Saturday, December 31, 2011

Race Report: Dash into the New Year 5K

Dash into the New Year 5K
Gen and me
Spoiler alert: I PR'd.

Awhile back, me, my BFF Genevieve, and some of my local online runner friends who I don't think I had yet met in person, signed up for a local inaugural 5K through a Schwaggle deal on I think it was $15 for the race and the shirt (which turned out to be a long sleeve tech shirt).

After almost PR'ing for real at my last 5K-that-wasn't, I was eager for this race so I could actually PR.

Going into the race, I knew I probably wouldn't place in my age group. They were doing 10-year age groups, and only doing awards for the top 2, and between the fast women in my running club and another local fast gal who we knew would be there, I didn't have my hopes set on placing. (Spoiler alert: I didn't place.)

The race course was nice. It started off at the Matteson Community Center, headed to a street that went over the expressway (hill), did a small loop through a neighborhood, came back over the expressway (again with the hill), did another small loop through a different neighborhood, and finished. There were a few spots that were a little slick, but not too bad.

New Years Virtual 5K
Also doing this as a New Years Virtual 5K
Also, note to self: don't eat anything in the morning before a 5K. Not even a few bites of a Clif Bar. Just don't.

I started off the race closely following Amanda, who has been taking some time off from running because of pain. Between miles 1 and 2 I passed Amanda, but Kelly caught up with me. We stayed together until pretty much the end, I kicked at the end, and she kicked too, and she finished before me.

When I was telling my husband this story, he asked why I didn't trip her. He said he would have tripped Jason [his BFF]. And they think women are the catty ones.

After catching my breath and getting some water and a banana (and my phone out of my car), I backtracked on the course to find Genevieve. She was run/waking with a really sweet woman she met on the course, and that woman helped her PR as well! Runners are so awesome!!!

Amanda and Kelly both placed second in their age groups (I placed third, behind Kelly). I was just so happy to PR! Considering just eight months ago, I PR'd in a 5K with a time of 28:15. Also, I beat Kelly by one second at the Turkey Trot, and she beat me by a second today, so I guess we're even? Perhaps this will become our thing? Heh. 

You may have noticed (if you read my last post) that I PR'd a lot this year. I've only been running for two years, and my training kind of fell off last winter (as you can see by a screen grab from Daily Mile), so I'm still improving as a runner. Eventually, I won't PR as much, but hopefully my times will be more consistent (hopefully consistently fast). So I'll enjoy it while I can!

Official: 23:41.8, pace 7:38
Overall: 42 / 253
F20-29: 3 / 21

2011 in Pictures

Here is a look back on my year, or at least the stuff I took pictures of. Other stuff happened, I just didn't photograph it. (P.S. I promise this is my last year-end themed post. Sorry. I like them.)

We rang in the new year pretty low-key: dinner out with friends, followed by Guitar Hero and other stuff that I didn't take pictures of. Here I am trying to make sure my niece follows in the family footsteps and becomes a musician of some sort.

Remember the February 1 blizzard


In April, we went to Galena to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary

Main Street, Galena

Race #1: Strive 5K. P.R. And we both placed in our age groups.

about to do a race. nice number. post race

Race #2: Soldier Field 10 Mile

Soldier Field 10 Mile ... done! #sf10

Race #3: Commit to be Fit 5K. Won my age group. Another P.R.

Won my age group at this weekend's race

Went to my first and last Cubs game of 2011. But got to watch the game from a private suite (thanks to my husband's company) for the first time ever. (But I didn't take any pictures of the suite. Go figure.)

Phillies at Cubs

In July, we went to the Quad Cities for a family reunion (my Dad's family)

Race #4: Rock 'n Roll Chicago Half Marathon with my cousin. Another P.R.

In August I went to Detroit to visit a couple of my college besties.

Great Lakes Museum

At the end of August, to help us better tackle our debt, we decided to move in with my parents. Packing up my precious cargo ...

And these are just my summer shoes ...

Race #5: Fort2Base 10 Nautical Mile with The Sailor. Beat him by one second.

In September, I saw Ani Difranco in concert for the 4th time

Ani Difranco at The Vic Theater, Chicago, 9/21/11

At the end of September/beginning of October, my friend Scott and I went to Boston to visit our BFF Vera


Race #6: While we were there, I ran the Applefest Half Marathon with Vera. Another P.R.

Applefest Half Marathon

Cape Cod

Cape Cod

Race #7: Monster Dash 5K Obstacle Course with The Sailor and our friend Tiny. I wore an old pirate costume.

