Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three Things Thursday - conventioning, SUPing, and graining

1.  Guess where I am headed this weekend?!?!?!?

That's right - the 2013 Blackhawks Convention takes place this weekend!!!

This year will be my second year attending the festivities.  I first attended the convention in 2010 after the Hawks won their fourth Stanley Cup.  How cool that I'll be attending again after they won their fifth Cup this year!

(For the record - I do NOT cherry-pick the years that I attend.  The convention passes go on sale early in the season and sell out very quickly.  The passes are long gone MONTHS before you know whether or not the team will even make the playoffs, let alone win the championship.)

Here are some flashback photos from the 2010 Hawks convention:

Upper left: Adam and me with the Stanley Cup
Bottom left: me as Hawks goalie Antti Niemi
Right: Trying on some authentic game-worn gear

Details and pictures from this year's convention soon to come after this weekend.  =D

2.  This is old news now, but I have been meaning to write about my stand-up paddleboarding lesson from two weekends ago.  Better late than never, though, right?

A picture of all of us lesson-goers, courtesy of Declan:

From L to R: Erin, Xaarlin, me, Maggie, and Anne

As you can see, the weather was gorgeous that day.

Paddleboarding is quite a workout.  I thought the one-hour lesson wouldn't be enough time.  But you really use your legs and core to stabilize yourself and keep your balance, plus obviously you use your arms to paddle.  Within 20 minutes my quads and shins were burning.

Here's another action photo that Declan took:

Riding the waves on Lake Michigan

It turns out that the trick for standing up on the board is to keep your eyes on the horizon the whole time instead of looking down.  It works like a charm!  Even so, I did fall off three times during the hour. Thankfully the water was very refreshing and it wasn't too difficult to get back up on the board.

I really enjoyed stand-up paddleboarding and would love to do more of it in the future!

3.  In my ever-lasting attempt to keep my food and cooking diverse, I've been on a grains-experimentation kick.

Enough with pasta, rice, potatoes, and even couscous or quinoa.  Last week I made a caprese farro salad, a couple of days ago I made mushroom barley, and right now I've got a bag of bulgur wheat waiting in the cupboard waiting to be transformed into something delicioso.

Any other suggestions on new grains to whirl up?  This is fun!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2013 Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon race recap

Half marathon #9 is in the books.

This was my second straight year running the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon, and it is definitely one of my favorite races.  It has a great course through downtown Chicago and neighborhoods, great race support/entertainment, fantastic crowds, and plentiful swag.  The course and the crowds remind me quite a bit of the Chicago Marathon.

The biggest drawback to RnR Chicago is the fact that it always takes place smack dab in the middle of the summer when the high temperatures can be challenging. Thankfully, after a full week of 90-degree temps, we got a pretty decent respite on race day.  This year the temps were in the upper 70s.

After my fueling disaster at the Allstate Chicago 13.1 Marathon last month, I made sure to eat better the day before this race.  What a difference it made!!!  And I had forgotten how much fun it was to carb-load without abandon.  =D

On race day, Marcia was so kind to hook me up with a wristband for the VIP tent at the race.  THANKS AGAIN, Marcia!!!  Tables, chairs, food, drink, private gear check, bathrooms, and a selection of race-day essentials (e.g. sunblock, bugspray, lotion, and Band-Aids, etc.).  I can't think of a better way to start a race. Here's a picture of Marcia and me at our table (I stole this picture from her blog since her picture turned out much better than mine did):

Now onto the race itself.  I stayed at the tent as long as I could before joining my corral, but still ended up having to wait over 20 minutes before starting.  As my corral inched towards the start line, I was already starting to feel the need to use the bathroom again. I considered jumping out of my corral and trying to find another portapotty, but the crowds were so heavy that I decided against it.

