Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Work-out Wrap-up

And that I did! I know an 8 minute mile isn't all that fast. But it's a first for me and I'm proud. I'm even more proud that later in the week, I pulled off a 7:49 mile. Yippee!

I'm happy to say I got my behind in the pool not once, but twice, this week. I mostly futzed around without much of a plan, but I was able to swim with my head under water with bilateral breathing which is still pretty new for me!

Because I had way too much to take care of around the house-errands and such-I wasn't able to fit in my 20 mile long run on my one and only day off this week. My overall mileage for the week was much lower than I would like. But I got 2 new pairs of running shoes (details to follow) so that's a win, right?

By the numbers:

Miles run (completed/planned): 16/31
Days of Week I Ran: 7/7
Long run:
Speed work/tempo: 2/2 Speed work completed at goal time: 2/2
Hill Work: 1
Biking sessions: 0/2
Swimming sessions: 2/2
Weights: 0/2
Days I Ate Healthfully and Sparingly: Umm..healthy? What's that? I had a hint of lime tostidoes attack ;(

Next Week:

Monday: 2 x 1200m @ 7:35, 4 x 800m @ faster, all w/ 200 m RI
Tuesday: swim, weights
Wednesday (day off): 20 miles @ 9:50
Thursday (long call): swim
Friday: 6 miles with 4 @ 8:30, spinning or bike hill intervals (30 min)
Saturday: weights (30 min), bike (30 min)
Sunday (overnight call): swim

I will be so much happier once my 3 overnight calls are in the past. I hate, hate, hate 30 hour shifts especially with the constant stress of crashing patients at any second. Thumbs down.

Quick question for ya'll: What pace do you do your recovery jog/walks at?? Do you think it matters?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jumping on the ABCs Bandwagon

I usually don't partake in the trends floating around the blogosphere but I enjoyed reading these so maybe someone will enjoy mine!

The ABCs of Me:

(A) Age: 33

(B) Bed Size: King, of course. I'm the worst sleeper ever and I need all the room I can get!
(C) Chore You Hate: Cleaning floors and bathrooms. So hubby does those and I do the laundry that he hates. I like warm, clean clothes and I always watch some trashy TV while I fold so it works out fine for me!
(D) Dogs? I like well-behaved dogs. But I like my leather couch more. From what I understand, even the most well-behaved dog is not good for a leather couch.
(E) Essential Start Your Day Item: Checking Facebook on my phone so my brain doesn't dwell on how early I have to get up.
(F) Favorite Color: Purple
(G) Gold or Silver? Umm...platinum is better than both.
(H) Height: 5'8" and 3/4"
(I) Instruments You Play: Clarinet and Saxophone, I'd like to better at the piano
(J) Job Title: Physician
(K) Kids: No, thank you. I politely decline.
(L) Live: Downtown Chi-town!
(M) Mom's Name: Wanda
(N) Nicknames: Nelson (my last name)
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays? All the freakin' time for overnight calls. NO FUN!!! Why anyone thinks its a good idea for docs to work 30 hours IN A ROW should come be the patient we have to see at hour 30. Who wants a tired, grumpy doctor??
(P) Pet Peeve: Slow walkers and people who are late when I am depending on them to be on time
(Q) Quote from a Movie: I'm really bad at remembering movie quotes....or even movie plots. When I watch a movie for the 2nd time, it's like I'm seeing it for the first time because I forget the entire plot.
(R) Right or Left Handed? Right
(S) Siblings: Younger brother- he's a fighter pilot. For real.
(T) Time You Wake Up? 4:30 AM most days, 7:00 if I'm "sleeping in". I don't know the last time I slept past 9 am.
(U) Underwear: I own over 4 weeks worth of underwear so that I don't have to do laundry very often.
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: Haven't found one yet.
(W) What Makes You Run Late: I really don't like to be late and very rarely am.
(X) X-Rays You've Had Done: Dental x-rays, 1 chest xray, I think that's it.
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: Cheese cookies, banana bread, spinach dip, stuffed peppers.
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: I'm anti-zoo. I don't think it's humane to lock large animals up in cages. But my favorite wild animal is by far the bison. I am truly, truly in love with bison. We may one day move out West in part so that I can be closer to bison. I'd like to become better at photography so I can get some fabulous shots of bison. I own all the books I've been able to find published about bison. Really, I'm not kidding.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Torsades de What?

