Saturday, December 31, 2011

December and Year-End Stats

December Running Summary
Total runs: 22
Total miles: 147.3
Average miles per run: 6.7 miles
Average speed/pace: 7.3 mph / 8:13 per mile

2011 Summary
Total miles: 1378.8
That's an average of 3.77 miles every day.

Thanks, 2011, you have been a good running year. Let's run on into 2012.

Marathon Training Week 7

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 4, 7, and 4 miles, rest, 7 mile pace run, and 14 mile long run. Step it up again. No more 3 mile runs til the week before Shamrock.

Sunday - yoga podcast, which was OK. I got lost on some of the poses. Next time I will print out the pose guide. I came close to holding crow, though. That's progress. I got to use my new yoga block. Also did some pushups.

Monday - 4.8 mile run, plus upper body strength training, squats, and calf raises. I had the day off and so off I trottled to the gym.

Tuesday - 7.5 mile run in the AM. Started off slow but got the overall pace down to 8:27 by the end. Saw some pretty red and pink clouds while the sun was rising.

Wednesday - 4.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus lunges and core work. I need to get my butt out of bed earlier so that I do not feel rushed to get to work on time (my schedule is flexible so it is technically impossible for me to be "late." I generally get to work at the same time every day, though, give or take 15 minutes). Or remember to do some of my strength training in the evening while watching TV. Or go to bed earlier so that I am not super tired when I wake up. Or stop celebrating holidays.

Thursday - Rest. And traveling. And Swedish meatballs at IKEA. Mmmm lingonberry sauce.

Friday - 7.2 mile pace run. On Long Island for a few days. Wasn't quite at my planned pace (7:45) but was pretty close (7:52) and didn't feel overly challenging. I ran on the sidewalk and had to keep jumping up and down curbs and watch out for uneven surfaces on the sidewalk, so maybe that was it. I also had to stop at about 2 miles and 5.3 miles to cross a busy street. Seriously almost got hit by cars twice. Thanks, Long Island. On a positive note, I didn't know there was a trail that ran through my hometown. I didn't run on it because I was alone and don't run on trails anyway, but that's nice to know.

Saturday - 15.2 mile run. Went to Eisenhower Park. The Long Island Marathon and Divas Half Marathon Long Island both finish in the park. Eisenhower Park is larger than its more famous cousin, Central Park in NYC. The perimeter is about 6 miles, and it is easy enough to cover some miles on paths inside the park or by doubling over some of the perimeter. I putzed around inside the park for the first 5.5 miles or so, failed at finding an open bathroom, stopped at my car to fill up my water bottles and get my iPod (because the perimeter is incredibly boring ... strip malls, busy streets, golf courses, nothing, and a residential area), then ran around the outside, then had about 3.5 miles left once I got back into the park. Surprisingly, I ran faster with my iPod. Hmm, interesting. 8:14 pace overall with the last mile sub-8. Go me.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 36 Actual - 39.3

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Do It for the Medals

If you run enough races, you end up with a pile of medals. Here's my collection of bling from my modern/adult running career. The collection resides in an old running shoe box. Better than having them lie around all over the place.

Just the ones from this year. 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 5K, and a special non-race medal. And I thought I didn't race much this year.

My extra medal for doing 2 Rock N Roll races this year and the only medal that I won (1st place in my age category in a small 5K).

The prettiest medal. From the first Divas Half Marathon in Long Island last year. This thing is so large and heavy that it could take someone out. The sparkly part spins and has a space in the back for a picture. You got a free race picture to put in the medal. Nice touch. The course was boring but the atmosphere was fun and female-filled. The Divas series reminds me a lot of Rock N Roll. Expensive races but lots of perks. Divas Long Island had the nice medals, clocks at every mile, a decent amount of water stops, tiaras and boas, roses and champagne at the finish, and firemen giving out medals.

This is the medal I am most proud of. The 2009 United Healthcare/Amica Half Marathon in Newport, RI. The infamous nor'easter race that I still talk about. It wasn't my fastest half marathon, but banging out a 1:53:40 in cold wind-driven rain was one of my strongest performances. Especially after having no idea what my time was after mile 10 because my timing device got too wet. Actually, the weather probably contributed to my time because I just wanted to be done, warm, and dry.

The oldest medal in the collection of bling is my first half marathon medal from 2008. My, how that race has grown and changed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 on the Rhode in Review

Ran my first marathon. And my second. And my third.

Learned than 3 marathons in 1 year is too much for me (We'll see, though. There's a possibility I will do 3 in 2012).

Set a half marathon PR.

Set my marathon PR twice (1 was an instant PR and 1 took 2 attempts to break).

Decided to attempt a Boston Qualifier. Still working on that one.

Traveled to some big races. Chicago Marathon anyone?

Ran outside the entire year. Not always easy in New England.

Had some amazing times with my running buddies.

Discovered the joys of Lululemon.

Ran my highest mileage year ever.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Marathon Training Week 6

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile pace run, and 9 mile long run. Stepback week #2. Very convenient that a stepback week lined up with the week before Christmas. I had most of my Christmas tasks under control. Cards dropped off in the mail, presents bought and wrapped, cookies and cake balls in progress, menus planned.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises and lunges. Last yoga class for 2011.

Monday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. First very cold run. 15 degrees when I first woke up, and 25 degrees an hour after I was done. I was mostly appropriately dressed (winter tights, yoga pants, 2 long-sleeve tech shirts, fleece pullover, Bondi Band, lightweight hat, baseball hat, lightweight fleece neck gaiter, cheapie gloves) and stayed comfortable, except for my thighs and butt which got cold at 20 minutes in. That's pretty standard, though, and it takes some trial and error to find the right amount of clothing. Did abs and lower back in the evening.

Tuesday - 5.7 mile run. What a difference 24 hours makes. Easily 20 degrees warmer than Monday. I even got down to a single tech shirt.

Wednesday - 3.8 mile run on the treadmill (easy peasy), plus upper body strength training and squats. Even though it was warm, I headed to the gym to get everything done in one place.

Thursday - Rest. More sleeeeeeeep. And lots of cake balls. If you have never had cake balls, they are kinda like chocolate truffles with a cake and frosting filling. Cake balls everywhere. At work. In my fridge. More waiting to be dipped in chocolate in the freezer. Oh wait, I forgot. This is supposed to be about working out. I will have to work out a lot to compensate for all those cake balls. Or maybe cake balls are good fuel for endurance workouts? ;-)

Friday - 6.3 mile pace run. At an overall pace of 7:36. It really wasn't that hard. Hmmm. Something must be going right this training cycle.

Saturday - 10.2 mile run. Wasn't feeling it towards the end but I think it was a combo of 1) going out a little too fast 2) it was windy and fairly cold (a temperature reading I passed about 3 miles in said 28 degrees) 3) the holidays and 4) starting out mostly downhill which means coming back is mostly uphill. Overall, it was a fine run, though. I thought about wearing a Santa hat but decided I needed a real hat. I did have red arm warmers as a base layer and red Gatorade.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 26 Actual - 29.6

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today is the shortest day of the year. That means that days start getting longer. Woot! That means less running in darkness and more running in (at least some) light. Running in darkness is tolerable but definitely not one of my favorite things.

It takes about 3 weeks for the sun to start rising earlier, but the sun is already setting later. Not sure why the sun doesn't start rising earlier AND setting later at the same time, but I will take it. Longer days for the win.

Monday, December 19, 2011

There is a chill in the air

One of my least favorite parts of running in the winter is after the run. I get very very very cold after some winter runs. My fingertips are the worst of it. Every once in a while, my fingertips get so cold that they turn white and go numb. Not fun (or smart) if you need to hop in your car and drive somewhere. I am not sure why it happens, but I think it has something to do with temperature regulation. I find it is worse if I got from outside to inside without cooling down first (maybe because your body is confused and thinks you need to be cooled down). But it also happens if I stay outside too long. Interestingly, my hands and feet stay warm while I am running. As soon as I stop, it's a completely different story with my hands.

I am making progress on keeping the finger numbness to a minimum. If it's above freezing, I can get away with bundling up in several layers and walking for a bit. It is not unusual for me to put on 2 layers of fleece, my ski jacket, a hat, a pair of lined warmup pants and 2 pairs of gloves. If it's below freezing, I go inside, change out of my sweaty running clothes immediately, get into warm dry clothes, put my ski jacket on, make a cup of hot coffee (mmmm coffee), and walk around inside while sipping the hot coffee. The hot cup helps my hands to warm up. The caffeine helps my muscles to feel less tired.

One of my most favorite parts of running in the winter is dressing up like a ninja. Speedy ninja runner.

I go through so much laundry in the winter, due to all the layers. I sometimes wear things twice. Gross? Maybe. But if I didn't sweat too much in it, why wash it? I have 3 pairs of winter tights and only do laundry once a week. You do the math.

Laundry pile of a winter warrior. This is from one long run last winter. See if you can spot: 2 pairs winter tights, 1 pair pants, 1 fleece pullover, 1 jacket, 1 pair arm warmers, 2 shirts, 1 baseball hat, 1 lightweight hat, 1 fleece headband, 1 lightweight balaclava, 1 pair gloves, 1 pair socks, and my running shoes

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Sunday Thoughts O'Random

I need to remember to not back up my computer at a time when I need to use my computer. Planning fail. Oops. At least I have an extra copy of my music, photos, and other assorted files.

