Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Review and Stats

I cannot believe the year is already half over.  It seems like it just started.  I can remember being a little kid, thinking a year was an eternity, and my mom telling me that the older you get, the faster the years go.  She is so true! 

June was a great month for my training.  I am happy with my stats, especially with the fact that I bike 200 miles...that is practically double what I biked in May.  Here are the rest of June's stats...

Total Miles: 397
Miles Run: 143.9
Miles Biked: 200
Miles Walked: 25
Elliptical Miles: 26.9
Stair Master Miles: 1.2
Weights: 9 times

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Book of the Month: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares --> it was good, but not as good as I thought it would be. 

Song of the Month: Till Kingdom Come by Coldplay

Obsession of the Month: Trying to figure out my end of summer/fall race schedule - how many races to run, what distances, how far I want to travel for them, etc.

Drink of the Month: could it not be in hot weather?

Current Wish List: Same as always, to be healthy and injury-free.

Current Need: To run hills in preparation for the Insulindepence NW Passage Ragnar Relay.  My leg elevation charts looks like I'll be climbing mountains. 
Triumph of the Month: I think this one gets four.  First, having great Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay runs.  Second, completing my second duathlon.  Third, completing the Metric Century Tour de Cure.  Finally, finding an awesome running group.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to break 1:40 now that I'm doing more speed work.

Current Bane of my Existence:  Heat indexes above is just not pleasant to run when it is that hot outside.  I could ring out my shirt from sweat after today's run.  Disgusting.
Current Blessing: Summer vacation...I do love thee!  And remaining injury-free.
Current Excitement: Running-wise: NW Passage Relay.  Life-wise: Going to the Brewers game on Monday with my family - it is a tradition.  Go Brewers!

Current Goal: Be injury-free and my marathon training long runs.

In other news, I've already run 835.4 miles this year and biked 819.6.  This is the first year I've actually logged my workout data, and can't believe how many miles I've logged. 

How was your June?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Something I've Always Wondered???

When calculating how much I run, how do miles walked, on the bike, and elliptical fit into the equation?  Do any of them count towards my miles for that day/month?  Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

My feet last week...

My feet this week...

Do you see the difference?  This is only the 2nd time in 2011 that toenail has fallen off, although I'm sure it is not the last.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Race Around the World Duathlon Report

I was excited for this race and looking forward to seeing how well I could do.  The short version of the race report can be summed up in one word: awesome. 

My goals for the race were (and if they were accomplished):
  • Have fun! (check....had tons of fun!)
  • Break 1:10 (check...shattered it)
  • Run #1 - around 14 flat (check...under 14)
  • Transitions around 30 seconds (fail!)
  • Bike - around 40 minutes (check...under 35)
  • Run #2 - around 15 flat (check...under 15)
  • Top 1/3 overall (check!)
Meeting 6 out of 7 goals isn't too bad, if I do say so myself. 

Stats from the Metlife Race Around the World Duathlon:
Overall time: 1:05:39
Run #1 (2 miles): 13:55 (6:58 min/mile)
Transition 1: 1:16
Bike (11 miles): 34:57 (18.9 mph)
Transition 2: 50 seconds
Run #2 (2 miles): 14:38 (7:19 min/mile)

Overall: 112/492
Female: 15/206
25-29 Age Group: 3/22

Another medal - 3rd place in age group

After a restless night of trying to sleep, I eagerly got out of bed at a little before 5 when my alarm went off.  Having made my "to pack" list the night before, I got my things ready and was out the door a little after 6 so I could be at the race site a little after 7.  The race was a staggered start, which was so nice.  It was a lot less congested at the start line that what I am used to! 

I picked up my ankle chip and then got my bike to the transition area.  I wanted to get a good spot, near the front, but I was too late.  Luckily, some other lady was super smart and brought a balloon to tie to the bike racks.  I put my bike by the balloon, knowing I would be able to easily find it.  Thank you, wise lady!  I think I may need to try to do this in future duathlons.

After getting my bike in place, I started my warm up.  I felt good and knew that my goals were challenging, yet attainable if I ran (and biked) well.  Before I knew it, the racers were getting called to the start area.  I lined myself up at the very front, knowing that I wanted to start fast and not have to pass tons of other women at the beginning. 