Sometimes our patients provide us with comic relief without even realizing it. A few months back when I was working in the ICU, we had a patient who went into a deadly heart rhythm called Torsades de Pointes. Torsades is a form of ventricular tachycardia (=bad fast heart rate) that can be caused by a variety of things such as medications or inherited genetic conditions. The French word literally means "twisting of points" because of the way it appears on EKGs and telemetry monitors- there is a pattern to the amplitude of the electrical waves- some long followed by some short, then some long again but all centered on an (invisible) horizontal line:

At the time torsades happened to my patient, he was actually talking with his family for the first time in many days as he had previously been too sick and on a ventilator (breathing machine). According to his son, he just stopped talking suddenly and closed his eyes. The alarms started beeping, nurses rushed towards the room. The patient quickly lost his pulse and essentially died. Luckily, the nurses acted quickly and the patient regained a stable heart rhythm after just one "shock", and woke up.

The next morning, additional family members came to see the patient in his room. When his wife asked how his night was, he said "I think I had a rough night". Yeah, I'd say so! A little conversation here, a little sudden cardiac death there, I'd call that "a rough night". Understatement of the century. Well done, sir, well done:)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Runner's Commandments

Molly over at I'm a Sleeper Baker posted these a while ago and they are so great, I wanted to pass them on!

The Runners Commandments

1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.

2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.

3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life.

4. During group training runs, don’t let anyone run alone.

5. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself.

6. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who’s missing.

7. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.

8. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride.

9. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.

10. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.

11. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run.

12. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.

13. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.

14. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.

15. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.

16. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.

17. Talk like a runner. “Singlets” are worn on warm days. “Tank tops” are worn to the beach.

18. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe.

19. Don’t always run alone.

20. Don’t always run with people.

21. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.

22. No matter how slow you run it is still faster than someone sitting on a couch.

23. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing.

24. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast.

25. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.

26. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running.

27. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag.

28. If you say, “Let’s run this race together,” then you must stay with that person no matter how slow.

29. Think twice before agreeing to run with someone during a race.

30. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.

31. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people.

32. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better.

33. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.

34. Don’t try to outrun dogs.

35. Don’t trust runners who show up at races claiming to be tired, out of share, or not feeling well.

36. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often.

37. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.

38. Never run alongside very old or very young racers. They get all of the applause.

39. Without goals, training has no purpose.

40. During training runs, let the slowest runner in the group set the pace.

41. The first year in a new age group offers the best opportunity for trophies.

42. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.

43. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.

44. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.

45. “Winning” means different things to different people.

46. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously.

47. Runners who never fail are runners who never try anything great.

48. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights.

49. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.

50. Never apologize for doing the best you can.

51. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them.

52. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated.

53. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run.

My favorites are #16, #21, #23, #26 and #47. What are yours?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boston Qualifying for the Lay Person....and Me!

Even though I know everyone else is doing it, I can't NOT write a post about the new Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards.

For many distance runners, at some point, "qualifying for Boston" or a "BQ" race becomes a dream (if not currently realistic) or a goal (if actually within reach). Like many non-runners, I had no idea the significance of the Boston Marathon until I became a marathoner myself. (In short, it's considered the most elite marathon in the world because-with the exception of a few charity runners-most folks qualify by running super fast to earn a place at the starting line.) For the first couple years of running I never even considered that I could qualify for Boston. I viewed myself as a slow runner. And when you think you are a slow runner, guess what?, you are a slow runner! Which was fine, and a very comfortable way to start my running career.

Over the past year, however, I've started to wonder if maybe I could one day qualify for Boston. One day. I thought it would be really cool to qualify while I was still in the youngest age group (18-34). Until the new qualifying times were released this week, I needed a 3:40 marathon (8:23 pace). 8:23 is my current 5K pace so it'd be a huge stretch but potentially feasible for me to qualify for Boston in 2011. But now w/ the new times, there is truly no way I can qualify while I'm still in the youngest age group, because that would probably require a 3:30 or faster (8:00 pace). Not going to happen.

Why all the changes to the Boston Qualifying Rules?? Well last year, the race sold out in just a few hours. A few hours! Meaning thousands of folks who thought they had earned a spot at Boston, who experienced the ecstasy of crossing a marathon finish line w/ their BQ time on their Garmins, who celebrated achieving one of the biggest running goals of their lives were bitterly disappointed as they pushed refresh over and over on their computer screen trying and failing to register for the race that they spent blood, sweat and tears trying to qualify for. Not cool. So changes had to be made.

Many people expected the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) to make the women's qualifying times significantly more difficult. Back in the day, it was arbitrarily decided that the women's qualifying times would be exactly 30 minutes slower then the men's. This was not based on any data, they just figured women were slower so needed a slower time. Little did anyone realize that distance running is a sport in which the gender gap in physical achievement is relatively small. The longer the race, the smaller the gap b/t men's and women's finishing times. In fact, in ultras (races >26.2 miles), women sometimes make up the majority of the top 20 finishers. So a disproportionate number of women qualify compared to men.

