Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter running often means lots of snow


Snow...snow...snow...SNOW!

So two things happened on Saturday. First it started snowing sometime overnight and by my 6:30 a.m. alarm, there were several inches on the ground and it was still coming down. The second thing that happened was that my mom  ran her first 5k ever. Her race started an hour and a half later and about 2 miles south of my 8 mile run, so I made the executive decision to sleep in, go and cheer her on and then do my 8 miles later (hopefully when the snow had stopped and magically melted because the temperature went up to 45).

I did do those 8 miles with only a little snow falling (and all the snow still on the ground that had previously fallen and in about 30 degree temperatures - so much for Christmas magic) with Mr. H.'s help. Again, I wasn't able to hold to a 10 minute pace, but with all that snow on the ground, I'm not beating myself up too much about it. We ran  down to the lake and back, and getting down there was interesting as I had to change my running stride depending on if the sidewalk was shoveled or not. Once we got to the lake it was great because the whole inner path is kept clear. But then of course we had to run the last two miles back through the un-shoveledness and slush and what not that is Chicago sidewalks in winter. In the end, it was worth it to get out there and do my miles and I am ever thankful for Mr. H. for going with me.
That's mom with the red gloves.
That' s me in the big coat. I did not run the whole race.
Just the last little bit to help cheer her on.

Of course, the real news of the day is that my mom completed her first 5k race (the Jingle Bell 5k) AND she placed 3rd in her age group. The race started near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on the inner gravel path and it wasn't at all shoveled. So not only did she complete her first 5k race, she did it through ankle deep snow. As we waited at the finish line for her to come in, it was funny hearing the fast runners come in complaining about their 22 minute 5k times - the snow having slowed them down by almost 5 minutes (not that it made them wear anymore clothes as they all had shorts and short sleeves on).

The end of the course went past the finish line and looped back (which just sucks as a runner, but is great for spectators), so I was able to hop in and run the last half mile with her. I looked pretty silly with my big winter coat and snow boots, but it was great giving her support and assuring her that you are supposed to feel like you're going to throw up when you race - that's how you know you've left it all out on the course. And she certainly did. I'm now trying to talk her into a New Year's Day 5k.

Real Santa does not run 5ks. He doesn't need to.
To top off the morning, Baby H. got to visit Santa after the race. Actually he got to see several Santa's as there were quite a few people dressed as Santa running the race. He did ask if that was the 'real Santa' and I had to tell him no, those were just some fools dressed as Santa running through ankle deep snow in the freezing cold. The 'real Santa' was in the museum after the race and he was a much more befitting Santa. Plus, he had Mrs. Claus with him. Baby H. was a bit shy at first, saying he didn't want to meet Santa right then "maybe later." But after a quick talk from Mrs. Claus (and a candy cane and a Rudolph nose) he decided he better take this opportunity lest he not receive those Legos he wants.

Another week of training down. I've been running on the treadmill for my midweek runs. It is torture, but worth it not to be outside. Next Saturday's weather forecast: Intermittent freezing drizzle in the morning will evolve to a wintry mix in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precip 70%.......lovely.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Running is Not Always Fun

Last year when I started training for the winter half marathon, I was coming off of having run the marathon. Even though it had been several weeks since I had put in any long runs, when I picked it up again, that muscle memory was pretty much there.

This year I don't have that. I've been running throughout the year, but none of my runs have gone over 5 miles. Added to that, the weather has turned colder much quicker. I am already wearing clothes that I was wearing only toward the end of training, in January, and it's barely December.

So yesterday morning, while checking the temperature and seeing it was hovering around 10 degrees with a -2 windchill, I waited for the text, email, Facebook update, anything to tell me the training run was cancelled. CARA cancels the runs when it hits zero (either in real or windchill temps). So as I got ready, I kept an eye on the weather. But once you don three layers of running clothes, you might as well go out.

Of course, almost as soon as I got down there, the training run site director let us know that it was cancelled. But, like me, there were too many others of us out there ready to go. What's a little zero degree weather to stop us? So out we went. And really, with the clothes, it was fine. Sure, I was cold at the beginning, but by mile 1 I was warm. I was ready to have yet another great 10 min pace training run.

