Monday, January 26, 2015

F3 Lake Half Marathon - Not living up to its name

Pre-race selfie. 
and I'm not complaining.

It was still a half marathon, but the three Fs (one of which includes freezing) didn't ring true this year. Since I think it took me about a month to fully thaw out last year, I was more than thankful for a partially sunny, 38 degree January day.

Despite having admonished myself about missing runs, and having fallen short on training last year, I did it again. Getting up at 5 a.m. to run on the treadmill during the week becomes unbearable and my motivation falls. Apparently I'll use just about any excuse to not run in the winter, so I had not done a Saturday long run in three weeks, and had been barely running during the week. To say I was a little skeptical of how well I was going to do is an understatement.

I spent the most of Thursday and Friday trying to decide if I would even try to run on Saturday. At first I was going to switch to the 5k, but since they charge you 10 bucks I nixed that plan. Then I wasn't going to run. Then I was. Then I wasn't. You get the idea. After consulting Mr. H., my sister, several co-workers and a couple of passerbys, I decided to just go out there, see what I could do, not push myself and have a good time; somewhat reminiscent of what I said last year: "I ... vowed to just go out there and run whatever, even if it was the slowest half marathon on Earth."

The day before the race I made sure to drink a ton of water and get plenty of sleep. The morning of I fueled up and happily put on only one layer of winter clothing rather than three. At least I was going to start the race off on a good foot. We headed to the United Club at Solider Field where we were able to WAIT INSIDE!!! before the race.

As race time approached, I said goodbye to Mr. H. and found friends. I warned them about my lack of training, but that I would try to keep up with them for a while. My first few miles went well, (10:30s). I would have loved to have kept that up the whole race, but knew it was not to be. Each mile I kept waiting to fall apart.  The further I got, the more hopeful I got that I wouldn't, but I never truly let myself believe it. We turned around at about mile 8 and I punched out my fastest mile, 10:12; probably because I was happy to be heading back. After that I started to slow down. My last three miles each clocked around 11 minutes. I had a 12 minute mile at around 10 because I gave myself a walking break through (and a little past) the aid station. As I approached the finish line though, I managed to sprint ... a little.

Finish time: 2:21:38. Last year: 2:21:24. Difference in temperature, about 40 degrees. So even though I slowed down, I somehow managed to duplicate last year's result. (Mr. H.: "imagine what you could do if you properly trained" - after he congratulated me of course.)

I love this race. Even though winter running really does suck, I have so much fun during the race, and leading up to it. And even though I don't fully stick to my training, I get myself out there more than I would if I weren't signed up for a race. It was great to wait inside this year. This year's hat is another winner, and the gloves, while a little too big for me, will be perfect for layering under mittens when the weather is back to all the Fs in F3.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Car Hat

car hat
The car hat.

I started knitting a hat in the car on the way home from Cleveland today. I'm calling it the car hat. For a while it was the ride home from Cleveland ignoring my son who is having a fit in the back seat hat. But car hat is easier to say.

I'm not done yet, but a good portion of it is finished. I'm not sure who I'm knitting the hat for. Myself, Mr. H., Baby H., one of the kids, who knows. It's a hat. It's a cute hat. It's a hat that has stripes because I have all this different yarn that I am finding different things to knit with.

But at the end of the day, it's a hat. And hats are wonderful things.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Disparate Thoughts

The new scarf that I love, not the old one that I didn't love.
When you start a scarf for your husband for Christmas and then you hate it and so you go out and buy new yarn that you like, that makes you happy, and even though it's only five days to Christmas, you are able to knit over a foot in one day because you like the yarn, you like the way the scarf looks and it actually excites you to knit it. This is why I knit. Because you can make pretty things for people that you love.

When you don't run for a week, even though last weekend you were able to run 8 miles no problem at a 10 minute pace, and you start the run feeling thirsty, you most likely won't be able to run 6 miles at that same pace, and you remind yourself why you need to run at least a couple of times during the week.

