Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Inaugural Chicago Women's Half Marathon & 5K recap

Well, I finished. I completed the inaugural Chicago Women’s Half Marathon.

This was a fun race to be a part of. I think all the participants were excited because it was the first, and it’s an all women’s race. A ton of ladies from my Black Girls RUN! Chicago group participated. This was for many their first 5K or half marathon. Fleet Feet Sports Chicago provided our group with our own tent to congregate and encourage each other before and after the race, which was very nice! Their team has been super supportive of our movement. The course was out and back on the path along Lake Michigan. The volunteers were awesome. Some of the male volunteers were calling us beautiful (yeah right)! I was glad I got there early to listen to the very cool female DJ spin some tunes during the warm-up, chit-chat and take pics because by the time I got to the finish line, most runners had finished and gone home and they were starting to tear down the race site.

My time was sub 3:33. Not great, but I didn’t have time goal. I just wanted to finish before the course closed, and I cut it pretty damn close. It took me over half an hour longer than my first half marathon in 2010. A bunch of ladies from the run group stayed until the very end cheering on finishers. This was very sweet, because I was out there a LONG time.

It was very hot Sunday. Clouds rolled in a couple of times during the race, but it did not rain like I hoped. I felt o.k. up until about mile 6. My pace was about a minute faster than it had been during in my training runs. At mile 7 my friend and co-worker April showed up on the course to cheer me on with baby in tow!

Between there and mile 8, I pretty much wanted to quit. Things really started to move in slow motion after mile 9. And at mile 10 I think the mental block kicked in because my pace went to hell. I was walking a lot and my foot was pretty sore. At mile 12 my co-ambassador for the run group joined me on the course to finish the race.

The day after the race I had normal soreness. I iced my foot before leaving the race, and took and ice bath when I got home. I continued to ice it off and on the rest of the day Sunday.

Monday I attended swim class. It felt great being semi-weightless in the pool for an hour. I was able to stretch out my muscles really well after swimming too. Swimming is the best recovery workout! I feel pretty good today. I feel such a sense of relief having finished the race (new) injury free! I’m extremely happy I didn’t have a major tendinitis flare up either. I think focusing on staying slow and walking when I needed really helped to keep me from over doing it. Next is focusing on improving my swimming skills and strength building for the Chicago Supersprint Triathlon in August. I’m planning on tackling some open water swim practice at the lake this weekend. I’ve been learning a lot during swim lessons these past few weeks, and I can’t wait to share in an upcoming post!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chicago Women's Half Marathon goals

Tomorrow is the inaugural Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5K race. I am beyond nervous. I've decided to attempt the half marathon. I figured I made it to 10 miles in my training, so I might as well go for the distance. If I get hauled off the course, oh well. I've got a few things working in my favor though, the time limit, the race course, and the weather. The 3:30 limit starts only after the last runner crosses the start line. So, I will try my best to start towards the beginning of the pack to give myself a nice buffer before that limit clock starts. The entire race course is along the lakefront path. It's flat for the most part, and there are some softer gravel paths we can run on along the asphalt. There is rain in the forecast. This is good news because the temps will likely drop. Tomorrow's high is forecast to be 87 degrees. I'm hoping for a cool morning start. I have three goals for this race:

1. Finish injury free
2. Enjoy myself

I have been wound so tightly over training properly, I would like to just enjoy the day and not take it so seriously! I plan to take lots of pics and tweet along the way. So my third goal is:

3. Gain some new Twitter followers!

I wonder if having my Twitter handle splashed across my back will help? We'll find out tomorrow!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Half marathon & triathlon training

The inaugural Chicago Women's half marathon and 5K is exactly one week away! I made it through my last training run today, 10 miles. It started to get rough around mile 8 with some soreness in my foot. I stopped to stretch out my arch a few times towards the end. But, I made it through. It rained overnight which made for a cool start to my run, but at about the halfway point it was hotter than tarnation as the clouds rolled out. I'm going to attempt to run the half next Sunday instead of the 5K. My only concern is the time limit, of course. My only goal is to finish, oh and to not be last.

