Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K: Race Recap

Last week when Erin posted about the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K I knew I wanted to run it!  I am huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and this seemed like a unique opportunity to run a non traditional road race through an old graveyard (and pretend to be an awesome vampire slayer)! 
The Rosehill Cemetery is the largest and oldest cemetery in Chicago and was chartered in 1895.  War veterans from every war, including the American Revolution, are buried there in addition to many famous Chicagoans.  (source)  

This was the first time they have done this race so there were a few kinks, but overall it was fun!  I had to get in one last long run before my first marathon and split it into two parts to get in six miles.  I ran about 2.7 miles to the start area.  The race was supposed to start at 7pm, but it didn't start until 7:28pm.  This was quite frustrating.  No one was happy about the situation.  
We started right outside the entrance to the Rosehill Cemetery and ran through the stone archway as the race started.  

It was really dark for most of the race, thankfully there was a full moon which shone a bit of light in areas not shaded by trees.  The darkness made things difficult to see at times so I tried to be very careful about where I was running.  I kept a slower pace because I did not want to twist my ankle a week before the marathon.  If the race had started on time it would have been a bit lighter which would have made running a bit easier.  I was looking at the ground a lot of the time. 
The moon shining through the tree cover.
A few areas of the path were candlelit, but mostly it was dark.  Some runners had glow sticks and small lights which was smart and helped light the path if you were near them.  I expected it to be a dark run since it was at night, but the path could have been better lit considering there were many turns and some uneven pathways.  A bit more light would have made it easier to see some the graves and crypts we ran by as well.  
Around mile two there was a section that was lighter and was really cool to run.  It was by a small pond in the cemetery and I got to see some of the cool crypts and statues.  This was really cool, I just wish it would have been like that the whole way.  That was really my only complaint about the race otherwise I thought it was really cool.  Unfortunately my phone doesn't have a flash so all my pictures are pretty hard to see.  I should have brought my digital camera. 
My finish time was 40:23.  Certainly not my best, but it's not a big deal to me; it was dark and the race was more for fun than anything else.
Post race in front of a crypt in the cemetery.
There was small after party once we crossed the finish line.  They had a good band playing, food truck, and post race snacks for us to enjoy in the cemetery.  This was a smaller race which was nice.  I stayed and listened to the music while enjoying a BBQ pork sandwich from the food truck Beyond Borders.  It was messy, but pretty tasty.  

I hope they do the race again next year and fix a few things to make it even better.  There is really so much potential!  A few other local bloggers ran, but I missed them before the race and it was hard to find anyone after, hopefully next time we will be able to meet up though.  I had a good time and I think it is really cool to say I have run through a cemetery!

What is one of your favorite non-traditional road races?  Have you ever run in graveyard before? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Fifteen - The Taper Begins

This week went by so fast and the Chicago Marathon is getting closer and closer.  It was the first week of my taper.  Here is the breakdown:

Monday: 50 minute Easy Run - 3.48 miles
Tuesday: 44 minute XT - Bike Ride 6.72 miles
Wednesday: Tempo A Run with Five Stride Drills - 3.82 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 10 mile Long Run
Saturday: REST
Sunday: 15 minute XT - Stretching/Yoga

Monday I took a new route around my neighborhood which was a nice change of pace.  My legs were still a bit tight and sore from the big 21 miler last weekend, but it was a pretty good run.  Getting out to run at an easy pace was what they needed.  It was nice, cool morning too.

I decided run errands and get in my workout by biking Tuesday morning.  I went to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. 

I was off work Wednesday and went to Chick's Night at the Lincoln Square Fleet Feet.  I general I like working out in the morning so it isn't hanging over my head at the end of the day.  The Chick's Nights are always fun to go to if I get a chance though.  Sometimes it takes some motivation to get out of the house, but once I get out there I usually have great runs.  I ran the Tempo A workout which was 10 minutes easy, 20 at tempo, and 10 minutes easy.  I finished up with five stride drills as well.  I kept a nice fast pace and felt good throughout the run.  It was cool outside and I ran without my headphones.  I was kind of surprised at how good I felt running at a faster pace.  The last 10 minutes easy weren't as "easy" as they should have been.  I had a hard time slowing down.  I did a bit, but maybe not as much as I should have.  
After the run two sports psychologists came to to speak.  They talked about the role your attitude plays in during a workout, how to deal with injuries, and the importance of good nutrition during training.  

