Sunday, July 31, 2011

First Gel

I can honestly say that now I feel like I am a true distance runner because today I consumed my first Gel.  I know many people have these in half and full marathons and triathlons and like them a lot.  They come in lots of flavors so everyone should be happy, right? 

After a weekend in Michigan for a wedding, I got back to Chicagoland and knew that my 15 mile run today was going to be solo, and hot.  As I was driving to my normal starting point, my car said it was 93 degrees outside.  Lovely.  I knew that I needed to carry my handheld water bottle with me given the heat and distance I was covering, and the fact that I was running alone.  I also thought it would be a good idea to have a Gel halfway through the run given the distance I was doing.

At mile 6.5, I decided it was time for my first gel.  This gel was put in a race goody bag and kept for a few months, but had not expired.  I really thought the flavor was going to be great because I love berries. 

I stopped at a water fountain, knowing that I would most likely need quite a bit of liquid to wash my gel down.  I opened up the pack and took a swallow of it and about died.  I could not get any more down because the consistency was awful.  I know people swear by them, but I just want to know how they consume them.  The taste wasn't that bad, but the consistency is just horrendous.  Knowing that I might have this problem, I read that sometimes it was helpful to freeze gel before you consume them make them easier to eat.  Even though mine was frozen, it still didn't help. 

I know I need to consume something during 15+ mile runs.  My body was tired and needed fuel and by mile 10, I was feeling the effect of not having any.  I know Gatorade is offered at aid stations for half and full marathons, but people have told me that the lines are long at Chicago.  I don't want to waste precious minutes in a line for Gatorade. 

I have other flavors of Gu, like strawberry, so maybe since it is a different brand and flavor it might be better?  Is there a difference in consistency between gel and gu?  I feel like I have so much to learn in regard to nutrition during the race..and training runs.

Do you like gu or gel?  Do you have any advice as to how to eat/slurp them so they are easier to consume?  What is your favorite flavor? 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Running Time Calculators

Have you ever plugged a race time into a running calculator website?  After a recent discussion with members of my running club, I decided to do this.  We were talking about goal marathon times vs. projected marathon times.  Theoretically, the running calculator works best when you have recent results to put into the "machine" to calculate.  This worked out well for me, since the majority of my PRs have come within the past five months or so. 

From these predictions, I can make a few assumptions:

  • Either all the stars were aligned when I ran my 5k PR and have not been able to do anything that great since, or I am not running to my full potential given that PR
  • My 10k PR should be faster.  This makes sense, since the time I plugged in was from Ragnar and not an actual race.  I did not taper for Ragnar, so I can assume if I taper then the time will decrease.
  • I think my marathon times are a little ambitious...I have never ran a marathon before and complete my first one in those times would be a near miracle in my mind.
  • This is just a computer, giving me feedback, and does not take into account a lot of other running variables, such as weather, preparation, determination, sleep, injury, and so on.
The bottom line is that this website is just a guide for how it thinks you should be running.  Sometimes guides are right, and other times they are wrong.  Sometimes you have good races, and other times you have not very good races.  I just find the whole thing rather fascinating. 

Have you ever put a race time in a running calculator to see what you "should" run for a different distance?  Was it accurate?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Today I listened to my body and decided I needed a day without running.  I'm hoping my legs will feel refreshed tomorrow because of it.  Since I mainly blog about running, and sometimes diabetes, but not much because I can't find a whole lot to say about it, here are 10 random things you most likely didn't know about me. 

  1. I never thought I would live where I currently live.  I always thought I would live in Iowa, but would not trade my current life for anything. 
  2. I have a sister, but we are completely different.  She is a journalist and lives in L.A. 
  3. I drive the speed limit, which annoys many other drivers.  If the speed limit is 35, I will drive 35.  
  4. My middle name is my mom's maiden name.  My siblings have normal middle names.
  5. I have donated my hair 4 times to Locks of Love. 
  6. I am very quiet, until I get to know you.  But even then, I am still pretty quiet.  I rarely talk when I'm in a group of people. 
  7. I do not like ketchup.  I will not eat anything that has its flavor, either, like pasta sauce.  Although,  I love mustard. 
  8. I like to listen to people talk and how they say certain words.  For example, my grandpa say "bat tree" as in tree full of bats instead of battery.  I smile every time I hear him say the word.
  9. I've never been out of the country. 
  10. I've run 23 races since May of 2006.
What is something interesting about you? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Personal Pacer

After I landed in Seattle on Thursday, my dad called me to make sure I got there safely.  I think I'm still stuck as a child in his eyes, and will be forever.  Besides asking me how the flight was, the airport, the landscape, our conversation quickly turned to the annual Labor Day race in the city where my parents live. 