But around mile 2.5 I was starting to feel pretty winded. We had gone out a little fast (possibly in an attempt to get our 7 miles done with quicker). And while we had slowed back down to pace, it wasn't enough for me. So I dropped back. Assuring the group I was OK, and wondering where the 10.5 min pace group was, I kept my own pace for the last half.

Ironically, I came in before my pace group because I turned around before they did. I turned around at what my watch said was the half way point and that was good enough for me. Especially in that weather. So in the end I didn't keep up my 10 min pace - more like 10:40. And I'm worried that 10 min, in this weather, is just going to be too fast for me. But I'm going to give it one more shot next weekend. Right now the forecast temperature is 30...but there's also a 40% chance of snow and 10-20 mph winds.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter Half Training

Running through the winter in Chicago can be difficult. I managed it last year by training for the F3 Winter Half Marathon - that in the end I didn't run. But it did keep me out of doors and on the lakefront path over most of the winter. This year, with Mr. H. working for CARA team, I decided to see how training with a group would be. I signed up for CARA's winter half marathon training and now run with a group on Saturday mornings rather than go it alone.

I've never trained with a group before. As with many things, I think I've come at this running thing backwards (though I don't run backwards cause I don't need to make it any harder on myself than it already is). I probably should have started with a training group, say like when I signed up for my first half marathon, or the full marathon. But the first time I trained for a half marathon, I ran with my sister, indoors, on a treadmill. We signed up for the Cowtown Half in Fort Worth, Texas in February. And at that time, running outdoors during the winter in Chicago seemed downright silly (if not dangerous and not possible) to me. So every Saturday we saddled up on a treadmill and ran our miles. Actually, it was kinda nice because my sister runs faster than I do and  this way I could actually run with her - at least until she was done. Last year, when I started training for this half, I committed to doing at least my long runs outdoors. And I did. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, and after having trained by myself for the marathon, I was used to being out on the path alone (though you're never really alone on the lakefront path in Chicago, but that's a post for another day). 

I have found that I actually kind of like running alone. It let's me tune out. I listen to music (sometimes) and just let my feet fall one in front of the other. The problem I find is that I don't push myself as much as I could if I were running with other people. Sure, there are days when I'm feeling great and I get home, look at my pace and am amazed. But I need people around for the days that when I get home and look at my pace I say "oh well, I guess that's as good as I could do today." While that's true sometimes, it's probably  not as true as often as I let it be.

So joining a group not only promised to help keep me on schedule and on pace, but also was a way to push myself just a little bit. The fastest time I've run 13 miles is somewhere around a 10:30 pace. That was while I was training for the marathon and wasn't pushing myself, just trying to get the miles done. I signed up for the 10 mile pace group (knowing I could always drop back to the 10:30s if I want, and ignoring Mr. H telling me I should be with the 9:30s). But I like 10 minute miles. It's my default pace. I know I can go faster, but it's just so comfortable at 10 (which is probably why I should be running faster). And if I run a 10 minute, half marathon in the Chicago winter, well, I will be pretty darn proud of myself.

And that's my plan, run 10 min miles for this half in January. And then in February, we're headed to Fort Worth where I plan to obliterate my first half marathon time and run a pace somewhere less than 10 min miles. The promise of a warm run in February is keeping me going these frigid Saturday mornings. That and the dozen or so other people in my group and the very cheery CARA group leaders. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

F3 Turkey Chase 8k

Another Thanksgiving, another Turkey themed run. This year's was the inaugural F3 Turkey Chase 8k which started and ended on the the Lakefront at Lakeshore East. The 'colder by the lake' axiom didn't really make that much of a difference as it was pretty much colder everywhere in Chicago yesterday (this week, all month). But no matter, we bundled up, extra bundled up our little one and hopped on the train downtown. While the train seemed to take forever and we at times didn't think we'd make it, in the end it actually played out perfectly as it decreased the amount of time we stood around in the freezing cold. And, we even got to see some of the Thanksgiving parade and the big turkey balloon as we passed over State Street on the train.

The course was your basic out and back, which, sure, sometimes is boring, but I always like that I get to see the super speedy runners going back when I'm barely a mile in. Plus, this year, I was on the look out for Mr. H. as he was racing not only toward the finish line but back to get back to the children (mine and my sister's and her boyfriend's). We high-fived as we passed each other.

