Sunday, March 31, 2013

I may have a shoe problem

I've always been a bit of a gadget freak.  I love tech as much as anyone.  Now that I'm a runner, that has transitioned to a love for shoes.  So when I say I have a shoe problem, it means I have a bad habit of buying lots of running shoes.  My friend teased that I'm worse than a chick when it comes to this.  Its really quite humorous to think that I've worn the same pair of shoes to work for 3 years now.  I've only had my every day kick around shoes since November, but the pair I had before that I wore for about 3 years.  So how bad is it with running shoes?  I own 9 pairs of running shoes.  Yes that is right, 9 pairs.  I've been running for about 18 months now, so that means I've gotten a pair just about every other month.... Not that I do, but that is just how it averaged out. 

Here are 7 pairs of shoes that I own.  Not pictured are my original runners, a pair of Brooks Ghost and a back up pair of Vibram Bikilas.

Of the shoes in the photo:
Vibram Bikila - wear once a week for an easy run when its nice out to strengthen feet.
Brooks Adrenaline - Retired since June
Nike Structure - Newly retired and replaced
New Balance Minimus trail - Picked up since I'm doing a couple trail runs this year. I've only worn these once so far on a wet and muddy day.
Brooks Pure Cadence - These are my racing and speedwork shoes.  I love them
Mizuno Wave Inspire - Picked these up in November, they are my every day trainers.
Newton Motion - These are brand new.  They are to replace the Nike Structures.  I wanted to try something new, and hopefully the lugs on the midfoot will help with midfoot striking.

The Newton Motion are my newest pair of shoes picked up from Fleet Feet yesterday.  I hope they will provide a change of pace trainer from my Mizune Wave Inspire and hopefully help enforce good bio mechanics like I'm already working on by running in the Vibrams.  I will have to write a review once I get some miles in them.  Runner's are supposed to slowly adapt to them like you would for the Vibrams, so I stuck to my Mizunos for my long run today.

So is having 5 active pairs of shoes too much?  They each serve a purpose - strengthening, trail, speed, training, change of pace.  I may be shopping again soon.  The Mizunos have nearly 300 miles on them which is about when shoes normally start breaking down for me.  I'm a heavy, but speedy runner so I tend to be a bit rough on shoes.

Anyone else cycle through multiple pairs of shoes?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Race Photos Where I Don't Look Like Death

So my race photos always look horrible.  I'm always so focused on trying to do my best in a race that I either ignore the photographers or I look like I'm running from death.  Today I saw how differently I look when I'm running a race for fun and just goofing around.  Even the photo of me at mile 12.5 isn't even that awful.

Here I am at mile 4.  Going nice and all smiles.  I tried to give a thumbs up, but the photographer was a bit too fast for me.

Now we get to Mile 11 and I'm still in good shape.  I think I tried a point and wink here but failed miserably.

Lastly here is me around mile 12.5.  There is no visible sweat or even the real look of strain.  I was just focused at this point and ran my fastest mile of the race.

With such good photos, makes me wish I would of shaved before the race.  Oh well.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Race Recap: Chi Town Half Marathon and 10K

I can't stress how much I loved that this race started basically where I start all my runs.  I was able to somewhat casually walk to the start line and get there about 15 minutes before the race started.  I say somewhat casually since I still get pre-race jitters sometimes.  I still don't have a solution for settling my stomach, but I've made do so far.  Anyways, back to the race...  It was definitely chilly out, though it didn't seem as bad as the weather forecast made it out to be.  There was no snow, and the wind hadn't picked up yet.  It was still in the low 30s and a windchill in the 20s though.

So my plan for the race was to just take it easy and cruise through it.  I didn't want to waste energy chasing a PR since A. my longest training run was 9 miles and B. my parents would be arriving in town shortly after the race.  I settle into the back of the 8:00 pace corral, just ahead of the 9:00 group.  I figure I'd go out and see what happens.  the 1:55 pacers got into the corral just ahead of me and I figured I'd be ok lagging behind them a bit. Once the race started I kept about 20-30 yards behind the 1:55 pacers and actually felt pretty good.  I decided to keep pace as long as things felt comfortable.

