I’ll admit it. I’d do almost anything (within reason) for a free t-shirt, wouldn’t you? Be honest, this is a judgement free zone. In the world of running, there is no greater way to pick up some complimentary swag than a race – 5K, 10K, half marathon – doesn’t matter. If you run it, you’ll usually get something.
And yes, I realize paying for any entry into a race may put a price on the gear for some, but for me I like to think it’s free. Besides, normally entrance fees are donated to a specific charity, making those items totally free… in my eyes. Anyways, when I heard about the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K, I knew I had to participate. Not only do you get a fleece-lined hoodie, the finisher’s mug is loaded with hot chocolate, dipping chocolate and goodies to dip in said dipping chocolate.
The 5K run was a nice, simple loop route near Chicago’s Grant Park. The lake and skyline provided some beautiful scenery along the course and a slight hill near the end provided a welcomed challenge. The weather cooperated for the most part – slightly chilly, but the wind held off pretty much.
As a treat, I downloaded some new songs for my running playlist. I chose a mix of old and new and a variety of genres. I wanted upbeat songs that could get my legs moving in the event the temps were low.
Cruise by Florida Georgia line makes me think of a bright sunny summer day. I also included a nod to the New York City Marathon that wasn’t, with Empire State of Mind and a classic running song, Born to Run. Ironically, Stronger by Kelly Clarkson came on just as we started running up the hill. Thank you iPod, for always knowing the right song to play.
When the temperature heats up in the summer months, I no longer want to run outdoors for fear of melting, I mean overheating, dehydrating, whatever. But here’s the dilemma. After training for my first half marathon, I no longer enjoy running on a treadmill – hello boredom!
Since I’m not really a morning person, 5:00 a.m. runs don’t exist in my mind (at least not yet), I’ve been running after work when it’s still been in the mid to upper 80s. To put it bluntly, it’s just not pleasant. So I finally decided it was time to hit the treadmill again (boo, hiss), except this time I was going to come prepared. I searched for treadmill workouts and came across this interval training session from FitSugar which I used to make my own workout.
And it sure delivered! The time flew by since I was constantly changing speeds and I worked a lot harder since I was running faster than I usually would if I was just keeping one pace for my entire run. On top of all of this, interval training has be shown to burn more calories, increase endurance and strength. I’m definitely going to add this workout into my regular fitness rotation.
How about you? Do you interval train?
It was many months in the making, but on Saturday I completed my first half marathon (Allstate 13.1)! It was tough, but not completely unbearable and the sense of accomplishment and relief as I crossed the finish line was well worth it… so was the finish line beer, but I digress.
The weekend race adventure began with packet pick-up at Fleet Feet Old Town on Thursday evening. It was pretty crowded, but overall efficient. Packets/shirts were collected in the common area of an indoor mall attached to the store’s location. It kept the store open for people to browse and make last minute purchases which it seemed like people were definitely doing.
On Friday afternoon it was off to check into the hotel and then to a dinner full of pasta! I’d have to say since pasta is one of my favorite foods, this “carbo loading” meal was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole racing process. What can I say? I like to eat. I stuck with classic spaghetti and meatballs. I wanted something tasty, but also something safe so it wouldn’t upset my stomach.
As for the actual race, it was up with the sun on Saturday morning to catch the shuttle from Millennium Park to the starting point. We arrived at the race site plenty early to make sure we could relax and pick a post-race meeting point. Before we knew it, we were lining up for the wave start. The actual race started at 7:00 a.m., but they started groups about every 2 minutes to keep the course from getting too congested. While this was a good idea, it was my only complaint of the day. My group didn’t start until almost 7:30 a.m. which meant we lost about a 1/2 hour of the nice weather on Saturday morning. Saturday morning got increasingly hot in Chicago making the final miles of the race more difficult than normal.
Personally, I felt pretty strong through mile 8. After that, I started to question why I was really running this race. It was just mind games. My legs kept trucking along through miles 9-12, but I stopped to walk for about 30-45 seconds a few times due to the weather. I ran the last mile strong, but desperately couldn’t wait to finish. There also was a long gap between the last two aid stations and all I wanted at that point was some water/gatorade to get through that final push. Overall, the race was a positive one. The course was scenic and mostly flat.
