Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday's Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8k

I woke up Sunday morning to a boatload of snow in my yard, driveway and everywhere else.

My wife and were supposed to run the Shamrock Shuffle Sunday in Chicago. Since we live about 50 miles away from the city, I figured it might not be so bad on the course. We got ready, loaded the Explorer and headed out. The moment I pulled onto the road, I knew we were in for a long drive into the city. The roads were only partially plowed and the stoplights could not b
e seen because they had been iced over. You couldn't tell if the light was green or red. I proceeded cautiously until we got to the highway, which had not been plowed all that well either. I put the car into four wheel drive, just for extra precaution and went along as fast as the weather would allow. We finally made into Chicago, and the next trick was to find parking. I drove along Michigan Avenue and found an open garage just a few blocks from the race. I love Chicago and the parking rates $26 for a few hours.

We suited up with our layers and headed out to the course. At home we had about 6 inches of snow, but it had only snowed a few inches downtown. The problem is that the streets and sidewalks were covered in a slushy water, that quickly left your shoes completely wet. We arrived at the lineup for my corral and I wished my wife good luck as she proceeded to the open start. Inside the corral, it was cold and windy and started to snow in a blizzard like condition. The corral quickly filled and it seemed like forever before we started moving. By this time my feet were frozen and I could barely feel anything. I was wearing a hat, headband and mask on my face to keep warm, but couldn't do anything about the water and cold feet.

We were off and luckily the movement started to warm me up quickly, although I still could not feel my feet. We were running through water 3-4 inches deep and a slushy snow. This was the most brutal conditions I have ever run in. If I was at home, I would have been thankful for the treadmill. After a the first mile, I was getting into my grove and was doing the best I could, considering the weather. I pushed through, just wanting to finish and get out of the messy road. I finished with a time of 45:13 and an average mile pace of 9:06.

Once I finished, I waited for my wife to come across the finish line. She crossed the start line about 20 minutes after I did, so I knew I would have to wait at least that long. There I was wet, cold and no where to wait but in the open. I stared to get really cold and was starting to get concerned that I needed to get out of the weather. Finally after 25 minutes, she appeared. We did not stay for any festivities and just jogged back to the parking garage and into the car. I did not bring any extra shoes, but luckily dry socks and a dry shirt. I changed and proceeded to crank the heat and drive home in my socks. There were 32,000 people signed up for this race and only 13,294 actually ran. We did have some other friends that were supposed to go, but they bailed out the night before. I told my wife, I was going regardless if she did or not. She toughed it out and completed the race at 49:34 and a 9:59 pace.

I don't know if I would endure these conditions again, but I am proud to say that I ran it. I somehow feel stronger knowing that I did it.

Father Son Bonding

This past week my son, Dante was off school for spring break. I took off work on Friday so we could spend some quality time together. I had to go to Chicago (Navy Pier) to pick up my race packet for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k on Sunday, so I decided to go on Friday and make a day of it with Dante. We took the train into the city, which I do every work day, but to a nine year old there is something special about riding the train. We arrived in Chicago and headed to Navy Pier. I like to walk, so I figured that we would start out walking and take a cab when he got tired. We made there, three miles with no problem. We stopped at a few stores on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) to warm up and browse. Dante is a big hockey fan so we stopped at the Blackhawk’s store, where he got a new hat. After arriving at Navy Pier and swimming our way through the sea of people, we headed to the packet pick up and health expo. This section was located in the farthest end of Navy Pier so we had to fight crowds all the way there. I was picking up race stuff for myself, my wife and wife’s friend which required me to wait in three lines for each envelope and then I was directed to the other end of the hall to get our bags and shirts. We waited in three more lines for shirts and bags since there were three different sizes. After that, we walked around looking at the booths for freebies and to see if there were any deals on running stuff. I did end up purchasing a new pair of sun glasses for $30, which wasn’t too bad. We were standing at the Wrigley Gum table getting a brochure and free gum, when a lady asked us if we wanted tickets for the Chicago Bulls (basketball) game on Saturday. We said sure and she handed us two tickets. She said they were donated at their office earlier in the day and she gave them to us. My son was so excited, a train ride to the city, a new hat and now this.

