told me the following: "A friend of mine told me that he heard that if you play 3 hours straight of Wii you'll get diabetes."  To which I replied, "you friend misinformed you." 

At least tomorrow is Tuesday, and Tuesday is always better than Monday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In the mail...

The old way of communicating via letter in the mail has rapidly decreased since the Internet was born.  Why would someone hand-write a letter when typing an email and sending it to the recipient immediately is so much more convenient? 

My mom loves "real mail."  So much that when my siblings and I went to college she hand-wrote a letter to each of us every single week for 4 years.  After college, when I moved to Ohio, my mom continued to write me, just not as often.  Then, when I moved to Illinois, she reverted back to her old ways and sends me something in the mail at least once a week.  Some weeks, I'll get a two things. 

I once asked her why she enjoyed "real mail" so much.  Her response was that it showed how much someone appreciated you because they gave up their time to do something for you, for nothing in return.  Plus, most mail is boring or bills, so having something nice come is wonderful.

I am one of the few people in the world that still write letters to people.  Although it does not happen that often, I always enjoy doing it.

This week I was delighted to receive a letter back from the person who got my World Diabetes Day postcard.  Her note was so nice.

In addition to sending her my postcard, I also wrote her a note.  The person I got is the president/owner/person in charge of a female diabetes exercise organization.  I was so happy to get to send something to a person who values exercise as much as me.  Getting real mail does brighten my day!

Do you enjoy "real mail?"  Do you send any out, or are you an email-only person?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Do you ever go back at old blog posts an re-read what you wrote?  I do it occasionally, but not as much as I would like. 

This week I feel like I've had a lot of time to think about my running, and races, in 2011.  I've pretty much taken the entire week off of running (only logged 13 miles since Sunday) due to being sick and my leg hurting.  I'm hoping it is nothing major and just magically goes away on its own. 

Last December I wrote a post about some goals I wanted to accomplish in 2011.  They were:

1.  Run a marathon.
2.  Run 2 half marathons, including the Quad Cities Half.
3.  PR - in the 10k, ideally the 5k, and half marathon


1.  Run a marathon.
Training for a marathon takes a lot of dedication.  The marathon is tough, though.  You train for months for one day.  Things can go great, or they can fall apart.  For the most part, I had a wonderful experience.  I wouldn't trade the Chicago Marathon this year for anything in the world.  I've wanted to run a marathon for the past 4 years.  I am glad I got to accomplish that goal in 2011.  I'm looking forward to perhaps another or 2 in 2012.  We'll see....

2.  Run 2 half marathons, including the Quad Cities Half
I ran 3 half marathons (Sam Costa - 1:40:14 in March; Rockford in May - 1:40:43; and Benefit Classic - 1:43:31 in September).  I didn't end up running the Quad Cities because of its proximity to the Chicago Marathon.  Unfortunately, I got slower with each half. 

3.  PR in the 10k, ideally in the 5k and half marathon
This was the year where I set a PR in virtually every race distance: 5k, 4 mile, 15k, half marathon and full marathon.  Although, 2 - the 4 mile and marathon - were given PRs as I had not competed in any other races those distances before.  I also automatically PR'd in my 2 duathlons this year.  I think what I am most proud of is not that I set a PR, but by how much it was set.  I took 2:20 off my 5k time, 3:37 off my 15k time, and 2:53 off my half marathon PR (previously set in 2009).  I didn't end up running any 10ks this year.  It is not a distance that I particularly enjoy. 

*  *  *  *  *

Last year, I could have never predicted that I would run like this in 2011.  I exceeded what I thought I could achieve.  If you were to tell me last year that I could run  a 5k in 20:12...I would have just smiled at you and thanked you for the compliment, but not have believed it.  Belief in oneself is critical in running.  Part of my problem with racing is that I don't fully believe I can run at the pace I want to (see: half marathons x3 this year). 

What happened when I was told by someone else in September that they believed I could run a 20-minute 5k based on my track workouts?  It happened.  Someone else believed in me, which transferred to me believing in myself. 

What happened when I ran to prove something to someone?  I told myself multiple times the pace I was going to run - and ran it, almost to the T. 

What happens when I line up for a race and want something, and hope that my training was enough?  Self-doubt creeps in.  I don't run very well.  I don't PR. 

Starting to pick up on the pattern? 

