32B's Blog

…where I write my words

2012 Soldier Field 10 Mile

This was my first time running this race. I usually try to sign up for different races since the Chicagoland area has plenty to choose from and I think it’s kinda boring to do the same race, same course, same thing every year.  Soldier Field was built to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces so it’s only fitting that their annual run in its 9th year annually takes place during Memorial Day weekend.  It was pretty easy getting to the stadium; I took the Fullerton bus at about 4:32am to the Redline which took me to Roosevelt.  It was about a mile walk to the Stadium….or maybe it just felt like it was a long walk.  But, there were other runners walking with me so I was in good company.

The weather was awesomely cool.  No sun, no heat, no humidity; all pluses for me!  It seemed to take forever to start the race and each corral got its own starting shout-out so instead of my Blue corral starting at 6:40am, my 4th corral of the Blue corral started about 7:15am.  While waiting, we felt drops of rain here and there and wondered if we’d get soaked way before the race even began.  Rain is still better than humidity any day so I didn’t care….just start the race, please!

My mile splits:

Mile 1 – 09:17

Mile 2 – 08:55

Mile 3 – 08:49

Mile 4 – 08:45

Mile 5 – 08:59

Mile 6 – 08:58

Mile 7 – 09:04

Mile 8 – 09:06

Mile 9 – 09:15

Mile 10 – 09:04

As you can see, I started off well for my 1st mile which is very hard to do because the crowd rushes forward and you so wanna go with them, the excitement has built, the adrenaline is flowing, and your legs are fresh!  I talk to myself more times during running than I ever do in regular everyday life.  “Slow down, D”, “Feel your pace”, “Run YOUR race”, “Settle into this speed”, “Let them pass”, “Breathing cool…thighs hurting…time still on pace. Maintain it”, “Don’t look down…look up the incline”, “Ride the downhill”, etc.  The hardest thing to do was find my pace, settle into it, and ignore the people who ran past me because I had to stay in my groove and finish my own race.  I knew I’d “die” if I went out too fast but I also didn’t know at what per mile pace I could sustain for the entire race before my legs felt like giving from under me.  Well, they wouldn’t give completely at first.  They’d slow down slowly but surely ignoring my brain telling them to pick it back up.  Then, my mile splits will increase instead of decreasing or remaining consistent.

Between mile 6 and 7, I sucked down a Gatorade Energy Gel I’d brought with me.  I’d never taken one during a race but my quads were tightening, my splits slowing, and I was nowhere near the 50 yd line of the finish.  I was honestly happy to use the gel because it’s kinda heavy so, hanging from my running belt, it was bouncing with each foot strike I took for the last 6 miles which is really really irritating.  But, I blocked it out of my mind and focused on what was more important…a consistent pace.  I ripped the top off the gel, placed it in my mouth for a small suck, pulled it back out, splashed some on my arm, put it back in my mouth, ignored the need to vomit (not at the taste of the gel), squeezed it all into my mouth mid-run still, and threw the empty pack on the ground.  I don’t think I felt the slightest difference until I officially reached the 7 mile marker which was maybe 800 meters later.  I didn’t stop not once during the race to get a cup of water or Gatorade from the aid stations.  I wanted to see what my body could do esp since this was the first time I’d run a complete 10 mile course without stopping for a traffic light, cars, or pedestrians.

Occasionally, I passed some people and then some people passed me.  The weather remained cool throughout but I was starting to feel the burn literally towards the end.  As you can see from my mile splits, I first mile time became my 9th mile time which means I got faster, peaked, and then slowed back to where I began.  Not sure how good that is but I definitely checked my breathing throughout….it was pretty strong and stable.  That tells me my cardiovascular system can handle a faster pace or push but my legs weren’t feeling it.  My legs, this time around, just weren’t up to par with my breathing.  On the last mile, the spectators and race staff were shouting about how close to the finish we are but I didn’t believe.  I knew we’d finish on the 50 so I wasn’t gonna push it until I was inside the stadium turf.  I got to the last 800 meters and you’d think I’d be overjoyed but my thighs were still burning.  The lady yelled out, “if you have any gas left now is the time to push it in”.  I should have listened to her because right around the next 2 corners was the finish line.  The most beautiful sight ever!  Before I knew it, I was on grass, I saw the “FINISH” banner in front of me, and I saw the huge screen inside the stadium showing us running in.  I even smiled, waved my hands overhead, and forgot all about the pain in the thighs.  Instantly, my body was feeling high….until I stopped running.  I crossed the time-sensor at the finish line, stopped my watch, and was still smiling when I felt my quads tighten and I said “owwww!”

Yayy, I’d finished and I’d finished in 1 hour and 30 minutes (unofficially) which is a PR for me so I had reason to be happy but I also wondered how much faster could I have gone.  I have another 10 mile race I might sign up for in July so we shall see.  This time though, I did a visually and physically painful walk tot he guy handing out water bottles, to the table with bags of after-race snacks, to the gear check to retrieve my running bag I’d brought with me, and to the blanket table to get my Soldier Field blanket which is blue.  Blue?!  Why not green, or, I don’t know…..navy and orange for the team’s colors!?!?!  I took 2 pictures which I’ve posted here and had some comments.  My cousin said, “that’s why you’re still skinny cause you run 10 miles in an hour!”  Was I supposed to be fat by the age of 31?  Thicke?  Curvy?  I feel like I didn’t meet some unspoken accepted standard for myself as I aged.  Others just wanna know how I can run for so long.  I don’t view the time or distance as a “long ass time” but as something I know my body responds well too.  If I am feeling slow, out-of-shape, or like I’m putting on the pounds around my midsection…then I go run.  When I run long I get better results.  I am not one for running fast contrary to most thoughts related to black runners.  I enjoy a slower pace that I can sustain for a longer period of time.  I love the discipline, the strength, and mental battles I face doing something most think is purely physical.  I run alone usually and enjoy it.  There’s camaraderie & encouragement with a running group but imagine the tenacity that is required to be your own coach, cheerleader, critic, etc.  I gain more than a good physical workout

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Life | , , | Leave a comment

