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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yearning for the long run

These days have been hard- very hard. I'd been on a layoff from running for over seven days until yesterday (Monday) due to some rather nagging pain in my left knee. It wouldn't be so hard to take a rest, but I DO have a half marathon to do in less than two weeks. This only complicates things.

There is the problem of needing to get on a treadmill to run to risk further injury, or running in 12F weather to aggravate the pain. I went through this last winter, and can only hope I get through it without major damage.

I did a little over 2.5 sluggish miles on the treadmill yesterday. My legs felt heavy and I was really tense, and had a little trouble relaxing. I did a walk/run routine for about 30 minutes with some minor pain, but it does feel like I'm making progress. I finished up with about 30 minutes of stretching.

I yearn to do anything over ten miles, to get in my zone, and feel that high again. I've come to love my weekend long runs- absolutely love them. I have to restrain myself from working too hard when I do run, and even to keep from getting too down on myself when I don't.

I'm no longer worried about a PR below 2:04 in the half-marathon come Feb. 8. I am going to go there and run my heart out until I can't do it anymore.

Then again, maybe I'll just finish the thing. Who knows? Either way, I want to feel that I at least tried.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Down for the count

North Ave beach pedestrian bridge, Chicago
Fighting through a foot of snow on my running route, Chicago, 1/17/09

Some of you may have noticed me hootin' and hollerin' about not being able to run for a few days now...

Here's why:

I'm afraid that I may have suffered the first major setback in my running endeavors. I'd consider 'major' as something that will keep me from serious running for a number of days, or (gasp) weeks.

I started off on my long run last Saturday (1/17) of 13 miles along Chicago's lakefront. The air temperature at 8 a.m. was +13F and rising, but with a stiff windchill of -2F and gusty at 15mph.

I started at North Ave. beach after running into a foot and a half of snow right off the bat. I initially ran south towards the wind, to have the wind at my back on my return trip. But as I neared 1.5 miles, the path was blocked due to ice jams, so I had to turn around for the next 12 miles.

I thought about my recent knee troubles as I passed my starting point, and I thought for a few seconds to stay near it in case something happened. But my confidence got the best of me and I continued back north for another 3.5 miles. Not soon after, it started. The Knee began to hurt. And then it got worse- much worse. I was wincing in pain and I knew that I had gone too far to just walk back.

You see, if I walked back now, I would loose too much heat in my body and risk hypothermia since I was so far from my end point. Even though I was dressed warmly, I had worked off enough sweat that the clothing near my skin was damp. If I didn't keep moving, I knew I'd run into serious trouble if I got too cold.

I knew at this point I should have had cab fare on me. I often do when I run in Chicago, but not this time. Plus, I was mostly on the east side of rushing Lake Shore Drive with little opportunity to get on a busy road safely to flag a cab.

So I jogged, and then walked for a few minutes until the pain in my knee subsided. Then I would jog again while keeping my hands and feet warm. It took me over 30 minutes to get back to the running store where I started, even after walking through that one foot of snow again.

But alas, I made it back safely, if a bit cold and in quite a bit of pain. I couldn't believe what had happened. I was devastated.

And now the healing begins. I've iced it, rested, and have kept from running on it for over five days now. I've been through this before, and am keeping my spirits high that I'll get through it. I just have to stay healthy.

I'm going to take it easy until Florida. I don't have high expectations of doing well in the half marathon anymore, and I'm going to run in it no matter what, unless I just can't do it.

But for me now, after what I went through, "can't" isn't an option.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Winter running doldrums

It's been cold. Really cold. And this winter season has been far worse than last year, I think. My winter running group has canceled more group runs than ever, leaving us to train on our own quite a number of times. Yes, its been that harsh.

So my running has been scattered all over the place the past few weeks- mostly since the holidays. We've had winter advisories almost every other day, and unsafe conditions have kept me on the treadmill for most of my runs except for my weekend long runs- the last big one being 12 miles on 1/3.

The treadmill has not been kind to me. I started experiencing some pain in my left knee right around the beginning of the year after hitting the treadmill pretty hard this winter. This is pretty much the same scenario as last year, with the same pain and in the same area after heavy treadmill work. The 'mill just doesn't feel natural to me at all and I'm constantly making adjustments to my stride to combat the awkwardness I feel on it. I've since made a few adjustments to feel more comfortable, but I'm just naturally a pavement runner, I guess.

I've resorted to doing no more than 3 to 5 miles on the treadmill during the week, even though my schedule calls for between 5 to 8. I've been taking every opportunity nature can give me to get out on the streets to keep from aggravating the knee further. Otherwise, I've been aggressively icing it on my rest days, and concentrating on my stretching and strength training routines.