I am seriously thinking about racing a half marathon. On a treadmill. Crazy? Maybe, but I've done crazier things. I'll take a half marathon on a treadmill over a half marathon in a nor'easter any day.

Costco rocks yet again for carrying Lululemon knockoffs. This time, it's yoga pants similar to the Groove pants. Same fiber content, same feel, same functionality. I've already worn the Costco pants to a yoga class and couldn't tell the difference between the Lululemon pants and the Costco ones. They seem true to size but with long inseams (they had short, regular, and tall). I am not particularly short, and yet short fits me fine. Thank you, Kirkland Signature brand.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marathon Training Week 5

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 6, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile run, and 12 mile long run. Stuck to it, except for averaging about 3 miles over Hal's plan as I have been doing every week. What else is new? ;-)

I have this idea to race a half marathon on a treadmill for the half marathon race in my training plan in Week 9. Crazy, huh? There are no half marathons anywhere remotely close to me that line up with my training plan. However, I could do a virtual half marathon. The Nike+ Women's Half Marathon is that weekend.

Sunday - yoga class (with a different instructor ... it was nice to change it up but I like the regular instructor better), plus calf raises and lunges. Really liking my Saucony Hattori shoes.

Monday - 3.8 mile run in the AM. Easy pace. Not gonna lie, I really like these frosty morning runs. The moon was still up and the sky was just starting to get light when I set out. So pretty. Did abs and lower back in the evening while spending some quality time with my DVR.

Tuesday - 6.5 mile run, plus upper body strength training and squats. Final exam day. Yay! I go back to only having one job.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the AM. Tried eating 2 caffeinated shot bloks (because the packages were open) instead of my usual pre-run coffee. Yeah. No. Need coffee before morning runs. Or maybe it was my strength training the day before. Wasn't really feeling it, but it happens sometimes. Did planks and pushups in the evening.

Thursday - Rest. And extra sleep because I didn't need to be ready for an 8am class. Ahhhhh.

Friday - 6.2 mile run on the treadmill. It was relatively warm but very windy, plus I only have 1 route for all of my winter runs. I will get bored with that route if I run it too much. Can't run on the bike path once it snows and I don't feel safe running on my college campus while classes are not in session. The treadmill is a change of pace. Well, not literally a change of pace. The second half was pretty darn good. I increased the speed by .1 mph with 2.5 miles to go and kept increasing it another .1 mph every half mile or so. When I saw 8:20 on the pace display, I thought about how I held an 8:20 pace in my second half marathon. That was such a good race where everything came together perfectly. My iPod picked me songs I really like. That certainly helped.

Saturday - 13.2 mile run. Had some errands to run in the morning that put me on the highway, so I figured I'd drive farther and start my route a few miles farther down the bike path than usual. Ran on a mostly different section that I had never been on before. Very pleasant, not too cold, and good pace. Saw some interesting things, including a salt marsh, ducks and swans, and nice views of Narragansett Bay.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 30 Actual - 33.4

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shoe Review - Saucony Hattori

I had been looking for a minimalist shoe for a while. Not to run in, although I am not against trying it at some point. I wanted minimalist shoes for strength training so that I can maintain my balance more easily. Nike Frees appealed to me, but Nikes don't really fit me properly. I knew about Vibrams too, but they don't fit me properly either. The five toes thing in particular didn't work well. Sauconys have treated me well over the years, so I researched and set out to find Saucony minimalist shoes.

Enter the Saucony Hattori. Saucony's zero drop, very light and slightly cushy minimalist shoes. Added bonus for being on sale.


I had to size up a half size from my regular running shoes. The fit was slightly better in my regular size, but there was a seam that I could feel under my toes. Yeah. No. I'll take a half size larger, thank you very much.

I have a feeling the soles will wear out quickly. I have some concerns about the stretchy material on the top of the shoe ... not sure how durable it is. But, for the price, they seemed worth a try. I like them so far. They are very comfortable for walking around, very light (3.8 ounces for the women's model, compared to 10.4 ounces for my Saucony Guide 4 running shoes), and almost slipper-like. In comparison, now my regular running shoes feel extra cushy. Interesting. I was not expecting that. I wore them around the house for a few days because they are so light and better than walking around barefoot. They've worked well for doing lunges with one foot on a stability ball. And for doing squats against a wall with the stability ball. And for standing around doing upper body exercises with free weights. I can feel the floor much better. I just have to make sure I don't drop the weights on my feet ;-)

I still don't plan on running in them. I'd have to try it out sometime when I am not training for something. The risk of injury is not worth it. But I won't rule it out. I once said I wasn't sure I'd run a marathon, and look at what happened. If I get another pair, I will order them online where there are more color choices. The white/purple combo is cute, but I like some of the other colors better.

Both shoes on my feet

And off

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Winter and Darkness Stuff

More stuff. All good stuff this time.

Thumbs Up


1. Single-bulb LED flashlight keychain - I have no idea where it came from, but I want another one. I think it was a freebie? It is small, flat, and light so that I can tuck it away in my Spibelt when I no longer need it (unlike my larger 7-bulb LED flashlight which is round, too heavy, and makes the Spibelt bounce like crazy). Perfect for illuminating those dark spots and flashing at drivers so that they can see me.

2. Old Navy performance fleece quarter-zip pullover - scored this on sale for $7 last week. Used a $20 Groupon that I paid $10 for to buy this and another pullover in a slightly different style in dark pink and 2 pairs of fleece gloves. Not bad for $10. The light peach/light orange color is so bright that it glowed through a plastic bag. That's kinda the point. This is not a color I would choose on my own, but it works for low-light visibility.

3. Illuminite reflective vest - Bright yellow, has adjustable Velcro ties at the waist, and is more than just a reflective strip. I bought this at the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon expo from a woman in my area who sells Illuminite samples. The funny color is from the flash reflecting off the reflective pattern all over the front and back. Without the flash, the vest is bright yellow.

4. Smartwool Ph.D. Ultra Light running socks - These socks knock my socks off so much that they are worth mentioning again. They both 1) keep my feet cool in warm weather AND 2) keep my feet warm in cold weather. How is that possible? Magic socks, I tell you.

5. Saucony Hattori shoes - Saucony's zero-drop minimalist shoes. Full review coming soon.

I seriously need to stop buying exercise clothes and gear. I go through socks and shoes pretty quickly, but other than that I don't need anything. Of course, now that I have said that, I'll probably come across some new clothing or gear that I need. Such as Lululemon Wunder Unders ....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Running Playlist Additions

I got an iTunes gift card in a gift swap, and so I purchased some new songs to add to my running (and Shamrock Marathon) playlist. I run without music and actually prefer it now, unless I am on the treadmill or running longer than 15 miles.

Chris Brown - Beautiful People
Chris Brown - Yeah 3x
Fitz & the Tantrums - Money Grabber
Phoenix - 1901
Gym Class Heroes - Stereo Hearts
The Naked and Famous - Young Blood
Kevin Rudolf - I Made It
Kevin Rudolf - Let It Rock
Passion Pit - Little Secrets
Junior Senior - Move Your Feet
Jason Derulo - Don't Wanna Go Home
New Kids on the Block & Backstreet Boys - Don't Turn Out the Lights

I also have CDs by the Dropkick Murphys, Rihanna, and Foster the People on my Amazon Wishlist with the intention of putting some songs from those albums on my running playlist.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Marathon Training Week 4

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 6, and 3 miles, rest, 6 mile pace run, and 11 mile long run. Time to ramp it up for another push forward.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises, lunges, and lower back.

Monday - 3.7 mile run on a misty morning. Kept the pace on the easy side. Was glad I swapped out my winter tights for a lighter pair of crops. It wasn't cold enough for winter tights.

Tuesday - 6.5 mile run, plus some planks afterwards. Much faster than it should have been, but whatever. The weather cooperated for an unseasonably warm day with some light rain showers. A December day when you are too warm in shorts and a T-shirt is a gift.

Wednesday - Two a day. Strength training in the AM (upper body, squats, and pushups) followed by a 3.7 mile run in the evening. In the dark. And the rain. Again. Oh yeah, there was some wind too. By far the most unpleasant run I have had in a very long time. My tolerance for poor conditions is high, but this was just not fun at all. I almost bailed about 1.5 miles in. It forced me to take it easy, though, which was exactly what I needed.

Thursday - Rest. And chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's. Oh wait, this is supposed to be about workouts, not food.

Friday - 6.3 mile pace run. Frosty (literally ... it was about 30 degrees when I started) and mostly dark. My individual mile splits varied (particularly the middle miles where my legs felt cold), but my overall pace was spot on. I nailed it down to the second. Not bad for my first non-treadmill pace run. Ran on my usual packed dirt/gravel running path with a flashlight so that I wouldn't trip on the uneven surface. I haven't ran this particular route in the morning recently. I was pleasantly surprised that 1) I was never alone because there were plenty of runners and walkers out and 2) I saw most of my morning regulars who have been out since the summer. Now that's dedication.