Life After 4 Miles

Today, I went running outside for the first time in months.  Usually, I’m running to catch the train on my way to work but today I ran for no reason other than to run.  I needed to go to the bank so I ran 2 miles there and then 2 miles back.  It wasn’t as cold as it has been here so the 30 degree weather felt awesome.  My foot slid a little each time I hit some snow or ice but it was no big deal.  I made it to the bank and smiled at the two handsome sexy Boricuas behind the counter.  Eye candy!  One is married.  Not sure about the other.  I just smile and try not to stare too hard.  Then one smiled at me and I think I physically melted.  I know it goes against nature, physics, chemistry, probably even biology but his smile made me melt and I wanted to find his wife and tell her how much I hate her (lol).  Lucky chick!  I made it home with about 15 minutes to spare before it was time to pick up Thing 2 from pre-school so I stretched.  My legs were slightly fatigued since I haven’t used them in this way in quite some time but I felt good overall.  No music.  Just ran. 

When I was getting dressed, I felt excited.  I literally ran through the events of the last day or so and knew I needed to run to clear my mind.  Kind of purge my brain of all useless crap that’s sitting in there.  A massive delete.  Some people apologize for deleting things, folks, actions from their lives.  Either I’m cold-hearted or I truly believe people know they were never supposed to be a permanent part of my existence so why should I apologize?  I laced up my shoes and looked in the mirror at myself.  I had a kid, got married, had another kid, got divorced…..now I’m doing things I want to do.  I smiled, laughed, jumped around, and did a horrible little dance in my bedroom.  This is what I do every now and then.  I get excited about my life as it currently stands and thank God I have time to actually get to the part of doing what I want to do.  Seriously, how horrible would life be if all I ever did was to please others?  I’d be uber depressed constantly.

I don’t talk to lots of my friends I went to college with in Indiana.  The only reason I can give is that life has taken us on our own individual journeys.  They are getting married, having kids, going to pursue advanced degrees, etc.  Apart from the advanced degree (of which I doubt I want to finish but that’s another story), we have nothing in common.  I don’t want to talk about what the kids are doing, what exciting things they said, or even their extracurricular activities.  I don’t wanna talk about entrance exams, salaries, bonuses, and lay-offs.  I don’t wanna talk about spouses, the latest argument, paying the mortgage, and the in-laws.  Remember when we used to talk about things concerning us?  Remember who we were before the kids, marriage, degrees, etc?  Remember when we used to identify with something but, over time, we gained things we had to identify with?  I’m pass the kids, marriage, degrees, even sorority (in some sense) phase or chapters of life.  Now, when one calls and wants to talk about trying to get into law school, the latest sorority event, what the kid did in school, what amazingly cute something was made, and how the spouse is doing that annoying thing he always does…..I zone out temporarily. 

I’d love to live a simple life complete with my kids, running, computing, great food, sunsets, outdoors, and fun however we decide to define that.  What I really want out of life does not involve getting married again because all the dates I’ve been on lately consist of hotmessness (yes, that’s a word in some world).  OAN, I did end up getting the LG Optimus phone which I think falls under the Android smartphone category.  I honestly do not know what I did before it!  My fav apps thus far are Pandora and Bible verses.  I listen to music so often I have to literally carry my charger with me.  I sometimes sit late at night and just browse through Bible verses sometimes reading my favorite ones and I am convinced John 17 is poetic…it makes me cry every time!  And, I can send verses to people via email or text and I can post to FB or Twitter.   I don’t do the latter because it irritates me when other people do that.  I don’t know why but it does.  Weird.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Life | , | Leave a comment

30 going on 17

Happy New Year? Someone asked me about my blog.  Oh, yeah…that thing.  Well, see what had happened was I got busy with life, going out, meeting people organically, studying, working, playing mommy, and just spending time on the internet when absolutely necessary that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to write about, discuss, or vent about.  Scratch that.  I always have things to vent about but I asked myself if writing it here or anywhere would totally dismiss or erase it as if it never happened?  Of course the answer is “no” so I didn’t.  I had nothing to share with whomever decided to stop by and read what I had to say.  I would do a recap of what’s been going on in my life but I don’t feel like it.  For some reason, I am starting to enjoy “privacy”.  Funny that I of all people would say that.  But, it’s still amazing when someone is going through something I did way back when and find my experience refreshing.  It’s like a reset button or a reminder that sometimes being open ain’t all that bad.  Ya know? 

This post is about running.  2011 was supposed to be focused on my half marathon time and placing in my ‘hood 5K race in October.  The trouble is one was more dear to my heart and squeezed more passion than the other so I’ve revamped my running plans.  For 2011 I will attempt to channel the 17 year old me.  At 17, I had just graduated from high school and was running a 7 min mile pace easily.  Sometimes I finished a little slower but I was there.  I want to place in the Lawndale 5K.  I don’t want to win my age group, get a PR, or even just win another medal – I want to place overall!  It’s personal this year.  I have 9 months to get my butt in shape to run (and hold) a sub 7 minute mile pace.  Sub 7 minutes?  Yeah, that is a challenge and a half but if I shoot for 7 mins then the rest comes down to pure hunger.  How bad do I want it?  Drive, determination, and discipline can trump any training program.  Right now, I can run (and hold) approx a 7.30 min pace.  Last year, my time for this 3.1 mile race was officially 23:23 minutes….a minute faster than last year.  This year, I want to run it in as close to 20 minutes as I can which is definitely sub 7 min pace.  More like 6:30/min pace.  The winner last year finished in a little over 20 minutes.  One chick, the same age as I, cut 3 minutes off her time from 2008 to 2009.  B*tch!  lol Basically, I don’t stand a chance unless I join the 20 minute 5K group and obviously age ain’t nothing but a number.

