Saturday, November 21, 2009

Old Habits / Bad Sleeping

Last week, Jeff went out of town, and I used that opportunity to catch up with some old friends. On Saturday (the 14th) afternoon, I was very emotional and spent most of the day reminicing about my dad and crying. Later that night, I went to a party with friends, drank some wine, and got home around 3am. I didn't sleep well that night, and had to be up for work the next day at 9. I was off work on Monday, but I dragged myself through the 6 mile run, and was feeling really ragged.

After work on Tuesday, I met up with Joel Berk for a concert at Martyr's. I had 2 beers and we were out till about 12:30, then I watched tv till about 2am. I got woken up at 3am and 5am by the dogs, then woke up naturally at 7am. Determined to get more than 4 hours of sleep, I laid in bed until 10 (I work at noon), but that extra little bit didn't help. On Weds I stayed downtown after work to see the new Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel. Although it only lasted till 10, I was already exhausted, and by the time I got home I was completely worn out. I went to sleep around 11:30, with the intention of catching up on some sleep, but I woke up to a text message at 2:30am, then again at 6am. That text was from Jeff telling me that his Amtrak had just hit a car and killed the driver.

A worry-some personality and five days of sleep deprevation made this news especially jarring to me. I laid in bed imagining what would have happened if Jeff's train had derailed; I imagined how the family of the victim must feel. I wondered if it had been suicide and what would have driven him to that point. After an hour of trying to sleep and failing, I decided to just get up and get ready for work early. I was ready by 9 although I don't have to leave until 11. Showering and eating had calmed me down, so I attempted sleep again, only to sleep through my alarm and wake up at 11:15. I was going to be at least 5 minutes late, awesome. I arrived at work frazzled, worn out, and anxious.

Jeff finally got home around 9:30pm (originally supposed to be 4pm), and after spending some quality time together, I left at 11pm to go see a midnight showing of the new Twilight movie, New Moon. Although it was great, I didn't get home until 2:30am and I was asleep at 3am.

Friday was a regular day, and I finally got to relax. I hadn't run since Monday because I was so sleepy in the mornings and so busy in the evenings. I was exhausted to my core, but I made spaghetti for dinner and was feeling pretty good. Around 10pm I was reading/ falling asleep on the couch when some words I had said to our roommate stirred up a heated argument. Of course, he didn't know that my week of exhaustion made me so fragile, but under the weight of the argument, I just cracked. Another night of poor sleep, another day of work, another night out and another decision - am I going to run today, or not?

I came home from work at 5, ate and relaxed for a while. My body was exhausted and my emotions had pretty much flat-lined at this point... I was too tired to care about much anymore. But I knew I needed to run today so I could take Sunday off and be fresh for my day off on Monday. Jeff motivated me and I got off the couch. I have a 2 mile loop in my neighborhood, which I could barely finish in 30 minutes when I first started. I strapped on the heart rate monitor, plugged in the Nike+, got Chuck ready to go, and headed out.

I was back in 24 minutes!

On some parts of the run I ran as fast as 9:45 per mile. I averaged 11:22 per mile, but this included some walking and stretching. One bummer with short runs is the limited amount of warm-up time. Anyway, I'm really, really happy that I finally got out there. It felt great, and although the 4 days off was unintentional, I think it did me some good.

Overall, I learned the hard way that I am not cut out for the rock-n-roll lifestyle anymore. I know I've been saying that for a while, but actually living it for a week (without Jeff to take me home at a decent hour) REALLY drove the point home. The sheer exhaustion I felt from not getting 9-10 hours of sleep each night affected me to my core, and my emotions completely broke down.

I won't be living like that anymore. I know for sure that I am ready to settle down, and one (or two at the most) nights out a week are plenty for me. I'm happy to have reconnected with some friends, but from now on, I'm in bed by 11.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The dreaded "Long Run"

I don't love the long run. I'm definitely a sprinter by nature. My attention span works for 15-20 minutes at a time before I need a change of pace. But I'm determined to turn myself into a distance runner, if only to make Olympic Distance Triathlons easier. The way I see it, increasing my attention span cannot be a bad thing, and if I'm burning 700+ calories while strengthening my entire body and brain, I'll be better off, even if I initially object.

So since I'm training for this Half-Marathon in February, long runs are going to become part of my weekly routine whether I like the idea or not. I'm casually following a Nike+ training plan, which I will officially start the day after my 4 mile race on Thanksgiving. To prep for this 4 mile race I've been doing hill and speed intervals on the treadmill, the occassional mid-distance (3-4mi) run outside, and a lot of short runs on the treadmill. I am definitely half-assing the distance part of the training plan, and by that I mean skipping it all together.

Yesterday, I did a 10k (6.2mi) run outside, on the lake, in 25+ mph winds and it was EXHAUSTING! I'm really, really sore today. I took Chuck with me, who was pretty much bouncing off the walls for the rest of the afternoon. I can't believe all this energy! Overall, it was a good run. But like all good runs, I learned some valuable lessons. First is hydration and food - I always forget how important they are. I took a water bottle with me, but I should have refilled it half way through. I was really dehydrated for the rest of the night. Also, I should have taken some Shot Blocks or a gel with me. I got very hungry on the way home, so much so that it was all I could think about.

