Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Windy City Running

First two noises I hear when I get hooked back into the matrix this morning are my alarm and the wind howling at my building. I quickly remember today is supposed to be legit warm, so wind out of the south. Check weather app, 15 mph.  Can't be that bad, winter prepped me for this right?

62 degrees out,*Borat Voice* Very Nice. . Now I can make a long post describing my argument with the wind for about 4 miles, but to summarize, we weren't friends at the end.  Disrupted my breathing enough to cramp me up a little and make me feel slow.  I just kept telling myself, it'll be better on the turn around.

But it wasn't a bad run, the first 20 minutes there was a storm over Lake Michigan that provided me with giant red flashes from lightening.  I'd like to think Zeus was taking photos of me as I struggled through the wind that wouldn't even rustle his beard.

Also, the runners today were a lot nicer, even hollered at a guy good morning and we both shared a quick disgust for the wind. I always wave at people, if you are running before 6am, I'll share a kudos with you. The busy streets of downtown Chicago don't cultivate an atmosphere to casually say hello or even acknowledge that other people are around you, unless they are walking too slow. The lakefront can be Chicago's little hospitality refuge. Run on my friends.

It's nice to see it getting light earlier. Although, I keep thinking I am late getting back now until I look at my watch.

Funny ending, just put in my time for my 9 miles, and was about 90 seconds faster today, weird, I felt like I held back.  Felt a little tightness in my right calf.  You know when you run and think every ache could be the next injury? Yea...  Feel fine now!

And I've always wondered what the name of the sculpture that I called a mini Death Star was, near the Diversey Bridge.
Sunder Planet!
Enjoy the weather runners!

Monday, April 29, 2013

La Brea Running Pits

Ah Monday, who has a case of it? My legs. An especially slow recovery day. My legs were so dead, you would think I found them in some tar pits.  I couldn't pass an open book test with my pace today. At least I didn't hurt myself.
Today was no Friday either, didn't have as many happy faces today.  My theory: morning runner jealousy.  We know the weather will get a lot nicer today, but we still don't get to work on our running tan.
On the positive side, I noticed the trees starting to bud and  the first moths fluttering around. Signs that maybe spring is here?
And in case you missed the sunrise for some reason, here it is:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Funday

After my zombie debauchery last weekend and slightly slower pace, I told myself Monday I would focus on getting a 1:30 the following Sunday long run (13.1ish miles).   I told myself all week it would happen.  Saturday comes around, and a little kink fell into the plan.  My morning run went fine, but then I took a walk with my wife and daughter to Andersonville, my left calf started to cramp. The cramp lasted almost all day, I used a sleeve on my calf a few times during the day, and tried to keep off it.  I guess I didn't think about the fact that I upped my miles again this week either.

Got my best sleep of the week last night, about 8.5 hours! Sunday I get to sleep in while my wife gets up with my daughter.  Got up at 7:45am, and first thing I thought of was how my leg would feel when I stepped on the ground. Cramp gone! But felt a little tight now on the side. *sigh*

Did my morning routine to prep, unsure if I would even be doing my full miles today.

Time to go out, put on my sleeve for the heck of it, did it help? Didn't hurt. Left calf just felt like a dull ache off and on. Monitored it for any actual pain feeling or overcompensation. After 3 miles, felt like I would be good to go, just not going to be hitting 1:30. (Start singing Money Miles over everything)

Saw my outfit of the day out around mile 4.  Guy had on vibrams, tech shirt, and... cargo shorts. SO CLOSE dude! The chafing must have been horrible after.

The Lakefront path was packed, which gives you a lot of people to aim for to make sure you don't slack off.  The weather was nice, low 50s, very cloudy and foggy over the skyscrapers. Although as I write this, the sun came out, and it actually looks nice out. So much for a chance to tan!

On the way back, a guy popped on the lakefront. The moment I saw him, size, body structure, clothing, I knew he was going to be very fast.  And he was... I mentally told myself it was okay since he just started and I had about 2.5 miles left. Once he went up to speed, he was probably running about 6:30s. I don't have that in me at that point.  Once I finished, and was walking to the waterfountain, he looped around, I waved and he gave me a thumbs up.  It was a good day. And my leg feels fine.

I got home and my face felt tight. A sure sign of warmer weather, salt lines. Tried out those jelly belly sports beans after my jog, man are they sweet. Cross those off my list.  And since this post needs a picture, he is my salt lines of honor:
Don't worry, I hydrated plenty after!
Keep running!

Did you run today? How did it go?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A little bird told me to run today

I ended my work week yesterday with a short walk to the lakefront just to soak up some sun.  It was uplifting to see a volleyball net up and some people on the beach.  Although I did feel a little odd sitting by an area I run through, like being benched during  a game and you just want to get back on the court.
65 Degrees works for me!