I have no clue how to drop a minute let alone 2+ off my time.  Workouts?  The only ones I can think of are the ones we used to do back in high school during Cross Country season.  I know intervals, repeats, and some distance running along with hills, hills, and more hills.  I think I’d prefer hills and repeats more than anything.  Hills burn muscles like acid but it feels so wonderful when they get stronger and can run longer and faster without an ounce of additional effort.  Since I live in Chicago where winter lasts until June, I am basically chained to a treadmill if the snow/ice/winds are too bad out.  No workouts for now but I did do a mini-interval on the treadmill Tuesday.  It was my first day back running in 2 months so I was kinda excited to dust the rust off.  Today, I didn’t go running cause I have an appointment to get to this afternoon but I did do my 22 minutes of Abs – Windsor Pilates.  Core muscles are important when it comes to running.  Even more so when it comes to speed and shorter races where efficiency is vital.  My plan is to focus on my core muscles for the next 3 months.  Today?  I had to do 2 modified positions towards the end of the DVD.  Seriously, who can hold these positions perfectly straight for that long?  Only the chicks on the DVD!  I was grunting, dang near fell over, and actually couldn’t roll up on one of the ab contraction moves.  I have decent ab muscle strength but nothing like I want or think I need.  I plan to put the Ab, Back, and Burn Pilate DVDs in heavy rotation from now until April 1st then I will see where I am.  Hopefully, I have made some progress. 

In addition to that, I am gathering treadmill workouts so I can make my indoor runs beneficial in addition to getting outside when I can (weather permitting) because long runs on a treadmill are downright torturous.  Trust me, it is.  Until next time.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Life | , , | 1 Comment

Cold Miles

There is nothing like a good sports bra!  I had maybe 4 sports bras – 2 of those from my college days which means they are old as dirt.  I threw out the 2 which had about lost all elastic from that band that sits right under your boobs although they still look good.  Yeah, I could have kept them for regular bra purposes but I hardly ever (never) wear a sports bra except when participating in a sports activity.  Anywho, I went to buy 2 new sports bras from Marshalls.  Actually, I went to buy something totally different not for myself but the force of the athletic section consumed me until I couldn’t possibly resist anymore.  I hate spending too much on anything so I found cute support bras for $10 each – a white one and a pink reversible one.  Why would I ever need a reversible bra?  No idea but I assume it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.  That is exactly my thoughts about this MBA I am getting but that is besides the point.  Both bras are made by Champion, fall under the Medium Impact category, and feel so good!  I love wearing them.  They feel supportive.   They come down enough over an under my boobs so I don’t feel like raising my arms or moving too much will shift the bra itself out of place.  The racerback fits comfortably between my shoulder blades.  The band under my boobs is taut without being too tight and without making me think a boob will slip through midrun.  I do not have one massive smashed together boob but two separate small boobs.  And did I mention the material is super soft?  Yeah, it is great.  Or, maybe this is how all bras feel but I have gone so long without a new one that I’m acting like these bras are the best things since sliced bread.  Whatever the reason is…..I love my bras!

Now that I wrote an entire paragraph about my bras, I wanna recap my run today.  I had to go to the bank and the only way to get there was if I ran there.  Well, there are other ways to get to the bank but don’t tell my feet that.  The bank is about 1.8 miles from my apartment one way so I ran about 3.6 miles today round trip.  It was about 44 degrees today and the first time I wore my Nike running jacket.  I wore my same ole Nike running tights (I need to buy some more of those asap) with my Nike jacket but no hat, gloves, or even ear muffs.  Underneath my jacket, I wore a short sleeve shirt and ankle socks.  I’m sure folks were thinking, “did someone not tell this chick it’s cold outside?”  I swear the hardest part of running outside during cold weather is the beginning of the run.  You yell at yourself not to turn around and put on a down jacket, fleece, and 5 hats but to wait and give your body a chance to warm up.  So, you run and run and run and then eventually you feel….what’s that?!  Body heat!!  By then, I was good.  Next time I will wear my running gloves instead of balling my hands up inside my kind-of-long sleeves of my jacket.  Next time I will probably wear my earband which covers my ears and goes around to cover my forehead and the nape of my neck.  I was pretty comfortable with my short sleeve shirt on though.  As long as my extremities are warm then there is less drama and arguments between me and myself.

From time to time, I would check out my reflection on a door, window, etc and think “I am cute!”  lol  I like athletic wear.  It makes me look strong, fit, athletic (duh!), and like I can possibly kick ass in whatever sport I participate in.  Most of those are probably just assumptions but I hope some of those are true….kinda sorta.  Sooner rather than later, the temperature will drop from the oh so breezy 40 degree weather to 30s and then 20s and then white stuff will fall from the sky and then black ice will appear out of nowhere and, get this, hide itself under the snow.  I will continue to bear the cold miles for the sake of my amateur regular ass at times subpar running career and overall health.  Once the latter part of that list of weather conditions occurs, I will bitch and moan while reporting to the nearest treadmill.  Until then, happy cold running!! 🙂

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

Forever and a Day

…that is how long it feels since I have posted anything. 

Personal Finances – I am currently at $6,000 with my Emergency Fund balance.  I tried to create a budget when I realized that what I created was really just a listed of all my fixed costs per pay period.  Looking at my fixed expenses and not forgetting smaller ones that hit my account by ACH was really good.  I realized I cannot cut anything more than my freaking cell phone bill which is ridiculous.  I did set up another checking account which may be temporary but I need to see where my money is going or else I will continue to be confused.  My primary checking account is where my pay check is deposited, where I use Bill Pay for free, and where I have automatic debits set up.  My second account is now for anything in excess of my fixed costs which I have titled my Variable Spending (going out, shopping, etc) account since it can be as variable as I want post-bill paying.  I will calculate everything I need to pay for these 15 days and leave that amount in my primary account, transfer the excess into my Variable account, and make my deposit into my E-fund account as well.  This seems like a good solution for me and the second account has no fees and a separate ATM card which is cool too.  I should reach my $10k goal by June 2011 if no emergencies arise (Lord please!) and I stay disciplined with my spending.  Christmas is always a test though.

Running –  I have been running maybe twice a week or thrice if I can get it in.  Still in a blissful state right now with no pending races, no training, and no need to hit a certain distance or time other than laying the foundation for Spring season.  Running for fun is in!