About a half mile in, the course crossed a bridge over the Chicago River.  There was a runner standing along the bridge's railing.  Someone threw what looked like a small bag at him.  Unfortunately, the bag slipped through his hands, flew over his shoulder, and plummeted directly into the river below.  WHOOPS.  That's not a good way to start out a race!  I watched as three other runners ran up to him and all four of them peered down at the water, presumably watching the bag float away.  I can only imagine what belongings he must have had in that bag, too.

Mile 1: 11:02

I was needing to go to the bathroom more and more.   Unfortunately, every portapotty I saw had a long line of runners and I didn't want to wait.  However, I was blessed by the fact that my home building was right near the Mile 3 marker!  I decided that worst case scenario, I would make a quick detour at home to use the facilities.

Mile 2: 11:05

No luck yet with the portapotties.

Mile 3: 11:07

Home-field advantage, here we go (literally and figuratively)!  I veered off course and headed directly to my building's lobby, where I nearly knocked over the revolving door enroute to the lobby bathroom.  Our doorperson, Stephanie, grinned at me as I blew past and said, "You came in for the good bathroom, eh?"

I felt so much better after using the restroom!  My legs felt like they had huge weights taken off of them.  I tried to get back on course as quickly as I could.  I saw Adam as soon as I hit the street again, which was right at an aid station.  It was there that he took this picture of me:

Adam's observation: "Runners are great athletes but not great basketball players.  See all the cups on the ground?  Numerous missed shots at the garbage can from short range."

(I will admit that I usually don't even bother trying to get the cup into the garbage can.)

Mile 4: 12:26 (which obviously reflects the lost time from my bathroom detour)
Mile 5: 11:01

I saw Erin spectating along the course, holding up this sign:

Yay!!!  High-fives to Erin!

Mile 6: 11:13

We were running eastbound, directly into the sun, and it was starting to get uncomfortable.  I saw a few aid stations with bags of ice.  Based upon the suggestion of many fellow bloggers, I took a few cubes and dropped them into my sports bra.  The cubes clanked against each other as I ran, making rhythmic clicking noises.  I tried not to laugh.

Mile 7: 10:58

Believe it or not, those musical ice cubes were still going.

Mile 8: 11:27
Mile 9: 10:46

We pass a neighborhood that I used to live in, and there have been some nice improvements to the area since then.  My legs are feeling good and I am enjoying how quickly the time is passing.

Mile 10: 11:10
Mile 11: 11:00

We go through the long McCormick Place tunnel right after mile 11.  Normally this tunnel is dark, stuffy, and killer, but to my surprise they have a party set up inside with flashing lights, neon, and dancers.  Awesome!  I don't have a picture of it, but it was kind of like this:

Normally around mile 10 or mile 11 is where I start feeling the fatigue at half marathons. This time I am pleasantly surprised when the fatigue doesn't really hit until about mile 11.5.

Mile 12: 11:28

Right near the Mile 12 marker, I saw a runner passed out on the street, lying in a pool of blood, surrounded by paramedics.  Yikes.  Based on the recounts from other runners, it sounds like he was already down for quite some time before I saw him. Really scary stuff.  I hope he is okay.

At this point I can see the finish line.  It looks tantalizingly close, much closer than it really is.  I am thinking that I am nearly there, but than I look down at my Garmin and realize that based on my pace I still have a ways to go.  ARGH!!!

Mile 13: 10:43
Mile 13.1: 1:06

My official finishing time: 2:26:32.  Considering this was a summertime race, I had lost some time going to the bathroom, and I felt strong for almost the entire distance, I will take it!

This picture was actually taken pre-race, but maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophesy of the fun race to come.  =D

I am buoyed and rejuvenated by how good I felt during this race.  As I mentioned here, motivation has been tough to come by for me this year, so I want to ride this wave of energy as long as I can.  I have a nice 6-week break now before my next race (the Chicago Half Marathon on September 8) and am looking forward to resuming a more consistent training schedule over these next few weeks in preparation.

