Sunday, January 25, 2015

Things Are Looking Up

I've had some amazing runs lately, and yesterday I finally did something that I haven't been able to do in a very long time: I completed a run without any walking breaks.

Yippee!

It may have only been three miles, which may not sound very far, but it was a big achievement for me.

As I was coming to the final mile of my run, I really wanted to slow down and walk, but I managed to keep going. I started playing a game, where I would challenge myself to keep running until I reached the mailbox, then the stop sign, then the lamp post, etc. Before I knew it, I was back home and had run the entire time.

As soon as I stopped focusing on pace and distance and started running for pure enjoyment, I started to have fun AND improve. I love it when things work out that way.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Do Over!

I had a not so great year in 2014 in pretty much all aspects of my life. Luckily, things seem to be looking up. I know it is still extremely early in the new year, but I'm hopefully optimistic for what 2015 holds in store. My health is better. I'm slowly working my way out of debt. I'm also doing things for myself: taking the occasional day off from work and making time for things I've always wanted to try (I'm signed up for a beginners' yoga class next month and am in the process of planning a hiking trip with a couple of friends for the spring).

I'm also hopeful for what the year in running has the potential to be. 2015 is pretty much my chance for a do over. I'm finally going to tackle some longer distances and am going to take better care of myself to avoid having to scale back or cancel my training.

Last year, I had to make some changes to my race schedule that caused a lot of stress and negative feelings about myself and my running. There were three specific races that caused a lot of disappointment for me: A race that should have given me a 5k PR (Turkey Day 5k) actually ended up giving me my worst 5k time (race recap here). What should have been my first 10k (Proud to Run) became just another 5k when I found myself feeling ill during race but insisted on running anyway (race recap here). What should have been my first half marathon (The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon) became just another 5k after I had to put my training on hold due to health problems (race recap here).

Guess what? I declare a do over! I will run the Turkey Day 5k (or maybe the 8k - dare I?) this year and will improve my time. I will run Proud to Run and finish the 10k this year instead of bailing and running the 5k. I will run a half marathon this year. I don't know if it will be The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women's Half Marathon or not, as I'm still weighing my options and looking at several different half marathons that take place in or near Chicago.

I refuse to allow my failures to define who I am. My last few runs, short though they may have been, felt fantastic. I look forward to many more great runs this year.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Looking for Races

It is a gorgeous day in Chicago today! The sun is shining, and, best of all, it is above freezing! Even though I overslept this morning, I was magically early for work, giving me more than enough time to grab a coffee and go for a walk once I was downtown. I spent part of my morning walking around Millennium Park and the new Maggie Daley Park and soaking up some of the glorious sunshine.

Good morning, Chicago!
I may not have been able to run this morning, but I get off work early today, so I will have plenty of time to get a run in later this afternoon. I'm a little too excited about running outside instead of on a treadmill at the gym.

Since we are a little slow at work at the moment, I've been researching races in Chicago. I know it is only halfway through January, but so far I've been keeping up with my goals for the new year. Starting next month, I'll be taking one day off from work each week. I'm trying new things (this month I'm trying a new recipe each week, and I've signed up for yoga classes in February). But I still need to find some races to enter, specifically a few that are longer distances.

I really want to tackle the half marathon distance this year, but there are more available in the city of Chicago than I was prepared for. I've been spending my day checking out races online, their dates, their cost, and reading reviews of races from previous years. I'm excited and nervous about taking on longer distances, having felt stuck running 5k after 5k. I just need to figure out which race I want to do, taking into account my budget and the amount of training time needed.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Brrrrrrrrr....

My first realization of 2015: I'm a total wuss when it comes to the cold.

Go away, winter! This is not okay!
I really wanted to run outside all winter. I invested in some thermal running tights and tops, a new running jacket, hat, and gloves. I was convinced that I was ready for whatever mother nature threw my way.

Yeah...I was wrong.

As soon as there was snow and ice on the ground and the temperatures dipped into the single digits, I headed inside.

I have to scrape the frost off the window every morning so Hannah can see outside.
The only silver lining is that I haven't stopped running the way I did this time last year. I'm still running. I'm just running inside on the treadmill at the gym. It isn't ideal, but it is better than nothing. And hey, at least I'm using the gym membership I pay for every month! And the gym has a steam room and a sauna! Sometimes, it is nice to remember what warm feels like.

Chicago just looks cold.
I really want to be one of those bad ass runners who go outside to run in all types of weather, but I don't think it is ever going to happen. I'm trying to get over it and trying to not compare myself to others, but I'll admit to a small twinge of guilt when I was walking home from the gym tonight and two runners passed by me. Then I asked myself why I felt guilty. It wasn't like I had been sitting on the couch watching movies and drinking beer all day (even though that sounds kind of amazing and something that I really want to do, now). I may have been running inside, but I still finished three and a half miles.

I'm already dreaming about the spring and running outside again, but until then, you can find me at the gym.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello, 2015

It is the start of a new year, which is a great time to look ahead and set some goals. I've excited for 2015 and will do my best to make it a great year. The new year has already started out pretty well thanks to a rare day off that was delightfully relaxing - brunch and games with friends, a short run around my neighborhood, and this evening is going to be spent watching movies and playing with my cat, Hannah.

It may sound selfish, but I want to take this year to focus on myself and my well being. Stress, lack of sleep, and generally not thinking about myself led to a 2014 filled with illness, injury, and general unhappiness. In 2015, I want to do what is best for me as a person.

Goals for 2015:

Take days off. I spent most of 2014 working seven days a week, and, quite frankly, it hasn't been worth it. I need a day off from work to rest and recharge. I was a little late getting schedule requests to my various jobs, so January is another month of non stop work. Starting in February, however, I vow to take at least one day off a week to rest, relax, and reconnect with friends.

Try new things. I tend to fall into routines. I will eat the same things, run the same routes, do the same workouts, etc. I want to try at least one new thing each month. It could be a new recipe, it could be taking a new class (I want to give yoga a try), or it could be a new running route...as long as it is something new and different and outside of my usual routine, then it will count.

Run more races. I ran eight races in 2014. I want to run at least nine in 2015. I'm already registered for five races, so I'm over half way there. If anyone has any races in Chicago that they love, then let me know! I'd love some suggestions so that I don't just end up running all the same races I ran in 2014 again.

Tackle longer distances. Of my races in 2014, all but one were 5k. My plans for a 10k and half marathon ended up in failure due to some health problems that forced me to put my training on hold. Luckily, my health has improved, so there is no reason that I shouldn't be able to train for and complete longer races. Although I have registered for a couple of 5k races, I've also registered for an 8k, a 10k, and a 10 mile race. I also want to find a half marathon to enter, as that was my goal distance in 2014 that I wasn't able to achieve.

Run with others. I felt a little lonely at times while running in 2014. Although I'm usually happy to run alone and enjoy my solitude, there are times when I crave the company of others. I really don't have any friends who run, so I really want to get out there and meet more runners. I didn't take advantage of any opportunities, such as various running stores' weekly fun runs, in 2014.