This is my life. Sometimes shown through the eye of my camera phone, and sometimes not. I'll talk running, gadgets, music, and whatever else I stumble on to

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Running down woolly mammoths was a bitch

I found this quote on a fellow runner's blog, which originally appeared in a Running Times magazine ad.

"If you ran without sacrifice, congratulations. You just jogged. Running hurts. It always has. Woolly mammoths didn't just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves up to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught - and running down woolly mammoths was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with a purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded and laziness will be punished. Don't expect to learn those life lessons from running's shiftless stepchild, jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trails, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal."

I fell in love with it and found it inspiring.

It goes well with what I experienced this past Saturday, and I'll remember it as the miles pile up in the weeks ahead.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

I want my mommy!

16 mile run.
Total Time: 02:48:45
Where: Chicago lakefront

About three miles longer than I'd ever run.

This was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. The heat and humidity- close to 85 deg. with 50% humidity- made it extremely tough. It got to the point around mile 12 where I actually started hallucinating, thinking the base of the light poles were drinking fountains!

I made an executive decision on Friday night to run Saturday, instead of Sunday, which seemed the cooler of the two days. I also decided to take the train instead of driving, which would have brought my start time closer to 6 a.m. instead of the blazing hot 8 a.m.

There was a Cubs game in town, a latin music festival in Grant Park, and a triathlon going on each day which made me decide to take the train, bringing me in later than I wanted.

So how did it go?

Slow. The first 8 miles into the wind was nice and the pace was easy at 9:30/minute, but as soon as I turned back north, the wind was at my back and it got really tough to stay cool. The heat and humidity really sucks the energy out of you. After mile 12, I ended up running for seven minutes, and walking for three minutes to hydrate.

Overall everything went well. I did manage to get a blister on my foot, but may haven been because my shoe got wet from all of the water I was pouring on my head. I learned quite a bit, and hope to apply it on my 20 mile run next weekend.

Twenty miles. 20, 20, 20. Two-zero.... Holy....

It still amazes me how the human body can cope with such extreme conditions given the distance I ran today. Despite some rather new, sometimes scary, and interesting experiences my body went through today, I managed to come out of it mostly unscathed. I think I'm doing something right being so new at this!

It was one hell of a challenge, and I'm super excited to have finished it despite all of the pain.

Coming up this week:
Mon: 4 miles
Tue: Cross train
Wed: 8 miles speedwork
Thur: 2 miles
Fri: rest
Sat: 20 miles

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I should know better than this!

Run log 8-18-08
Independence Grove, IL
Chicago Marathon countdown:
8 weeks (!!)

Every fourth week of my training is a recovery week. This basically means that I do little to no running for seven days to help my body recover from the prior three weeks of heavy training. At times I don't even THINK about training and instead do other things like work around the house, fishing, and sit on my butt somewhere (beach!).

Last week was a recovery week, which just so happened to come immediately after my half-marathon on 8-12. Perfect.

So when it comes down to starting back up after a rest, it takes my brain a day or two to get back into the groove, which explains the rather dumb mistakes I did this past Monday during my 8 mile run:

1. Don't open your big mouth so wide when breathing.

I ate a bug today. I've had bugs hit me in the head before, but none ever went in my mouth. It was a little bug, but it was enough for me to try and cough it out and caused a bit of irritation in my throat while I was breathing. It pretty much bugged me all the way through (pun intended).

2. No Power Gels unless you're running 10 miles and over.

I took a Power Gel at mile 5 of 8, which I never do. I'm not sure why I ate it, but it was just there in my pocket. I didn't really need it, and ended up paying for it with an upset stomach and a bit of a headache after. I guess it didn't have enough time to process in my system and it stuck around for a while.

3. Take in fluids less frequently.

I hydrated well all day, yet I was still grabbing for fluids every 5 to 10 minutes for about an hour. I should be taking fluids every 10 to 15 minutes depending on how hot it is. I think this contributed to my upset tummy after the run.

4. Just relax.

I tend to get all tensed up after a few days off which contributes to a pace that's all over the place. I'll have to put a few more easy songs on the iPod to chill out to.

Here's my training schedule for the next few days:

Wed: 7 miles
Thur: rest
Fri: rest
Sat: 16 miles
Total miles for week: 31

Saturday's run will be my longest ever and am a bit nervous about it...

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

North Ave. Beach, Chicago.

North Ave. Beach, Chicago.
Originally uploaded by automatic_man2

Almost paradise.


Sent with a Sprint Palm Centro Smartphone

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Was CDC course too long?

Go figure.

According to this article in posted Tuesday, race organizer John Bingham has acknowledged the mistake and apologized to the runners. The official website confirms it

I knew something was fishy after taking a closer look at my mile splits on my GPS. After mile 7, I started to notice that the miles were clocking in almost .2 to .3 tenths over what they should be. I didn't think much of it at the time, but the article confirms the course was 0.1668 miles too long.

It doesn't look like it affects my official finish time, though. Perhaps my GPS time of 01:56:15 was right after all?