Saturday - 12.3 mile run. Ever have one of those runs where you felt slow as molasses, then look at your Garmin and realize you are running much faster than you thought? Yep, that was this run. I kept trying to slow down in the first few miles but was still going too fast. It got windy in the last 30 minutes or so but was otherwise cool and comfortable. I stopped at mile 4 for a potty break in a supermarket and had to wait at mile 8 to cross a street. Pushed in the last couple of miles. 8:13 pace overall.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 29 Actual - 32.4

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Running Thoughts O'Random x 4000

I ran my 4000th mile since I started keeping track in January 2008 in my run yesterday. No wonder it was a good run.

I didn't realize I had hit 4000 miles right away because most of my runs are logged in Nike+. Anything since the beginning of June is logged in Garmin Connect. One of my tasks (whenever I have free time ... good luck with that) is to consolidate everything into Garmin Connect.

One of the reasons I like running is that I just really like data. Distance, pace, time, calories. It's all good. Reports for specific time periods? Made of win.

Speaking of Nike+, Nike is sending me a free Nike+ sensor because I reached the black level (5000K or about 3100 miles). I don't use Nike+ much anymore, but I have family members who do. Free is good.

And one more thing. My husband just registered for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Yay! Oh, we won't race or train together because the races start at different times and we run at different paces (I am considerably faster), but that's good that he has a goal to work towards. 100 days to go.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I wish someone had told me ...

... that the pace on my Garmin during a race was going to be off by 5-10 seconds per mile than the official pace. The Garmin calculates pace based on the actual distance you run. So if you weave or don't run perfect tangents on turns or there's just some errors inherent in any measurement, the pace will be off.

... that running is cheap. Until you enter more races, travel to races, start running longer distances, go through shoes more quickly, need to get rid of all of the cotton clothes in your workout gear collection and replace them with wicking socks/shirts/pants, start running in the cold, start running in the dark, decide you need a Garmin, etc.

... that I would start getting up early to get my run in and actually look forward to it.

... that I would get so many more benefits from running than I ever imagined.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Marathon Training Week 3

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 6 mile long run. Stepback week #1.

Sunday - yoga class, plus lunges. Got a pair of Saucony Hattori shoes for better stability for strength training. They are lighter than Nike Frees and more supportive and cushiony than Vibrams. Plus they're Sauconys and Sauconys have been my go-to shoes for years. So good so far. I don't plan on running in them, but we'll see.

Monday - 3.7 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training, abs, lower back, and squats. Had to be up early, so I figured I'd go to the gym and get most of my strength training for the week done. Still got to work a little earlier than usual, even with spending extra time at the gym.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. Outside. In shorts and a T-shirt. At the end of November. Felt slow but ran faster than I thought. That was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the PM. In the dark. I have a lot of trouble accurately sensing my pace in the dark. I don't know what it is. Maybe my sense of speed is thrown off, or I am not checking my Garmin as much, or I naturally slow down so that I don't trip on things I can't see.

Thursday - Rest.

Friday - 5.2 mile pace run. Didn't feel like trying to run fast in the dark (see Wednesday), so I ran on the treadmill. I even kept up a short conversation at the very end. I need to get outside for these runs, though, so that I learn how to pace myself without the help of a moving belt. Also did pushups and planks.

Saturday - 7.2 mile run. Trotted along down to Brown University and back. Nice run on a chilly morning. Got to break out my pompom hat for the first time this season. Pace was all over the place, but then again, I wasn't really keeping an eye on it and my run was unexpectedly hilly. I missed a turn and ended up running up a hill that I wouldn't have otherwise encountered. Haha, oops. I won't do that again.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 22 Actual - 25

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Running Summary

Last post for NaBloPoMo. Woo! I made it. I am not sure I am ever going to attempt to post every day for a month again. It is very much like a marathon. See, it all relates to running.

Anywho. Here are November's running stats. Half rebuilding my mileage and half marathon training. Pace is right where I want it to be. Good stuff.

Total Miles: 108.2
Total Runs: 21
Average Pace: 7.1 mph/8:27 per mile
Average Distance: 5.15 miles

I am on track to cap out around 1350 miles for the year, my highest yearly mileage ever. That's about 350 miles more than last year, even with several injuries and 5 weeks total with no running after marathons. So far in 2011, I ran ~1230 miles. I'm already well over last year's total, and there's still a full month left to go.

That is a lot of miles out on the Rhode.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Everything I learned about {insert anything here} ...

... I learned from running.

Set goals.
Work hard.
Persist in the face of pain.
Try again if you don't get it right the first time.
Celebrate when you meet your goals.

If I had to sum it up in a phrase, it would be this. Plan but adapt.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Running in the Winter

One of the benefits of living in Rhode Island is that it generally doesn't snow too much, in part because we're not too far from the coast and stay warmer than areas farther inland. But it still snows (last winter we had storms on Wednesday for a month straight) and it's still something to be aware of if you plan to run outside in the winter. I'm actually disappointed that I haven't had a chance to run while it was snowing. Of course, now that I've said that, we're guaranteed to get snow.

Some more tips of random that I learned in my first winter running outside:

1. Be very mindful of your feet. Yes, you will slip. But you may not fall. Your balance will improve as you learn how to catch yourself when you slip.

2. Packed snow and "crunchy" ice are OK.

3. Deep snow and sheets of ice are not OK.

4. Be on the lookout for ice patches, especially black ice patches or ones that are hiding under thin layers of snow. If you are on the road, look out for potholes and sand piles.

5. Yaktrax or other contraptions provide extra traction. They slide over your sneakers. My current pair is designed for walking, but I've ran in them with no problems. Plus I couldn't beat the price. $1.99 still in the package at a thrift store. I'll upgrade to the Pros if/when my current pair breaks.

6. Sun + snow on the ground = blinding snow glare. Wear your sunglasses.

7. Like Christmas lights? Grab a running partner and run around a neighborhood in the evening.

8. Get creative with your running routes. The bike path I use for long runs isn't passable when snow is on the ground. So I switch to a 3ish mile loop on a road with a wide shoulder. It is always plowed and clear down to the pavement no later than one day after significant snowfall. Lemme tell you about the fun I had doing 20 miles around and around and around and around and around that loop. Yeah. Not sure if I'd call it fun, but it certainly gave me practice at using my mental skills.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Thoughts O'Random

I have 4 classes left to teach plus a final exam. At the beginning of the semester, it seemed like the end was far far away. It'll be done in about 2 weeks. Yay.

While I like teaching and I'm sure I will teach this class again in the future, it made me realize that I do not want to be a university professor (unless it's a purely teaching position, but those types of jobs are few and far between). Oh, I was already pretty sure I didn't want an academic job, but now I am certain I don't want one.

I could never think more than 2 or 3 days ahead. It was always "what do I need to do right now that I cannot do later?" I was up by 6am and doing stuff til 9:30-10pm. Every. Day. I can't keep up at that pace long-term.

I held 2 jobs AND ran a marathon AND traveled a lot this semester. It was one of those very busy times where I look back and honestly can't figure out how everything got done. But it did.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Marathon Training Week 2

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile run, and 9 mile long run.

Sunday - yoga class, plus calf raises, abs, lower back, and lunges.

Monday - 4 mile run. Was going to run after work in the dark, but then decided that I'd rather not run in the dark and went a little earlier. Thank you, flexible work schedule. It was faster than it should have been, especially considering hills. But I'll take it. I am trying to run a little faster this training cycle. As long as I don't do this on every run.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. I usually go to the gym on Tuesdays but didn't have time to leave campus. Much slower than Monday, which is what I needed. That pesky ankle was kinda bothering me. Hrmmm.

Wednesday - 3.6 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body strength training and squats. Went to the gym early in the morning because 1) the gym is much less crowded in the morning than in the evening and 2) I didn't want to run outside in the evening on a deserted college campus and 3) it was raining and 4) I needed to do my strength training since I couldn't do it on Tuesday.

Thursday - Rest. Just happened to line up with Thanksgiving.

Friday - 5.5 mile run, plus pushups and a few planks. Haven't run 5 miles in my area in a while, so I overestimated the distance a little bit. Pace was fairly consistent in the low 8:20s ... until mile 4 when I ran up a steep hill. Short hill but steep hill nonetheless. Pace was in the mid 8:20s overall. I think this running slightly faster business will work out.

Saturday - 10.2 mile run. Was slightly chilly but comfortable enough to run in thin tights and a short-sleeve shirt (once I got warmed up). Part of the bike path where I do long runs is closed for construction. Boo hiss. I'm going to have to get creative with my running routes.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 25 Actual - 28.5

Friday, November 25, 2011

Running on a Treadmill

Let's face it. This is the time of year where it isn't always practical, feasible, or safe to run outside all the time. Make friends with the treadmill, or at least try to be friends with the treadmill. I promise running on a treadmill is better than no run.

I've gone as long as 14 miles on a treadmill. While it wasn't easy, it wasn't unbearable either. I think I learned more from running 14 miles on a treadmill than running 20 miles outside.

