Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yoga for Runners and Triathletes


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" (http://roadtoboston.weebly.com/about.html), 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!