Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quilt #5! Whew!

I've wanted to do another log cabin quilt for a long time, and I had this great fabric for the neutral... I LOVE the result of this attempt!  What a time saver the jelly roll is!!!

Quilt #4!

In addition to my crazy half marathon training, I'm making jelly roll quilts this year.  12 of them.  Here's quilt #4!!

I did another Jelly roll 1600 race.  I love this jelly roll, and wanted to highlight the fabrics and not cut them up.  I love it!  For the border I used a music notes fabric that I've been saving.  I love it!  So does Oxford!

Weeks 6 and 7 of 13.1 training!!

Wow.  Here we are!  I am amazed by the passage of time every single time I sit down to blog about my half marathon training.

Who's that pretty lady in the running Skirt?  It's me!!

I'm now in the thick of week 7 of my 13.1 training.  My long run this week is 10 miles.  TEN MILES!  I was amazed at 7, and I am STUNNED at the prospect of running 10. 

I love the Hal Higdon training program.  My week has changed a bit:  I have a bit more mid-week mileage now, but mileage only increases by 1 mile per week.  I do 2 three mile runs on Monday and Wednesday.  Tuesday is a five miler, and the long run is on Friday.  It's fun!  It's hard.  I love it!

We had a 3 miler to do on Monday, and when Oxford and I set out, it was just sunset, warm, humid.  Just after the half-way point it started to rain.  We've run this route in the rain before, so it was no biggie... Until it started raining so hard that I couldn't keep my eyes open, and there was this terrifying lightning/thunder clap combo that made Oxford's tail disappear.  We stopped and got under an awning to wait it out.  After about a half hour, I realized it wasn't going to stop, so when it died down a bit we hit the road again.  There were flooded intersections so bad that at one point Oxford lost his footing, and was actually swimming for a second.  He SPRINTED home, and was dragging me behind.  For a 14 pound dog, that is an accomplishment!

It was a good run, but my shoes are still wet!
My 9 mile training run was great on Friday!  It was tough, and the endurance thing is really the ticket to getting through.  My body was DONE at the end.  I did it, but wow.  I'm a little intimidated by the 10 miler coming up the day after tomorrow... We'll see how it goes!  I know I can do it... it's just a little daunting.  :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Little Victories - Weeks 4 and 5 of half marathon training.

I can't believe that it's only 50 days until the Zooma Women's Half Marathon!  I've been on this training journey for 6 months now, and I can't believe the progress I've made.

Sweaty girl!! Thanks SUMMER!

Last week's long run was a daunting 7 miler.  We are at the point in this training where I reach Personal Record for distance every week.  This week was 8 miles.  Wow.  I can't believe that I'm actually doing this.

I've established a pattern with the running week.  On Mondays I do a super-easy 3 miles with Oxford.  Ususally our pace is slow, and he likes to stop to talk to other dogs, and roll in the grass.  These runs are fun, and slow, but a great way to start the training week.  Tuesdays are my mid-week longer run.  They are usually 4 miles, and I find that my pace is quick and I feel good after.  The Wednesday run is another easy 3 miler, but I ususally do this one on my own and focus on keeping up the pace.  This is also the run during the week that tends to be less consistent.  It's at different times of day, under different circumstances, but these are usually easy.

I had an amazing long run in week 4.  I ran 7 miles in the rain and ran an average of 11:30.  Amazing.  I fueled up well the day of and day before, and really felt good about the run.  I had a little bit of tenderness in the knee afterward, but no muscle soreness and not much fatigue.  It was a great, well-fuled, cool, rainy run.

However, I have been trying to run when it's warmest to help me get conditioned to the heat and humidity.  The Hal Higdon program that I'm using isn't really about pace.  It's about covering the distance.  I have not failed to cover the distance, but this week, week 5 of my half program, is the first week where I missed a training run.  Yup.  I skipped one.  I increased my mileage the next day by 2 miles, but I skipped a training run.

I worked a 13 hour shift on Tuesday this week.  I was supposed to do a 4 miler when I got home.  It was 9:30pm when I left the office, and 10pm when I got home.  It's not a good feeling when "Good Morning America" is on when you leave for work, and and the 10:00 news is on when you get off work.  I looked around the apartment, and decided that it wasn't a good night for it.  I skipped.

Under normal circumstances, I would've hit the road anyway, but I made the radical decision to be kind to myself instead of pushing myself.  It had been a very hard day, and it's likely that the run would've done me a lot of good, but I'm pretty sure that the bubble bath had a few benefits too.  I'm not going to make this a habit, but I feel good about the decision.

This week's long run (8 miles) was... hot, humid, difficult...  Hal is about covering the distance, and I certainly did that... However, my pace was dismal.  I averaged a 13.30 mile, and it took me nearly 2 hours to do it.  I took it very easy.  It was nearly 90 degrees outside, and the humidity was thick.  There was a thunderstorm later in the afternoon and it rained for hours.  That is how humid it was.  I stopped for water at a few water fountains, as I circled around Wrigley Field I asked a street vendor for a small bottle of water, I stopped at a convenience store for a cold bottled water, and I stopped at mile seven for gummy bears at Licketty Split on N Broadway.  Even with all this water and my attept at re-fueling, I did not finish strong.  I finished, and pushed through, but I did not fuel up sufficiently, and didn't carb up the night before.  I need to find my "jam" on the refueling issue.  I know if didn't push my physical body that hard (I'm not sore today, and I don't have any joint tenderness today), but my endurance needs boosting.  I need to try gatorade endurance or some of that runner's goo...  Something.  I need to find out how to fuel for these distances!

So, here are the running maps from week 4 and 5.

Week 5 long run:

Week 5 training runs:

Week 4 long run:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Training right along! Weeks 2 and 3 of 13.1 training

I had an amazing time running my 10k race with the Salute Inc "Got Freedom?" 10k.  I covered the distance in and hour and 12 minutes, and took my time.  The course was lovely and there weren't so many runners that I was crowded.

