Hot hot hills

87 in the shade, WTF

87 in the shade, WTF

I just don't know, you guys.  I cannot deal with this sudden heat wave.  And who am I, opting for some hard hill repeats on a day where we hit mid-80s by the mid-afternoon?  Hungry for hills, I guess.

1 mile warm-up (ha!), some drills, and then five Grant hill loops - pushing the ups and downs, jogging the flats, and then 1 mile cool down (not really).

 

Thank god for the fountains

Thank god for the fountains

You know what helped me a ton, though?  THIS awesome new shirt.  OMG, I am so grateful for Oiselle.  They know what's what.  I love this fabric - silky, light, drapey - and I love how I didn't feel suffocated around the middle by a tight hem.  Good stuff.  I see myself getting a couple more of these and some of the tanks too.

Music-powered by 

BOW DOWN

Eliud Kipchoge hugging his coach Patrick Sang 

Eliud Kipchoge hugging his coach Patrick Sang 

There's not a lot I'll stay up until 12:45 am for, but watching Kipchoge go for his Breaking2 is definitely one of them.  And I'm still emotional today when I think about it.  This was an incredible event, a truly wonderful demonstration of talent and drive and precision.  The pacers, sliding in and out of formation with total focus.  Kipchoge, smiling in pain.  Dawn breaking after the start.  Texting Malcolm throughout and then calling our dad to wake him up when it looked like a sub 2 might actually happen.

It didn't.  2:00:24.  But instead of "OMG he was so close that's terrible!" I'm left with a sense of awe.  It was awe-inspiring in the original sense of the term.  I had chills in the last moments even when I saw he wasn't going to do it, watching the pacers drop back to urge him on, how they were pulling for him so hard, how he expended every single iota of himself to achieve this goal.  Amazing.  I felt lucky to witness this effort.

 

 

Middle of the night texting with Dad and Malcolm.   

Middle of the night texting with Dad and Malcolm.   

Here is a good inside-baseball account of the run and I give credit to LetsRun for writing this after their snarky take-down of the attempt earlier in the day.

Also all the other nay-sayers can just suck it.

Now as for me?  Channeling Eliud all the way (in theory, not in pace), I ran 10 miles @ 10:30.  It was a great day: cool and sunny.   Windy by the lake but warm in the sheltered bike path.

 

Stopped around mile 6 for some water...

Stopped around mile 6 for some water...

And fuel

And fuel

I thought I'd want at least one more water stop but wasn't sure I'd have any fountains so I actually ran with the water bottle in my hand (or hands - I kept passing it back and forth) for about 1.5 miles.  I'd never done that before and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!  I channeled my inner ultrarunner.

 

Stopped by a baseball game to finish my water and jelly beans.

Stopped by a baseball game to finish my water and jelly beans.

By the time 1:45 had passed for EK, he was at 35 K.

By the time 1:45 had passed for EK, he was at 35 K.

Music-powered by a mix including: 

and

(Rick Danko, oh my heart)

On the straight and narrow

4 miles: 1 mi wu; 2 mi @ tempo/GMP feel; 1 mi CD.  Music powered by Bruno Mars.  Hit up some JasYoga afterward (such a treat.)

I'm annoyed because I wanted to run 9:45 - this is what the Hanson bros have as my tempo/GMP... but my Garmin wasn't linked up apparently because as I ran I just watched the pace drop slowly - it got to about 9:45 by end of the tempo part, but I could tell I was running faster than that.  Turned out those two miles were 9:13 and 9:17.  Not sure what happened.  Sometimes when I press the satellite button on my watch it quickly (too quickly) flips into timer mode as if it's linked up and ready to go, which is what happened this morning.  Don't really know what to do about that.  There's no way to tell the watch it's NOT linked up when it seems to think it is.  And of course no biggie on a run like today - I'm not even in training yet.  But as with all bobbles on the journey all I can think is, what if this happened on marathon day??  (Fine, fine, I'd run by perceived effort, but you know what I mean.)