So what did the BAA do? The new standards are super detailed and confusing but the gist of it is that all of the qualifying times across the board for men, women and all age groups will be decreased by 5 minutes. That's all fine and dandy but the part that I'm afraid will take a bit of the spark out of 'qualifying for Boston' is the rolling admissions policy.

The first 2 days of September registration will only be open to those who had a marathon finish time that was 20 minutes faster than their age/gender BQ time. I don't know exactly how many people typically qualify by a 20 minute margin, but I'll bet there will be a lot more runners who do this time around out of fear of missing the opportunity to enter in this 2 day window. Therefore, I think the only way to 'guarantee' a Boston entry is to finish 20 minutes faster than the official qualifying time, essentially making my new BQ time (once I graduate into the 35-39 age group) 3:20. Eek! A 7:27/min mile pace. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

For those interested, here are the rest of the details for the new rolling registration:

Honestly, a 3:20 marathon doesn't seen at all realistic for me anytime in the near future. That's a whole hour faster than I ran in Maui! An hour off a marathon time? What???

But rather than get discouraged, I think I'm going to put thoughts of Boston on the back burner for a while and just focus on my current training goal paces which would get me a sub-4 marathon on an absolutely perfect day and hopefully a sub-4:15 even if multiple things go terribly awry. I'll re-assess after my 'A' marathon on 5/15/11. Maybe I'll need to back off marathons for a while to focus on speed, by doing more 10Ks and 1/2 marathons (though that doesn't seem as fun as full marathons to me!). We'll see. For now, I'll just keep trucking along, happy with my recent improvements and hopeful that I am nowhere near my full running potential but will get there with hard work and smart training (and maybe the help of a coach?) in the next few years.

If anything, the new qualifying rules will force me to strive to be an even faster runner than I ever planned on becoming. That, I'll admit, must be a good thing! And I'll feel all the tougher when one day I do get my very own Boston Marathon jacket!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Work-out Wrap-up

What do I need to do to get myself into one of these:

I don't know, but I better figure it out. I know that part of the reason I haven't been swimming is that I don't have a goal triathlon picked out. I have a list of local, good beginning triathlons, but I don't have my work schedule past the end of June so I really can't plan. Without a goal, it's tough to get myself in the pool. I need a swift kick in the pants, preferably while next to a pool so I fall into it against my will. Then I'll swim.

Otherwise, for a week that started out rough with a lack of motivation, I held it together decently. I had a great long run and I did do a full hour of weights. And I biked, but only once. At least I'm back in the habit of getting up at 4:30. That should serve me well this week.

By the numbers:

Miles run (completed/planned): 27/28
Days of Week I Ran: 7/7
Long run:
Speed work/tempo: 1/2 Speed work completed at goal time: 1/1
Hill Work: 0/0 (think I'll start working these into my daily miles)
Biking sessions: 1/2
Swimming sessions: 0/1
: 2/2
Days I Ate Healthfully and Sparingly: 2/7 (better start paying attention to this....starting Tuesday, because tomorrow I'm going out to dinner w/ the girls!)

Main goal for this week: get in the pool!!

Monday (dinner plans): 6 miles with 4 @ 8:45, hills on w/u and c/d
Tuesday: swim
Wednesday (long call): 3 x 1600m @ 8 min pace w/ 1 min RI
Thursday: weights (new routine), swim
Friday: weights, spinning class (5:45pm)
Saturday (day off): 20 miles @ 10:00 pace
Sunday (long call): bike hill intervals (30 min)

Once again, I look at the paces for the speedwork and tempo runs and think 'how the heck am I going to pull that off'? This "Run Less, Run Faster" plan is something serious. The work-outs seem overwhelming but w/ only 3 a week it's possible to be physically and emotionally prepared for them. But you really shouldn't plan on doing two of them in a row! Rest days imperative!

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Unbelievably Good Run

As I type this, my fingers are still numb from the cold so typing is not so easy. The only reason my fingers are frozen is that it was actually nice enough outside to run without gloves- 47 degrees and sunny! But the wind was icy cold, and I was gloveless, hence the now frozen fingers. But the wind and my cold digits were the only rough parts of my run, it was otherwise amazingly awesome!!