The 10k race was my "long run" for my first week of half marathon training, and time has zipped since then.  I can't believe that I'm already in Week 4! 

Rockin' the running skirt!  A toasty day for training!!

I have gotten used to the rhythm of training 3 days in a row (Mon, Tues, Wed), and then having a long run on Friday.  This gives me the weekend off, and gives me the opportunity to get plenty of rest.

Week 2 of half marathon training was pretty good weather, and was ok for endurance.  I had a bit of a tough time in the transition of running days.  I feel like I'm making steady improvements, but it's tough.

Week 2, Day 4 I ended up having to run it on Saturday.  When I set out it had just stopped raining.  I thought I was in the clear for weather.  The sun was breaking through the clouds on my way out.  I turned around after running 2.5 miles, and the sky behind me when I turned around was BLACK!  It looked like a twister was going to sweep me and Toto away!  About 3 minutes after I had turned around it started strongly and very suddenly pouring.  It was a nice run, but running through the crazy rain was... interesting.

Week 2, Day 1
Week 2, Day 2
Week 2, Day 3
Week 2, Day 4

One thing I didn't anticipate is that I need to start fueling and hydrating for my long runs like I do for my races.  Last week's 6 mile run was tough.  I had to walk more than I'd like, and I felt sapped at the end.

Week 3 of half marathon training was good in the beginning of the week, but my 3rd run of the week I tried to run right away in the morning with Oxford.  We didn't make great time, but had a good time.  Week 3, Day 4 I ran out of gas. 

Week 3, Day 1
Week 3, Day 2
Week 3, Day 3
Week 3, Day 4

This week so far, I feel like I'm adapting to the heat, and new training.  Having a great week!

I can't believe I'm a week into this training, and I only have 2 months left!  August 10th is getting closer!  I can't wait!

With the toughness of the long runs, I have doubts every time I'm in the middle of it, but when I get done it doesn't seem that bad.  I know that races are different than training runs.  Preparation is different, the energy is different... I just get nervous about covering the distance when I'm having trouble in the middle of mile 4.

Tenacity and consistency are the answer... and that I've got!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jelly Roll Quilts of 2013! Quilt #3

Hey everyone!

So, in addition to running the half marathon this year I'm also making 12 jelly roll quilts!

I haven't been as religious about completing my quilts, but I finished the third one yesterday!! Woo Hoo!!

This is by far my least favorite jelly roll that I have received from my Jelly Roll of the Month Club.  It's very kid-centric, and I don't know a lot of kids.  I do like the way the scrappy pattern turned out, though!!  I used a technique from a YouTube video.  Here it is:

Obviously, I did mine on a HUGE scale using 10 strips per square.  I like the results, and It was fast and easy to put together.  Here are my pics:

The main block of the quilt.

These were super easy to make, and a lot of fun.

The quilt center

With Borders!

I really like how this turned out.  I need to get a picture of the crazy backing!  I like to scrap together crazy scraps for backing quilts, and this one has some of the leftovers from the top, some space fabric, some ugly black with yellow polka dot, etc, etc, etc... I LOVE IT!

I have another Jelly Roll Quilt in the works, but I'm stitching it using my treadle sewing machine, which takes some extra time.  I've also got a back log of jelly rolls.  I might do another Jelly roll race with one of them.  I absolutely love the fabrics for the Jelly roll from the "Noteworthy" collection.  The Jelly Roll race might be the best option for highlighting those fabrics... We'll see... :)

This project is so fun!  I'm glad that I'm doing these quilts.  It sort of forces me to think outside of my normal inclinations.  I like the forced creativity of limits.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Salute, Inc "Got Freedom?" 10k Race Recap!

The Salute Inc "Got Freedom?" 10k race was on Sunday out in Arlington Heights, IL.  It was a great race, and very well put together.  Kevin and I got up at 6am so that we could leave his apartment by 6:30.  It's about a 45 minute trip, and we learned the hard way that parking can be difficult at these events.  We actually got up on time and hit the road with enough time to spare so that I could get my cup of coffee at 7eleven.

We made great time, and as we pulled up to The Miner School (the race's starting point) there were already people lined up and "Start Me Up" blasting out of giant speakers (thrilling the neighbors, I'm sure...)  We got there by 7:30 and I warmed up a bit.  By far the best part of the pre-race festivities was the BAGPIPERS!

Pre-race it was a little bit chilly, but I prefer running in the cold.  It was a big blessing for this race.
The tiny hat!

Lucky Number 821!

The Start Line

As the race was getting geared up to start there were a few speakers.  There were a few disabled veterans running in the event (which was inspiring), and a few others that were recognized.  The National Anthem was sung, and the gun was fired and we were OFF!

I found it was pretty easy for me to find and keep my pace.  I maintained a pretty easy 11:40 mile the whole time.

Around mile 4, it started to get toasty, so I made a brief stop for a wardrobe change.  I switched my number from my hoodie to the tank top underneath, and kept on going.  Lesson learned:  put your race number on your BOTTOM LAYER.  I lost about 2 minutes to fumbling with safety pins.

The one tough part was that there were a few hills in the last third of the race.  The first 2/3, no hills, but just as I was starting to feel a little bit fatigued, hills.

Around mile five it did get a little bit tougher to keep going, but not "I'm going to quit."tough.  Just tough. I had my good running mix on and then I rounded a corner, and I saw KEVIN waiting at one of the intersections for me!  It was amazing to see him and have someone cheering me on.  It really gave me the boost I needed to power through the last mile and a half.  

I had a bit of an internal debate before this race as to whether I should try to run through, or if I should take walk breaks.  I had a difficult training week last week, and the heat and humidity really had me doubting my running abilities.  On the day, it was so mild and lovely that I just decided to run it.  If I needed to walk, I was allowed, but running was the objective.  I ran it with no walk breaks, just 2 water stops, and a wardrobe change.  

