Chicago Marathon Training, Week 15 Recap

Two weeks to go ‘til marathon time…
And I am officially BACK TO RUNNING!
Buhbye, ITBS, you biotch.

Sunday, September 22nd: rest

Monday: 5 miles 50 minute run/walk (10r:2w ratio)
Started with 5 minutes of walking to warm up + stretching. Then, it was time to try 10 straight minutes of running and see how it felt.

And it felt gooooood!

I ran for 10 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of walking, and repeated that two more times for a total of 36 minutes. I ended with a nice walk back home to cool down & lots of stretching.

Total of 51 minutes & 4.12 miles.

Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt.
I had a lot of stuff to finish for work & then had to pack before I headed to Chicago for the rest of the week. I traded off my bike ride I’d planned for after my PT appointment, so I could get the important things done.

Wednesday: 5 miles rest

I knew I wouldn’t be able to work out this day; I had to get up at 5am to get ready and catch a super early train to Chicago. I was in workshops and panels until 8:30pm (long day!) and then had to catch up on work emails after that. I’m pretty sure I walked at least a couple miles around the city though, so at least I got some movement in.

Thursday: 5 miles 30 minute run (10r:1w ratio)  
Well I was planning to get in a run…but after my conference was done for the day and I headed back to my sister’s place (my temporary home while I stayed in Chicago), I decided I needed some quality sister-time filled with food, wine and talking. So, that’s what I did.

Probably shouldn’t have skipped the run, but sister time always comes first! But, I think I walked a total of 4-5 miles all day, so at least there’s that. City livin’ sure gets you moving around.

Friday: rest
Another planned rest day, as I had to work in the morning until my conference stuff began, then had to travel back home after it was all over. I was so happy to get back home Friday night, but was so exhausted that I went straight to bed… by 9:30!

Saturday: 20 miles 10 miles (10r:2w)
Duuuudes. TEN MILES! Yeah.

I really wasn’t sure how this run would go. I was hoping it’d go well, since it’s been over a month since my last long run, and time is running short (pun not intended). I decided to keep with the 10 minutes running/2 minutes walking ratio, so I could really ramp up the mileage with less chance of aggravating my hips and knees. And it worked!

I enjoyed the first few miles and didn’t really think or worry about how things were feeling. Then I got to 4.5 miles and realized that was almost the furthest I’d run since I’d been injured. I got nervous for the next few miles, and then…

I looked at my watch and was at 7 miles. I still felt really good. My hip was feeling normal, my water belt was keepin’ my sweaty beast of a self hydrated, and I was popping Jelly Belly Sport Beans like a, uh, fat kid who’s running hungry? Because that’s probably what I looked like.

But, it was at that 7-mile point that I finally realized, and decided in my head, that I was going to do it. I would make it to 10 miles today.

The last few miles were exciting and continued to feel great. I had to hold myself back from picking up the pace. I got to 10 miles but was still over a mile from home. I got to almost 10.5 miles and decided—why would I push my luck?! So I stopped and finished the run up with a good bit of walking.

Proof of 10-miler awesomeness.

Proof of 10-miler awesomeness.

{Don’t mind my nasty un-manicured nails. Priorities, people.}

My average pace, with the walking mixed in, was around 11:45/mile. That’s about a minute slower than I originally wanted to pace the marathon, but at this point, I’m just happy I’ll be able to have any pace & can run it at all.

This week’s schedule:

  • Sunday: 30-mile bike ride (talk about cross training!)
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 40-minute run/walk
  • Wednesday: 3 miles yoga
  • Thursday: 40 minute run/walk
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 8 miles 13 mile run/walk

Second-to-last week of training, but it’s finally starting to look like a normal week. If I were starting to taper now, I’d be down to an 8-mile long run next week. But, I feel like I’ve been tapering for weeks already, so I’m going to go for 13 miles. That at least gets me halfway through the marathon, mentally…and I think my body, and mind, will be strong enough to get me through the other half, to the end.