I haven't run in almost two weeks because I've been super sick (with not strep but something masquerading as it and making me generally miserable). So even though I had a good first couple of miles, I reminded myself that I didn't need to push too hard, and finished right where I wanted to be (49:23.4, 9:57 pace, 21/45 in my age group).

After the race, we enjoyed hot chocolate and warm cider (though there was some grousing about the lack of coffee, but not by me. Anything hot at this point was welcome.), and waited for the kids race to begin. All six kids had been signed up to run, and at first I had a feeling that we'd be the only parents dumb brave enough to stick around for it. But there were a dozen or so littles ready to race around the perimeter of the park. The cousins all did well, but baby H. went out a bit too fast and wasn't quite ready for this course distance of roughly .2 miles (telling Mr. H. that he was done about half way through). However, he persevered and finished, last. He was a little upset about not winning (though of course he received a medal) and we all assured him that none of us had won our races either. Mr. H. even had the worst not winning experience as he came in 4th in his age group.

The swag for the race was a super comfy hooded sweatshirt that I can not wait to spend the rest of the weekend in. Next race up: Possibly the Jingle Bell Run with my mom who has been doing the Beginning Running program with CARA. Or I may just spectate and cheer. So if not that, it will be the F3 Lake Half Marathon, which may just be warmer than the Turkey Chase was.

edited to add: Sister's race recap, with 50% more wine: Turkey Chase 8K

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo

So I like to sign up for things...seriously, sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me. So, on a whim, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, which starts on November 1. The good news is that I am going to use the Run Away from the Crazy, which I started writing so many moons ago on this blog as my starting point. The bad news, if I'm actually going to do this, is I need to figure out what the F I'm going to write about on top of what I already have. In the end I'm supposed to have 50,000 words. I currently have 2,135 words. However, I have no outline and just the beginning of character development. On top of that, here is a list of the other shit I have do in November:

  • 1/2 marathon training is beginning so I need to get back on the track with running several days a week
  • Surviving (hopefully) whatever it is that is going to happen at my company next week and then probably communicating about it to everyone else within the company
  • Thanksgiving - enough said right?
  • Continuing to take care of a 3-year old that is completely selfish and does not think of others ever
So, with that, I am off to figure out some sort of outline or something so that on Friday I have some sort of plan to do this.

I can do this right?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rosehill Cemetary Crypt 5k

I started a 5k speed program which may or may not be helping much (more on that later), that culminates in a 5k race in October. I'm going to do the Pumpkins in the Park on October 26. The training calls for a race mid way through the schedule, and the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5k seems like a good one because it fits the schedule, it's close to home, it's at night in the dark in a cemetery. What could be more fun?

Mr. H. and I decide that it's easiest to just ride our bikes up there. And yep, straight up Damen, over to Ravenswood and we're there. The run is in its second year and had a few hiccups last year as I heard from others who had run the race - it started late and the course wasn't as well lit as it could have been. They seemed to fix those things this year, but, if you're listening Special Events Management, bike parking would have been great. You could have easily set up a couple of bike racks under the Metra tracks and we would have been golden. But no worry, a handy street sign provided our bikes the security we needed.

Since I read the reviews of the run from last year, and could tell that there would be a lot of walkers, Mr. H. and I set up ourselves near the start, outfitted ourselves with glow bracelets and necklaces and a headlamp for me (Mr. H's didn't work) and waited for the start. As I said, it started right on time with little fan fair, which was fine with me, and the course was very well marked with cute little tea lights. It was easy for me not to lose my way as all I had to do was follow the stream of people running in front of me since pretty much everyone had something on that glowed. I guess if you were out front you had a bit harder time as Mr. H. said he and another runner almost took a wrong turn. But other than that, it was a lot of fun running a different, very twisty turny path in the dark (through a cemetery).


Unfortunately, I went out a little too fast and so slowed way down my second and third miles. And here's where my speed training may or may not be helping. According to my watch I finished in 31:14 running an average 9'48" pace. Not too bad, not as fast as I wanted to go, but OK. However, the official results have me finishing at at 34 minutes/11'04" pace . So either my watch is way wrong or something went wrong with the chip. I've emailed to see if anyone else reported problems with the timing.

But, the good news, at least for Mr. H., is that despite feeling like he is actually the slowest thing on two legs, and his almost wrong turn, he finished in 8th place overall, 1st in his age group.

