“All good things…” Closing out 2016.

23 01 2017

all-good-thingsThe final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was called “All Good Things…” and involved a temporal anomaly (gosh, how I love those things!) which caused Captain Picard to jump back and forth through time from past to present to future, while simultaneously saving humanity (because that’s all in a day’s work on Star Trek).  It was a fitting finale for a wonderful series, and came to mind immediately when I thought about a blog entry closing out what was a wonderful running year for me.

I certainly didn’t save mankind but I did finally conquer the 26.2 mile beast that was eluding me for years, saved myself from another disappointment and prevented it from frustrating my efforts past, present and future.  Running that full marathon, in 86 degree sun and heat no less, on October 29, 2016 in the high altitude of Las Cruces, New Mexico, allowed me to prove to myself that I did have it in me all along. And even better, it is an endurance milestone I will never worry about again.

I also remember 2016 as the year I won some age-group awards for the first time, three of them in fact, and achieved my fastest 5k time yet.  That was a complete shocker.  The marathon I’d struggled and grieved and sweated over.  Getting old and entering the 60-64 age group happened without any effort on my behalf.  Everybody tries to get a little faster because you’re always competing with your own last best time, and I will do so again this year, but I never thought of slow chubby Me as an age-group winner.  What a nice surprise!

I think this past year may also be one in which I ran the most races ever, since becoming a runner in 2008.  It is certainly the one in which I finally was able to run enough with a club I joined to actually meet people and earn a circuit award.  I even volunteered at a race for the first time.  And as much as I wanted that 26.2 with every fiber of my being and wished some day to be able to run faster, the best part of 2016 was feeling like I had finally joined a community of runners.


So, like Picard jumping through time, I was able to look back and smile on those early days of uncertainty and struggling at the back of the pack and wondering if I could run a 10k or a 10 miler or a half-marathon some day and whisper to that person “oh yes, you will.”  And the next time I’m running long and feeling tired or weak or uninspired, I will be able to repeat to myself “oh yes, you can.”  And when I’m 80 or 90 years old and looking back over a life spent striving for goals and always seeking to get just a little bit better at everything, I will be able to remember “oh yes, you did.”


Next up: 2017 plans and training

Marathon Training Weeks 1 and 2

1 09 2012

Heading out for my run this morning in an over-sized baseball jersey and baggy black shorts, I looked like a refugee from a Kris Kross concert in the 1990s.  With baseball cap and shades, the only thing missing was a big ugly gold chain.  I don’t usually care what I wear when I run but I did recently purchase a new outfit (on clearance) for my marathon from Skirt Sports.  I figure it will be a special occasion so I might as well look good.  My new threads, while definitely more gamester than gangster, in no way resemble these duds worn by Capt. Kirk and company during the original series episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion.”

But, fashion statements aside, what can be said about my first two weeks of training is:  “So far so good.”

The Kiawah Island Marathon is 14 weeks from today, and I find myself looking forward to it.  Cooler weather should be approaching as well and I am also looking forward to that.

Getting back in the swing of serious training after two months of heatwave and a family tragedy has had its ups and downs, but I am dealing with it all.  There are days I have to shove myself out the front door and others that I am virtually bounding like an 8 year old.  I guess that’s life.

The weight loss efforts which fell by the wayside after the half in Alaska have resumed (albeit sporadically at first) because it would really help to be at least a dozen pounds lighter by race day.   I haven’t regained any weight but must acknowledge a slow erosion of the self-discipline I had built up over 6 months of carefully planning and logging 90% of my meals.

The Run Less, Run Faster training week features three “quality” runs (that means “tough”) and two non-weight-bearing “aerobic cross training” workouts like swimming, rowing or pedaling a stationary bike.  I can’t say I have the cross training stuff up to par yet but I’m working on it.  Since I don’t swim and have neither a rowing machine nor a stationary bike, I did rejoin the local gym during their current $10/month special and will make sure I get myself there as soon as possible.  The authors also advocate 2 or 3 quick strength training workouts weekly which I can do either at the gym or at home.