After a rest day Thursday I woke up early Friday to get in 10 miles.  I had to work early Saturday morning so Friday was the best day to get in my long run.  I fueled pre run with 3/4 chocolate chip Clif bar and water.  It was chilly outside when I started, but after a mile it was perfect for running.  I ran out to the lake, around the marina, and looped back to my neighborhood.  

I took my mini walk breaks every two miles and fueled with a fruit strip, chews, water, and G2 every 30 minutes or so.  In comparison to last week my long run felt easy and was over in no time.  Ten miles is a long distance on foot, but it is so strange and awesome that it felt easy.  I guess that's was marathon training does though.  

I cooled down with some walking and stretching before stopping at one of my favorite breakfast places called Over Easy.  I seriously love it.  I got the Damen Ave Omelet, which is filled with goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach, with a short stack of pancakes.  
The long run was a great start to my day.  I had a good day at work coordinating my first large group.  Plus I got the free cupcake at Sprinkles which was neapolitan: vanilla cake with strawberry frosting dipped in chocolate ganache.  It was delicious.

I was going to cross train Saturday, but after a day at work I so did not feel like it and just couldn't motivate myself.  Sunday I had to go in quite early, however I set my alarm to get up to do some yoga.  I was tired though and got up later so I only could do ten minutes of yoga and stretching before I had to get ready for work.  Before bed I also did a few more yoga poses for my legs.  

After work Sunday I went to Fleet Feet Chicago's Breaking the Wall Seminar.  They had a great group of panelist which included Chicago Marathon director Carey Pinkowski, Olympians Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and Evan Jager, nutrition expert Monique Ryan, running coach Mike Norman, and Chief Running Officer for Runner's World Magazine Bart Yasso.  They gave us tips of how to prepare mentally and nutritionally for the race.  It was an informational and inspirational seminar and it was cool to hear from all the panelists.  
Kind of fuzzy picture of the panel.
It was nice to have an easier week of training after all the previous weeks.  The next two weeks the mileage and time on my feet decreases even more.  This is nice because I will have more free time, but also makes me a bit anxious.  I have been thinking about the race a lot, and everything seems a bit surreal.  I can't believe it is getting so close!  I don't really know how to describe how I am feeling.  I'm excited, but it is like I am in limbo just waiting for this huge race.  The next two weeks are all about preparing mentally, eating well, staying healthy, making lists, and organizing my race plans.  I still haven't decided what I am going to wear - I've got to figure that out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Fourteen - The Big 21 Mile Run

This was a big week of training!

Monday: 60 minute Easy Run -4.48 miles
Tuesday: 40 minute XT - Bike Ride 6.67 miles
Wednesday: 40 minute Tempo Run with Two Stride Drills -3.47 miles
Thursday: 45 minute Run - 3.4 miles
Friday: 30 minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level Two
Saturday: 21 mile Long Run 
Sunday: REST
Monday was my last 60 minute weekday run during training.  It was a pretty day and I ran over to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to pick up groceries after.  I really enjoyed the run and felt good.

Tuesday I decided to bike to work.  It ended up being the perfect time and distance for my cross training as well.  I took the trail and enjoyed the ride by the lake in the morning.  Along the lake I was pretty much riding into the wind the rest of the way, which added an extra challenge.  I also rode my bike home, but didn't included it on Daily Mile.

Having nice weather makes such a big difference when running.  I had a good tempo run Wednesday around Ravenswood.  I found a good tempo pace, that was challenging and not exhausting.  I woke up a bit late though and only had time for two stride drills at the end.

Thursday it was cloudy, but still cool outside.  I ran some of the same route I used to run by my old apartment and kept a comfortable pace.  This was my last week with two days in a row of running too.  

I woke up and did Level Two of Yoga Meltdown for Friday's cross training, which was fine. 