Update: I emailed ChronoTrack and they sent me a link with what was a more accurate result. My time is officially 31:10; 10'02" pace. Again, not as fast as I wanted to go, but much closer to what my watch said. Thanks to ChronoTrack for getting back to me so quickly.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Win a FREE entry to the Chicago Half Marathon, Field Trips, CARA member runs

So this is a bit of a mash up of a blog post covering three things:

One

Chicago Running Bloggers: Win a FREE entry to the Chicago Half Marathon!: The 17th annual Chicago Half Marathon is coming this Sunday, September 8. And YOU have the chance to run it for free! ... so says the Chicago Running Bloggers page. So one of the ways I (and you) can qualify to win the entry is to post on your blog. So there you go. That's what I'm doing. Even if I don't win this entry, I'll probably still run the race as this is the half marathon Mr. H. and I identified as our fall race, but if I win a free entry, even better.

Two 

I'm missing my son's first field trip. He was pretty excited leaving the house in his tie-dyed shirt that all the kids made at school and wear on their field trips. I feel bad about missing it, but I know there will be many many chances in the future for further field trips. I think if I make one a year then I'll be good and not feel like a complete failure as a mother. Of course, I didn't get a picture of him modeling his t-shirt, which he thought was really cool and he had an ever so slight temp when he went to school this morning but other wise was in totally fine spirits so I probably am actually the worst mother in the world anyway. Or at least in the running.

Three

And back to actual running, how's that for a segue, last night Mr. H. participated in his first CARA run as an employees. It was the June Member Appreciation Fun run. Baby H. and I tagged along and had dinner and then played at the near by park while Mr. H. and the members ran. It was fun and I'm looking forward to joining them next month if we can figure out a way to (a) have someone watch Baby H. during the run or (b) get our jogger to wherever the run is. I probably should officially become a CARA member - you know, support my husband and all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Run for Boston 5k - and other stuff



I have to get better about blogging the day of my races, but honestly, these last few days have been so busy, I've barely had time to sit down and do anything, much less write. 

So, on Saturday, my sister and I went out to Libertyville to run the Run for Boston 5k. The race was was a partnership between the Chicago Running Bloggers community and Muddy Monk Trail Running. I thought this might actually be a Muddy Monk type trail race, but my sister assured me it would not. I wasn't too thrilled about getting up and driving an hour north of the city, but it was early and there was little traffic, so it didn't take us that long.

Even though that photo looks a little drab and cloudy, it actually was pretty nice weather for running. It was drizzly  but not full out raining. And it was warm. The thing about running in the rain is you never feel over heated - which is nice.

Somehow I ran a 8:44 first mile. I knew I was running fast because I could see my sister pretty much the entire way. She usually smiles, says "have a nice run" and then I don't see her till the finish line. I slowed down for the second and third mile, figuring if I kept my pace somewhere around 9:30s for both of those miles, I'd still beat my fastest 5k time by quite a bit. And I did - or would have - but unfortunately, the course ran slightly short of 3.1 miles. I crossed the finish line at 27:18 having run 2.9 miles. So even though I didn't have my fastest 5k ever, I still did almost 3 miles running an average pace of 9:08 - which I am very happy about. The course even had a few hills, so that makes me even happier.

After the race there was plenty of food including hot pizza and snacks and 312 beer. We even got a water bottle as part of the post race goodies, which is great since I really need a new water bottle considering all the cycling I've been doing lately. As you know I was the happy recipient of a new road bike for Mother's Day. The primary reason I wanted one was because I foolishly signed up to do the RAIN (that's Ride Across INdiana ride) with my dad and my sister's boyfriend. That's 160 miles on a bike in one day. I am going to be optimistic and say somehow I will dig deep inside and figure out a way to peddle the full distance, but I also wouldn't be surprised if I hopped in the sag wagon a few of those miles. Really, anything over 100 miles is going to be a pretty big accomplishment considering the level of training my butt has. I did go out for a 40 mile ride yesterday and I've already put over 80 miles on my bike, so it's not like I'm sitting around doing nothing. 

All in all, this past few days has been a good few days of running and cycling. Throw in an early morning run with Sara today, and I'm ready for a rest. But I think I promised someone else I'd do an early morning bike ride tomorrow, so that rest may have to wait until another day.




Friday, May 31, 2013

Commuting

So this is a bitchy post about how much commuting sucks sometimes. I'm whining and I know it - which probably doesn't make it better, it just makes it more pathetic that I'm going to continue to do it anyway.