It's important to get out to the lake for the bulk of the run. Stopping at every light between Ashland and the lake is so annoying! Also, I need to properly stretch before the long run. I had to stop a lot to work out the kinks in my quads, hips, and shins. I didn't have a lot of knee pain till the end, but I also didn't feel loose until the end. And today I'm really sore. So for next time, I think I'll warm up in the house with some jumping jacks and calisthenics, then stretch, then start running.

Another thing I need to work on is ab/core strength. The first place I felt tired was my lower back. Taking an ab class once a week will help my running quite a bit, I think.

I'm proud of myself for doing my long run on Monday, my only day off of the week. It would have been easy to sit around and do nothing all day (which is what I wanted to do). And now I can say that every run this week will be shorter than that one! Woo hoo!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Petition

The point of this blog post is taken from something I read in one of my favorite books, titled Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is struggling with a divorce, and her ex won't sign the papers. Allow me to excerpt:

"... I wish I could sign a petition to God, asking for this thing to end."
"So why don't you?"

I explained to Iva my personal opinions about prayer. Namely, that I don't feel comfortable petitioning for specific things from God, because that feels to me like a kind of weakness of faith. I don't like asking, "Will you change this or that thing in my life that's difficult for me?" Because - who knows - God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no mater how things turn out.

Iva listened politely, then asked, "Where'd you get that stupid idea?"
"What do you mean?'
"Where'd you get the idea that you aren't allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are a part of this universe, Liz. You a constituent - you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me - it will at least be taken into consideration."

"Really?" This was all news to me.
"Really! Listen - if you were to write a petition to God right now, what would it say?"
I thought for a while, then pulled out a notebook and wrote this petition:

Dear God,

Please intervene and help end this divorce. My husband and I have failed at our marriage and now we are failing at our divorce. This poisonous process is bringing suffering to us and to everyone who cares about us. I recognize that you are busy with wars and tragedies and much larger conflicts than the ongoing dispute of one dysfunctional couple. But it is my understanding that the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on it. As long as even two souls are locked in conflict, the whole of the world is contaminated by it. Similarly, if even one or two souls can be free from discord, this will increase the general health of the whole world, the way a few healthy cells in a body can increase the general health of the body.

It is my most humble request, then, that you help us end this conflict, so that two more people can have the change to become free and healthy, so there will be just a little bit less animosity and bitterness in a world that is already far too troubled by suffering.

I thank you for your kind attention.


Elizabeth M. Gilbert.

I read it to Iva, and she nodded her approval.
"I would sign that," she said.
I handed the petition over to her with a pen, but she was too busy driving, so she said, "No, let's say I did just sign it. I signed it in my heart."
"Thank you Iva, I appreciate your support."
"Now, who else would sign it?" she asked.
"My family. My mother and father. My sister."
"OK. They just did. Consider their names added. I actually felt them sign it. They're on the list now. OK - who else would sign it? Start naming names."

Elizabeth then goes on to name dozens of names, including St. Francis of Assisi and the Clintons. She takes a short nap, and when she wakes up, she receives a phone call stating that her husband has finally signed the divorce papers.

I find this to be very inspiring.

As you may know, 2009 has been a hell of a year for me job-wise. Lets recap.

Jan 5: Laid off from House Call Ent. after 6 months due to downsizing. (1)
Jan 27: Start job at tax preparation firm Wickliff and Associates as a receptionist.(2)
Feb: Start job at Paul Green School of Rock helping out at events. (3)
Sometime in the spring: Start work at The Store doing concert production. (4)
April 16: Get job offer to join BG&H Publishing to work for Alarm Magazine, among others. Quit Wickliff and Associates although they were planning to lay me off soon.
April 28: Start at BG&H. Quit PGSOR due to time constraints with BG&H. (5)
May 27: Laid off from BG&H for reasons that are still unclear to me. Something about money.
June 8: Start job at PJ Clarke's on Armitage as Event Coordinator / Front of House Manager. Work six 55-hour weeks. (6)
July 18: PJ Clarke's suddenly closes, leaving me and 25 others unemployed.
July: Try to get PGSOR job and The Store job back and have been replaced at both (understandable).
July 25: Start job walking a dog 3 times a week. (7)
Sept 27: Get job as temporary, part-time sales associate at Pottery Barn Kids.(8)
Oct 7: Get job as local sales associate for Toner and Beyond, a print solutions and management company based in Michigan - 100% commission. (9)

Oct 13: Get job as part-time receptionist at a real estate property on Michigan Ave. More money, more hours, less obnoxious retail. Quit PB kids. (10)

This brings us current.

Unless you have had 10 jobs in 11 months, I'm not sure you can understand the emotions this puts me through. First, there's stress - I'm never 100% sure I will be able to pay my bills. Then there is the inevitable feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. What is wrong with me? Why can't I find a decent job at a decent company? It's constant fear and vulnerability. Is it ever going to get better? For the most part, I realize that these doubts are just my own personal baggage, and that "in this economy" I shouldn't take any job situation personally. But still, I saw my friends thriving in jobs that suited them and I just didn't understand what I could be doing differently. Keep in mind that during this time, I was focusing my job search on restaurants, bars, and concert venues, determined to find something in service or the music industry.

Then several things happened to me all in a very short time span. First, I worked at the Chicago Rock-and-Roll Half Marathon Expo and I absolutely loved it. I loved being around all the athletes - elite runners who can do 13 miles in 80 minutes, and overweight grandpas who have been running marathons since before women were even allowed to participate. It felt amazing to be surrounded by so many people who shared the same goal I did - to put one foot in front of the other and cross the finish line.