Going into 2012, I need to believe in myself more.  I need to trust my training more. 

I don't know what 2012 will bring, but I'm looking forward to another running and racing year with new challenges and races. 

Do you know a single factor that dictates your success or failure in races?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

22 years of diabetes....and counting

I was diagnosed with diabetes on Halloween, a fairly comical holiday to be diagnosed on.  This year, my diabetes turned 22.  In some ways it is hard to imagine that I have had it so many years.  Other days I wish it would disappear, if only for a run, or a full day, or weekend to see how my life would be different.  Unfortunately, that is not happening in the near future.  Over the past 22 years, diabetes has taught me some great life lessons.

1.  Nothing is impossible.
My parents told me that when I was diagnosed with diabetes the doctors were skeptical of participating in organized sports.  So, what did they do?  Let their daughter, who loved sports, play every single one.  Over the course of my lifetime, I've played soccer (7 years), softball (5 years), volleyball (2 years), basketball (10 years total; 4 years AAU), track (4 years), and cross-country (3 years).  I've been "competitively" running for the past 4 years, including my most recent accomplishment of conquering the marathon.  I am excited to find out what lays ahead for me next year, and those to come.  If I want to achieve it, I'll make it happen one way or another.

2.  Life is hard and not always fair.
Growing up, I always asked why I had diabetes and not my parents or my brother or sister.  I hated the fact that I had to have it and deal with it every day.  It took me a long time to accept the fact that it is not going away anytime soon, even thought I was diagnosed with it at such a young age.  Is it fair that I have this disease?  No.  But, fair is just a 4-letter word. 

3.  Life is also entertaining and fun.
I've had my fair share of low blood sugars.  Growing up, I was low much more often than high.  Although I've had some scary lows, some lows are just ridiculous.  It is in these times where I look back and just laugh about them.  For example, I was trying very hard (while low) to explain where a store was located.  It was near a restaurant called "Cheeseburger in Paradise."  Instead of saying the actual name of the restaurant, I kept referring to it as "Cheesecake in Paradise."  At least I was close, right?!?  Just as sometimes I can laugh at my lows, it is important to have fun in life.  I know when I am stressed out it does bad things to my blood sugars.  A balanced life is important.

4.  Attitude is my choice.
I could be pessimistic that I have a disease that there is no cure for.  I could be upset that the general public thinks of diabetics as overweight people (type 2).  I could be frustrated that diabetes often flies under the public radar and doesn't get enough funding.  However, I choose not to harbor those feelings and have that attitude.  I've accepted that diabetes is a part of me.  It does not define me.  I can live my life the way I want, or I can let the disease control me.  I choose the former.

5.  Habits are important for success.
Every Monday through Friday, I wake up at the same time.  I eat more or less the same breakfast and lunch.  I work out at the same time everyday.  I consider my body a fine-tuned machine.  Daylight savings time causes me to go crazy, and my body is still adjusting to setting back the clocks last week, but it knows what to expect.  The more you do something, the easier it becomes.  While training for the marathon, I ate the same thing before every long run and my intake during long runs was pretty much the same.  Every Sunday for over 4 months, my body got used to the same routine and habit.  And guess what?  On marathon day, my blood sugar couldn't have been even better.  It was quite a success.

6.  Motivation comes from within.
The past year I've been working hard to make my A1C (average blood sugar over 4 months) higher.  In the spring, I decided I wanted to make this a reality for myself.  I knew that if I had higher blood sugars than my training would be better.  My goal was to raise it from the low 5's (5.3) to the high 5's.  I knew that I could run better, which was my main motivation for wanting it higher.  In October, my A1C had climbed to 5.8.  I couldn't have been happier.  Now, I am motivated for it to stay there. 

7.  It is OK to fail.
Diabetes can take its toll on you if you let it.  Some days are easy to manage, where blood sugar numbers will be in the 100s with very little effort.  Some days, it takes all of my might to raise my blood sugar, and then lower it from the excessive carbs to raise it.  To the uneducated person, it would appear that I fail at diabetes those days.  They are not pleasant, but they are days that I learn more about my body and my attitude.  The good thing is that the sun always rises and I get to start tomorrow over.

