Friday, December 21, 2012

Illinois Marathon Training Recap Week 5

Another week, another recap.

This week went well, I managed to get in all my runs even though I had to extend my training "week" by one day.  Christmas shopping took over most of my day on Friday and then I turned around and went shopping with my family again on Saturday.  I've realized shopping wears me out, especially when I am with my family.  Thankfully, I only need to pick up a few snacks to finish out all my gifts.  Which I will be doing tonight at Hy-Vee when I swing through Dubuque on my drive to my parent's house.  Yippee!

Here's what I did for the week.

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 5 miles treadmill
  • Wednesday: Spin class
  • Thursday: 4.5 mile with 3 @9:22 with 1% incline
  • Friday: Shopping/Off
  • Saturday: 2 mile walk
  • Sunday: 2 mile walk with 0.5 mile run
  • Monday: 10 mile on treadmill around 9:40 pace
I pushed my long run back to Monday this week because I wasn't able to squeeze it in over the weekend.  I had tentatively planned to do it on Friday, but I slept too long after the concert on Thursday night and didn't want to make Matt wait around for 1.5+ hours while I ran.  Saturday and Sunday I slept too late again after being up late with the deer incident on Friday night and playing dominoes with Matt's family till 2 am on Saturday.  Doing a long run on a treadmill is not very appealing to me, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

I spent so many weekends this past summer doing long runs on Saturday and long bikes on Sunday that I feel a bit guilty doing long runs when I am home with my family.  Not so much when we are just lying around doing nothing, but times when they want to do something.  I should just get up early on the mornings and get my long run done early, but I don't want to give up my late nights either.  I hope I am a little better about getting in my runs in the next couple of days while I am in Iowa. 

Any suggestions for getting long runs in while visiting family?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Well shoot.

Remember how I said this weekend also included some bad exciting things.  This is one of those things.

Matt and I left his mom's around 10:15 on Friday to head back to Cascade.  This was much later than I wanted to leave but this is what happens when we get together! Matt needed to be dropped off at his car parked at the mall since we drove separately to Iowa City (him from Marion, me from Arlington Heights).  While Matt was looking for his Ipod in his trunk, I got a bit of a head start towards Cascade.  He usually drives faster than I do so I figured he would catch up to me.

I've probably made the drive from Iowa City to Cascade over a hundred times.  I'm used to the roads and the towns and all that.  I'm comfortable with it.  Thirty-five minutes on a curvy, two-lane Highway 1 and then thirty-five minutes on four-lane 151.

About an hour into my drive as I was nearing the exit for Monticello, I remember thinking that I that it was odd that I hadn't seen Matt yet.  Usually he would have caught up to me by now.  It was around 11:10 pm dark and I was getting tired, but I knew that I was only 10 minutes from my parent's house.

I glanced into my review mirror wondering it Matt was behind me.  I looked back at the road and there it was.  A deer. My foot didn't even make it to the brake before I hit it.  I felt the impact, but my airbags remained safely inside their compartment.  I saw things fly off my car.  My heart was absolutely racing.  I started braking and pulled over to the side of the road.

I calmly called Matt and asked where he was--about five minutes behind me--and told him what happened.  Matt told me I should try to move my car more off the road, but it wouldn't move.  I tried to restart it. Nothing.  My battery was still connected because I still had lights, but the starter did not even make a sound.

I called my dad to ask him what I should do.   Called the cops.  My dad called a tow truck. I sat in Matt's car and my heart was still beating fast and I could feel the adrenaline in my system.

Matt tried asking me if it the deer was a buck, but it happened so fast I really have no idea.  The deer was facing right and I hit the whole back end of it on my passenger side.  Going 70 mph.  The damage to my car looks severe.

We waited about 10 minutes for the cop to show up. He cleaned up the pieces of my car off the road, took my license and registration, and wrote up his report while we waited for the tow truck.

I think the officer was confused by the multi-state system we had going on.  My car registered in Iowa with an Illinois license and Matt's car with Wisconsin plates.