The next weekend, I participated in my first triathlon on August 9th, which was amazing. I came in near the end of the pack, which made me want to take training and gear much more seriously. I suddenly understood the need for the Expos. 

A few weeks later, I volunteered for the entire weekend of the Chicago Triathlon. On day one, I was scheduled to work Packet Pickup at the Expo. As I left the house that day and locked the door behind me, I thought "I should probably have a few resumes on me... just in case." I went back inside and grabbed my folder, and headed down to the Hilton. At one point, I walked through the expo, and I noticed a sign on the desk of a magazine I read religiously - Chicago Athlete Magazine. The sign said "Wanted: Local Ad Sales Rep." I stopped dead in my tracks, and my mind flashed to my resumes sitting in my backpack. Was this the cosmic reason I had grabbed that folder? I talked to the woman on the other side of the table, Tracy, who explained that they were looking for someone to replace their current rep, who would be moving into event production. I mentioned I was applying for serving positions and she said "Yes! That's what we need! Someone who isn't afraid to talk to anyone!" I laughed and said, "I'm your girl." I gave her a resume and followed up with her two days later.

The following Thursday, she brought me in for a very casual interview, and I felt right at home. The office was sunny and comfortable, and everyone seemed very friendly. I felt like I could be myself there. The publisher, Eliot, is also a swimmer and a Hoosier, and the editor, John, is from Ohio and his wife grew up in Colorado. All of them are athletes. The company also produces the Wisconsin Marathon, and after telling Tracy about my music business experience she said "Great, you can help me get bands for the marathon!" It felt like a perfect match. Near the end of the interview, Tracy told me they wouldn't be making the decision until the middle of November, and suggested I get a part-time job to tide me over in the meantime. I said I'd be fine with that, and I would wait, and to please keep in touch. She suggested I volunteer at a training run 2 weeks later, which I did and enjoyed very much.

About 10 days later, Tracy contacted me again asking me to work the sign-in table at a party they were throwing for all the event directors who were in town for the Chicago Marathon. I didn't realize exactly what it meant, but of course I agreed and got there early. Then the guests started rolling in - the director of the Boston Marathon. The special event coordinator for the American Cancer Society. A woman (i'm not sure where she worked) who has run 33 marathons in several different countries. I was THRILLED! These are my people! Normal, everyday athletic people who have normal, everyday lives. They wake up, run, take care of their families, pay their bills, have houses and cars and vacation properties, and then they win marathons. It blew my mind.

For so many years, I've been struggling to fit into the rock and roll world. At the time I didn't know I didn't fit in - I thought I was a piece of the puzzle. But as it weighed on me, I realized that I am not a musician and I never will be. And suddenly I didn't care anymore. I am an athlete. Going to concerts meant less and less, while triathlons became important. Other people in music used to ask me what I did in the business, and I never had an answer. I figured it was because I could do anything, but I realize now it was because my puzzle piece never fit. This may sound depressing or self-deprecating but in reality it is so empowering. Maybe I WAS doing something wrong all those years when I couldn't find a job. I was trying to fit where I simply didn't belong.

After a great conversation with a life-coach named Sue, I realized that I needed to allow myself to evolve. I needed to accept that I'm allowed to change. All people are. They grow, and mature, and eventually get over the things that once made them the happiest. I still love music and always will. But what I do know is that my fondest childhood memories are of me and my dad playing catch, or my swim meets, or my track practices, or riding my bike around the neighborhood. I have ALWAYS been an athlete, and ever since I graduated college, I have been trying to smother that with music. Now, I will let them live together in peace, rather than constantly fighting.

It's now the middle of November, and I'm waiting to hear back from Chicago Athlete about the sales position. I don't know if I've ever wanted any job so badly in my life. Yes I wanted the assistant talent buyer position at House of Blues, but I didn't know what that job entailed. I had no idea - I just wanted the title. I wanted the assistant position at Windish Agency, but obviously not bad enough since I backed out of the interview process to take the BG&H job. There have been lots of jobs I "want," but none that I can feel in my core the way I feel this one. I KNOW I can sell. I am persistent without being pushy. I can get along with anyone. I can help the buyer figure out what they need and give them the perfect ad space. Plus, I LOVE promoting events and I always have. This is what I want. I know I want to work for Chicago Athlete. It's a reputable magazine with great distribution and excellent room for growth. Everyone who currently works there has been there for years and they are like a family. They are expanding into event production which is an area I'm extremely familiar with. It just feels so right. And the suspense is killing me!

So here is my petition. Hopefully you will sign... either here or in your heart.