“Taper time!” everyone seems to be exclaiming joyously. What are your tips for dealing with the taper, and what should a runner be doing differently (or additionally) during it? 


Conference + City Livin’ in Sweet Home Chicago

I’m back! I had quite a busy week with work, workshops & a conference in downtown Chicago.

Last Wednesday, I headed to Chicago to attend the WebVisions conference for work.

“WebVisions exposes designers, programmers and strategists to the new ideas and trends that are revolutionizing business and the world.”

As part of my job as a web designer, it’s pretty critical I stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of web design and development, since it’s such a fast-moving and ever-changing medium, and this conference didn’t disappoint. There were so many eye-opening things I got out of it. I’m excited to go back to work this week and discuss ideas, and work out a game plan to put them into action.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways, which I think really transcend any job field, and get to the core of communication and everyday life:

Find good people doing good things, and work with them.
Whether it be at work or not—believing in what you do and who you work with is so important. [talk given by Jason Kunesh, @jdkunesh]

Stop Complaining and Do Something

Stop complaining and do something. 
So easy to say, yet sometimes, so hard to do. Where to start “doing something” is sometimes the toughest question to answer yourself. So talk to others and think positively on what you can do to create change for the better. [talk given by Jason Kunesh, @jdkunesh]

Even though we work on the web and computers all day, sometimes pen & paper are our best and most valuable tools to get ideas out of our heads.

Avoid the “swoop-n-poop.”
(Ha.) Involve important stakeholders in decision-making up front, so they don’t come into the picture at the end of the road and ask “what if,” virtually swooping in and pooping on all the ideas and work you’ve already done. Okay, sounds funny and not professional I know, but as a design professional, this is an all too familiar situation! [collaboration & critique workshop given by Adam Connor from MadPow]

Find your “north star” and make your game plan to get there.
In work & personal life, it’s important to figure out what’s most important to you and how you want to get there (and when)—especially to keep them both balanced. Having a plan keeps you focused and helps you stay on track. [talk given by Jason Ulaszek]

Beyond the conference, it was fun pretending to live and work in the city for a few days.

Hi there, Chicago river!

Hi there, Chicago river!

But, a few days is all it takes to remind me how much I’m NOT made for city living. I mean, the only picture I took of the city while there was of this river–not the million buildings surrounding it! I missed the peace & quiet of my house, my yard, and the laid-back nature of my town. Constantly looking at train schedules, maps, rushing around, and bustling through crowds of people everywhere isn’t exactly relaxing.

It was fun to stay with my sister & brother-in-law in Ravenswood (just a 15-minute train ride outside of downtown), and spend a little time with them. One night, my sister and I went to Acre and noshed on some delicious cheese, shrimp, mushroom tart, and pork tacos. (I was too busy stuffing my face to take photos, sorry.) They have a great wine and beer selection, which we also enjoyed. 😉 I would definitely recommend the restaurant, whether for dinner, or just a couple small plates for a snack.

The only down side to my time in the city: I never got a chance to run.  I foresaw that happening, with getting up early and staying up late every night to answer emails and get some work done, and conference-ing all day. It was a whirlwind.

I was happy to arrive home (exhausted!) on Friday night, to the fiancé waiting at the train station for me. I was in bed by 9:30 and slept nearly 12 hours! I guess that’s a sign of a long, but great, week.

What do you think of my conference takeaways? Does it spark any advice that you’ve heard, or your own? Are you a city or country person?

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 14 Recap

Fourteen weeks down, and only three more to go until the Chicago Marathon. I’ve been able to increase my running this week, so I’m stoked! But, with time ticking down, I’m starting to get nervous about how that 26.2 mile run will go…

Sunday, September 15th: rest
With lots of stretching.

Monday: 5 miles 35 minute run/walk (4r:2w ratio)
Like all my run/walks, I started my workout with 5 minutes of walking to warm up, and some stretching. Then, I did 5 rounds of 4-minutes running + 2-minutes walking. I felt good the whole time—yay! No uncomfortable feeling in my knees or hips like I had on Saturday. I cooled down with 15 minutes of walking to get some extra time on my feet.