Like I do on most long run days in the winter, I waited until the absolute last minute to head out for my 17 miler. I ate breakfast, took a nap, watched Dean Karnazes's Ultramarathon Man documentary, ate lunch, read a book, then finally headed out at 2pm. My actually getting the run down was driven more by my desire to avoid feeling guilty if I didn't do the run rather than any actual desire to spend nearly 3 hours running.

My schedule said 17 miles @ 9:50 pace, so my plan was to run comfortably and not really worry about time- I figured that would get me close enough to 9:50 pace. I headed south on the Lakefront Path with my Nathan hydration pack, 1 pack of Gu Chomps (watermelon, if you are curious), and my "Believe in the Taper" playlist on my ipod (so what if I'm building, not tapering- it's still a good playlist!).

I stayed relaxed with decent form until about the last 4 miles. The last 2 I just gutted it out, not even paying attention to form anymore, just trying to get 'er done. I try not to look at my Garmin too much because it stresses me out but I glanced down often enough to know that I was certainly going faster than 9:50 pace. I didn't know how much faster and was quite pleased when I uploaded my data and saw my average pace was 9:20! Woo-hoo!!!

As you can see below (x axis=miles, y axis=pace), my pace was incredibly variable.

The peaks in pace (ie slow sections) are probably where I slowed to drink water and eat Gu Chomps. I never once stopped or walked- in fact this may be the longest run in which I did not stop or walk a single time in my entire running career! I think I've accepted that I'm not really a pace group kind of gal, meaning I don't really enjoy running when I'm constrained to a certain pace like when running with a pace group. I prefer to indulge my body's natural variations in pace based on how I feel, the music I'm listening to, and the sights I'm taking in. I still think it would be fun to be a pace group leader one day, but that would be at a pace significantly slower than what I'm capable of thus making it more comfortable and easier to be "constrained" by pace.

To put this run in perspective, my previous fastest long run was a 15 miler last September that was 9:11 pace but I stopped to eat and drink (probably for ~30-45 seconds) 2ce in the midst of the run. And I remember I was huffing and puffing the entire time. (Side note: That 15 miler was only 11 days before the Chicago Marathon- probably not the best idea to do such a long, hard run so close to race day!) Today's run was very comfortable right up until the last 2 miles and even then, I certainly could have pushed more, but this wasn't a marathon pace run, rather a comfortable long run, so I didn't kill myself.

Mile 1: 9:11
Mile 2: 9:14
Mile 3: 9:01
Mile 4: 9:09
Mile 5: 9:07
Mile 6: 9:12
Mile 7: 9:05
Mile 8: 8:49
Mile 9: 9:47
Mile 10: 9:17
Mile 11: 9:06
Mile 12: 9:47
Mile 13: 9:40
Mile 14: 10:10 (the wind was NUTS!)
Mile 15: 9:12
Mile 16: 9:29
Mile 17: 9:25

And because I'm a big running dork, I had to plug a 9:20 pace into the Cool Running pace calculator to see the correlating marathon finish time (it's 4:04:43, btw). Hmmmm.....

Good luck to all the racers this weekend! And happy running to all!

Henri: Our Valentine's Day Gift to Ourselves

Instead of doing gifts, Adam and I have a nice dinner out each year for Valentine's Day. It's a way to guarantee we'll have time together because with our schedules there are many weeks that go by where we don't eat a single meal together (sad face). We choose Henri for this year's dinner. Henri is owned by the same folks who own The Gage. Both are on S Michigan Ave right across the street from Millennium Park. While The Gage is a high-end gastropub (super tasty, super cute, worth checking out), Henri is French/American fine dining.

To accommodate my early bedtime, we made reservations for 5:30pm. I was surprised by how many people were already there! Within 1/2 hour the place was full of well dressed dates and double dates, most looking very comfortable around each other but also a few couples in that we-just-started-dating-so-V-day-hype-has-made-us-nervous phase.

Adam and I met there which I think is so much fun, just like a real date:)

I started off with a glass of 2008 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux which was a nice blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc. A nice, generous, tasty pour. We then started with the Torchon of Foie Gras and Veal Sweetbreads. I know, I know, I have some guilt every time I have foie gras gras but it's so good! It wasn't as good as the foie gras from L20, but it was very good. The sweetbreads were a little saltier than I like, but still good w/ nice texture.

For our 2nd course, we split the celery root soup. It was AMAZING! Loved it. Wished I had more!

Dinner for Adam was the Cassoulet Henri and I had the special, the Wild Texas Boar. I forgot how tasty boar is! Tastes a bit like bacon, and who doesn't love bacon!?! The garnishes were great as well.