My legs have been pretty sore the last few days, but Monday night’s yoga class will hopefully help ease the pain a bit. Soon enough the race will seem like a distant memory and it will be time to tackle a new challenge… like half marathon #2!
It may be too soon to say I’ve made it, but hey I’ve made it this far and I’m pretty proud. Today starts the two week training countdown until the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Half Marathon. This will be my first half marathon so I’m feeling a mix of different emotions — excitement and nervousness, but mostly I just really want to finish the race with a decent time.
This week I’m going to focus on being consistent on my two-three shorter runs during the week and this weekend I’ll do my first double-digit run, a milestone within itself. If you told my I’ll-just-do-about-3-miles-on-the-treadmill self six months ago that I’d be running 8, 9, 10 mile runs and enjoying them, I’d laugh. But I guess what they say is true, the more you run, the more addicting it gets and the more you love (huh?) it.
What I’ve learned over the approximately 3-month training period are these few things:
- Ditch the treadmill. Running outdoors is a great way to spend more time outside (since many of us are stuck indoors an office most of the time) as well as a way to explore the neighborhoods around you. There’s something freeing and calming about just taking off and seeing where you end up.
- You can do more than you think. I never thought I’d make it through my 6 mile (approximately 1 hour) run, but I did! Then I did 7, then 8… Think positive thoughts and push yourself, you’ll make it just fine.
- The extra money you’ll spend on a quality pair of running shoes, socks and other apparel is definitely worth every. single. penny. Not only do these items help keep you from getting injured, they help make your runs more comfortable and bearable.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about running? Have you trained for any races?
The phrase above is a little mantra I like to tell myself when things get busy… busier than normal. Since I didn’t have time to finish the drafts for my posts this week (yet!), I thought I’d share some of my random Wednesday thoughts. Here goes nothing:
1. Today is National Walking Day. Whoop, whoop! Get out of that office chair and take a walk during your lunch break. The American Heart Association says so. Join the organization in their quest to burn 1 billion calories in the name of heart health, well really, overall health.
2. My local Whole Foods Market has the most wonderful olive bar. I recently made my first purchase from it — yippee! More to come on that later.
3. I’ve been thinking about adding a second half marathon to my summer agenda. The second one would be about 7 weeks after my first run. Not sure this is a bad idea… but is it a good one? As a music lover, I’ve been obsessing over the Rock N Roll series. With a band at every mile and an enthusiastic crowd, who needs an iPod? I’ve got my eyes set on the Chicago run and next year’s Nashville run.
4. When did I become such an avid runner? I’m not sure either.
5. I just saw on Twitter that April is National Food Month and I asked myself, now really, could there be a greater month? Enjoying April by noshing on food that’s fresh, tasty and good for you. I think I’ll celebrate by checking out Green City Market, a large farmers market in Chicago. Looks like heaven.
First off — a happy belated St. Patrick’s Day to all of y’all! Hope everyone enjoyed the chance to celebrate the luck of the Irish. Little known fact: I’m indeed a quarter Irish and I love St. Patrick’s Day not only as a way to show some Irish pride, but because to me, it starts to signal the return of spring — especially with this wonderful weather (can you say 80 degrees in March?!?) Chicago has been having.
Anyways, back to the purpose of this post. On Saturday morning I ran my first 5K race in quite some time. Now there was a time when I’d never wake up at 6:30 a.m. on a weekend morning to go run… for fun. But that’s exactly what I did!
And I did it well… by my standards at least. My goal was to finish in under 30 minutes. My time came in at 27 min. and 28 sec. Woohoo!
Participating in the race was important to me because I’ll be running a half marathon in early June. Today marks the first day of my formal training, so going into it knowing I’ve successfully completed a race is some seriously strong motivation.
So any training tips? I’d love to chat with anyone whose gone through training and/or runs regularly!