Dear God, 
Please help me get hired at Chicago Athlete Magazine. After months and months of soul searching, I have finally come to the difficult realization that I don't want to work in the music business full-time anymore. This decision did not come lightly, and throughout the entire process I have been filled with doubt, fear, vulnerability, and anxiety. I know you are dealing with millions of unemployed people around the world - people with children and mortgages who need a job much more than I do. But fixing the economy has to start somewhere, and why not with me? I promise I will be a good worker. I will give as much as I can to the race community to make people healthy, strong, fit, and fast. 
It is my most sincere request, God, that you bless me with this Chicago Athlete Magazine sales rep job - a salary, a career and maybe even benefits - so that one less person has to live in constant anxiety, so one less person has to doubt who they are and what they have become, and so one more person can contribute to this amazing community of humans on earth. 
Stephanie Gabarik

Monday, November 9, 2009


After spending some time analyzing my Nike+, I found out I've only been running once every 4 days. I'm disappointed that it's not every 2 days and I'm going to try much, much harder now...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yoga for Runners and Triathletes,7121,s6-238-409-0-0,00.html

I did yoga a lot a year ago, when I was first starting to get back in shape. Once I started running and swimming, I couldn't stay interested in the pace of yoga. Now that I'm focusing entirely on running (although I do plan to get in the pool at least once a week), I'm going to get back into the yogi world. I'm taking my first class in months tonight at the gym... we'll see how it goes :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I signed up for a half-marathon!

I'm taking the next step in endurance running!

On Feb 2, I will compete in the Mardi Gras Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans. I'm so excited! Between now and Christmas I have to get comfortable running 10 miles. Then in the dead of winter, Jan and Feb, I'll focus on speedwork on the treadmill and run outside once a week or so. I'm pretty excited!

Between now and then I'm only planning on one race, the 4-miler in Ohio on Thanksgiving day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My running outfit and gear

As I packed my gym bag this morning, I decided that today I would share with you all the things I strap to my body before a good run. I'm a numbers person, so tracking my heart rate, calorie count, mileage, and speed is important to me. I like to watch my progress.

First and most importantly is my heart rate monitor. I have a Garmin Forerunner 50, which comes with a watch, a strap to go around the chest, and a USB to connect to the computer. The watch has a timed intervals, laps, splits, and an optional biking computer and optional foot pod. I'll probably get the biking computer and the foot pod would be great, but for that I use my...

Nike+. The Nike plus is great because it gives you details of your run through your headphones. The sensor can either go inside the heel of your shoe, if you have a special Nike brand shoe, or it can strap to your laces. It then keeps track of your miles, speed, and level online. I'm a level Orange. I've gone 45 miles in 9 hours and 33 minutes since I got the device. There is also a community you can be a part of, inspiring you to join challenges (for example, women vs men for the most miles run in 2009). There are training options and goals you can set. It's very addicting. The only bummer is when the iPod is dead!

I also use a PT Strap to go around my right knee - the knee I had ACL surgery on in 02. In general my knee is perfectly stable, so I don't need a full brace, but the strap helps to redistribute some of the pressure from the front of my patella to other parts of my leg. My knees hurt all the time, but these straps seem to help.

I also use a PT Short Sleeve for my left knee, which I'm 99% sure is going to need surgery once I'm finally insured. I don't know what I did, but it wobbles and hurts like a bitch after mostly every run. This strap helps a lot. When i bought it, sales dude told me to be careful, because whatever's going on in there will probably get worse. I'm running anyway, but cautiously.

I don't know exactly what brand of running socks I use, but after using regular cotton socks for 9 months, let me tell you - they are AMAZING. They're made of acrylic, which is soft and wicks the sweat off my feet and out of my shoe, reducing blisters and overall yuckiness. They also have two layers, which rub against each other, completely preventing blisters. Your foot rubs against the first layer, and your shoe rubs against the second layer, but since they don't touch each other, there's no friction. It's delightful. I never thought I'd get so amped about socks.

I have two pairs of shoes which I alternate - Saucony Progrid Rides (which apparently I paid way too much for!) and a pair of Asics I got from Sports Authority and I can't remember the name right now. Of course, running shoes are the most important part of the outfit, especially for those of us with bad knees. I'm due for a new pair, so I'll need to check out Women's Running Magazine to see what their picks are right now.

I always run in pants (as opposed to shorts) because I'm vehemently against chafing. Seems pretty logical. I also love my Under Armor wicking shirt.

Last but not least, I always use my iFitness Mini Sport Belt to hold my iPod and keys and phone while I'm running.

Hope that helps you get started :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Looking ahead to the future...

I am also a very goal-oriented person, so I need to have a constant list of races and times in mind if I'm going to actually work toward getting better. I have the drive and talent to do well at this, I just need the motivation to work toward it.

So far I am signed up for two races - Aurora Turkey Trot on 11/26/09 in Aurora, Ohio - 4mi, goal time: 45 minutes, and the Mardi Gras Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon, 02/28/2010 in New Orleans, LA - 13.1mi, goal time: 2 hours, 30 minutes. I haven't actually registered for the Mardi Gras one but I will soon.

Come next summer, I'm planning to do the US Women's Triathlon Series sprint tri in Naperville in the middle of June. I'm already familiar with the course but the swim is longer (750m vs 400m, which I've already done). I'm excited for this one.

I will also probably do the Naperville sprint tri again, depending on when the Cleveland Tri is. I'd like to do that one.

Eventually, I will do the Chicago Tri, The Disney World Marathon (you run through all 5 parks!), the Chicago Marathon, and something in Denver. I'd love to see how I fare up in the altitude!

I am a very routine-oriented person...