I really want to give myself this successful effort as a 57th birthday present in December.  It will provide a nice end to what has been an otherwise sort of crappy year.


Week One
Sunday  —  Rode the bicycle 35 minutes.  It was hot, I was tired and I didn’t have more than that in me.
Monday  —  Took the day off.
Tuesday  —  Long slow run:  8 miles.  I hadn’t run this far in a long time.  I was suprised at how easy it was.
Wednesday  —  Upper body weights and abs; very short quick workout because I procrastinated too long and then had to go to work.
Thursday  —  Speed intervals:  15 minute warm-up followed by 3 x 1600 meters and a 15 minute cool down.  I was slower than I wanted to be, but it wasn’t a bad effort considering I hadn’t done speedwork in a couple of months.
Friday  —  Rode the bicycle around the neighborhood.  Short easy ride.
Saturday  —  Hot, hot day for a 10k but I did it:  the DeKalb Cornfest 10k.  Slow, slow day too.

Week Two
Sunday  —  Took the day off.
Monday  —  Walked the dogs two miles.  Didn’t feel like much else.
Tuesday  —  First attempt at the week’s tempo run:  I got out late because it took too long cleaning the house.  Started out from home but fizzled due to heat and sun.  So I drove to the woods.  It was hot there too and full of mosquitos.  Quit after two miles.  Very disgusted with the return of 90 degree temps the past week and dejected that my running is so affected by hot weather.
Wednesday  —  Second attempt at a tempo run:  A bit more successfully, I ended up doing 4 miles.
Thursday  —  Rode 30 minutes on the bike (6 miles), then came back and did a thorough upper body workout and abs.
Friday  —  Speedwork:  15 minute warm-up, 4 x 800 meters fast (faster than usual which made me very happy), 15 minutes cool-down.  Nice!  I felt my smile coming back.
Saturday  —  Long slow run:  9 miles.  Yes, I should have taken a day off in between but my schedule didn’t permit it.  It was a good run, faster than the schedule called for but still quite comfortable.  The smile is definitely back.  Even with the remnants of Hurricane Isaac pelting me the last 4 miles, it did me good.

Lured in as if by tractor beam

10 07 2012

A few years ago when I was a fledgling runner, I thought the end-all and be-all of my existence was an annual half-marathon.  Once this feat had been accomplished however I would always experience a bit of a let-down and find myself wondering what to do with the rest of the year.  Then somewhere — I think possibly in Outside Magazine — I read an article about a year-round fitness regimen and a new vision began to take shape.  Since I wasn’t really thrilled with running in the hot summers and puttering in my garden didn’t provide the same endorphin rush as pushing my body to its limits in sport, I seized upon a notion to work on strength in the winter, running in the spring/fall and biking in the summer.  Never having done a bicycle event in my life, Old Impulse-Control-Issues Me declared an autumn century ride to be the perfect next training goal after the annual half.  And I do believe this will be the year to finally follow through.

With that in mind, I signed up for the 2012 North Shore Century on September 23.  What I liked about this event was the range of distances available (100, 70, 62, 50 and 25 miles) and the fact that it was described as “family-friendly,” which to me signaled riders of all ages and abilities were welcome.  I felt  like this guaranteed:  (1) I shouldn’t feel too terribly much like I didn’t fit in with the crowd, and (2) there would be various “safety net” distances I could drop into should I not be up to the entire 100 miles.

Having investigated these bicycle outings a bit further since then, I now realize there is way more to them than merely showing up on a bike and pedaling.  In my research, I have encountered terms like “pace line”, “drafting” and “big/small chainring”, each one of which I greeted with a quizzical “huh?” followed by a slight cramp in the stomach.  I mean, I’m still not entirely sure what all 21 of the damn speeds are supposed to be used for.   And then there was the next-door neighbor who immediately dissed my bike when I told him about my goal (and prompted the “don’t underestimate me” rant I posted maybe a month ago).   So I realize I do have much to learn and indeed far to go.   But that’s okay.  It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bite off early more than I realize later I might be able to chew so I’m feeling quite at home with all of this right about now.