For dessert we had Fruit au Creme which included kiwi, blood orange, and grapefruit. Yum! And not too heavy. I left feeling full but not stuffed, which is perfect!

I give Henri an 'A'. The food was great. The service was top notch. I would call the ambiance "traditional sophistication". Old chandeliers, dark velvet walls, with a simple white and Tiffany blue color scheme to keep the place bright. I really enjoyed it and certainly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Have You Seen My Motivation?

Wow. I went from full speed ahead to the motivation of a granite boulder. I've been on a roll since late November with some weeks better than others but mostly limited by time rather than lack of motivation. But the past three days? Disaster! I've been sleeping in:

watching TV (I've only had time for The Bachelor), but still:

and basically doing everything EXCEPT exercising. Thumbs down to that. It's getting warmer, it's getting lighter out for longer, but I'm sleeping in 'til 6 everyday (crazy late in my world) and sitting on my lazy butt when I get home from work (well, today is the first day that I've been home before 8:30pm, but still).

Enough complaining. I need a plan. And by putting it out into the blogosphere, I'll feel accountable. I'll fall back to my plan from a few weeks back which was NO EXCUSES! I will make myself nail the rest of the week's workouts NO MATTER HOW I FEEL. I've been telling myself I 'need' the rest when I shut the off button on my alarm at 4:30 am, but no more! I need to work out, that's what I need!

So tonight will be the last night of my lazy wallowing. Tomorrow, I will be up at 4:30, I will nail my speedwork and tomorrow night I will lift weights for an entire hour. No matter what. Period. End of story. But that won't stop me from enjoying this last night of laziness;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

dailymile- In More Ways Than One

I started blogging, using dailymile and getting serious about my running all at the same time last May. The 3 feed off each other in many ways. When I run, I get to post on dailymile and/or blog about it and often get great feedback from the DM/blog community and FB friends. When I read blogs or dailymile posts from others, I get motivated to run. By keeping track of my runs on dailymile, I'm able to detect patterns, figure out my strengths and weaknesses and adapt my training accordingly. Likewise, by reflecting on past running blog posts of my own, I can see how much I've improved and create new mental and physical racing strategies. I really think the 3 (blog, DM, running) are inseparable at this point!

So, in part, I'd like to use this as a plug for dailymile for those of you out there who exercise but don't yet keep track of your exercise. dailymile is like a limited version of facebook that focuses only on exercise. You post your workouts and comment on those of your friends. It's a fun way to meet like minded folks and make virtual (or even 'real') friends. You can motivate others and get motivated by others. You can post up-coming races and connect with other dailymilers pre-race (like I did w/ Alisyn before the Maui Oceanfront marathon! Thanks for the pic!). Lastly, you can use dailymile to track your own progress. The analytic tools aren't super advanced but they are definitely good enough for me. For example, here's my daily mileage graph from January 16th to February 5th.

Notice all those one mile runs? What's up with that? Why would a marathoner run just 1 mile? I certainly don't mean to minimize a mile. It is a long way and when I first started running I could not run a mile. But now, it's a pretty small distance in my running world. (But it's like a marathon to me in my swimming world.....have to work on that.) So why get suited up and sweaty just for 8-10 minutes of running? Many of you may have guessed that it's because I am streaking! (Not that kind of streaking, people, the running kind.)

Streakers are a rare (and dare I say eccentric) breed of runners who by the definition of the United States Running Streak Association "run at least one continuous mile within each calendar day under one's own body power". The runs can be performed on "the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill". Once a runner has streaked for one year they may apply for membership in the USRSA. There are currently 343 members of the USRSA. I have no idea how many add'l folks have streaked for >1 yr but I gotta think it's not that many more. I mean, it's such an odd and inconvenient thing to do, right?

Even more crazy than the idea of streaking for 1 year is the idea of streaking for 40+ years as 4 members of USRSA have! Other fun facts about the official USRSA streakers:

  • There is an 80 yr old gentleman who has streaked for >35 years!

  • There are only 2 women who have streaked for >30 years. Methinks childbirth probably gets in the way for many members of the fairer sex.

  • There are 8 physicians who have streaked for >5 yrs.

  • There is a jet pilot, a missionary, a circus owner, a homeless shelter director and a school bus driver on the list.
But back to me (isn't this all about me in the first place?). Why am I doing this? The main reason I am streaking is that I am competitive and stubborn so when my husband (also a runner) said he planned to run 1 mile every day this year I said "me too!". I couldn't be shown up by my own husband, could I? Especially since I've been running for longer than he has! I've toyed w/ the idea of streaking before but never really took it seriously. Now I am. I'm so glad he came up with this idea and I love that we are both doing it. It makes it much easier to force yourself to get that mile done when you are both supported by your spouse and don't want to be the first one to break the streak!!