The deer apparently flew off my car and into the ditch because it wasn't on the road anymore.  I'm fairly certain it did not make it out of this crash alive judging by the damage to the front of my car.

This accident happened so fast and I am incredibly thankful that I was uninjured.  A car is a car and can be fixed or replaced.

I'm also thankful that Matt was following me and that this happened only 10 minutes from my parent's.  I have no idea what I would have done if this happened halfway between Chicago and Cascade. I'm thankful for insurance and for my car being sturdy.  I'm thankful for my parents and because they are letting me borrow their car until mine is repaired.

I am also grateful that I didn't see the deer until the instant before I hit it because I know I might have swerved or slammed on my brakes and that could have been worse.

My car is being fixed and I will be driving it again.  I hope to avoid any deer in my future because the next time it might give me a heart attack.

Casey Donahew Band.

Well I had quite an exciting weekend. Some things were the good exciting and some things were at the other end of the spectrum.

Matt bought us tickets to a concert in Iowa City on Thursday evening.  I was supposed to leave work a few hours early that day to make the drive.  But, of course, I went in a half hour early, skipped lunch, and still didn't leave on time.  And I ended up working 8.5 hours.  So much for leaving early.

Thankfully, I still made it to Iowa City in time for the concert.  The show we went to was for the Casey Donahew Band with an opening act by some dude from Indiana.  I can't remember his name because (1) I'd never heard of him before and (2) I'd already had at least 2 drinks by then.  And a few more by the time he was done playing.  What can I say? When in Iowa City, do as the Iowa Citians do.  (And that's drink and party for those of you that don't know.)

Casey Donahew is a southern boy from the great state of Texas and sings "red-dirt country." You've probably never heard of him and if you don't like country then I can guarantee you've never heard of him. He mostly does shows in Oklahoma, Texas, and some in Nebraska, but was venturing north for this show.  Once Matt heard about this show he had to get tickets even if it was on a Thursday night.  He even convinced two of his friends to come to the show as well.

He writes typically country songs about guns and trucks and girlfriends and white trash stories, but he also writes about getting high.  In fact, we are convinced that he was high during the show.  His eyes were all glazed over and he had the stoned look about him.  We even took this picture with him after the show.

What do you think?

After the concert we took a cab back to downtown Iowa City.  I had grand plans to go out downtown, but of course forgot that I am old and can't party like I used to and went straight to bed once we got to the hotel.  Speaking of the hotel, I was selected as guest of the day and upgraded to the super special Club Level.  Apparently it was my lucky day! Our room was on the top floor and came with snacks (cashews, cranberries, chocolate shavings, and chocolate covered pretzels) and we had a complimentary breakfast the next morning.  Except we slept through the breakfast part.  Oops. Instead we grabbed water and snacks from the club room before leaving.

We were starving and ended up at Oasis Falafel at 11:30 to get lunch.  I loved eating at Oasis when I was in college and was excited to be able to enjoy their food once again.  Matt and I both had pita sandwiches mine with falafel and his with falafel and lamb.  They were both delicious.  Oasis has the absolute best hummus. I wish I could find a good falafel place near my place now, but haven't found anything that comes close to Oasis.

Matt's mom had invited us over for dinner later that day so we had the rest of the day to spend in Iowa City/Coralville.  After walking around downtown Iowa City so I could relive my college days we headed over to the Coralridge Mall so we could work on our Christmas shopping.  I did a great job of not buying anything for myself but Matt bought himself several things.  I was jealous.  I even ended up buying him a sweater.  Unfair! We had tentatively planned on going to a movie, but nothing we wanted to see was showing in the early afternoon so we nixed that plan and got ice cream from Coldstone.  I needed to use up a gift card from last Christmas!

When we were driving to Matt's mom's house later, Matt told me that he always finds the best deals when he is shopping with me.  I laughed because I think this translates to "You make me shop for much longer than I do on my own and we have to go to every store and through every aisle. Therefore I find more things to buy.  And you use coupons."  Matt is the kind of person that knows what he wants and goes to the store to buy it without looking around for a better price.