Halloween: Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas & Michael Myers

Halloween 2011

Race #8: Palos Park Rec Dept Turkey Trot 5K with The Sailor. We both placed in our age groups. Another P.R. (for me at least ... I haven't been keeping track of his times).

Palos Park Rec Turkey Trot 5K - 2nd in my age group Palos Park Rec Turkey Trot 5K - 3rd in his age group

Race #9: Running For Kicks 4mi Turkey Trot with The Sailor and my BFF Vera.

Running For Kicks 4 Mile Turkey Trot

Race #10: Reindeer Run 5K (which was actually 2.9mi) at Brookfield Zoo. 2nd in my age group. Would have been a P.R. if the course was 3.1mi.

Reindeer Run 5K

Another concert: Florence and The Machine

Florence and the Machine!

Race #11: Dash into the New Year 5K. (Race report coming.) Another P.R. (faster pace than the Reindeer Run 5K). I'll be sad when I stop every race.

Dash into the New Year 5K

Also this year, I started making more running friends (in person). Here I am with some F'N Runners (Frankfort New Lenox Running Club)

F'N Runners

2011 may not have been the perfect year - we went from renting a room at a friend's house to living with my parents, so a step down from what already felt like a compromise.

But this year reminded me that I am so very lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing, supportive family, and really great friends. It brought me closer to my roots - not just literally back to the house I grew up in, but closer to people who have known me for a long time, through many different versions of "me," and still love me.

This year reminded me yet again that I may not have everything I want, but I am blessed to have everything I need. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I have my health, and I found something I love to help keep me healthy, physically and mentally. I have people who I love and who love me, and I get to see many of them on a regular basis. I have a good job where I am challenged and respected.

And I have some bling! Here's to a fantastic 2012!

race medals

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Running Lessons Learned in 2011

Are you getting sick of year-end posts yet? No? Me neither.

I've only been running for two years now, so I know I still have A LOT to learn about this sport and my abilities, especially as I look to train for and finish my first marathon in 2012. That being said, I did learn some things this past year ...

F'N Runners
F'N Runners plus our mascot, Kelly's dog Pepper.
Running is better with friends. 

I know I've written about this multiple times, but it is so true. Not only is it more motivating (it gets me out there when it's cold and/or dark), but it pushes me to run faster, and it's nice to have people to talk about running with because my husband is getting tired of listening to me ramble on about it. (Also why I have this blog.) And he's getting tired of me trying to force him to run races every month (or more). So it's nice to have other friends to race with and spare him from being dragged to races and me from racing alone.

You need support. This time I'm not talking about friends.

I knew my cheap, flimsy Target sports bras weren't cutting it based on feel alone, but I wore them anyway. But as soon as I saw this race picture, I realized it wasn't just the feel that was bad. Now I am all about Moving Comfort sports bras (the Juno is my favorite, but their site has different recommendations based on size).

Run by effort, not pace. 

When I got my Garmin, I started running with the heart rate strap, but I quickly realized I had no idea what heart rates I should aim for. I did some "research" (read a Runner's World article that I can't find online anymore) and put together a spreadsheet with some formulas, and now I try to target certain heartrates when I run, and ignore my pace as much as possible. It's a better indicator of how fast I should be running, and it also prevents any race-regret - if I run based on my target heartrate, then I ran the best race I could that day. I don't second-guess if I could have run a faster race. However, I realize reading one article doesn't exactly make me an expert and perhaps I should do more research if I'm trying to base the majority of my running around following my heart rate.

What did you learn this year? I also learned a better way to tie my shoes. In case you're interested, I make loops like this and then tie the bow like this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Running Goals for 2012 and a Revised Race Schedule

Chicago Marathon 10.10.10
Chicago Marathon 10.10.10
Jumped in for a few blocks with my cousin.
Next time I run in the marathon it will be for real.
Also I should get her a hat as a late Christmas gift.
I'm not one for New Years Resolutions, because it's hard to stick to stuff like "eat better" and "exercise more" without any concrete end-game.

(Except during Lent. I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore, but Lent still has this hold over me. It's the only time when I say I'll give up sweets or meat and actually stick to it for 40 days.)

Personally, I find it much more effective to set a goal like "run your first half marathon" and use that as the carrot to stick to anything resolution-like (and get me back in a bikini).