Rock on, Chicago!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Esprit de She 5K race recap

Last night I ran the Esprit de She 5K.  Esprit de She is a series of races across the country, including running, cycling, duathlons, and triathlons, and last night's race was their debut running race in Chicago.

I had initially signed up for the 10K race.  However, given the severe heat warning we've had in Chicago this entire week with race-time temps forecasted to be in the 90s, I had planned on dropping down to the 5K. As it turned out, the race organizers opted to cancel the 10K distance and host only the 5K distance.  I thought this was a very smart decision on their part, and a huge relief to many participants (including me). 

Once I arrived on site, packet pickup and gear check were both a breeze.  The swag was fabulous - an adorable tank top and tote bag, magazines, and product samples.  (It is always nice to get anything other than a t-shirt!)

I met up with several of the other Chicago Running Bloggers for a pre-race photo:

From L to R: Sara, Katie, Diane, Erica, Kelly, me, and Erin

Before lining up, I went to the portapotties (no lines!) and took a quick look at some of the vendor booths. The vendor offerings were awesome!  More about that in a bit.

Prior to the start of the race, the organizers made several announcements that they'd doubled medical coverage on course, added extra mist fans and other cooling measures, and that we should be sure to take things easy in the heat.  Excellent.  After a stirring rendition of the national anthem, the horn sounded and we were off.  I ran the entire distance with Sara and Erin and we chatted the whole time.

The course took us through gorgeous areas of Lincoln Park that I had never seen or even knew existed.  It was stunning.  Here are some snippets:

My official time was 31:50 and we were met at the finishing line with ice towels, more mist fans, and plenty of water and Gatorade.

The post-race party was awesome and so unique!  Just to name a few of the offerings, they had a champagne bar, chocolate-avocado pudding with strawberries, grilled whole-wheat flatbread and carrot sticks with hummus, coconut water, make-your-own-potted-plants, mini-spa services and massages, nail polish samples, chocolate truffles, and lots of drawings for pamper-yourself items/services.  It was fantastic! The cute little tote bag that was provided as part of the race swag really came in handy for all of the goodies being handed out, too.

Here are some pictures of the women enjoying the various festivities (a couple of these photos came from the Esprit de She Facebook page).  The race tank top is featured in the upper right.

I also randomly ran into an old friend/former coworker, Joanne, whom I hadn't seen in probably five years!

L to R: me and Joanne

I really loved this race!  The event was very well organized with tons of amenities, a beautiful course, and a very festive summertime atmosphere.  I had actually never run an all-female race prior to this one, and it was a wonderful experience.  It felt like a night out on the town with 500 of my closest runner friends.

I can't wait to do this race again next year.  If given the opportunity, I would love to check out their races held in other cities, too!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 Strike Out ALS 5K race recap

Last night was my second year running the Strike Out ALS 5K.

I ran this race last year, had a great time, and came away with an unexpectedly good finishing time. This year I had been toying with the idea of trying to run a sub-27:00 5K, but that idea quickly went out the window when Mother Nature decided to take a stance. The temperature was at 92 degrees when I left the office right at 5:00.  WOW.  It was a steambath out there!  No PR-attempts for me that night.  Just the plan to finish in one piece and enjoy myself.

Erin and I headed to the race together.  I had been worried enroute about both rush-hour traffic and parking. Thankfully, we got to the race site at US Cellular Field quickly and parked immediately.  Packet pickup, gear check, and the portapotty line were all a breeze, as was the Chicago Running Bloggers pre-race photo meetup.  After attending the race by myself last year, it was nice to have a lot more company this year!
From L to R: Eric, a friend of Eric's, Lindsay, Kelsey, Zenaida, me, Erin, Jennifer, and Chris  
Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring my Garmin to the race.  However, given the steambath heat and humidity precluding any reasonable racing effort, it was probably just as well that I didn't have it.  I considered trying to warm up before the race start, but quickly decided that it wasn't necessary.  Just standing in the crowd waiting to start, I was already sweating profusely.