This weekend will be my groups last training run before they head to the Bermuda Half-marathon, and I head to Florida for my half in February. I'll be doing a simulated 13.1 mile half-marathon Saturday, with a goal of finishing pretty close to the two hour mark if not under.

The temperatures will be going up into the 20's, which is ideal for me, although some snow is expected overnight tonight (Friday).

I don't care. I'm really itching to get out on that pavement, and can run through any kind of weather at this point.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Museum Days


This past weekend I visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago with my friend Katie. It's been forever since I visited any kind of museum, and I was looking forward to this personal favorite of mine. All through January, many of Chicago's museums are celebrating Free Museum Days, so it was the best time to go!

A big part of the museum was just as I remember it. It's a shame it isn't open longer on the weekends. Since we only had around four hours to see it all, we probably barely made a dent in it. Still, it was neat to see the many different exhibits on display. My personal favorite was the Henry Crown Space Center, of course.

The day started out with snow. Lots of it. But I'll have to agree with Katie that it was still a beautiful sight to see. It pretty much snowed The city ended up with almost a foot of snow. Chilly bus stops, fogged up city buses, snow laden sidewalks, wet socks, unending falling snow, and one frozen foot later (thank you, puddle), we made it back in one piece! We ended the day having a spectacular dinner at Charlie's Ale House on Navy Pier.

After dinner we hopped on the bus back to Union Station, only to find the bus driver was not around! How nutty is that? The bus driver eventually shows up and tells us about the craving he's had all day about the popcorn he's been missing out on during his route. You see, apparently Garrets of Chicago is THE place to get your gourmet popcorn- yes- I said gourmet.

So what does he do? On the way to the station, he stops his bus in front of the Garrets store and proceeds to go inside to buy his bag of popcorn! I don't think either of us expected he'd actually STOP the bus and go inside. He did, however, give us a sample of said popcorn, and it was rather tasty. No wonder he was craving it. The whole situation was really awkward, but hilarious at the same time.

See more photos of the trip on my Flickr page here.

Next time I'll have a progress report on my running. It's been frustrating to say the least, but what can I do? It's winter after all.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Just for the record

Training log 1-6-09

I'm mostly just recording this so I have some sort of record of what I'm doing...

I started my cross training in earnest yesterday concentrating on overall strength, especially involving the core.

Even though I'm training for the half marathon in February, I'm shortening up some runs during the week to substitute those with strength training. Winter is a good time for this since running outside has been hard to come by lately.

This has been my training schedule as of late:

Mondays: Walk/Run 20-30 minutes. Lower body weights. Stretch.
Tuesday: Warmup walk/jog. Core. Stretch.
Wednesday: Tempo run, hill, or speedwork 4 to 7 miles. Stretch
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 2-4 miles. Upper body weights.
Saturday: Long run.
Sunday: Rest or walk/stretch.

Weights: (upper and lower body): Up to 9 different machines. 3 sets of 25-35 reps each.

Core: I've added about 3 different routines for a total of around 7 or 8. Pushups total 100 now (2 sets of 35 and 1 set of 30 with 60 second rest in between). Reps for other core exercises are 15 to 20. Sit up variations are 3 sets of 35-40. Planks are held for 2 minutes.

All of this is no different than what I did last winter, but the reps have increased almost two-fold along with the weight. Quite a few elements were added to the leg and core workouts, with the upper body workout staying mostly the same.

The more rigorous workouts are early in the week as far away from the long run as possible so I'm not so tired. This entire routine will take me all the way into March before the St. Louis marathon in April. With my weekly mileage going into the upper 30's in March, I'll need to tone back on the heavy cross training to save energy.

For now, I'm concentrating on my long runs and trying to do negative splits. My 12 miler this past Saturday was a great start, even clocking a speedy 8 minute mile near the end.

Let's hope it keeps up!

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

First post of 2009

Well, I'm enjoying my last few moments of freedom before returning to work on Monday after a nice, long break during the holidays. I'm looking forward to what's in store for me this year, and hopefully I'll make the best of it.

I wound up the weekend joining a friend at a birthday party for a friend of hers. It was a nice wrap up to long weekend away from the office. I played bocce for the first time. I thought the game was more complicated than it turned out to be having never played before. It's kind of a mashup of bowling, pool, and marbles. Definitely a low impact sport which was good for my sore legs!

Speaking of sore legs, I'm hoping to get some normalcy back into my running routine. The holidays sort of threw the schedule out of whack. The only sure thing have been my long runs on Saturdays, and a scattering of strength training in between. Not to mention I DO have a half marathon and full marathon to train for now! I better get to it.

Well, I hope everyone survived the holidays and are off to a good start in 2009.

I'm ready for it.

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