I maintained my 11:40min/mile pace pretty well, and actually got faster as I ran more.  I finished the race in 1 hour, 12 minutes, and 2 seconds.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bark in the Park, Maintenence, and 13.1 start

I know it has been a long time since I posted an update, but I haven't stopped training.  It's been a crazy few weeks, and I haven't had a lot of time to write.

After the Rave Run, I had a great week.  I ran over 4 miles both training days before the big Bark in the Park!!

Oxford and I had a great time at the Bark in the Park!

As you can see we lost our way on return trip.  There's a good reason for this:  We were an hour late.  I swear I had an email that put the starting gun at 10am, and in reality they started at 9am...  We took off as soon as we got there, but we were far behind.  Many people were finishing as we took off.  It was okay.  We had a nice run and for the most part the course was open as we raced north, but on the way back they had taken down the route markers.  We went a little bit too far south, and I stopped the Garmin at the 3.11 mile mark.  We had a nice cool-down walking along the water of Montrose Harbor.  Oxford did a great job, and eventhough we were late for the race it was fun.  It wasn't a timed event anyway, so we just had our fun and ran in our own time (literally)!

The event itself was great fun.  Oxford got to do the agility course from Tucker Pup's and he jumped over a 22" hurdle!

I wore my sweat shirt on the course, and put our catch phrase, "Mark your territory!" on the back.  We had a great time, and I handed out quite a few business cards.

After the Bark, we have just been doing maintenance to keep my mileage up for the 10k.

Yesterday was one of our first hot days of the year and it was my first day of training for the 13.1.  It wrecked me.  I need to condition myself to hot weather, and I suppose this training program will do just that.  I'll be surprised if the half marathon is any cooler than that!

Here is week 1, Day 1 of the half marathon training:


Monday, May 6, 2013

Training programs...

As many of you know, I used the Zen Labs "Race for Pink" Couch to 10k program to train for my 10k race.  I absolutely adored this app, and I felt like it really exceeded my expectations.  It was always just hard enough to challenge me, and thus when I actually finished a training day, I felt amazing. I accomplished each training  without giving up, but was still challenged.

The app used a walk/run method to get you to the point where you could run for 30 minutes straight.  Then it pushed even further by having you start running for endurance.  You were still using the walk/run method, but it was longer intervals of running.  For example, you would run 14 minutes, then walk one minute, and repeat that 4 times.  You would increase the time you ran each week, and take out a walk break here or there, and then the last week, you were running for an hour straight!  It was amazing.  I couldn't believe that I did it the first time, and now after a few weeks it's something I do at least once a week.

This app was amazing.  I am injury free, the instructions were easy to follow, I could listen to Spotify while it was running, the voice was clear and easy

My trouble from here is that I want to keep going!  The program is over, and the Zen Labs 13.1 trainer is a walk/run training program.  In the end you train to walk/run the 13.1 miles of half marathon.  That's great, but the first work-out of week one was a significant step backward.  It was a 45 minute work out and the running intervals of 3 minutes and walking intervals of 2 minutes.  There were 4 running days per week, and 2 cross training days.  Also, when I charted out the week, it didn't look like the program had the recommended structure or short runs during the week and a long run on the weekend.  There was a hint of that, but it there was a push of mileage that looked fatiguing, but not challenging... does that even make sense?

I looked through the program to see if there was a week that was similar to the training I'm doing now.  To be running the amount I'm running now or close to it, I would need to start in Week 9.  Out of 13.  That's a half marathon in 4 weeks.  That seemed tough, and also like a stretch.  The longest run you do before the half is a 10 mile run the week before.  I want to train hard for 12 weeks, and I want to be challenged, but I don't want the half marathon to be a huge jump in mileage.  Grrr!

So, I've been on the hunt to find a training program that will meet my needs.  I'm a fan of the walk/run method, but I wanted a program to continue my progress, not step back significantly.  I wanted something that would get my mileage higher sooner, and let me acclimate to the high miles and have the confidence that I'm able to finish 13 miles without winging it on the last 3 miles.  I think I found a good alternative.

I downloaded the Hal Higdon 13.1 app for android.  In this training program, you must cover the miles.  I doesn't matter if you walk/run or run the whole thing.  You just cover the miles.  This I can do.  If I want to do walk/run intervals as mileage gets high, I will.  If I don't, I'll just run.  I like that freedom.

The app seems great.  There is a calendar countdown to your race day.  I tested it out, and I can listen to my Spotify playlists while I run.  I like all of these things.  My only fear with this app is that it runs the GPS.  This is a huge drain on my battery, so I'll have to have the phone fully charged when I start my workout.  We'll see if it holds up.

Week one is run 3 miles on 3 days during the week, and the long run is 4 miles over the weekend.  Sounds about right!  I'm going to run the week 1 course for the next two weeks while I wait to officially start my 13.1 training.  I am actually jazzed about starting this app!

Now all I need is an android app that will track me while I race so that Kevin can find me on a race course.  It's really hard to gauge when you are about to finish the race, and it'll be easier to meet up and find each other at the end.  Plus, maybe he can meet me at the finish line... :)  I would love that!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Rave Run 5k, Chicago 2013

Last night was the Rave Run here in Chicago!  It's 3.1 miles of light shows, lasers, DJs blasting music, smoke, and 4000 of your favorite runners in glow gear and black light reactive accents! 

Kevin and I had a little bit of stress in the logistics phase of our planning.  The race was at Millenium Park, so we weren't sure where we were going to park, or where the race start was located.  There was not a course map on the day of the race, so it was tough to see where the start/finish was or what the course would be.  Once we decided to drive and park at Millenium Park Garages, I got dressed and we headed out the door!

Getting out of the garage was insane.  Every time we opened a door that said "Exit", it lead to more parking!  There was no exit!!  AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

We finally got out of the garage and had just 10 minutes to find the start line.  ARGH!  There were quite a few other late runners, so we followed the glowing horde to the start line.  Once we got to the race site it was a little bit chaotic, but we had a few minutes to spare. 

They let people go in large groups about 2 minutes apart, and that was very helpful so the course wasn't too over-populated.  By far the most boring part of the race was the first mile.  There were hardly any lights and there were no speakers or DJs on this part of the course. 

