Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Already?!

At times, four-day weeks are more of a curse than a blessing. With one day less to work, the stress of cramming five days of work into a limited time frame doesn't always seem worth it. Fortunately, I've been been able to manage my workload this week, so the minus-one-day has worked out quite nicely. Thursday is here already, and the weekend will be here before we know it!

I've had a decent week of training. Here's a rundown:
  • Monday: 6-mileish run. B. ran three miles with me before he went home to throw the baked sweet potato fries in the oven, and I continued on. On a non-training related note, we watched Kung Fu Panda, which I highly recommend.
  • Tuesday: Off day. Having completed Bikram Yoga's 30-day Challenge a week ago today and jumping right into pre-marathon training, I realized it had been more than a month since I took a day off exercising. In any case, I had a major case of the "Mooondays" on Tuesday since it was the first day of the week, and the weather was crummy. The combined reasons were enough for me to park on the couch for the evening and consume a random dinner of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs and nutella, as my grocery money was spent on running shoes. Ahhh...young, fabulous and broke in the city, am I.
  • Wednesday: Elliptical at Bally's. Though I'm enjoying the variety of my workouts, I miss my "friends" at Bally's that had been used to be coming in nearly every morning. These "friends" include Basil, the security guard, and Steve, the door attendant. When I walked in to Bally's that day, Steve said that he and another staff member had "just been talking about me!" and "wondering where I had been!" In any case, I had a great workout and got caught up on some of the magazines I've been neglecting, like the May issue of Shape (June has already arrived... I'm THAT behind) and People Style Watch.
  • Today: I forced myself up at 6:15 a.m. and went for a 6-mile run. This was my "usual" route that consists of running south on a trail along Lakeshore Drive to North Avenue beach, north up Lakeshore Drive and back west to my apartment. Overall, I'd say the run was "meh" -- not good or bad. Though I can easily force myself into a brainless elliptical session, running is a bit harder on the body and therefore not as fun first-thing. I'm definitely filing that note.
What's surprised me the most in my training is how quickly I'm molding back into runner shape. I have blisters on my ankles from the new shoes (not fun), and the stopwatch on my iPod is encourages me to kick up the pace. I'm more concerned about how much water I'm drinking, and I'm pre-planning when I'll run how many miles.

Moreover, I'm starting to get pumped for CARA training to begin. The first run is in two weeks, but we can pick up our training "packets" a few days before. Pretty sure I'll feel like this:

... except maybe a little more in control.

It's a toss up whether tomorrow will be a running day or an elliptical day... but I'm thinking elliptical. I can't have my friends at Bally's worrying about me!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Adventures at Sports Authority

When I asked my mom what she thought about me running the Chicago Marathon, the first think she said was, "I think you need a new pair of running shoes."

I'm not sure when the last time I bought new running shoes was, but I know was I living in my old apartment at the time. Athletic shoes are expensive, and I'd rather spend my hard-earned money on a pair of party shoes.

Knowing I couldn't put off the inevitable much longer -- and that'd get an earful if I wore new running shoes during my upcoming trip to the mitten -- I dragged B. to the local Sports Authority.

After weeding through a maze of sports bras, Cubs T-shirts and rollerblades, I landed in the running shoe aisle. Immediately, a salesman globbed onto me and began firing off questions: How many miles a week do you run? How often do you buy new shoes? Can you bend your knees, please?

"You see that, her ankle bending, in?" he asked a very confused-looking B. "She's pronating."

The salesman directed me towards the Asics on the wall and pointed at four possibilities. I picked Asics Cumulus 10 for one reason: On sale for $69.99, they were cheapest.

It gets better, my friends. Sports Authority offers a Footwear Plan, which covers "defects in materials and workmanship, including those experienced during normal wear and tear." This includes everything from major tears in the mesh to just a few measly dirt sports. The cost of the plan is based on the price of the shoe, and I paid only $9.99. Amazing! A few months and a few hundred miles from now, I'll cash in my warranty for a brand spanking new pair. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the rest of Memorial Day by fixing B. Parmesean and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops for dinner and indulging in junk TV. (Extreme Pig Outs is currently on the tube.) A casual run is, as always, a possibility.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sweet Treats

Every girl -- especially this one -- needs to make room in her diet for indulgances. My favorite? Cake!

I've always loved cake, especially frosting, but my love affair has grown throughout the past few years. I always ask for a corner piece or one with a flower, and I have no shame in eating the frosting off the plates of crazy people who either 1) don't like it or 2) are trying to be healthy. I paid my way through college working at a restaurant that held wedding receptions, and after every event, my mom knew to ask, "How was the cake?" She KNEW I couldn't bypass a taste!

Yesterday's weather was perfect for a stroll outside, so my boyfriend "B." and I decided to take a stroll throughout our hood. On the last leg of our trip, I begged him to walk over to a new "cupcakery," Phoebe's Cupcakes. I may love cake, but I love, love, love! cupcakes and feel this way for the following reasons:

  • The perfect size
  • The mountain of frosting typically on top
  • The opportunity to try more flavors
  • They often have fillings -- it's like frosting times two!
  • Not having a huge cake staring me in the face, just begging for a fork to be stuck into it

Chicago is loaded with cupcakeries, and more seem to be popping up lately. I've been meaning to try Phoebe's since it opened about a month ago. The shop was a bit out of the way, and about halfway there, B. warned, "These better be worth it."