Once the race got underway, I started out running with LindsayErin, and Kelsey. I looked around and you could definitely tell that folks were taking things cautiously due to the extreme heat. Just about everyone was jogging easily and I didn't see anyone sprinting out of the gate.

Unfortunately right at the start we saw a woman collide directly with a street pole (OUCH!), which narrowly missed causing a runner pileup right in front of us. That poor woman - it hurt just to witness her collision!  But to her credit, the woman barely acknowledged the hit before continuing on.

Lindsay and Erin gradually started pulling ahead, and Kelsey and I continued on together. We kept up a running conversation for about the first mile and a half. Then, exertion started hitting and we reduced our conversation to focus on moving forward. The heat was killer and my legs felt like lead, which made the 5K distance feel much longer than it really was. I was glad to be running with Kelsey as it helped take my mind off of the discomfort, and we just kept plugging along.

The final mile of the course included a long stretch through the hallways inside US Cellular Field.  After baking in the sun, it was such a welcome respite to be indoors. However, I was feeling pretty beat up by that time and the hallways seemed to go on forever. Every time we turned a corner I was hopeful that we were about to emerge onto the playing field to the finish line.  This happened probably eight times.

When we finally did take our last turn onto the playing field, we saw an ice cream freezer right by the entrance.  At that moment, the thought of ice cream had never sounded so good.  Ever.  (I made up my mind at that very moment that if I ever get to rule a summertime race, I will find a way to have ice cream at the finish line!!!)
With that, we found ourselves running along the warning track on US Cellular's playing field! It was surreal. Neither Kelsey nor I had the gumption to sprint to the finish, so we just kept our pace and enjoyed the surroundings.  My official finishing team was 31:11.

After reuniting with some of the other Chicago Running Bloggers, Erin and I made a stop at the concession stands and then settled into some seats at the field.  We hung out for a bit and took in the serene ballpark atmosphere, having the entire field open only to runners and spectators, and the MLB All-Star game being broadcast on the Jumbotron just for all of us.
Right: The stands
Upper left: the MLB All-Star game on the Jumbotron
Bottom left: the dugout, adorned by a display of the various Chicago White Sox logos over the years (thanks to Erin for noticing this detail!)
Ahhh. I was reminded once again of how easy it is to appreciate the allure and grandeur of MLB ballparks. Same as my experience last year, this race has the coolest post-race party that I've ever attended. What an amazing way to enjoy a summer evening in Chicago.

Baseball afficionados and/or anyone that supports the ALS cause, this race has your name all over it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lost motivation

Yesterday Lauren posted a Monday Motivation piece where she mentioned that when people say "I could never do this..." that it is more often a case of people just not having the desire to do it.

I immediately got hit with this:

It's been a progressively bigger and bigger struggle for me to stay motivated with running these days.  Right now it feels more burdensome than fun to train or run races.

Common thoughts for me these days:

I have to get up at WHAT HOUR in the morning?!?!?  
I have to do HOW LONG of a long run?!?!?  
I have to go WHERE to pick up my race packet?!?!?

I have watched other folks make huge improvement strides in short periods of time. However, my own training has plateaued and it feels really frustrating.

I'm not going to make excuses for my lack of improvement because it's my own doing (or lack thereof).  My training efforts have not been consistent by any stretch of the imagination.  The problem is that it tends to be a vicious cycle for me.  When I don't see results, I lose motivation - and the more I unmotivated I become, the harder it is for me to work on creating results.

I've tried mixing things up a bit overall in an attempt to keep things interesting.  I have added Wisconsin and Michigan to the list of states that I've raced in and I've tried a trail race.  Off the running path, I've taken a trapeze lesson and tried stand-up paddleboarding.  

All of those things were fun.  But they haven't snapped me out of my motivational funk.