The horn blew and off I went, and never looked back.  My first mile felt great - 6:35.  However, I knew that it was a little too fast.  I still had to bike and then do another run, so i backed off for the second mile, finishing Run #1 in 13:55 and feeling awesome. 

I'm not sure what I was doing in transition #1 for 1 minute 16 seconds?!!?  It is not the end of the world, but I was hoping to have better times on them.  Oh, well...there is always room for improvement.  I got on my bike and off I went on the 11-mile course. 

On the bike, I felt pretty good.  I didn't start to get passed until mile 4 or so and tried to keep up with some guys that were near me.  I ended up beating one at the finish of the bike and coming in just behind the other.  I am so pleased with how well I biked.  I am not a good biker, so getting under 35 minutes is a near miracle for me.  The bike was a total success!

Here I come (in pink) #2...with the ridiculous tan lines.

Transition 2 was better for me...only 50 seconds.  I started to feel a little tired at the end of the bike, so I wasn't sure how run #2 would go.  I knew I wanted to start fast and just pick people off as I went.  I feel like most people who complete in duathlons/triathlons are bikers.  The run is where I am able to succeed.  I wanted to run 7:30 splits, but ended up running faster.  This run felt pretty good.  At parts I felt like I was moving so slow, but my Garmin showed 7:30-something splits even when I was tired.  I must admit I was so happy to see the finish line, and even had some energy to sprint at the finish. 

I couldn't have asked for a better race. 

Getting my award.

My friends came and made signs...this is my sign.  Can you spot the awkward moose, turtle, and scorpion? :)

Did you race as well?  How did you do?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Duathlon #2 Goals

I can't believe tomorrow is my second duathlon.  It seems like only yesterday I signed up for it, and now the time is already here for it.

How the Peanut Butter Duathlon and the Race Around the World Duathlon are Different:
  • PB was 2/14/2, with the runs on trail (grass) and the bike being incredibly hilly and circling the same course 3 times
  • RATW is 2/11/2, with the run an out and back (actually 2.1 miles I've been told), all flat, and the bike an out and back, with the only "hill" being a highway bridge overpass
  • PB had 153 participants, while RATW is sold out at 650
  • PB was a smaller, local race in Rockford.  RATW is a bigger race, much closer to Chicago.  The competition will be better at RATW.
  • RATW has a wave start.  First, it is young men, followed by master's men, then young women (me), and master's women.
  • I've already done 1 duathlon so I at least know a little bit of what to expect for this one!
  • I did the PB duathlon with my best friend.  I'm doing the RATW with another friend, but then two more of our friends are coming to cheer us on. 
Goals for the Race Around the World Duathlon:
  • Have fun!
  • Break 1:10
  • Run #1 - around 14 flat
  • Transitions around 30 seconds
  • Bike - around 40 minutes
  • Run #2 - around 15 flat
  • Top 1/3 overall
I feel like my goals listed above are challenging, yet attainable if I run up to my ability.  I've not done a very good job at tapering, or at preparing myself for the bike portion of the race.  I've only bike once since my metric century two weeks ago.  Tapering this week has been...well...rather nonexistent.  I did a short run yesterday and am taking today off, so that should help.  I know I will do well on the run, and am prepared to see people passing me on the bike.  Hopefully the race will go well.  I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fast is a Relative Term

I read a post online recently where the person referred to himself/herself as being fast.  Since it always intrigues me who thinks they are fast, I looked at the races this person ran and their times.  Without going into details, after looking at their race times, I realized that fast is a relative term. 

My definition of fast is most likely different from yours, unless you run paces similar to mine.  Even if that is the case, we might disagree on what "fast" means.  In my personal running journey, starting with my first half marathon in 2006, my definition of fast has changed and evolved, just like my running.  I am faster now that I ever thought I could be back then.  However, I've worked hard to reach my current fitness level.  I've put in countless hours running, cross-training, lifting weights, all in order be become better and faster.

As I mentioned, I went to a speed work practice on Tuesday.  On that day, I was not that fast compared to the other runners completing the workout.  As a matter of fact, I was rather slow.  However, that is the funny thing.  What is fast to one person could be slow to another.  It all depends on your mindset and fitness level.  I also believe your goals play into your definition of fast.  As noted multiple times on my blog, one of my current goals is to break into the 1:30s for the half marathon.  I haven't achieved that...yet.  Does that mean I am slow?  No, it means that I have room for improvement. 