I'm very happy to finally have a steady job with a regular schedule so I can get the right amount of sleep and still balance errands, the dogs, my music company, and working out. I work 6 days a week from noon to 5, leaving me plenty of morning time to myself, early evening time for exercise (Jeff doesn't leave work until 6), and late evening time for the family. Although I like working at Pottery Barn kids, the erratic schedule - opening one morning and closing the next night - messes with my workout schedule. And truth be told, my workouts are the most important part of my health and sanity, so keeping them on track takes priority. My plan is to wake up between 7 and 8 most days, enjoy the morning with a leisurely shower, breakfast, coffee, and some news TV. This also gives me time to run some quick errands if need be. Then I'll leave for work at 11, work from noon to five, and either head straight to the gym from 5:45 to 7 or go home and run outside with the dogs. Leaving work at 5 also allows me time to make it to the Fleet Feet Women's Fun Run on Mon and Weds at 6:30. Then dinner, TV or out with Jeff, read, and bed. Sounds pretty awesome :).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicago Marathon Weekend

... was so exhausting, I should have just run the marathon myself!

On Friday, the 9th, I left my house at 7am to work at McCormick Place for the Expo. I was selling iFitness Mini Sport Belts, which are great, Blackberry-sized pockets that you strap onto your hips. They are guaranteed not to bounce or shift while you're running, which I can attest to. I got my first one in August and have used it for every run since. I keep my keys, phone, and ipod in for a training run, and throw in a couple gel packs for longer runs and races. Anyway, I worked there from 8am to 8pm - standing the entire time. It wasn't as busy as we were expecting, but it was still a lot of talking, selling, conversing, and jumping up and down to show that it didn't bounce. I noticed WAY more foreigners on Friday than on Saturday, so it was fun to talk to people from other countries. I met people from Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and a couple American women who are stationed in Iraq right now and used their R&R time to come over and do this marathon. They did a half marathon in Iraq! I couldn't believe it. It was nice to show some appreciation for runners who are serving our country.

I went home and went straight to sleep to do it all again the next day. On my way out of the Expo Friday night, I heard someone say that only 35% of the registrants had picked up their packets, so we knew we were going to be busy on Saturday.

I got a good nights sleep and got back to McCormick at 8:30am. This day was slam packed with people, and we were busy all the way up to about 5pm. I had to take off at 5:45 to go to the Chicago Athlete Magazine Event Director and Running Industry mixer. I worked the check-in table, giving name tags to the coordinators of the Komen Foundation, The New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and tons of other huge events and brands. It was amazing! I felt so comfortable mingling with other regular people who also happen to be amazing athletes. I met a woman from Mexico who has run in 33 marathons. When I asked her favorite, she rattled off a list - Paris, San Fran, Austin, Chicago, NYC. I met a guy (Mark) who has run in three decades of Boston Marathons. Keep in mind, that's one of the ones you have to qualify for. I imagine they make some exceptions, but still, he must be an amazing runner. He was with a training company called "The Road to Boston" (, so I asked what his number one training tip is. Not surprisingly, he said SHOES! He also said that since I have such bad knees, I'll need to replace my shoes more often than most, which I didn't actually know. 

I had a fabulous time at the Chicago Athlete party and I really, really hope I am invited to be a part of their team (hopes and prayers for me, please!).

On Sunday morning, I got up at 7am to go Wrigley and watch the winners fly by around 8:10. The first 10 guys were all 6'4" Africans with legs 3 miles long. They looked amazing, like creatures from another planet. I couldn't believe the way their legs moved.

I stayed to look for Kelli Palm in the 4 hour group, but when I didn't see her, I went home to meet up with Katy and Andrea. We got in the car and drove down to Pilsen to see Christa at mile 19 like we promised. I didn't see Kelli AGAIN, but we did see Christa in the 5:00 hour pace group. She knocked 40 minutes off her last marathon time. Yay!

All in all it was an amazing weekend that reinforced my subconscious ideas that this is the right industry for me. I thrive around healthy people! and I love the competition of it all. It was incredible, and I have a great feeling about my future :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

After the Race for the Cure and a nice vacation

Well it's been a while... he's what I've been up to.

On Sat, Sept 26 I raced in the Chicagoland Komen Race for the Cure. It was an amazing day. I got down there around 7am, checked out all the booths, dropped off the donation checks I got, and wrote out my "In Memory of..." sheets for my dad and Linda.

Then I cried for a good 10 minutes. Not exactly the warm-up I was hoping for! Suddenly it was ten after 8 and the race was starting in 5 minutes. I hurried to the porta-potty and made it to the start line just in time. I was at the back of the pack - where I stayed for the entire race. I hadn't warmed up enough, and the first few miles I was stiff and achey. For you Chicagoans - the race started heading south on Columbus then went west on Roosevelt and north on Michigan. We ran north on Michigan until Randolph, where we headed east to the lake. Then we ran north to Navy Pier, circled around, and back south to the Museum Campus. Then we looped around and came back home. Around mile 3 I found my groove (as usual), and met up with a nice woman named Gita who kept up a nice conversation for miles 3 and 4. Near the end of mile 4, I met up with Kelli Palm, who runs a LOT faster than I do! She pushed me through the last mile and a half, which got my heart rate up to about 188 beats per minute. Not exactly healthy, but I didn't puke, which is good.

I crossed the finish line at 1 hour, 19 minutes and 30 seconds. There were 1007 finishers and I finished 959th. SIGH. Coming in almost-last definitely does not make me happy, but it gives me something to strive for. It puts the fire in my belly to get me out of bed, turn off The View, and go for a heart-pumping run. I DO NOT like losing! The 500th person did it in one hour and some change, which is a 10 minute mile. That has always been my goal. I just need to work so much harder for it than I have been!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I need to run much more often if I'm going to take this seriously.