After the first mile we went through the LED tunnel and ended up on the lakefront trail.  This was by far the best part of the race.  There were more speakers, lots of lights and glowy tube things and djs and it was awesome.

The race itself was pretty well organized.  It was not a timed event, but I was surprised that they didn't have mile markers.  Also, there wasn't anybody at the finish line keeping people from milling around on the trail after the finish.  There were tons of people just standing there and it really slowed down the finishers.  MOVE!

As I came in for the last .25 mile there was this great huge downhill bit before the LED tunnell, and from here I SPRINTED  to the finish.  I ran so fast through the finish that Kevin didn't even see me cross the line!

I came in with a 32:38 5k time.  This is a 4 minute improvement over the last race!!  5k PR!!  Woo Hoo!

I had a great time at this event, and would definitely reccommend it to those who 5k for fun.  If you are a serious runner, you might find this race frustrating.  There were a lot of slow runners and walkers on the course which made it hard to navagate at times.  For perspective:  I am not a fast runner (usually I run right around an 11 to 12 minute mile in training), but I was passing large groups of people for almost the entire course.  There were not corrals for different speeds.  It was just a "fun run".  Had a great time!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bark in the Park is one week away!!

Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society is having their annual 5k in just one week on May 4th!!!  Me and oxford will be there walking and having fun at Chicago's biggest dog party!!  Oxford has been training for his big 5k since January, and he is ready.  He actually ran 5 miles with me on Tuesday, so he is ready for the 5k!

There are other fun events at the Bark in the Park!  There a pet psychic, nail clipping spa, and many chicago pet vendors will be there.  It should be fun!!

If you want to do it too, here's the link:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


At long last... Here is February's quilt!

I got this Batik jelly roll from the final clearance at Hancock Fabrics.  When I got to the checkout, it rang up as $.01!!  So, this quilt top cost me a penny.

I went with an easy rail fence pattern, and eventhough it's a little bit busy, I really like the texture.  It's a little bit brighter than it looks in the pics, but I like how it turned out.  Perfect size for a throw, or for a baby quilt.

Quilt three is in process.  I'm making it using the 1907 vintage treadle machine, so it'll take a little bit of extra time.  I'm doing a Prairie Braid for it, and am using a beautiful jelly roll from the jelly roll of the month club called "Field Notes".  Here's what it looks like so far:

Constructing this quilt is such a fun process.  And it's so relaxing.  I will literally turn off all the appliances, and pedal away and sew.  

I'm also doing leaders and enders with this quilt, and working my way through the scrappy HSTs that I've been using as leaders and enders for the last 6 mo or so.  I might just finish that stack before the end of this quilt!!

The leader and ender method is almost necessary for the vintage machine.  It makes certain that my needle stays threaded, which is very very helpful... it's not the easiest thing to thread that I've ever encountered... :)

So, that's the quilt update!  I know we'll get the 12 jelly roll quilts done this year, no problem.  Especially after the half marathon!! :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Maintaining the 10k (Week 15)

I graduated the Couch to 10k Program!!  Wow.

Monday of last week was the big 6.2 mile run.  Obviously, this isn't my 10k race (that doesn't happen until May 26th), but since it's what the training schedule said to do, that is what I attempted.


I decided to jog down Clark for a bit of a change of pace, and then head back up Broadway.  Well... a version of that happened.

I knew that my phone wouldn't stay charged if I played music for the whole run, so I decided to save it until I was on my way back.  I really got "in the zone" and ignored street signs... and when I looked up I was at IRVING PARK ROAD.  I had gone 3.7 miles from home.  I turned down Irving Park, took Sheridan, then Broadway north... and then the pouring rain started.

I was freezing and wet and I looked down at my watch and my GPS had lost signal.  The signal stayed lost for a full mile.  At one point I thought about stopping running, but I figured the fastest way to get home was to just keep running.

Even with losing the GPS signal, I ran 6.2 miles.  I did it in 1:20:00, so that's my goal to beat at the 10k in May.

Here's the map (if you play it back, you can tell where I lost my GPS signal... it's where I leapt a mile in less than a second...)

For run number 2 on Thursday, I decided to do 3 miles fast.  I covered a 5k in 31:58.  This is a huge huge improvement from my previous best 5k time of 36:40.  We'll see if I can do it in under 31:00 for the Rave Run... (or I could just try to have fun and not worry about my pace... haven't decided... :)  )  I sprinted the last quarter mile.  It was invigorating, but difficult.

Here's the map:

Unfortunately on Friday I was going to do an easy 2 miles and it did not go well.  It was difficult, and I was SLOW.  12:00 to 13:00 miles, and exhausted.  I couldn't make my feet move.  Must find the through-line for these difficult runs.... Stretching, hydration, too much chocolate?

Now, I just need to maintain my 6.2 miles for the 10k in May.

In other fun news, I have a fun run 5k on Saturday.  The Rave Run is at night, in the dark, with light shows, music, and glow gear.  Can't wait.  It should be fun to run this one.

As a retrospective, I have to say that following the Couch to 10k program (I used the one from ZenLabs) was easy and fun and I never felt like I was injuring myself, but it was just hard enough.  I can't believe how far I can go now, and I am super impressed with the program and very happy with my results.

It is amazing to me that on January 1 I started on this journey and I had trouble running a mile straight, and this week I ran seven miles without stopping.  Once we finish the 10k, I'm going to start the half marathon training program that will carry me the last 13 weeks to the half marathon on August 10th.  The goal seems achievable, and I'm having a great time on the road to 13.1.

Monday, April 15, 2013


So, it is official.

The Zombie Shuffle 5k has been cancelled.  I am sad that I won't be dressing like a zombie killer and running 3 miles, but it might be for the best...  The race was one week before the big 10k in Arlington Heights, so I was worried about recovery days while preparing for a race... That is no longer an issue!  :)

So, the great folks over at Special Events Management have given me a great option...

