Friday, August 22, 2014

Under the weather

I've been fighting some cold symptoms this week.

Things started turning sour on Sunday. It was unseasonably cold that day and my throat began feeling a little raw. I knew it was a bad sign. I usually avoid taking medication at all costs, but I have heard that if you feel a cold coming on it's best to try to attack it early. Reluctantly I choked down some Alka Seltzer Plus Night Cold Formula (yuck).

"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz..."

The "night" part worked right away. Within minutes I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. I went to bed, hoping that I'd be back to normal the next morning.

When I woke up, I most certainly did NOT feel better. My throat was aching and it hurt to swallow or to talk. I also felt lethargic all around. I considered calling in to work and trying to work from home. It was a 50/50 proposition for me.

I didn't really want to call in. In general I try to save that for the days when I am really, REALLY sick. Adam suggested having something to eat and taking a hot shower. I did both and felt better, so I decided to suck it up and go in.

It wasn't the best day, though, of course. And it hasn't been the best week.

Wah! Wah! Wah!

I very rarely get sick so I'm not used to this. It's been frustrating trying to go about my days despite a stuffy nose, sore throat, periodic headache, occasional loss of appetite (VERY unusual for me), and just feeling blugh all around.

On a half-joking note, ice cream has never been so appealing. I had a bowl of chocolate ice cream last night to help calm my sore throat. It was all I could do to stop myself from turning the ice cream into dinner.

From the exercise front, I've heard many times that you can still work out if your symptoms are neck-level or above. Here is how things went for me this week:

  • Monday - I stubbornly dragged myself to my favorite yoga sculpt class. It ended up being taught by a substitute teacher that day who completely changed things up. I was craving familiarity so I wasn't thrilled. Bad timing.
  • Tuesday - I had signed up to take an introductory boxing class. I did enjoy the session, but afterwards my arms and back were KILLER sore. Again, bad timing when under the weather. Even today I am still feeling some lingering soreness. As the name implies, the class involved lots of punching, bobbing, and weaving. It also involved a lot of jump-rope drills. Flashback to my childhood days on the playground. It's been easily 20 years since I've jumped rope so it was awkwardly challenging to lope around.

  • Wednesday - I was signed up for a bikram yoga class and debated all day long whether or not to go. Ultimately, the thought of 90 minutes of yoga in 104 degrees Fahrenheit/40% humidity was too much and I ended up cancelling. Instead, after work I Divvy'd around to do some errands (by the way, big thumbs up on the Divvy bike share program!) I felt okay while riding around, and was actually enjoying the fresh evening air. When I got home, though, my throat let me know otherwise.
  • Thursday - I did 3 very slow miles on the treadmill. After not running for four days, it actually felt pretty good. But afterwards, I regressed. Time for round two of the Alka Seltzer. (This time I tried to drink it quickly so as to minimize actually tasting it. While that did work, the accompanying quick intake of carbonation ended up being unsettling to my stomach. Blech.)
  • Today - My original plan was to run 10 miles after work. I am running the Disneyland Half Marathon next weekend, and the last time I did a double-digit run was the weekend of August 8. I'll be in Michigan tomorrow and Sunday, and I don't anticipate having much time this weekend to get in a long run. Therefore, today was supposed to be the day. But between still not feeling 100% right now, and the weather forecast being unfriendly (thunderstorms), I'd say my long run odds are exactly zero.

I read up on how long it usually takes for the common cold to dissipate. Most reports say between 7-14 days. When I first saw that, I was incredulous. One to two WEEKS? Sadly it seems like my body is moving right in tandem with that timeframe. The recovery can't happen fast enough, but apparently I have at least another few days to get through.

Thou shalt never take thy health for granted ever again.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Things Friday

Sorry for being MIA, folks. I've been reading all of your blogs but need to catch up on posting comments!

Here's a rundown of some things that I've been up to:

1. New Balance Girls Night Out
This past Wednesday, I attended a "Girls Night Out" event hosted by New Balance. The festivities included a bootcamp-style workout by the lake followed by post-workout refreshments, shopping, music, and photobooths.

Here's the crowd getting their planks on. We look pretty intense, eh?

Check out the view of the skyline and lake in the backdrop!