I just looked at my heart rate monitor for the last couple weeks and I've only run a handful of times. Ugh.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why I Race

For the last 10 or so years of my life, I've been struggling to fit in. I couldn't find a group that accepted me. I have always known I work best in groups, on teams. My best friends are usually groups of friends. I remember playing with my friends when i was in elementary school - my favorite game was to pretend my bike was a horse and play on my "farm." We rode our bikes everywhere, and in the winter, we hosted the winter olympics with sledding, snowball fights, and ice skating. We had gymnastics competitions on the front lawn. I played catch with my brother and dad. I swam like a fish. I joined my first swim team when I was 10, with Heather, Brian Wasko, and Joe Salemi. I stayed on that team until I was 15, making tons of friends in the process. At Milkovich I played volleyball and ran track. At Trinity I played soccer, ran track, and I was on the YMCA winter swim team. I kept up a four-sports-a-year schedule until the day I tore my ACL in May of 1999. From then on, sports was never the same.

I went to college, and took a gymnastics course, while working out almost obsessively. It kept me focused and strong. I loved college and I will always remember the exact layout of the SRSC. I read a ton of health magazines, and encouraged other people to work out. Then, right after college, I lost all my motivation. I let the hippie lifestyle take over, and I didn't do any serious physical activity until I started biking around the city in March of 2007. Sure, I hiked a bit in Colorado, and that made me happy, but I wasn't fit. Biking around Chicago really helped to keep me in shape, especially because I was riding 4 miles each way to work, plus more on errands. But eventually biking wasn't giving me the exhaustion that I needed, and in January 09 I got on a treadmill and started running. Now, I'm comfortable going 5 to 6 miles at a pop and my speed has gone up to almost 6 miles an hour. I finished my first triathlon in one hour and 52 minutes and plan to do another soon.

Since I've welcomed running and swimming back into my life, I have felt more centered, grounded, and enthusiastic about life than ever before. This is a cliche, but I feel like my old self again. Happy and motivated, like I was in high school and college. And although music and going to concerts has, and will, always be important to me, I don't get the same satisfaction from it now that I did from 2004-2008, when I was touring a lot and living and unhealthy lifestyle. It's hard for me to let go of that part of my life and my personality. I almost feel like I am cheating on myself by giving it up. But at the same time, I know I have to do it, and I'm happy to be moving on.

I race because it gives me goals and because it makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger than just myself. When I'm running through the city and I see other runners, I feel like they understand why I'm out there, why I need it. When I go to Fleet Feet and hear other runners talking about gear they need for their next race, it motivates me to join that race or try that gear. I race because I feel like it is where I am supposed to be, and what I am supposed to be doing. I feel home.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Just now, while I was riding to go walk Dax, I shifted to the left to avoid an ambulance and my back tire hit a flattened plastic bottle at the exact same moment I braked. Long story short, this caused me to wipe out to the left, scraping my hand, bruising my hip, and crushing my left shoulder, AGAIN. It still hurts from my accident in July and I know this is going to make it worse. ARGH. I'm icing it now. Frustrating!

Yesterday (Weds), Andrea and I took a bike ride to the Botanical Gardens in Highland Park. We bussed to Devon and Milwaukee and then started the trail at mile 1. The ride was about 19 miles, then we had lunch at the gardens which was really beautiful. The ride back was faster than the ride there, or at least it felt that way. By the end of it I felt great. I had a hard time sleeping though, and could have used more ice and stretching.

On Tuesday, I worked all day at Carbon Day Festival and had a great time. I had a long talk with Shayna Gladstone's mom who is a life coach, about switching careers and made the decision to start looking for a full-time job in a career that isn't music. It feels good! I'm ready to move on. But anyway I was on my feet for 8 hours that day and needed a break.

On Monday, I ran 5 miles in just over an hour. That's pretty much a record for me! It was great!

That's about it for now... more tomorrow after my tempo run.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Making changes, struggling with injuries.

I actually had a really rough week. Last Friday (the 4th), I busted 3 spokes on my bike during a ride to the lake, which bent my wheel and made about 6 inches of the wheel rub against my brakes. This pressure put a ton of stress on the back of my knee. I had a huge knot back there and for the rest of the day, I couldn't fully straighten my leg. This has happened before and I think I need to get my bike fitted. Anyway, I ran 4.25 miles on it anyway, and really messed it up doing that. Iced it the rest of the day, the next day it was back to normal. Since then my knee has felt stiff going down stairs and it's popping a lot. I'm worried, but without health insurance there is nothing i can do about it. Awesome.

Jeff's family was in town so I took Saturday off to heal, Sunday and Monday off to spend time with them, and Tuesday I tried to do yoga, but I just really wasn't feeling up to it. Wednesday I went to the gym with the intention of doing speed work on the treadmill, but ended up just doing the elliptical and the Stairmaster. This injury put me out for quite a while.

Thursday, I finally felt ready for a big run. I did 2.5 miles on the treadmill, alternating speeds between 3.5mph (for one minute) and 6.5mph (for .25mi). Then I walked for a half mile to get my breath back, then ran a mile at 6.0. This is the first time that I can remember running a mile in 10 minutes. I was really excited! To do this after doing speed work made me really proud.