It doesn't help right now that Chicago has just gotten hit with a dangerous heatwave that is supposed to last this entire week.  Gotta love the timing for the 5K I'm running tonight, the 10K on Thursday night, and the half marathon this Sunday.  Race-time temps for both tonight and Thursday night are forecasted to be in the upper 80s/low 90s!  Talk about deflating.

I think I am looking for something new into which to channel my fitness energy and focus - but I don't know what that could be.  It seems like a lot of runners go the duathlon or triathlon route, but that doesn't sound hugely appealing to me right now.  I'm only moderately into group fitness classes and I consider yoga/pilates to be "side" courses.  What else is out there?  Intramural sports for uber-beginners?  Curling 101? Trampoline tumbling?

Basically I really need something like this:

If anyone sees one of these out on the marketplace, please let me know.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Home Team Charity Run 10K race recap

This morning I ran the Home Team Charity 10K.

This is the first of the four races that I'll be running in the next eight days.

I've mentioned before that after being an avid runner through college and my early- to mid-twenties, I took a running hiatus for several years.  After resurrecting my running life a few years ago, the 2011 Home Team Charity Run 10K was the first race I ran post-hiatus.  Given its alignment with the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, and White Sox, this rabid Blackhawks fan would have had a hard time finding a more perfect race to get back in the swing of things.  I had a blast at this race in 2011 and was excited to give it another go this year.

Fast forward to this year's race.  A lot of the race's characteristics have changed:

In 2011:
  • Only a 10K was offered
  • The race took place in early April
  • The course ran from the United Center to US Cellular Field
  • Jim Cornelison (legendary Hawks anthem singer) sang the national anthem pre-race
  • At the post-race party, there were opportunities to meet legendary former Hawks, Bulls, and Sox players and get their autographs
  • The Bulls and Sox championship trophies were on display (no Stanley Cup, unfortunately) and certain runners got to take their pictures with the trophies
  • They played team sports-themed music at the start and finish line (e.g. "If I could be like Mike")
This year:
  • Both a 10K and a 5K were offered
  • The race took place today, in mid-July
  • The course started and finished at US Cellular Field, with the finish line being broadcast on the Jumbotron.
  • The man that sang the national anthem was not someone that I recognized (I don't even remember his name)
  • The music at the start had no specific theme and a local band was playing their own songs at the finish line.
  • There were no former players on hand and none of the championship trophies were on display. Instead, sponsors were giving away posters, signs, etc. and there were opportunities to take green-screen pictures superimposed with each of the three teams' mascots.
The first of my three superimposed pictures with each of the team mascots.
From L to R: me and Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk.

Now onto the race itself, via "the good, the bad, and the ugly."