Here's a photo of some of the Chicago Running Bloggers clan in attendance:

From L to R: Erica, me, Natali, Jennifer, Agnes, and Maggie

On a related note - I have never tried New Balance running shoes. I'll have to give them a whirl one of these days. (As if I needed an excuse to buy more running shoes, haha.)

I attended two Chicago Bears events in the past two weekends: the Bears Family Fest, and Bears Training Camp. Both events involved getting to watch the Bears practice.

Here are photos from Bears Family Fest:

Upper left: Player introductions
Left middle: Player warm-up stretches
Left bottom: Fans outside of Soldier Field
Top right: Rose and me in front of an enormous Bears tailgate tent
Bottom right: Some fabulous samples being handed out to fans. (Bethany, this is for you! =) )
Side note: If all events gave out free ice cream like this, I think we would make significant strides towards world peace.

Here are photos from Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais, Illinois:

Upper left: Player drills
Upper right: Fans lined up down the street to enter the premises
Bottom left: Rose and me in line
Bottom middle: Ladies and gentlemen, your starting quarterback... Jay Cutler!
Bottom right: Remember this photo from Packers training camp which I posted about here? Apparently the use of giant fitness balls by 300-lb football players is more common than I realized. This is the Bears version.

3. Lung Run
The latest addition to my race calendar is the Lung Run 5K and 10K on September 13. I signed up to support Anne and her fundraising team.

I am opting to run the 5K and this will be another PR attempt.

Back story: My goal in 2014 was to PR the half marathon, 10K, and 5K. The 5K is the only one I haven't been able to crack yet. (It's driving me nuts.) I'm starting to run out of targetable races and free weekends in 2014. Therefore, the Lung Run may be my best remaining shot this year to do it.

Over the next four weeks, I am upping the ante on doing speedwork. I know that I can't expect speedwork to create miracles that quickly, but hey - it's better than nothing!

4. Recruiting
One work-related extracurricular that I've always enjoyed very much is recruiting. I like meeting with employment candidates and doing interviews. I also enjoy going to college campuses to do career fairs or any other career development events. It's a really nice change of pace from sitting at my desk all day long in the office!

While I relish any opportunity to recruit on campus, I especially enjoy doing so at my alma mater, of course.

Unfortunately, my last two employers did not afford me the opportunity to do any campus recruiting. However, my current employer has an entire task force set up to recruit at the dear old University of Illinois! I am already planning on heading there next month to help conduct a Mock Interview workshop.

On that note, my nephew, Reid, will soon be starting his freshman year at UIllinois. Adam and I had joked about all the excuses that we would find to mysteriously show up at Reid's doorstep over the next four years. And so it begins... =D

5. Divvying it up
In Chicago, we have a bike-share system called Divvy.

Initially I didn't consider joining because I already have a bike at home. (Although, my bike has flat tires and I've procrastinated fixing them for much longer than I care to admit.) Lately, though, I've had too many instances where I was stuck agonizingly waiting for a bus or train so I could travel two miles. Each time, it always seemed that there were nearby racks of Divvy bikes staring me in the face, plus thousands of Divvy riders gleefully breezing by. Case in point:

Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel Divvys like there is no tomorrow!
I exaggerate, of course. But in short, I've grown tired of having to rely on public transit for short trips. Therefore, I am finally taking the plunge on joining Divvy.

(Maggie, you should be a Divvy spokeswoman since both Erin and I joined after talking to you! =) )

I submitted my membership form and am eagerly anticipating the arrival of my bike key in my mailbox. It's too bad that summer is almost over because I think Divvy is going to change my whole outlook on tooling around the city. I can't wait to try it!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon race recap

This past Saturday I ran the ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon. I had volunteered at the ZOOMA Great Lakes race series two years ago (read my recap here), but this was my first time participating as a runner.

I'll be recapping this race using the "Good, Bad, and Ugly" format.

The Good
  • I had consistently heard rave reviews on this race's swag. Sure enough, the swag was awesome. Very nice race shirt and running hat, a pair of Feetures socks, a cute little tote bag that I'll be using to carry my lunch to work, and a sparkly medal with a detachable charm.
  • For an early-August race, the weather was nice. Clear and sunny, temperatures in the upper 60s/low 70s at the start.
  • The race village was set up in Burnham Harbor, which is a unique location that afforded gorgeous views of the lakefront and skyline. The organizers also provided shuttles to the location, which was helpful.