Ah Saturday! The start of the weekend, and for many of us, a time to recharge, and to stop and smell the roses. No different for me! It was a recovery run day (run about 2 minutes slower than pace) and I started about 30 minutes later than normal since I didn't have to get back home as fast.

I got out of the lakefront to see the water painted pink and couldn't help but stop and capture the moment:

A few minutes before sunrise

It was a pretty relaxing run, the first 20 minutes was filled with the song of what sounded like a plethora of birds singing to me from the trees.  I'd like to think they were cheering me on, thanks birds!

There were fewer people than normal for the first 1/3 of my run, until I came around cricket hill and I ran into the Elijah Running Club. Last Saturday I saw this group and had no idea who they were, I initially thought they were organizers for the Cara 10 miler.  Today I caught the logo on their shirts.  Seems like a cool group! My favorite runner was in the front, waving her hands up high, you could tell she had a song in her heart, and love in her run. *internet high five*

Now to start the rest of the day and hang out with my ladies!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Friday Run

Going through the blogs I follow, I see a constant stream of food pictures, be they healthy or homemade.

Well here is my run fuel the night before a 9 miler.

Went to Dak (Korean Chicken Wings- BIG WINGS) then to Lickity Split for a Crazy Cake frozen custard ( vanilla custard blended with a red velvet cupcake - Frozen custard blended with one Flirty cupcake of your choice... frosting too, topped with candy sprinkles).  No photo of the custard taken as I inhaled it like a hungry vacuum!
Spicy BBQ Korean Red Pepper Paste

 Just gotta say, dang. I'm doing a remix of Trey Songz 2 reasons to - I only went out for two reasons, custard and the wings.  Also learned my daughter does not care for Korean BBQ yet.... More for me!
That was race fuel if I ever had some.

Fast forward to 4:40am,  up and get ready. Low 40s for temp. Now this temperature range is like the puberty of running weather, you deal with a variety a body adaptations.  A little chilly to start, but not enough to warrant more than a base wickering layer, and you build a decent sweat by the end of the run.

Today I extended my run to 9 miles, so speed wasn't on the menu.  I went out thinking of what would make this run different, but it was just the ideal run.  It's the reason why I run.

A gorgeous moon to the west, and the awakening of the sky to east with a color palette that would inspire any painter.

But wait, there's more!

Friday magic and the undeniable awe of the morning touched every runner. I never had so many people wave, smile, nod or say hello during a run. Even got doubles from people as we crossed doing our loop backs. Can we be Facebook friends?

I think Chicagoans are itching for the nicer weather and break out of the cabin fever. We all want to enjoy Chicago after earning our due from the long winter and chilly spring.

Keep running!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Running: A Lesson in Simplicity or Consumerism?

When I started running, it seemed so basic. Sneakers, shorts, shirt and go.  Pretty cheap, its just you, no membership cost. This worked for me as I was a fair weather jogger for a couple years.

When I started to get serious about running and addicted, I went down the rabbit hole.  Buy a pair of sneakers from ADIDAS just cause they looked cool and were light weight.  Googled cheap running gear, since at this point I felt I didn't warrant the fancy stuff. Old Navy came out with some okay exercise gear ( I still use their compression socks and winter compression long sleeve shirts and hoodie).  Got shin splints, but the clothing worked.

I then ventured onto and was hooked. Everything about running under the Sun was here. I increased my knowledge on form, gear, nutrition, and so forth.  My brain was ready, but I let my body take its time.

Feeling that I stepped into at least a padawan runner role, I now craved more gear.  I spent hours looking online for new running gear, and would venture to Sports Authority randomly on lunch to browse sales. I never bought the running candy though. I asked myself, is this going to make me run any better or just give me some consumer satisfaction that someone else will see me in it?

I did end up buying some basic gear to get me through the winter (tights, beanie, gloves).  But the best purchase for the winter? Vasoline for your face.

My brain craved more running related information. I talk about it too much, need more outlets.. spend spend... no no.

So I created my own little running community and a Google Community page to accompany it. This is still fun and helps satisfy the craving.

But the gear! Oh the gear! Its all so flashy, high tech, new styles every few months, and all over the lakefront path in Chicago.  Gu, sports beans, 100 sports drinks, running belts, oh I feel like a kid in a candy store. I see the new shoes, sporty tech shirts, and all and I get jealous.



Have I been making progress? Am I healthy? Am I still enjoying running? Yes.

Basics- good sneakers, no cotton shirts, posture, and patience. Every day I remind myself this.
Would I love tons of gear? Of course! Will it change anything? No. Keep it simple.

The less I depend on to run, the less I need to run.

