Friday, May 31, 2013

Junk Week and Runnerbox

This week has been yet another round of craziness at work.  The long hours, crazy storms, and heat and humidity have meant that I have had my worse running week in quite some time.  I only made it out for a couple runs and just 10 miles.  I'm not too worried about it.  I'm still in good enough shape to handle my 10K this weekend and my half next week.  I'll just pretend I'm tapering.  After the Allstate 13.1 on June 8th I will officially start marathon training.  I will be following my training plan no matter what.  I guess I should get used to getting up early and avoiding the sun if I want to beat the heat.

I did treat myself to something cool I found out about this week.  There is a service called Runnerbox that is similar to those beer a month or coffee a month type clubs.  For $20 every other month you get a box full of running related goodies and samplers.  The also have a $10 monthly version.  I ordered my box on Wednesday and didn't know what their shipping cycle was for the next bimonthly order... well I was quite surprised to get an email a half hour later asking for my shoe size so they could send me socks. The box itself arrived today(Friday)!

So what did I get?

That bright flash in the photo would be the reflective shoelaces they included.  They do their job well it seems.

The shoe size was so they could give me Iniji socks.  I have a pair already and they are good socks for Vibrams or any other shoe

There is something called Skin Strong Slik which is a spray on skin lubricant for sports and 2 samples of Slather which is used to prevent foot blisters

Win sports detergent - specially formulated for synthetic athletic materials

Gu Chomps - lemon

Cytomax Sports Drink Mix - Pomegranate Berry

Energy Bits - green algae energy pellets

Sports Beans - pomegranate with caffiene

Chocolate Agave Slow Burn Energy Gel

Huma Chia Strawberry Energy Gel

Accel recovery bar

Coupon for $10 off box of Accel Recovery bars

Coupon for 10% of Huma Chia Bars

Coupon for 20% off Zensah compression socks

Coupon for 40% off Iniji socks

Coupon for 20% of Skora shoes

I'm really excited to get all these things to try out.  I've never been much for the energy products, but I should probably start experimenting and finding what is right for me for the Chicago Marathon.  I'm really interested in the Huma Chia Gel.  It is made from fruit puree and chia seeds.  The reviews I've read have said it is great tasting and easy on the stomach.  I'm already a fan of chia seeds as a supplement so I will have to give it a shot.  I look forward to what the next box brings in 2 months.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Race Recap: Soldier Field 10 Miler

So this was another week at work where things were quite busy and awful.  Most of the week I was working from 7AM until 11PM.  This mean I did very little running.  I wasn't too worried since my body was still kind of recovering from Sunday's Half Marathon PR.  I was only able to do a 5.5 mile midweek run and planned to do a runch with the same while working from home on Friday.  Unfortunately there was an idiot bicyclist  who rode into oncoming traffic on a busy stretch of the lakefront path and I tweaked my already tender ankle and cut my run short at 2 miles.  Friday night I continued my pizza tradition with my friend who decided to sign up for the race at the last minute.

Race day started far too early.  I got up at 4:30AM in order to meet my friend at 5:15.  My body was in complete revolt as I had so little sleep during the week.  The weather was chilly and dreary which didn't help.  I was just cold, tired, and miserable to start the day.  I couldn't even get my body to take in any liquids.  Thi wasn't a good sign.  We took the red line down to Roosevelt with many other runners and made our way to Soldier Field.  Once there we made our way to gear check and spied the prize waiting for us at the finish line.