It wasn't long before I had ideas of breaking my plan to run easy.  I resisted temptation to break loose and see what I could do.  I've noticed in training lately that I've become stronger a few miles into my run and this held true today.  By the 6 mile mark I was right on the heels of the pacers and still feeling really strong.  I decided to stick with them with plans to break off if I still felt strong at the 10 mile mark.  When I hit mile 8 I started thinking that was a bad idea.  I was still keeping pace, but now felt like my tank was emptying.  I managed to get some gatorade at the next water station, and I guess that was enough of a boost.  I felt great again by mile 10.  One of the pacers started going a little ahead of pace and there was a few of us with him going strong.  The other 2 pacers told him to take us in for a good finish.  I kept with him, 2 other girls, and another guy for about a mile before I sped up some more, keeping up with the 2 girls.  There was a last hydration station and after that I was off... one of the girls bolted, and I had no chance of catching her.  The other girl she left behind, and I lost everyone else in the group so I ran on my own the last mile and a half.  This is the first half I've ever done a negative split, and I do mean negative... its the first half that I've run any mile at a sub 8:00 pace, let alone the last mile.  I went in hoping for 2:00-2:10, nice and easy... well I finished in 1:52:47, a new PR by 2:20, and I really only pushed myself the last couple miles.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well this weekend should be interesting

I finally get to run my first race of the year this weekend.  It is the Chi-Town Spring Half on Sunday morning.  I wish the temperatures would be a little warmer, but I'll live.  The nice thing is that the race starts near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum which is only about a half mile or so from my apartment. I'll be able to just show up near the start time and run, then walk home with relative ease.

Here is where the interesting things come in:
  1. I'm recovering from the sciatic nerve issue
  2. I haven't run more than 9 miles for a long run since November
  3. This will be the coldest weather I've raced in
  4. My parents will be arriving in town shortly after I finish the race for a 3 day stay.
 That's right, the parental units are crashing at my place from Sunday - Wednesday.  I hope they don't want to do anything that requires a lot of movement on Sunday.  I guess the good news is that by the time they get here we will all be very hungry and ready for lunch.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gotta Love Stretching

So contrary to the title of the post, I'm horrible when it comes to stretching.  I've always been fairly flexible without working on it.  Even when I gained some weight I was still able to touch my toes without issue.  The other thing I'm horrible at is sitting properly when at the computer.  It was my bad posture and propping my legs up at odd angles that has caused my latest ailment.  I'm currently suffering from issues related to my sciatic nerve.

For those who don't know the sciatic nerve is a major nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of the leg.  Issues with lower back alignment or compression caused my inflamed muscles can cause the nerve to compress or pinch.  When this happens it can cause a number of things from aches and pains up and down the back of the leg to weakness, tingling, or the sense of the foot and calf falling asleep.  I have had all of these symptoms over the course of the week.  I had to refer to Dr Google to help me get through things. 

My first order of business was to correct my posture.  I removed my computer chair for a day and replaced it with a stool.  This forced me to sit upright so I wasn't able to lean back and prop my legs up.  Next I found some stretches to do that help alleviate the pressure put on the sciatic nerve.  Originally I had used a roller on my hamstring and calf thinking I was trying to work out stiff muscles.  This was before I knew what I was dealing with and made things far worse.  The next day it felt like my foot and calf was asleep all day and I couldn't shake it.  The key was finding stretches for the back and hips.  Once I started doing these stretches the pain has gone down drastically.  Hopefully it will be barely noticeable next week for my half marathon, but we'll see.  I really hope it subsides in time for the Shamrock Shuffle.  I've still been able to run with the issues, its just a matter of pain tolerance.  It doesn't really get any worse from running, unless I start to push things.  All I know is I'm stretching more and will continue to do so.  At least this isn't shin splits, I hate shin splits.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Planned 2013 Races