Random tips for keeping yourself on the "hamster wheel" (or dreadmill, but I prefer hamster wheel):

1. Set the incline to at least 1%. The forward motion of the belt actually mimics running downhill.
2. If you are switching from running outside, don't switch too abruptly. Like anything in running, you don't want to make sudden changes.
3. Expect it to be different. Some people find it easier while others find it harder to run on a treadmill.
4. Find ways to entertain yourself. Program your mp3 player with your favorite tunes, watch a movie or TV, and make up games.
5. Practice your mental skills. It is not always easy to keep yourself motivated to stay on the treadmill.
6. Vary the inclines and speeds. It'll help to keep you from getting bored. Plus intervals are good for you.
7. Put something over the time/distance display, especially if you are tempted to constantly look at it.
8. It is possible to do long runs on the treadmill. Break it up into smaller pieces, say 5-7 miles. Plan breaks to fill up your water bottle, go to the bathroom, and get some fuel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for:

being able to run
my marathon medals
my running buddies
cranberry sauce
Rhode Island
my Costco membership
my quantitative skills
hopefully living with my husband soon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Some new finds:

Thumbs Up

Clif Kid Z bars - the kid-version of Clif bars. The Chocolate Brownie kind is pretty close to a chocolate brownie. Yes, I am not-so-secretly 5 years old.

Roasted salted sunflower seeds from Trader Joe's - these little guys pack a lot of calories in a small portion, but that's exactly why I like them. I portion them out into a little container with a handful of dried cranberries or dried cherries. Easy portable snack.

Half Thumbs Up/Half Thumbs Down

Old Navy hooded long-sleeve running shirt - I like that it has thumbholes, cute ruching on the cuffs, a small zippered pocket, and a half zip so that I can zip it down if I am too hot or pull over my head easily. I don't like that the hood doesn't stay up while running. It would be better with a drawstring. ON claims it has a reflective strip on the hood, but I don't think the strip is reflective. It's a decent running shirt, though. Worth the $15 I paid for it on sale, but probably not worth the $30 regular price.

Thumbs Down

Nothing, really.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Running Safely

Some more tips of random and a few ways to stay safe. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Just whatever I could think of.

1. Wear bright colors. This is particularly important in the dark but is true for daylight as well. The brighter the better.
2. Run against traffic if you are on the road.
3. Never ever assume a driver sees you. You will never win against a vehicle.
4. Pay particular attention to cars that are turning right. The driver is looking left and may not have seen you
5. Run with a partner.
6. Run with a dog.
7. Let someone know your route and when you might return.
8. Carry identification, or get a RoadID.
9. Carry your phone. Program an ICE (in case of emergency) contact into your phone book.
10. If you run with music, consider ditching the headphones. Or at least turn the volume low enough so that you can still hear what's going on around you.
11. Keep your eyes and ears peeled. Be aware of your surroundings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Running Buddies

I was a solo runner for a very long time. Just me and my iPod.

Then I literally ran into a group of friends while I was running alone. I ran a couple miles with them and headed back to where I had started on my own. I ran with them again a few weeks later. And the rest is history.

I can honestly say I have become a better runner because of my running buddies. I never would have ran my first 20 mile run without them. That was the confidence boost I needed to commit to my first marathon. Oh, I had been contemplating marathons for a while but hadn't made the leap yet. If I could run 20 miles when I really didn't need to, I was ready for a marathon.

We run at different paces, but we'll sometimes start together and then see each other along the way. We chat about anything and everything. The miles tick along. We ordered custom Bondi Bands with the name of our running group. Most of us ran a 10K wearing our Bondi Bands and the same pink tank top. We have a Facebook group and meet for dinner or breakfast (after long runs) every once in a while.

My running buddies motivate me to work hard and reach my goals. We commiserate with each others' challenges and celebrate each others' victories. That is priceless.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Thoughts O' Random

This posting every day for a month thing is hard. Well, not really. It's harder to remember to post every day than to think of something to write about.

I kinda want a tablet PC. Probably not an iPad. It would be more convenient for traveling than dragging my laptop around. Plus I have to practice my Angry Birds skills. I was really really really bad at Angry Birds at first. I'm getting better, though.

I will miss Rhode Island when I move in the next few months. It is a small strange nice place.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marathon Training Week 1

This is my first week training for the Shamrock Marathon on March 18 in Virginia Beach. Yay for being back on a training plan. Once again, I am using Hal Higdon's Intermediate I. I would step up to Intermediate II, but my job and living situations are in flux. I'm not sure I have the flexibility to run extra miles. That said, I might bump up the mileage slightly here and there.

I am still training to attempt a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. I have a feeling Gansett's qualifying standards will drop for 2013. If that is the case, my best shot is to try hard for 2012. We'll see what happens when I get out there on March 18.

My plan for the week was cross-train, run 3, 5, and 3 miles, rest, 5 mile pace run, and 8 mile long run. Once again, I shifted Hal's plan by one day. I like doing my long runs on Saturdays and I go to power yoga on Sundays for "active" rest/cross-training. So, yeah, I have a plan again, but it's not much different from what I would do normally. At least not at this point.

Sunday - 3.7 mile run in the DC area. Except for The Mall and the banks of the Potomac River, DC is very hilly. Doesn't matter where you go. It's hilly. Switched Sunday's and Monday's workouts because I was traveling.

Monday - yoga on demand. We just switched from cable to Verizon Fios, so I had new on demand yoga videos to choose from. Wasn't overly impressed with the first yoga video I tried. It was a little too advanced for me. Arm balances in a yoga video? Riiiiight. Oh well, there are more. Also did lunges, abs, lower back, and calf raises.

Tuesday - 5.2 mile run. It was too fast, especially since it was warm. But it was a needed confidence boost. I finally kicked the cold that I had had for almost a week. I had a new pair of shoes, so maybe that was part of it. Then did upper body lifting and squats at the gym.

Wednesday - 3.7 mile run in the dark. First run in complete darkness since ... February? Bonus points for rain as well as darkness. Got out a reflective vest, reflective hat, reflective arm sleeves, white T-shirt (thanks, Chicago Marathon), and red blinky light from my Amica swag bag. It felt like I was running really fast, but then I looked at R2 (new Garmin) and realized I wasn't fast at all. Ha ha. Oops. I generally do my darkness runs in well-lit areas of a college campus. Even though there are people around and emergency lights in sight just about all the time, I always carry my phone in my Spibelt. And wear my RoadID on my shoe. Then did a few planks when I got home.

Thursday - rest

Friday - 5.2 mile pace run on the treadmill. Set the speed to 7.7mph (7:45ish pace) and off I went. Started out my first pace run of this training cycle exactly the same as my first pace run of last training cycle. On the treadmill. Then, it was because I didn't know how to pace myself appropriately. Now, it is because it is too dark to run outside in the morning. Bah. But it was also because it's been a while since I've done pace runs and I need some help getting used to them again. While it was somewhat challenging, I never thought "What have I gotten myself into?" this time around. I know pace runs are supposed to be challenging and I know they will get easier as I run on. Yay.

Saturday - 9.2 mile run. Chilly and sunny but was appropriately dressed. Pace was all over the place but was reasonable overall. The last mile was at marathon goal pace. For some reason, my Fuelbelt did not want to stay put. Oh well. It happens.

Total Miles: Scheduled - 24 Actual - 27

One week down, 17 to go. Sham Rock On!

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 Races in Review

Here's the breakdown of my 2011 in races. I am moving sometime in the next few months, so this year was the last chance for me to do my regular races in Rhode Island. Too bad. I will miss a lot of these. I also traveled to 2 big races this year. That's new to me.

I realized that I ran more races than I thought I did. I thought it was more like 4 races. Ha. Who knew? There's still a possibility of one or two more 5Ks, but I doubt it. I'd want to try to PR but could potentially injure myself. My focus is marathon training.

Rock N Roll Mardi Gras Marathon, New Orleans, LA
My first marathon and a race I would definitely do again. Flat, mostly interesting course, well-organized, and tons of fun.

Cox Rhode Races Marathon, Providence, RI - Eh. The marathon is an OK choice for locals, but I'd seriously think about running it again. There are some issues with the course and limited crowd support, especially in the last 2 miles.

Harvard Pilgrim 10K, Foxboro, MA - 4th of July-themed race. The best part of this race is finishing on the field in Gillette Stadium. There are a lot of cons, though. It can be hot and humid, no electrolyte drinks, no tech shirt, the course is crowded, etc.

Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon, Providence, RI - There were some extra hitches because it was an inaugural half marathon, but otherwise pretty much what I expected from Rock N Roll. Moderately hilly on a similar course to the Cox Rhode Races Half Marathon.

Rhode Island College Homecoming 5K, Providence, RI - small local 5K. Hopefully it will be back next year.
Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL - Amazing crowd support, flat, and generally well-run. If it wasn't so expensive and if registration was open longer, I'd run it again.
Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon, Newport, RI - My favorite half marathon by far. Moderately hilly. Had a really fun time running through the scenic parts of Newport. I would come back to Rhode Island just to run this race.

Total races: 7
Total miles: 114.1

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Boston Marathon

This week kicks off training for another attempt at a Boston Qualifier. Third try is the charm?

I have spectated at the Boston Marathon twice, oh, about 10 years ago. My undergrad degree is from Boston College, which is on the marathon route at the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21.

I missed the marathon twice because I wasn't in Boston. The marathon is held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April. Marathon Monday tends to coincide with Easter. Those two years, I was on my way back to Boston as thousands of runners were trekking 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. I made the mistake one year of getting off a train at Back Back thinking I could walk a couple blocks to the Copley T stop. Haha, no. I conveniently forgot that the marathon finish line is at Copley and the Copley T station was closed all day. Oops.