When you are feeling frustrated at this world because you feel so ineffectual about your ability to make any real change outside of expressing your frustration on Facebook, and you have a nihilistic conversation with your husband that even protesting is playing into the same system, it's best to remember that all you can do is try to make the world a better place and that small changes can add up.

When you have a son that takes dance class at school and they put on their own version of the Nutcracker called the "peanut" cracker, and he becomes obsessed with Nutcrakers and asks to watch the Nutcraker with you, and he keeps asking when the "Russian" dance is because that's the music he danced to, that's when you remember what a great thing it is to have a child.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lifetime Turkey Trot - Delayed review because stuff

A lovely shot of the woman who
finished right in front of me.
Like all good runners, the family decided to sign up for a Turkey Trot. Runners do this to themselves because (1) we're runners and we do things like this (2) Thursday morning runs are novel (3) the swag - a nice long sleeve t-shirt (4) any excuse to eat more excessively than we had already planned on. This year we did the Lifetime Turkey Day. We've been doing a tour of different turkey day races, and this one did not disappoint. Well, I was a little disappointed that Fleet Feet had only one location (not the one closest to my house) for packet pick up, but since I snagged a ride there from work, and I didn't wait too in line, I'll forgive them.

The night before the race, Mr. H. and I examined the course map, as you do, trying to make sense of it. Having both a 5k and an 8k makes the course outline strange sometimes. And the quality of course maps can be all over the place - I've seen hand-drawn maps before. This one was better than hand drawn, but still confusing, mainly because it looked like it had us running on Lake Shore Drive. Neither of us thought this was right and prepared for a general up the running path, hairpin turn, back down the running path course. Or so I thought. I've never done this race before, so had no idea they actually shut down two north bound lanes. It's definitely cool to run on Lake Shore Drive, a first for me, albeit a little hillier than the path what with those overpasses.

I had the pleasure of running with several marathon training buddies, which made the miles go by quickly. My first mile clocked in at 10:18, then a second mile of under 10, at 9:49. Mile three I slowed down because (1) I got water and then (2) took off my hoodie that I shouldn't have worn in the first place but it was so cold and I'm kinda sick of being cold, but then by the end of mile 2 I
Mr. H. all alone - yet once again proving
it's lonely at the top,
or, in this case,  in 57th place.
wasn't cold, so I had to take it off, which was difficult since my watch was in the way and I couldn't get my left arm out of the sleeve - mile 3, 10:23. But I made up for it in mile 4 ( 9:36) and mile 5 (9:08). Finishing time 49:58. Not my fastest 8k, but I'm not complaining. I know I benefited from the woman who was pacing with me (whose name I don't know because she wasn't in my training group, but I should know because we've been introduced and now I feel bad). I think having someone who is slightly faster than me to run with during races is really the key to getting myself to run faster.

My general goal in races is to finish in top 50%. In my age group, which they did in 10 year increments, I finished 95th out of 211 - so all good there. Of women, I finished 599th out of 1,218 - so just squeaked in. Unfortunately, overall I placed 1,248 out of 2,167 runners. If only I hadn't worn that hoodie.(By contrast, Mr. H. finished 5th in his age group, was the 41st male to cross the finish line and the 57th person over all. I bask in his fastness). 

After our race, Baby H. was supposed to run a 50-yard dash, but due to (a) miscommunication (b) confusion on where the start line for the kid's races was and (c) miscommunication, he missed his race. I now feel like the worst mother ever, but hope to make up for it soon with a Christmas race (fingers crossed). 

Overall, as usual, it was a fun way to start the day, get a quick 5ish-mile run in and then go home and cook and watch football (which being in Chicago is just sad) and eat lots with loved ones. I know this is kinda late, but Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week 18 - Marathon take two

Members of my CARA training group pre-race.
What can I say about running a marathon that I didn't say the first time?