I'm just getting over being sore from Sunday, so I've been taking it easy this week with just a 7 mile run planned for Saturday. This is a good thing considering I've got the following long runs scheduled:

Aug. 23: 17 miles
Aug. 30: 20 miles
Sept. 6: 16 miles


Despite not knowing what to expect on these long runs, I simply cannot wait to get started on them!

I've been watching the Olympics all week with a new appreciation for what these athletes have to go through to get where they are now- the training, the pain, the dedication... it really puts a whole new perspective on it and makes watching the games a bit more enjoyable.

That's it for now. The end of summer is right around the corner, so I have to hit the beach this weekend!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Race Report: CDC 8-10-08


Chicago Distance Classic
Date: 8-10-08
Start: 6:30 a.m.
Location: Chicago lakefront
Miles: 13.1
Official time: 2:01:54

Ok, here we go. Grab a cup of coffee....

Wow. What a great race. Although my official chip time isn't under my goal of a sub 2:00 hours (close though!), I'm still very happy with it considering I've never done anything like this in my life. I had an incredible time, and it was some kind of an experience.

Overall, everything went perfect. I got there on time, stretched, and my legs felt fresh the whole way through. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the crowds were great.

Pre-race: I got freakin' nervous. I was fine about 30 minutes before the race, but once I got in line, I had no idea what to expect. The feeling is WAY different that doing a small 5K race. You have to respect the 13.1 mile distance. If you don't, and start out too fast, it's over.

The start: Due to the sheer number of registered runners, the race organizers decided to do a wave start. The best way I can describe a wave start is like waiting in line for a roller coaster. You can see the trains go ahead of you, and you wait in anticipation for your car to be next. Once it starts to roll, you get all shaky and feel the adrenaline rush. Off I go around 6:40 a.m. in the 3rd wave.

Miles 1-3: I spend some time trying to find my groove averaging about a 9:15 mile. There are a lot of obstacles on the route- pylons, curbs, grass medians, and trees! At one point, the route took us inside of McCromick Place. I think it was some sort of pedestrian concourse. It was dark and I had to remove my sunglasses for fear of falling into a pothole and face-planting it.

Miles 3-5: The field is still really crowded, but the road is wider and I find a good rhythm at a 9:00 mile pace. The legs are feeling great and I spend the time listening to a couple of runners talking about how great their boyfriends are.

Miles 6-7: Coming up on some crazy hairpin turns. The route gets really narrow- only 3 people wide at times. Runners get really bunched up and are nearly shoulder to shoulder. I'm still feeling really good and I start to take it one mile at a time. Seeing the mile signs at this point is a bit intimidating considering I'm only half way done.

Miles 8-10: I've only stopped by the fluid stations to pour water on my head. The sun is really making it warm, but after making the turn back north, the cool wind off the lake was invigorating. The route brought us really close to the crashing waves along the shoreline, and the mist was a welcome relief. The view of the Chicago skyline from here was simply breathtaking. Still feeling surprisingly good, and I bring the mile splits to 8:45 a minute.

It still surprises me how runners can keep up a conversation this deep into the race just as I'm huffing and puffing to stay on pace. Conversations between runners ranged from how to bake a chocolate cake, to a couple who were arguing on the course because her boyfriend ran ahead and left her behind!

Miles 11-12
: I'm starting to pass a lot of the runners that passed me in the early miles, which made me feel great! I feel good enough to bring my mile splits close to 8 minutes now, and still feeling amazing. The route is familiar now, as it's the same route I've trained on for many weeks taking me through the museum campus. Mile 12 is the furthest I've run in training, and I can hear the finish line crowd just around the corner. This made me fire up the after burners and I think I was averaging a 7 minute mile at this point. I can feel the pain now, but the end is near and I'm too zoned on finishing strong to care.

The finish: I let loose and just ran as fast as I could! The pain I'm feeling is numbed by the adrenaline and the cheering crowds at the finish. It was so incredible, and I take it all in. I struggle to find my legs which I left back at mile 11, I think, and grab my medal.

It's hard to describe what I'm feeling at this point. I've trained so hard, and I never would of imagined I could accomplish something like this even a year ago. It's almost like I wish I would of kept going, but my legs weren't having it! The feeling was bliss- incredible.

So that's it! The training only gets more intense from here on in as I prepare for the Chicago Marathon in October. As always, I've learned a few lessons that I can apply to my training to get even faster. The good thing is is that I'm loving every minute of it, and can't wait for 26.2.

Thanks to those of you offered me some great advice on this race, my family and friends for coming to see me finish, and you for reading!

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Chicago Distance Classic half-marathon. Done.

Chicago Distance Classic half-marathon. Done.
Chicago Distance Classic half-marathon. Done.
Originally uploaded by automatic_man2

Wow. Amazing. Wonderful. And to top it all off...

My unofficial GPS time is 01:56:15. A sub-two hour half!

More soon.

Now where are those legs of mine?...


Sent with a Sprint Palm Centro Smartphone

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Big Race Tomorrow!

Well, it's here.