School – I have about five more weeks til the end of this semester.  Thus far, I expect an “A” in my Executive Leadership class since I have gotten A’s on the last 3 of my 6 assigned papers.  Part of the final grade is class participation which involves discussions so, since I hardly (translation: never) raise my hand to say anything, I hope I don’t get a “B” based on that.  But, knowing I should participate instead of being an active listener never makes me raise my hand even to say “I agree with whatever you just said”.  My Finance/Stat/Econ class is wrapping up as well.  I have 2.5 sections to complete and then the final exam.  I should be finished with my lessons by Thanksgiving (it is a work-at-your-own-pace class) so I will have ample time to go back over the material since I can only take the final exam once.  I do not plan to take any classes next semester but I do plan to take 2 this summer while my kids are away at their dad’s.  I want to take this Accounting class I keep hearing about from students in my class.  Apparently, the professor moves kind of fast so it is intense and not to be taken lightly.  I would enjoy the challenge.

Dating – I went out on a date this past Saturday which went pretty well.  Background information: 29 yr old single dad with a young daughter, Bachelors in Political Sciences, Masters in Psychology, and currently in his 2nd year of law school at Loyola University.  We have a second date tentatively planned for this weekend – a jazz place I have not been to which he claims is the best in Chicago.  We met up at Starbucks in Hyde Park which is near my sister’s apartment who was watching my kids for me.  It was about 40 degrees outside but 90 degrees inside this closet-sized Starbucks location.  I walked in and almost walked out I was so hot!  My nose started draining like crazy and I apologized for the rudeness but I needed to wipe it clean as he handed me a Hot White Chocolate which is like my favorite drink.  He suggested we walk down to Borders which was a good idea because the cold air felt great against my skin.  I felt like I was having a heat flash.  We bought books for the kids, talked, then made our way to Leona’s to get something to eat and sat there for maybe 1.5 hours talking some more.  It turned out better than I expected so that is a plus. 

Randomness – I got business cards!  Yeah, that exclamation point was only because I felt I should be excited.  A manager suggested we all have personal business cards for networking which I thought I should have had years ago but better late than never, right?  That are a brown color with a white swirly design since I like warm neutral colors and have my static contact information on them.  I gave my family a card like they don’t know me and I still have about 245 more to give away.  I am not good at promoting myself but I guess I should get better at it.  Also, weeks ago, I send a tweet to BGIM suggesting she write some of her recipes on her blog and she did this pork chop one which I actually have most of the ingredients to try.  I do not mind cooking but if I can cook something creative (my recipe or not) then my kids might grow up thinking mommy was not a total failure in the kitchen.  And, I got my Cajun injection for my Thanksgiving turkey!  I am uber excited to possibly eff up my Thanksgiving dinner but I am willing to for the lesson learned.

I have the above picture as my desktop at work.  It is called Life – I like it.  Hasta Luego! 🙂

November 8, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

Challenge!

Yesterday, I ran for the first time in 2-3 weeks.  I had been busy and, when I did have time, I did not feel like running.  I’d rather sit down, sleep, watch TV, or do anything but productive work.  Yesterday was the last day of my “vacation”.  I took time off work to do whatever.  I did not go anywhere but I did do absolutely nothing.  Friday, I went out for my sister’s 23rd birthday.  Saturday, I was tired from the night before (I can’t hang like I used to) so I spent the night watching movies and catching up on sleep.  Sunday, I actually got up to run mainly because a friend of mine was getting into running so she was going too.  Maybe it’s me but it seems like everyone around me is catching the running bug – I actually love it!  So, not to be outdone, I got my butt up and went running.  I finished 10 miles.  Not bad for a 2-3 week hiatus.  Today, as I sit at my desk typing this, my legs are sore.  My hip muscles are sore, my inner and outer thigh muscles are sore, and I am trying not to walk funny.  But, it felt good when I finished.  It got me to thinking about the list of 2011 races I have planned.  I started racing because running just to stay in shape was getting boring.  Last year, I signed up for the Half Marathon because running 3 mile races was getting boring and my usual long run did not feel like enough of a challenge.  Now, I wonder if I am challenging myself enough in 2011.  I made up my mind to step out on a limb and do the Chicago Marathon…it’s just a matter of when.  So many people ask me if I ran it this year from my landlord, to my son’s teacher, to friends, to strangers I just met who I tell about my running.  They just assume I have or plan to in the very near future.  If there is anything that scares me, it is running 26.2 miles non-stop.  I do not get it. 

Why run for so long?  What do you possibly get out of it?  What reward is there if you aren’t a Kenyan or some  other undernutritioned looking runner with elite running times?  Why push your body pass its natural limit just to carry packaged nutrients to get it to go further than that point?  Why run your already expensive running shoes into the ground?  Why expose your feet to pain it has never encountered before?  Why put your legs through possible injury just to say you are a marathoner?  What does it really matter to be a marathoner?  I ask myself these questions while people I know ask me why run 10 miles?  What do I get out of running for more than an hour?  What fun is running 3 miles as fast as I possibly can?  What is the point?  No answer will ever make any of these questions make sense and I know, in my mind, that it is downright crazy to want to run 26.2 miles while at the same time having a fear out of respect for the distance knowing it has the potential to make a lil bitch outta what I think I am strong in.  Nevertheless, I still find myself wanting to do it.  My original plan was to run my 1st marathon in 2012 and spend 2011 building a stronger half marathon because I do not want to just run a marathon – I want to qualify for Boston on my 1st try.  You see?!?!  I am freakin PSYCHO!!  My sister’s boyfriend told me once I run the half marathon I would want to run a marathon but I didn’t listen to him – he don’t know me!  But, last night I Googled Boston Marathon and New York Marathon qualifying times.  New York is ridiculously fast for anyone 39 years of age or younger – 3.23 marathon qualifying time with the Boston Marathon saying a 3:40 qualifying time for anyone 35 yrs old and younger.  I did my per mile breakdown and thought of mile repeats I could do to get myself to that pace and Yasso 800s I can do as well and how this Fall/Winter season is becoming more important than just a stay-in-shape time frame – this could be  life or death!  Ok, I exaggerate a tad bit.