After the half, I look forward to focusing on training for my first triathlon in August. I've got the run and bike down. My weak area is the swim portion. So, I started swim lessons last week. I'm enrolled in a beginner adult class. I feel kind of silly being a 'beginner', but so far this experience has been better than my last attempt at swim lessons. I was enrolled in a class too advanced and I got discouraged.

My instructors can't be more than 17 years old. But, they are very knowledgeable. There are about 10 people in the class, and the consensus is that we all struggle with breathing. We worked a lot on breathing and the freestyle stroke in our last session. Thanks to running, one of my strengths is being able to use my legs to power through the water, which some people in the class struggle with. If I can get my breathing down, I will feel very comfortable going into the triathlon. It will only come with more practice. I’m looking forward to finishing the half marathon next week and being able to relax a little and stop stressing about it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm learning to sew

I finished up my sewing lessons at Pamela Penney Textile Arts a couple of weeks ago. For the most part, I’ve finished up the dress we worked on during my lessons and I feel much more comfortable using my sewing machine. I chose African print fabrics to attempt a dress inspired by the amazing looks of Boxing Kitten. The dress pattern I chose turned out to be more complicated than I thought! The pattern is classified as ‘easy’, but it has pleats, darts, pockets, a zipper, and a lining. Kind of advanced aspects for a beginner. Nonetheless, it’s done!

There are a few areas on the lining that need hand stitching and it’s ready to wear. I’m very happy with it. I’m so excited about learning my way around the machine that I’ve started a few smaller projects. I’ve been working on some handbags; this is a reversible mini clutch I just finished.

I found a simple pattern online that I modified. While I was searching for a pattern, I realized how somewhat convoluted the sewing world is. There is an overload of info, ideas, and blogs out there about sewing! It’s definitely as complex as the fitness and natural hair worlds. I can’t wait to check out different fabric stores and new patterns. I’ve definitely caught the sewing bug.

Friday, June 8, 2012

New running related products I love

I’ve been trying out some new running related products lately and wanted to share the things I have really come to like!

I used to wear shoes with very little support, like these lovely sandals.

With flat feet plus an injury, my unsupportive shoes have been collecting dust since August. I wore my running shoes everywhere. Even around the house because my house shoes had no support either. I have found some great casual sandals that really support the arch of my foot by Spenco.

I ordered these on Zappos (love). They are kind of pricey for what are essentially flip-flops ($49), but they are really comfy and my foot feels well supported in them. I’ve been wearing these everywhere, and I feel that they help cut down on the recovery after a runs.

So I wondered if I should try the actual Spenco insoles since I liked the sandals so much. There are a lot of insoles out there. I read lots of reviews on the different Spenco types and decided on trying the Total Support Original.

I actually picked these up from Champs. And bonus, Champs offers a lifetime warranty. So if/when the insoles become worn out, they will replace them free of charge. You just have to hang onto the box and the receipt. No problem for this pack rat. I think the difference between these and the Dr. Scholl’s insoles they replaced is that Spenco’s are more flexible, better suited for an athlete’s foot. The ride is a lot more comfortable, yet my arch and heel are still well supported.

Lastly, I’m loving Click protein. This product has been around a while, but I’ve never really looked into it. I thought about it while taking a torturous luxurious ice bath after my last long run. I wanted some hot tea, but I knew I should take in some protein. I didn’t want to drink a cup of hot tea and then down a protein shake, yet I didn’t want to choose between hot tea and protein! Then I remembered this stuff. It combines protein with CAFFIENE! I have been all about my coffee lately. It’s very tasty, and filling. I have the mocha flavor. I’ve been mixing it in my shaker then pouring it over ice for an iced coffee-like drink treat! And I did not know this, but caffeine supposedly aids in athlete recovery.

So I mentioned I was able to get in a long run last week, 8 miles. It was definitely a better experience than the prior run, but still a lot of walking and a super slow pace (16:30 average). The race time limit is 3 hours 30 minutes (15:00 pace). Hmm, good luck to me trying to pull that off. Just over two weeks to race day!

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