The last week before the race was a mix of different emotions. I was nervous, confident, scared. The day before the race I had a meltdown and almost decided it wasn't worth it. After that I kinda just went through the motions of getting what needed to be done without thinking about what it meant. I got my bag together, laid out my clothes, made sure things were where I needed them to be, drank lots of water, ate some (more) pasta. In the morning I continued on autopilot and it didn't really hit me until my training group hit the  porta-potties before going into the gates (CARA rocks btw because they have special CARA member only porta-potties) that I was going to have to go out there and cover 26.2 miles.

But I did it. And I did it faster than the first time, by about 30 minutes, and I finished in under five hours - 4:50:50. I didn't make my "perfect race" goal of 4:45, but really, anything under five was going to make me happy, and I am. The first 20 miles I had the sincere joy of running with one of my group leaders from CARA, Jennifer. I credit her with keeping me on pace that first 20 miles. Once we split up, I held it together until about mile 22; I was actually having thoughts that I might not hit the wall. But, the thing about the wall, it kinda sneaks up on you. By the end of mile 22, I was smack dab up against the wall and I never really got over it or around it, and I basically lugged it with me the last four miles. But the good thing was, while it slowed me down, I still pushed myself to run. I finished with an overall pace of 11:06 and the knowledge that I can can fight through the pain (at least a little). 

The amazing CARA team at the Expo.
Once I got across the finish line I didn't  have that feeling of euphoria that makes you forget your pain. What I had was a constant thought that I needed to get to the end of the chute before I sat down otherwise the EMTs wouldn't let me leave without checking me out. In a zombie state, I made it out of the chute and then out of the runner area and through the throngs of people waiting for their runners and into the arms of my wonderful husband. It was a slow, but short walk across the street to the CARA compound where I was able to take off my shoes, change my clothes, get food and drink, relax and meet up with other runners. 

So that was my second marathon, in a nutshell. While I've never run any other marathon, the Chicago marathon definitely is special. The course support, as always, was awesome, from the volunteers to the spectators. I can't imagine running a marathon without someone pretty much every step of the way cheering and clapping and saying way to go. 

Other general thoughts on the race:

A great pic of CJ with me, Jennifer and Anne
in the background (source CJ's friend).
The expo was fun and I spent way too much money. I now own three, no four, shirts that say something about the 2014 Chicago Marathon on them.

I liked the packet pick up. Even though you needed to show ID along with your confirmation ticket and the fact that no one else could pick up your bib, a sign that security is a lot higher at these things, checking in and getting the bib was smooth.

The shirt is less than exciting. In fact, it's pretty boring and basic. It's a plain gray shirt with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon logo on the front and the date on one sleeve. It feels more like a BoA shirt than a Chicago Marathon (that happens to be run by BoA) shirt. Having ordered shirts like these for events, I wonder if they completely forgot they needed 45,000 t-shirts until a couple of weeks ago and this was the best they could do.

The woman who put the medal around my neck, thank you. Thank you for sounding like you really meant it (and you probably did) when you said I deserved it and that I had earned it. It's a small thing, but it made me feel great.

To the woman in the bathroom after the race who gave me a dab of toothpaste when I commented that bringing a toothbrush was a great idea, thank you. Your kind act made me feel human again.

I could, and probably should, dedicate an entire post to what it's like to train with CARA, but basically it's awesome and everyone should do it. From the support during training, the compound before the race in the Hilton with special bag check, to the CARA only porta-potties before the race. CARA rocks (and I'm not just saying that because I'm married to someone who works there).

Another great thing about training with a group is you run into a bunch of people on the course. Not only did I run a good deal of the race with Jennifer, but I also had the pleasure of seeing several people from my training group along the course. It definitely helped the miles go by. Plus, I was able to sneak into a couple of their pictures.

Having family members who are dedicated to making it around the course to cheer you on is great, and, even though she's not supposed to, having a sister who runs with you between mile 24 - 25 giving you that last bit of support to make it to the end, well, that's priceless. 