The Labor Day race features both a 5k and a half marathon.  The past two years I have run the 5k, but decided earlier in the summer that I was not going to run it.  The race is on Labor Day, and with training for the Chicago Marathon I thought it would just be better to stay in the Chicago suburbs for the weekend.  Then, I heard some surprising news. 

My dad's company has sponsored the run the last few years, which gives him 2 free race entries.  It is a nice bonus for many races do you get to run for free?  My brother, who has helped organize the event in the past, was talking to my dad about sponsoring it again.  In that conversation, my brother said that one race entry could go to me, and the other to him.  My dad then shared with him that I did not plan on running the race.  My brother said that he would pace me in the half marathon so I could finish in 1:39:xx.  If you've been reading my blog, you know that this has been my goal since the spring. 

I immediately decided that I would run the half marathon with my brother.  The fact that he even offered to pace me was so kind.  He typically runs half marathons in the low 1:20s, so running my goal time will be like a walk in the park for him.  Thinking of me was so thoughtful.

With a renewed sense of determination and goal in mind, I went out and had a pretty good track workout.  Eight 400s at sub 5k pace (1:32-1:37 pace) and then a 4-mile tempo run at 7:30 pace left me feeling good about PRing at the Labor Day race. 

Has anyone offered to be your personal pacer at a race?  Or, would you rather always run on your own?

Monday, July 25, 2011

NW Passage Ragnar Relay Race Recap

Ragnar Slogan: Run.  Eat. Sleep?  Repeat.

My experience: Fly.  Eat.  Sleep?  Eat.  Run.  Eat.  Run.  Sleep.  Run.  Sleeeepppp.  Eat.  Sleep.  Fly.

The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous.  The beauty there is far superior to what we have in the Midwest.  It almost made me want to move out there, but the fact that I had to wear some of my winter clothing in mid-July helped me decide that Illinois is better for me. 

I know I could write a lot about this trip.  Half of Ragnar is running, but the other part is being in a van with the same people for a long time.  Due to a variety of reasons, I am only going to write about my runs.

This was my first experience in Van #1 for Ragnar.  I like being in Van #2 soooo much better.

As the race organizers were calling teams to the start line, the only song that I had going through my head was "Number 1"  by Nelly because I was runner #1.  I am number 1....

Run #1: 6.3 miles/7:20 pace
This was the start of Ragnar and I was a little nervous about there not being many people to run with.  I made up in my mind that I wanted to race this leg as a 10k race, and kind-of did that.  I would have PR'd by over 5 minutes if it was a real race.  This leg was on one road and pretty boring.  There were only trees to look at.  I wish I had my music, but decided to leave it in the van beforehand.  I think there were 15 teams that started the same time we did, and I came into the transition in 3rd, but the first girl. 

Run #2: 4.4 miles/7:21 pace
My second run was great.  I still had a lot of energy and knew that I would need it for the hill in the middle of the run.  I had a lot of road kills on this leg and that felt good, especially after not having any the first leg.  There was a monster hill in the middle of my leg, 1/3 of a mile and +200 feet elevation.  I was nervous, but it was not as bad as it seemed. 

Run #3: 7.8 miles/??? pace
My Garmin stopped working after mile 5 on this run.  It was having problems and kept switching screens, going to the GPS screen.  I will now use the lock screen on my long runs.  After 5 miles, my pace was 8:21.  Considering the elevation, and that this was my third leg, I was pleased.  I didn't try to run too hard.  It was dark, but I ran by the water and could hear it.  It was so peaceful and calming. 

After I returned home on Sunday I was talking to some friends.  After hearing what I said, they asked if I was glad I decided to do the race.  I am always happy to run a race.  It was a good experience.  Were there things that I wish were different?  Of course, but life isn't perfect.  Were there things that were great?  Yes, and I wouldn't want those to change. 