Lots of shiny medals

Waiting to start in the shadows of Soldier Field

Corrals begin to fill

Since I had PR'd just 6 days prior at the half marathon distance, the plan was to take it easier for the Soldier Field 10 miler.  I had fully intended to run the race at around a 9:00 min/mile pace and treat it more like a fun training distance day.  Once things got going, I did not stick to that plan.  I referred to the race as a tale of 2 halves since things changed so drastically during the run.
Miles 1-5 Total Time: 45:57-
Our corral was held up for about 6 or 7 minutes after the corral before us to space us out.  In the meantime we had a group sing a long to Sweet Caroline.  Once that was over we were released.  I started out the run pretty slow.  I just was not feeling it.  I was struggling to even run close to a 9:00 min/mile pace.  I started making mental excuses on how I could quit the race.  I made it to the first aid station and walked through it sipping on Gatorade.  I told myself if I could keep doing this I would be ok.  I also really had to use the restroom, but the line here was too long.  I kept going and kept hoping for an aid station soon.  It finally came just past the 3 mile mark.  I was loosening up a little by now and took in more Gatorade.  I used the port-o-let here and was much relieved.  First time I've ever left the course to use a restroom.  During the course of my slow running it felt like the faster runners from at least 2 corrals passed me by, and then when I left the rest room I saw a pace group and knew another group had passed me by.  I was starting to feel re-invigorated though and started to pick up the pace.  I was behind target pace, but starting to gain ground.

Miles 5-10 Total Time 39:51
Yes, you read that split correctly.  The last 5 miles (6.5 really) were such a turnaround from the start of the race.  It was like some switch flipped and I felt awesome again.  I just started having fun with it all and letting my body just let loose.  I wasn't even breathing hard, but I'm sure I had a big smile on my face.  What's even crazier is the last half of the race featured a headwind and was a bit hillier than the first part, yet I didn't let that slow me down.  I started passing runners left and right.  Pretty soon I started seeing people I had started next to in my corral before the race.  Then came the most unbelievable thing yet.  I don't know if it was the adrenaline from approaching the stadium and knowing the finish was near or what, but I logged my 2nd sub 7 minute mile ever.  I cruised into the stadium, fists raised and took it all in.  It was an amazing finish to an amazing race.
That's a pretty cool finish line

I found someone to take my picture on the field

After the race I went to grab my gear and headed to the post race party.  I knew my friend would be taking awhile, especially since her corral started nearly an hour after mine.  I was ok with this since I was definitely feeling a runner's high. First I went to the stands to get a few more pictures.
Finish line view from stands

Finish line area

Entering the stadium and runners on jumbotron.

Once I left the stadium I made my way over to the post race tailgate and claimed my free beer.  I parked myself near the stage and watched the awards ceremony.  They had to delay the awards ceremony a little longer than most races because they printed out custom Bears jerseys for the men's and women's winners.  That was pretty cool to see and a nice touch.  After the awards were over there were some additional announcements and thanks given before Soul Asylum took the stage.  They sounded just as good as they did 15 years ago.  I was in my happy place with beer in hand, singing along and waiting for my friend.
The spoils of running.

I don't think Dave's hair has changed in 15 years.

I had got to listed to about 6 or 7 songs before my friend texted that she had finished.  I tried to get her to bring me beer, but she was in pain from not having trained for a race this long.  I met up with her near the beer tent and took her ticket since she doesn't drink beer.  We talked about results, she PR'd and was excited that she ran more than planned.  I finished the beer and she was sore so we left.  I got to hear 3 of the 5 Soul Asylum songs I liked so I was happy.  I also rarely drink anymore so a couple beers on an empty stomach and after running 10 miles wouldn't take long to hit me.  I got home and had lunch before falling asleep.  I was awoken from my nap by work calling with an emergency.  At least they didn't spoil my awesome morning.  I loved this race from the tribute to the soldiers to the finish on the 50 yard line to the post race tailgate party.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Race Recap: Chicago Spring Half (and 10K)

So I must admit I've been nervously watching the weather all week.  Last weekend the forecast for the race was 85 and storming.  It changed at some point to a high of 72 with a chance of showers.  Come race day the weather turned out to be warmish, humid, and sunny.  I do not run well in this type of weather since I have a tendency to become a furnace.  Today was supposed to be my day to go for a new PR in the half marathon.  I certainly had my work cut out for me.