Am I ready?  I usually do not make decisions based on that question.  Seriously, when is anyone ready for anything?  I need a challenge and want to finish a marathon, for some odd ass reason.  I want to run in Boston because it is the most famous marathon in the USA.  I want to run in New York because, with its must faster qualifying times, I won’t have much chance as I get older of running that fast for so long and Runners World magazine might it sound so tempting.  This reminded me of something a guest speaker said in class one Thursday night.  After the speaker kept referencing events we were not old enough to have lived through but did read about at some point in history class, our professor asked what advice would he give this much younger group of future business men and women.  The guest speaker said, “what ever it is you want to do, do it now.  Don’t put it off for a better time but do it now while you still can because you do not know if you will be able to later”.   I think about how small I might get with the influx in mileage.  I was filling out a pair of 7/8 jeans but now I am just wearing some pairs with a belt.  I can now fill out my size 5 jeans which were too tight.  Soon, I may have to find some size 3 jeans which will be college all over again (pre-pregnancies).  But, as I see it, I have my entire life to be thicke and/or fat. 

The biggest fear I have is dying before I get a chance to live out my dreams or goals.  I might run in the   Chicago Marathon (a Boston and NY qualifying race) and not make it to either of these 2 elite marathons.  I will still be happy that I can add “marathoner” to my bio and, in my insane attempt, I might break 4 freaking hours which would be awesome for a newbie!  All kind of things might happen but all kind of things might not happen.  I ran my 10 miles yesterday in 1:31:34 which is about 4 minutes slower than my 10 race time for the Xtreme 10 this past August where I was crying out to God.  One day, I might challenge myself right into the ground.  Yeah, I realize that.  I have this unnatural optimism in my own athletic abilities.  I am willing to announce to the world my crazy plans and announce my final outcome without shame.  The “what if I succeed” is a more powerful drug than the “what if I fail”.  Am I ready to conquer the 26.2 mile beast?  Can I run 10 miles at a 8 min/mile pace?  How about a Half Marathon?  Can I sustain that for double the distance or am I severely delusional?  Why will I not just run the marathon and be happy that I finished?  Because, with my overly positive thoughts of my own running strength, I know I can finish even before I start the damn race…..but I wanna finish well.  I bet God is thinking, “I wish she approached other things in life like she does this running crap” lol touché!

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment

New-New

I finally redeemed my $100 gift certificate to Fleet Feet – Elmhurst won from the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 race back in August 2010.  This included a complimentary Gait Analysis (my first) which required me to get on their treadmill and run for about 15 seconds while they recorded the motion of my foot as it hit the treadmill and rolled inward.  From the analysis, the outside of my heel hits the ground and then my foot rolls inward off the inside of the ball of my foot.  According to the Fleet Feet rep, this pushes my knees slightly outward instead of keeping my legs in line which may cause future injuries.  As a result, she suggested I buy running shoes with more arch support to stabilize my mild over pronation.  They measured my feet sans socks which was embarrassing because my toes were long over due for some polish!  The guy laughed it off and said, “we’re all runners” but at least my feet aren’t ugly….just old red nail polish.  My feet were measured sitting down and standing up.  Size 7.5 with normal arches which is good. 

I tried on two size 8.5 shoes and was told to run on the treadmill or outside to test them out.  But, since there wasn’t at least a thumb space between my toes and the inside front of the shoe, I had to go up to a size 9.  Let me just say that running shoes are definitely not to look cute in because with size 7.5 feet and size 9 shoes, I look like BoZo.  I tried on three size 9 shoes but settled on the Asics Gel-Kayano 16 (above) because the fit on the middle of my foot was snug like I’d prefer, the toe box was roomier & long enough to prevent any more black toenails, and the shoes lace up at a diagonal toward the inside of the foot which feels more comfortable than regular shoes which lace straight up the foot.  I then asked about running shoes which help blisters and calloused skin.  As I increased my mileage in preparation for the Chicago Half, the bottom of my foot grew irritated, certain spots of skin on the bottom of foot got really rough, and then I had a blister at one point.  So, my cotton socks are cool up to 10 miles but after that I needed to protect my feet with something else which is why I bought a pair of the Balega Drynamix socks (left) to try on my next long(er) run.

Earlier last week, my running jacket came in the mail.  I run during the Chicago winters except when there is snow on the ground or it is dangerously cold temperatures which happens often here.  Last winter, I ran in a sweatshirt or hoodie which is cotton and not a good thing to do during the cold along with sweat.  I searched for a reasonably priced running jacket which had good reviews since this is my first jacket and I didn’t quite know what to look for except something that insulates my body heat to keep it from escaping, something that keeps the cold/wind/rain out, and something that allows my body to breathe instead of feel like I’m baking or overheating.  I found the Nike Clima-fit Pacer running jacket (left) which had great reviews from actual runners in temps as low as 20 degrees F.  According to the reviews, a long sleeve running shirt was sufficient during these runs and, on warmer runs (about 40-50 degrees) a short sleeve shirt with the jacket was sufficient.  My jacket is a purple color similar to the color of the zipper in the picture to the left which is awesome because I love purple!  Well, apparently it is not a popular color which is probably why the purple color jacket was about $30 cheaper than the other colors.  It works for me 🙂  I got a size small which is not snug but definitely not loose, it has a feminine shape which comes in at the waist and out over your hips, and falls down over your butt to protect it from the wind along with pockets for anything you could ever carry with you and a drawstring at the waist to trap body heat in.  This jacket is light…I mean so light I questioned how it would keep me warm during 20 degree weather with all these hooded vents for ventilation.  But, we shall see.

I tore up my closet to find my black running gloves from last year with the stick figure runner on the top of them and my running earmuff/headwrap with a Purdue Boilermaker on the front which protects my ears/forehead from the cold and wind.  Now, I will officially be ready for winter running….once I get some running tights and capris.  The running tights I used last year (and since my freshman year of college) are cotton Nike running tights which is a def no-no!  I ran in them outside last week in mild temps.  Every where I sweated was visible to onlookers which is extremely embarrassing because I sweat in my crotch area, the top of my butt, and behind my knees and, since it’s cotton it surely spread so the area looks like you went swimming instead of running.  No more cotton running tights for me!  Still no scheduled race yet but I am eyeing the Hot Chocolate 15K – not sure if I will but I am not sure that I will not.