For me, streaking is another way to really prioritize exercise and cardiovascular health. Virtually all of us (I hope!) brush our teeth twice a day. Running 1 mile doesn't take a whole lot more time that that. When you combine the time it takes for teeth brushing w/ taking pills/vitamins, putting in contacts, shaving etc, setting aside 10 minutes a day to take care of your heart seems darn near mandatory compared to the probably 30 mins-1 hr a day we spend taking care of the more superficial parts of our bodies. For me, the hardest days will be post-overnight call. After being up for 30 hours the LAST thing I want to do is run. But do I brush my teeth post-call? Yes. Do I eat post-call? Yes. Do I put on my anti-wrinkle cream post call? Most of the time. So, for pete's sake, I can run 1 mile!

It's only 10 minutes.

Have you ever tried streaking? (Again, not THAT kind;) )

(Special thanks to Adam for coming up with this streaking idea in the first place:) )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekly Work-out Wrap-up

In three days, we went from beautiful snowy weather to a total slush fest. The road and path conditions out there were na-sty for my long run today. The sunny and 50 degree weather was great. The stopping every quarter mile or so to jump over muddy piles of muck and slushly grossness like this:

was not so great. But I got my 13(.1) miles in nonetheless, even if there was a lot of stopping and starting. The lakefront path south of downtown is in great shape. The path north of downtown (at least to Oak Street), is pretty much impassable. The snow is not packed down enough to run on- just water, mud and slush. So I ended up doing my last 8 miles on sidewalks. I basically just went whichever direction had a green light to minimize stops. This worked for a while, but I really give props to folks who regularly run on sidewalks! It really broke my rhythm to dodge people and constantly holller "on your left" and stop at lights!

Then, I got stuck in a field of muck up by the Lincoln Park Zoo (Btw, did you know you are allowed to run in the zoo? Very odd and very, very sad to see the camels hanging out in the 10ft x 10ft part of their cage that didn't have snow. I don't think zoos are humane.) Anywho, back to the muck. I kept thinking I saw a clearing (like a mirage but of dryness instead of wetness), but just ended up being completely surrounded by puddles and mud. I sure am glad those shoes are due to be retired because they are totally soaked!

In general, this was a much better week than last, running-wise. I hit all my distance and pace goals. So far (only 2 weeks in) the FIRST plan is working for me. I'm having a bit more trouble getting cross-training in, but I did at least get the 2 sessions required by the FIRST plan.

Swimming is a problem. I was starting to get into it last October until one day I saw this in the elevator:

This proved to be more disastrous than expected, because I STILL haven't been back to the pool even though it reopened 2 months ago!! Starting new things is HARD!! I think if I actually had a triathlon on my calendar I would be sufficiently scared of drowning to get my behind in gear and in the pool. I guess I should choose one this week and stick it on the 'ol calender then, eh?

Got a little verbose today. I'll stop now:)

By the numbers:

Miles run (completed/planned): 28/25 (yee-haw! back on track!)
Days of Week I Ran: 7/7
Long run:
Speed work sessions: 2/2 Speed work completed at goal time: 2/2
Hill Work: 0/0 (better fit some hills in next week)
Biking sessions: 1/2
Swimming sessions: 0/2 (ug)
: 0/2 (double ug)
XC-Skiing: 1!
Days I Ate Healthfully and Sparingly: 2/7

Next week, I'm going to focus on swimming, weights and finding a goal triathlon:

Monday (dinner plans): weights
Tuesday (Long Call): 6 miles with 4 @ 8:45, hills on w/u and c/d
Wednesday: swim, 5 x 1000m @ 7:50 pace w/ 400m RIs
Thursday: weights, bike hill intervals
Friday (Day Off): 17 miles @ 9:50 pace
Saturday (Long Call): swim
Sunday: 10 miles bike

Happy V-Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When You Only Have Four Days Off a Month....... gotta make them COUNT! So instead of lounging around on the couch all day which I DESPERATELY wanted to do, I got geared up and drove to Herrick Lake out in Wheaton for some cross-country skiing!

The cold temperatures were not bothersome at all once I got moving especially since most of the trail was in the woods. I didn't work as hard as I should have- just an easy to moderate effort- and ended up going 4.57 miles in 1 hour. That's sloooooow (13:08 min/miles), so next time I definitely should work a little harder!

Looks like there are about 10-15 miles of trails so I have plenty of opportunity for future exploring!