I had a friend who was running the 10K for this race.  We also ran the Race to Wrigley together last week.  After that race we headed over to Universal Sole to pick up our packets for the Chicago Spring Half.  It was a slight hike from Wrigley Field over to Lincoln Ave.  I was still riding a high from my 5K PR though.  In the days after the 5K it took me a couple days to find my legs again, they took a pounding never having run that fast before.  The week was spent mostly running slow junk miles hoping to get the legs churning properly again.

Race day came and was much earlier than I liked.  I'm certainly not used to getting up at 5AM, but that may be the new norm for awhile as my schedule at work has changed.  I got ready and headed to the bus stop.  The first thing I noticed was the humidity.  Jennifer's new friend Courtney showed up just before the bus came.  I mentioned the humidity and she looked at me like I was strange.  She also just moved here in January from Florida so I guess you could say she's used to worse.  A few stops later Jennifer got on the bus and joined us.  We took the bus downtown then walked to Lakeshore East Park.

I must admit I've never been to Lakeshore East Park before but it was gorgeous there.  I apologize for the lack of pictures, but it looks like Zach from Zach Runs Chicago took some.  My only thought was that it was a little crowded, and there was a long line for the bathrooms.  Normally I go to the bathroom before the race as a nervous habit.  The lines were far too long, so I met Jennifer and Courtney over at gear check then headed to the start line.  The start line was a little was away from the staging area but that was ok.  The corrals seemed a bit crowded, but I made my way up to the 8 min pace corral and tried to get near the 1:50 pace group.  My plan was to try and hang with them and hopefully pass them later on.

Once the race started I found myself struggling to keep up with the pace group.  I wasn't crazy though, they went out fast.  I was running exactly the pace I wanted to.  The plan was to be at 55 minutes at the halfway point, using the first half as a warm up, then hopefully picking up the pace on the back stretch. I soon realized that my legs weren't readily agreeing with me.  They were still a bit tired and didn't have much spring to them.  I probably should have tapered more this week, but it was too late for that now.  I knew this race was going to turn into a dogfight, and that I could still accomplish my goals as long as I didn't give in.

I hit the halfway point at almost the exact time I wanted, 55:03.  My legs finally loosened up a little and I picked up the pace a bit as you can see from the splits.  Eventually the sun finally caught up to me and I faded a bit over the last 2 miles.  The temptation was there to walk, and I did for about 15 seconds to get some gatorade into my system.  I wasn't giving up though, I still had some fight in me and I kept going.  I crossed the finish line in about 1:49:13.  I was really hoping to break 1:49 so I could move up a corral for the marathon, but today wasn't the day.  That said I still managed to lower my PR by 3:45 and even ran a negative split by almost a minute.  I have now set a PR in every race this year, and I will get an automatic one next week as its my first 10 miler.  Its nice to know that the training and effort I've put in is paying off.

After the race there was a hot breakfast, but I was far too hot from running to eat anything.  It didn't help that my shoes were making my right foot(arch) very sore and my ankle was starting to swell and stiffen.  I haven't run a half in my Brooks Cadence since Monster Dash and I don't think I was used to them for that distance.  They were great for the 5K though.  After a shower, food, icing, and a nap I'm finally able to walk again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Race Recap: Race to Wrigley 5K

For anyone who keeps up with this blog, they know I was looking forward to this race.  Last year it was the first 5K I ever ran and adrenaline took over and I ran way faster than I ever imagined I could.  This year I had planned to see how much I've improved after a year of running under my belt.  Let's just say that I'm surprised things didn't end in total disaster with the way things have been going...

The nice thing about Wrigley is that the packet pick up was that they had it at Sports Authority which was only a half mile from my apartment, so very convenient.  I opted to do the pick up that was a week before the race.  I met up with my friend Jennifer after work and we headed over.  It was a painless pick up process, but we were surprised to find that the shirts this year were normal cotton shirts rather than a tech shirt.  The lady was like that should be a plus, I've got too many tech shirts.  We didn't see it as much of a plus.  I overheard others complaining on race day as well.  We looked around the store a bit.  Jennifer wanted to check out shoes and why not check out gear.  I saw that they had some compression tops from Under Armour that are kinda neat.  They are called alter ego and are basically compressions shirts made to look like superhero outfits like Superman and Batman.  I was definitely tempted, but at $45 I wasn't quite sure about getting one.  I'm now regretting that decision, because let's face it, what boy doesn't want to have a Superman costume on underneath their clothes?  The shirts are now basically sold out everywhere.