Now the big question everyone asks, am I going to do it again? I don't know. Right now I don't want to. My leg hurts, my brain hurts, the thought of running more than a few miles hurts. Ask me next year when registration opens up; I may give an entirely different answer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

80s Movies - 48 Hours

So this challenge I have set myself is seeming pretty stupid. I mean who cares if I've seen a bunch of movies from the 80s or not. The only reason I started this whole thing is because one of my friends had actually seen more than me and I couldn't imagine how that could be since all I did through the 80s and 90s was watch movies.

But there are certain that don't need to be seen. And frankly, there are certain movies that shouldn't be streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime or available on DVD, and if they are, they should have warnings at the beginning similar to the Warner Brothers / Looney Toons statement about how this movie is a product of its time but is totally racist but we shouldn't pretend it doesn't exist. So I guess that means I probably should watch this from a historical/cultural perspective, because I have a hard time imagining who in their right mind would think that some of the jokes in this movie were funny, much less OK. Though apparently Nolte thinks this movie actually taught blacks and whites how to talk to each other.

48 Hours was, according to IMDb, Eddie Murphy's first movie, and you know, it was only 1982, so I guess that's why the full on racist "jokes" were acceptable. Of course at the end, Nick Nolte's character "apologies" for his racism and the world's a happy place. I guess if the racism had been tongue and cheek or ironic (like Eddie Murphy's Alfalfa character later on SNL) then it would have been funny. But it wasn't pointing to some long ago character that pointed how stupid we were back then that people thought this stuff was acceptable at all. No, it is (I hope) and example of not that long ago we thought these jokes were in any way acceptable and it's really too bad a black actor even had to take a part so demeaning to get his career started. But what do I know, maybe Eddie Murphy really did think the jokes were funny.

The only other thing that struck me about this movie was Eddie' laugh. So pretty much everyone knows his iconic laugh. Well that's not the laugh he had during the movie - at least not until the very end. I couldn't tell if he was trying out different laughs, or if the director hated his real laugh (or at least I assume that's his real laugh - maybe it's his totally put on) and kept telling him to laugh differently but then gave up. Whatever, clearly he went with the one that makes it into Beverly Hills Cop and that's the one we all know and love.

I can't wait to see what amazingly dumb shit I have to put up with next on my quest to watch these 80s movies. I'm sure I'll be surprised of all the stuff my 8-18 year old self missed during a decade I thought I knew.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marathon Training Week 17

I am now at the point where I am ready for the marathon and scared to death of the marathon. Everyone keeps telling me I should have no problem reaching my goal of 4:45. It seems like it should be doable - that's a 10:52 pace, a mere 8 seconds faster than I've been training at. Surely I can do that - all the race calculators say I should be able to do that. But, there are so many variables that we just won't know until race day.

I love this upcoming week's mileage - 3, 4, 2 two days off and then 26.2. Seems like quite a jump from our last long run of 8 miles. Speaking of the last "long" run, it was cold - cold as in high 30's and actually a few flurries, as in snow. Foolishly I thought I wouldn't need gloves because I always took my gloves off during my winter runs even when temperatures were lower than that. But that was way back when my body was used to such frigid temperatures. Not so on Saturday. My hands were so cold it took me sitting on them for several minutes before I had enough feeling in them to turn the key to start the car.

Part of me wants to fast forward to this weekend - but in an effort to remain mindful, I remember that this whole journey is part of the fun. I'm actually enjoying this feeling of expectation (at least a little bit). I know I put the time in my training. I know that I can do this. But there is so much more to be done this week - relaxing, knitting, running some really short runs, decorating for Halloween, figuring out how people sign up for runner tracking (BoA why do you make it so hard?), finally deciding what I'm going to wear, going to the expo (!). 

This time next week I'll be so happy it's over, but also eager to start training for another race.

Stats for the week:
Miles run: 21
Miles left to go: 35.2
Raised so far: $1135.20
Left to go: Nothing - just seeing how much I can raise now.