I did go out and buy a new bike.  It meant postponing my dental work but hey, a girl has to have her priorities.   And mine apparently don’t include Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos (or better teeth).

But isn’t she gorgeous?!  My new Trek Lexa XLS.  Once my big fluffy behind gets used to straddling that little bony seat, we are going to tear up these roads!

And new bike or not, I am also not stupid enough to show up a total virgin at this Century, so I registered for a couple of other rides in which to practice the new skills I’m going to need.  The first is Venus de Miles, the all-girl 25-or-61 miler, on July 29, and the multi-distance Bike Psycho Century on August 26.  So, what the hell.  Here we go with new bike in hand and training plan on the calendar boldly riding where my fat ass ain’t never gone before.

Lured in as if by tractor beam, I begin my Century training.



After the Anchorage half-marathon on Saturday, June 23, I took almost the entire next week off although I did do a lot of walking around on vacation.

Friday, June 29 – 45 minutes easy on the bike.

Saturday, June 30 –17 miles on the bike with some gentle inclines

Sunday, July 1 – I ran 5 ½ miles in the forest preserve near the house.  Still getting re-acclimated to the heat, I was pretty slow but I salvaged the workout by doing a few hills and then ran negative splits the last 1/3 of the outing.

Monday, July 2 – OFF

Tuesday, July 3 – The day got away from me due to chores and errands, and then it was 100 degrees outside (the first of three deadly hot days).  I had to do something so I spent 35 minutes outdoors on the bike after dinner.

Wednesday, July 4 – Four on the Fourth race in Elmhurst, IL.  We started at 7:15 and it was already 89 degrees by the time I crossed the finish line less than an hour later.  Scorching day!

Thursday, July 5 – 16.5 miles on the bike, a couple of pretty impressive hills

Friday, July 6 – 11.5 miles on the bike, mostly easy stuff around the subdivisions

Saturday, July 7 – OFF

Sunday, July 8 – 13.1 miles walk/jog, it cooled off outside but was still too hot to really “run”.  Yeah… so crazy for half-marathons,  I made up my own and did it.

Monday, July 9 – Active rest; worked in the garden for an hour before work

Tuesday, July 10  – Today.  First day on the new bike.  I’ll be back with details later.

Seriously…. I have not been trapped in a stasis chamber!

6 05 2012

ImageActually I have probably been more active in this past month than any month of the year.  However, I have been remiss in reporting those activities to whomever in the galaxy actually reads these entries.  Therefore, I will summarize the activities of the past month and hope to stay current going forward:

April 4 —Prevention Walk Your Way Slim DVD, an easy but invigorating cardio
April 5 — MotionTraxx Treadmill Coach MP3 followed on the treadmill, a tough but fun mix of speed, hills and then speed uphill
April 6 — Jason Crandell 15 Minute Beginner’s Yoga video from YouTube followed by extra calf and Achilles stretching; it was an achy day
April 7 — took the day off to go into Chicago and see Jersey Boys with friends/family

April 8 — lazy!  took another day off
April 9 — Cathe Friedrich’s Pure Strength DVD, chest/shoulders/triceps segment
April 10 — walked the dogs 2 miles
April 11 — Cathe’s Pure Strength DVD, back/biceps/abs segment
April 12 — ran 2 miles
April 13  — 10 Minute Solutions Carb Burner Slow and Steady Burn segment followed by Cathe’s Cross Train Express Upper Body download (chest and back portions only) followed by an oldie from the FIRM captured on YouTube:  5 Day Abs, Day 3
April 14 — a most truly EXCELLENT run!
The Rockdale Ramblin’ Run 10k, touted to be the Toughest 10k in the Midwest, really just a super hilly 6.1 miler, but what was MOST EXCELLENT and wonderful about it was the fact that I beat last years time by 5 seconds per mile….even with the half-assed and sporadic training I’d been doing.  It was great.  It boosted my confidence and put a huge swell of inspiration in my sails.