8.  Diabetes and people are unique.
My diabetes is far different from a lot of other people's diabetes.  If you are an athlete, the condition is far different from the non-athletes.  Even within the athletic diabetes community our conditions and treatments vary.  This summer I went to Washington and ran in a relay with 11 other diabetics.  One thing that shocked me was the food they consumed (quantity and quality).  Their food choices do not work with my diabetes management or my diabetes, in general.  After that trip this summer, I realized just how differently people treat their diabetes.

9.  Do what you want.  Make the most of life.
I cannot tell you how many times I've gone to eat a cookie and someone has said, "oh, she can't have it because she is diabetic."  My typical response is, "actually, I can."  I like to eat cookies.  It is the junk food item that I love (I don't like a lot of other desserts).  If cookies are available to eat, and I want one, then I am going to do what I want and eat one.  I do what I want, not what others tell me.

They've come such a long way with diabetes technology in 22 years.  I can remember when I was first diagnosed my meter was huge - a small book - and I had to take the strip out halfway though, wipe it, and then re-insert it back in the machine for the final reading 2 minutes later (I think).  Diabetes is easier to manage now, but I'm still waiting on that cure.

I was searching for some picture to put on this post and came across this.  I thought it was pretty funny.  Maybe I'll wear it on November 14, for World Diabetes Day.

What has diabetes taught you?  Or, if you are not diabetic, how do you think you would overcome diabetes?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15k Race Report

"He is able who thinks he is able."

Official Time: 1:08:27
Pace: 7:21/mile
Overall Place: 595/13,359
Age Group: 32/999

I had one goal for the Hot Chocolate Race yesterday: to run to prove something.  The time leading up to the race was not ideal, as we hit traffic going into the city and then couldn't find a parking spot.  I got out of the car at 8:05 just so I could make it into my starting corral on time. 

The 5k race, which started at 7:40, was still starting.  Many runners had not crossed the start line when I got to the starting area.  Apparently, they had to re-route the 5k course which took some time and caused delays. 

Soon after all the 5kers left, the 15k runners got in their spots.  Runners were supposed to line up on the street, but since I got there late I didn't and just jumped the fence.  I was in good company, as I saw a few other runners going the same thing.

I got to start in Corral A based on my running times from this year, which made a huge difference.  It only took my about 20 seconds to get to the start once the gun went off and although the first 1/2 mile was a little congested, I had no other issues the entire race.

My goal was to run between 7:20 and 7:25 miles for the race.  I thought this was a rather ambitious goal, given my lack of speed training the past month, but knew with my motivation, it was possible.  I decided to run with my music this race, too.  I haven't been running with my music but thought it would be nice.  I am glad I had it as there were not many people out on the course for the middle 7 miles. 

The first 5k went by and I was feeling great.  I ran it in 22:10.  At that point, I knew I should slow down a little bit so I would  not die at the end.  We were going into a headwind that wasn't pleasant, too.  However, Foster the People and Pitbull provided me some motivation to stay strong.

I crossed the 4 mile mark at 28:58 and my pace started to catch up with me.  One thought of self-doubt crept into my head, but then I refocused mentally, reminding myself of all the miles I put in this year and why I wanted a major PR.  Thinking to myself...imagining someone else telling me..."you are not a good enough runner"....made me run faster. 

Before I knew it the race was 2/3 of the way over.  I crossed the 10k mark at 45:19.  The end was close.  By mile 8.5, I knew I could break 1:10.  Pitbull came back on my ipod and my goal was to finish the race while he was still playing.  I was so happy when I crossed the finish line and saw 1:08.  I met my goal.  I ended my running season on a good note. 

Once again, this race has provided me with the confidence I need going into the winter (off-season).  Next year I will come back a stronger runner.  I've been on a remarkable journey this year, and am excited to see what next year's races will bring for me.

It also helps to have extra motivation to run.  This race was purely fueled by someone else's decision/words.  Although I really wouldn't recommend running a race motivated by someone else, it worked for me.  Running is a gift that people give to themselves.  So although I ran because of a comment and not for myself, I am glad the end result worked out the way it did.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lots of Random Stuff

This post will take bullet-point form because there is too much stuff going on inside my head to write a coherent paragraph or two.