I had another early wake up call Saturday morning so I could get in my long run, my longest run before the marathon.  20 miles were on the schedule which is a doozy to think about.  I know I ran 18 two weeks before, but 20 is just a big number!  We have had some lovely weather this week in Chicago and Saturday was no exception.  I had a Chocolate Peanut Crunch Clif bar and water before heading out.  

I brought my handheld bottle filled with water and two small bottles of G2 on my iFitness belt for the run.
It was dark when I started so I ran without my headphones on until I reached the Lakefront Trail.  I was able to see the sun rise over Lake Michigan as I ran, which was beautiful.  I decided to take walk breaks every two miles and had fuel every 30-45 minutes.  

I tried some new things for fuel this week.  Last week I got a free sample of the Gatorade Carb Chews that I decided to use.  These were quite good.  They had a good orange flavor and were very easy to chew.  

I also tried the Clif Shot Gels.  I have never used gels before because the consistency kind of grosses me out, but they give these out on the marathon course so I figured I would give it a try.  I picked up the Citrus flavor with caffeine and had it at mile 13.  Yeah, it really did not taste that good and it has a slime like texture.  After eating it though I definitely felt a shot of energy and some pep in my step, so it does it's job.  I like that it had caffeine in it and although it didn't taste good I will probably have one race day since I felt it help my performance.

I brought along my favorite fuel, Honey Stingers Chews in the Fruit Smoothie flavor too.  They are organic and are like candy to eat.  They are easy to chew, taste great, and give a great boost of energy during a run. 

Fleet Feet sets up hydration stations along the trail so I stopped at three of them for Gatorade.  (Big thanks to the volunteers who run these stations on the weekends!)  Plus I sipped on water throughout my run, refilling my water bottle two times.  

I tried to break the run up into sections to make the distance not feel so daunting.  My first goal was to the lake, then the marina, etc.  One of them was my meet up with Katie.  She emailed me the night before and offered to run a mile with me since I was running solo.  It was so nice of her to offer!  I ran into her around Diversey, which was about mile 6.5 for me, with her brother's adorable dog Molly.  It was really nice to have someone to run with for a mile.

I debated wearing my compression sleeves for this run because I was a little worried about my left calf muscle.  I didn't wear them out, but stuffed one in my back pocket, just in case.  I ended up not needing it though.  My leg felt a bit tight the first few miles, but that dissipated.  I did feel some tightness in my IT bands and hips, so I made sure to stop and stretch about three times during the second half of the run, which helped a lot.  
Overall the run went well.  I stayed within my heart rate training zone and kept a nice slow pace.  
I got to run on the Southern half of the trail as well, which is really pretty.  I usually don't go that far so it was a nice change of scenery.  It is much quieter and not as crowded down there.  

I got through a nice big section of my audiobook, World Without End as well.  I just enjoyed the scenery and running along others attempting their long runs as well.  A lady on the trail even said, "Have a good run!" as she passed me, which was really nice and picked me up a bit.  
There is no doubt this was a looong run, it took me five hours - that is a lot of running!  The plan was to run 20 but I ended up doing 21 miles so I could end in a more convenient spot, but I am glad ran a little bit more.  I have been debating what my longest run should be and I feel a little better that I got an extra mile in.  I picked it up for the last mile to mimick the last mile of a race so I would have an idea of what it would feel like to run faster on tired legs.  
Once my Garmin hit 21 I stopped it and walked about five minutes before stretching in the park. Oh boy were my legs tired and tight!  But I did it!  My longest run before the marathon and another new personal distance record!  Now it is time to taper before the race, which is less than three weeks away!
Afterwards I was ready for some food and went to check out the Eleven City Diner.  This place was awesome!  My mom had heard about it from a friend and I was a bit on the fence about visiting it, but I'm so glad I tried it.  I sat at the bar and order their signature French Toast (sans banana).  It was challah bread with fresh strawberries and coconut on top and was delicious.  