I feel like I'm a pretty average runner.  I'm getting better, and hope to continue to get even better in the future.  I can remember in college learning that a runner peaks when they are in their late 20s/early 30s.  According to that theory, I'm about ready to enter my peaking years.  As I recently told my friend, this year is my warm-up for a phenomenal year next year.  But that does not mean this year won't be fabulous as well, because every day I can run is a great day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Speed Work

Yesterday afternoon I laced up my shoes and hit the track for the first time since I was in high school - over 8 years.  The running club I recently joined does track/interval training on Tuesday nights, and I thought it would be good for me to try. 

There are two groups: Group A and Group B.  Contrarily to what a person would assume, Group B is actually the faster group that does harder workouts.  Before going, I assumed I would be in the slower group.  I'm not incredibly fast, and it appeared that Group B people were. 

When I got there I spoke to the wife of the Group B coach.  I told her I didn't know what group to go in, but assumed A.  She asked me my PRs and mileage, and said that I should go in B.  From that point on, I had to do a lot of positive self-talk, reminding myself that this is the group I belonged in.  It would have been easier to be the best in A, but I knew I could get a better workout in B.  I knew I would be near the back, which is hard for me. 

Everyone started together with a 1 mile warm-up.  We then split in our groups.  My group then did another 1/2 mile around the track with striders on the straight away segments.  Then, the fun began.

Tuesday's Speed Workout
1 mile warm-up
800m of striders
400 at 5k race pace
800 at 10k race pace
mile at half marathon race pace
mile at half marathon race pace
800 at 10k race pace
400 at 5k race pace
*400 recovery in between each set
1 mile cool down

I was quite pleased with myself and how I did, especially considering how nervous I was.  I felt like a total amateur among the elites.  I ran a faster split time for all of my splits than my race pace, which I thought was great.

One of the most interesting things I heard all night was from the coach.  He was saying that this workout really teaches you how to must start off fast, settle down and get into a rhythm, and then finish strong. 

The workout ended in a hurry, as the tornado siren went off.

Do you do speed workouts?  Have you noticed a difference in your race times because of them?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guanranteed Failure

On Sunday I got up bright and early for my new running group's first group run of marathon training.  The runs start at 6:30 and it takes me about 20 or so minutes to drive there and go along a path. 

I've documented on my blog many times before that I need  a lot of sleep, making 6:30 runs something that never happen for me.  I think it was the earliest I've ever ran before.  I love to run in the late afternoon/early evening. 

I set my alarm for 5:30, groggily rolled out of bed, and checked the weather.  When I run or race, I typically get up at least 3 hours before and have breakfast, making sure the majority of my bolus insulin is gone when I start my run because I have bad experiences with "insulin on board" while running.  I didn't feel like getting up at 3:30 to have breakfast, so I decided to fore go my normal routine.  This turned out to be a really bad move.

I'm a creature of habit, and always eat the same thing for breakfast.  Yes, the same thing every single day.  The only exception is if I go out for breakfast, which I don't do often and really don't like to do.  However, on Sunday, my normal breakfast didn't sound very good at 6:00.  I knew that I'd be running 9 miles and needed to eat, though.  I decided to have a Clif Builder's Bar.  I drank a few sips of water and then went out to drive the meet-up location.

I felt great the first three miles of the run.  The pace was easy, my legs felt good, and the humidity wasn't too bad yet.  At mile 3 we stopped for a Gatorade break.  I drank a small glass, didn't bolus, and continued on.  We ran 3 more miles and stopped again for Gatorade.  At this point, I felt tired.  I had no energy.  The last mile we did was 8:20, but seemed like  7:20 to my legs.  We started again for the last 3 miles of the run....and they were the longest miles.  I continued to run with the group until mile 7.5, when I realized that I physically could not do it.  I jogged the remaining mile and a half at an incredibly slow pace.  As I ran along, I began to think about what went wrong on this run:

Improper fueling is a way to guarantee failure on a long run.