Total of 49 minutes & 3.64 miles.

Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt.
Now that the sun is going down earlier every day, by the time I get home from PT at nights after work, I don’t have much time for biking before the sun sets. Even if I had wanted to bike on Tuesday, my PT doc put me through so many lunges that my legs felt like Jello! I didn’t get in any cardio, but she sure gave my muscles a good workout.

Wednesday: 8 miles 35 minute run/walk (6r:2w ratio) rest
I had set my alarm to run in the morning, because I was going to be busy volunteering at a 5K race in the afternoon…only to wake up to the crack of thunder and flashing of lightning. Ah, well! My legs were realllllly sore from PT on Tuesday, so I happily went back to sleep. I didn’t have time to run before or after the 5K that night, so I had an unplanned rest day.

Thursday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt + 35 minute run/walk (6r:2w ratio)
Since I couldn’t run on Wednesday, I told my PT doc that I wanted to try running after my appointment. I was still quite sore from Tuesday (apparently I should do lunges more often), so the PT staff gave my hip some ultrasound action, some stretching, and only a few exercises to work on strength.

I headed out for my run at dusk. I felt really great, and did 5 rounds of 6-minute run + 2-minute walk recovery.

With warm-up and cool-down walking, I went for a total of 40 minutes & 3.45 miles.

Friday: rest + PT appt
I think introducing the running back into my routine is tougher on my legs and muscles than I thought it’d be, since they haven’t been pounding pavement for a few weeks. On Friday, I felt pretty tight and sore (in a good way—not painfully) so the PT staff gave me a good stretch out. I felt much better afterwards, though there were a few spots that just felt like they wouldn’t loosen, no matter what.

Saturday: 35 minute run/walk (8r:2w ratio)
I originally thought I could jump to a 10:1 ratio, but my PT doc set me straight on Friday when I asked her about it. 😉 So I did an 8-minute run + 2-minute walk recovery instead, building back up, slow & steady. I did push the time a bit, and did 5 rounds of 8-minutes running + 2-minutes walking.

Combined with my warm-up and cool-down walking, I had a total of 55 minutes and 4.81 miles.

I felt great the whole run/walk, and was just so happy to get some mileage in and feel good doing it. My hopes are continuing to raise about the marathon, but I also realize that ~5 miles is still a far cry from 26 miles…

This week’s schedule:

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 5 miles 40 minute run/walk (10r:2w ratio)
  • Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt
  • Wednesday: 5 miles rest
  • Thursday: 5 miles 30 minute run/walk (10r:1w ratio)
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 20 miles 10 miles (with some walking mixed in)

This week’s schedule is a little wacky, because I’m going to downtown Chicago Wednesday through Friday for a web design & development conference (woo – geeks unite!). I’m not sure when I’ll fit in some running around the city, but I’m planning on Thursday morning for now. I’ll start with 30 minutes, and if I feel good I might go up to 40 minutes.

Saturday, I’m hopeful to do a run/walk of 10 miles, but realistically I bet my PT will tell me that’s pushing it. But, I was hoping to do 10 miles this Saturday so I can jump up to 13 miles next Saturday…and the following weekend is the full marathon. If I can’t at least get to 13 miles before that, I think I might freak out!

What would you do if you were me—try for 10 miles, or be conservative and hold back still?

After taking so long off and just now introducing running back into my routine, I don’t want to dive in too quickly…but I think I need somewhat of an aggressive (but safe) approach if I want to complete the Chicago Marathon still. Eep.

Fall 2013 Workout Music

My extensive August playlist has blasted me through six weeks’ of workouts, but I thought it was time to update it for fall.

Nothing gets me more excited and motivated to run than new music!

(Well, maybe new running clothes. Especially from Lululemon. But alas… Made of money, I am not.)