I will definitely go back there.  Everything that came out looked good and the place has a great atmosphere.  
Since Katie had a car for the weekend she also offered to give me a ride back to my apartment.  How awesome is she, right?  Seriously, I was so thankful.  She ran her 20 miler Sunday at the Newton race so check out her blog to see how it went!

Once I got home I stretched some more and foam rolled my legs.  Those 21 miles left me with a great runner's high!  

A bit later that day I went down to the Chipotle Cultivate Festival and walked around.  I went last year and enjoyed it and was excited to go back.  It was similar to last year but a bit bigger, which is great.  When I got home from the festival I was exhausted and spent the rest of the day wearing my compression socks and watching TV in bed.  

What is your favorite fuel you take on long runs?  What is your ideal running weather like?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Thirteen - A Month Away

This was another cutback week before I attempt 20 miles next Saturday.  My work schedule was back to normal which made for a better week of workouts in general.  

Monday: 50 minute Easy Run - 3.6 miles
Tuesday: 38 minute XT - Bike Ride about 5 miles
Wednesday: Tempo B with Three Stride Drills - 3.66 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 35 minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level One
Saturday: 8.55 mile Long Run
Sunday: REST

Monday I decided to run down some different streets and ended up exploring some of Andersonville.  I kept a nice, easy pace and felt good.

Tuesday, after an early shift at work, I headed back to Lakeshore Bike because they were having a sale.  I ended up buying a wonderful lightly used bike!  
I have been talking about having a bike, pretty much since I moved to Chicago and am so happy I finally bought one.  This bike will be perfect for cross training and just getting around the city.  I also made sure to pick up a helmet and lock.  I got a great deal that includes a two year unlimited warranty so if there is every an issue I can go right back to LSB for them to fix it.  I rode my new bike home with a goofy smile on my face the whole way.
This is how excited I am about a bike of my own!
It was overcast and a bit cool Wednesday morning and I got in my tempo workout just before it started to rain.  The Tempo B workout was 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes at tempo, 2 minute walk, 10 minutes at tempo, 10 minutes easy.  My tempo pace is based on effort and heart rate.  This was a good run and I got in three stride drills at the end, instead of four, because it started to rain.  

After a rest day Thursday, I woke up Friday to get in another day of cross training.  I didn't have tons of time before work so I went to my standard Yoga Meltdown DVD.  It always makes me feel good in the morning.  My form and strength in the poses has definitely improved as I have continued to do this workout.  

Saturday was a beautiful day.  I really hope the weather on marathon day is like it was Saturday: blue skies, sun shining, and comfortably cool weather which is just perfect for running.  I realized that morning that I didn't have any more Clif bars or Honey Stingers so I had to make due with other running fuel.  I had half of a S'more Clif Builder bar which wasn't that great.  It didn't taste like a s'more or that chocolatey.  For running fuel I brought a Honey Stinger Waffle and fruit strip.  I only ended up having half of the waffle, which was OK, around mile four.  Otherwise I just had water and some Gatorade throughout my run.  
For the first two miles my left calf felt a bit weird, but the feeling went away some as I continued running.  It was similar to the achey-ness I felt a few weeks ago.  I guess I haven't completely figured out what is going on.  It has definitely gotten better though.  I think stretching a foam rolling are really the key to help my muscles.
I took mini walk breaks from 30 seconds to a minute every two miles throughout the run.  The path was not as busy as usual which was nice change.  I think people were resting before the Chicago Half which was Sunday.  I ended up running a little farther than eight miles so I could finish closer to the Green City Market.  When I got home I had a long stretch and foam roll session before getting ready for work.  
There is now less than a month before the Chicago Marathon!!  This week coming up is going to be the longest distance I run before the race!  

What do you bring as fuel on your long distance runs or races?  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Twelve - Different Schedule

This week was pretty crazy with my work schedule so I had to move some of my workouts around to fit everything in.  