We had a great dinner with Matt's mom and several of her friends.  She served steak, baked potatoes, lettuce salad, raspberry fluff, and bread.  I was happily stuffed by the end.  After dinner, we sat around at talked and played games on the ipad.  It was a good night! I also played some with the cute dogs, allergies be damned!

It ended up being a late night and we didn't leave Coralville till after 10 pm.  Late night drive back to Iowa.

More of the story to come.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Illinois Marathon Training Recap Week 4

This is my first week of recapping my training, but according to my marathon training plan this is week 4.  To keep things simple for me,  I am starting to number at 4.  My training plan is 24 weeks long which is quite a long time for a training plan in my opinion, but the mileage is low to start with and isn't too challenging so far.   

I combined two training plans to come up with a good training plan for me.  I'm using the Tuesday runs and Saturday long runs from the Hal Higdon Marathon 3 Plan and the Thursday speed work runs from an individualized plan from Runner's World Smart Coach.  I liked the slower build-up of mileage in the Marathon 3 plan, but am hoping the speed work will shave a few seconds of my average pace.

This is what I have for a training plan so far.

Of course, this schedule is adjustable to whatever I feel like doing for the week.  And this week is a good example of that.  Here is what I ended up doing.
  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 5 miles treadmill + pushups, squats, curls, and abs
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Zumba, 1 hour
  • Friday: 4 miles treadmill
  • Saturday: 9 miles
  • Sunday: 20 minutes on the bike trainer
This past weekend I was invited to a Christmas/Ugly Sweater  party hosted by a friend of Matt's in Cortland, Illinois.  It was a treat to see and hang out with several of his college friends again.  Of course I indulged in much too much alcohol on both Friday and Saturday nights, but thankfully didn't get too out of control this time.

I woke up around 8:30 on Saturday to head out for a run.  Another guy was running as well, but he was much faster than I so we didn't run together.  I got to run on some low traffic country roads which is one of my favorite places to run.  No stoplights, no other people, not very many cars and nice scenery.  I felt surprisingly good.

These were my splits.
Mile 1: 9:55
Mile 2: 9:56
Mile 3: 10:06
Mile 4: 10:18
Mile 5: 10:05
Mile 6: 10:10
Mile 7: 9:54
Mile 8 10:42
Mile 9 10:00
9 miles, average pace: 10:07

My goal pace for the marathon is supposed to be 9:34 so I actually could be running long runs a bit slower.  I have always just tried going at a comfortable pace and that has worked for me.

I have 10 miles on the schedule for this week and I will be in the very hilly land of Cascade.  I'm not looking forward to it.

What's your favorite place to run?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas is...

well, a lot of things.

Welcome to the time of year when blogs are filled with posts like "Gift Guides for (fill in the blank)." Men, women, your favorite runner, a newbie triathlete, your brother, your uncle's cousin's girlfriend.  Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point.  I have no gift guide for you because that crap is boring.  Instead I will tell you what I want.  So if you have a couple extra dollars (okay, maybe couple extra $20 bills) laying around, you can buy me just what I want this Christmas.

1. Bike trainer - Cyclops Fluid 2 Indoor Bicycle Trainer.

I've been coveting an indoor trainer since the weather started getting cold.  You just set up your own bike on the trainer and ride to nowhere in the middle of your living room.

Instead of buying one for myself for Christmas, I bought one as a gift for Matt.  How foolish of me!  He's been trying to convince me to give his gift to him early, but I've held firmly on the No.  Mostly because I really like opening presents on Christmas/Christmas Eve and this way, I can use his gift until Christmas.  I've already set it up in my living room.  I had to make sure it worked properly and I've already set it up for him!

And don't worry about him reading this and ruining the surprise, he already knows what I got him.

2. Running shoes - Asics Gel Kayanos (size 9)
Except, of course, I can't find any of my current version (17) in my size.

My current pair of running shoes are kaput.  I've still been running in them because I don't have anything else, but I can feel how worn out they are.  Running any longer than 10 miles in these shoes sounds like pure torture so I better get a new pair soon.