On Friday, my roommate and I ran together. He's a beginner, so we did a 2 mile loop around the neighborhood, alternating walking for 2 minutes and running for 3. He did great and I barely broke a sweat. It definitely showed my progress. Then I did an additional mile and a half with the dogs. I went slow so Ellie could keep up.

I should have run today, but I just really don't feel good. I have a headache, I'm sneezing a lot, and my body temp is running really high. Or at least it feels that way. Plus, I am exhausted. I could fall asleep at any moment. WTH is wrong with me?! Blah. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow so I can get back on schedule. The race is in 13 days...

On a positive note, I've decided to get back on the wagon and quit drinking completely. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person, and this goes for alcohol too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My little pup is a champion runner!

Today's 4.25 mile run was difficult and frustrating but I finished without walking!

I woke up and couldn't find the watch part of my heart rate monitor. I have no idea where it could be... probably caught up in my laundry somewhere. So no heart rate for today, which is a bummer because I wanted to make sure I was in the 150-160 zone, no higher.

I got all dressed, ate, and rode my bike to Belmont harbor so I could ride along the lake. Once I crossed under the Red Line I could feel the mist/fog coming off the water and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. It felt amazing and I was SO excited to run on the lake. Get to a good stop sign, set my bike against the pole, and realize I forgot my bike lock. OMG!!! I get so frustrated when I do things like that. It always happens when I throw off my routine.

I rode my bike all the way back home, annoyed and ticked off. Once I was there, I had a glass of water (which I think i really needed!) and put a leash on Chuck to take him with me. I really wanted to run on the lake, so I headed out that way. I ran on Grace to the lake, which was nice because it was very shaded and mostly downhill. I got stopped at a couple lights, so I know my pace time isn't completely accurate. This is why I really wanted to do the whole 4 miles on the lake. Oh well. I ran down the lake to Hawthorne and back up Broadway to Grace and home. The whole thing was 4.25 miles. My knees hurt a lot, my quads are sore, and surprisingly my back is really stiff, but i'm in a great mood. Chuck did great, although I tripped over him a few times. He didn't want water when I offered it to him (that stop must have been at least 3 minutes, trying to get him to drink!). Oh well!

i'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow but hopefully I can get a treadmill/incline workout in either Sat or Sun.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Training for the Race for the Cure

Any triathlon training has pretty much come to a halt since I am training for the Race For The Cure on Sept 26. It's a 10k, which is longer than I've ever done before. I have done about 5 miles in training but I stopped and talked a lot and I'm definitely going to try to run the whole thing, even if it's slow.

I signed up on 8/31 with a $100 donation goal (that's the minimum the Komen foundation asks for) and today is 9/2 and I have raised $400! I'm very happy and impressed with my amazing friends and family. I'm getting donations from people I didn't expect! It's very nice.

So far I've been focusing on the treadmill so I can do my speed work. I'm disappointed that I can't find an outdoor track to run on in the city. Doesn't make sense to me. Two days ago I ran speed intervals on the treadmill - .25 mile at 6.3mph, then 1 minute walking at 3.0 mph at a .5% incline. I did that for about 3 miles - my nike plus said 3 miles but the treadmill said 3.5 so who knows how far it really was. The treadmill accounts for incline that my nike plus doesn't. After that I did a ton of stretching and some ab work, and some simple squats / lunges. I was pretty sore but feeling good.

The next day I ran 2 miles on the treadmill between 5.5 and 5.8mph for my tempo run. A tempo run is basically a short and fast run intended to make your body get used to going long distances at a comfortably hard pace. The thought is that eventually, this pace won't be hard anymore and you'll be able to go that far that fast easily. My nike+ said I ran 2 miles in 22:10, which is 11:05 a mile. Slow, but comfortably hard for me. For the last half mile I had to chant "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. Don't stop. I can do this." Over and over again. The guy next to me must have thought I was nuts. Oh well, it got me through. I was really happy with my heart rate too. I maxed at 175, which is 87% of my max (207). That basically means that even though I felt like I was going as hard as I could, my body was keeping up very well. I think my weakness is in my muscle strength and I don't think I have very many/strong slow twitch muscles. I'm an excellent sprinter but I fatigue very quickly. For more about the difference between fast and slow twitch muscles check this out:

After working the Chicago triathlon last weekend I'm realizing that I'm not a natural runner. Some of the people in that race did 6.2 miles at a 5 minute mile pace! That blows my mind. I have no idea how they get their legs to move that fast. I guess they've probably been training for 20 years and probably didn't have ACL reconstruction surgery... but still. I just want to be sub-10. If I can finish that 10k in an hour and 5 minutes I will be STOKED. My real goal is 1:15 - that's 6.2 miles at a 12 minute pace. That is allowing me a little time to walk if I get super hot or need to get a drink. I know some people will be done in half that but I'm not in it to win it. I'm just a natural swimmer and a pretty natural cyclist. I miss swimming. The pool at the Y is being emptied and painted this week. I'd love to be in the water today instead of taking a day off, but I know my muscles need a break.

This is my general training plan for the next 4 weeks:

Week 1 (8/31): 4 runs.
1= interval speed.
2= 2 mile tempo run (,7120,s6-238-267--11909-0,00.html).
3= long and easy (4+ miles).
4= mid-length and mid-speed incline work to build muscle and tackle hills (3 miles at 2-5% incline at 4.5-5 mph).
One additional day of cardio cross training (swimming, Spinning, Kempo, etc) and one day of relaxing and stretching Yoga.