After we left Navy Pier, we stopped for lunch across the street from the Trump Tower, where he proceeded to call mom and explain what had happened. After lunch, we headed to Millennium Park to see the Bean (see photo below) and other touristy things at the park. We walked the whole way and by this time, I estimate we had logged in about 7 miles. What a trooper, I am proud of him for going so far. He was getting tired so we took a cab back to my office, where we took a little break and then proceeded to the train home.

I enjoyed spending the day together and it made me feel good to see how much fun he had.

We did end up going to the basketball game the next day on Saturday. It was an afternoon game, so it was no problem driving into the city and finding parking at a reasonable rate $13. We parked about 2 blocks away and were inside sitting in our seats in no time. Dante was still in awe that a complete stranger had given us these tickets the day before and we were actually at the United Center watching the Bulls game. Again, I was thrilled to see all the excitement in his face, as this was his first pro basketball game. The bulls played the Pacers and ended up winning 112 to 106. I think he will remember this day for a long time, I know I will.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Work Woes

I seem to have been feeling a little discouraged this week. We have had a major restructuring of the company and things have been a little stressful. I seemed to have acquired more responsibility, without additional compensation, yeah me! I know, I should feel lucky to be employed, but I still feel a little slighted. Enough of the pity party, I promise.

I have continued with my lunchtime walking program this week. I have been getting about 2-1/2 miles each day. I ran on the treadmill last night for a mediocre 3 miles and plan on running outside today, in hopes of a better quality run.

I am getting exited for my first race of the season, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in downtown Chicago this Sunday. I will be one of 32,000 people running in this event. I am also anxious, as this is my first race where I have been placed in a seeded start. I have qualified, based on previous area runs, for corral C, which starts fifteen minutes before corral D and the open class. The weather is supposed to be fairly crappy, so I am trying to plan on what to wear and what to bring to change into afterwards. Please no snow or rain. I have never run with so many people before and I assume that it will be crazy, before, during and after!!! There is post race party with a band and beer tent, but I am sure it will be mobbed. I will try and sneak in immediately after my run since I will have the fifteen minute head start. I am also looking forward to running this race with my wife and a few other friends.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flat Tire

Saturday morning my wife and I headed out for a run together. The temps were in the 50’s, the sun was shining and it was shaping out to be a great day. I forgot to download my Garmin from Friday’s lunchtime walk so I was pushing buttons to try and clear the information so Saturday was the only data I saw, but no such luck. I would just have to subtract 2.33 miles from everything. We started out at a nice 9:30 pace and went a total of 10 miles at 1:40 for a total of a 10:00 pace. This was my wife’s farthest distance to date and she had a goal of ten miles and wasn’t mentally prepared to go any farther. All in all it was a nice run and best of all we were outside in the sunshine, what else could you ask for.

On Sunday, I had a great idea that I wanted to get a bike rack for my vehicle so we could load up the family bikes and head to the local trail. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and found what I wanted and checked out. I assembled the pieces that required assembly and looked at the piece that was supposed to fit in the hitch receiver on my Explorer. That’s right, I said supposed to fit, I have a standard truck hitch and the bike rack was made for a smaller car hitch. I have never seen a hitch on a car, so I didn’t even think there was going to be an issue. After going to two automotive places and numerous phone calls, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to find a hitch adapter going from 2” to 1-1/4” today. I did find some on the internet, but that wasn’t going to help me for hitting the trail today. My wife suggested we try and fit the bikes in the back of the Explorer, I was skeptical, but tried nonetheless. Unbelievably they fit. I did have to take of my tire and carefully maneuver everything, but they fit and we headed for the trail.

We unloaded the bikes and headed out. We had no particular goal in mind, but I brought my Garmin to track our mileage. I even remembered to download the data out of it so we were good to go. We started out in Crystal Lake and continued ten miles following the Fox River to East Dundee at the Dairy Queen. My wife and I had a small cone and my son had the mint Oreo blizzard. I was amazed that we had gone that far considering my nine year old was riding a single speed bike. After our ice cream and rest break, we continued back for the return 10 miles. About a mile and a half away from the car, my wife got a flat tire. I gave her my bike and proceeded to run, with a bike for the last part. This was not what I had hoped to do after riding that far, but I had no other option. We all made it back in one piece, some of us a little more exhausted than others, but nonetheless we had a nice day. I need to remember to get a new tube for the bike and get that hitch adapter and I will be all set for next time. I love the warmer weather and the outside activities that go with it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