This workout playlist has a fun mix of genres and styles. All of these songs will pump you up for fall running, and keep you movin’ even when the leaves start falling and the daylight wanes.

(Notice I didn’t mention cold temperatures yet—I’m not ready to face the truth.)

Fall 2013 workout playlist |

Fall 2013 Workout Music: 
Pumpin’ Blood – NONONO  <— free on iTunes right now!
All Night – Icona Pop
Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
Come & Get It – Selena Gomez
Sunny and 75 – Joe Nichols
Fallen – Imagine Dragons
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood
Slow Down – Selena Gomez
Wait For Me – Kings of Leon
Catch My Breath – Kelly Clarkson
Blurred Lines (ft. T.I. & Pharrell) – Robin Thicke
We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus

What’s on your playlist? Please share! 

Eats Lately, iPhone edition {2}

Let’s take a break from all the running and injury chatter to look at lovely pictures of something we can all enjoy…FOOD!

Hope you’re not hungry.

You will be.

Let’s start with breakfast!

Kashi Blueberry Waffles with Strawberries

Kashi Blueberry Waffles with Strawberries

I love me some carbs. To stay on the healthier track, I chow down on Kashi blueberry waffles topped with fruit. Whole grains & 6 grams of fiber (for 2) give them some staying power to last the morning. (And, two of them are only 150 calories!)

Snack time beckons next…

Oikos Toasted Coconut Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Oikos Toasted Coconut Vanilla Greek Yogurt

I try to steer clear of sugary yogurts, and also stick to the 0% fat, but I finally caved and tried the Dannon Greek Coconut Vanilla flavor. OMG. I wish I had tried it sooner. It’s rich, creamy, coconutty, and tastes quite decadent. Each single size container (~5 oz.) has 160 calories, but you get 11 grams of protein with that.

Luna Peanut Honey Pretzel Bar

Luna Peanut Honey Pretzel Bar

I’ve mentioned how much I like Luna Bars in my last eats post, and I’ve found a second favorite. This flavor is a delicious mix of sweet and salty. The Peanut Honey Pretzel Luna bar is super yummy, doesn’t taste ‘fake’ like some health bars can, and doesn’t upset my stomach if I eat it right before a post-work run.

Pretzel Crisps and Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges

Pretzel Crisps and Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges

I love cheese! I do live in Wisconsin, after all. I try to limit my cheese eating because of all the fat in it, but this is a cheesy snack that will still help you stay light on the scale. Pair some creamy Laughing Cow light cheese wedges with crunchy Pretzel Crisps for an easy snack at your work desk.

Now let’s talk dinnertime.

Best BLT ever: multi grain bread, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, avocado (the secret ingredient!), salt and pepper, lettuce and a smear of Miracle Whip.

Best BLT ever

Have you ever noticed how vibrant red tomatoes are from your own garden, or fresh picked at the farmer’s market? I got a couple giant, rich red juicy tomatoes last week and had to find a good use for them before they shriveled up like the end of summer. Enter this BLT made of dreams. Layer multi grain bread, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, avocado (the secret ingredient!), salt and pepper, lettuce and a smear of Miracle Whip. DE-LISH.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Corn on the Cob

I’ve heard people talk about grilled corn, but I never tried it until recently… I was going to grill up chicken breasts and sweet potatoes, and wanted to throw some corn on to boil. It was a hot day, though, so I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen. I found an easy guide to grilling corn and now I’m hooked. While cooking, the husks burned off my corn for the most part, which I was a little worried about at first—I kept moving them around and literally blowing out the flames. It was probably a site to see. Ha But I realized the husks burned off quickly so there wasn’t too much flame-age, and I finally just let it go. The end result was such a delicious, smoky flavor in the sweet corn. You have to try it!

And to wash it all down…

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

Mmm. My wine of choice over the last couple years, this sweet Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. I can never have just one glass of this vino. It’s my go-to!