According to our marathon training schedule, this week is a cut-back week, where our long run in only 6 miles.  I can't make it on Sunday because I'm competing in a duathlon.  I'll just do the 6 mile run on Monday...I'm not too concerned, especially since I don't view 6 miles as very far. 

How do you fuel for long runs in the early morning?  I'm glad I had this wake-up call early on in my training.  It reminds me that I'm still a novice.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jumping Ship to a Different Running Group

Last week, after returning from Ragnar, I was excited to start training for the Chicago Marathon.  A local running store was conducting a program for anyone to sign up for, which I did.  I thought it was going to be wonderful.  (Did you notice the key word: thought

The group meets on Thursdays for a mid-week run and then on Saturday morning for the long run of the week.  Thursday was the first day.  I was ready, and really looking forward to it.  I only live about 1.5 miles from the running store, so I decided to run there and back.  Therefore, I wanted to run with the 5 mile group, to give me a total of 8 miles for that day.  The other options were 3 (too short), or 7 (too long). 

The  people got organized, and the 7 milers were off.  Next  up was the 5 mile group.  I looked around at the various people that were about to head off with me.  I decided to go near the front of the group, thinking that there would be a divide in pacing.  We took off, and the pace was 10  minute miles.  I figured that they were just getting warmed up, whereas I already was.  I thought they would pick up the pace on mile 2.  However, we actually slowed down for mile two, logging at 10:15 pace.  The front of the group, where I was at, kept at that pace for the remaining miles.  There were quite a few other runners behind me as well. 

The people who were running were nice.  It was easy to make conversation with them; however, I was analyzing the miles in my head.  I considered them "junk miles" because they did not do anything for me.  The pace was so slow that they almost became challenging to complete.  I lost interest in it, which rarely happens when I run.  I know my legs cannot afford to have junk miles put on them, so I knew I had to do something.

After the run I asked the director if there were going to be a greater variety of paces for the Thursday runs.  She said she wasn't sure.  She then was asking me about what pace group I hoped to run with for marathon training, which I responded either the 8:00 or 8:30.  Then, she told me that I should run with the 9:30 or 10:00 group because I've never done a marathon and I don't know how my body would respond to the distance.  If she found out I was diabetic, she would have probably told me to not run it.

I was upset.  I know that sometimes I let my emotions take control instead of letting my head do the thinking, but I was mad that the lady made those comments to me.  She doesn't know me!!  Or my ability!  It is true that I don't know what I'm capable of come long runs in preparation for the marathon, but I feel like I'm in better shape than most people. 

After that talk, a couple came up to me.  They said they noticed me from the gym I go to because they belong there as well.  They also heard what I was asking and said that they thought another running group might be a better fit for me.  They both run a lot of marathons and the lady qualified for Boston, said that the other group balances speed training with distance training and interval training.  They told me the website, and I looked into it.

I was sold at the first fact I saw: They have a hospitality room at the Chicago Marathon which means using real bathrooms before the race.  Yes, please!!!  They also meet on Sundays for long runs, Tuesday for speed workouts, and Thursday for tempo runs.  Sounds like  a winner to me.  They also have three training plans that they incorporate: beginner, intermediate (me), or PR/advance. 

I went on Sunday for the first long run of marathon training - 9 miles - but that is a different story.  You can hear about that tomorrow.

Would you jump ship and join another running club? 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Picture Tour

A picture tour of my recent trip to Iowa.

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
~John Ed Pearce

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.
~Hilaire Belloc

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.
~Gerard de Nerval

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Earth laughs in flowers.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Hamatreya"

Flowers whisper "Beauty!" to the world, even as they fade, wilt, fall.
 ~Dr. Sun Wolf


God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. 
~Author unknown

Friday, June 17, 2011

Running with a Low Blood Sugar during a Race

Let's review my Madison to Chicago race times:

Run 1: 6.7 miles and a 7:21 minute/mile average
Run 2: 3.7 miles and a 7:08 minute/mile average
Run 3: 9.9 miles and a 7:47 minute/mile average

I felt great during my first run, good during the second, but fatigue set in during the third run.  While I firmly believe the last run is the hardest in a Ragnar relay due to lack of sleep and not being in a "normal" schedule, I had another issue in my last run: low blood sugar.