  • My mileage for October was:
    • Running - 147 miles
    • Biking - 108 miles
    • Walking - 6 miles
    • Elliptical - 2.8 miles
    • Stair Master - 3 miles
    • Weights - 7 times
  • My favorite race of October was the only one I did - the Chicago Marathon.  I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
  • Today I did my last long run before Saturday's Hot Chocolate Race.  It was an 8 mile run.
  • I am rather pissed off with a recent event (see also: motivation to PR like there's no tomorrow on Saturday).  This 8-mile run was supposed to be done at an 8:30ish pace, but I did it with an 8:00 average. 
  • Running always makes me feel better.  However, after today's run, I was just as pissed off as when I started it. 
  • I rarely get pissed off.  Especially for more than a minute or two. 
  • Last night I was so pissed off I couldn't sleep through the night and woke up multiple times.  Let me remind you that I am a person who needs a lot of sleep.
  • One of my friend's gave me some good advice that helped me. 
  • November is National Diabetes Month.  If you don't follow any diabetes blogs, you most likely don't know this.  I don't do much at all to celebrate it.  In essence, I celebrate it by living my life the way I want to live everyday.
  • I plan on tapering for the race starting tomorrow. 
  • Tomorrow I think I'll run 4 miles, and 3 or 4 on Thursday.  Friday I'm not running at all. 
  • My mom is coming for the weekend.  Sometimes only mom's can make the world right again.
On a more positive note, at least the sun was shining today.

Hope your week is going better than mine.

Monday, October 31, 2011


On Saturday I signed up for a 15k in Chicago.  I did the race last year and surprised myself at how well I did.  Last week I signed  up again for the 15k.  It is such an odd distance, one that I find difficult to train for.  I am not scared at the distance - I know I can run 9.3 miles.  I am more concerned with my pace.  I have not done speed work in over 1 month, although I did have a nice 7:16 average minute/mile 5  mile run last week.  I didn't do a long run this weekend...unless you count 6 miles as long.  I thought about doing a nice 8-10 miler today, but was at the gym and the power went out so that didn't happen.

The biggest difference between last year and this year is my motivation to run.  Due to a recent event that has provided me with motivation to PR at everything, I am ready to go out and dominate the run (for me).  My  motivation has never been stronger.  The fuel has been added to the fire and it is burning high and is out of control. 

Watch comes a PR. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More Shoes

I love shoes, almost as much as I love running shorts.  Although my love for shoes is not limited to the running variety, those are the ones that get purchased the most.  When Saucony came out with a new shoe not so long ago, I wanted to try it out.  It seemed like the perfect shoe - lightweight but supportive so it could be used in longer races.  On Saturday, I got my new pair of Cortana's. 


I was fascinated by the tongue of the shoe.  One direct it says "Saucony" while the other direction says "Cortana."  None of my other shoes do that.

Since I got my new shoes, there was only  one thing I was dying to do - go test them out.

I need to take a photography class immediately.

I did an easy 3 miles in them and they felt great.  Usually I find that shoes are rather stiff when I first get them, but when I was running in these it was like they were already broken in.  

What else did I do this weekend?  See if you can figure it out based on the pictures.

Will this be yours?
Happy Halloween tomorrow!  Halloween is when I was diagnose with diabetes...22 years ago.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It has been a while, but here are my answers to some very interesting questions.

Big Daddy Diesel asked:

Would you ever consider a multi-sport event?  Triathlon?  Duathlon?  Aquabike?
This spring I decided to try my first-ever multi-sport event, a duathlon. I really liked the first duathlon I competed in and decided to sign up for another one in the early summer.  I hope to race in a few duathlons next year as well.

I love running, and am getting better at biking, but I cannot swim.  I hate swimming, so a triathlon would be challenging for me.  I took swimming lessons when I was a kid, but don't know how to properly do the swimming strokes.  Plus, I am afraid of the water.  If I did decide to sign up for a triathlon, I would have to get a swim coach.  I do want to conquer this fear and compete in at least one triathlon.  I just don't know when that will be.

As far as the aquabike is concerned, I don't think I would compete fast enough to finish a race.  I'm a slow biker and right now cannot even swim properly.  It would be pretty entertaining to watch. 

If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Harriet Tubman.  Her life fascinates me.  She was such a strong and courageous woman.

What childhood memory that, back when you were a kid, you didn't like doing, but now, you wished you enjoyed it better because you really miss it?