  • The volunteers were friendly and gear check was effortless. There were a couple of guys along the course who were fantastic spectators (one offered a box of Munchkins somewhere around Mile 11).
  • The post-race party was nice. They served wine, snack boxes with sandwiches/chips, Muscle Milk, etc. They even offered post-race yoga.
  • I enjoyed seeing a bunch of friends at the festivities. This included Meghan, Amanda C., Amanda W., Zenaida, Erica, and Kelly; and I finally got to meet Maureen in person! I also met and had a great time talking to Erica's friend, Meryl. 
From L to R: Meghan, Amanda C., Zenaida, me, and Amanda W.
From L to R: Erica, me, and Amanda C.
  • Despite only doing a single training run to prepare this race (one 11-miler two weeks ago) I ambitiously thought I'd try to beat my time from the Illinois Half Marathon (2:15:21). For the first 10 miles, I was on pace to do so, and my splits were nice and even.
  • Amanda W. helped me out a lot at the end of this race (more about that below).
The Bad
  • There was no "day-of" packet pickup option.
  • I've never enjoyed seeing a race finish line but then having to run away from it. This race, which included both a half marathon and a 10K, took place on the lakefront path. Below is the course map. In summary, the 10K runners did the northbound loop before splitting off to cross the finish line. The half marathoners had to run past the finish line before starting the southbound loop. That was hard.

  • I didn't look at the course map very closely in advance, so I didn't know how far north or how far south we were headed.
  • The temperature started rising as the day progressed. The lakefront path has patches of shade, but there are many long stretches with zero shade. It starting wearing me down after awhile.
  • There were long periods in the final four miles without any hydration options. Yet, there was an aid station just prior to the 13-mile marker. Being so close to the finish line, that didn't seem like the best location.
  • The wheels started falling off for me around Mile 8, which wasn't a good sign. I somehow managed to keep up my pace through Mile 10, but it was a rising struggle.
The Ugly
  • After the Mile 10 marker, I crashed and burned, big-time. My entire body was aching. I was hating the exertion, the sun, and the winding path.
  • I decided that I no longer liked running and that I didn't want to do it anymore. Ever. (My actual thoughts were much harsher than that, but you get the idea.) I scoffed when I saw these signs:
I took these pictures from Zenaida's post
  • I took a walk break around Mile 12.5, but could not muster myself to resume running. I had every intention of walking the rest of the way. Thankfully, Amanda W was there and her cheerfulness helped buoy me. She is the only reason that I was running when I crossed the finish line.
  • I ended up missing my time goal by over 3 minutes, all of which I picked up in those last 3 miles. (My official time was 2:18:16)
  • Throughout the race, I almost got clipped by several cyclists zooming by at full speed. It was terrifying.
  • When I got home, I realized that I had some severe chafage from my sports bra. This was a very unpleasant surprise. I've worn that particular sports bra for many long runs but this was the first time I had any problems. Showering was incredibly painful. It felt like someone was holding a lit match right next to my skin.
  • I felt very worn out after this race. I had all kinds of plans to find a great fall half marathon and attempt another PR this year. But I began thinking that maybe I no longer have the motivation to undergo the requisite training.

I can't end this post on those notes, of course. So here are some shout-outs:
  • Congratulations to Amanda C, who is expecting a new addition to the family! She looks FABULOUS!
  • Congratulations to Erica for winning her division! (I told her that anytime I run a race with her, I go into the awards ceremony expecting to hear her name get called. =) )
Speaking of Erica, here's a great post-race picture that she shared:

From L to R: me, Erica, Meryl, Stacy, and Olivia

I'm ready to take a break from racing. Thankfully, the next one on my calendar could not come at a better time or location.

My next race: the Disneyland Half Marathon on August 31!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Packers 5K race recap

Continuing the recap of my Green Bay weekend visit (click here for the first part). After a busy several days, I'm finally getting around to writing about the Packers 5K. I'll continue with the Bill Simmons timeline-style blogging that I used in Part 1.

5:45 PM - Helen and I arrive back at Lambeau Field to get set for the race. In the interest of maintaining neutrality, I purposely chose to wear pink. This is because no NFL team uses pink as a team color, but they all wear it for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pretty clever, eh?