Today there was a fire on the Blue line. Normally this wouldn't be an issue for me as I usually take the Metra downtown. But today I decided to ride with my husband who works, for the time being, in Wicker Park and then take the Blue line to my office. The nice thing about this is (a) the walk is shorter from the train to my office and (b) I can go to the good Starbucks and not the annoying Starbucks. But just as we were getting to Mr. H's office the radio tells us about said fire and no trains are moving. Great. So now I and every other person along Milwaukee Ave. are stuck trying to (a) get into a cab or (b) get on a bus. Both of which are hopelessly hopeless. Eventually I lost all patience and decided to drive the rest of the way. It probably didn't get me to work any quicker, but at least I was in control.

While I was cursing my decision to not take the Metra downtown I'm watching all the cyclists and walkers (who I am assuming had given up on a boardable bus coming anytime soon), thinking - yep, I should just ride my bike to work. Of course, the minute I do that, I'll get a flat tire or something. See, I'm just in a negative mood.

I do want to start riding my bike to work, but I also want to stay safe. I know first hand two people who have had pretty bad accidents involving cars, one of whom I work with who lives a few blocks from me so took the same route I would be taking. Other than riding slow and being hyper aware, I don't know how to minimize my risk. And cars aren't the only obstacles on the road. The roads themselves can be an issue, though the entire route I would take is marked bike lanes or shared lanes. However, because of this, especially closer to downtown, there are a lot of other cyclists, many of whom don't follow the rules of the road. In some way, you're safer in numbers. In other ways you're not.

Most days, regardless of what way I decide to take to work - and I do realize how lucky I am that I have multiple ways to get to work - it's easy and hassle free. But biking to work does have the element of control that I like coupled with being free/exercise/good for the environment. Really it's a win-win - that is if I can stay safe.

Do you ride to work? What are your tactics for staying safe? If you don't ride to work, how to you stay zen when the train/bus/traffic just isn't going your way?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bike the Drive

Having just purchased a shiny new bike for mother's day, and at the urging of my sister who had signed up for Bike the Drive, I decided that a wonderful family event would be to get out of bed, plop ourselves on our bikes after stuffing Baby H. in the bike trailer and then head on down to Lake Shore Drive and pretend how great it would be to commute to work on a bike if there were no cars on the road.

Well, Baby H. didn't want to go at first, it wasn't as warm as a Memorial Day should be and my sister partied just a little too hard the previous night. Also, as I was the one pulling Baby H. in the trailer and I knew I wouldn't be going that fast anyway, I used the old bike instead of the new one. But, even with all that, it really was a great ride.

We got on going south at Montrose and headed down to  Madison. At that point we traded text's with some friends who had already ridden south to southern most point of the ride, the Museum of Science and Industry. They were heading back our way and since they were a bit speedier than us, I knew they'd catch up with us. 

So we moved the trailer to Mr. H's bike so he could see what it was like to lug around an extra 50 pounds and headed back north. Our friends caught up to us around Montrose. We headed up to the turn around at Bryn Mawr and then we rode back to Montrose. In all it was a great drive. The forecast rain stayed away and it was actually sunny. Baby H. loved the trailer and we all loved the image of nothing but bikes on Lake Shore Drive.

Friday, May 24, 2013

JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge

Before I even started this race, I told myself this was the last time I was going to run it. This year was the fourth time I've participated in this race, three times with my current company and once with my previous company. And the years I haven't run I've been on the planning committee and attended the race with the exception of the year my son was born who's birthday, happens to be today. With more than 25,000 people participating, it's a crowded field. But in the years since I started running this, they've made a lot of improvements.

The first year I ran I think you self reported your time and it was supposed to be based off of the official clock. Then they started actually chipping the run. The last couple of years they have started the run in waves, which makes sense with this many people. But this year there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for what wave you were placed in. When you register they ask for your projected finishing time. I put a solid 10 min pace, so 35 minutes - for some reason this isn't a 5k, it's a five and half mile run. I know I can run faster than that, but figured I'd give myself a little leeway. I finished in 35:55, and I would have easily finished under 35 minutes had I not spent the first two miles running around all the walkers. 