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bronze PR

When I signed up for the Chicago Half I knew one other race I wanted to run – the Lawndale 5K.  I used to attend an afterschool program with this organization.  Once a week for about 4 yrs during high school.  Last year I ran their 2nd annual 5k race and got 2nd place in the 25-29 age group clocking 24:44 mins.  This year I wondered how my legs would feel if I raced 13.1 miles Sunday and then raced 3.1 miles that following Saturday – I had to try it.  I never registered until the day of (yesterday) because I wasn’t sure but I made it there at about 7:45am ready to run.  Nothing was set-up yet so I didn’t officially complete my registration until close to 8:30am which sucked because the race was scheduled to start at 9am.  I ran to the bathroom, pinned my number on, did a snippet of a warm up, did all of 2 stretches, and lined up at the starting line.  Not a big race but I wanted to participate in my ‘hood where I semi grew up amongst my people.  I never knew this race would awaken my competitive spirit. 

My heart was racing because this was a shorter distance which meant I had less time to correct a mistake or a too slow/fast pace.  “Only 3 miles” was what I kept repeating to myself when I had to beg myself to calm down, enjoy the run, and just finish.  No expectations.  Only to beat my time from last year.  The race starts.  I go out hard and then have to remind myself that this was mistake #1 so I better slow down.  I made sure to clock each mile split too.  Mile 1 = 7:12 mins.  Mile 2 = 7:39 mins.  I was slowing down.  Not sure if that was good or bad but it was certainly too late to worry about it.  Mile 3 = 7:45 mins and I was staring at the finish line ahead of me.  Now, I have been running since high school and I know that there aren’t many black girls or black women who run long distance.  It didn’t bother me anymore because, truth be told, long distance is not for everyone but as I ran this race I felt myself fighting for a position.  I had no idea which one of these girls were in my age group because not a single one looked to be 30-34 yrs old but, neither do I so I’ve been told.  I just tried to run my best race and finish strong.  Somewhere during mile 3 I got a side stitch and almost cussed out loud.  It’s been years since I had one of those and it hurt and frustrated me like hell.  Here I am trying to maintain my pace without losing too much steam but every time I inhaled it felt like there was a rock sitting underneath my ribcage against my right lung just scraping my tissue painfully each and every time I took a breath which was not optional – I kinda have to breath.  I stretched my hand overhead while running and it lessened the pain but didn’t make it go away.  I did it 2 more times still cussing in my head – “dammit you fuckin side stitch I’m trying to race here and don’t have time for this shit!!”  At this point, you just run through the pain.

On the way back to the starting line, other black women in the race but further behind me cheered and screamed motivation my way.  With each “you go gurl!” I tried to pick up the pace and with each “stay strong sistah!” I tried to make these strangers proud but I felt defeated.  Although I finished in 23:23 mins which is one whole minute faster than last year, it pissed me off that I got 3rd in my age group.  Yes, I was the first black chick to cross the finish line but I felt this strong urge to not accept just an age group award – I actually want to win.  The entire race.  What the hell is wrong with me?!  The woman who won finished a good 3 minutes faster than I.  Three minutes!  In the world of running, she was already changed eating lunch by the time my butt crossed the finish line.  My insides raged.  I felt heated.  I congratulated every women who finished in front me of (about 5) while taking a mental snapshot of their faces so I’d have a target.  This was supposed to be a fun run – not competitive.  You win some and you lose some.  No.  Not this time.  I promised myself  I’d train and finish in the top 3 next year.  Not in my age group.  No, I won’t be restricted or congratulated because I did good for my age.  I wanna kick some young chick’s ass.  I haven’t felt like this since high school when I got 2nd place in the City Championships to some chick who had just started running that year.  I memorized her name and face.  Every race for the next 2 years she finished behind me and I finally won 1st place in the same championship race my senior year.  Defeat.  It has a strange way of waking up a spirit that may compel you further than you ever thought you wanted to go.

Other than that, I accept my bronze medal and my new PR happy that I decided to run this year.  I shouldn’t cuss and don’t normally but when it comes to sports I turn into someone else – almost.  Naturally, you slow down as you age.  Naturally, I want to test that.  Naturally, I cannot accept the status quo or barriers.  Naturally, I have to be the best although I could care less in any other race.  Black women were asking me how I train, where I train, and how long I have been running.  It was as if I had actually won the race.  They had no idea I felt unsatisfied.  I shrugged at the race and my time like it was nothing forgetting that most people cannot walk much less run.  Forgetting that most cannot finish 1 mile much less 3 to get upset that they didn’t finish those 3 fast enough.  Forgetting that the fun is in having the ability to run instead of being forced to watch from the sidelines.  To them, I was amazing.  I had no secret training, no running club to recommend, or tips other than to stay consistent no matter what.  The lady just shook her head when I told her that and to not let too much time pass between runs or she will physically feel like she is starting all over again.  Inside, I felt I had let someone down but I’m pretty sure it was just me.  Outside, I let it go and watched my 9 yr old run in the kid dash.  My calf muscles are sore but I feel good.  Next year.  Lord willing of course.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last 3 = Hardest 3

I finished the 2010 Chicago Half Marathon this Sunday.  My training had some hiccups since my kids returned from summer vacation so I was unable to do any planned long runs or mile repeats.  That said, I went into the race hoping to break 2 hours at least totally throwing my original goal of 1 hour and 45 minutes to the wind.  This was my first time racing this distance and my second time running this distance ever so 1:45 would have been an awesome accomplishment.  Since I had no added pressure only asking my body to complete each mile at or below a 9 min/mile pace, I was calm.  My thinking was to finish the first 10 miles which I have grown accumstomed to and just say, “only 3 more miles to go”.  I can do 3 miles in my sleep.  What I didn’t anticipate was how those last 3 miles would feel after a wonderful 10 miles.  During my last 13 mile run around my neighborhood, I realized that I needed something to drink but I hadn’t brought anything with me.  I can run 10 miles w/o fuel or hydration…13 miles, not so much.  Lesson learned.  Instead of starting out fast pumped with adrenaline and excitement, I held back disciplined and finished my 1st mile in 9:13 minutes.  “Too slow” I thought as I pressed the “Lap” button on my watch to keep track of each split.  I completely ran pass the Mile 2 marker because it was on the other side of the course but I clocked my Mile 3 at 17:03 which is a little over 8:30 min/mile.  Ok cool.