I don't wear a CGM.  I have in the past, but don't find them very accurate while racing.  I made the decision a year ago to stop wearing them altogether.  I like to believe that it has not impacted my health a whole lot.  If used properly, I'm sure my blood sugar control would be better, but for right now, I think I'm doing a decent job.  My doctor does as well, so that always helps. 

I completely rely on my meter.  I test...a lot.  On a typical day, I test 10 times.  However, during the relay, I tested far more.  Running 20+ miles three separate times in 28 hours can do some funky things to anyone's blood sugar.  I was a diligent tester, testing after I ran, and then 3, 2, 1, and 30 minutes before each run to identify the trends in my blood sugar. 

Going into my last run, my blood sugar was holding steady in the low 100s.  I had a snack and thought I'd be good to go for my last 9.9 mile run.  However, that was not the case.

I started off lightening fast (for me) during that run, but then mile 4 hit.  According to my Garmin, I was running slower and slower.  I started to feel the low blood sugar setting in.  My legs felt tired and lifting them was becoming more of a burden rather than a joy.  I started to doubt myself and my abilities to finish the run.  I knew I was going low, and fast.  I ate a few glucose tablets and looked forward to meeting my team at mile 5, as we had previously discussed. 

I was so relived to see my team.  They were there, in the minivan, with some water (which I requested).  However, when I got to them, I said that I wanted Gatorade instead.  They were all familiar with the fact that I have diabetes, so they handed me one.  It was red, and I hate red Gatorade, but at that point, I knew that i needed it.  Being in a  rather low state, I chugged the entire mini bottle and then ate 3 shot bloks.  I consumed 50 carbohydrates.  My glucose tablets had run out so I ran with a full package (6) of shot bloks.

I left my team after a minute and focused on passing the runner that passed me while drinking the Gatorade.  I started to feel better around mile 8 and knew that there were less than 2 miles left at that point.  When I tested my blood sugar back at the van, I was 107.   

In a race it is hard for me to pay attention to my blood sugar.  I get focused on running the race, my times, my place, who is in front of me, who just passed me, who I can pass.  Luckily, my Garmin helps me think about my blood sugar.  I know if an 8-minute mile seems hard, I most likely have a low blood sugar.  If I'm running 9-minute pace, I must be even lower. 

I know some people run with their meters.  I not of a fan of carrying more than I already do, or attaching more things to my body. 

Too bad that there just isn't an App to alert you when you have a low blood sugar. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Second "Race" of the Weekend: Tour de Cure

On Friday and Saturday I competed in the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay and pleased with how I ran.  I guess a lot of extra sleep can do wonders for my running times.

The Ragnar Relay sign

Race bib and medal.  This was my first orange bib and medal.

My team finished around noon, so I got back to where I live in the mid-afternoon.  It was just enough time to take a nap, get a few things organized for my trip to Iowa, and then go to bed early. 

Sunday morning I woke up at 5:30 to get ready for the Tour de Cure Chicagoland metric century bike ride.  The ride began at 7:30, but I had to put my bike on my car, pick up a friend, and then get to the start line.  Amazingly, I was not too tired. 

Did you know a metric century is 62 miles?  I learned that many people do not know this!  However, the course was long, so I rode 65 miles. 

 This was the first bike ride that I've ever done.  I've done a duathlon, but never something purely bike-related.  My "training" for this ride was 1 ride of 50-miles the weekend before.  Originally I was going to do the 30-mile course, but my friend wanted to do the metric century and I wanted to do it with her.  Plus, it was a new challenge. 

If you are not familiar with the Tour de Cure, if you have diabetes than you can be a Red Rider.  All Red Riders are participants that have diabetes.  Therefore, I was a Red Rider.  You couldn't see my jersey because it was so cold that I wore a running jacket over it. 

My jersey looked like this, except it had Chicago on the side, and not Colorado, as this jersey does.

I do ride with diabetes!  And run with it!  And live with it!

During the ride my blood sugars were stuck in the 50s and did not want to come up, no matter how much I ate and didn't bolus.  I am not the model diabetic, and I know many people could not do this, but I can still exercise decently when in the 50s.  I might not have the fastest times, but I can still do average.  If you looked at me, you wouldn't be able to tell that something was off. 