They are allowing folks to transfer their registration from the Zombie Shuffle over to the Crypt 5k at Rosehill Cemetery in the Fall!!  This is a nighttime 5k in a graveyard in September!  I am very excited!

Event Website:

This will also be a race to look forward to after the big half marathon!  Very excited!

But what do I do now?  I wanted another 5k to help me get geared up...

Here's the solution!  I'm running the Chicago Rave Run.  This is another nighttime event with a light show, music, and glow-y gear!!!

Event Website:

So, yet another excuse to put on a tutu and run 3 miles!!  What a great day!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dropping the Ball- Week 12, 13, and 14 RECAP

It's been a little bit crazy around here.  The rental season is picking up, and I've been putting in extra hours at work, and training has become a little bit tougher.  Last Monday I worked an 11.5 hour shift and the last thing I wanted to do was hit the trail and run, but I knew that once I got out there I'd feel great... and I did.

Running the distance has gotten easier in the last three weeks.  I've made a few modifications...

I'm trying to eat lots of veggies and fruits.  I'm focusing on nutrition when I can, and just adding veggies to everything.  I really feel a lot better, and I think it's helped the running.  I would get to a point where I would run out of fuel on long runs, and that hasn't been happening as much.

I actually had my greatest run ever (and a distance PR) on Wednesday.  I ran 5.75 miles and felt amazing at the end of it.  Here it is:

I am working on choreographing "9 to 5" at the moment, and on the above run I was listening to the soundtrack and working it through the moves as I ran.  I think that kind of right brain engagement made the running easier.  I must employ this technique in future.

So in the middle of Week 13 I started having some hip pain.  I couldn't tell if it was muscle fatigue, or if it was an actual injury.  I took it easy and did a very easy paced recovery run.  It helped to take a break, but the pain was still there.  I did some research, and tried some new stretches.  This REALLY worked.  I also stopped trying to modify my form so much.  It is a little bit frustrating that I'm not getting faster and that I know I've got some issues with my running form, but it seems like trying to modify it makes me hurt.  I think I need coaching if I'm going to try to modify my form.

The amazing thing to me is that we are four months into this endeavor, and I am running for an hour straight.  Also, I'm halfway through my training for my first half marathon, and I really feel likes it's possible.

Monday, March 25, 2013


On my run on Saturday I was running down the Lakeshore Dr running trail, and I noticed something.  I was getting passed by runners who were matching my cadence, or worse had a slower cadence than I did.  WHAT?!  I know I'm a slow runner, but I was out there pushing hard.  As I looked at different runners, it looked like most of them were not using as much energy to propel themselves forward as I was.  I also noticed that most of them seemed to land on their foot with perfect alignment with the rest of their body, and then sort of kicking back.  How do they do this?

Take a look at this video of some runners.  You can tell the difference between the ones who are over-striding, and those who have proper alignment.

I have done some research on this, and there are a lot of videos of people running like I run, and then learning to run more efficiently.  There are drills, training techniques, books, etc...  Do I need a running coach?

Here's what happens to me:  I extend my foot in front of me, I pull my weight over the foot, and then over-extend again and pull my weight over the foot.  I move across the ground without using my momentum as well as I could.

Now, these other runners.  They looked like they were skittering across the surface of the Earth by lightly landing on the foot and their momentum and gravity kept them moving forward.

Skimming the surface... Flying...  I NEED TO LEARN THIS.

More on this to come

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Week 11 Recap! WEEK 11!

Hello dear readers...

So, week 11...  I was in Chicago for all of my training this week, and it was sublime to be back in my home turf!  

Running in Omaha was tough.  Very tough.  It is ever-so-slightly hilly.  Constantly.  I was always running on a slight incline or decline.  I had trouble finishing training sessions a few times.  I was actually tempted to re-do week 10 of training because of my lack of success.  

Day 1 had it's own challenges.  Usually I put in my headphones, start Spotify, and dance around while I get dressed/psyched.  Then I start the training program (it takes a couple of minutes to load), and head out the door.  I hit "start" on my GPS watch and start walking.  

On this run, I did all of this, and I waited outside for my GPS to find satellites.  It didn't, but I started my warm-up anyway.  It usually will find a satellite signal in the first few blocks.  NOPE!  I ran my first mile.  No signal.  Second mile goes by... nothing.  I approached the furthest I've ever run and realized that I'd be setting a distance pr and wouldn't have a gps of it... and at that point I gave up.  I'd still have the completed work out on the app...

And then my phone beeped that it was nearly out of battery.  ARGH!

I quickly checked how much time I had left and roughly judged the rest of my run based on the time on my watch.  My technology completely failed me.  No gps, no app, no music at the end...

I finished the workout and when I got home I checked my mileage the old-fashioned way and google mapped it.  5 miles.  Distance PR!  Woo hoo!!  No proof.  Booo!

Days 2 and 3 I surpassed my 5 miles, and the technology didn't give out on me.  Day 2 was easy and fun and I covered 5.45 miles.  Day 3 was laborious... and runners with the same cadence as me were passing me left and right!  Gotta work on that!  Went 5 miles day 3.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I was just reviewing my blog, and it is amazing to me the difference a few weeks can make!  In week seven I was talking about how difficult running one 11 minute mile was, and now I ran my entire 5k at an 11:30 pace and wasn't even winded at the end!  11:00 is now comfortable for me!  It was IMPOSSIBLE just a few weeks ago.  Also, I'm covering more than 4 miles per workout now, and it is amazing.  Amazing.

So excited about this resolution!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 10 Recap

Wow.  Week 10.  I only have three weeks left of the Couch to 10k program!!  I can't believe it.  My 10k race isn't until May 26th, so I will just be in maintenance mode until then.  This next three weeks will be the hardest that I have done, and will test my endurance.  In fact, they might be the hardest weeks of this entire process.  After the 10k training is over, I start doing the run/walk method for my training and it shoots down to 45 minutes per run instead of an hour.  I do start going out 6 days a week, but it's easier running.  Eventually, workouts will be long (obviously), but when I transition into training for the half it'll get easier for a little while.