I took the bike path in this town that runs along a railway.  Sort of a boring concrete strip, straight and narrow for miles.  But I have a weird love, or maybe it's an admiration, for a route like that.  No frills, no "scenery" to help you pass the time.  Just a straight up tunnel of bushes and concrete that tells you to cut the whining and just run already.

In more important news, I did a combo ponytail/braid:

 

Don't say I never did anything for you

Don't say I never did anything for you

Sidewalk running

4 miles (4.1 actually, ahem) nice and easy in light rain, early morning.  I'm out of town so took a route that had me almost entirely on sidewalks.  Which I realize is really unusual for me, thanks to Chicago's ubiquitous lakefront path.  I've lost my skills for curb-hopping, and was occasionally startled out of my zone (listening to Shalane Flanagan talk about doping on this excellent RW podcast interview) when a car would roll up to a stop sign and we'd have to do that eye-contact thing: You go.  No, you go.  Okay, I'm going is that cool?  A flashback to my suburban running roots!

Then a train crossing brought me to a full stop at the tracks.  No, I didn't jog in place.  And you shouldn't either.  And I didn't stretch.  Just stood there waiting, while commuters stared out the train window, watching me getting wet in the rain.

After all that talk about sidewalks, here's my halfway turnaround and the run's real reward:

 

Lake Michigan, I can't quit you

Lake Michigan, I can't quit you

Strides on the sand.  It was the camera that was tilted, not the horizon.

Strides on the sand.  It was the camera that was tilted, not the horizon.

Speaking of running partners...

My favorite runs involve this awesome person.  

 

Modeling yet another stop at the water trough

Modeling yet another stop at the water trough

If there's a better way to start your day than a few miles with your daughter, I don't know about it.  

The morning light made us happy

The morning light made us happy

I try to have no expectations and who knows if the running bug will get her, like it did me.  But I cherish this time together and know that I'm carrying on a pretty wonderful tradition, at least for now.  Right, dad?

 

She indulges my need for running selfies.  "I have to, it's for the blog!"

She indulges my need for running selfies.  "I have to, it's for the blog!"

Partner

I usually run alone.  Sometimes I'll join up with a local running group who meets on Saturday early mornings, and I've made some great friendships with a bunch of women who love to run and are all about the same pace for long runs.  Sometimes in NYC my brother will deign to jog along with me for a couple of miles at a (for him) laughably slow pace.  But by far most of my runs are solo by choice.  I love that time for thinking, listening to music or podcasts, taking it mile by mile in my own company.  

But every once in a while I get a treat: to run with my husband!  He's coming back from foot surgery last year and this was our first run together since then: 3 miles on a super-crazy windy day (gusts up to 20 mph on the lakefront).  Annoyingly, he's faster than me.  Though I loved it anyway.

 

Best tasting water in Chicago!

Best tasting water in Chicago!

I need to get him some real running gear

I need to get him some real running gear

Slow and shaky, post-sick

#ducklife

#ducklife

2 miles early, as slow as I could make myself.  Perfect spring morning, even though I overdressed for the 40 degree temp (I should have just worn t-shirt and shorts!).  I was woozy and wobbly, having been so sick for the past week.  I probably should have rested one more day but I had to get out into the sun.  It was a basic upper respiratory thing, but with that deep killer sore throat that turns into swollen glands and body aches, and then a post-nasal drip and cough.  Man.  It really took the piss out of me, as they say.

Also I was super unhappy to have to bail on a local 5K I'd planned on.  I nearly tried to run it, but surfing Runner's World "should I run when sick" articles I clearly failed all the "above the neck" tests.  And the stuff about straining your heart too much scared me off.  There was no real reason to run the race, I hardly ever do 5Ks.  But I'd signed up and done a basic training cycle for it with the intention of maybe popping a PR and also getting in some speed before the long slog of marathon miles begins.  I thought it could help me with my pace knowledge too, going into the marathon cycle.  Oh well.  There might be a chance for me to fit one in in the next few weeks but if not, not.  