The race had many rest stops, and I tested and consumed food at all of them.  Each time I tested I was between 51 and 66 and ate 20 carbs.  I think the amount of exercise I did the past two days, paired with the long duration of the bike ride, did my blood sugars in.  It was not until Sunday night that I finally came up, at which point I went straight to the 200s. 

(Writing about a bike ride is far different than writing about a race...I just feel like there is not much to share!)

The most eventful part of the ride was when I got a flat tire at mile 40.  I know nothing about pumping air in my bike tires, let alone fixing a flat.  Luckily, a guy pulled over and did everything for me.  He was super nice and tried to explain everything he was doing to me.  I think I comprehended about 40% of what he said.  I speak running, not biking.

The ride finished, rather uneventfully.  They raised over $220,000 for diabetes.  I did notice that not many riders were wearing Red Rider jerseys.  I thought that many more diabetics would ride.  Maybe a lot did the shorter 30 or 15 mile distances instead?  

After getting back to my place, I promptly got in my car and drove 3.5 hours to Iowa.  As I drove, I thought about the distance my legs had carried me the past weekend.  The body can do amazing things.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Madison to Chicago Race Report

I meant for this post to go up a few days ago, but that obviously didn't happen.  A quick trip to Iowa, poor Internet connection, and a lot of relaxation later, here's my 1st race recap of last weekend.

*  *  *  *  *

Last year I had three not-so-good runs at the MC200.  This year, I'm happy to say, I did much better.  I am happy with how each leg went.  This year, I was runner #8.

The weather was the 50s, cloudy, and the night run was a little misty.  Couldn't have asked for better conditions to run in! 

My first run was 6.7 miles through Jefferson, Wisconsin, on county roads that had some rolling hills.  Our 7th runner got lost on his route, which was good for me because a lot of teams passed us.  This allowed me to focus on other runners to pick off during my leg.  The hills were good, and my legs felt great. 

The average pace for my first run was 7:21/mile.  I was happy and felt like I was flying.

Getting my music seemed like I was waiting forever.  Well..actually, I was. 

About ready to take get the bracelet in the hand off.  We're totally not a track team...look at how I'm standing. 

Van cheering me on on run #1.  I love this picture.

Handing off to our next runner.  He looks much more prepared for the bracelet than I was!

 My night run actually changed.  I was supposed to run 2.5 miles, but switched legs with our 7th runner because his IT band was hurting.  Yes, my team broke the rules.  So I ended up running 3.7 miles, outside of Milwaukee.  One of the roads I ran on at night was a winding road that had no street lamps.  I used the headlights of other runners as my focus, and picked off people as I went.  I felt great again.

The average pace for my night run was 7:08/mile. 

Do I look more like a construction worker and not a runner?  Too bad I don't have my headlamp turned on for this don't get the full effect without it.

If you've done a Ragnar before, you know that sleep is virtually impossible.  Even though we broke the rules again and had a camper for our "off" vehicle, sleeping was at a minimum. 

Our "off" vehicle.  Out of the 12 people on our team, 4 were from Iowa.  Go Hawkeyes!

I'm a person who needs a lot of sleep, so I knew my third run was going to be the most challenging.  Also, it was the longest at 9.9 miles.  The first few were through the northern Chicago suburbs and then it finished on a trail.  This was the only leg that I got passed by people - two ultra teams passed me.  I was so happy to be done with the run, but still felt good. 

The average pace of my final run was 7:47/mile.  I was happy with that, especially considering I started off way too fast (first two miles at 7:03 pace = not good!). 

Handing off after finishing my last leg.

Our 12th runner was concerned she wouldn't be able to finish her last leg - roughly 8 miles.  I ran the last 1.2 with her for support.

Here we on the left in pink and our runner #12 on the right in pink.

To the finish we go!

I'm feeling good about how I did in the race.  It is motivating to have a good race before my next training session begins.  Training for the Chicago Marathon starts this week.  It is kind-of funny, though, because my first long run is only 7 miles, so I will actually be decreasing my long run length. 

This race makes me so excited for my upcoming Northwest Passage Ragnar with Insulindependence. 