Inform yourself. When do we actually need Gatorade? When are gu packets and all that jazz actually needed? Are you impeding your body's adaptation to the new exercise? Inform yourself on training and health, just as much as you do as shopping for the coolest trends, watches, and sleeves.

So my question to you, do you think the giant market for runners is helping attract people to run or just have another venue to look like you graduated from swag school?
Are people just starting out going to feel like they have to drop mad cash to run properly or to fit in? Will they freak out if they read a gu packet label and don't "refuel" every 30-45 minutes?

I try to tell them to take a yoga approach to it, focus form, patience, and  breathing. You will get the rush from running, not looking like a neon marker.

And support your local running store to get your first running shoes!

Please leave your feelings on this! I know as bloggers, advertisement is a big deal and looking good is great, but do we neglect the basics of the run? If someone new to running ran into your blog, are they taking away the best message about running?

My response is -  establish the running thesis, and make sure it doesn't get lost in the consumerism or glamorization of running. I feel I could ramble more than I already did and may have lost myself typing this, but I would appreciate any response, agreeing or disagreeing with anything I said!

Thank you!

Afternoon Links: Saucony #BostonStrong Lace Medallion and You know you're training hard when ....

Just got an email from Saucony for  #BostonStrong Lace Medallion , pre-order for $5. 100% goes to the One Boston Fund.

You know you're training hard when... (reddit link)

Lots of funny responses, a couple might be mildly offensive, but I'm sure you can relate to a few responses!


Ask me a month ago my opinion on recovery runs, and I would tell you they are hard. Forcing yourself to go slow and having other runners wiz by you like you are in the breakdown lane.

Fast forward to the present (while making the T.A.R.D.I.S sound) and you'll get a very different response. After some good literature (Hanson Marathon Method) on the topic and getting into some more challenging training, my body demands the easy runs. Anything more would definitely cause an injury. Although I still don't like getting passed like the stale egg rolls at a buffet.

Today my legs were exhausted. 20 degrees colder (30 if you count windchill) than yesterday at the same time. Wasn't too focused this morning, missed that it was going to rain for almost my entire run. Not nearly as enjoyable as the rain yesterday.
What the rain felt like this morning

The run itself was slow and steady, with a chilly rain and breeze from the north.  The first couple miles felt like a fatality to my legs (see Mortal Kombat). I found an internal extra life and pressed run to continue.

Funny side note, coworker asks me if I run every day, I reply - no, not Thursday. He replies, damn, that's nuts.  I know he is a gym rat so I ask him, how often do you lift? He laughs, says okay, 5 - 6 days a week. Made my point.

I need to rethink my nutritional plan soon. I have the mindset where if I didn't exhaust myself and do 7+ miles, I shouldn't eat much.  I do want to get to a lighter running weight for my training, but I also want to make sure I'm eating enough. Time to start up My Fitness Pal again.

Tomorrow, no run, just gym. Better call my muse for a good blog entry.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New miles, New Fun

I started prepping for my run after I finished yesterday's jog. Need to increase my distance today and it would be raining. Wake up 5 minutes earlier today ,4:40, I sense a trend.

The cat decided to get up with me and scratch at closed doors, thanks bro.

Check weather app, map looks like a green salad is over the city. At least it is 57 out. Throw on some jacket for the rain. My brain is getting pumped up for the rain and if you were to picture it, this is what you would see:

Life pro tip (LPT) time! Know your feet are going to get wet? Put produce bags from the grocery store over your socks and tuck the rest in your sneakers so you don't look silly. Find more LPTs here!

I step out, feels nice and just sprinkling. Legs are tight, good thing I planned out about a 1.5 mile warm up.
17 minutes in , rain and wind gets official. Smile perks up on my face, feel like a kid *let it rain over me , aye aye yai* (guess what song came on Pandora as I typed this)

Spend the next few miles picking up  my pace and trying to decide where to turn around today.. decide on the bridge between Fullerton and Belmont. I think it was 2 miles extra in total, so 9 miles.

Turn around, wind at my back. Still surprised at the other runners out in the rain. I got a new bro out there, he looks late 50s and putting it on the table. He gets a verbal yeaaa buddy ( or good morning)

Mind drifts, start thinking my legs are feeling a little tight again, when I see two runners maybe a couple seconds off my pace. This is always weird  do you back off and hang in their shadows, or try to speed  up for a few and get in front of them. I stall my pace and see what happens, looks like they are in a short battle, but is it sustainable.  I'm catching up, sigh.  Catching people is the fun part, you have markers to reach, adrenaline, but staying in front of them is always harder.  First guy done, seems like he's falling back. Second guy going a fair bit faster, I try to mimic his pace about 15 feet back for a minute, see how comfortable I am with it. Goes easy and he's losing a step every few moments.  I make the pass and am a little nervous he thinks I'm doing this to just be rude.  I keep going and don't look back for about two miles.  I finally take a peak and nobody is within two blocks of me. Good thing, its about time to hit my cool down.