So, that being said, these are my running goals for 2012:
  • Finish the Chicago Marathon! This is the biggie. If I only do this (in my running-life), I will be pretty happy. 
  • Run 100 miles in one month and 30 miles in one week. 
  • Run over 1,000 miles during the entire year (average of 19.2 miles per week).
  • Set at least one PR (for a distance I've raced before).
  • Place in the top three in my age group in a race with over 300 finishers.
  • Not running related: Make a significant dent in our debt. 
For a point of reference, in my brief history of running:
Highest monthly mileage = 88 miles
Highest weekly mileage = 25 miles
Highest yearly mileage = 710 miles (and counting, but there are four days left in the year)

My 2012 goals list was originally a lot longer. But, I realized I have two major goals in my life right now - the marathon, and paying off our debt. As I was putting together my wish-list race schedule (which is below), I realized I was including some races not because I really wanted to do them, but to reach certain goals (race a certain distance, race in another state, qualify for the Half Fanatics). All worthy goals, but I don't want to pick so many goals that it starts to detract from my two major goals right now. So I edited the list to keep me focused on the marathon, and also to keep me from spending money on races I'm not excited about.

Sidenote: I might start blogging about our progress toward paying down debt if only to keep me more accountable. I do actually want to move out of my parents' house sooner rather than later, and I need to start acting like it by reigning in the spending as much as I can without going crazy. 

That being said, I've already re-evaluated my 2012 race schedule since my last post about it. These are all of the races I'd love to do. But I know I should save a little money and not do them all. 

1/15: Midwinter Cruise 5K [registered]
2/4: Frost Bite 5K
2/11: Cupid's Chase 5K [registered]
3/10: Oak Forest Fledh 5K
3/11: Running O' The Green 8K
3/25: Shamrock Shuffle 8K
4/1: Chi-Town Half Marathon
4/14: Rockdale Rambin Run 10K
May TBD: Chicago Spring Half Marathon [if it doesn't conflict with a wedding]
6/9: 13.1 Chicago
7/4: Stars and Stripes 5K
9/9: Chicago Half Marathon
10/7: Chicago Marathon [already started fundraising]

Are you doing any of these races? Let me know! That will help me narrow down this list :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Runner Q&A

race medals
2011 Race Medals. 
Click to view larger and for a list of
which medal is from which race.
I've seen a couple variations of runner Q&A posts floating around the running blogosphere, so here's my version of them mashed together.

Questions asked by Miss Zippy (2011 in review):

Best race experience? Soldier Field 10 Mile - My first longer race that went really well for me. No pains, no losing steam - I took it slow and was able to pick up my pace in the last few miles and finish feeling awesome and strong and powerful and inspired.

Best run? Running around Boston. I was visiting BFF Ultra Vera and she had to go to work, so I just laced up and went out and explored. I had my phone with me so I could find my way around (and take pictures). I realized Vera was right - going out for a run is a great way to explore a new town. 

Best new piece of gear? My Garmin watch. It's not perfect, but I'm a numbers nerd. Plus I love running by heart rate and not chasing some arbitrary pace. 

Best piece of running advice you received? Run by effort, not pace. It forces me to take my slow runs slow, and I know that I'm pushing myself enough during other runs. Also if I race by heart rate, I know that I've given each race my all, and I never have any post-race regret thinking I might have been able to do better. If I ran by my heart rate, I knew I ran smart and achieved the best time my body could for that day. 

Most inspirational runner? BFF Ultra Vera. She ran a freaking ultramarathon - 56 miles - on the other side of the world. And will probably do it again. Why? Well ... why not? In her own words, she wants to see what her body is capable of. Have you pushed your body to the limit? I know I haven't. But she inspires me to keep trying. 

From via Adrian at (edited down from 11 questions)

Why are you running?  BFF Ultra Vera encouraged me to sign up for a half marathon two years ago. I don't remember why I listened to her, I guess it was something to do. It was around New Years, so it seemed like a good resolution. Eventually (like ... over a year later), running stopped feeling like a chore. I started really loving it and now I look forward being able to lace up and head out. 

Who is in your running support network? BFF Ultra Vera of course, but in the past few months I've been able to connect with some really great local running groups - the F'N Runners and the Yankee Runners (via Monday night runs at the local running store, although I will likely train with them in 2012 for the Chicago Marathon and possibly a spring half).

How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run? Make plans to meet up with other runners. That is what gets me out of bed at 6am on a Saturday when the temps are in the 20s. That is what gets me to put on running clothes before I leave the office and run 4-6 miles on Mondays and Wednesdays, in the dark and probably cold.