So, this week I was running in Omaha, NE.  My step-mother was very ill in the hospital, and I went out to be with her and help my brother and father.  Usually in these situations I tend to not take care of myself, but on this trip I made an effort to take care of myself first so that I had the energy to help out where I could.  I'm very glad that I went, and I'm happy that my family was generous enough to allow me to keep up with my running routine.  Here's two of the four runs that I did in Omaha for Week 10:

On Week 10, Day 2, I DESTROYED my distance record.  I covered 4.44 miles during my workout.  I couldn't believe it.

That success aside, these runs were some of the toughest of my training so far.  I actually couldn't run on a few instances and had to take some extra walk breaks a few times.  Omaha is a bit hilly.  Just hilly enough to make certain that you are always on an incline.  I hope that this is the reason for the difficulty of these runs.  It could also be the stress the situation, or being away from my routine (the foods I usually eat, sleeping in a strange place, hydration, etc).  We'll see tomorrow when I do a workout here in Chicago.

Over-all progress:

I feel like the running training is going well.  I have a fear that Omaha or stress aren't the issues with my difficulty performing lately.  I'm worried that I've hit an endurance wall.  It was so difficult running for the last week and a half.  My fear is that I have reached  a point where I can't go any further.  A plateau.  I did factor in a few extra weeks of training to give myself some wiggle room for races or for needing to repeat a week or workout here and there.  Maybe I should repeat week 10?  I suppose I'll know better when I get back into my routine.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week Nine Recap! First race!

I'm really getting behind on my quilts... :)

Week Nine actually lasted a week and a half!  I didn't want to do two long training runs the week of my race, so week nine was LOOOOOOOOOOOONG!

I had a great first race of the season!!  The Wacky 5k at the Peggy Noetbart Nature Museum was a blast!  I came in at 36:15, which was slightly better than my goal.

 I know that my 11:30 mile is kind of slow, but I took it easy and had fun.  When we got done, I wasn't winded or tired at all.  I probably could've pushed myself a little bit more.  I ran the whole thing, and didn't really get passed that much.  It was a great day to race.

  Week 9, Day 1:

Pre 5k Easy Run:

The Wacky 5k!!:

One of the fun things about the garmin is that I remember different things from the race when I look at the data.  For instance, there's a dip in pace at about 0:5:17 where I had to stop to tie my shoe.

I had such a great time, and Kevin was there to support me.  We had fun pre-race and went for a short walk around the museum.  Kevin is so supportive in all of my endeavors, but it still surprises me that he would want to sit around and wait for 40 minutes for me to run around in the snow and ice. 

Had a great time, and cannot wait for the zombie 5k in May!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Week 8 Recap. A good week!

This week I tried running at 180 strides per minute.  There seems to be an obsession with this number in the running community, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  It's supposed to be more efficient, and the ideal pace to run.

On Wednesday I took Oxford and we ran 180 strides per minute (I used a new playlist of 180 bpm tunes that I made on Spotify).  Oxford did not have a good time.  We were running faster than normal.  I cut my min/mile by around 1:30 to 2 minutes.  It felt okay to run at that pace for the distance, but it was hard.  I won't lie.  It always feels good to finish, and I can totally do it, but running at 180 bpm didn't feel easier or more efficient.

One of the arguments for 180 spm is that your body doesn't have time to be inefficient in your stride.  Your stride length, foot fall, and pronation just correct themselves magically.  It's also fast enough that you don't have a lot of time to bounce up and down.

I didn't really notice if I was more efficient.  When I ran slightly faster I did notice my footfall was landing a little bit more toward midfoot than normal.  If it will prevent injury, I'm going to strive for it.  I think from now on, I'll do two days per week of easy pace (for distance), and at least one run per week at the 180 strides per minute rate.  It can't hurt.

Here are my workouts.  You can see pace, distance, time.  Day one and Day two were run at 180 bpm, and day three was run at my "run easy" pace.  You can see the difference in time and pace, but the thing this doesn't show you is that on the "run easy" pace I felt like I could keep going forever.  So did Oxford.

Week Eight - Day One

Week Eight - Day Two

Week Eight - Day Three

So, my first race of the season is on Sunday (!).  I'll let you all know how it goes in next week's entry.  Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Chicago has a Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle race on April 7th, right between my 1st 5k and my 10k.  Maybe I should do this one!?

Chicago Women's Half Marathon

I found this race (sponsored by my favorite running store, Fleet Feet Sports!)  It's the Chicago Women's Half Marathon and 5k.  The event is on Sunday June 23.  I would have run the 10k one month earlier, so it kind of feels like it would be a step backward since I would do the 5k, not the half marathon...

I'm just not sure. Running more races seems like a good idea...I don't have any races in June... I'll think about it


Week Seven! RECAP!


Week SEVEN...


Week 7 day 1 was my fastest running day.  I had an 11 minute mile.  I was absolutely exhausted at the end of it.  My goal is consistent 13 minute miles for the half marathon.  This is the ABSOLUTE minimum to qualify as a finisher for the Chicago Half Marathon.  If you go any slower, you are diverted to the lake side running trail.  This wouldn't be the end of the world, but I would like to run the whole thing on Lakeshore Drive.  No matter what, as long as I make it, I'll be happy!  That's just my goal.  I keep thinking that if I want to run at the 13 minute mile time, I should train at a faster time.  These 11 minute miles were EXHAUSTING!  I don't know that I could actually finish at that pace.  I got through my 2.25 miles at this pace, but was wrecked.

Heres's a summary of the run:

The other thing to consider is that September is 7 training months from now.  There's a lot of room to improve my time.

