Wrapping up 2017 – better late than never

25 07 2018

The second half of 2017 was a weird time.  I ran too many long slow endurance races and didn’t focus enough on speed.  Social and political unrest in the States made for a lot of unhappy complainers everywhere.  The weather was relentlessly hot, in fact the third-hottest year on record according to NOAA.  And all of those things were just a prelude to the worst flu season I’ve ever encountered in my 16 years of working in health care.  To say it simply, 2017 ended up pretty much sucking for a lot of different reasons.  My final half-marathon of the year was no exception.

I ran the Crazy Horse half marathon in Hill City SD on Crazy Horse temperaturea blustery cold day in a summer town that was closed for the winter.  The entirety of the experience was one of disappointment.  It started with my booking at the host hotel, The Lodge at Palmer Gulch, which is advertised as a tourist haven with barbecue and steak and beer and all sorts of entertainment for the whole family.  Silly me, I should have checked to see when they closed for the season!  After a summer of reading and planning and thinking about all the fun I was going to have and meals I was going to eat and ice cold pints of beer I was going to drink, I arrived to find the place deserted and barren.  Yes, it was the host hotel for the race but that is absolutely all it was.  No food.  No drinks. No fun.  They had closed down everything but the rooms the week before.  And if you look at the screenshot from my phone, you also see “No Service” — which means no GPS directions anywhere either.  Fortunately, they did have a breakfast buffet and there was a biker bar/grill nearby so I never starved to death (nor died of thirst since the attached convenience store sold water, beer and juice).  The herds of deer that took over the parking lot and playground at the lodge were actually quite beautiful as well.  So as much as I was let down, I was also sort of amused by the Twilight Zone-ish ambiance of the place.

Crazy Horse logoRace day was frigid and windy and my iPod died.  It played half of one song and then ground to a halt despite having a full charge.  Silly me again, I didn’t download music to my phone as a backup!  And with no signal, I was not able to do so.  Therefore, I ran the race (doing a lot more walking than usual) with no music to spur me on when I was tired but the never-ending conversation of the two chicks closely trailing me to keep me annoyed.

Crazy Horse monumentThe Crazy Horse Monument itself is beautiful.  Large and imposing, it represents a grandiose dream with its continuing fulfillment as well as being a symbol of recognition and respect for The People who were here before my people were here (both sides, the Africans and the Europeans).

Results

Crazy Horse finish pic

The snow that fell for much of the race eventually turned to rain as the temperature climbed to about 44 degrees, and well over three hours later I finished a soggy, tired and disheartened mess.  I headed back to the lodge and cleaned myself up enough to take the obligatory “happy medal photo” that is every runner’s post race tradition.  Then I headed back toward home after a ride past Mount Rushmore to see the famous faces carved upon it (because you have to pay to get any closer than the highway or the parking lot).  Dare I say that was a little disappointing too, or is this theme becoming too redundant?

The rest of the year proceeded in similar fashion, both in life and athletics.  Flu season started early and lasted long.  Work shifts were torture fests of stress and overwork for six months.  We were short-staffed, too busy and it was awful.

Forte 5k Me Running

FORTE 5k, Channahon IL

Running was equally off-kilter.  My usual “fast 5k,” the Forte 5k, was not fast this year for some odd reason, and my debut year of running the Canal Connection 10k with my running club was a cold rainy slog through too much mud on the I&M Canal.   But honestly, a major highlight of that race was finding a porta potty with my name on it!  That was a first.

Canal Connection 10k I ran the 4 mile Poultry and Pie Predictor with my club (not my fastest performance either) and then got gloriously drunk with family and friends afterwards on Thanksgiving day after eating at a restaurant.  It was actually quite a fun day and the end of my 2017 fall running season.

Poulty Pie Predictor

Soon enough, it was 2018 and the season of lackluster running was over.  The new year ushered in big changes with new events, a better frame of mind and different goals.  Unlike the four faces on Mount Rushmore, nothing in life is set in stone.  One crappy race or even an entire season of uninspiring performance does not predict anything about the future, except that better things are sure to follow if you learn the lessons your disappointments offer.

Crazy Horse rushmore

NEXT UP:
Winter-into-Spring 2018

 





Lost in the Neutral Zone?

9 04 2018

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Nope.  Just not really enthused enough to write anything.

Last year’s running season ended on a blah note.  My last half-marathon of the year was disappointing.  The weather got cold.  I got injured.  Winter took away my outdoor sports, and the worst flu season I can remember took away most of my free time because I had to work a lot more.

But six months have passed and spring is technically here although it actually snowed this morning.  However, I’ve recovered from both injuries and am looking forward to getting back outdoors more frequently to live the life I enjoy.