Have you ever participated in a Ragnar?  Or, would you want to participate in a Ragnar?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leaving on Jet Plane...

Even though I'm leaving to go to Seattle tomorrow for the NW Passage Ragnar Relay, I do know when I'll be back again. 

Today was busy cleaning, packing, organizing, re-packing, and running.  It was hot once again.  Apparently the heat index was close to 110 degrees.  My car only thought it was 100, though.

I ran 7 miles alone.  It took some motivation to get me out of the door due to the extreme heat, but I was glad that I did.  I love running.

When I got back, I continued to pack.  The comical thing is that here it is above 100, but one of the recommend things to bring for the race was hand warmers (gloves).  This just does not seem right.

Various gloves to run in...and throw-away if need be.  And my extra warm mittens.  I get cold really easily and think I might need them, especially at night.  You can also see the Runner's Stick...something I've taken with me for my previous 2 Ragnars.  Don't leave home without it!

My various jackets...rain, light running, and my warm fleece North Face.  I <3 North Face.

I still have a few things left to pack and then I need to get to bed.  I have to leave by 4:50 to get to the airport on time.  I haven't gotten up that early since....???

Are you a cold person?  I'm almost always cold.  I have been known to wear sweatshirts when it is 80 degrees outside.  My grandma once nicknamed me "freeze cat" because I'm always cold. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Running is a Mental Sport

I went to my endocrinologist today.  I've written before, and will write again, about how much I like him as my doctor.  He understands me which is really important.  We discussed marathon training and testing while running (something I do not do), and how I could work that into my training.  My A1C was 5.3. 

*  *  *  *  *

You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.
- Gatorade

In case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, it is blazing hot outside.  It reached the upper 90s in Chicago today, with heat indexes above that, which, of course, makes for "wonderful" running weather.  Who doesn't love to go run outside in sauna-like conditions and complete a track workout on their own? 

My running club has two track groups.  One is for faster runners and one is for slower runners.  The mentality of the two groups are very different, with the faster runners (my group) much more focused than the other.  Today, my group was doing 12 hill repeats while the other group did 3 sets of stairs.  Considering I have Ragnar in just a few days (and cannot wait!), I decided that doing hills or stairs would not be beneficial.  I'll get enough during my runs.  I decided that I would do my own workout instead.

I thought 800s would be a good workout for me today.  I'm not really sure why I thought so, there really was no reason, but it is what I wanted.  As I started my 1 mile warm-up solo, I realized this was going to be a hard workout.  Physically, I knew I could do it: 5 800s with a 400 recovery is almost like nothing compared to what I had been doing on Track Tuesdays.  The toughest part was being on the track by myself. 

As I completed my first 800, I seriously considered doing a few 400s and then calling it a day.  The track seemed to be radiating heat.  However, as I ran my 400 recovery, I convinced myself that I am stronger than that.  I don't back away from things.  I have clear goals and have achieved some of them and am determined to achieve the rest.  I remined myself that running is almost all mental.  I could do it.  Yes, it was going to be harder, but it was still doable. 

After giving myself a pep talk, I proceeded to run 3 more 800s before calling stopping.  When I stopped, some of the other runners were down on the track getting Gatorade after their workout.  It was nice to talk to them after completing my abbreviated workout.  Some of the runners that knew I was doing Ragnar wished me luck and told me to have a good time.  I completed my cool down and realized that running is indeed a mental sport. 

Did you ever try to talk yourself out of a workout? 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Favorite Things of the far

I was going to post about a different topic tonight, but decided that I wanted to focus on some positive things.  Every now and then I have to remind myself what a good life I have.  I am lucky to live in the United States and have food, clean water, and medication available.  I am able to run, which I consider one of the greatest gifts. 

Summer is a little more than halfway over for those of us in the teaching world.  My school starts near the end of the August.  Every year I am amazed about how quickly the summer goes.  I feel like it just started.  This summer has been incredibly enjoyable.  I hope in remains to be so.

So far, my favorite things of summer have been....