Week 2 (9/7): 5 runs.
1= interval speed at 6.3mph,
2= 4.5 mile long and easy,
3= tempo at 6.0 for 2.5 miles,
4= 5.0 long and easy,
5= tempo at 6.0 for 3 miles.
One day of Yoga and one optional day of additional cardio if I'm feeling up to it.

Week 3 (9/14): 5 runs.
1= interval speed at 6.3mph for at least 4 miles,
2= 5.5 mile long and easy,
3= tempo at 6.0 for 3.5 miles,
4= interval speed at 6.6 for 2-3 miles,
5= 6 mile long and easy.
One day of Yoga and one optional day of additional cardio if I'm feeling up to it.

Week 4 (9/21): I'm not sure if I need to taper here. I don't think I do, so I'm just going to keep up the pace until Weds, do cardio on Thurs, and rest on Fri before the race. I'll do 2 runs, one tempo and one long and easy on Monday and Tues.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Thoughts on my first Triathlon.

I'm glad I did it and I really want to do another one. I wasn't expecting to win it but I am surprised with my results - I was #600 out of 743 in the women (1531 out of 1732 overall). I thought I would have done a lot better than that. But it was really, really hot. So here's how it all went down.

I woke up at 4am, but I was already wide awake. My eyes shot open at the sound of my alarm and I said out loud "It's time!" I was really excited. I took a quick shower and ate a bagel and eggs, packed some yogurt for an hour before the race, grabbed the bag I had already packed the night before, and took off.

I got there at 615am and realized I had forgotten my helmet. What a stupid mistake! I should have packed the car the night before. I panicked for few minutes, but thankfully the guy at the bike shop had one for me to borrow. Realizing I might not be able to race was a huge adrenaline rush and kind of set the tone for the day. So I headed over to the pool area around 7am but didn't get to swim until about 7:50. Standing around waiting while other people were finishing was really boring! I tried warming up and stretching and I talked to a bunch of nice people but gosh was I bored. If nothing else, I'm lowering my swim time to 7 minutes so I can get in and out faster!

The biggest thing that surprised me about the swim was the adrenaline rush when they said GO. I could barely catch my breath for the first minute. I had to walk in to the water to calm down my racing heart. I'll have to find a better way to manage that rush next time. The swim was okay - I did it in exactly the time I thought I would, 9 minutes, but it felt slow. I had a little trouble navigating around people, and I had to catch my breath a couple times. I wasn't prepared for the waves that the other swimmers make. I think with a lot of hard work I can cut that down to 7. I did a lot of breast stroke and walked in, walked around the lifeguard stand, and walked out. I know I lost time on that.

I took my time getting out of the pool which I won't do again. My transition time was 7:25 - wow! The fastest girls did it in 2 minutes. I pretty much walked to the bike area and then dried off, pulled on my shorts and shirt, drank some water, and took off. Once I was riding, my water bottle holder started leaning to the side and I was kicking it with my pedal. I lost the water bottle right away and had to struggle through miles 2-5 without it, but it was too hot. It was probably 90 degrees at this point - it was 80 at 5am when the sun was down. I ended up riding with my transition area neighbor who lent me his water bottle, but it didn't fit into my holder, so I debated tossing it and telling him I lost it, but I felt really bad about that so I held it in my hand the entire 8 remaining miles. Now that I know my time, I wish I hadn't done this. I don't know how much it slowed me down but I'm sure it did. I ended up doing the 20k bike in 50 minutes, which is 10 minutes slower than I did it before I got hurt. I averaged 16.5 mph. Not terrible, and factoring in the heat, I'm glad I did slower than get heat stroke. I was shooting for 18mph and would have done really well with 20mph.

So now comes the run. This transition time wasn't horrible - 2:45. I didn't really have much to do, but I did spend a minute stretching out. I started running, and almost immediately had to walk. it was SO INCREDIBLY HOT. my body was on fire and I kept getting these weird goosebumps and tingles, so I took that as a sign that my body was overheating. Luckily there was water right away so that helped. For most of the run, I alternated walking and running every half mile or so. I wasn't physically tired - my heart and lungs and muscles would have been fine. I was just so hot that I couldn't stand it. The run wasn't shaded at all, it was all right out in the scorching sun. I got smoked on the run - 43 minutes (14:10 pace). I can do a 5k in 30 minutes when it's 75 and breezy. I'm not a fast runner but I've been working on it. So i'm really disappointed in the run, even though I did the best I could in the circumstances. I've just been training so hard for so long and I feel like it was all taken away from me by the heat.

Thankfully I ran across the finish line and I'm really happy to have done it. I wish it hadn't been so hot, especially because it's been so mild all summer that I haven't really had a chance to get acclimated. Last time I ran in really hot weather was the middle of July.

I have a lot of improvements to make - cut swim time by 2 minutes, cut t1 time by at least 4 minutes, cut bike by 7-10 minutes, cut run by 13 minutes. I knew I'd get it done in 2 hours, which I did, but I was hoping to match the average, which was 1:34. If I make all those improvements before my next one, I can do that easily. So with the newbie factor, the injury factor, and the heat factor, I think I did alright. 2200 people picked up their packets, but only 1732 finished, so at least I finished.