I’ll catch up on my races and get back to writing.

Next post will finish out 2017:
the Crazy Horse Half Marathon, a few local races, and my winter challenge of 6.2 miles once a week for 6.2 weeks to celebrate turning 62 last December.

Cheers!IMG_3356

 





Race Reports: Fetch & Pounce 5k NJ and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

1 10 2017

On September 16 and 17, I ran my 19th half-marathon and completed states number 36 and 37 in the quest to race (any distance) in all 50.  Overall, the experience was okay.  It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either.  The races would have been more fun if the temperature was cooler, and the experience would have been more enjoyable if travel back and forth had been easier as well as parking in Philly cheaper.  But I’m glad I did it, and will always remember the weekend.

I flew into Philadelphia and went straight to packet pickup on Friday, got my stuff and then headed towards North New Brunswick NJ after eating an absolutely excellent grass-fed burger at the BurgerFi across from the convention center.  The 60 mile drive in the dark that followed was an adventure in construction, poor signage, unyielding fellow drivers and wrong turns, but eventually I picked up my 5k packet and then found the hotel.

Opening my packets, I found the 5k goody bag to be among the best I have ever received because it contained mostly dog and cat products.  The Fetch & Pounce race is held to benefit the Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society, and since all of my animals are rescues I was definitely happy to support them.  The race started near a dog park and circled a lovely local nature preserve a couple of times before finishing near the field house.  I had told myself I was going to walk, but then once I got started and it was so hot and sunny out I went ahead and jogged it.  I didn’t want to run all out because I hoped to be preserving my energy for the half marathon the following day.  So my stats are unimpressive but my dogs and cats were happy to see me when I got home with gifts.

Fetch Pounce

Back in Philly, I wanted to get a cheese steak and go to see the Liberty Bell after checking in to that hotel but parking was expensive everywhere downtown and when I decided to go ahead and walk, it started raining.  So I ended up eating Chinese dim sum by the hotel instead and got to bed early.

Like all Rock ‘n’ Roll events, the Philadelphia half marathon was crowded as well as star-studded.  Galen Rupp was running and I happened to see him streak past me as I was shuffling to the start line in my corral.  Of course, I didn’t get my phone out of my sports bra in time to take a picture but at least I laid eyes on someone who is about to be very famous in the world of running.  And, like when I did the same race once as Deena Kastor, I can tell people forever “I ran with Galen Rupp once.”

Philly Runners Take Off

In researching everything I could about this race as we often do when we’re excitedly getting ready to run, I found the words “fast and flat” on the event’s website in no less than five different places.  So in my mind’s eye, I was envisioning myself streaking along towards the horizon leaving my past finishing times in the dust.  Um, it wasn’t really flat though.  Some of it was definitely uphill and some pitched definitely downward but a lot of the time as I was slogging along in the 82 degree heat hoping to find something easier about my journey, I kept finding the road rising ahead of me instead of seeming level.  After the race, I looked up the actual course elevation:

Philly course map

I’m aware the elevation change was not much in terms of feet, but it wasn’t exactly flat either.  Anyway, that’s really my only gripe about the race itself.  It was hot out (but thankfully overcast) and my hope of flatness was continuously dashed step after step after sweaty plodding step.  Course entertainment was great, as always. The course was pleasantly scenic as we wound through various neighborhoods, past the infamously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary and along the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park.  And the motivational signs were inspiring.

motivations

Eventually I crossed the finish line in front of the Rocky Steps, not with the PR from a “fast and flat” course I’d been hoping for, but happy to be done nonetheless.

Philly Finish

So I grabbed a medal, had water and some snacks, then began my walk back to the hotel just as as Big Head Todd and the Monsters were finishing their show as headliners for this race.

This was my third “5k then a half on consecutive days” weekend, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  The first time, the 5k was at night and I got to bed late.  The second time was this past summer at high altitude, and I know that slowed me down.  And this time there was the heat.  I guess I’ll keep trying until I get it right because it’s certainly an efficient way to race in two states and only pay for one trip.

Here are the not-so-great numbers that illustrate how I slowed down as I went:

Philly Stats

Philly medal

But that’s the usual story of life at the back of the pack anyway.  I’m always slow, sometimes not-so slow and some times slower than others.  One of these days I’ll surprise everyone and come in under 3 hours in a race that’s not completely downhill.  One of these days for sure.