On this morning's run, barely rising to the level of "jog," I jealously eyed all the other runners who had perk and mojo and a nice cadence.  I barely trudged it, in comparison.  And I did that thing where I thought to myself, "once upon a time, a cold like that wouldn't have fazed me"... not helpful at all, especially since the time I'm thinking back to was eons ago when I was a springy college athlete.  Things are different in this 43 year old body now, no lie.  But what I need to remember, what I tried to remember this morning, was that I'm a better runner now than I was back then.  Not faster, but tougher.  

Also in those days I ran mainly because I had to.  Now I run because I want to.

Two athletic feats to ponder

It's been a busy few days of travel, work, and now coming down with a cold.  Blech.  I surreptitiously paid attention to the Boston Marathon yesterday via twitter (in and around teaching my class) and was cheering on Jordan Hasay, Desi Linden, and Galen Rupp - all of whom smoked the race.  Seeing Meb finish was emotional - he is a class act, as everyone knows.  

But here are two athletic endeavors I cannot get my head around because they are both so awesome (and I mean awe in the original sense of the word).  

First, as is well-publicized every year, the Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray - as has been his custom for THIRTY YEARS - completed the marathon course at night, long after the race was over and his directing duties finished.

Article here, including video of him finishing in the dark, with Deena and Joan there to put a medal on his neck after he breaks a tape that reads "Dave's Run."

Can you imagine?  An entire marathon after you'd spent the whole day in charge of one?  

Next, think about this.  In the current issue of Outside Magazine, whose cover celebrates women in outdoor roles and sport, I read that Diana Nyad completes 1000 burpees at least once a week, which takes her 2 hours and 50 minutes.  No doubt you think I made a typo there, so check it here.  Can you possibly wrap your mind around that one?  ONE THOUSAND BURPEES.  IN A ROW.  FOR NEARLY THREE HOURS.

What about if I reminded you that Diana Nyad is 68 years old?

Humans are amazing.

Diamonds on the soles of her Hoka's

"Mosholu" is an  Algonquin  word meaning "smooth stones" or "small stones", and was first applied to the nearby creek now known as  Tibbetts Brook . The southern end of the parkway was once home to another creek, running under what is now Middlebrook Road, which supplied water to a British fort located on old Van Cortlandt Avenue East during the  American Revolutionary War . [Wikipedia]

"Mosholu" is an Algonquin word meaning "smooth stones" or "small stones", and was first applied to the nearby creek now known as Tibbetts Brook. The southern end of the parkway was once home to another creek, running under what is now Middlebrook Road, which supplied water to a British fort located on old Van Cortlandt Avenue East during the American Revolutionary War. [Wikipedia]

6 miles in the Bronx.  60 degrees, clear, low wind.  Happy runner back in NYC.

 

City girl trail

City girl trail

I loved this run but had what I'll call - in a New York vibe - the energy changeover.  As in that hour in the afternoon when one taxi shift ends but there's a lull before the next one starts.  Sometimes I get this.  Around a mile and a half into the run, I'll start feeling weak and clammy, legs wobbly.  Not sure if it's because I haven't really fueled up (this morning I had coffee and a banana, and a few sips of water), or for some other reason.  Regardless, it takes about another mile or two to shake out of it and then something clicks into place and I feel better for the rest of the run.  Maybe it's because I pushed the pace from the start, happy to be back in NYC?  And my engine had some lag time catching up.  Or maybe it's just taxi changeover time in terms of running energy.

 

On the way back onto the island two ambulances overtook me.  Turns out there was an accident on the bridge: looked like a sedan ran up onto the back of a pickup truck.  Seemed like no serious injuries, though I'm not sure.  Cars were backed up for a long way on both sides of the bridge, drivers standing next to open doors, calling out to me to see if I knew what happened.

 

It's a temporary bridge while they're  building a new one .

It's a temporary bridge while they're building a new one.

Music-powered by Paul Simon, who always sounds like NYC to me.