2 Miler

Last night after work I planned my normal routine of trying to squeeze a run in between, dinner, spending a little time with the family and of course the Thursday night poker game. Before running, I decided to do push ups (100 total) and bicep curls. After my pre-run work out I decided to stay inside, it was a little cold and I didn’t feel like putting all gear on to deal with the weather and so I jumped onto the treadmill for my run. From the beginning, I was feeling sluggish and my legs felt heavy. I have felt like this before but always have been able to push past it. Last night I just wasn’t able to do it, so after 2 miles I was done. Two miles seems pretty lame. Was it the treadmill or me? Earlier in the day at lunch I walked farther than that. I don’t know what to make of it, I guess I need to move on and forget about it and focus on the weekend. Oh yeah, the weekend is here!

I am still debating weather to rest tonight and go for a long run tomorrow, or get a few miles in tonight as well as tomorrow. This may fall into the category of junk miles. I guess I will see how I am after the train ride and decide. Hopefully, I can avoid the pitfalls of riding the train home on Friday evening. The group I ride with will be stocked with plenty of cocktails for the ride home. This is a weekly Friday thing for most and daily for some of the train group.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting out of the Office!

Since Monday, I have logged in 9.71 miles of walking during my lunch break at work. I have recently felt that I could capitalize on time that I normally wouldn’t be doing much with anyway. I even gathered a couple of other recruits from the office to join me. I have been using my Garmin to track mileage so I can accurately see what kind of distances we are actually going. In addition to my walking, I have been keeping up with my normal running schedule, so this is just an additional way to burn a few extra calories I didn’t need anyway. I also get to see different parts of the city that I wouldn’t normally go to. Here are some addition pics of my lunchtime walks this week.

With the warmer temperature, the neighborhood has come to life. It seems to have been desolate all winter and it is great to see the flurry of activity outside. My son (in the blue shirt) and some of the neighborhood kids were on my driveway playing basketball. I was even able to wash my car from all thee salt and winter grime. Even my dog was wanted to come out and play.

On the running front, things have been going well. The unseasonably warm temperatures have made outside running very nice. Monday we were up to 74 degrees, however today the temp is only around 40. I have officially gotten my bike out for the first ride of the year and went on a bike ride with my son last night for a little trip around the neighborhood. I hope to take advantage to use the bike to cross train as to not injure myself with too much running.

Work has been hectic this week and I am looking forward to the weekend already. Tonight is also poker night, so that will be a nice break and a chance to catch up with friends. Tonight’s game will be back to our regular low stakes so if I loose, it wont be like last Friday’s game at my friends house.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Busy Weekend!

Friday evening I accomplished what I had planned and ran a quick 5k once I got home from work. I ran faster than I have in some time and finished with a time of 25:59. After my run, quick shower and dinner, I was off to play cards. I had a great time playing, unfortunately walked away with $80 less than arriving. I had a good time and as long as I don’t do that too often I can stomach the loss.

Saturday morning I was off to the doctor’s to talk about my blood test results. My numbers did not look so good so we have doubled my cholesterol medicine to 80 milligrams of Provachol. My HDL cholesterol had gone up, unfortunately not enough to counteract my LDL so my doctor confirmed my inheritance of bad genetics. He told me he could see that I was working out from a physical standpoint as well as the increase in my HDL but that is not enough in my case. Sorry to bore with the cholesterol talk but I am at my wits end and hope the increase in medicine helps without killing my liver in the process. The doctor was running a little late on Saturday (an hour and a half late) so I was surprised when they took my blood pressure and told me that it was 110/70. I would have assumed that it was through the roof as I was a little perturbed at the time frame. I understand that things can run late, but an hour and a half, give me a break.

After I got home and had lunch I went out with my wife for a run. The weather was sunny and warm (60 degrees) and I was able to wear shorts. I ended up with 7 miles and my wife kept going for her longest run of 9 miles. We spent the rest of the day running errands (oil change, car wash 2 vehicles, haircut, running shoe shopping and dinner). We had dinner before our wine/sushi party and certainly glad we did. There were other things at the party but nothing I cared to eat so my decision to eat beforehand was a good one. I was the designated driver for Saturday, so I only had a few glasses of wine throughout the evening. The party was like a wine flight with Champaign, whites and then onto reds. There were about four different types of each category and multiple bottles of each. There was also a variety of single malt scotches to try, but I was driving so stayed away. We left around midnight and I was ready for bed after the long day.