Fall Season Training Weeks 6 and 7: the penultimate taper

18 09 2017

IMG_2773.JPGI can’t say I did much the past couple of weeks prior to this weekend. Labor Day came and went, and the weather turned chilly.  The first red leaves began to show on the trees as the realization slowly dawned that summer is fairly well over.  I rarely welcome this time of year because it signals the end of everything I love: blue skies and greenery, a garden full of vegetables, and endless roads stretching into the distance beckoning me to come and run them.  Here in Northern Illinois the cold months can be quite brutal so at the first hint of winter’s return, a bit of heaviness descends on my mood and I need to make a mental adjustment.

Fall Weeks 6 and 7That’s pretty much what happened the last two weeks.  I kept up with running, stretching and cardio but had to do more yoga to keep myself peaceful, and thus neglected the weight training I should have done.  My right shoulder is still in healing mode anyway, although it is about 95% better now, so it was probably the right thing to do.

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Not quite able to get the heart rate up that day.  Still bummed and too tired.

The week of September 10 was also taper time for my first fall half, which I will fully report about next time, the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  I’m waiting for all the stats and pictures to show up since it just happened yesterday, and they’re not available yet.

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Foggy morning last Wednesday!

My mood is getting better because I’ve begun meditating in the morning with the Headspace app, and I have also started preparing for my winter training project.  Last year, I did a 5 month muscle building program from November to April and got really strong.  This year, I went a little crazy and signed up for a Spartan Sprint in March which I will be training for starting in November.  It is going to require a lot of work because I have never done about half the stuff they will expect of me, so I’m really in over my head again.  But that’s okay.  Planning something new, exciting and slightly scary will help chase away the winter blues by giving me a new goal to strive for instead of moping around and eating while we’re all snowbound for months up here.

And that’s about the latest from these parts at this moment.  I’ll come back with race reports for the Fetch & Pounce 5k in New Jersey on Saturday as well as the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia half-marathon on Sunday of this past weekend after all the photos are available.

In the meantime, Live Long and Prosper.Untitled

 

 





Fall Season Training Week 5 of 10

3 09 2017

This has been an ordinary week with nothing special to report.  I took a couple of days off after Fort2Base to rest my lower body and let it recuperate from the surprising effort it mustered on Sunday.

Fall Week 5

Monday – I did the 40:00 Active Isolated Stretch DVD again, and felt like I really needed it.  My quads and hamstrings were both tight and a little sore.  The right ankle tendons were grumbling but I have since managed to silence them.

Tuesday – I had a lot of stuff to catch up on at home so I did several hours of housecleaning and then gardening outdoors in the vegetable garden, followed by cooking and freezing everything harvested.  I was on my feet a lot and ended up with 10,000 steps even without any formal exercise.

Fall Week 5 Steps

Wednesday – A 30:00 Fast Finish run was on the agenda.  The weather was quite pleasantly cool and I took it easy, running at the bottom of the heart rate range, despite the urge to really haul butt.  It had a 5:00 Zone 3 finish at the end and I was able to push it then.  A 12 hour work shift followed and I did not get 10,000 steps.

Thursday – I tried a Boot Camp DVD I had not done before and discovered it was not exactly what I expected.  Instead of the usual cardio and weights segments alternated in quick succession, this was pretty much all cardio.  For purposes of this training program, I need metabolic/circuit/interval types that employ cardio and weights because I need (1) to keep my heart rate consistently elevated even when my feet aren’t moving and (2) the added benefit of some strength training.   It was another 12 hour work day.

Friday – Another Fast Finish run, this one 45:00, with a 10 minute Zone 3 finish was this day’s training effort.  It went well and I really enjoyed it.  I did do quite a bit of stretching afterwards.

Fall Week 5 Run Stats

Saturday – What a lovely fall day it was!  With early morning temps in the 40s, I found myself wishing I could run. But it was a cross-training day so I opted instead for Cathe Friedrich’s Athletic Training DVD, which featured lots of cardio, weights, core and a nice stretch at the end.  Then I let my younger dog Abby drag me around the neighborhood, so I got some steps in too.

Overall, I feel fully prepared for the races I have coming up and at this point only need to keep readiness at its peak while simultaneously avoiding injury.  Sleep was good most of the week at around 8 hours on average, but I’m finding it hard to wake up in the dark so I pretty much have to force myself out of bed at 5:00 on work days.  Caloric intake has been fairly well in control with protein staying around 120 grams daily and carbs coming from mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.   So even my often dicey nutrition is okay at this moment.  I always drink lots of water, and that has continued.

Two weeks remain before Rock-n-Roll Philly, and I’m starting to get excited now.  I wanna run up the Rocky Steps and yell “Yo Adrian!” LOL

See ya next week!