3. Running gear - Head Lamp, Reflective Vest, Running Tights

I usually just give up running outside when the sun starts setting at 4:30 pm.  But the treadmill is already starting to bore me.  With lights and reflective gear I can safely run outside after work or in the mornings before work.

I currently own only one pair of running tights and they aren't for really cold weather.  Other times I just run in capris because I'm tough like that.  Actually that's not true at all, I'm usually shivering I'm so cold.

4. Cast iron skillet

I've been eyeing these (along with everything else in the store) at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  I've been trying to replace some of my cheaper cookware and utensils with good quality pieces and this pan is perfect.  I also like that it is so heavy-duty and that you can't scratch any Teflon-coating off - like several of my other pans.

I asked my grandma for this because she likes really specific ideas.

5.  A French press

Another thing from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I love browsing in that store.

I think French presses are so cool and even though I only have coffee 1 or 2 times per week, I still want one of these.  My little 4-cup CoffeMate brewer from Goodwill doesn't make that great of coffee.

6. Vitamix

I didn't even ask anyone for this because they are so ridiculously expensive.  But I'm about 80% convinced that this is what Matt got me for Christmas. I asked him like a million times for a triathlon bike, but he thought it was ridiculous to spend $1500 on me.  For the record, I thought it was ridiculous too, but I thought it was worth a shot to ask.

Lest you think I am a spoiled brat, I realize this list is quite extensive and don't really believe I will be getting all of these things for Christmas.  

What's on your Christmas/holiday wish list?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December Goals

November seemed like such a promising month for me.  The weather started off so beautifully and then it cold and then warm again and then freezing.  And now it's December and we had a few 60 degree days.  I started off very strong with my goals-yoga-ing, running, and cleaning like a real go-getter.  And then came Thanksgiving and work got really busy (I feel like I've mentioned this a couple thousand times already), and the goal getting went downhill quickly. 

Here's how the goals went down.

Goal 1.  Do yoga once a week.  2 out of 4 

When I am most busy and stressed, yoga is probably one of the most helpful things I can do, unfortunately that's also when it is hardest to squeeze in a class.  Most classes at my gym start at 6:15, which is fine for a normal week because I can still work till 5:30 and make the class.  But when I was still at work at 6 pm, it meant no yoga.  I did try out a new instructor and really enjoyed her teaching so I hope to keep making yoga a priority in my workout schedule.  

Goal 2. Follow a cleaning schedule.  Good, then very bad.

The schedule I was supposed to follow was very helpful.  And early on in the month, I had amazing results.  All I did was set the timer for 20 minutes and once it went off, I could stop cleaning.  It made a big difference in the day to day appearance of my apartment.  But I tend to lack motivation to clean after I get home at night and once I was out of the habit, the mess came right back.  

Goal 3. Keep a gratitude journal.  Fail.

This just never happened.  I didn't start at the beginning of the month and then I just let it go.  I will be repeating this goal for December.  

Goal 4. Run three times a week.  Check!

Finally, a goal I met!  With the sun coming up later and later each day, most of my runs have been on the treadmill (I don't have any running in the dark safety clothing yet).  I'm not a huge fan of the treadmill, but it is forcing me to run at a more consistent pace.  I've still been getting outside once on the weekends, for my "long" runs.  The weather has been pretty gorgeous so running has been fun.  I have a feeling I won't enjoy running outside as much when it's freezing.   

I wanted to say that I'm not really sure if December goals can go much worse than November goals, but I shouldn't say that.  With the holidays and the many holiday parties and Christmas celebrations Matt and I will have to attend, the goals could just not happen.  So as to not set myself up for failure this month, I am setting goals I think are achievable given the circumstances.

Goal 1.  Keep a gratitude journal.

I told you I was repeating this.  Christmas and the holiday season have a special ability to stress me out.  I tend to worry too much about finding a special and meaningful gift for each person and then I leave too much gift buying till the very last minute. Then I am just irritable and not thankful.  

I hope this will help me reflect on each day and keep a more positive outlook overall.

Goal 2. Make Christmas cards.