Mile 4 I completely lost my ever-loving mind.  I was so busy passing slow folks, getting around groups of people, and making my way over to Gatorade tables and back into the race that I clocked a 7:30 for Mile 4.  Chick, slow your ass down!  This was the game I played for the first 10 miles.  At each clock, I recorded my time by pressing “Lap” on my watch and I gauged how fast or how slow I needed to alter my pace.  The 7:30 felt fast because my abs started to tighten and my thighs did too a little bit but I made sure I slowed my pace so I would have a fighting chance of finishing strong instead of begging someone to drag me through the finish line.  But something happened after mile 10.  I got to the Mile 10 marker, pressed “Lap”, grabbed not one but two cups of Gatorade, stopped for about 60 secs to make sure I got every drop of liquid into my mouth instead of on my face & shirt, and then I started back running.  I did this to ensure my body made it pass Mile 10 because, as I mentioned earlier, this would be the 2nd time my body has ever completed this distance.  Half way through Mile 11, my fingertips started to tingle.  I frowned because this was a new feeling.  What did that mean?  I probably needed fuel, food, a gel pack but I hadn’t brought any.  My fingertips tingled all the way to the finish line which would have been a minor issue if my feet hadn’t started tingling as well.  It began in my shoes.  I felt like my feet were fatiguing fast and if I wasn’t careful, I was going to hit the pavement in a mile or two.  I kept running.  I checked my breathing.  I closed my mouth to check my control.  I wasn’t gasping.  I wasn’t laboring.  My breathing was completely awesome but my legs were not feeling too well.  Hell, physically my body was hitting a wall. 

My pace slowed.  Not because I consciously made the effort to but more like driving a car on fumes.  I kept pressing the gas pedal trying to will it to make it to the finish line without stopping to walk because my fear was if I stopped to walk, that walk would allow the tingling to take over, then I may very well pass out, and I would not finish.  Finishing isn’t the most important thing but, maybe it’s just me, I wanted to finish with or without my legs.  There’s food at the finish  line…..I just needed to get there and as soon as possible.  Those last 3 miles became a fight to the finish.  It was harder to adjust my pace because I was working on borrowed reserves to still be upright at all.  Finishing one of those last 3 miles under 9 mins was difficult and I think I only did it once at 8:53.  Then I looked up as I physically felt weak and saw the 2 hour pace girl just ahead of me.  For those who do not run, you line up by your expected finishing time (mine being 2 hours).  Each pace has a “pacer”, someone who holds the pace sign in the air and runs at the pace necessary to finish at or around that desired time.  Want to beat 2 hours?  Run faster than the 2 hour pace chick.  Want to finish in 2 hours?  Run with the 2 hour pace chick.  Mind you, I had pass the 2 hour pace chick miles earlier but somehow she had run right pass me.  Probably completely stupid in my current state, I didn’t wanna go out like that.  I picked up the pace totally calling my body’s bluff and ran after that bitch holding the 2 hour sign in her hand.  She became my focal point.  It took quite a while to catch her as I thought she had picked up the pace but it was really my body struggling to keep up.  Then I was right behind her, then I was next to her, and then I saw the “1/2 Mile To Go” sign and I ran pass her.

My heart quickened like I was being chased because I just knew the 2 hour pace chick was trying to dash my dreams so I ran as far away from her as I physically could.  I seriously willed myself to get away from her.  She is the enemy.  She cannot catch me.  She must not catch me.  I almost turned to look back over my shoulder but I didn’t.  I don’t have to look back….I have excellent peripheral vision so I’ll see her before she gets a chance to beat me again.  By now, I was passing the “1/4 Mile To Go” sign.  Spectators were yelling “just around this turn.  You are almost there” but after 12 miles “almost there” doesn’t mean shit.  “Almost there” would be literally 2 steps from the finish line.  Then my legs felt like they were quivering.  I looked around for the 2 hour pace girl…didn’t see her.  I looked up and saw a golden statue ahead but no finish line banner.  I realized my fingers were still tingling as well.  Then I saw the banner.  I saw the Mile 13 clock ahead to my right but I still couldn’t sprint to the finish.  I passed the clock and didn’t even bother pressing “Lap” on my watch.  I stepped over the sensor monitoring my time and thought to at least sprint the last 0.1 miles of this 13.1 mile race but my body was tingling all over so that was out of the question.  I crossed the finish line at 1 hour 56 minutes and 41 seconds (officially).  I pressed “Stop” on my watch and walked like a feeble old cripple through the crowds of people.  Each step took so much effort.  My legs were about to give but I kept moving afraid I’d fall if I stopped. 

Someone gave me a bottle of water, then a banana, a granola bar, and then a chocolate chip cookie.  Food.  I ate a small bite of cookie and drank half the bottle of water but it didn’t help.  A girl placed a medal around my neck, smiled & said “congratulations”.  I smiled a little bit and walked off.  I found a curb and sat down apologizing to my body as it literally took me about 20 minutes for the tingling to take over.  My shoes suddenly felt tight so I unlaced them and stretched the shoes open.  I waited until everything stopped tingling while I ate more of the cookie and drank all the water.  Eventually I got back up.  I went to do my business in a port-a-potty and then I ate a free slice of deep dish pizza.  By now, my body was feeling normal – tired and fatigued but definitely not dangerously depleted of fuel anymore although eating that pizza so soon after the race was not the best decision I have ever made.  But, I finished with an awesome medal and in beautiful weather!  Could not have asked for more perfect running weather.  The spectators were awesome with high school cheerleading squads and bands along the course, music, and many funny signs to read as people cheered for family/friends.  One sign said, “You people are totally awesome at physical exercise” lol stupid but it made me laugh.  And, fyi, I do not hate the 2 hour pace chick lol she was my motivation right when I needed it.  Next up?  I have no clue yet.  What I do know is that my running shoes have officially reached their last leg and entered retirement.  Now, I can finally go to Fleet Feet and use my $100 certificate towards a new pair of running shoes.  This is a long blog but I don’t plan to post much for the next week or two….I have homework to do, other things to do while I recover allowing my legs to rest, and I need to research midrace fuels the next time I decide to run longer than 10 miles.  Rookie mistake but thank God my body didn’t give out on me.  My actual medal is shown above….isn’t it pretty 🙂

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Hate Hills!