My family (all 5 of us) used to go to a tree farm every December and walk up and down the trails, searching for that perfect Christmas tree to adorn our living room.  Of course, my sister, brother and I always thought that our tree was the best tree.  Ultimately, I think my dad decided on the tree, while my mom was there to console the children who didn't get their favorite tree picked.  My dad would then cut it down with the saw that they gave us and we would haul it back to the little hut to pay for it while sipping on hot chocolate to regain feeling from being outside for so long. 

Now, my parents still cut down their Christmas tree, but do it in December when none of the kids  are home.  I miss going to the farm to do so, even though I didn't like it a  whole lot when I was younger. 

One unique tradition my family has is that my parents  always wait  to  decorate  the main  tree  until all  of the kids  are home.  The past 5 or so years, we have decorated the tree on Christmas Eve.  My mom sets up a fake tree in another room, which she decorates earlier in December. 
Do penguins have knees?

I had to laugh at this question.  My first thought was, "No, they don't."  But then I started thinking about it some more and got curious.  As it turns out, according to the Internet, penguins do have knees.  Who knew?  Not me!

Scully asked: 

What are your future running plans?

I am only doing one more race for 2011, which I'll be blogging about this week.  But, after that, I am going into retirement for the rest of the year.  For the month of December, I plan on running with no plan.  I'll log the miles, and run the distance and speed I desire.  In January I'll resume training.  I did the same thing last year and it worked out well, so I'm hoping for the same this year.

I am not sure what 2012 will bring.  It depends on how I'm feeling.  I would have never predicted at this time last year that I would race so much in 2011.  I know I'll be racing, though.  Much of it depends on another factor that I cannot and do not want to discuss. 

What are your hobbies outside of pounding the pavement?
I am a teacher and teach at what I would describe as a "high school prep" private grade school that caters to wealthier families.  I teach 10 different classes, so preparation and grading for each subject is time-consuming.  Besides trying to become a better teacher, running/working out and sleeping, I like to read, shop, learn, and occasionally draw/sketch pictures.  Another aspect of my life that I have never talked about is my faith, which also consumes some of my time.

Did you know that penguins have knees?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Sometimes life gets busy.  Priorities shift, stuff happens, and life changes from what you thought was going to happen.

I had full intentions to run the Monumental Marathon in 11 days.  I trained for it after the Chicago Marathon.  And then last week, stuff happened.  My time and energy got devote to other things.  I missed a planned 20-mile training run on Sunday.  Yesterday (Monday), I set out to do complete my second attempt at a 20-miler.  I made it 11 and then quit.

I quit. 

I stopped running...and I felt free.  It felt as if a huge burden had been lifted.  I decided on my second loop of a 5.5 mile trail that I wasn't going to complete all 20 miles.  I wasn't going to sign up for and run the marathon.  I was going to start to run the distance I wanted, not what a schedule told me.  I need to run less so my legs are not as tired. 

I am not a quitter.  I am stubborn and a perfectionist, so the fact that I quit this run is not  typical for me.  But, my mind just couldn't do it.  I put a  lot of pressure on myself to succeed.  I feel like my expectations are attainable, but get discouraged if I don't meet and exceed them. 

I've been feeling pretty crappy about my running lately.  My legs are tired and my miles are slow.  It amazes me that I was able to run a 20:12 5k last month.  Where did that go?  I think it disappeared...along with my running confidence.

I have been reminding myself that I didn't fail during the Chicago Marathon.  Some days it is easier to believe than others. 

I might run 1 more race this year, in early November.  I ran it last year - The Hot Chocolate Race - but I'm still  not sure.  It will sell out soon so if I'm going to run I need to register soon.  This race gave me so much confidence last year.  Maybe that will happen again this year?

In the meantime, I'll enjoy doing what I want to do.  I'll run how many miles I want to run, not because a plan tells me to.  And I'll enjoy every single one so much more because of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ask Away - Questions Welcome

Awhile back, one of my favorite bloggers did a "Choose Your Own Adventure" post, allowing people to ask her whatever they wanted.  It was really neat seeing what people asked, an then reading her answers.  Some of my other favorites have one similar posts as well, like this guy

Here is your chance to ask me questions.  What do you want to know about yours truly?  I hope you want to know something, otherwise the follow-up post to this post will be incredibly short.  So start thinking of a question, or two.

Please submit/post your questions by Sunday.