How are you improving on your past training in order to get faster? Actually stick to a training plan. For my first half marathon, I did not do a very good job sticking to the plan I picked out. And come race day, it showed. Since then, I have done a better job sticking to training plans, and guess what, race day is a lot more enjoyable. I'm also starting to work on additional things to improve performance, such as diet, losing weight and building strength.

Also ... I'm still debating which domain to buy for my blog. These are still in the running. (Get it? Running?) I feel like each of these somehow represents ME. (And plz don't steal kthnx.) - love of numbers and desserts - my hair color - with red hair comes pale skin - reference to my name and also Chicago (thanks to Amanda for the suggestion)

I'll just keep mulling it over ... 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas ... No Room For Pie FAIL

When The Sailor and I first became a "serious couple" (a couple that spent holidays together), we tried to squeeze both families into one day on holidays. That didn't last long. I think we did one long Thanksgiving day with two gigantic feasts and an hour drive in between and it was exhausting (from the length of the day and the amount of digesting we had to do).

We quickly decided to pick one family for each holiday, and rotate to keep things fair. This year, we spent Thanksgiving day with my family, so Christmas day was for The Sailor's family.

The Sailor with our nephew

Cuddling with my nephew (and his Star Wars action figures).


Niece and nephew. Probably eating cookies. Check out the personalized placemats.

My husband was one month old in this picture.
He was over 10 pounds when he was born.
I am kind of scared to have his children.

Getting ready to open presents

Also, I think I might need to rename this blog for real. I ate so much food during the day (grazing on appetizers, dinner and Christmas cookies) that by the time dessert came out, I was too full to eat anything. So I didn't have any of the triple-layer chocolate cake that The Sailor made from scratch, or any pumpkin pie (MY FAVORITE). No cake. NO PIE. Nothing. Just a small glass of homemade egg nog.

And, my sister-in-law Melissa (brother Mark's wife) got me a set a penguin footie pajamas. I think she said she also got a pair for our other sister-in-law, and has a pair herself. Might need to get a photo ... something to go along with this gem from 2009 a.k.a. a Very Snuggie Christmas?

a very snuggie Christmas
In the Zebra snuggie: brother Steve and his wife Loren
In the leopard snuggie: brother Mark and his wife Melissa
In the blue "snuggle up with Skilling" snuggie: The Sailor and me

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Cookie Run

Started off my Christmas Eve with a group run with the F'N Runners. We were planning to run anyway, but also decided to participate in the Christmas Virtual 5K (and some of us also did a virtual 10K). Here we are with our virtual race bibs:

F'N Runners Christmas Eve
That's Kelly on the far left in the awesome ugly sweater vest,
and BFF Ultra Vera is second from right. And a bunch of non-bloggers.

After running (7.18 miles in 1:09:09, 9:38 pace, which included hills, and a stop to blow my nose), we headed to Starbucks for cookies (and coffee of course).

F'N Runners Cookie Exchange

Post-run cookie exchange

How's your Christmas Eve going? Eating lots of cookies? Did you get a chance to do a festive run?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Seen on My Run: Dirt Jumps

Today was a gorgeous, sunny, chilly (30 degrees) day, just begging me to go outside and run. So I did. I'm still getting used to running around my new (old) neighborhood, and this time decided to head south. I ended up near the dirt jumps for BMX riding that my brother and his friends have maintained in a forest preserve for the past 15+ years. Not sure how many times the jumps have been bulldozed and remade. But they are pretty impressive. They are built in a loop, I'd guess one time around might be 100 meters. Maybe 200? (I'm a terrible judge of distance.) Here is a video of my brother riding around the loop in a Sasquatch costume (it was around Halloween).

No riders were there today (it was in the middle of the day on Friday) but I did stop to take pictures:

Monee Jumps

Monee Jumps

Monee Jumps

Monee Jumps

The jumps really are made for bikes and most of them are too steep to (safely) run up or down. I didn't want to risk twisting my ankle so I resisted the urge to run around the loop.

More Christmas Cheer

In order to get the super adorable "I am smiling" photo of Olive for our Christmas e-card, I had to do a mini-photoshoot.

Olive Olive

After I made the e-card, I remembered I had a Christmas outfit for her (a dog costume from the $1 section at Target). Time for another crazy cat lady photoshoot.

"You want to do what now? That's fine. I will sh*t on the carpet again later."

Olive Olive

And to prove I'm not all cat lady all the time, I did go out to dinner tonight. With human friends. To Carnivale. Here is my Foodie Blogger review: "It was good."


Me and BFF Ultra Vera
Visit for your very own Jesus Toaster.