So I was a little late getting to the race, but still got there about a half hour or so before the race started and took some pictures. 

Me, Chris, and Jennifer in front of a giant macaroni.  You know you love it ;)

So I had 4 friends I was running with and we waited around by the macaroni a bit in case any of the other bloggers decided to stop by.  About 20 minutes before start time we finally headed to gear check and were met by long lines.  I was starting to get anxious that I wouldn't make it back to the start line in time.  I always get real nervous about being late for certain things, and my stomach starts to turn.  I really have no idea why it happens to me but it does.  I finally check my bag and head to the start line.  I was just in time for the 30 second warning.  I tried to sync my watch and pulled off my arm warmers since I didn't think I'd need them.

At this point all I was thinking was so much for the plan.  I had wanted to jog around and do some striders to warm up before the race.  I've finally gotten to a point that I can feel a difference when I warm up for a run and when I don't.  Once I warm up I tend to slide into a groove and able to run much faster without even realizing it.  Now it was too late.  The gun fired and I didn't even have my watch synced so I was running blind and by feel.

Mile 1 - 6:43
I know what you're thinking, how did I know my time without my watch?  I made mental notes of the race clocks as I passed them and subtracted how far behind my chip time was.  I knew I had gone out fairly fast, but felt I could keep it up.  This was my goal race, I was going to endure some pain in order to PR.  My watch finally synced up about .4 miles into the race.  I have it set to show my current pace and was shocked to see 6:30 flashing at me... and this was after I slowed myself after an initial burst.  I slowed myself a touch more to around 6:46 and tried to hold it.  I know I slowed again once we turned onto Ravenswood and hit a very slight uphill portion.  I see the race clock and knew I had just recorded my fastest mile ever timed.  I once ran a 6:45 in the 6th grade, but never timed any of my miles in middle or high school.

Mile 2 - 7:05
Here is where I feel like 2012 all over again.  Last year I went out way fast and faded.  This year I was determined to keep it strong.  Mile 2 involves a slight downhill section of Ravenswood before turning down Irving Park and heading back east.  I was cursing myself the entire way, but not letting myself give up.

Mile 3 - 7:30
Shortly into the 3rd mile there is a sharp hairpin turnaround usually reserved for longer out and back races.  I lost all momentum.  I was able to get my legs back up to speed and turned down Clark for the last stretch.  Once you get back to Waveland there is a crowd all around and you enter the concourse of Wrigley Field.  I focus on my breathing and keeping the legs going.  My PR was in site, I just needed to keep it up.

Mile 3.1 - 0:42
The marker for the 3rd mile was inside the stadium.  We exit under the marquee and turn north for the final stretch.  I pick up the pace slightly, but can't get my legs into a full sprint like I normally do.  I cross the finish line knowing I had accomplished what I came to do and maybe more.

I went through the finishing shoot and got some Gatorade, a bottle of water and half a bagel.  There were bananas too, but I never touch those.  I went over to Waveland and saw Chris finish.  I tried watching for Jennifer but never saw her.  We went to pick up our gear and low and behold there was Jennifer.  At the table they had QR codes we could scan to find out our times.  I came into the race hoping to break 23:00 and had a stretch goal of 22:00.  I set my previous best just 2 weeks ago running a 23:20 and the Race That's Good For Life just 2 weeks ago.

I finished in 22:00!  I was beside myself.  This was a 1:20 improvement in a 5K in just 2 weeks.  I'm thrilled that I did so well, but also wonder what could have been if I had time to warm up and ran a smarter race i.e. negative splits.  Oh well, there's always next year!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What is this sleep you speak of?