Week 7 day 2 was one of the best runs I've had so far.  Not for route or for speed or distance... It was easy and fun.  Oxford went with me and he ran right along side me the whole time.  We had an amazing run.  He was totally focused on running, which was the cutest thing I've ever seen.  I looked down at him at one point as we were running down Sheridan, and he looked proud.  It was awesome.  My times were SLOW (like barely meeting the goal slow), but I could maintain that pace forever.  I ran a 13 minute mile, and then 3/4 of a mile at 13:42.  I attribute that 42 seconds to stopping for a "Don't Walk" signal.  When the run was over I felt like, "Oh!  We could keep going!"

Here's a summary of the run:

You might also have noticed that I got a new toy!  I'm running with the Garmin Forerunner 110.  It keeps track of weather, pace, elevation, allows me to make notes, and notates my exact route.  The mileage and pace are so accurate that I really have a handle on how I'm doing.  It's great!  Love it!  Thanks Grandma B!

The last run of the week is tonight, and we'll see how it goes.  I'm not sure if Oxford can handle it tonight since it's cold.  We'll see.

In general training is great.  I haven't missed a training run yet, and I run at different times of day all the time.  I'm training on similar surfaces to my race courses.  I haven't been injured, and I'm doing everything I can to prevent injuries (compression socks, not ignoring aches, heating pads, etc, etc, etc...)  The thing that surprises me most is that it's hardly ever easy.  I think I'm stretching myself just enough to make it tough, but even though the running is tough, it's never so bad that the next day I can't walk.  In fact, I haven't had any significant muscle soreness or pain.  This is the first time ever that a new workout routine hasn't made me have terrible muscle aches.

In years previous I trained for a 5k by running a mile, pushing myself to run two miles, and then running two miles for 6 days a week until I was exhausted.  I always ran for distance, and not time.  I would increase by increments, and then push it too hard on race day.  I've never broken that 5k barrier.  Training is easier this time and I feel like I'm doing it right.  Can't wait for my first 5k race of the season on March 3rd!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Week Five and Six RECAP! :)


For those of you who don't know, Spotify is an app for your phone or computer that lets you listen to any song in their library.  The computer version is free, the smartphone app costs $10/mo.  I gave it a try.  I found all the songs from my old running playlists, and then some... then I looked up other songs in my perfect pace range... then I looked up songs I like that are high energy... Well, you see where this is going.  I have 2 hours of running music on my spotify running mix, and it's awesome! 

In week five I got my COMPRESSION SOCKS!  I got a pair of Zoot compression socks from Fleet Feet Sports in Lincoln Square.  This running store is great.  Friendly, helpful, and accepting of your level!  I will definitely be returning!

Also, my subzero running skirt arrived from!  It is so comfortable and the coolest part of it is that I don't notice being "hot" or "cold" when I'm out in the elements.  It's just perfect.  And it's cute! 

As far as the running goes:

I'm not going to lie.  It's hard.  Each run is a little bit touher than the last one.  I know that I'm getting better, but I am pushing myself on almost every run.  Week five was by far the best and funnest running I have done so far.  I found myself SMILING while I was on the run.  I hope to get back to this again when it gets a little bit easier in the training... I'm certain that this was the week where I caught up with myself.  Where I was running the optimal amount, not pushing the limits. 

Week Six was a limit pushing week.  For two of my training runs I was in Chapel Valley in Rapid City, SD.  HILLS!!  Argh!  I'm usually running on the Chicago lakefront, and it is flat as a pancake!  These small inclines made these two training runs the toughest running I have ever done.  I tried to keep my pace steady, so even on the downhills I was working.

This is a beautiful  (but challenging)  place to run: Canyon Lake Park in Rapid City, SD.

(Another development:  I run in the city.  Chicago is a big city, and I am aware that not everyone has stellar intentions.  Sometimes I have to run after work, and it gets dark early.  I decided to start running with Mace.  I cannot tell you how much safer I feel.  It's not a replacement for being aware of your surroundings, but I know that I have a strategy if I get attached by a dog, or harrassed by a person.  It's on a hand strap so it can't be knocked out of my hand, and I don't have to fumble for it.  It's right there.  This might seem extreme, but it feels better to have a plan for if something happens.)

Summary:  It's still tough, and I think I've realized that running isn't going to get "easy".  I'll get more fit, but what I'm training for is not an easy thing to do.  There are plenty of distance athletes who could run 13.1 every day of the week, but for most people it's a challenge.  It's certainly challenging for me, and I have realized that though I'll be prepared, it probably won't be a breeze to run the half marathon.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Week Four Recap.

Wow.  One month in.  As I enter February, I am thinking about how much I've learned in the last four weeks, and how much progress I've actually made.

Week four started out tough (like all Wednesdays on this program).  Somehow, I was covering less distance while running more than I had been walking more and running less.  How is this possible?  Fatigue?  Am I getting slower?  ARGH!

It was a tough week for that reason.  I kept on going, but I felt like I was making no progress... not getting any faster, in fact getting slower.  And the weather was crazy.  Warm, raining, freezing, sheets of ice on the road...  I wonder what the weather will be like on Race Day for the Wacky 5k...

I finished my book "Half Marathon:  You Can do It".   It's a book by Galloway, and it advocates the Run/Walk method.  On the flip side I read a lot of criticism of slow runners.  Some elite runners don't think that slow runners should be allowed to run marathons.

Here's one of the articles:
NY Times - "Plodders Have a Place, but is it in a Marathon?"

I have to say, beginners run slower, and every runner was once a beginner.  There are marathons for fast runners, and there are marathons that recreational runners can participate in.  I would never even QUALIFY for the Boston Marathon, and I am just working toward my half marathon goal.  It's something I've always wanted to do, and I feel like it takes strength to put it out there.  It takes courage to try, and denying beginners entry is wrong.  Let the elite runners run in the tougher more prestigious races, but if the race officials decided that you don't need to qualify to run a race, then the elite runners should just be prepared for there to be slower runners behind them (or in my case FAAAAAR behind them).  Why would they even look behind them anyway?

On the quilting front:  I have sewed my strips from Jelly Roll #1 into one long strip of four.  I'm cutting these into squares to make a rail fence quilt.  Pictures to come!! :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blech... Not getting any faster.