Fall Season Training Week 4 of 10 plus a day

29 08 2017

Last week, I found myself once again battling tendon overuse trouble in the right ankle area.  I did all the running I had planned but ditched both weights days in order to do some rope stretches with the Active Isolated Stretch DVD from Phil and Jim Wharton which has rehabbed ankles, calves and Achilles troubles for me many times in the past.  Between the extra rest and flexibility that substitution bestowed and going back to wearing my Hokas, I was able to give a pretty decent effort for this past Sunday’s 11.5 mile Fort to Base race.

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Fort 2 Base, which goes from Fort Sheridan – the Army base – to Great Lakes Naval Station is one that I’ve been eyeing for years but have not run yet because of the heat we usually have in August.  I was always afraid to venture “10 Nautical Miles” as they call it (which is just about 11.5 miles of running) in potentially extreme temperatures and sun.  But after having survived the full marathon in blistering 86 degree heat with full sun at high altitude last October, I decided no race is ever gonna kill me so I might as well finally do this one.  And was it ever awesome!

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First of all it was a cool and overcast day, more fall-like than summer, and then even started to rain after I finished running and was heading back to the shuttles.  So the weather couldn’t have been better.  My new nutrition strategy of eating Nabisco sugar wafer cookies instead of gels and other sticky stuff worked perfectly.  (BTW, sugar wafers in a baggie hold up much better in a sports bra than all that other stuff does.  LOL)

Mile 10The scenery was gorgeous every step of the way, and seeing all soldiers and sailors gave me such a patriotic glow inside.  Pretty much everything about it infused me with energy and I ended up running faster (13:37 pace) than I have ever done in a race over 10 miles.  Around the 9 mile mark as I was getting tired, I fell in with the 13:30/mile pace group and they kept me going at a point when I would have ordinarily given myself permission to slack off.  It was a wonderful event that I would love to do again someday.

F2B Stats

Being one of the slowbees, my usual late arrival at the after party meant the pizza had all been eaten by the faster people and their families, so I can’t comment on that. But I did get a chance to eat some Mashed Potato Chocolate Cupcakes from the Wisconsin Spudmobile, and they were surprisingly tasty.  There was also a Navy band rocking out some impressive rhythm and blues as well as a big Army truck with soldiers posing for pictures with runners and children.  For an non-alcohol party, it was lots of fun.

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So that was the highlight of my week.  I am now back to continued prehab/rehab of these old raggedy tendons which must yet propel me through two half marathons in the next 6 weeks.  And I’m sure they will, as long as I stay true to the massive amounts of stretching that needs to be done and keep my runs to three a week with strength-training and low impact cardio in between.

And that’s it for now.  See ya next week…

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Fall Season Training Weeks 2 and 3 of 10

23 08 2017

OK, so I know I said I would check in weekly in order to make myself accountable to the legions of people clamoring to read my every word (insert laugh emoji here) regarding my commitment to follow a well-rounded training plan for fall running season.  Because I tend to overdo the parts I like and conveniently run out of time for the less fun stuff in any training regimen, I really do need someone looking over my shoulder and going “hey! what about that?  when ya gonna do it? huh?”  And that’s you!  Thanks for the help.

This is how things went over the last couple of weeks (workdays are shaded in grey):
Fall Weeks 2 and 3 Summary
Obviously, I failed to do all the stretching I had pledged to do.  I am fairly consistent with the 12 minute morning yoga, stretch or yoga/stretch combo videos.  I don’t really like the pre-run drills but I’m doing the dumb things about half the time.  It’s the post-workout stuff that I am struggling with.  A lot of the time I’m starving, thirsty or exhausted and the rest of the time I have something else to do right away so I postpone them until later, and then they don’t happen at all.  I will try to do better!  Especially since I’m having some twinges in my right ankle tendons and that is a direct result of inflexibility in the rest of the posterior kinetic chain.  In fact, yesterday I skipped a non-running cardio workout in favor of doing 40:00 of Active Isolated Stretching with the Phil and Jim Wharton DVD.

My favorite recent run was the 10 Mile Speed Play Run from the PEAR program that I use.  It is part of the 80/20 Running plan they have and consists of a typical 10 mile Long Run but has little quarter mile speed bursts all through it.  When it’s hot, humid and sunny out, it takes a lot out of you to do these but I felt like it made me a better runner.

August 10 miler

The PEAR Program cut out on me at 9.3 miles but Garmin captured it all.

Other than that, there is not a whole lot of noteworthy stuff to report.  My right ankle is trying to bother me but I’m pre-habbing it.  My right shoulder went wonky for about a week after I threw the ball in the back yard for the dog about a dozen times too many, but it’s coming back to normal slowly.  I’m not stretching enough, but promise once again to do better.  I’m eating too much, and will try to do better but can’t make any promises.  And life goes on.

See ya next week!