The good

  • Ample free parking at US Cellular Field for all runners and spectators.  Given that the CTA Red Line is not running to US Cellular Field due to construction, I bet nearly everyone took advantage of the parking.
  • Spectators got to watch the finish line inside the Cell.  As I mentioned above, the finish line was broadcast on the Jumbotron.
  • Portapotty lines moved VERY quickly.  I think I only had to wait about thirty seconds to use one.
  • Good aid station coverage.  The course was an out-and-back and there were two stations that runners passed by twice each.
  • The course ran mostly through local neighborhoods, and some areas had fairly decent patches of shade.
  • Fabulous race t-shirt.  I have had a really tough time finding a technical shirt with a Blackhawks logo on it, so I was really thrilled to finally get one.  This was one of the biggest selling points for me with this race.
  • The superimposed pictures with each of the team mascots were fun.
From L to R: me and Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull.
The bad
  • It was hot and sunny.  Temps were in the mid- to upper-70s, and along the final stretch of the course there was minimal shade and the sun was shining directly into our eyes.
  • Considering the amount of parking available at the Cell, the line to park was very long and moved quite slowly.  When I arrived at the Cell, I knew what parking lot to go to; however, I ended up being forced to take a circuitous loop around the entire complex just to get in line.  There was no signage and there could have been more well-placed people to direct traffic.
  • Even though I used a portapotty about 15 minutes prior to the race start time, I felt like I needed to use the bathroom again for nearly the entire race.
  • The course ran over a bridge/incline with a steel grate surface, which made me nervous.
  • Course spectators were nearly nonexistent.
  • There was no Gatorade available at the aid stations or at the post-race party.  Just water.
The ugly
  • Receiving the following email at 8:14 pm LAST NIGHT (sorry about the small text):
  • I was floored when I read the above email.  What race of this magnitude doesn't have a gear check? How could the organizers not come up with a better solution than this?  And how could this only be communicated less than 24 hours before the race's start time?  Did they not realize that some folks would be taking public transit and that some folks (like me) would not have any spectators to hold their gear?
  • Since gear check was eliminated, that basically quashed the Chicago Running Blogger pre-race photo meet-up.  It had been set to meet at gear check 30 minutes before race time.  So much for that.
  • I had been planning to change into my race t-shirt after the race so I could be wearing it in my pictures with the mascots.  Plus, my running clothes were completely soaked from perspiration plus the cups of water that I'd been throwing over my head during the race. So I really, REALLY wanted to change clothes.  But since I had no race spectators, I had to leave everything in my car (which was parked pretty far away).  I wasn't sure they'd let me back in to the stadium if I stepped out, either.  So my wet clothes made for an uncomfortable post-race party and an uncomfortable drive home.
  • According to the race website, official race results will be posted on July 21 - an entire week from today!  How is it that other races have their results posted within a few hours (or even available right at the finish line), yet this race will take 7 days? [Edited: I found my race results later that evening on]

[End rant.]

Now, on to race specifics.  But first, here is my second-ever picture with South Paw:

From L to R: me and Chicago White Sox mascot South Paw

My official time as posted on Chicago Athlete's website was 1:02:49.  Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:02
Mile 2: 10:23
Mile 3: 10:12
Mile 4: 9:26
Mile 5: 10:24
Mile 6: 10:22
Mile 0.2: 2:00

I am incredulous at the mile 4 split.  I certainly did try to pick things up during the second half of the race in an attempt to run a negative split.  However, it seems weird that I would run that single mile that much faster than the rest?

All in all, I felt pretty good for most of the race until the final mile or so.  However, I wasn't thrilled with my finishing time.  I had been hoping to run sub-1:02, or better yet, break the hour mark. But it was definitely way too warm out there today to put forth very high expectations.

In the end, I don't know if I will run this race again.  It is pricey for a 10K, the mid-July timeframe is challenging, the gear check cancellation was disappointing, and a lot of the special Hawks/Bulls/Sox features that I had enjoyed so much in 2011 are no longer in existence.

OK - time to rest my legs for my next race, the Strike Out ALS 5K coming up on Tuesday night (coincidentally also at US Cellular Field).  And later I will post about yesterday's stand-up paddleboarding lesson (which was fun!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fruit coincidences, lemon soles, and quintessential volunteers

I've seen many bloggers partaking in "Three Things Thursday" so here is a contribution to the fun!

Discovering Great Fruit Species (this sounds much more scientific than it really is)
Whenever I go to the grocery store, I usually try to buy at least one new-to-me item every time.  (I try my best for this to be a new type of produce, but often it ends up being a new type of snack food.)  Through this process, a few months ago I realized the awesomeness that is Ambrosia apples.  Now I think that no other apple species even comes close to comparing.  

Ambrosia apples

I had another produce-sampling win yesterday!  I brought home a bag of Rainier cherries and I just love them.  Within less than 18 hours I've nearly finished the entire bag all by myself.

Here's where it gets interesting.  You saw the picture of ambrosia apples above, now check out this picture of Rainier cherries:

Rainier cherries

The resemblance is uncanny!  The Ambrosia apples look just like Rainier cherries without stems, and vice versa.  Coincidence?!?!?