Sunday was equally as busy. I was running around doing everything from putting air in bike tires, dropping my air compressor at my sister’s, cleaning up and grocery shopping. I then put out the basketball hoop so my son could play on the driveway and proceeded to shoot around with him for a while.

Today is equally as nice, weather wise and I went for a couple mile walk at lunchtime. I am going to try for 4.5 miles after work tonight. They are predicting 70 degrees for tomorrow, so I am debating taking the day off or should I be good and go to work. I leave you with a photo of my lunchtime walk.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Busy Busy!

This week has passed by rather quickly for me. I have been busy this week at work with meetings and other work related stuff. On the running front, I have done ok, but not as well as I would have liked.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4.5

Wednesday: 4

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Planning on 3

Weekend: Longer runs- 7 Saturday and 5 Sunday (hopefully)

I canceled my normal Thursday night card game because a friend invited me to play tonight in a different game at his house. His kids and my son are friends and they can hang out and play while we play cards. The bonus is that I didn’t stay up late last night and got a good night’s sleep.

My wife and I were also invited to a wine & sushi party on Saturday. I don’t necessarily enjoy sushi, but I am going to go for the company anyways. I guess I should eat something before we head out.

I have the potential of a few stumbling blocks this weekend, cards on Friday and party on Saturday, to sideline my running goals for this weekend, but I will do my best to avoid the pitfalls.

Looking out my office window, the weather appears to be great and I am just itching to get out there and run. The good news is that it is still light when I get home from work and will have no problem with my planned 3 miler.

Happy Friday the 13th and have a great weekend!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rainy Weekend!

I didn’t run on Friday (rest day) and the weather was crappy on Saturday, it was raining since Friday night. I finally saw a break in the weather and decided to run. About a mile into my run, it started to drizzle. I thought no big deal and continued on my way. The drizzle was no problem, until it started coming down a little heavier. I am sure you know what happened next, it soon was pouring and I was miles from home. My headphones must have gotten wet and they didn’t work after a while. I was concerned that my phone and MP3 would also get damaged so I covered them up the best I could. Needless to say my run was shorter than anticipated, and I made a turn to head home. I was about a ½ mile from the house and my wife pulled up to alongside me, apparently she was out driving around looking for me to check if I was ok. I told her thanks, but I would just see her at the house since I came this far, was already soaked and so close to home. I changed out of my wet clothes and took a hot shower to warm up. I guess I should have seen it coming, but I really didn’t want to get on the treadmill.

Since I only did 4.5 miles of my planned 7 miler on Saturday, I decided to hit it again on Sunday. It was still raining on Sunday, actually had not stopped since Saturday, so I chose the treadmill. I put in a Netflix movie (Wanted) and started my run. I only did 3 miles; I just couldn’t get into it. After my run and finishing my movie, it was time to go to my son’s All Star game for basketball. After b-ball we headed shopping. My wife had a 30% coupon for Kohl’s where I picked up a few new running shirts and then we headed home.

Total miles for last week:

18.1. A little less than I hoped for, but will work on it this week.

Today is looking so much nicer, the rain has stopped, the sun is peaking through the clouds and temps are in the 40’s. I plan on running outside, now that it will be light out, when I get home tonight.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bad Genetics!

Friday is upon finally upon us, what a long week. I played cards last night (Didn’t win) and had a great evening anyways. Prior to cards, I went out for a quick run, as I promised myself. I did a quick (for me) 3 miler at 26:26. The weather last night was awesome, I was able to wear shorts and no jacket required.

I went to bed at 11:45 last night and as I sit here I am feeling a little tired, but happy to have had a night out to spend with friends. I think I need to get a café Americano at Starbucks. They seem to have a Starbucks on every corner in Chicago.

Oh Joy! I just received word from my doctor regarding my blood test results from Saturday. I have to say I am a little disappointed in my numbers:

Cholesterol 224

HDL 42

LDL 139

Triglycerides 214

I am actually more than disappointed, I am pissed off that I have been busting my ass with exercise lately, last month I ran 84 miles. Shouldn’t that help these numbers? Maybe I am just blessed with horrible genetics. I need to go in next week to my doc and discuss increasing my current cholesterol meds. At least my liver function is normal so I can handle an increase of meds. This sucks!!!!!