Monday: 60 minute Easy Run - 4.06 mi
Tuesday: 60 minute XT - Core Power Yoga 1.5
Wednesday: 45 minute Run - 3.3 mi
Thursday: 50 minute XT - Bike Ride 8.6 mi
Friday: 18 mile Long Run
Saturday: REST
Sunday: 40 minute Run with Four Stride Drills - 3.45 mi

This week I was covering the evening closing shift at work Sunday through Wednesday and didn't get home those nights until 12am.  I then opened Saturday and Sunday waking up at 5am to get to work, so my schedule was just all over the place which made for a tiring and busy week.  

It was all ready a bit warm when I got out to run Monday morning.  I was tired and a little sore from the long run I had the day before.  It was a slow run and seemed to take forever.  I was very grateful to have my book to listen to.  

Tuesday I walked over to Core Power Yoga for the 1.5 level Power Yoga class which was awesome.  The instructor led us through different variations of yoga poses and a few that were new to me which I really liked.  It was just a great practice! 

Wednesday I skipped my tempo run to do my Thursday regular 45 minute run to fit my schedule.  It was better than Monday's run, but just OK.

Thursday I decided to rent a bike at Lakeshore Bike which is in front of the tennis courts on the Lakeshore Trail.  I rented a bike for an hour, which was only $10 and included a lock and helmet, and had a wonderful bike ride on the trail.  
I really miss being able to ride a bike whenever I want.  The cross training workout was only supposed to be 30 minutes but I was having so much fun that I extended it to 50!  I designated the first 30 minutes as my workout time and the last 20 minutes were easy and just for fun.  Yay for a different form of cross training! 

Since I had Friday off of work it was the best day for me to get my long run in.  The weather forecast said it was going to get pretty warm so I woke up early to try and beat most of the heat.  It was still a bit dark when I started so I ran without music until I got to the lake.  I decided to wear compression sleeves (CEP) for this run since when I ran 16 miles two weeks ago I had some issues with my calf.  I think it kept my legs from cramping.  It was kind of strange running in them at first, but after awhile I didn't really notice them.
The first mile was weird.  I had a hard time finding my pace and just felt strange.  I eventually found a comfortable stride at the end of mile two.  I ran north once I reached the trail and the sun was a pretty orange color as it rose above the lake.  I took walk breaks every two miles or so and ate Honey Stinger Chews every three to four miles.
I usually stay on the north side of the trail but since I had to run 18 miles I ran past Navy Pier and then Soldier Field.  The first 13 miles were good, but then the heat started to get to me.  
I don't run particularly fast so to cover long distances takes quite a long time for me.  It was already 9am so the sun was out in full effect by then.  I had to take more frequent walk breaks and stopped to stretch my legs and splash my neck with water.  Having water fountains on the trail is one awesome thing about running in Chicago.  I stopped to fill my water bottle a couple of times to stay hydrated.  Those last five miles were tough, but I found something in the last mile to finish strong.  A new personal distance record - 18 miles!!
I walked some and stretched before making my way to the South Loop Bongo Room location for food.  I decided on the Chorizo Avocado Omelet, which was perfect after that long run.  It was full of spicy chorizo, fresh avocado, cheese, and potatoes.  

When I got home I stretched some more and foam rolled before sitting in an ice bath for about 20 minutes.  I spent the rest of the day relaxing at home.  

After working early Saturday morning I was exhausted and fell asleep actually sitting up in my bed. I slept about two hours, woke up, ate something and then went to bed for real at 9pm and slept the rest of the night until I had to get up at 5am the next morning.  It was wonderful!  

By Sunday I still had to get in one more run for the week, the one I moved from Wednesday which is more of a speed workout.  I did not feel like running when I got home from work, (I definitely prefer morning workouts).  I forced myself to put on my workout clothes, which was a step in the right direction.  From there I ended up lying down on my bed a took an hour nap.  By the time I woke up it was 7:30pm, but I still needed to get that run in so I headed out.  It was cooler then and the run was actually OK once I got going.  I kept a faster pace like I was supposed to and ended with four stride drills. 

It was a quite a crazy week trying to fit in my training workouts, but I figured it out and am glad I got everything in.  My schedule this week is back to normal though, which I am happy about.  One more new long distance run next week and then it is taper time!

Have you ever worn compression gear during long runs?  Do you prefer the morning, afternoon, or evening to workout?