Maybe the produce world is signaling me to seek out all produce species that have this red/yellow blend of coloring (e.g. certain types of heirloom tomatoes, perhaps?) for guaranteed likage!  Now I am on a mission.  =)

Lemon Shoes?
In prior discussions of my running shoe collection, I've mentioned that I have a pair of Brooks Glycerin 8 shoes which I'm not thrilled with.  

Given the rave reviews I've heard about the Glycerin series and about Brooks shoes in general, I am really surprised at myself for not liking them very much.  I think they are pretty but they are not supportive enough for my liking.  It makes me wonder if I got a lemony pair?
Said shoe

I've been trying to salvage them by wearing them just for shorter runs.  They've got about 140 miles on them right now, so they shouldn't be anywhere close to being worn out yet. But the last time I wore them, they felt disturbingly bone-jarring.  Now I have very little desire to wear them for any more running.  So this pair of shoes is probably going to set a new personal mark for my lowest-mileage downgrade/retirement.

Adventures in Volunteering
My new company has quite the interesting volunteer opportunities available.  Most notably, they are looking for employees and their friends/family to volunteer to work concessions at various Soldier Field events. ("Working concessions" happens to mean serving and selling alcohol, so they are looking for folks over age 21, of course.) Examples include a Bon Jovi concert, a Justin Timberlake/Jay Z concert, a Taylor Swift concert, and all Bears home games.  A percentage of the concession stand sales go to charitable causes.

I am intrigued by this type of volunteer opportunity.  I've never been to a Bears home game, and based on my experience at other sporting events I am sure it would have a really fun atmosphere (especially when the transfer of alcohol is involved).

The drawback is that the volunteer shifts are lengthy.  We are talking 9 AM to 4 PM for a Sunday afternoon game.  That is a bit longer than I necessarily want to be on my feet on a weekend day.

Here's another concession stand that agrees:

(The good thing is that most Bears games take place in cooler climates, so there is less potential for melting.) 

I'll be giving this volunteer opportunity some consideration in the coming months.

I asked Adam if he would potentially be interested in volunteering with me if I did go for it. This a lot to ask of him given how much he relishes his football Sundays. He said he would consider it during the Steelers' bye week... but that he couldn't promise that he would/could keep his Steelers loyalties on the down low while at the premises.

I wonder how the organizing group would feel about this.  I mean, a volunteer is still a volunteer, right?  ;-)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Racing on the edge, Garmin lifecycling, and more

I hope everyone had a fantastic July 4th!  I was in Pittsburgh for the weekend to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday.  As per usual, the time went by in the blink of an eye.

I have much to write about.  Here today are just a few of the things that are scampering around madly in the back of my brain right now.

4 (or 5?) races in 8 days
During the 8-day stretch between July 14 and July 21, I have four races on the calendar:

July 14 - Home Team Charity 10K
July 16 - Strike Out ALS 5K
July 18 - Esprit de She 10K (for which I am a race ambassador!)
July 21 - Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Four races in eight days is certainly plenty.  While I would like to "race" all four races, I would very much risk overdoing it and that would be a recipe for disaster.  The jury is still out regarding which of the four races I actually "race," but I am thinking I'll limit myself to two, max.

Here's the kicker.  Erin is planning to run five 5Ks in five nights from July 15 through July 19, including the Friendship 5K Run in Highland, Indiana on July 17.  I am tempted to join her for that race since I've never done a race in Indiana.  It would involve a little bit of a road-trip from Chicago, but it's still very doable on a Wednesday night.  And the 5K distance, if done as a fun run, is not at all a big deal.

The catch is that I haven't been consistently running even three days a week.  To go from an average of, say, 2.374321531219 days per week of running to five runs within eight days?  Even if done with extreme caution, that would still be quite a jump!