I don't think I fully appreciated the Boston Marathon while I was a student. I wasn't running when I was an undergrad. I didn't realize that Boston is the holy grail of marathons for many marathoners and marathoner-hopefuls. I seriously did not know that Heartbreak Hill was Heartbreak Hill until I was a sophomore or junior. In itself, Heartbreak is not that bad of a hill (and yes, I have ran up Heartbreak Hill, including at the end of a 20-mile long run). It's just in a psychologically bad place on the marathon route after several other hills.

One of my running buddies ran Boston this year. We did some long runs on the Newton hills. BC is a pretty good spot to use as a base for a long run. As a former BC student, I knew you can park for free at BC on the weekends (except during home football games in the fall ... then do not try to get anywhere near BC). I know where all the bathrooms are. It's easy to do a run of any distance. Say, 20 miles. Run 5 miles into Boston, run back to BC, run 5 miles on the Commonwealth Ave carriage road or along the marathon route, and run back to BC again. You will see tons of other people out training for Boston. You will see people with charity shirts or marathon shirts or hydration belts. It is one giant running club.

I don't know how long it will take me to qualify for Boston. But I do know one thing. I WILL qualify.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Animal Levity

This is an extra random entry because I am trying to blog about something every day this month. Halfway there as of yesterday.

Who doesn't like funny talking animals with British accents??

This one is a favorite as well.

More funny talking animals with British accents

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running in the Cold

It was unseasonably warm last week and the last few days in my neck of the woods. But don't let Mother Nature fool you. The cold weather is right around the corner. There is no reason why you can't keep running outside in the cold, as long as you are prepared.

Here are some tips on how to run in the cold:

1. Finding the right amount of clothing takes trial and error. Everyone has different hot spots and cold spots. You don't want to be drenched in sweat, but you also don't want to be too cold. You have to find the right balance. Removing and replacing items as necessary can help.

2. Layers. Layers. Layers. I go with anywhere from 1-3 layers depending on the temperature, wind, and precipitation.

3. Hats. They are good. Any kind will do. Baseball hat, knit hat, fleecy hat, hat with a pompom, or a Santa hat. All work. I stay warmer and can wear less clothes when I wear a hat. Who doesn't like a hat with a pompom?

4. Plan for needing to stop. Yes, you don't intend to stop. No one does. But what would happen if you were several miles from your car, home, or shelter and you got hurt or just could not run anymore? Make sure you have enough clothes to keep you warm. Carrying your phone doesn't hurt either.

5. Start your runs later in the day so that the temperature warms up a bit.

6. You still need to stay hydrated, even though it is colder.

7. When you are done, change out of your sweaty running clothes immediately into a complete set of warm, dry clothes. This helps if you are prone to getting very very cold after cold-weather workouts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Lady of the Boulevard

There is a bronze statue of a woman on one of my regular running routes. I always say hello to the Lady of the Boulevard (the name I gave to the statue) as I pass by. I kept meaning to stop, take a picture, read the inscription at the bottom, and remember to look up more about the statue.

Well, I finally did. Apparently, the statue is a Memorial to Young Womanhood. It is a memorial to Constance Witherby, an almost 16-year-old who died of heart failure while climbing the Alps in 1929.


The inscription says "The wind roars I feel it blow and know that I am free to go." It is part of a poem written by Constance Witherby.


Hmmm. Not sure what I think of that, but it's interesting. And now I know a little bit more about the statue.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bands that Populate My Workout Playlists

Pearl Jam
Foo Fighters
Arcade Fire
Barenaked Ladies
The Bravery

I have seen all of the above bands in concert at least once. I've seen Pearl Jam and Hanson three times each.

Other Bands that Make the Cut:
Lady Gaga
Michael Jackson

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marathon Training Week -1

This was my last week with no real workout plan. I aimed to run just over 20 miles and phase in my strength training.

Sunday - yoga class at the gym, plus calf raises

Monday - lunges, lower back and abs, then 4 mile run. In the morning. Because it is light enough (at least for the next week or two) to run in the morning.

Tuesday - 5 mile run in between classes and meeting with students. It's crunch time.

Wednesday - Rest. Wasn't feeling so hot on Tuesday. Was feeling a little bit better on Wednesday but knew I had a mild cold. Best not to push it.

Thursday - 4 mile run on the treadmill, plus upper body lifting and squats. Still wasn't 100% but felt OK enough to exercise.

Friday - traveling again, so another rest day. And a concert.

Saturday - 8.2 mile run in Washington, DC. Still had that pesky cold, so it was slow. A slow done run is better than no run.

Total Miles: 21.2

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going The Distance

No, not running distance. I mean long-distance relationships.

DH and I have been together for 11 years and long-distance for 7 of those years, including 3 out of 4 years of marriage. We've lived in the same state for about 1 year and under the same roof for a total of 7 months. We've only spent one anniversary together.

And yet, it works.

DH's family has a long history of long-distance relationships. My parents were long-distance for a year before they got married. Yes, it can work.

How does it work? Well, we make it work. We talk on the phone at least a couple times a day, usually once or twice during the work day, sometimes in the evening before dinner, and always right before bed. There are some days that we don't get to talk until bedtime, mostly because I have a non-traditional schedule two days a week (morning and evening classes with a large amount of unstructured time in between ... I never know in advance how I will spend the unstructured time so DH often misses me while he is on break). We see each other about once a month, but it varies depending on other commitments. Some times are busier than others, and we schedule around big obligations. For several years, we were both in graduate school. We understood what it was like to have those big immovable deadlines. Big projects or papers. Comprehensive exams. Finals week. Thesis and dissertation defenses (for the record, I graduated 2 years ago and it took me less time ... DH is still working on his dissertation ... but it's getting to the finish line that matters ... who's keeping track of who finished first ;-D).

One thing I hear a lot is, "Oh, that must be so hard." My response is, "Well, yes and no." If you've already got a strong relationship, you will make it work over the distance. You have to constantly practice your communication skills. That's really all you can do most of the time. Communicate. That is a very important skill in any relationship. If there is anything wrong with your relationship, the distance magnifies it. The distance shows you the weak spots. You can choose to work on the weak spots or choose to break up. The root cause is not the distance. It's because something is flawed to begin with.

We jokingly say that we are not sure we can live under the same roof. Yes, it will be an adjustment. But I doubt it will be a problem. We have enough separate and shared interests. We do our own things (I train for marathons, he watches scary/violent movies, for example), and we also do things together just us or together with other people. We'll see soon when this long-distance business finishes up in the next few months.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

DH and I are taking charge of Thanksgiving dinner. We're only cooking for 4 people (so far ... might be 8), but isn't one of the beautiful things about Thanksgiving all the leftovers? We actually like cooking and work well together. Here's the menu so far.

The Turkey

We make Alton Brown's turkey. There are 2 secrets: 1) brining the turkey overnight and 2) roasting it hot (at 500 degrees) for 30 minutes before lowering the temperature. The hot roasting seals in the juices. No cooking all day. No dry meat. Almost foolproof. Alton Brown hasn't failed us yet.

Side Dishes

Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Orange and stuffing made in the crockpot. These are 2 recipes from my giant crockpot cookbook. The crockpot and the cookbook are two of my unexpectedly favorite wedding presents. The cranberry sauce will be made the day before. Cooking the stuffing in the crockpot will free up space in the ovens. Yes, ovens. We have a dual oven, a full-size one on the bottom and a smaller one on the top. 99% of the time, we just use the top oven because it heats up in under 5 minutes. It is very very nice having 2 ovens. You can cook two different things at two different temperatures at the same time.

Roasted Medley of Winter Root Vegetables. This recipe is more about method than precision. We buy an assortment of vegetables from the farmers market. Whatever looks good. Some beets, pearl onions, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, and carrots. Comes out a little different every time but always tastes yummy. Extremely flexible with the quantity and type of winter roots in your medley.

Green beans with shallots and bacon. Or the same idea with Brussels sprouts. Or maybe both.

We made mashed sweet potatoes with molasses and maple syrup last year, but they didn't live up to expectations. So we will make regular old mashed potatoes this year. Or we might do the roasted root medley potato-heavy. We never eat potatoes in my house. What better time to eat potatoes than Thanksgiving?

Cornbread - from a Trader Joe's mix. I know, I know, it's cheating. A girl's gotta make some cuts somewhere.

We're thinking about one other side dish, but probably not. That should be plenty of food for 4-8 people.


Apple pie from Mendon Mountain Orchards in Vermont - Best pies ever. I have been getting pies from "the pie store" as long as I can remember. The last time I was in Vermont, I brought home a frozen pie to bake at some time in the future. I'm doing some cheating here too, but at least someone made the pie from scratch. Mmmmm.

What about all those leftovers?

We eat leftovers for a day or two until we get tired of them. Then we chop up all the leftovers, add whatever random other stuff we can find, and make pot pies. We follow this pot pie recipe as a general method.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thoughts on Marathons 1, 2, and 3

1. Your first marathon is a special thing. I wouldn't have changed a single thing about my first marathon. Except for strength training on my legs, but I didn't know that going into my first marathon. Everything went right. Got perfect weather. Started out conservatively. Ran a smart race. Knew I was going to reach my A day goal at mile 20. Almost ran negative splits. Reached my A day goal of finishing in under 4 hours.

2. The only good thing about my second marathon was finishing in under 4 hours. No big PR. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. I take that back. I never thought I wouldn't finish and didn't get caught up in negative thinking, so that went well. Learn and move on.