My big race is tomorrow- all 13.1 miles of it. I'm getting a little nervous, but am trying to relax as much as I can today. I'm fairly satisfied with my training up to now, so it's all or nothing.

The weather is turning out to be perfect- not blazing hot and humid. Thank goodness!

I have three goals for tomorrow:

1. Finish to qualify for one of the Chicago Marathon start corrals (finish in 1:50 max).
2. Finish in under 2 hours.
3. Just finish and love every minute!

My only recent concern was needing to replace a broken hydration bottle, but I managed to find one at the race expo today, which made me happy.

I'll be starting in wave 2 about 2 to 5 minutes after 6:30 a.m. near the "2:00" yellow pace sign, and wearing bib #261.

The rest of today will be spent relaxing with a nice dinner before heading to bed early since I have to wake up around 3 a.m. for the drive to the city!

See you all on the flip side.

Wish me luck!

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Chicago Distance Classic race bib

Chicago Distance Classic race bib
Originally uploaded by automatic_man2


They even put your name on it.

Nice low number considering I registered really early.


Sent with a Sprint Palm Centro Smartphone

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My Running: Lessons Learned

Three days to go!

It's Thursday, and I'm not as freaked out about Sunday as I was in my previous post. In fact, I'm surprisingly calm- for now anyway. During this down time, I can't help but to reminisce about lessons learned in my training and what it's taken to get where I am now:

The 1st mile June 2007: I hadn't run in over 25 years. I put the running shoes on and went around the block. I remember it being the middle of a warm day, but I didn't make it and walked the rest of the way. I knew it was going to be a very, very long road.

Starting slow: I remember the first weeks of my training schedule back in June of 2007- Two minutes of running, three minutes of walking for a total of 30 minutes. I did this for 6 weeks before moving to one minute walks, 4 minutes running for another 4 weeks. Running for 30 minutes straight didn't come until August as I prepared for my first race.

The pain: I hurt. Badly. For nearly three straight months of actually working out instead of sitting on my ass, my whole body wasn't having it. I struggled to move forward.

I can touch my toes when I stretch!!: As silly as it sounds, this was HUGE for me. I started a very strict stretching regiment early on to get my flexibility back. I credit it for keeping me free of serious injury. I do my stretching routine religiously these days.

The knees, oh my poor knees:
Since most of my early training days were spent on the treadmill, I blame it for two of my more serious injuries that kept me off of running for weeks. The solution? Raise the incline 2% to simulate road running. Ta da! I still prefer running on pavement these days.

My arms, lower back, and shoulders are constantly sore after a good run:
Winter brought on the strength training to work for a solid core and upper body that would support me during my longer runs later on. I don't think I could have gotten through two hours of straight running without this. My strength training regiment is now a regular part of my life three times a week.

The road races:
My first ever 5K race was one of my more memorable experiences. I even surprised myself with a decent finish time. The races keep me motivated, and love to run them even if I never win a medal.

Keeping Sane: The year 2007 was very rough on me emotionally in my personal life. Sinking into a depression was a constant danger, as were sleepless nights. Just as music saved me many years ago, running saved me again.

Live a healthy lifestyle: No more fast food, cut the soda pop from the diet, milk does a body good, take a daily vitamin, free from serious illness, drink loads of water daily, cut way down on the alcohol, breakfast/lunch/dinner, keep the weight stable, and sleeping like a log have all come from running.

There are tons more, but these stand out the most.

No more running until Sunday except for a few warmups here and there. Just going to try and relax as much as possible!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Is this how you're supposed to feel...?

...perhaps... but I keep replaying this Sunday's race in my head. I mean, I've done smaller races to prepare me for this one, but it feeeels different. I kind of wish I wouldn't of missed Rockford so that I have the experience under my belt, but then again I'm glad I'm doing it in Chicago.

What do I do if this happens? and that... and this.. and that... like what happens if I start out too fast and don't have the gas to finish? Is this what other marathon newbies go through?

I keep telling myself to rely on my months of training. Don't do ANYTHING different and it will feel like another training run except with 10,000 other people. Heck, I've run 12 miles already, what's another 1.1 miles?

But I think the butterflies are starting to flutter in my tummy.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

And now I rest

Saturday's 11 mile run is done. I started out at Monroe and Lake Shore drive, headed south past the museum campus, and past Soldier Field with my turnaround 5.5 miles later near 47th st.

On my way back, I had a little fun with my last mile as a runner passed me as she was just 10 seconds or so faster than I was going at the time. I settled in just behind her for a good 5 to 7 minutes at about an 8:30 pace. I was feeling really good even after 10 miles and was able to keep it at a good clip.

Just before my finish point, I turned it way up and passed her before finishing really strong. I guess it was just a little psychological practice day fun as I pictured myself passing another runner at the finish line this Sunday.

I'll be taking it easy this week with just a couple of 3 to 5 mile runs to stay loose early in the week, and then rest up Friday and Saturday. I don't think it's hit me yet that I'll be doing the longest run of my life to date at 13.1 miles.

I have to plan where I'm going to have my pre-race dinner on Saturday night. I'm thinking pasta or a good steak... anyone want to join me? :)

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