Southern Tier Pumking Beer - A Pumpkin Beer

Southern Tier Pumking Beer

The plus side of fall’s return: Pumpkin beer! The Southern Tier Pumking beer is truly the King of pumpkin beers in my book. 😉 It’s spicy, has a lot of pumpkin flavor, but it isn’t overpowering. It’s a bit on the strong side (as in after 2 pints, I kinds feel like my head is a pumpkin), but it’s a darker and full-flavored beer, so it’s a good one to savor and sip.

And if that’s not enough…

Get a load of this brownie.

A brownie. THE brownie.

A brownie. THE brownie.

No really, can you get me a truckload of these brownies? The lady at my farmer’s market who makes these is my favorite. Gooey, fudgey, chocolate-y perfection.

What are some of your favorite eats (or drinks) lately?? Leave a comment and let me know!

Otherwise I’m just going to keep indulging on brownies and pumpkin beer over here…

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 13 Recap

Week 13 of the Chicago Marathon training has come and gone. There are only 4 weeks to go ‘til the big day, and I’m just happy I was able to run at all this week! Here’s the breakdown…

Sunday, September 8th: 60 minutes cross-train
Went on a bike ride.

Monday: rest • 15 min. bike ride
Matt said he wanted to bike, so I was all for it. Unfortunately, there were swarms of tiny flies all around our neighborhood. They were all over our shirts and shorts, pinging off our faces, and we couldn’t talk because every time we opened our mouths they somehow managed to find their way in. So gross. Obviously we decided to cut this ride short!

Tuesday: 5 miles • PT
Had a PT appointment, so did all my exercises and stretches for that. Got the green light to try some run/walking, if I didn’t have any pain before I started, so I decided Wednesday would be the day…

Wednesday: 5 miles • 50 min. bike ride + 24 min. run/walk
I had two friends who were going biking so I met up with them before attempting my run/walk. I figured it would help me warm up + loosen my legs, plus I wanted some extra cardio time since I knew I wouldn’t try to run/walk very far. The bike ride felt good, then I foam rolled my IT band and stretched really well. You can read my whole post about my run/walk success, but I ran 2 minutes/walked 1 minute for a total of 24 minutes, with no pain. YAY! Major spirit lifter.

Thursday: 5 miles PT
I was so stoked to go to the PT office and let them know about my run/walk success. They suggested I only run/walk every other day for now, so I did all my PT exercises and stretches and called it a day.

Friday: rest + PT
I had another PT appointment, this time with the doc I had originally wanted to see (she owns the clinic and is a runner herself). She suggested again that I try a run/walk method for the marathon, then gave me advice on how to build up my run/walk routine to eventually get back to running a mile at a time (you’ll see that plan in this week’s upcoming schedule at the bottom).

Since Wednesday’s 2:1 run/walk went well, she told me I could try a 4:2 run/walk on Saturday, but not to increase the time (25 minutes) unless I just added a 5-minute walk warm-up and 5-minute walk cool-down. Sold.

The PT doc massaged my IT band for a decent amount of time at the appointment, and it was a little achy all night afterwards. (This slight achiness or tenderness has continued through the weekend, so I hope it was just the massage breaking up the knots and stuff?)

Saturday: 19 miles • 3.48 miles (~2 running)
Last week I had said I’d hoped I could run 13 miles on this day, and obviously that wasn’t going to happen. I listened to my PT and started with the 5-minute walk to warm up, did some stretching, and then started my 4 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking.

I think the toughest part was actually stopping to walk after the 4-minute running periods were up, especially when I was feeling really good. It was just so exhilarating to finally get moving again! It was also tough once when, after a run interval, I stopped to do my 2-minute walk and a passing runner tried to encourage me, “Don’t stop, you’re looking strong!” Thanks for the compliment & encouragement, runner, but it’s doctor’s orders!

On the plus side, the walk breaks did give nice opportunities for some pretty photo ops:

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

I ended up tacking on an extra 4:2 set, so my total run/walk time was 30 minutes instead of 25. Heh. Who’s surprised by the stubborn runner? I did feel pretty good most of the time, but at the end, the outside of my knee started to feel uncomfortable. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel right, either. Then I had about a 10-minute walk back to my car, so I had a total of almost 45 minutes on my feet, and probably about 2 miles of running.