I came up with this really funny idea for Christmas cards two years ago, but have never followed through on making them.  I feel like it might be a little strange for me to send out Christmas cards just from me.  But I will probably be sending them only to friends (and not family) so they already know I'm weird.  Also, I think it would be even weirder if I sent out Christmas cards with just Matt and I.  I know some other couples do that, but that is just not us.  

Goal 3. Finish at least one craft project.

This is a conundrum I find myself in often-several partially completed projects strewn about around the apartment and neglected.  I lose interest in one project and I pick up another.  Then I become more interested in watching 100 episodes on Netflix than any of the projects.  It's time to wrap up some old projects so I can start some new ones in the new year.

Goal 4. Clean off dining room table.

Oh look, another cleaning goal.  This table is the catch all for almost everything I bring in the door.  And I hardly ever eat at the table.  Important papers need to be filed away and non-important junk needs to be tossed.  This way I can invite my friend over for dinner and not hide all the extra papers by putting them on a chair.  (I feel like I am turning into my mother because her dining room table is piled with papers as well.)

That's all the goals for December!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Schiller Chiller 10K Race Report

Another three weeks has gone by in the blink of an eye and without a whisper from me here on the blog.  What can I say? Work has been majorly kicking my behind.  Fortunately, I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But for the project I am working on, I foresee many future busy periods.  A little break will be nice though!

This weekend I ran another race.  The race was hosted by the same group that put on the Thriller in Schiller that I ran at the end of October--Muddy Monk.  Trail races are a completely different beast than road races.  The feel overall is much more relaxed (although I am never super serious at either).  I don't even know how people run fast on trails since I spent 85% of the race with my eyes on the ground and the other 15% of the time I am watching out for low hanging trees!  This might also be because I am clumsy and roll ankles like it's my job.

I showed up at Schiller Woods about 40 minutes prior to the race and breezed through packet pick-up.  The $30 registration (cheap!) included a cotton long-sleeve tee, a mug, and a shot glass. 

It was a little bit chilly so I went back to my car to warm up for about 10 minutes.  I knew I would heat up really fast once I started running so I didn't want to wear too many clothes.  About 20 minutes before the race, I headed back out to the start area to meet up with some other bloggers including a couple of new-to-me faces! 

From L to R: Kelsey, me, Charlyn, Kim, Queenie, Erin, Lindsay, and Kim
Photo Courtesy of Kim 

The 10k started at 10 am and Kim, Erin, Lindsay and I ran together.  This race was less "technical" than the Thriller 5k (that's the fancy word the experienced trail racers are using, I would say it was less "traily" but alas, that isn't a word.  In other words, there were less fallen trees to climb over or under).  We did cross under a very muddy bridge twice, but other than that nothing crazy.

I think we were running at about a 10 min/mile pace and that was comfortable to me.  I did notice that my calves and the rest of my lower legs and feet seem more tired than I normally experience on these trail runs.  I'm guessing it is from the very varied terrain instead of the flat road that I usually run on.  

By about mile 3, I started to get warm and tried to push up my sleeves.  It really didn't do much good.  I wish I would have worn less clothing, but it always hard for me to gauge what I need to wear.  

Miles 3 and 4 were super close together and, as it turned out, the trail was mismarked and we missed a half mile out and back section there.  I was wishing I had just run the 4 minute mile I've always dreamed off. 

The four of us crossed the finish line in about 56:45 (my official time was 56:53.9).  Due to that missed out-and-back the 10k ended up being more like 5.2 miles.  

We stuck around the finish line to watch Kelsey and Kim finish.

At the end of the race, there was free hot chocolate, coffee, and chili.  Due to the great weather on Saturday, many people stuck around following the race and so the lines were long.  I wasn't super hungry so I just munched on a few pretzels before calling it a day. I had book club to get to that afternoon so I couldn't stick around too long anyway.

Overall it was a great race and I hope to do more Muddy Monk trail races in 2013.  For the price, the swag is excellent and it's nice to run a race every once in a while when you are running alone 95% of the time.
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