Today is Monday.  Yesterday was Sunday.  I ran the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 yesterday at 4pm.  It was my first time running this race.  Although I did earn a medal, I wanted to stop several times during the race just to kneel & pray and ask God to forgive me for voluntarily signing up for this race.  10 miles?  Why on earth would anyone want to run such a distance?  And not just a straight out and back flat course.  No!  There were bends, up hills, down hills, trees, thick grass, and more bends, uphills, downhills, etc.  I assumed it would be hot and I’d be gasping for air, water, something…but I was surprisingly good.  My breathing was controlled most of the time which means I wasn’t going too fast or too slow.  My thighs were another story though.  With each small incline, I felt the muscle fibers of my quads scream.  It wasn’t an audible sound.  More like a signal running from my thighs to my brain to tell my legs to completely shut down because, clearly, I was not operating in a sane state of mind.  I kept going.  Slowly I reached the top of each incline.  Focused, I tried to tell myself it was only a small incline which it was each measuring no more than 50 meters but after the 20th incline they all started to feel like they were a mile long.

This is why I signed up for this race.  I live, run, and race in the city (Chicago).  There aren’t many races in the city which take place on hilly uneven terrains which force your legs to work harder than they otherwise would on a flat course.  A flat course is what I am used to.  I might do the stands at the track stadium near my apartment but that was the extent of my hill workouts.  Sunday literally had me crying out to God.  It had to be about the 7th or 8th mile when I just knew I was about to cry for the sake of my thighs.  I asked myself, “are you out of breath?”  No.  “Are you tired or over-exerting yourself?”  No.  “Are you dehydrated?”  No.  “Are you hot feeling faint or needing to get out of the sun?”  No.  “Then what the hell is the problem?”  My legs are tired!  They contract but refuse to relax.  You know the cycle: clinch, release, clinch, release….but my thighs are permanently locked in “clinch” and, oh shit, here comes another incline!  After my literal cry to God, I passed yet another bend in the forest preserve to hear bells and see people clapping and yelling “you’re almost there!”  I was instantly pissed.  What does “almost there” mean?  Another mile?  Another 800 meters?  Up around this here tree?  What?!  The lady just said, “it’s right up ahead of you”.  I do not know this lady, never met her in my life, but I wanted to strangle her.  My mind needed to know exactly how much longer it had to convince my thighs to continue moving.  Now, up until this point, I had only stopped to drink water from the water station which was about 10 seconds max.  Then I stopped again to drink Gatorade from a cup which was another 10 seconds max.  Wanted to make sure I got every drop of liquid into my mouth instead of on my chin, shirt, face, shoe, etc which would have resulted in ZERO benefit to me.  I felt good at the 5 mile split clocking about 43:19 mins. 

Then came the last miles of the race and I started to cuss everyone out in my head.  I cussed the race itself.  I cussed myself.  I cussed the loud guy running right behind me breathing extremely heavy in my ear and stomping the ground like it was the ground’s fault he was running today.  I cussed the old lady who ran pass me so effortlessly with her gray hair and cute running skirt.  I cussed the young high school kids who ran pass while holding a conversation like this was a leisurely stroll on a fantastic Sunday afternoon.  I cussed the gravel I was running on.  I cussed each freakin incline.  I cussed each downhill that followed.  I cussed each bend in the course.  I cussed each tree that did not block the sun from shining directly on me and no one else it seemed.  I cussed whoever decided 10 miles was a great distance to run and thought “let’s throw in some hills while we’re at it”.  And I cussed everyone and everything else vowing never to run another mile in my life but I knew God was listening and sometimes He takes me serious so I vowed to never run up another hill in my life but then I heard God laughing so I decided to just shut the hell up and finish.  That lady who almost got strangled?  She was correct.  The finish line was about 800 meters after that bend in the road.  It would have been nice if I knew that and it would have been nice to see a FINISH LINE banner so my mind would know when this torture was coming to an end.  But no!  I stopped to walk for about 30 seconds because my thighs seriously felt like they were going to lock up on me.  Little did I know I was 400 meters from the finish so imagine how stupid I felt.  Who walks when you are that close to the finish?  Someone who did not know that was the damn finish line!  I saw the lady with medals in her hand, I saw she had several left and there was only one person in front of me, and I felt a glimmer of hope. 

All this work, sweat (I was seriously rank & stank), tears (on the inside), pain (on the outside), prayers (I was strongly petitioning the throne of Mercy), and hatred (well deserved & intended) was all worth it for this little circular piece of metal.  If I learned nothing else, it was that I need to raise my standards a little bit.  A small circular piece of metal and I suddenly loved running again?  What the hell is wrong with me?!  Am I crazy?  I must be.  I ran to the finish happy completely forgetting about my locked up thighs, slapped a kids’ hand as he said “congrats” like I was the 1st place finisher, and grabbed my medal as some guy yelled out my time.  I could care less about the time but I took my medal and tried to walk off before my legs gave from underneath me and I totally embarrassed myself.  Finishing time: 1:34:19 – 4 minutes slower than expected but 15 more hills than expected too so I’m cool.  My thighs are still sore today.  Might be sore tomorrow.  Wednesday.  Maybe even Thursday.  As much as I hated each hill I ran up, I know they have strengthened my legs more than they were before.  No pain.  No gain.  Oh, my brother ran with me.  With no prior training or conditioning he finished in 1:47:08 – oh, to be young again.  He still got beat by a girl though 🙂

August 16, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment