Shamrock Stomach Flu (March 20, 2010)

Sick Stomach

Long, gross story short: something happened to my stomach and I have been unleashing gastronomic pyrotechnics since about 9:00 PM Thursday night. It continued all day yesterday, though I pride myself on having been able to participate in a phone interview for a job whilst flat on my back. It certainly sucked having to cancel my Friday night social plans, but as our regular blog followers may remember, I am running the Shamrock Shuffle tomorrow morning in Grant Park. I have exactly 24 hours to get my strength back.

Given that all I managed to keep down yesterday was snack size bag of Oreo cookies (at least my upset stomach has good taste), Step 1 is going to be eating healthy, light foods. No one can run an 8k on an empty stomach. Step 2 is rehydration via water and Gatorade, with a dash of ginger tea thrown in.

The change in the weather makes things more interesting too. After a near 70 degree day yesterday, I am presently watching snowflakes fall outside my office window. No matter, I like a challenge. Bring it Mother Nature. Bring on the remnants of stomach flu. I will run and I will finish in less than 50 minutes.

Wish me luck!

Race Training – Outing 6 (February 18, 2010)

Broken Shamrock

Wowee! My dogs (not to mention my calves) are barking. Consider this shamrock officially shuffled!

I have never been the greatest runner. My trainer Rob described my usual stride as “lethargic and heavy footed” – not a compliment by any standard. But when I commit to a challenge, I want to give it everything and do it right. My aversion to social embarassment is off the charts, but serves me well when it comes to the study and practice necessary to avoid peer mockery. So in the midst of last week’s blizzard, PMS and plenty of overtime on the day job, I have thus far stuck to my plan of running at least 4.5 miles twice a week. Starting Monday, the frequency will be upped to thrice.

Everything, and I mean everything, hurts during this adjustment period, as my body attempts to acclimate to running a lot farther and a lot faster than it ever has before. I was prepared for sore legs, but sore arms and abs too? I meet Rob on Tuesdays and Thursdays for kettle bell strength training, which is fairly intense. But it seems I don’t feel the full brunt of those efforts until I have spent an hour pumping my arms in the wind. The walk up the four flights of stairs to my apartment never feels longer than after a practice run – sweat running everywhere, winter hat stuck to my head.

But you know something? Through all the discomfort: the cramping in my left calf, the aching between my shoulder blades, the chafed skin on the left side of my torso (windburn) – I have never felt better. A month before the Shamrock Shuffle officially begins, I feel like I have already achieved so much. This old dog is learning a new trick, and the results of my efforts are showing up in my timing.

When I started training almost three weeks ago, it took me 70 minutes to run 4.5 miles. When I put the key in the lock to my front door last night, I had covered the same distance in 47 minutes. Better yet – I managed to jog briskly for the first two miles without slowing down to catch my breath. During my first drill, I couldn’t get to one. Surely, I am not where I want to be yet, but I think I see a dimly lit path to success. Yes we can!

Shamrock Shuffle Training – Outing 2 (February 4, 2010)

mean_samurai

You would think that a woman who beats herself up in the gym (or at home doing Tae Bo) six days a week would be a competent runner. You my friends, would be wrong, as I was when I had the foolish idea to undertake this race on March 21st. It’s a 8k (roughly 5 miles) and I was somehow under the impression that all the cardio I do would make this thing a breeze.

Saturday was too cold so I ran indoors on a treadmill. I logged a highly unacceptable time of 70 minutes to finish the 5 miles. I felt Ok about this for a first day until my best friend Gary, who claims he is “out of shape” informed me that he can easily run the same distance in under 42 minutes. Um….

So yesterday I went out after work, thinking that it’s best to simulate actual race day conditions – weather, roads, etc. My plan was to run from my place to the intersection of Lincoln/Ashland/Belmont and back – about 4 1/3 miles in total. I was able to run for more continuous periods without stopping, which shows my lung capacity is already building. But alas, my final time was a still sorry 50 minutes – only slightly ahead of my pace from last Saturday.

I would have returned home feeling completly dejected, but I was buoyed by the new sites I encountered as I ran down Ravenswood toward Addison, a part of the street I have never explored before. I was jogging and bopping out to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” when I saw something rad out of the corner of my eye. Samurai training! Or what I thought was samurai training, but actually turned out to be aikido. But samurai training! Swords, ponytails and everything! This is the place:

http://www.shinjinkai.org/programs_aikido.html

Really, how awesome is that? I decided to take it as some sort of sign. I WILL be a running warrior and must not give up, even if I can hardly move a muscle in my body this morning. Maybe I will take up fencing as my next project. What do you think?

2010 Shamrock Shuffle (January 26, 2010)

shamrock

This was the scene at last year’s 2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle. My best friend Gary entered the race and reported that his feet were so wet by the end of the 8k (roughly 5 miles), he felt like he was trying to run with bricks on his feet.

God help me if Mother Nature isn’t a little kinder this round. Because I hate winter, I kind of hate running, and yet I felt it necessary to throw my hat in the ring for the first Shamrock Shuffle of the new decade. I am an official entrant, as of yesterday afternoon, and there’s no turning back now.

When using the treadmill, my biggest accomplishment to this point is a four mile walk/run hybrid where I pump it for six minutes and then sort of speed walk for two minutes. Rinse and repeat. In other words, I am no great, driven long distance runner. Therefore, running five continuous miles away from my usual idle pace is going to be a challenge.

The one thing I have going for me as I begin two months of preparatory training is my competitive nature (just ask my friends Timbo and Di about the level of “in your face!” obnoxiousness I displayed last Tuesday when we won an evening of bar trivia at O’Shaughnessey’s). I also loathe humiliating myself with demonstrations of mediocrity. I do not enter into contests unless I have a decent hope, and certain intention, of finishing in the top 10%. The knowledge of these relentless character traits staves off a bit of the “Oh shit. What have I gotten myself into?”

But still, this old girl is once again trying something new and that’s always a little scary. The race is Sunday, March 21st. Join me in praying that on that day, I run with more grace than I walk.