Last week my neck was sore.

This morning my abs hurt.

Right now my shoulders feel like they can't hold up my arms.



I have been trying to run in a healthy way, and reading endless articles on how to protect my knees, ankles, skin, mind...  It's a big jumble of stuff to keep up with.

My stamina is still not great.  I find that I'm still running the same distance eventhough I'm running a larger portion of the time.  Is this right?  Doesn't that mean that I'm not running any faster than I've been walking?  Argh!

I'm still doing about 2.1 to 2.2 miles in 30 minutes.  This is a 14 minute mile, and I am absolutely exhausted at the end of it.  I find it difficult to believe that in 8 months I will be able to run a faster pace than this for 7 times as long... It's seeming a little impossible right now. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Week 3 Recap!

So, my weeks start on Wednesday, and I have found that Wednesdays are the hardest days of the week.  By the end of the week, I can't believe that I had trouble on the first day... but it is tough those first days.

Every Wednesday my training program steps up a bit.  Usually the workout is consistent for all three days, and every third week is a little bit easier... Yeah.  My experience so far is that I feel great after, but I still have a tiny struggle on the first workout of the week.  It's actually kind of cool that the human body adapts to the stamina requirements of this gradual increase.

My pace is also quicker.  I can't say that I'm covering much more ground, but my feet are moving faster.  Maybe it's the colder weather?  Maybe I'm becoming awesome?? :)

I'm using Spotify for my workout mix, and it's awesome.  You can make playlists with it and access them on your phone or ipod or whatever.  I have my music and my training program running at the same time and it's great.

In quilt news:

Here is my first quilt in the project of 12 Jelly Roll quilts this year:

Oxford likes it!  This was done with the 1600 Race "pattern".  You just sew all the strips in a jelly roll together into a big long strip, and then sew the strips together the long way, cut, open and do it again.... until it's a quilt top!!

So easy!

This jelly roll came from Kevin's parents for christmas.  I love the colors, and I haven't really worked with batiks that much, but I love the way this came out.  With that in mind, I got this jelly roll for a penny (yup!  for $.01) on super clearance at the Hancock Fabrics which is closing :(.

These will be a railfence quilt... This roll was a good deal, but not technically from the Jelly Roll of the month club... but I'll count it (December is so busy!!)

Meanwhile:  Look what came in the mail!  Our first official Jelly Roll!  I'll open it once the rail fence is finished!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Running Itinerary, 2013!

Here are the races that I am running this year (in anticipation of completing my goal of running a half marathon in 2013.)  I am registered for all of these races, and have made a firm commitment to run all of them.  I think these are all of them for the year (unless there's a really fun race that pops up!)

Wacky 5k! March 3rd, Sunday

Zombie Shuffle - 5k Run, May 18th, Saturday

SALUTE, INC. got freedom?10K Run - May 26th, Sunday

The Chicago Half Marathon - September 8th, 2013

Now, you might notice that the Zombie 5k and the Got Freedom? 10k are a week apart.  I hope this isn't a terrible idea.  I really want to run a 10k on my way to the half... but the zombie race looks FUN!  These will just be my "long runs" for these weeks, and I'll take extra recovery after the 10k.  And I have no pride wrapped up in the Zombie 5k.  If I need to walk, or not finish, or whatever, that's fine.  It's just a fun one!  :)

The only other races I would add would be something in July in Indiana.  We'll see... :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Week 2 Recap

Half Marathon:

Week TWO!  We're at 90 seconds of running, 2 minutes of walking alternating... I had my first tough run last night.  It was sooooo COLD!  My muscles were aching... I didn't have time to run in the morning, so I had to do my training when I got off work in the evening.  It was 8:30pm by the time I hit the road.  Whew!  It was 15 degrees (felt like 0).  I was exhausted from an 8 hour work day, and it was really difficult to motivate myself out the door.  I just thought, "If you don't go now, this is where it will start to be ok for you to fail at this."  So, I put on some LMFAO "Sexy and I Know It" and hit the ROAD!

It's a bit tougher, but I'm averaging 2.4 miles of walk/running in 31 minutes.  That's That's not too far from the ultimate goal of maintaining a 13 minute mile long term ... for 13.1 straight miles... WHEW!

I tested some of the new running songs on my Spotify playlist, which is awesome.  Some were too slow and have been ELIMINATED!

I've also been doing a ton of research.  Subscribed to Runner's World for the Nook, and love reading people's stories and creative ideas (especially after a run like last night while in the bathtub).

Summary:  It was a little bit tougher this week, and it made me realize that it's going to be tough to find time in July and August when I am training 6 days per week for an hour or more...  We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.  Right now, the running is getting harder, but it feels great to get out there and up the ante a bit every week.  Next week we will be up to 90 seconds of running/90 seconds of walking. HALF AND HALF... There's no going back from here...


I've done some quilting, this week on Kevin's 3D maze, and I'm so excited our February Jelly Roll should be coming in the mail next week!!  Maybe for next week's entry I'll have photos!! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Week One Recap!

Resolution #1:

Half Marathon Training!

At the end of week one, I have to say that this might just be achievable!  My training schedule differs from every other running training that I've ever done.  I'm running and walking, with plenty of rest.  I'm doing around 6 miles per week right now, and resting every other day.  It feels like I can do more, and I'm really increasing my endurance. 

Each week I add a little more running, and do a little less walking, or I go further.  I am training right now for three days a week, and I'll increase that to four after the 5k race in March.

Right now we are training for the Wacky 5k on Sunday March 3rd:

Can't wait for my first race!

Resolution #2:

I have completed my first Jelly Roll Quilt!!

Kevin's mom and dad got me a great jelly roll of batik fabrics, and it inspired this resolution!!  Thanks guys!

I did a quilt call the "Jelly Roll Race".  Fitting... It's a racing theme this year, after all!

I started this quilt, and the quilt top was done in 1 and a half episodes of Doctor Who, and I had it completely quilted in two more episodes!  DONE!

I'll get a pic up ASAP!!