  1. Joining a running group.  I didn't know how much it would  change aspects of my running.  I'm going to elaborate in another post sometime. 
  2. Madison to Chicago Ragnar - two great runs and another decent one = Ragnar success.
  3. Sleeping in.  I need to sleep, a lot, and love not having to set an alarm clock every morning. 
  4. Reading for enjoyment.  I read a ton last summer (17 books), but didn't read hardly at all during the school year.  I'm currently reading Salem Falls by Jodi Piccoult, but am going to start the Hunger Games series after it because I've heard wonderful things about them from my students, friends, and aunt.
  5. Setting up my classroom.  One of my goals for this summer was to get my school classroom ready in the month of July.  It is coming along nicely; a little more work to do, but I think I'll make my goal. 
What I'm looking forward to:
  1. My mom is coming to visit me tomorrow.  I love it when she comes.
  2. I'm going to the state of Washington for the Ragnar NW Passage Relay in 4 days! 
What has been the best part of your summer so far?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How I Got My Unique Tan

As witnessed by Lindsay in my ice bath post, I have a rather...unique...tan.  Now, I am a person that has to be out in the sun for days before I actually get tan.  So the fact that I am tan at all is nearly a miracle, but it does not bother me a whole lot. 

Back in June, I was riding my bike a lot (for me).  I completed a metric century ride and then a duathlon and trained a fair amount.  On my metric century I got a lovely bike tan that is yet to disappear.  Now, you would assume that all of my legs would be tan since I have done all of my running outside this summer.  Although I have a sock line that is somewhat noticeable, my legs are not that tan left leg is not tan, but my right leg is.  The reason?

I run with a compression sleeve on my left leg.  Recently, some people have asked me why I wear them, and specifically, why on only one leg. 

Back in February I had Achilles tendinitis.  It was not a bad case, and when I iced my left leg after running it felt so much better.  I don't know if it ever went 100% away or not, but when I was training for my half marathons this spring I started to cramp up on my runs.  There was never a set pattern to my cramping.  The distances, speed, terrain (outside vs. treadmill) varied when the cramping occurred.

During that time, a friend told me he wore compression socks when he ran because it helped him cramp less.  At that point in my training cycle, I wanted the cramping to stop.  It had caused me to cut short some of my longer runs.  I went to a local running store and opted to buy compression sleeves because, well, the socks are not fashionable and rather ugly for wearing out in public not my style.  I thought if the sleeve could do the same thing as the sock, I'd opt for the sleeve.  Ever since wearing the compression sleeve, I've only had 1 cramp. 

Has my cramping problem healed, and I no longer need to wear the sleeve while running?  I don't know.  Some part of me is nervous to run without it on.  However, another part of me wants to try it.  Right now I'm doing all that I can to stay healthy for Chicago.  If that means wearing a sleeve, I'll wear a sleeve. 

In addition to my compression sleeve tan line, I also have the infamous runner watch line.

It doesn't look that noticeable in the picture, but it is!

Do you have any unique tan lines?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marathon Training Update

I'm currently in week 6 of marathon training, with only 12 more weeks to go.  I can't believe there are less than 90 days until the marathon.  In one sense, it seems like a long ways aways, but on the other hand, I know it will be here before I know it. 

My marathon training looks like this:

Monday: Rest day - always

Tuesday: Track work - different every week.  Today was 16 x 400 with 200 recoveries, with the 400s at 5k pace or faster (mine were about 5 seconds faster and felt last one was at 1:22, the slowest was 1:36)

Wednesday: Short run at a slower pace - typically 3 or 4 miles

Thursday: 6 or so miles at 7:45 or 8:00 pace

Friday: Supposed to be off, but I run 3 - 5 miles

Saturday: Supposed to be 6 miles, but I run 3

Sunday: Long run...last week was 12, but this week is step-back week, so only 9 at 8:20 pace typically.  I think I want to run slower - like 8:30s - and will need to in the upcoming weeks.

* * * * *
A few random thoughts....

I run with my running club on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and do the rest on my own.

My running group has three plans: one for novice marathoner, one for the previous marathoner, and one for the "I want to PR marathoner."  I decided to follow the previous marathoner training plan, even though I've never run a marathon before.  I thought given my running experience and passion.  Was this a good move? 