April 15 — worked at the Urgent Care, took a day OFF
April 16 — 3 miles of mixed speed/hill intervals on the treadmill
April 17 — Cathe Friedrich’s Pyramid Upper Body DVD followed by an oldie-but-moldy from YouTube (which I love) 8 Minute Abs
April 18 — 4 miles outdoors:  1 mile warmup, 2 miles of speed work and 1 mile cooldown
April 19 —  20 minute YouTube Cardio Chellenge workout by Kendell Hogan of Exercise TV followed by the opening abs portion of the FIRM’s Sculpted Buns Hips Thighs
April 20 — 3 miles easy run outdoors
April 21 — a day OFF

April 22 — 8 miles easy run outdoors, my longest outing of the year so far, and pretty tough to accomplish.  It was hot and sunny but I made it.   Jumping up to 8 miles after maxing out with 6.1 for the past 3 and 1/2 months is not recommended on most training plans but it’s what I had to do in order to be ready for the 10 miler on April 28.
April 23 — most wisely chose to take a day off and rest those tired legs.
April 24 — 4 easy miles outdoors; went well, not too sore.  Picked up my race packet for the 10 miler.  Very excited and a little bit scared.
April 25 — FIRM Tight Buns and Killer Legs DVD followed by another round of 8 Minute Abs
April 26 — 2 fast miles outdoors.  I did good.  I surprised myself.  Confidence came home to roost.
April 27 — OFF
April 28 — CARA Lakefront 10 Mile Race.
The weather was AWFUL!  It was rainy, 44 degrees and gusty with winds up to 20 MPH along the ever-windy lakefront.  It was HORRIBLE.  But it was WONDERFUL, because I beat my previous 10 mile race pace by 40 seconds per mile.  That was HUGE.  I never thought in a million years I would do that well, but I did.  And under very challenging conditions.  Go me!

April 29 — worked at the Urgent Care; took a day OFF.  Felt really good.  Better than I expected I would after jumping from 6 to 8 to 10 miles in a two week period.  Nice.
April 30 — in a fit of stupidity, tried a new workout:  Cathe Friedrich’s Lower Body TriSets.  Just about killed whatever leg muscles I had left.
May 1 — Oh the freaking DOMS!   I could barely sit and could hardly walk, yet a 5 mile run was on my agenda for the day. I walked it.  Slow.  The new workout damn near killed me.  I vowed that day:  as soon as my muscles recover, I’m going to do it again.  And again and again until it doesn’t hurt any more.  What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.  So I will do it again.
May 2 — In an effort to make my legs work again, I walked another 2 miles in the morning and then followed it with Cathe’s Pyramid Upper Body chest and back segments.
May 3 — Ran 3 miles.  Still sore.  Took it slow.  It was a struggle.
May 4 — Took the day OFF.  Finally starting to feel normal legs again.  A few twinges but nothing like the past 72 hours.
May 5 — Lake Bloomington 12k Race.
Still struggling despite the DOMS being completely gone.  It was hot and I was slow.  It took a lot of positive self-talk to keep going mid-race because I was so tired.  I think I’m feeling the effects of the rapid jump in Long Run mileage.  Will definitely take it easy next week.

May 6 — Today.  Resting.  Left Achilles tendonitis rearing its ugly head.  Will do some stretching later on tonight.

And that brings us up to date with the events of the past month.

On tap for the week:
Possibly running the Lemont Quarryman 10 Miler coming up this Saturday, May 12, if my legs are at 100%.  I don’t want to risk being injured before the big  events on my calendar:  Soldier Field 10, Peoria Steamboat 15k, and the Anchorage half marathon.

Pencilled in for the interim:
A pair of total body workouts.  Two mixed-pace runs, none greater than 5 miles in length.
Stretching.  Resting.  Hydrating.  Eating well.

More later.