I know it's hard to make people line up to where they are seeded. But I also passed many people who were walking that started in the waves before me. And with that many people, it's just too hard to actually race when you're weaving around people for the entire race.

My mood also wasn't helped by the weather - cold and windy. A change in the course route this year had us under lower Columbus and Wacker for a good portion of the run, so that was actually pretty nice. However, had it been warm, might have made it hotter.

In the end, it was just another weekday run. The t-shirts this year were technical shirts, so I actually took one. It's always amazing how many Corporate Challenge shirts from previous years you can find at a Salvation Army at any given time. 

In other news, as I mentioned, it is Baby H's third birthday today. I can't believe it has been three years already. It seems like yesterday that he was just tiny. Actually, it doesn't. It has been an amazing and wonderful three years, and I am looking forward to more and more wonderful days ahead.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10K

Yesterday Mr. H. and I competed in the Chicago Spring Half Marathon & 10k - he did the half and I ran the 10k.

It was a nice day for a run, sunny and not too hot with a bit of a breeze off of the lake. True to form, I wasn't as prepared for this race as I wanted to be. But I have started running a couple of mornings a week with a friend, so I am hoping that this will keep me more motivated to run more often and more regularly.

Kinda like  the C4, all I wanted to do was to go out and run and have a good time. And that's what I did. It's been since marathon training that I've been this far South on the lake path and it was a nice change of scenery. It was pretty easy for me to get into a groove and I was keeping my pace around 9:40 min miles. Because of this, I did actually manage to best my 10K record by about four minutes, so that was good too.

Because the course was an in and out and because the half marathon left about half an hour before the 10k, I knew I'd have some half marathoners passing me before the end. I fully expected Mr. H. to be one of those. But I had the great pleasure of beating him to the finish line by about four minutes, even if he ran more than twice my distance.

But the greatest part of the day was watching my son run the 50 yard dash with his Nana. That's him running rogue in the stripped shirt (I tried everything I could to enter him properly but couldn't find anyone who would take my money.).

This weekend seemed a blur because after the run we went and picked up my wonderful mother's day present from the bike store. And then after a nap that didn't really happen,we hung out in the back yard with friends and finally attached the bike trailer to my other bike and baby H. and I did a few laps around the block in preparation for Bike the Drive next weekend. Couple that with my brother's college graduation the day before (whoo hoo), and a lot of rocket knitting, it was a busy weekend.

Sometimes I long for the summer lazy days where we have nothing to do. But now that Baby H. isn't so much a baby anymore, it seems there's a never ending stream of stuff that we need to get out and do. I'm just glad that running and biking are included in the "stuff we need to do this weekend."

Note: I'm going to have to get better updating my blog, at least after races, because I've been added to the list of Chicago Running Bloggers! You can go there to check out all the other great Chicago bloggers who write about the myriad of races we have in our great city.


Friday, May 17, 2013

What Running Means to Me

The Run for Boston 5k blog has recently been running a series of "What Running Means to Me" guest posts. It's a great way to learn about all the other runners out there and why they run. They graciously ran my post today. Click here to check it out: http://runforboston5k.com/what-running-means-to-me-melanie-for-mellys-musings/.

While you're there, you can sign up for the Run for Boston 5K on June 15 or you can sign up to run it virtually. They're also looking for volunteers. All proceeds from the run will benefit the Who Says I Can’t Foundation and directly to support the rehabilitation of those who lost limbs as a result of the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

C4 Miles

Having done zero runs since Sunday, run a race the previous weekend and only just signed up for this race the day before, I wasn't out to accomplish anything by running the C4 Miles other than support my knitting friend Amy and her organization.

Mr. H. and I had to coordinate him running an 11-miles and then meeting at the race site so he could watch Baby H. and my niece while my sister and I ran the race. It worked out perfectly and the slightly sunny, not too warm 10 a.m. start meant we didn't have to get out of bed too early and the weather was perfect. I went into this race with the mind set of just going for a nice four-mile jog. And that's exactly what I did. I ran with another knitter friend, Liz, and we chatted along the path about running, the book we're reading for book club and how good the food at the cafe smelled.