Low tide!  Whitestone Bridge in the far background.

Low tide!  Whitestone Bridge in the far background.

Who's riding on Grant's horse?

(Sorry, dumb joke.)

3.5 miles including 4 x "Grant loops" - these are a .40 mile loop that goes up a (slight) hill, along a flat, down a (little) hill, and along a flat.  I didn't have a lot of time today but wanted to get in some kind of quality, so I found the only hill in these parts.  Said hello to General Grant four times and headed home.  Tried to push strongly up the hill, then easy on the flat, take the downhill quicker than I'm comfortable with, and then easy on the flat.  Repeat.  Music-powered by Ja Rule, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill.

 

Cool fog blowing in 

Cool fog blowing in 

Grant from the top of the "hill"

Grant from the top of the "hill"

South pond near the zoo.  I rarely run at this time of day - the light was so beautiful

South pond near the zoo.  I rarely run at this time of day - the light was so beautiful

Volunteering at the Lakefront 50K

This morning the alarm went off at 5:30 am but it wasn't for my long run!  Instead, I downed coffee and oatmeal, packed a bag, and headed south for the Lakefront 50K.  When I emailed the race director a few days ago about volunteering he said they needed help most at the aid station at 31st street, which is the northern-most point of the course.  The race is a three loop out-and-back run, and it kicked off at 7:30 down at 63rd street.

Following the lead of my aid station captains, Jim and Nate, I helped to fill up the buckets of goodies and laid out coke, water, and Gatorade.  I have to say that the plethora of snacks, salty and sweet, is definitely a plus for ultras.  

 

Salty or sweet, or both?

Salty or sweet, or both?

My main job, though, was to hold the clipboard and check off the runners by bib number as they came by for first, second, third loops.  This was trickier than I thought when packs of five or ten would come through the aid station - some people were wearing bibs under layers (don't do this, runners!) and of course everyone had their earphones on.  So I did a lot of calling out "Hit me up with your bib number before you get back out there!" and "Can I see your number sir?" - luckily, I am not shy about using my loud (teacher) voice.  

I loved cheering every runner on.  Telling them they looked strong, were doing great.  It was a beautiful day out on the lake path, and there was so much good will among the racers, other runners, the bikers.  Lots of people stopped to ask about what a 50K was, and they all made the same blown-away facial expression once I translated that into miles (31 plus).  

I'm not quite sure about the final results, since we were five miles from the finish, but I think it looked like there ended up being some lead changes in the last lap.  But here are the lead runners for both men and women when I last saw them at their last turnaround:

 

IMG_1107.JPG

Later in the morning my husband and kids showed up, mostly to eat the snacks, but also to cheer on some runners.  By noon we needed to head out - and at that point, most runners had completed their third turnaround - so I handed over the red clipboard and signed off.  

The real question is, would I ever do one of these?  I can't deny it's tempting.  God knows I watch enough trail-runner ultra youtube films to show my interest.  (I recommend this one and this one if you're similarly inclined.)  I don't know.  Finishing a marathon well is still my ongoing goal.  And god knows that takes enough out of me.  But someday, who knows?  For now, volunteering was the best way to be a part of an ultra.  Great job today runners - you killed it!

 

Gnarly

8 miles heading south on the path on a gorgeous day.  Full sun, low 40s, some washy cirrus clouds.  15-20 mph winds from the north meant big waves, which made coming back kind of ridic.  But I have this crazy love for when our little local lake, you might have heard of it, goes wave crazy and tosses major surf up and down the shoreline.  It makes your basic out-and-back run pretty dramatic.

First two miles were around the pond with my awesome teenager, who is rocking morning runs on the regular.  

Dropped her at home and took a quick bathroom break, then back out for 6 more.

 

No sweeter sign of spring for Chicago runners

No sweeter sign of spring for Chicago runners

Right around the Oak Street curve I remembered yesterday's gale-force winds (I took the day off) and thought briefly, should I chance it?