I guess I can’t wallow too long about things I can’t control. I can control my diet and exercise, which I am doing. Anything beyond that is out of my hands. No more negativity, I promise. I just got back from a nice long walk (2 miles) at lunch today and seemed to have calmed down a bit over my #’s. The weather is gorgeous again today and in the 60’s. I am trying to appreciate the positive things and not dwell on things I can’t control.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Feild Trip!

Well its Thursday and that means poker night again. I am promising myself to get a good run in tonight before any shenanigans begin, no really, I mean it. I managed to get out last night (in the dark) for a 4.4 miler. The temps were around 40 degrees last night and I think I overdressed for the run. I had a long sleeve shirt, ¼ zip pullover, lightweight jacket and gloves. In hindsight, I should have lost the jacket. Oh well, at least I was able to get outside and off the treadmill.

Chicago is blessed again with mild temps (60 degrees) today and I can’t help but be in a great mood. Work allowed me to be out and about the city today and I snapped a few pictures of Chicago, which I thought I would share. I even managed to get a couple miles of walking in while I was out and about. I like taking field trips away from the office when the weather is good, funny how field trips get planned to coincide with nicer weather.

I plan on a long run for Saturday morning and then we are off to a ST. Patrick's Day parade in St. Charles to meet up with some old friends. I took my son last year and we froze our tails off. The weather forecast isn't bad for Saturday, just a chance of rain. I can handle rain rather than freezing temps.

Well I hope I win big tonight at cards and get plenty of rest for Friday (we will see).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warm up Wednesday!

The sun is shining and temps are climbing in Chicagoland today. I feel the warm sun on me as I sit at my computer typing this blog. I feel positive energy of the day and I am so ready for spring.

I took Sunday and Monday off from running to recover from my long run on Saturday. However, I jumped back on the treadmill last night for a 3.5 mile run and finished my workout with push ups. As I sit here, I am getting anxious to get home and run outside today in the 40 degree temps we are expecting. I tell you this work thing is such a nuisance.

Seriously, I am grateful to be gainfully employed, especially in these turbulent times. I try not to take anything for granted; it’s just that work interferes with my desire to run in the daylight. I guess I will have to hold out a little while longer and quit my bitchin. I am exited and anxiously awaiting the time change happening this weekend.

With spring approaching I am also looking forward to being able to cross train with my bike. I bought a new hybrid (GT Transeo 4.0) at the end of last year and didn’t get many opportunities to use it before it got cold. I am hoping to be able to get out and ride with my wife and son this year. I need to get a bike rack to mount in the hitch of my SUV so we can drive out to trails that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to by riding.

I hope everyone has a great day and that the temps and sun in your neck of the woods are as energizing as they are here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Going the Distance!

Saturday morning I went to the lab to get a blood test so I could see how my cholesterol, triglyceride and liver function is. I am on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol so I periodically monitor these things to know where my levels are at. After the test, I headed out the door for a run. My plan was to possibly do an 8 miler but would have been happy with 7.

As soon as I got outside, the wind hit me in the face and combined with the 18 degree temperature, I questioned my sanity. Nonetheless, I trudged on, after returning to get some hand warmers and face mask. The temps seemed to be a distant nuisance as I trotted on my merry way. The funny thing is I didn’t even see another soul out there, I think I was one of the nut jobs that people comment on when they drive by in their cars. I was feeling pretty good still around mile 6 and thought that I might try to go for a longer run than anticipated, so I took some Jelly Belly sports beans. I have never used these or any other types of aid, as I normally don’t do long enough runs that require this. I have to say, they went down easy and seemed to not bother my stomach, as I have read as a common problem from others. I am proud to say that I ran 13.1 miles in 2:14. I was pretty exited, I have only accomplished this once before on my treadmill. I wanted to see what it would feel like actually running outside. I think I may be ahead of my training schedule for the Madison ½ Marathon in May but feel a little relieved that I ran it and can now focus on other things like improving my form and increasing my speed.

Just this past month, I started to keep track of my runs online. My total for February is 17 runs for a total of 84.2 miles.

I took Sunday off as a much needed rest day and will see how I feel tonight when I get home from work to determine if I will run or not.