Unfortunately the food smells distracted Liz and she got tripped up, hitting the deck. The good news is, she aimed for the grass and only suffered a couple of minor scrapes and we were able to get back up and running again pretty quickly. The nice thing about this run is that it's such a small run; there were only 111 runners and some walkers completing a two mile out and back loop. Because of this, you're able to get into a nice pace easily without having to contend with a bunch of other people. The not nice thing about this run is that the four miles is on the same out and back loop as the walkers (just longer obviously , so you're pretty much dodging walkers along the last mile and. The other issue is that it starts on the path at Cannon and Fullerton, but then veers off the path and onto sidewalk around the Waveland Park softball fields. The side walks anywhere in this city can be treacherous  and this was no exception. I suspect uneven paving, not actually the yummy smells of food, is what tripped Liz up. But like I said, she wasn't badly hurt so we walked for a few seconds and then were back to running.

Amazingly, even with this slight bump in my pace, I managed to finish 2nd in my age group. It helped that there were only four women in my age group running. And had our slight slow down not happened, I may have actually won my age group. But at the end of the day, that wasn't what I went out to do this run for. I went to have a good time, hang out with some friends and family (sister placed 1st in her age group - again!) and support a great organization. And that's what I did.

Stats:
Distance: 4 miles; Time: 39:27; Pace: 9:42; L1-9:21; L2-9:58; L3-10:24; L4-9:15
Finished 55/111; 2/4 in age group

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ravenswood Run

I did the Ravenswood 5k again this year. I finished in 28:32 (that's 11 seconds faster than last year and now my 5k PR). So fast in fact that I must have given the photographer the slip because I didn't appear in any of the pictures from the race. Normally I at least get the behind a guy with a mustache picture as I did in the Turkey Trot. But no. This time I got nothing.

Maybe it's because, other than the marathon, I have never once ordered pictures from a race. I look at them. I make fun of them because I usually look like I'm walking, or I am partially obscured by a mustachioed guy in front of me, but I never actually order prints. The photographer can sense this so doesn't waste his time. Of course, Mr. H. gets a great photo. He looks like he should be on the cover of Runner's World. He never orders pictures either. But clearly the photographers feel like his running is poetry in motion and they are compelled to capture it on film.

I, on the other hand, when I do manage to show up in race photos, look like the chick making a face wearing a weird hat and a huge race shirt that covers her shorts.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy spring time

The Easter Bunny just visited our house and brought baby H. an Easter egg straight from England. It was a Smarties Hen House that Mr. H. purchased from the local English imports store of course. 

Baby H. was very excited and happy that the Easter Bunny brought them something, especially since in this household, celebrating Easter just means you get some chocolate and doesn't mean you have to get dressed up and go to church. 

And it certainly doesn't mean that you have to go sit on some work release inmate wearing a terrifying costume. Seriously, how do we not grow up with complexes when our parents do this kind of shit to us? Of course, I actually look like I'm fine with what's happening in this picture. Probably because by this time, I'm 5 in this picture if that '79 indicates the year, I figure that it really can't get any worse.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

There is no such thing as too much Star Wars

Last night Mr. H. and I were lying in bed watching a bit of Star Wars (A New Hope natch) before going to sleep. We do this pretty much every night, watch a 15 - 20 minutes of a movie before going to sleep. It's how we unwind, end the day. We rotate through our favorite movies, sometimes putting a new one into the mix. SW is of course a perennial favorite. A fall back when nothing else works.

Anyway, we've both seen Star Wars too many times to count. And you know when you've seen something so many times that you think there can't possibly be any other thing that you could notice? Well something happens then and you start to look at it in a whole new light. This happened to us last night. We're lying there watching Star Wars and we're at the part where the boys are rescuing Princess Leia from the Death Star. And so I'm asking questions about what all goes into the stormtroopers outfit/costume/gear - oh, it's called armor? It looks plastic, but whatever.

I mean, first there's that box on the back with the circle and bars. What's that about? Mr. H. said it was probably their cooling/heating system. Like those things have built in temperature control or something. So I say, but they're molded plastic. No, apparently that's the shape of the components underneath. Oh whatever. Then I notice that round tube that's on the back of the belt. It's like a little round fanny pack. What the hell is that? Snacks (when you have a toddler, snacks are a constant thought) and spare change. We decide it's the Empire's version of a fanny pack.