I keep going back and forth on this decision between thinking that

a) life is too short, you only live once, work hard play harder


b) I've already learned the hard way not to overdo it, plus who wants to spend even MORE time doing physical therapy exercises?

To be continued.

The Garmin Circle of Life
Last week I got caught in pouring rain during one of my runs.  I was wearing my Garmin, but didn't worry about it because it is supposed to be water-resistant up to 50 meters of submersion (or something like that).

During the rain, my Garmin started beeping that it was low on battery.  No big deal.  Later when I got home I tried charging it, only to find out that it wouldn't charge.  Since I've had charger issues in the past, I swapped out the charger cable and cradle to see if that was the issue.  No difference.  Then I tried turning the Garmin on.  Still nothing.  Nada to this day.  Not even an obligatory twitch or flash of light before my eyes.

As far as I can tell, my Garmin has officially gone to live on a big GPS watch farm.  Sigh.

Considering how expensive these Garmins are, I'm not thrilled with all of the problems that I've had with mine.  But on the optimistic side, my old Garmin was the Forerunner 305 model and its large, bulky size was my biggest complaint (literally and figuratively).  So this was an opportunity to find a different model that better suited my needs.

I didn't want to blow too much money on a new watch, especially for features that I don't even use, so that eliminated a lot of other Garmin models currently on the marketplace.  I first considered the Garmin 10, but wasn't thrilled with its projected battery life (only five hours) and that its display was only minimally customizable.  Ultimately I decided to go with the Garmin 110.  The 110 is much sleeker than the 305 and seems to offer enough functionality for my needs without going overboard either direction.

Here's a picture I found that compares the two models side by side:

Garmin Forerunner 305 on the left, Garmin 110 on the right

The new 110 just arrived in the mail today.  It is charging up as I type this.  I am looking forward to taking it for its inaugural usage some time this week!

A few other notes

  • Since I've been without a working Garmin for the past week, I went for an intended 10-mile run yesterday based on several known-distance loops.  Yours truly may have gone into total zone-out mode.  Therefore, yours truly may have somehow lost the ability to do simple arithmetic, thereby miscalculating the cumulative distances of the various loops.  Yours truly may have somehow ended up running nearly 11 miles without realizing it until afterwards, all the while thinking that thy pace was just really, really slow (it was very hot and muggy yesterday).  Good for training, but still.  Oops.  

  • On that note, I am getting more and more disenchanted with long runs, as well as with half marathons (or longer, of course).  It is getting increasingly difficult to find the desire to do these 90-minute-plus training runs, especially considering all the preparation involved both before and after. Right now I think I could be very happy by always doing three- to six-mile runs and trying to focus on building speed.  Considering how much my motivation is waning, it's too bad I still have three more half marathons this year.

OK, enough with that!  What I am looking forward to right now?
  • Taking a stand-up paddleboarding lesson this Saturday with Xaarlin, Erin, and Anne!
  • Kicking off my stretch of four (or maybe five) races in eight days starting with the Home Team Charity Run 10K this Sunday.  There will be plenty of deliriously happy Blackhawks fans there, for sure.  At the post-race party I am hoping to get pictures with Benny the Bull and with Tommy Hawk (shhhh, Adam won't be thrilled based on his history with Tommy Hawk).  That way I can start a collection of photos with team mascots.
Me with White Sox mascot South Paw at the 2011 Home Team Charity Run

  • Checking out Sinha for a Brazilian brunch this Sunday with Xaarlin, who has some stories that I am dying to hear about!
  • The Chicago Blackhawks Fan Convention coming up in a few weeks, followed by...
  • The NAAAP National Convention in Toronto in early August.  The trip will include a side visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame!
  • Taking advantage of some great deals on an introductory sailing class and a Chicago chocolate-tasting tour!  I'll definitely be trying both before the summer ends.  Not at the same time, though.  (Or not?)
Chocolate sailboats!!!
How's that for living the good life?!?!?