I do not run the recommended amount on Saturdays.  I understand why they recommend that distance, but I think my body does better with a lower mileage the day before a longer run.  I'm not sure if this will hurt me when I run the marathon, but it works for me, and I think that is the most important thing.

In addition to running 6 days a week, I also cross-train 6 days a week.  I typically walk, bike, and do the elliptical every day and try to lift weights at least 2 times a week. 

I don't know why, but my least favorite days are Thursdays. 

Only 9 more days until NW Passage Ragnar.  I cannot believe it.

Help!  My long run the week of Ragnar is 14 miles.  If I wanted to complete it, I would need to run it on my own, on Sunday night after I fly back to Chicago from Seattle.  I  know my legs would be tired from 3 runs in about 24 hours.  Someone told me to skip the run altogether, and just focus on the long run the following week.  What would you do?  Would you skip the long run altogether?  Or, run it Sunday night?  Help, please!

Tuesday track workouts always leave me tired, which is a good thing because that means I gave 100%.  Off to bed!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Lifetime Goal and Marathon Thoughts

After I ran my first half marathon at the age of 21, I set a goal for myself.  It was simple, yet achievable.  I gave myself plenty of time to achieve it and knew that I could, in time.  I'm not really sure how I came up with this goal.  I guess it was a combination of wanting more out of running, wanting to become a better runner, and wanting to push myself. 

The goal I set for myself was to run 10 half marathons and 1 full marathon by the time I turn 30. 

This is something that has stuck in my mind ever since I wanted to achieve it.  Every time I sign up for a half marathon, I think.."okay, this will be #8.  Only 2 more to go before I reach my goal."  Every race is special for its own reasons - a PR, who I signed up or ran with, where it was, who went with me, just to name a few.  But for each of the 8 halves I have run, the training has been about the same.  I've trained on the treadmill, PR'd in all but 2, and cut my time by over 37 minutes.  However, now I feel like I'm playing a different game. 
There are currently less than 90 days until the 2011 Chicago Marathon.  It seems like it is so far in the distance, yet so close at the same time.  Marathon training is time consuming.  I know part of this is because I put a lot of pressure on myself to run well.  I absolutely will not stay out late the night before a training run because I need a lot of sleep in order to run well.  I try to eat tons of fruits and vegetables and a lot less cookies, although, sometimes they are necessary (see my last post). 

I am not sure how people that have families manage to train for marathons.  I can only imagine how hard it must be to balance running and family and not go insane.  I might do more than the average marathon because I do a fair amount of cross-training as well...I'm not sure.  Right now I feel like marathon training in and of itself is a full-time job.  Is that normal? 

Running a marathon is something I've wanted to do for the last 5 years, but more specifically the last 2.  I've thought about and often wondered what it would be like and how I would do.  I've already learned a lot about myself as a runner from 6 weeks of marathon training.  I can only imagine what I will learn during the next 12. 
Did you ever set a goal for yourself where you gave yourself many years to achieve it?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend Recap: Cookie Carb-Loading and Ice Baths

It is only a little past 8:00 and I feel like I could fall asleep right now.  I guess that is what waking up at 5:00 a.m. for a 6:30 12-mile marathon training run will do to do, along with playing softball for 3 hours and lifting weights.  So, so tired!

I always tell people that I don't carb-load before runs and races.  I don't see the point.  It actually causes my blood sugar to go incredibly high, no matter how much insulin I take, or so it seems.  However, I did carb-load this weekend, except that it was 100% unhealthy. 

On Friday and Saturday I went to southern Iowa to visit my grandma.  I go visit her every summer for a night or two because I don't see her very often - only Christmas and sometimes Thanksgiving.  And, I love my grandma dearly so I always make the time to visit her. 

My grandma knows about my love of cookies and always makes me my favorite kind...white chocolate macadamia nut.  They are to die for.  (Random fact: I hate pies and cakes, but love almost all cookies.  Isn't that weird?!?)  Like a good grandchild, I happily ate the cookies she made for me and enjoyed every bite.  However, I did feel like I had gain 5,000 pounds this morning when I woke up for my long run.  I was happy that it was a long run day...I think my body needed to burn off some of those calories.