Haleakala National Park, Maui

No matter where you are on Maui, the East Volcano (Haleakala) looms in the distance, often surrounded in clouds. Haleakala is a dormant volcano; it last erupted in 1490. Thus, the landscape is quite different that that of Hawai'i National Park on the Big Island. Hawai'i National Park is full of dark lava fields as well as actively erupting magma. However, the lava in Haleakala has had the chance to break down into sand, leaving swirling hills of red, tan and brown.

The drive up to Haleakala was pretty neat. Remember how I said the volcano is almost always covered in clouds? Well, we had to drive through those clouds to get to the top. The first third of the drive was sunny and then- all of a sudden- the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and we were in thick fog. 20 minutes later the fog suddenly lifted and we were again in sun, driving above the cloud line. I've had similar experiences on plane trips, but it was way cooler to touch, feel and breathe the clouds from a convertible! Here's Adam pondering the cloud line:

There are quite a few hikes in the area, and we chose the Sliding Sands (Keonehe'ehe'e) Trail. We had heard that it was really cold on top of the volcano so were prepared with our jackets, hats and gloves. However, the weather was actually quite pleasant in the 50s, especially after our warm last hour of running in our races the day before. The Sliding Sands trail was just that- full of sand and slip-slidy. The trail is 9.2 miles long but we just went a couple miles. We meandered down slowly, taking plenty of pictures along the way:

And we knew that however far down we went down, we would have to go back up......the day after the marathon......on slippery sand. It was tough. My heart was POUNDING! I kinda wished I had a heart rate monitor because I'm sure I was up in the 180s the whole time (yes, we all know I'm a dork). We actually flew up the hill in 1/4 the time it took to go down because we wanted the misery to END!! It was both fun and a good work-out.

Haleakala National Park was definitely worth a 1 day stop. But there are sooo many things to do and see on Maui that I don't think I would go back for a second look. Also, while it was cool, Haleakala was nothing compared to the surreal, Mars-like scenery of Hawai'i National Park.

If you are heading to Hawai'i and aren't sure if you will ever get back a second time, I'd recommend you spend quality time on Maui but also take a quick flight to the Big Island to Hawai'i National Park to see what I think is the most unusual landscape in all of the United States. I'll end with a pic from or 2008 visit to Hawai'i National Park:

Barren Lava Field w/ the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekly Work-out Wrap-up

This week I learned an important lesson that one would think would be common sense:

**Writing down a goal pace for any given work-out does NOT mean that pace will be achieved!**


This was the first week of my Furman FIRST Run Less, Run Faster marathon training program. Since there are only 3 runs a week, they are all hard efforts. Hard effort I can do. Effort-beyond-what-my body-has-ever-even-contemplated-doing I cannot do. When I put this plan together I calculated my BQ pace and looked at my current best paces and split the difference in half for the paces I would use for this training program. I figured that would bring me a step closer to a BQ race in the next few years. (Current BQ for me is 3:40).

Essentially, I'll be training at paces intended for a sub-4 hour marathon. My current PR is 4:20:58, so this may seem absurdly ambitious (and maybe it is) but that PR was in a race in which I was relaxed, running for fun, and not short of breath or in any amount of distress at all until the last 6 miles. And the last 6 miles were mostly just hot, I still wasn't short of breath or pushing too hard. So if I can keep it together mentally throughout this training cycle and push, push, PUSH, the workout paces for a 4 hr marathon should be *close* to doable.

But, they won't be automatically doable, that's for sure. On Monday I was supposed to run 4 x800 @ 7:20 pace. I'm not sure I've ever tried to run 7:20 for any distance, ever. Hmm. Why did I write that down on the schedule and think nothing of it??? I got down to 7:41 pace though and probably, maybe could have gone a bit faster. Yow-za, this is going to be a tough training cycle!

Overall, it was not a great training week for me. I didn't get my long run in, I didn't swim, my weight workouts were short. I'm still working to get back on my regular sleeping schedule.

But I HAVE to kick a** this week because otherwise one bad week will turn into a trend, and we don't want that do we?

By the numbers:

Miles run (completed/planned): 14/25 (ouch!)
Days of Week I Ran: 7/7
Long run:
Speed work sessions: 1/1 Speed work completed at goal time: 0/1
Hill Work: 0/1
Biking sessions: 1/2
Swimming sessions: 0/2
: 2/2
Days I Ate Healthfully and Sparingly: don't remember, but don't think it was too bad!