Get home, decide to get a refreshing shower, which means, some Soap and Glory product and a lush face scrub! I planned on taking a certain bus that gives me time for a drink and snack.  I check the CTA bus tracker and it's not on the tracker, so the one in 4 minutes it is, and I'm a hot mess! Make the bus and write this blog post.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Hope runs eternal

I went to bed last night contemplating joining a run for Boston run with some area group today. Most are starting around 6:30pm, and after this last weekend, its just not going to work.  After talking with my wife, she was kosher with the idea of at least joining a running group every week or two.

Get up today 4:45am, mid 40s temp, just a little brisk to start. This jog is for Boston, now if I can only Boston qualify.

The day after a long run is always a slow run where you practice patience more than anything.  As expected, there were not many people out. Some regulars, one even changed it up and tossed the peace sign up for me.

Note: if you see me out running, wave, I treat morning runners like jeep owners treat each other. You get a wave, and you get a wave (Oprah voice).

Stomach still felt a little off, better today than tomorrow. I'm a really weak drinker apparently.

And what good is a slow run without taking in the scenery.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Post Zombie Gut Check

Continuing from my previous post [pub crawl yesterday], I spent my morning with my toddler and trying to recover as fast as possible from my heavy (for me) day of drinking. Gatorade, lots of water, a few small snacks, and pepto.  Kid goes down for a nap, game time.

I feel a bit uneasy, unsure if I'll have to cut my run short (13 mile day) or if my stomach would have issues.  I can't skip the run, I can't let alcohol and my own debauchery ruin the day.

Get outside, sunny, strong wind from the south. Guess the hard part will be first, and it was. I went through cycles of indegestion, feeling smooth, and feeling totally unsure if I needed to do something unsightly.  The wind in my face for the first 7 miles just sucked.  The wind definitely affected my breathing and in turn my stomach.

Turn around time (Michigan ave if you are following me - at the 6.5 mile marker on the trail).

Wind at my back! Lets do this, no cash or bus pass on me. Dig deep and go home.  I feel like I've slowed down to make sure my stomach isn't going to revolt.  I give up hope on having  a decent time and don't check my watch for my time.

Keep running, feels good, the pace must help.  Finish, stop watch, kept it under 1:34, respectable.

I always wonder how I'd do if i tapered for a week and did a race. Not sure what my actual 13.1 time would be.

Feel better after I run. Got some life in my. Still need sleep and slightly hungover, but at least I got the blood pumping. Until tomorrow!

Of Zombies and Runners

[Note: Recap of Saturday]

Saturday began with sleeping in to 5:15! what a difference 30 minutes can make. It was a crisp run, 30 with a 20 something windchill.

The view at the start of my run by the beach
The lakefront path was extra icey, anything pavement that was even damp, was slick.  This was nature's way ensuring I stayed at my slower pace speed.

After my run, I got changed and went to a local Chicago Park District location to wait in line for two hours to get my daughter signed up for toddler and parent gymnastics! Ran into several other husbands from the new mother's group my wife goes to, who signed up for the same class.

Now the preparation for the debauchery begins.  The Chicago Zombie Pub Crawl was happening today in Andersonville.  This is my one day I let myself be a little very stupid, drink more than a couple beers, and be a zombie! It is my fifth year doing it.  Hopefully I'll find more photos, but here is a fuzzy one.

Fast forward to when I get home, I provided plenty of comic relief to my wife and mother in law, and proceeded to fall asleep three different times after the kid went to bed.

Now here we are in present time, prepping for the long run. I'm leaving later than normal since my toddler is having some major fits if she leaves my hip.  No rest for the wicked or zombies.

Friday, April 19, 2013

2nd Suspect In Custody!!

Syrians send their condolences to Boston

Just some brain food for the morning. 

Boondock terrorists

I woke up this morning ready to make some mental complaints about how its a below freezing windchill and gusty outside, fml right?

I check for any news or hot things on the internet and see one of the two suspects was killed and the other is on the loose. Check Facebook and see my Massachusetts friends are lit up and on this like white on rice.  I won't attempt to be a news outlet, but be safe and stay inside if you live in Boston or its greater area (follow if you want a lot on info ). Hopefully I can make some post later about this coming to more closure.

As for my own run, the lakefront was weirdly vacant for the first 4 miles. Saw one person and my two duck buddies. I intended to turn this run into a temp run, but I need more time for a warn up. I have trouble getting pace so soon after waking up. My legs told me its Federal Friday and they chillen.  I tried to override that and the wind wrestled me back. Just one of those days.

Pray for the law enforcement out there, especially in Boston and the safety of everyone in the reject of humanity's way.