I plan to do a post on my marathon training this week, so I won't go into detail about the run.  But, it was good and I felt great, even in the high humidity/temperatures.

After the run I went to lift weights for a bit before coming back and taking an ice bath.  Jess recently took one, which reminded me of them.  When I ran cross-country in high school I took them all the time, but haven't since then.  Today was the day.

I forgot how painfully miserable it is to get into the ice bath.  It is the hardest thing for me.  I also had to get creative about where I wanted to put my insulin pump since it can't get wet.

Aren't tan lines attractive?  I've got the worst farmer's tan ever!  I also didn't take the picture quick enough...most of the ice had already melted.  But trust me, there was a lot of ice in there!

My insulin pump got clipped to my shirt so it wouldn't get wet.  It made me feel like a nerd.

I think I am going to have to start taking more ice baths given my current training plan.  The things runners do...

And I'm off to sleep.

Do you take ice baths?  Do you find that they help you?

Do you carb-load?  With cookies? :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I'm only human

Someone recently commented to me about how much I run and workout.  They commented how they could not imagine devoting that many hours of their day to physical activity, which, in their opinion, is not normal for a human.  I told the person that I am indeed human and go through streaks in my training.  Some days I work out more and have more energy than others. 

I've got a pretty good memory and tend to remember things for long periods of times.  I did a post last year where I talked about the "valley of training," which was written right before I found found I had low iron.  One of the responses was that people just get through tough training times.  Sometimes this involves leaving a Garmin at home, while others it just takes some Patience.  But, it will pass.

This week I feel like I've been in a valley.  I feel like I am beating myself up mentally.  Most of this comes from the fact that I am not running very fast right now.  I keep thinking back to my spring half marathons, where I ran them around a 7:40 pace, knowing now that I don't think I would have a chance to do that, which makes me sad and frustrated.  Shouldn't a person get faster if they are running more, not slower? 

While I still love running, it has been harder to motivate myself to go run because of this mind set.  It is almost like I feel like I am not a good runner because of the paces I am running.  Running is always harder in the summer due to the heat and humidity, but that only provides a little bit of comfort.  Then, I think about the races I've recently done.

In my last race, the Metlife Race Around the World Duathlon, I ran my fastest running (and biking) splits ever (I think).  Before that, I did Madison to Chicago Ragnar Relay, where I had three phenomenal runs.  Given how I performed during those races, I feel like I should be training better. 

I know marathon training is a totally different ball game compared to anything else I've done before.  It is a different mindset than running a half or one of the shorter distance races. 

I hope I climb out of the valley I'm in soon. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July

Sometimes life just goes too quickly.  I hope you had a great 4th of July.

I've noticed that most people really like a certain holiday.  Some people love the 4th of July, however, I am not one of those people.  Fireworks are rather boring to me.  If you've seen them once, you've seen them a million times.  I really like Christmas because it is always different. 

I spent my 4th of July here...

At Miller Park in Milwaukee watching the Brewers vs. Diamondbacks.  My parents and I always go to a Brewers game in the summer because I'm a Brewers fan.  Typically, we sit two rows from the Brewers dugout, which are awesome seats.  This year we sat between home and third base.  It was interesting to get a different perspective of the ball game. 

The beginning of the game started off rather slowly.  There wasn't a whole lot of hitting going on the first 3 innings.

But then the Brewers got the bases loaded with two outs. 

Prince got on base.

Unfortunately, the pitcher was up to bat.  He had a batting average of 100.  If you know anything about baseball, then you know that he is not very good.  However....he hit a grand slam!  It was awesome!!!  The crowd went wild.   Bernie went down the slide, like he always does when the Brewers hit a home run.

One of my favorite parts of the game is in the bottom of the 6th inning when they have the sausage race.  The five racers are the brat, Italian, Polish, hot dog, and chorizo.  Apparently they are serious runners, as they need to get warmed up before their race.

I totally want to dress up as one in my next race!  Just kidding...I don't dress up for races.

The chorizo ended up winning the race, barely beating out the brat.

It was a really good game, but the Brewers lost, 6-8.  There were over 26 hits in the game, which made it exciting to watch. 

Do you dress up for races?  Would you be a brat, Italian, Polish, hot dog, or chorizo for a race?