3. My third marathon is my current PR. I did a lot of things differently in my training. Got a Garmin, did yoga, added strength training, increased mileage, ran faster, etc. They paid off. Mostly. I got a PR by 2 minutes 30 seconds. Recovery was very easy. Extremely easy. There was one big mistake. I made a miscalculation about the temperature. I checked the hourly forecast right before I left. 60 degrees. Except it was Chicago and there's one problem with temperature readings in cities. It was at least 5-10 degrees warmer than I thought it was. The temperature reading was probably taken somewhere in the suburbs. Cities hold heat. Even though it was 60 somewhere in the Chicago area, it was probably closer to 65-70 in downtown Chicago. That's enough of a difference to need to slow down or adjust expectations. Well, I didn't do that because I didn't realize it was that warm. Note to self. The next time you are not cold while wearing a tank top and shorts, it means it isn't cold. OK, done beating myself up. Learn and move on again. A PR is a PR.

All of my marathon times were within 5 minutes of each other. What's going on?

My guesses:
1) I trained correctly but got the wrong day in Chicago.
2) I ran within my ability but near the top of my ability.
3) I am reaching beyond my ability and don't have the miles/speed to get there yet.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clothes Favorites


1. C9 pullover fleece - scored this for $3.97 on Target's clearance rack. Yes, it wicks nicely. My LL Bean Pathfinder jacket is too warm 99% of the time. The pullover fleece is just right. Along with 2 base layers, it kept me comfortable on a 20-mile run on a 15 degree winter day.

2. Under Armour coldgear compression tights - Tights that fit like a second skin. They make me feel like a speedy ninja. I have another pair in solid black.

3. Under Armour college t-shirts - I am a Boston College and University of Rhode Island alumna. The URI shirt is from the green line made from recycled materials. The fabric is really soft. It's unfortunate that URI now carries Adidas. Go Eagles! Go Rams! (except for the rare times they play each other, and then it's go Eagles!)

4. Lululemon Groovy shorts - I like them because they are functional. Lots of places to stash things. 2 small pockets in the front, 1 zippered pocket in the back. Very comfy waistband with an internal drawstring. This pair has come along with me on two marathons. Sadly, these shorts have been replaced by the Turbo shorts. Boo hiss.

5. Kirkland Signature/Costco tank top - knockoff of Lululemon's cool racerback tank that was carried earlier this year. I still can't tell the difference.

6. Nike Drifit Freakishly Amazing tank top - the "uniform" shirt for me and my running buddies. Light fabric that dries quickly.

7. Balega Hidden Comfort socks - Very good to preventing blisters. Good performance in the rain too. The tab at the heel keeps the socks from falling into your shoe.

8. Smartwool PhD ultra light micro running socks - Similar to the Balegas but with arch support and made out of wool. Not itchy. I wear these year-round. Keep my feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They are not cheap and I admittedly did not like them at first, but I've come around.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gear Favorites


1. Spibelt - For those times when you need to carry stuff and don't have pockets. Don't let looks fool you. Its capacity is deceptively large. Expands to the size of the items in the pouch. Has held 1) phone, key, iPod nano or 2) weight lifting gloves or 3) 2 packs of Shot Bloks, chapstick, and tissue. Doesn't bounce at all when items are positioned right.

2. Zensah compression leg sleeves - feel like hugs from angels for your lower legs. I only wear them for recovery/overnight. They have made a big difference in preventing shin splints. And they just feel good. Get the size XS/S if you don't have man calves.

3. Clif Shot Bloks - My current preference for fuel. I outgrew sports beans and didn't particularly like Gu. Strawberry, cran razz, black cherry, and tropical punch are my favorites.

4. Chica Bands/BIC Bands - thin or thick ribbon headbands with a non-slip velvety surface on one side. BIC Bands donates money to a different charity every month. Sometimes worn as a regular headband. Warning: addictive. I have so many that I can match ANY outfit.

5. Bondi Bands - It took me a while to come around to these. I just needed to figure out that I like to wear them folded in half. They work well as sweatbands in the summer. They're also good in colder weather when I need something to cover my ears. Plus Bondi Bands does custom designs. Thumbs up from me!

6. Illuminite hat - Picked this up at a sample sale a few years ago. Lights up in a direct light source. Made of a lightweight material. I keep it in my car, because you never know when you will need a hat.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shoe Review - Saucony Progrid Guide 4

I switched from the Saucony Progrid Guide 3s to the Saucony Progrid Guide 4s when I got new shoes a few months ago. I was hesitant. The various pairs of Sauconys I've had over the years have treated me well, but I'd heard so-so things about the Guide 4s. Such as changes to the toebox and poor construction. When I got refitted, my running store recommended not changing my shoes. OK then.

From left to right, the new Guide 4, old Guide 4, and old Guide 3.

The heel wear was about the same.

I haven't noticed a big difference between the Guide 3s and the Guide 4s. I ran a half marathon in the rain about a week after getting the Guide 4s. No problems at all. Thumbs up on that front. I used to get soreness in my toenails after very long runs, generally anything longer than 15 miles or so. I don't have that problem with the Guide 4s. So the toebox seems to work for me. Thumbs up on that front too.

Buuuuut, there's a problem. The Guide 4s are not the same quality as the Guide 3s. My first pair of Guide 4s lasted for a whopping 2 months. My Guide 3s had be lasting 3-4 months. Granted, my mileage increased, so the Guide 4s should have worn out faster. But it wasn't just the cushioning. The shoes were starting to fall apart. More wear than normal on the soles. The inside of the shoe around the heel and ankle were disintegrating. That didn't happen with the Guide 3s. I'm not sure I'd go as far as call it poor construction, but it is definitely lesser quality. Thumbs down on that front.

From left to right, the old Guide 3, old Guide 4, and new Guide 4. Those are some worn treads.

Inside the shoe. The Guide 4 didn't hold up as well as the Guide 3.

I bought another pair of Guide 4s, so I guess the Guide 4s are mostly good. We'll see if the second pair holds up any better.

Aaaand, no sooner did I buy another pair of Guide 4s than I found out the Guide 5s are coming out in November. Huh. Maybe there is a reason for that? The Guide 4s only came out in February, so they did not last very long. I wish I had known about the Guide 5s, though. I would have waited.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marathon Training Week -2

I am still working with no real plan. Traveling last weekend threw my workout plan off. I am back running, though. Yay.

Sunday - Spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon. Was just past mile 24 at the Pentagon. My sign with a picture of Uncle Sam that said "I want YOU to finish STRONG" was a hit again. I was kinda surprised that a marathon as large as Marine Corps did not have clocks at every mile marker. Oh well. Something to be aware of next year when I am (hopefully) running Marine Corps.

Monday - rest

Tuesday - running! Got my replacement Garmin and was ready to get back on the road. Ran 3.7 miles on a cool fall day, then did some pushups.

Wednesday - running again, this time 4.3 miles, then did lunges, lower back, and calf raises when I got home.

Thursday - rest

Friday - 3.7 mile run on the treadmill, plus squats with kettlebells

Saturday - 7.2 mile run on a chilly fall morning. It was kinda cold for first 2 miles and then I was fine after I warmed up. Was only planning on 6-6.5 miles but ran into a friend near the end of my run. We chatted for a bit, then I continued on my merry way.

Total Miles: 18.9

Friday, November 4, 2011

October Mileage

I got sidetracked by traveling and coming off of my running hiatus. Oops.

I'm participating in NaBloPoMo in an attempt to blog every day for the month of November. Blogging for blogging's sake. Right. We'll see if I can actually make it. Look for some extra random entries coming up soon. Or an excuse for me to finish all those draft posts and get them out the door.

Anyway. Back to running. The numbers don't look all that great, but the month went reasonably well. I pretty much didn't run for 3 weeks, which was something I planned to do. For 9 runs, I'll take it. I set a marathon PR and ran a marathon and half marathon a week apart. My legs stayed on speaking terms with me. I still have all my toenails (for now at least). Those are victories in my book.

Running Stats for October

Total miles: 65
Total Runs: 9
Total Races: 3 (1 marathon, 1 half marathon, 1 5K)
Total Race Miles: 42.4
Average speed: 6.5 mph/9:14 per mile
Average distance per run: 7.21 miles

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shamrock Marathon Plan

This will be my 4th marathon and 3rd attempt at a Boston Qualifier/Gansett Qualifier. Well, it's my 2nd real attempt at a BQ/GQ. I was coming off of an injury and wasn't properly trained to run a BQ at Cox Providence. You don't know what you can do unless you try, right?

The course is flat. The size is decent. The weather is a wild card as always. I know I have a BQ in me and now I just have to get the right day.

I still have some time to think about a training plan, but I am pretty sure I am sticking with Hal Higdon's Intermediate I marathon plan again. I may tack on an extra mile or two here and there. I am going to drop my (training) marathon goal pace to 7:45 and my training runs to the 8:15 range (previous marathon goal pace was 8:00 and my training runs were in the 8:20-8:30 range).