6:08 PM - After making a quick stop at the indoor restrooms, Helen and I work our way back outside. I run one mile to warm up. It is bright and sunny, and the temps are in the low 80s. My legs are feeling shot from the 10K I ran less than 48 hours earlier. I attempt some acceleration gliders and my legs aren't having any of that.

6:15 PM - Amidst the mob of Packers fans creating a sea of green and gold, Helen makes a Superman sighting!

6:25 PM - I line up in the corrals behind the Corral 2 sign. I had asked Helen to take some pictures of me during the race. To help myself stand out in the crowd for photos, I pose in increasingly spasmodic ways.

Upper L: Obliviousness
Upper R: One-handed wave
Bottom L: Two-handed wave
Bottom R: Best "Fonzie" impression. "AYYY!"

6:28 PM - The president of the Packers plus some Packers alumni address the crowd. A local school choir sings the national anthem.

6:30 PM - Packers-themed music blares from the loudspeakers and Corral 1 is off!

6:31 PM - The emcee gives countdowns to the release of each corral, which include repeat renditions of the Packers jingle (credit to my friend Dale for finding that video). The crowd is fired up. Everyone around me is cheering along and pumping their fists in rhythm with the jingle.

6:33 PM - I realize too late that I actually lined up in Corral 3. Apparently the Corral 2 runners were supposed to line up in FRONT of the Corral 2 sign, instead of behind it. Oops! Oh well. I take it as another sign from the universe that I should run easy tonight.

I start moving along with the flow of runners but I get boxed in right away. It is very, very crowded, and there is very little room even to bob and weave. That officially seals the deal on taking things easy tonight.

One of the photos that Helen took of the crowd

6:45 PM - We wind through many residential neighborhoods surrounding Lambeau Field. Lots of locals have come out to watch the fun. A couple of folks have their lawn sprinklers towards the streets and many runners take the opportunity to enjoy the spray. There are lots of kids running and they are all having a marvelous time.

6:52 PM - There are gentle hills along the course. My legs are aching.

This is an official event photo (the organizers allowed us to download them for free!) The camera angle makes it look like I am leading the crowd but I assure you that I am most definitely not!

6:59 PM - We enter the stadium. The course narrows considerably, forcing us to slow to a walk several times. We are side by side with oncoming runners, many of whom exchange high-fees with us along the way.

After a short pass through some hallways, we run through the player's entrance and emerge onto the playing field. The course includes a lap around the warning track. It was very cool taking in the sights from ground level.

7:00 PM - I see myself on the Jumbotron! Since Helen has my phone, I couldn't take a picture of myself. But plenty of other folks stop on the field to do so, causing a logjam along the path. Nobody minds, of course.

7:01 PM - After completing the lap around the field, we head back into the stadium halls and reemerge from a side door. In the adjacent parking lot, there is a replica 50-yard line set up which is our finish line. Wooo!

7:02 PM - Helen sees Superman again.

By the way, yes, that is a giant Packers logo "G" on the ground.

7:03 PM - I come barreling across.

...and I am in the end zone. Finish line/touchdown!!!

My official time: 30:13.

7:10 PM - I've collected my finisher's medal and gone through the post-race refreshment tent (apples, bananas, pretzels, and fresh cookies!) Helen and I head back into the stadium to hang out, enjoy the atmosphere, and watch other runners on the course.

We see lots more runners photographing themselves on the Jumbotron. Some figure out where the video camera is placed, and lift their kids up right in front of it.

Notice the one woman doing some kind of cheerleader pose in the background.

Best photobombing, ever. I bet some of those pictures end up on people's holiday cards. =D

8:30 PM - Helen and I are having dinner at Kroll's, right across the street from the stadium. This is a landmark restaurant in Green Bay which has been around for over 70 years.

Upper L: The sign
Lower L: At the restaurant, you seat yourself, then press the button when you are ready to order
R: Covered parking for my car. I think Kroll's used to be a drive-in?

As you can probably glean from the pictures, Kroll's has a unique, old-fashioned vibe. They also have really, really good burgers and milkshakes/malts. =)

I had a great time visiting Green Bay! I really enjoyed the local atmosphere at the Packers 5K and all the weekend events, as well as the true friendliness of all the residents. Many thanks again to Helen and her aunt/uncle for being such kind and welcoming hosts for the weekend!!!