Here are the races I'm planning on running this year:

  • March 24th - ChiTown Spring Half
  • April 7th - Shamrock Shuffle
  • April 13th - Double Down 10K
  • May 11th - Race to Wrigley 5K
  • May 19th - Chicago Spring Half
  • May 25th - Soldier Field 10 Mile
  • June 2nd - United Run for Zoo 10K
  • June 8th - Allstate 13.1 Half
  • July 11th - Bastille Day 8K
  • July 16th - Strike Out ALS 5K
  • July 21st - Rock and Roll Half
  • July 27th - BTN Big Ten 10K - Maybe
  • Aug 10th - Nearly Sane Trail Half
  • Sept - 9th - Chicago Half
  • Oct 13th - Chicago Marathon
  • Oct 27th - Wicked Halloween Run 10K - Maybe
  • Nov 17th - Rock and Roll Vegas Strip at Night Half

Yes I know that's a lot of races... hopefully I stay injury free.

Year 1

I am beginning my 2nd full year of running as I begin this blog.  There was a lot that happened during the first year.  I ran lots of races, had a few injuries, basically lived and learned.

I had issues with shin splits early in the year.  I didn't get properly fitted for running shoes until after the Shamrock Shuffle.  Once I did that I was in good shape for awhile.  I pulled a hamstring sprinting to the finish of the BTN Big Ten 10k and that slowed me down for a bit.  Overall I did ok on the injury front.  I learned what my body would tolerate as far as training load and running form.

When it comes to races I learned a few lessons too.  My body absolutely hates running in warmer weather.  It just runs hot and I overheat easily.  My first ever half marathon was the Allstate 13.1 last June.  The temperature during the race reached 85 degrees which I was completely unprepared for.  I was doing well for about 9 miles until I started sputtering.  I walked most of the last 3 miles just trying to get to the finish line.  I also learned I shouldn't charge so hard up the "hills" we have here in Chicago.  It led to another situation where I bonked during the Monster Dash and wound up doing walking/jogging intervals for the last 2 miles of the race.

Since it was my first year of running, I was able to improve a lot over the course of the year.  I don't think I'll ever be super fast considering I'm short (5'6'') and on the heavier side (170lbs), but still do alright.

Time Improvements:

5K    24:24 -> 23:35
10K  53:xx -> 47:49
13.1  2:13:10 -> 1:55:07

Now that I'm in my 2nd year of running and will be logging a lot more miles as I train for the Chicago Marathon I will see my times continue to fall.

The Beginning

My journey beings back in August of 2010.  At that time I was overweight with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  I wasn't very happy with my lot in life and finally decided to do something about it.  I owned a stationary exercise bike that had been used as a clothes rack for quite some time.  I finally decided to remove the clothes and add new batteries to the bike.  I started slow, biking a bit while watching TV or playing video games.  Eventually I worked my way up to the point that I was biking for 2 hours at a time.  I dropped nearly 15 pounds during this time.  I was ready for the next challenge...

My first run occurred in October of 2010.  I met up with a friend who was a runner for a jog on a Friday evening.  I didn't think I'd have too much of an issue considering I was biking for 2 hours at a time, how hard could a couple miles be?  I certainly ate my words after that.  I made it about a half mile before I needed to stop, and then stopped every quarter mile after that.  Running was a lot harder than I remembered.

After that first day I kept at it, running on my own in jog/walk intervals, slowly adding distance.  I still bit off more than I could chew and wound up with tendonitis in my knee that first month.  I wound up being sidelines until late November until I could slowly try again, and with more rest in between runs.  I was lucky we had a mild winter and was able to get runs in on a somewhat regular basis.  In the spring I signed up for my first race, the Shamrock Shuffle.  I wound up getting shin splits leading up to the race and was worried about completing it.  Much to my surprise I not only completed the race, I rocked my time goal.  The adrenaline and excitement kicked in and I have become a race addict ever since.