Yes I know, been a bad blogger and going too long between posts.  I didn't have anything particularly witty to write about over the weekend.  I did my usual run and relax routine.  I did help a friend get through their long run an Saturday and then joined them to pick out new running shoes.  I couldn't help offering my input on some shoes to try out.  I think the lady at Fleet Feet might have been a little annoyed with me.  Sorry if I'm a shoe geek.

Anyways the other reason for the gap between posts is because my work week has been a little hectic to say the least.

Monday I get to work and find out some conversion tasks for our testing environment weren't run correctly.  We had a mad scramble to try and fix the issues before testing started at 5pm.  Well we encountered many issues and wound up not getting things fixed until around 7 PM delaying testing.  I had left work while coworkers were sorting out issues and picked things up when I got home.  Once the initial problems were resolved I finally went for a late run. When I get back from my run I find out there is an emergency conference call because more issues.  Argh!  Long story short I stay up until 3AM working on issues until we finally get our batch running somewhat stable.

Tuesday I still manage to make it to the office around 9AM so I'm on 4 hours of sleep, and more chaos had broken out... batch was at a standstill from the prior night so we spent an additional 6 hours troubleshooting before decided to just delete the data giving us trouble and moving on.  We were supposed to run 3 consecutive days of batch and we were already 12 hours behind.  Once again I leave for home an an opportune time and get home to find out there are more issues.  I lend a hand until things are under control before heading out for another late night run.  I get back and find out that all is actually well.  We finally start the day 2 batch about 5 hours behind schedule, but I wind up staying up until 1AM making sure things kick off correctly.

Today I decided to sleep in a little extra since I needed it.  It also helps that I was ordered by my boss to recover since he was going to need me.  I got into the office and find out day 2 went way better than day 1.  The day was spent doing damage control from first 2 days and trying to determine all the issues and their causes.  It doesn't help that I'm the lone all encompassing expert for the data warehouse work being done so all the other various teams kept asking for "just a minute" of my time with various questions.  This adds up when people stop by every 10-15 minutes.

The good news is my boss is buying me lunch on Thursday.  The whole team actually - we're very sleep deprived and many of us have skipped meals to get work done.  We have the rest of this week and next week to work on fixing all of our issues before testing goes into parallel mode, meaning our batch will run daily for 2 months straight.  I really don't want to be working 16 hour days for 2 months so wish me luck.

I'm looking forward to Race to Wrigley this weekend.  It is the site of my first 5K and I want to measure my improvement over last year.  Hopefully I will be a little more well rested by then.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Running for a Cause

Normally I'm not much of a person to ask for charity or do fundraising, but last year I found a great race and cause I could relate to.  The event is the Strike Out ALS 5K.  I bet you're asking what makes this race so special?  Well it is put on by the Les Turner ALS foundation.  The organization helps Chicago area ALS patients receive care and contributes to research.  I was drawn to the foundation because shortly after I started running, I lost my uncle to ALS in November of 2011.  My uncle was one of the sweetest guys ever.  He was very mild natured and would help anyone out.  I wanted to do something to honor his memory and help fight the disease that took him from his family and friends.

And what makes this race fun?  Well for starters it is run at US Cellular Field!  Most of the race is run through the parking lot, but then around the 2.5 mile mark you enter the stadium and run through the entire lower level, past the locker rooms, training rooms, and offices.  Just when you wonder how long you are going to circle you go up a short ramp and find yourself on the actual field near home plate!  From there you race around the edge of the field towards right field, along the warning track, before crossing the finish line in left field.  This doesn't get much better for a runner who is also a baseball fan like myself.  Once you finish the race they have some of the concession stands open so you can grab food, sit in the stands and then watch everyone else finish the race.  The other bonus is they broadcast the All Star game on the jumbotron to watch as well.

I know the race is in July and on a Tuesday night, but its for a good cause and there is free parking!  I have started a team if you'd like to join me - Team Moore.  No pressure for fundraising, just come and run - that alone will help support a good cause.  If you can't make it but still want to contribute you can also enter donations at the site.

My uncle Jerry, with family and friends and not letting his situation stop him from smiling.