This week’s schedule:
I plan to continue the run/walks, hoping to slowly up the time I can go without pain… (The crossed out items are what would be on my running schedule if I were healthy.)

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 5 miles 35 minute run/walk (4:2 ratio +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt
  • Wednesday: 8 miles 35 minute run/walk (6:2 ratio, if Monday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Thursday: 5 miles PT appt + 60 min. bike ride
  • Friday: rest + PT appt
  • Saturday: 12 miles 35 minute run/walk (10:1 ratio, if Wednesday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)

With only four weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, I know at this point I won’t be able to run the whole thing… But I’m hopeful that I can at least run a mile at a time, perhaps take a minute walk break between each mile, and still finish. It will just be a loooong marathon!

What do you think of run/walking? Is it something you normally do, or would try? How’s your training going?

I have to admit, stopping to walk in the middle of my running at first felt SOOO slow. I didn’t have the patience for it. But after a couple times, I realized that the short walk breaks make running MUCH easier! I would definitely recommend new runners, or people who’ve been out of training for a while, try run/walking. It’s much less torturous. 🙂

Run-Walk Success

You guys, I did it! I ran yesterday!

Without PAINNN.

Take that, ITBS – you pain in the ass knee.

At my PT appointment on Tuesday, I asked my doctor to get real with me about when I could start trying to run regularly again. It’s been a couple weeks since my last real run, and I’m only a month out from the Chicago Marathon now. Sure, I’ve been biking a lot, doing some PT exercises to build strength, and working on my core muscles…but to complete 26.2 miles by foot, I need to get some lots of miles in on these legs. Plain and simple.

If my knee wasn’t hurting me, she said, I could try it, but shouldn’t go overboard. And of course, if it started hurting, I promised myself I would stop immediately and walk, so I don’t make things worse.

Naturally, on Wednesday I decided it was time to try a little running. Even after some massaging, exercises and stretches on Tuesday night, I didn’t have any pain or tenderness around my knee or IT band. The other doctor in the clinic had suggested I look up a run/walk plan for the marathon (since I told her I was getting nervous about it), so I figured I might as well start out run/walking now.

It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you don't stop.

I started my workout with a 45-minute bike ride, since I knew I needed to put in some real cardio time, more than I would be able to run. Plus, I figured this would be a great way to get my legs warmed up and loose, which would help to stretch them before I ran.

After the biking, I did some foam rolling on my IT bands, and then stretched really well.

Then I was off, almost holding my breath with each step I took. Except, you know, I was running and all, so I had to breathe.

I decided I would do 2 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking, and repeat that. I didn’t really have a set time or distance in my head, as I had no clue how my knee would feel, so I just trotted off without a plan, happy that it seemed the run would go okay as I took my first steps.

I continued my run/walking iterations until I got to about 12 minutes. Ecstatic that I wasn’t feeling any pain or anything at this point, I decided I better turn around and start the 12-minute jaunt back home, just in case. I didn’t want to push myself too far, right away.

By the time I got home, I was grinning like a freak, sweating like an even bigger freak, and restraining myself from jumping around. In total, I did 24 minutes of run-walking (16 minutes of running/8 minutes of walking). Not a ton, but, 16 minutes of running was longer than I could run this past Saturday, and without any aches or pains. I’ll take it.

We’ll see tonight at my next PT appointment if the little workout did anything adverse—I bet I will probably be a little tighter than the last several days, but hopefully the doc can continue to work out the tightness and knots in my IT band.

I’m taking this all as a reminder that when you start losing hope and wonder when things will turn around, you should never really worry—because before you know it, a little miracle just might happen. 🙂

Thanks for all encouraging responses to my last few posts & on Twitter, folks! And to my everyday friends and runner pals who’ve heard me yak on and on about all of this. You poor souls. I lova ya.