I'm pleased to report that Phoebe's did not disappoint. At $2.50/each -- try to beat that price for a gourmet cupcake in the city! -- we sampled Death by Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cream Pie, Red Velvet (my favorite flavor of cake, tied with carrot cake) and Salted Caramel (probably my third favorite flavor of cake now). Each had almost as much cake as frosting (score!) and were culinary masterpieces. The cake was moist, and the flavors were spot on.
My tour de cupcakes will continue this summer. I'm hoping to try The Bleeding Heart Bakery, Sweet Mandy B.'s and Foiled Cupcakes as soon as I wipe the frosting off my face!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Checking the Box

I awoke this morning to a special gift: A $15 donation to Team TPM! Encouraged, I laced up my kicks, grabbed my 'pod and headed out for my eight-mile run.

Running on Lakeshore Drive is amazing in the summer. Countless runners, walkers, bikers and bladers are out on the trail early in the morning. The energy is contagious, and there's no better feeling than starting off the weekend in a healthy, productive way.

This morning, the sun was shining brightly and the air was crisp with a slight breeze. The run went surprisingly fast, and I felt strong the entire way. I was tempted to tack on a few extra miles but held back. I have a tendency to overdo things and want to avoid injury or overtaining, and I wanted to finish strong and feel encouraged. Mission accomplished. With my first eight-miler down, I'm already getting excited for my next challeng: nine or ten next weekend!

Lakeshore Drive in the Summer

Run High Point: Mile five -- feeling strong while running north past Belmont Harbor
Run Low Point: Minor side cramp just before reaching Castaways at North Avenue

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Feel Like I'm in High School

In high school, I lived and breathed running. I gave up social events, soda, sweets... anything to help me run a few seconds faster. I won a lot of races and broke a few school records, but most importantly, I loved the sport. It only seemed natural that I'd run competitively in college.

After being courted by various colleges and universities that waved thousands of dollars at me, I chose to attend and walk onto Central Michigan University's Track and Cross-Country team. I loved Central -- and always had -- and was thrilled when I was invited to join the Division 1 MAC Championship team. Though I wouldn't receive any monetary assistance, I was guaranteed a spot on the roster. I was confident that, with hard work and persistence, I'd rise to the level of competition and eventually become a scholarship athlete, competing alongside some of the fastest runners in the nation.

I remained focused throughout my first season on the Cross-County team. Though I wore a red shirt, I worked hard and ran some solid races. It's hard to put into words what happened after that. Maybe it was the distraction of parties and boys, or the frustration that came after falling ill and missing the first two important weeks of Track season, or seeing others my age excel faster. In any case, I did something after my freshman year of college I never had done before -- I quit.

Not knowing what to do with myself, I signed up to run a marathon. It was a small race in the suburbs of Detroit, Mich., and I trained and ran the ENTIRE race by myself. I did pretty well. But after and without a goal or reason to train, I felt little motivation to run. As a result, I've sprinkled casual runs into a mostly mundane routine of 45- to 60-minute sessions on the elliptical machine. Deep down, I knew running would always be there for me when I needed it. So here I am.

Though marathon training hasn't officially started, I'm officially in pre-official training mode, which means up and atom for an eight-miler in the morning. It will be the furthest I've run since running 26.2 miles more than four years ago. So here I am, a Friday night and staying in, while most I know are out at the bar, realizing that this is the first of many Fridays when I'll feel like a high-schooler again: anticipating and excited, yet a bit nervous, for tomorrow's run.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let the Training Begin!

I like a good challenge. So when my older brother, Greg, told me he was planning to run the Chicago Marathon this fall -- a goal I've been harboring for the past two years -- my competitive spirit starting kicking, and I thought about running it this year, too. Then, we both learned the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) was forming a team for runners to race 26.2 miles and raise funds to support its mission, I knew I had to do it with him.

Fifteen years ago, my biological father died after loosing a 20-month battle with a brain tumor. I was eight-years-old when he died, but I very much remember everything from the moment we received the call learning that he was sick, to his last days at home. His death shaped my life in many ways, but most importantly, it made me a stronger and more compassionate and positive individual.

Every step of my training and race will be dedicated not only to him, but to the millions of those who have are suffering from or have died from a brain tumor, as well as their loved ones. Greg and I have formed Team TPM (Terry Paul Moore was the name of our dad) and will be raising at least $1,600 to fund brain tumor research and provide resources for patient and caregiver programs. Though we're separated by distance (he lives in Kalamazoo, Mich.), we'll be maintaining a similar training schedule so we can motivate and encourage each other from afar.

I'm incredibly excited to take on this challenge and help benefit a cause I am so passionate about. Furthermore, I'm thrilled to enter the blogosphere! I'll be journaling the trials and tribuations of my training while sharing other details and thoughts here. I'd love to hear from others who are running this year's Chicago Marathon -- especially those running for charity and their stories.

Happy trails!

Runner Girl & Dad