Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Run/Walk for Wishes 5k Recap

Sometimes you have to be spontaneous. Last Wednesday I felt the itch to race. And when I saw the weather forecast for Saturday, I decided to seriously look into finding a race. And what would you know - there was a 5k on the Lakefront! It must have been fate ;)

Since Run/Walk for Wishes wasn't a race I planned on doing and I'm definitely not in PR shape yet, the only goal I had was to run hard and see what happened. No pace goals. Just run. I figured I would finish right around 22 minutes.

Even though I wasn't planning on crushing this one, I still lined up in the second row. I had a feeling the race would not be that fast and I was right. After we took off there were only two women in front of me - and I passed them both within the first quarter mile.

Normally I prefer to move up during a race then kick hard at the end so I've never been the lead female during a race before. I got a bit carried away and ran the first mile faster than I planned. It ended up costing me a bit in terms of overall time as I ended up slowing down during the next two miles. Also, I was passed by a woman at the start of mile 2. I thought about trying to go with her but she was going too fast for the effort I was prepared to put into the race.

The last segment of the race was in the sun and it was super hot. I found myself glancing over my shoulder a few times to see if there were any females nearby because I was feeling pretty cooked. Fortunately there were none that were close enough to get by me before the end of the race. After a mini kick to the finish, I sprawled out on a grassy bank next to the finish line. The shade felt so good!

Time: 21:58
Mile Splits: 6:43, 7:09, 7:10
Gender: 2/142
Age Group: 1/21
Overall: 10/282

After recovering for a few minutes I got up and began running back on the course to find Mom. On my way back I saw my old coworker, Rebecca, who placed 2nd in her AG! When I found Mom she was running strong. As we approached the finish I told her to sprint it in like Eddie is chasing her ;)

Recovering after the race!

Overall a fantastic morning and wonderful event. I would definitely do this one again. Makes me excited for all the 5k races to come this fall!

My questions for you:
  • What's your racing style - lead from the front or sit back and kick?
  • What's on your fall race calendar?

- ST

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Five Tips to Start Loving the Run Again

I'll always remember Summer 2015 as the season I struggled through a running slump. It's been a long couple of weeks but I think I've run through the worst of it and things are getting back to normal. Finally I feel like I'm building momentum into the fall racing season!

Being stuck in a running slump is so not fun. But if you're smart about it, you can get over the hump and back to running without screwing up your training. Here are a few strategies I used to get through this summer's rough patch:

Cut yourself a little slack - After you've been running awhile, you know that not every run is going to be all-out fantastic. In fact, sometimes the miles really suck! It sounds weird, but I think part of getting re-energized about running is accepting that there will be good runs and there will be bad runs. And if you're going through a bad patch right now, then one positive thing is that a good patch is likely coming your way soon!

Change up your usual course - I tend to run the same routes again and again. I equate it to comfort running - I know exactly what I'm going to get! But sometimes it's good to switch things up a bit. So last week I decided to run one of my usual courses in reverse. It was amazing how just this one little change made my run that much more interesting. I felt more engaged throughout the miles and at the end, completely re-energized!

Treat yourself to something new - There's really nothing like having something new to wear to get a girl out the door faster. Last week I treated myself to a Lululemon bra and I couldn't wait to try it out. It made getting up for my long run a bit easier and as a bonus the bra was a perfect fit. So comfortable with zero chafing!

Free To Be Bra - Isn't it cute? It's also super comfy!

Have a goal other than number of miles or pace - Make your run enjoyable by having a goal that's completely unrelated to your watch data. For example, make it your goal to smile and say hi to every runner you pass. Last week, I did a run like this where my only goal was to run to the White Castle Crave Mobile that was in town for a few days (MKE doesn't have a White Castle). It was mega hot outside and the miles should have been pretty miserable but they weren't because I ran with coworkers and was rewarded with multiple sliders at the end. Total win ;) 

Pic stolen from Dan who is already enjoying his sliders!

Meet up with a group - I'm almost always a solo runner. I think it's because I'm pretty independent and like running where I want, when I want and at whatever pace I need to run. Also, I'll admit, running with a group makes me feel a bit socially anxious - I'll never get over the fear of being the slowest person in the group. But sometimes running with others is the way to go. So Saturday morning I participated in a Milwaukee Running Festival Build-Up Run. I ran six miles on my own before meeting up with the group so my legs were already a tad tired. But I noticed running with the group made running seem like no effort at all!

Tell me: What do you do to get past a running slump?

- ST

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Weekly Update: Training and Eating

Good morning! So, it may be 2015 but just this week I listed my first few items for sale on eBay. Haha, I'm a little behind, right? I'm such a major procrastinator when it comes to certain things that I have a giant bag of new or barely used running/fitness gear in my apartment that I've been meaning to list on the site for like two years now. I guess better late than never, right?

Anyhow, if you'd like to check out items I'm selling, you can view them here: http://www.ebay.com/sch/mkerungirl/m.html?item=171888371827&hash=item2805586873&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

More items will be listed soon!

So ... training! Last week was good in that I got my miles in although it was pretty slow going. Nothing too remarkable although I did make a few racing decisions, the most important being a switch down from the half marathon distance to the 5k distance at Lake Country in September. This means I will not get a half marathon in this year, but that's okay with me. The race is one month away and I don't feel like I would be prepared to race a half. Run the distance sure, but mentally I'm not ready to take on a half. So the 5k it is! 

After last year's Lake Country 5k!

The plan this week is some of the usual with two key workouts: the Tuesday speedwork and Saturday long run. There is a chance I may add a race this weekend, which could switch things up a bit. But for now I'm sticking with what Coach Matt gave me:

Monday: 5 glue miles + Total Gym
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, inc. 5 min. intervals @goal 5k pace
Wednesday: 5 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 5 glue miles + Y-Blitz
Friday: Rest Day!
Saturday: 16 mile run
Sunday: 4 recovery miles

Total: 42 miles

Not a bad week for someone who's training for the 5k and 10k distance :)

As for eats this week, I'm enjoying as much seasonal produce as possible! A sample day:

Breakfast: 1 Ozary Breakfast Round + 1 Tbsp peanut butter + 1 serving plain low-fat kefir 
Snack 1: Plain non-fat Greek yogurt + 1/8 cup low-fat granola
Snack 2: 1-2 cups raw veggies + 2 Tbsp hummus
Lunch: Veggie Burger Salad* + 1 cup grapes
Snack 3: 1 Picky Bar
Dinner: 1 serving Chicken Veggie Chili** + 1 peach

*Mixed greens, 1/2 cup cooked freekah, 1 Hilary's Veggie Burger, 3/4 cup blanched green beans, 1/2 cup cooked zucchini slices, 1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette 

**Saute 1 small onion, 1 diced zucchini and 1 cup corn in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Drain and rinse 1 can dark red kidney beans, 1 can black beans and 1 can garbanzo beans. Add to onion and zucchini mixture. Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken, 1 can diced tomatoes and 12 oz tomato juice. Season to taste with chili powder, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever sold anything on eBay? If so, any selling tips for a newbie?
  • What does your training look like this week? What workout are you most looking forward to doing?
  • What is your favorite summer recipe?

Enjoy your Tuesday!

- ST

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zucchini & Chickpea Pasta Salad

Another week of hot and humid weather meant another week of cold lunches. Fortunately, I really love cold food during the summer. Veggies and hummus. Fresh fruit. Sandwiches. Salads. Yum!

Last week I couldn't get enough of Zucchini & Chickpea Pasta Salad. For an extra serving of veggies, I recommend serving on top of mixed greens. Such a great summer lunch or dinner!

Zucchini & Chickpea Pasta Salad

3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing
Mixed greens for serving
Pine nuts for serving

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add rotini pasta, cook until al dente, then drain off water.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add zucchini and saute until crisp tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, grape tomatoes and black olives. Add cooked pasta and zucchini. Toss with vinaigrette dressing. Refrigerate until cold.

When ready to eat, serve on top of mixed greens. Sprinkle each serving with pine nuts.

To view other Meatless Monday recipes, view the link up at Confessions of a Mother Runner or Fuel Your Future With Tina Muir!

Tell me: What are your favorite pasta salad mix-ins?

- ST

Friday, July 31, 2015

Race for the Bacon 5k Recap

Most runners have a favorite local race - one they can't wait to do every year. For me, it's Race for the Bacon and I've done the race every year since it's first running in 2012. Although it's newer to the area, it grows each year as more people discover it. 

This year's race was a tad different for me because the only goal I had was to grab and eat a piece of bacon from the midrace Bacon Station! I've never eaten anything while racing but in past years have seen other people grab bacon during the race so thought I'd give it a try!

Mile one of the race was all about a nice, controlled pace. Things felt pretty comfortable during this mile and I was mainly focused on conserving energy and not overheating too early in the race - the temp outside was 85 degrees!! During this mile, I could smell bacon - not sure if it was the approaching Bacon Station or from the bacon feast awaiting runners at the finish line. 

The Bacon Station was located about 1.5 miles in. My mouth was feeling pretty dry at this point due to the heat but I still made my way over to snatch a piece of bacon from a volunteer. As soon as I stuffed it in my mouth ... whoa. The piece of bacon immediately sucked up any remaining moisture in my mouth. I chewed it up as quickly as I could and then tried to swallow. But since my mouth and throat were so dry it wouldn't go down. So I choked and ended up having to spit out the bacon. Mega gross. Especially since I had to spit a few times to get the bacon out of my mouth. I'll definitely have to work on my bacon eating technique before next year's race!

The last mile of the race was super slow for me. I was overheated and had leftover bacon bits sliding down my throat. Bacon bits were also up my nose from choking. Fortunately this was a nice shady portion of the course and I told myself it was okay to run slower since I didn't have a time goal. Finally the finish line appeared and I was able to pick up the pace a little bit. I was ready to drink water and blow all those bacon bits out of my nose! 

Upon crossing the finish line, I was given a box of bacon!

After drinking a full bottle of water, I started back on the course to find Mom, because it's tradition to run her in to the finish line! When I found her, she looked great - it was like the heat hadn't even affected her. She was smiling and talking and was running strong. Way to go, Mom!

Mom and I after the race!

Post-race is the best running party - the Bacon Bash! All runners get to indulge in delicious bacon treats (my favorite this year was the bacon cookie!) and Sprecher beer or soda. There's also a band that was an absolute hoot. Unfortunately I had to leave before the awards ceremony this year to give Eddie his pill (he needs it at a particular time every night) but my friend Laura texted to let me know I won an AG prize! :)

My results:

Time: 22:48
Pace: 7:21 min/mile
AG Place: 3/69
Gender Place: 15/XXX

This is one of the most awesome running events in MKE. Even if you're not a runner, you can still enjoy it with the new 0.0k. Participants line up at the start line - then go right to the Bacon Bash. Haha ;)

I enjoyed seeing so many people I know through running - and was excited to see so many friends win awards and even set new PRs. A fantastic evening all around!

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever done a theme race? If so, what was the theme?
  • Have you ever eaten food during a race? If yes, what was it? If no, would you if it was offered?
  • Who's already excited for next year's Race for the Bacon?? ;)

- ST

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On The Upswing!

So the good news is that running the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k seems to have been the kick in the shorts I needed to get motivated to run again! While I didn't exactly follow my plan from Coach Matt last week, it's only because I wanted to get every workout in and do a bit more. I'm definitely feeling more like my normal self :)

A few highlights from last week:

Wednesday Glue Miles
Glue miles = Miles that hold the week together. This week, they were also miles that made the week better. Although it was pretty hot for a lunch-hour run, I felt great! I ran the first mile on the slower side but was able to pick up the pace for the remainder of the run. I was so happy during these miles - the kind of run when you end up smiling the whole time like a crazy person. It totes gave me hope that things are on the upswing!

Long Run at the Pettit
Because I wanted to go to Y-Beach Camp on Saturday morning, I had to do my long run on Friday after work. Lately, it's been pretty hot in Milwaukee, so I decided to treat myself to a run at the Pettit indoor track. Although it meant running in circles for 11 miles, I didn't mind one bit. It was nice and cool and running seemed easy compared to how it felt in the heat earlier in the week. I'll likely run at the Pettit more often this summer if this heat keeps up! 

Y-Beach Camp
I didn't sign up for Y-Beach Camp this summer but Lonnie, one of the instructors, invited me to join the group on Saturday morning since they were going to the Marquette University track. How could I say no? ;)  

 Pic by Lonnie - because I forgot to take one!

It was a grueling workout in the heat but I still had loads of fun. We ran a fast mile on the track, did a bunch of hurdles, walking lunges, shuttle drills, core work and finished up with some 100m sprints. I definitely recommend this class to anyone, at any fitness level.

This week, training is set up so I can do what I want at Thursday's Race for the Bacon 5k. If I want to race it, I can. But if I also want to take it easy and use the run as a workout, that's fine, too. Right now, I'm planning to use it more as a workout, but I reserve the right to change things up as the race gets closer. 

This week's plan includes:

Monday: 4 glue miles
Tuesday: 5 mile workout, inc. 3x800m + Y-Blitz
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: Race for the Bacon 5k!
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 15 mile run
Sunday: 5 recovery miles

Total: 36+ miles

So that's the update! Hopefully I can keep last week's momentum going this week. If things get tough, I'm going to remember this page from my Oiselle Flight Manual:

"You never know when the window of opportunity will open. Be ready to fly through it."

Have a great week everyone!

My questions for you:
  • When was the last time you had a really great run? What made it special?
  • What is on your training plan this week?

- ST

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 10k Recap

Back in the nice, cool spring months, I made plans to use the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 10k as a goal race. I told myself it wouldn't be too hot or humid. I told myself even if it was on the warm side, I would accept the weather conditions as a challenge to be pushed through. 

But when race week arrived and the forecast for Sunday showed temps in the 80s with high humidity, my plan had to be adjusted. Coach Matt and I decided I would use the race as a workout and pick a different race as a goal race. 

Thankfully the storms stayed away on Sunday!

That's not to say Sunday's race wasn't difficult. Even though I knew I wasn't 'racing', I was still freaking out over the weather. I was also a bit nervous about the start area. I've run the half marathon distance the past three years and the start line area in Grant Park was fantastic - super organized, high energy, etc. But the 10k start area was about a mile away from the half marathon start and in the middle of a random intersection. I passed the area on my way to the expo on Saturday and it didn't look like much - so that added to the stress. 

I woke up at 3:30am on Sunday morning and showered, dressed and at a Picky Bar, banana and drank about 16oz of water. I also took an Endurolyte since it was already in the upper 70s with 85 percent humidity. I usually wear compression socks during races but decided to skip them for this one - I couldn't bear the thought of having on any extra layers in the heat!

Mom and I arrived at the start line area around 5:30am. It was very unlike the usual Rock 'n' Roll race starts - very low key and no music playing that I can recall. We walked around for a bit to find where the gear check was located then I decided to use a portapotty. There wasn't a line yet and plenty of open stalls. But ... I quickly discovered there was a reason for this - the first five stalls I looked in didn't have any toilet paper. It wasn't that they had run out - it was clear none had been put in them. That was when I noticed a line at the opposite end of the line of stalls. It wasn't too long at that point but when everyone is waiting for the one portapotty that has toilet paper, it takes quite awhile to get through the line. 

Finally I got through the line and quickly ran back to the gear check area to tell Mom to get in line to use the bathroom. She decided to line up at the portapotties on the opposite side of the street in hopes they had toilet paper ... but it turns out it was the same situation. Only two had toilet paper! So once again, a super slow line and at this point the race was about to start. It was a mega stressful situation. Right before Mom got to the front of the line - the portapotty ran out of toilet paper. Fortunately she had tissues with her. But the people behind her were pretty upset. 

At the half marathon start, runners are assigned corrals to ensure faster runners start at the front and slower runners at the back. At the 10k, there were three waves, but runners were allowed to start wherever they wanted. I lined up in the first wave but could tell there were people around me that were probably slower runners so I was worried about getting stuck in a traffic jam. When my wave started, I glanced over toward the portapotty areas and could see there were still dozens of runners in line. 

The plan for this race was to start at 7:30ish pace and get a bit faster every mile. I ran the first mile a bit too fast - closer to 7:20 pace. I was already feeling the heat and humidity at this point but the first 2-2.5 miles went by pretty fast because I was able to run and chat with another woman which made everything a bit easier. She told me she just graduated from Michigan where she ran the 800m. When she said this I knew I wouldn't want to be anywhere near her at the finish because she'd probably kick right past me! Haha :) 

Unfortunately she ended up dropping behind around the 2.5 mile mark and then I was on my own for the rest of the race. One thing I love about Rock 'n' Roll races is there are usually tons of people around running a similar pace so you can run with a group and it makes the race easier. This was not the case with the 10k. Occasionally there were a few runners around but the last half of the race I ended up mostly running alone with the nearest runner about 30 feet ahead of me. It was hot and lonely!

One thing I really appreciated were the number of water stops, a wet sponge station and a misting station. On a hot day, these things were greatly appreciated. Normally I wouldn't stop at water stations during a 10k, but on Sunday I walked through all but one water station and it felt good to take the small breaks!

The finish line at a Rock 'n' Roll race can't be beat. I love the wide finishing stretch that is lined with cheering spectators. 

After crossing the line, I caught my breath before collecting a beautiful finisher's medal and a bunch of post-race goodies. 

Love this year's medal!

My race results:

Time: 47:57
Pace: 7:43
AG Place: 2/224
Gender Place: 8/1,398

So definitely not a good time for me - in fact, a personal worst for the 10k distance! But considering the weather conditions, I think it was an okay race. I wasn't able to follow the race plan from Coach Matt but ran smart and did what I could with the weather and stressful pre-race conditions. 

I'm really glad Chicago Rock 'n' Roll is offering the 10k distance now but hope they make a few changes for next year. Things I would like to see include:

  • Starting the 10k with the half marathon race and have the 10k course run the first half of the half marathon course instead of the second half. I missed running the city streets!
  • More portapotties and plenty of TP stocked in each and every stall
  • Music at the start
  • A better organized start line with corrals (not runners starting wherever they want)

So what's next?? Since I didn't get to race this one as planned, Coach Matt and I have discussed using the upcoming Brewers 10k as a goal race. Given the race is at the end of September, the weather shouldn't be an issue although I hear the course is pretty challenging with a bunch of hills!

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever participated in a Rock 'n' Roll race? If so, what was your experience?
  • What's the most stressful thing you've ever faced pre-race? Did it affect your race performance?
  • What is your strategy for racing in the heat?

- ST