For next week, there will be no excuses:

Monday (Long Call): weights
Tuesday: 13 miles @ 9:30
Wednesday: swim, spinning (6:15p)
Thursday (Day off): xc-ski (w/ enough intensity to count as x-training)
Friday (Long Call): 1200 @ 7:50, 1000 @ 7:40, 800/600/400 w/ 200 m rest intervals
Saturday: swim, 7 miles w/ 5 miles @ 8:45
Sunday: weights, xc-ski

Looking at that schedule makes me nervous. That's a lot of freakin' exercise!

Happy Sunday to all!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Road to Hana (Maui)

Hana is a town on the East coast of Maui. I'm sure Hana is worth visiting in its own right, but the big excitement is the Road to Hana and the sights along the road. There's really no excuse for NOT having a convertible on scenic routes such as this. We ended up with a Ford Mustang. It's no Elly (my baby, my VW Eos), but it worked! I don't know the history of the road, but it is old and treacherous with 54 one-lane bridges. In the past one-lane bridges might have made me somewhat nervous, but not after driving in New Zealand! In NZ, one lane literally means one lane and add in driving on the 'wrong' side of the road....the Road to Hana was nothing!

If you read travel websites, there's a lot of discussion about whether it is "worth it" to drive the road to Hana if you only have 1 day to do it in. In fact, I was questioning whether we should do it. I work hard to make sure we have enough down time on our trips (although my husband doesn't think I always succeed), so I worried that the Road to Hana would be too much in too short a period of time. But I'm glad we did it. It was great. As long as you remember that your goal is to have fun and not to do and see EVERYTHING, it's all good!

I'm sure there are million great stops along the road. Here are the ones we enjoyed:

Adam in the bamboo forest of the Waikamoi Nature Trail. A nice 30 minute hike at the south end of the road (so beginning of journey).

More bamboo!

Ke'anae. A tiny town of 30 people on a beautiful peninsula. This was the first taste of the blue, blue water and the crashing waves w/ palm trees in front. It got me really excited for the rest of the trip. If you go, you should stop at the Ke'anae Peninsula (not just the 'lookout') for sure!

Our next detour was completely unplanned. We were looking for the Wailua Penninsula lookout and ended up on a one lane road leading to the village of Nahiku. We decided to just go for it and drove down the one lane road to goodness knows where. And we were rewarded with this:

I'd recommend the detour for sure!

After this we stopped for lunch at Up In Smoke and I had kalua pig tacos. Yummy! There are no big towns b/t Pa'ia and Hana, just a few villages w/ small roadside restaurants. Nice and quiet.

Our final stop ended up being my favorite place on the whole trip: Wai'anapanapa State Park. This place was wild. So diverse, from dramatic crashing waves and blowholes through lava rocks:

To caves:

To crazy trees. I'm still not sure if it was all one tree or a tangle of trees. It was cool though.

Do you see me waaaayy in the background?

If you go to Maui and only have 1 week, I'd say drive part of the Road to Hana but just pick a few stops. If you have 10 days or more, I'd recommended spending 2 days on the road and spend the night in Hana. That's what we'll do next time!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bizzard '11

I've mentioned before that Bike the Drive is one of my favorite days of the year. Well, today topped it. Today was the Chicago Blizzard of 2011.

Bike the Drive is a day in May when Lake Shore Drive (aka, LSD, the main 8 lane road that goes north/south in Chicago, right along the lake) closes down for a few hours to cars and opens only to bikers! I love this day because downtown is QUIET, there is FRESH AIR, and the focus is on ACTIVITY! Well, today was just like that. As I'm sure many of you heard on the news, LSD closed last night around 8 pm because of this:

(from Chicago Tribune, 2/1/11)

As of 4pm, it is still closed because of this:

Corner of LSD and Monroe. There were piles like this all up and down LSD!

Huge piles of snow all along the drive! As soon as I saw the pile I broke out in a grin, as did all the other adults around me. We were so excited, laughing, running to the top of pile, slip-sliding back down, taking pictures. It was so, so fun! Such a festive feel!

After playing on the hill, I skied around Grant and Millennium Parks. It was so fun! So many folks were taking pictures of me. Some asked permission, some didn't. I guess they found it funny to see someone on skis downtown? Keep a lookout for someone who looks like this:

Maybe I'll make it the Chicago Tribune:)

I ended up seeing 3 other skiers and 1 snowshoer. A few runners, as well. It's not that often that you can run directly on LSD!

I am so, so glad we got back from Hawai'i in time for this storm. I've never seen anything like it and there is a good chance I never will again. More pics:

I hope everyone stayed safe and had fun! And if you are a local waiting for LSD to open, based on the remaining piles I can see, I'd say 6 pm at the earliest!

For some GREAT photos from the Tribune, click here.