Remember at the beginning of this long post when I said that this was my first race of the weekend?  Tomorrow I'll post about the metric century bike ride I did on Sunday. 

Have you ever ran a Ragnar race....or two?  Did you find your 3rd run the hardest due to lack of sleep?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Madison to Chicago Race

I need to get in bed in order to be well-rested for the Tour de Cure metric century (62 miles) bike ride I'm doing tomorrow, but I wanted to share a few pictures from the Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay.  It started Friday, went through the night, and ended around noon for my team.  More on this race to come in the next few days, but I'm happy to report is was AWESOME!!!  Far better than last year!

By far my favorite picture of the race.  My team cheering for me as the drove by on my first leg.  You can see me from the front window.  I just think it is an awesome picture! 

Coming into the transition, just completed my first leg and feeling great. 

The top of the "on" vehicle.  Yes, we rode in style! :)  We got many unique looks from people in the towns we passed through with the swan on top of the van.  This is one reason why Ragnar races are so unique.  If you've never done one, you must. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ready, Set, Go!!!!

My bags are packed and I'm off to Madison for the night for the MC200.  I'll be running through Jefferson, Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon, Franklin, Wisconsin, tomorrow around midnight or 1 a.m. and then Saturday morning through the northern Chicago suburbs of Waukegan and Lake Forest.  The weather is supposed to be cold and rainy the entire time, but I think I'll  welcome some cooler running weather.  I'm looking forward to a great time and kick-starting my Chicago Marathon training. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Head Hurts

Ragnar is  a whole lot of fun, but a lot of work.  Tomorrow I leave for Madison to complete Ragnar #2 for me.  My 3rd leg is a headache....9.9 miles through the northern Chicago suburbs, with all kinds of twists and turns.  It puts someone like me, who is directionally challenged, in a tough position.  There is one part of the map that I cannot figure out.  I google mapped it, and it just does not seem to work.  My head is throbbing right now, which must mean I need to get some sleep and think about it tomorrow.  Less than 48 hours until MC 200....

Internalizing the Issue

Extreme fatigue.  Feelings of not wanting to run.  Decreased hunger.  Sounds like symptoms of low iron, right? 

After feeling this way for the past 3+ weeks, I went to get my blood tests done.  Yesterday, I received a call from my doctor's nurse.  My doctor and her looked at my blood tests and she told me that, essentially, nothing is wrong with me.  Everything they tested came back in the normal range, except for my blood platelets.  However, the nurse told me that blood platelet counts fluctuate and I need to get it tested again.  However, after internet searching, low blood platelet count can lead to fatigue. 

I spent a few minutes pondering what this all meant for me.  If you are a teacher, or know one, you know that the month of May is crazy with everything that must be done.  I had the best class this year, but still, there are all of those other things that must get done - report cards, permanent records, planning field trips, telling parents how their child earned their grade...  This, paired with my exercise habits, left me feeling tired every day.  I also might need to eat more given the volume of my training.

Yesterday was the start of a new day, and new season.  I'm so happy it is summer.  I am also happy that nothing is wrong with me.  Here is my action plan to get back in shape:

  1. Sleep more!  At least 8.5 hours a night.
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I already eat a lot, but eating more might give me more energy to complete my workouts at a higher quality.
  3. Relax.  During the school year I am always in a "go, go, go" state.  I need to take some time off once in a while.
  4. Eat at least 3 grains a day.  I'm a big fan of fruits and vegetables, but could care less about the grain group. 
Hopefully by following these 4 steps I'll be able to get back in shape, and quickly. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Waiting Game

I want to preface this post by saying that I still hope to have an epic summer.  Although, my definition of epic might change.

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There are three things in life that I strongly believe it:
  1. A person will not be given more than they can handle.
  2. Everything that happens in your life can be a learning opportunity.
  3. Running is great for the mind and body, and many good thoughts and ideas can stem from it.
Recently my running times have been getting slower and slower.  I know that I took the week after my half (May 15) easy, but I've still been running.  And with each run, it has gotten harder and harder.  Running a 7:30 mile is almost impossible now, and to hold that pace for more than 1 mile is impossible. 

On Sunday I went out for what was supposed to be an 11-mile run in preparation for the Madison to Chicago relay.  I made it 6, having to stop at mile 2.5 to regain composure.  This was the icing on the cake. 