I do not think I can run 7:45 in a marathon nor do I need to or want to. I am still going after 3:35:00 or an 8:12 pace. To give myself some wiggle room, I will aim for an 8:00 pace in the marathon. In order to run faster, you gotta run faster. What a shocking idea. One thing that works well for me in races is being ahead of my goal pace. If I train faster but keep my time goal the same, I should be able to run faster and be ahead of my time goal for a good part of the marathon. That strategy works well for me. It will hopefully give me a time cushion to work with. That leads to positive thoughts. Positive thoughts make my legs go faster.

Or I could try to run negative splits. I trained running negative splits for Chicago, and I think the major reason why I didn't run negative splits was the heat. Buuut, I have never managed to run negative splits in a marathon. I'm not planning on it.

So we'll see. 19.5 weeks to go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Running in the Dark

Who's not ready for Daylight Saving Time to end this weekend? *raises hand*

It will be nice to have more light in the morning. Sun up after 7am is not a good thing. But darkness in the evening guarantees running in the dark. Sun down well before 5pm is not a good thing either.

How to Run in the Dark

1. Get as much reflective gear as possible. There is no such thing as too much reflective gear. You want to light up like a Christmas tree.

2. Wear light or bright colors. Colors that could be highlighters are good choices. Avoid black and earth tones.

3. Use active lighting as well as passive lighting. While reflective gear (passive lighting) is extremely important, it only works if a light source shines directly on you. Carry something that creates its own light (active lighting), such a blinky or non-blinky light or a small flashlight. Or both.

4. Those little LED flashlights are perfect for runners. My local discount store carries them for a few dollars each, including batteries. They're small, bright, and not heavy. Some have wrist strap. Even the small single bulb keychain flashlights are pretty bright. You can shine it on your path so you can see where you are going or flash it at cars to make sure they see you.

5. Do not assume drivers see you. This applies anytime but especially in the dark. The only close call I've had was in a poorly lit area with no sidewalk. I had no choice but to be on the road. The driver clearly did not see me. Now, I knew the driver didn't see me, so I got out of the way. You better believe it was the last time I went on the road without my blinky red light.

6. If you are on the road, run against traffic. Always. This applies anytime as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back on the Rhode

Today ends my running hiatus. I ran 3.7 miles today. I made it 16 days, although this time I wasn't itching to get back on the road. The break was actually kinda nice.

I have 2 weeks until I start another marathon training cycle.

I considered Rock N Roll USA, but I heard bad things about it last year (when it was National) and I'm not sure what Rock N Roll will do in the first year taking over this race. I considered the Long Island Marathon in early May (because it is flat and my travel costs would be minimal), but it could be boring and too warm. I didn't particularly want to travel since that generally drives up race costs. I considered marathons along the Atlantic Coast down to about Virginia in March and April.

I picked the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 18, 2012. I should be in the DC area by then, so that will make it a 3-4ish hour drive to Virginia Beach. Hotels are fairly cheap. I saw a lot of Shamrock shirts at the Marine Corps Marathon. The deciding factor was that it is Shamrock's 40th year and they are doing something special. OK then, Shamrock it is. My registration is already bought and paid for.

And I thought I wasn't going to do another marathon where I had to train through the winter. How quickly we forget.

Sham Rock On!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Garmin makes it right

My Garmin stopped working properly in late August. The GPS worked fine, but I had to do a soft reset (press and hold lap/reset and mode button) twice every time I wanted the silly thing to turn on. It would charge but wouldn't transfer my workout data to my computer or Garmin Connect.

I got in touch with Garmin support. As suggested, I cleaned the contacts on the watch and charging cradle with alcohol. Still didn't working. I updated the Web Uploader and reinstalled the unit software and USB drivers. Nope, still didn't work. After a few email exchanges, I got the info to send it back for repair/replacement. It was still in warranty (1 year from date of purchase), so all I had to pay for was shipping to Garmin.

Garmin sent me back a brand new GPS. Thank you, Garmin, for your 1-year warranty. Turnaround time from first email contact to replacement GPS in my hands was 11 days. A company with good customer service who stands behind their warranty and makes it right? I'll take it.

I purposely waited for my running hiatus so that I would be without a Garmin at a time when I didn't need one. The only downside is that I "lost" all of my data from late August to mid-October. No Chicago Marathon data. No Amica Half data. I manually entered data into Garmin Connect during that period, but it isn't the same. Oh well. I guess it's better than no data, and it's still massively better than Nike+. I created an Excel file with my times, paces, and mile splits for all of those runs. Some data is better than no data. I needed the mostly functioning Garmin for the Chicago Marathon. I would have had a much different race without a Garmin.

I need a new name for my second Garmin. Goodbye, Rhody G. Hello ... what now?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Working It

This was Week 2 of no running and no real workout schedule. Can I just say that that Body Vive class last week was so simple and yet surprisingly effective? It was fun and worked body parts that I forgot I had.

Sunday - yoga class at the gym. Haven't been to yoga in several weeks because of class cancellations and races. I missed it.

Monday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike, plus lunges, lower back, and abs with an exercise ball. I am definitely better at standing on my left foot (the good foot) than my right foot (the previously injured/misbehaving one).

Tuesday - Strength training. Did upper body, chest, pushups, squats (with kettlebells & an exercise ball), and calf raises.

Wednesday - Rest. Got my flu shot the other day and was feeling tired and very mildly sick. My upper body kinda hated me for increasing my weights. It seemed like a good day to rest. Then suddenly realized that I had to renew my car registration by the end of the month. I never received my renewal notice. Fail, Rhode Island DMV and town where I used to live, big fail. Thank goodness I have a AAA membership. Easy peasy. I walked out of AAA with my new registration and plate stickers in hand. Can't do that at the DMV.

Thursday - 40 minutes on the bike.

Friday - 30 minutes on the bike, plus some planks.

Saturday - tailgating and trying to stay warm at a college football game ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Working It

My workout plan for the week is .... no plan. I am currently not training for anything. This is Week 1 of at least 2 weeks of no running at all. Oh, I have my next race picked out. I've plunked down my registration fee and mapped out my training plan. But I don't have to start thinking about training for a wee bit yet. And so I won't. That's nice. I kinda don't want to think about it. I've been constantly training for one thing or another since August 2010. In that time, I have ran 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, 1 10K, and 2 5Ks (the 10K and one of the half marathons lined up perfectly with my training schedule). While I am not burned out, I need a break. I took the week after the Chicago Marathon very easy. Ran twice and that was it. The half marathon was intentionally easy.

I have a general plan in mind of what I want to do for the week. Then I take it a day or two at a time and go do whatever I feel like. Easy cardio? That sounds good. More strength training? Yes please. Try a new class at the gym? Go for it. Extra rest? Sure. This is the time to be flexible.

Sunday - half marathon at a nice easy pace

Monday - rest

Tuesday - upper body strength training (bicep curls, tricep presses, upright rows, chest presses) and core exercises (abs, lower back, and a couple of planks)

Wednesday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym. Back to early morning workouts at least a few days a week. Can't do early morning workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of my teaching schedule. I'd have to get up at 4 or 4:30 so I could be at the gym by 5, working out by 5:15, home by 6:30, showered and ready to leave at 7:15, teach my first class, go through the day, and finish teaching my second class at 8pm. Yeah. Not happening. I would be a zombie in the second class, and I do not like having time pressure for my workouts.

Thursday - Rest. It was an out of control busy day anyway.

Friday - 35 minutes on the stationary bike at the gym.

Saturday - Body Vive class at the gym. Low-impact aerobics with balls and resistance bands. I liked it. It was a bit of everything and adaptable to your fitness level.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amica Marathon Spectator Recap

This is a marathon review from the perspective of a marathoner who didn't run this particular marathon but ran the half instead. The first half of the full marathon course is the half marathon course, and then the marathoners continue on at the half marathon finish line.

I ran and finished the half marathon. You can read about the first half here. Expect to see a beach, Newport Harbor, farms, Ocean Drive, and Newport Mansions.

After I was done with the half marathon, I was waiting for a runner to finish the marathon. So I went out on the course to mile 24. It was only about a mile from the finish line. I had a cow bell and a poster in my gear bag.

The poster was a hit. I got a lot of smiles and thank yous. A runner even stopped to take a picture of my poster. I think marathoners make good marathon spectators because we've been there and we know that support is really really important in those later miles.

The second half of the marathon is essentially an out-and-back in Middletown. While I did not run the full and I am not familiar with that area, my runner said that it is boring. No Newport Mansions or Ocean Drive for you, although parts of it run along a beach. My runner also said it was hilly but no more so than the first half, which I would characterize as rolling hills. Not flat but not unmanageable either. There is less spectator support than the first half. Actually, there isn't much spectator support on the half marathon course either because it is difficult to get to and it isn't heavily populated.

The marathon course is like the Chicago Marathon. I think it would be better if it ran backwards. I don't want interesting scenery first and boring scenery second. I want the interesting stuff at the end where I need motivation to keep going. Amica clearly caters to the half marathon. Kinda unfortunate since the marathon has been running for years and the half marathon was only added in 2009. Oh well, I guess that's the explosion in half marathons over the last few years. It is organized by the same company as Cox Rhode Races. While I would not recommend the Cox Rhode Races Marathon (read my recap here), Amica seemed much better.