Later, after Luke and Han have changed back into their regular clothes, I notice (seemingly for the first time) that they are both still wearing the belts from the stormtrooper armor. How I never noticed this I do not know. I always thought that grappling hook was on Luke's belt. What on Tatooine does a stormtrooper need with a grappling hook? And can you imagine the conversation Luke and Han had when deciding to keep the belt (but not the fanny pack). Luke was all: But look, there's a grappling hook. And Han was all: What on Alderaan are you going to use that for? And Chewie was all: You gonna eat those snacks?

And seriously, how stupid are those stormtroopers. It seemed (and I realize we didn't know this when we all first saw Star Wars - but we do now, so we can't ignore it) that those Kaminoans (btw - this is a word I can not pronounce when reading, but my almost 3 year old can) were teaching the clones how to shoot and fight and think and what not. They may not have been the brightest bulbs, but seriously "The door's locked. Move on to the next one?" You can't just blast open a door to make sure that the droids you are looking for are behind it? And later, when yet once again, the droids you are looking for come up with a lame ass excuse to get away ("All this excitement has overrun the circuits of my counterpart here. If you don't mind, I'd like to take him down to maintenance.), sure just let them go. No we're not looking for a tall gold droid and a little blue R2 unit right? Nope, these aren't the droids we're looking for.

Clearly after the Clone Wars, just any ole body could sign up to be a stormtrooper as long as you met the height requirement.

As we were laying in bed laughing, I remembered a French teacher I had in high school (if I asked my sister she'd remember her name, but I'm too lazy). She asked one day what everyone's favorite movie was. I said, of course, Star Wars. She laughed. She made me feel ashamed that I would say something as uncultured as Star Wars was my favorite movie. For years after that, I said Citizen Kane was my favorite movie. I did, and do, actually like that movie. And I knew that was an appropriate response to the what's your favorite movie question. Well, at least with a certain type of crowd. But as much as I like Citizen Kane, Mr. H. and I never pick it to be our going to bed movie (though we do own it). We need something that feels comfortable, like a warm blanket and the arms of your mate, to unwind our day and send us off to sleep. Even if we've seen it so many times instead of actually watching it we're deconstructing it and laughing.
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Note  - I realize if I Google I could probably find out what those little round things on stormtrooper's belts are supposed to be and that their armor is some space aged carbon fiber or what not. But whatever, that's no where near as fun as just making shit up. I still don't understand why they can't hit anything with their blasters.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The race that wasn’t


See Rod's feet? They're that way for a reason.
What happens when you sign up for a race in the middle of winter? It means that you have to train outside when it is cold. What happens when you sign up for a long race in the middle of winter in Chicago? It means you’ll have to run many miles outside in the freezing cold. It also means that you run the risk of catching a cold and not being able to run the race and now you’ve done a bunch of cold weather runs where your nose practically fell off for naught.

I am in no way implying that I caught a cold because I went and ran outside in the cold. I realize it doesn’t work that way. I place catching of said cold squarely on Mr. H. And Mr. H. caught his cold that he so generously shared with the rest of the family (he’s a giver that one) from the play place we went to on Southport to entertain baby H. because staying in the house one more minute with a 2.5 year old just wasn’t an option.

So the cold-weather running wasn’t the culprit. However, I do think it helped heighten the chances that we could catch colds because running 12 miles taxes your immune system just a wee bit. Doing it in 20 degree weather along the lake front path in Chicago probably taxes it just a notch (or several notches) more. So despite the fact that Mr. H. and I are pretty damned healthy, and we take lots of vitamins and drink electrolytes after our runs and wear appropriate clothing and all that, our immune systems kinda took the day off and said the heck with it, and we got colds...the week before our race.

What’s even worse, these colds settled in our chest. And the conventional wisdom is that you can run with a head cold but not a chest cold. So even though Mr. H. was bound and determined to be miraculously healthy come Saturday morning at 10 a.m., he was not. And I wasn’t about to push myself either, even though, dammit, I trained for this half marathon and not running a half marathon after you trained for it really sucks.

So this post was going to be an update on my most recent race. But instead it’s a cautionary tale to all you would be cold-weather runners out there not to f’ing bother. You’re just going to get sick and then where will you be? You’ll have shelled out money to run a race in January that you can’t run without risking the loss of a lung or passing out somewhere around mile 8. Not to mention all the money you’ll save on cold weather running clothes (tights, jackets, hats, gloves, thermal underwear for Christ’s sake!). So just stay inside slowly going crazy with your husband and your 2-year old until March or April or May – this is Chicago after all.

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