I knew something was wrong a few weeks ago.  I've attempted numerous 10-11 mile runs since my half, only to fail and do half of the distance.  After thinking about what was happening, I decided to go get my blood drawn.  My doctor gave me a sheet with all the results he wanted for my appointment in July and told me to get it done sometime before that.  Friday was a day that worked for me. 

The weird thing about going to get my blood drawn was that they told me that they could not give me a copy of the results.  They said my doctor had to sign something saying I could get the results.  I didn't want to make a big deal, and knowing how relaxed my doctor is, I thought I could just call him instead and talk to his nurse.

Today I called the nurse, left a message.  Another nurse called back because my doctor's nurse does not work on Monday.  She left a very vague message: "This is S--, calling from Doctor S's office.  Please call back tomorrow to talk to M, your nurse, about you blood work." 

Let the waiting game begin.  But you know I'll be on the phone when I wake up.  At this point, I know something is wrong.  I might have low iron again, even though I have taken iron pills for the last year.  Or, it might be something else.  Who knows?  All I know is that I want the information.  It is impossible to solve anything without information. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Reviewing May

May went by so quickly.  I can't believe it is already June and summer is here.  My students had their last full day today, and just come to school on Monday to pick up their report cards.  Many people think that teaching is an easy job because we get the summers off.  This is true, but the hours I put in from August to May are countless.  I'm looking forward to sleeping in, reading books for pleasure, relaxing, and enjoying the sun.  But first, let's review May...

Total Miles: 284.2
Running Miles: 133
Biking Miles: 101
Elliptical Miles: 26.7
Walking Miles: 23
Weights: 7 days

Book of the Month: The Hunt by Jennifer Sturman

Song of the Month: Here by the Rascal Flatts

Obsession of the Month: Trying to break 1:40, but it didn't happen

Drink of the Month: refreshing in the hot weather

Current Wish List: To be healthy and injury-free.

Current Need: To find the holder for my insulin pump. I can't find it and it is a real pain. A new one might be in my future.

Triumph of the Month: Successfully completing my 4th year of teaching.  I loved my homeroom students this year.  They were the dream class...good kids, mostly low-maintenance parents, smart, motivated, included everyone.  Even in May when they got excited for the end of the year, they were still great. 

Current Bane of my Existence: The heat.  Could it please be in the 70s?  We totally skipped 70s weather and went right to the 90s. 
Current Blessings: Summer is here!  And, a new schedule for teaching next year. 
Current Excitement: Marathon training starts on the 18th, but the planning meeting is tomorrow morning.  I'm excited to train with a pace group and with other people who run my speed.
Current Goal: Be injury-free and conquer long runs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Celebrating National Running Day

It seems like there is a holiday for just about everything, including running.  Today, June 1, is National Running Day.  All holidays must be celebrated, so I did a 5.5 mile run outside to enjoy the sunny weather.  I also ran a few miles inside while doing other cardio work beforehand.  However, I now have a hard time running inside.  I love the fresh air and the feeling that running outside gives me. 

I feel like even though June 1st is designated as National Running Day, I celebrate this holiday weekly.  Every day that I can run and am able to run is a day to celebrate.  Since I got a stress fracture two years ago, I have valued each run.  Some runs are fantastic and I feel like I could run forever at a fast pace, while others are slow and hard, and completing a few miles seems like a challenge.  However, I am always glad that my body can do it.  Even though my body reaps the benefits of running, I think my mind is benefited even more. 

Running allows my thoughts to go freely, for me to think about things happening in my life, what I want to do in the next hour, day, month, year, five years, etc.  I also think about decisions I must make.  Some of my best thoughts, insights, and decisions have been made while running.

I can't begin to express how much running has impacted my life in the past 13 years.  I've been running exactly half of my life.  It has shaped my life in countless ways.  I've spend hours, days, probably months running.  I've gotten a lot out of it, but put a lot into it.  I've grown as a runner, and look forward to in the future. 

The greatest thing about running is that it will always be there.  All I need to do is lace up my shoes and go.  The roads are calling...

“Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

Did you celebrate National Running Day today?  Or, are you like me, and celebrate it multiple times throughout the year?