Overall, I'd recommend the Amica Marathon. The shirts and medals are pretty. There are aid stations about every 2 miles. Three flavors of Gatorade for those of you who don't like lemon-lime. The post-race food area was restocked for the marathoners, and there was plenty left all the way to the end. I'm not sure what I think about the second half. I don't particularly like the idea of running with the half marathoners the entire way and then splitting off from the half marathon at the half marathon finish line. I don't particularly like the idea of little crowd support in the second half. But I'd consider running the Amica marathon. For 50 Staters, I'd certainly pick it over Cox Rhode Races for a Rhode Island marathon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon Recap

I ran the Amica/United Healthcare Half Marathon in Newport, RI on October 16, 2011 with two of my running buddies. Amica is easily my favorite half marathon.

I have to put in a word of caution. I ran the Chicago Marathon a week ago (recap here). While I wanted to run the Amica half, I knew to wait until afterwards to see how I felt. Online registration for Amica closed 2 days after Chicago. My legs were a little sore but felt mostly fine, and so I jumped in. I had an easy run on Thursday with no soreness. I knew I was running with a pregnant running buddy and another running buddy who also just ran the Chicago Marathon. We weren't going to break any land speed records. The pregnant running buddy was going to control the pace, walk breaks, and stops at aid stations. Go out and enjoy a nice 13.1 mile run through the most scenic parts of Newport.

The night before, my running buddy and I decided to take old race bibs, write "Pregnant runner support posse" on them, and pin the bibs on the back of our shirts. They were a hit!! We got encouragement all along the race. A lot of people thought we were pregnant too. Hahaha, no. We were just the support runners to keep our pregnant friend company ;-)

The weather was perfect. Partly cloudy at the start, then cleared to sunny. Kinda windy but it was manageable and kept us cool. I'll take windy over nor'easter (this race actually was in a nor'easter in 2009 ... stupidest race ever) any day.

The course is gorgeous. We had such a fun race. I actually got to enjoy the race, look around, and take pictures instead of thinking pace, pace, pace all the time. We chatted with lots of other runners along the way and all finished together. Way to rock it with your running buddies!


At the start
And we're off!

Newport Harbor, complete with cruise ship in Newport for the day and the Newport Bridge in the background

Fort Adams State Park with a different view of the harbor

Farm with moo moos (can't really see the moo moos, but they are there)

Ocean Drive. So beautiful. You can taste the salty sea spray.

I can haz this haus?

One of the aid stations had a construction theme with all sorts of funny signs. This one was good!

Bellevue Ave ... 3 miles to go. Bring on the Newport Mansions

Rosecliff, my personal favorite

The Breakers is the granddaddy of the Newport Mansions

I liked this guy's sign. It said "marathons are for winners." Yes, sir, indeed.

The finish line is waaaaaay off in the distance.

The post-race refreshments were pretty good. They ran out of pizza and bananas (although there were more brought out for the marathoners), but there was plenty of hot chicken soup (the clear winning food choice and perfect for a windy fall day), bagels, and bottled water and Gatorade. Zico was giving out little bottles of coconut water, including the chocolate kind. My running buddies and I got some food, then waited for some other running buddies to finish their first half marathon. We were so proud to see them running along!!

There were some minor organizational kinks, but what race doesn't have that? Overall it was much better than years past. I was expecting a traffic and shuttle bus apocalypse that never happened. Gear check and port-a-potties went smoothly pre-race. The aid stations seemed better organized, or maybe that was just because I was paying more attention to them. Some of the aid stations were themed. Crowd support is minimal because the course is not heavily populated and is not very accessible by car once the race starts. But the pretty scenery makes up for it. I really liked a spectator lady who rode around the course on a bike. We saw her at least 4 or 5 times and she was screaming like mad. She was great!! I am pretty sure she was there last year too.

I knew going into it that we were just running for fun. It is very very different running with a time goal and running for fun. I can see the value of running for fun every once in a while. I did this one to provide morale support and company for my pregnant friend and to get the T-shirt and medal. A nice T-shirt and medal they are.

How to Run a Half Marathon a Week after Running a Marathon

1) Recover quickly from the marathon, or at least feel reasonably OK ... whatever that means to you.
2) Wait until after the marathon to make a decision about the half marathon.
3) Have a good understanding of your own body and how you recover from races.
4) Don't do this for a first-time marathon or half marathon.
5) Take extra rest and do a couple of short easy runs. Legs not sore? You're good to go.
6) Be prepared to take the half marathon easy.
7) Run with running buddies who you absolutely will not abandon.
8) Enjoy your race! Chat with other runners, interact with spectators, take pictures, linger at aid stations, and stop to walk whenever you please.
9) Do it for the T-shirt and medal.
10) Accept your certifiably insane label ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicago Marathon Part III

What Went Well

Got a PR – Knocked off 2 minutes 30 seconds off my previous marathon PR (also ran on flat course too, but on a 55 degree day). Would have knocked off more had the heat not gotten to me.

Was prepared to ditch my shirt – I had sunscreen all over me and didn’t have my bib attached to my shirt.

My ankle held up - After flaring up right before taper, it did not hurt at all. Didn't need my sample pack of Biofreeze. Yay.

No quad muscle failure – This is a hugely huge thing that went well. In my first 2 marathons, I started getting twinges of soreness between mile 8-12 and then painful soreness by mile 14. That never happened this time around. Yes, I got kinda sore by mile 21, but it was bearable. All those squats paid off.

Felt strong at mile 20 - I actually picked up the pace a little bit in the 5K split around mile 20. Mile 21, well, that was another story.

Crowd support - Amazing. That is all.

Stayed positive the whole time - This makes the difference between a good race and a bad one. Even after I knew I wasn't going to reach my goal, I figured I'd enjoy the race as much as I could. No need to dwell on what wasn't going well. At least my quads were OK and my feet didn't hurt. I never wanted to give up. I never thought I wouldn't finish. That's a victory.

Post-race recovery – Usually it takes a few days for my legs to get back on speaking terms with me. They never stopped speaking to me this time around. No problems going up and down stairs either. I did a decent amount of walking after the marathon (in the finish area and to the post-race area, then a mile back to my hotel, then a mile and a half in the evening, then several miles the following day). It helped. A lot. While my legs got sore, the soreness was nowhere near as bad as before. Good stuff.

Bank of America Customer Upgrade Area – This was nice. There were snacks, water, Gatorade, a tent and grassy area with picnic tables, extra port-a-potties, and an aluminum water bottle for BoA customers. I went there pre- and post-race. It was quiet and less crowded than other areas pre-race, louder but also less crowded than other areas post-race.

What Went Poorly

The weather – Really, there isn’t anything you can do about the weather. It could have been worse. I think the temperature was about 5 degrees hotter than I thought it was, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the humidity was higher than I thought as well. Small things like that can make a difference. Even still, I trained in weather worse than the marathon. I just didn’t train at my marathon pace.

Went out too fast? - This is questionable but probable. I trained to run BQ pace and I have held BQ pace in a half marathon in worse weather. I held BQ pace for the first half on the nose. And then the heat got to me. Badly.

My official splits. You can clearly see where I decided to slow down after the halfway point. Major side eye to that 10:42 split. That was just dumb on my part, although I'm pretty sure that's where the heat was the worst.

Positive splits - Also known as crash and burn. Running fast to bank time in the first half and then hoping you can hold on for the second half is not the way to run a marathon. Mardi Gras was the closest I've come to even splits where there was a difference of 2 minutes 15 seconds between my first half and second half. I've never managed to run negative splits in a marathon. Maybe next time with the right weather.

The weather, again - Chicago has a history of being hot. I knew this and decided to register anyway. While it wasn't as bad as years past, it was enough to significantly affect performance. It really didn’t feel that bad. I never overheated. I just think it was deceptively warm and deceptively humid.

Ended dehydrated - I drank water at every stop til mile 3 and then Gatorade and water at every water stop after mile 3, AND I had a Fuelbelt with my own supply of water and Gatorade. And yet I still ended up dehydrated at the finish line. If I really think about it, I was showing signs of dehydration from about mile 6 ... I’m not exactly sure. At least I recognized that I recognized that and knew I needed not just water but electrolytes as well. I was trying to walk the fine line between overhydration and underhydration. In the end, I didn't walk that line the right way.

Immediate post-finish - I felt OK for the first 10 minutes but then felt nauseous. For me, nausea is a classic dehydration sign. I have enough running experience that I have ran to the point of bad dehydration before (I don’t recommend it because it feels miserable). I knew what was happening almost immediately. Sat down on a curb. Tried to stand up. Oh hell no. Sat back down again as my stomach decided it did not want what I was trying to put in it. But then I felt better. I’ve had this happen before, usually in the summer or when it is hot or very humid. I knew it would pass. I stayed put for another few minutes, successfully stood up, and made my way out of the runners only area. I felt better once I got water and food back into my stomach.

What Just Was

GPS devices - If you are using a Garmin in Chicago, I’d suggest using it for time not pace. My distance was off from the very beginning, due to underpasses, tall buildings, and the large amounts of runners interfering with satellite connections. My distance was off by over half a mile by the end of the race. I knew this was going to be problem running through a city. So I went off time (which meant I needed to calculate approximate mile splits in my head ... that’s a good way to keep your mind occupied) and not the pace on the Garmin.

Now that I am a little more removed, I'd still run Chicago again. It is not perfect, and you need to be aware of what you're going into. You need to know it is a very large race and it could be hot. I think the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones. Expect to be greeted well by thousands of volunteers and over a million spectators as you run through the streets of Chicago.