 

Don't fence me in

Don't fence me in

I hesitated but only briefly, then followed the other idiot runners and bikers (!) who were ignoring the park district blockade and heading around the curve.  It was sunny and gorgeous and I wanted my 8 miles, so I went for it.  Sure enough on the way back a big breaker sloshed up over the path and nailed me: cold spring lake water up to my knees.  Soaked shoes and socks for the rest of the run.  At least it wasn't icy.

 

My city's skyline game is strong

My city's skyline game is strong

But this view almost always makes up for any downers on a run.  Sometimes I watch running videos (yes, nerd alert) and dream about what it would be like to hit the trails of Boulder or Eugene or Arcata anytime I wanted.  But then I need a day like today to remind myself that my everyday run isn't exactly lacking in big-spectacle vistas or natural grandeur.  Or the ability to soak my shoes.

 

Pink was on sale for $20 off, go figure

Pink was on sale for $20 off, go figure

Last, I'm here to report that I have found wireless headphones peace.  Because I apparently have humankind's smallest ear openings (in normal sized ears), finding a pair of earbuds that doesn't fall out or flap around annoyingly has been an epic quest.  I went with these on a Runner's World tech feature suggestion and I'm super happy about them.   They are this model, and I got them on sale at Best Buy.  Highly recommend if you have the same earhole issues.  

Stoked to volunteer at the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 ultra tomorrow!  Hit me up at the 31st street aid station if you're running it.  I'll get you the best potato chips and Coke.

Wednesday weights

(Yeah, this shirt is mildly inappropriate so I feel weird when I remember I'm wearing it.  That said, other runners seem to find it funny.)

So I hit the gym today for a session with my awesome trainer Hannah, who made me do all sorts of horrible things in the name of getting stronger.  I'm working on core strength and functional running movements, but I also am trying to firm up my noodle arms.  

10 minutes easy riding on the bike.  God, how does anyone do the bike?  Am I jinxing myself for an injury by saying that?

Sumo squats with bicep curls (using 12.5 dumbbells): 3 sets of 10.  I prefer to think of these as Ballerina (plie) squats, but okay.

Reverse lunge with press (started with 12.5, went to 10s, then crapped out on the whole "press" thing and just held the weights with arms down): 3 sets of 10 each side.  Or was it 8?

Box step-ups with bicep curl (10 lb), one leg at a time: 3 sets of 8 each side.

 

Me trying to look tough, working on my "biceps"

Me trying to look tough, working on my "biceps"

Plank (in push up form) with toes on box, then tap L and R to the side: 3 sets of 10 on each side

Lunge with plate twist (5 pound plate, a little wimpy but what I can say): 3 "out and back" about 25 meters

 

She doesn't let me put the plate down in between lunges.

She doesn't let me put the plate down in between lunges.

If I'd had more energy I might have thrown in some tri stuff and maybe some Swiss ball crunches. But I didn't, so I didn't.  Cool down?  Nope.  When I'm done in the gym I am so done.

In upcoming news, I'm excited about plans in the work for my charity fundraising for the NYC marathon.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday track

Grey and windy today, especially on that back straight.  (Why is it always the back straight??)  One mile to warm up, with a detour for the bathroom - more of a recon mission for future bathroom needs - to a hospital on the inner drive.  Then 3 x 800s with 400 jog.  According to my training plan, these are supposed to be at 5K pace (for the upcoming shorty race I threw in for some Earth Day fun)... problem is, I can't remember the last time I ran/raced a 5K, so I'm guessing.  The various calculators suggest that 9 min/mile is my 5K pace, but if so then I way overdid it on these 800s at 4:18, 4:16, and 4:07.  Even that felt too easy.  I think that the issue is a) I still have some past tempo workouts in my mojo, where I held close to that pace for a few miles at a time and b) I'm a track girl at heart.  That old muscle memory of Monday quarters in 70, 68, 66, etc, last one with shirts off of course, is still in there... buried deep, but still in the legs and heart.

Cooled down with a mile and a thankful attitude for being healthy and back on track.