Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Half Marathon Training Run [in December]

Saturday morning, December 18.


18 degrees (feels like 9).

Sounds like perfect weather for a 10 mile training run.

You may be asking "Why would anyone run ten miles in THAT?"

Well my friends, I'm running a Half Marathon, in less than a month.

Kim S. organized what I believe is Chicago's first half marathon in January last year, affectionately called the "F*cking Freezing Frozen Lake Half Marathon." The race's mascot is none other than our recently-ousted former governor, Blago.

The race proved to be a hit and it's back this January, bigger and better than ever.

Kim has formed a partnership with Universal Sole and is holding training runs from their West Lakeview location.

On this particularly frigid morning, Brian, Kim and I were the only ones who'd shown up for the training run [it turns out other faster runners had shown up earlier and started ahead of us], dressed in our tried and true winter gear. We disembarked from Universal Sole and headed east on Belmont, passing over a few patches of sidewalk with ice. The weather was keeping most indoors on a morning like this, so we weren't fighting crowds as we made our way to the lakefront.

We headed north to Montrose where we then looped and headed south. The wind whipped against us and our faces hurt - the only skin exposed to the elements. Between November and March, the City's water fountains are turned off, so we carried fluids on us. In my case, the water in the bottles of my fuel belt froze.

It was nice to have a trio. We were able to catch up on training and life in general. Anything to take our minds off what we were actually doing - although I will have to say that's a standard practice in running:

While running, discuss anything but. When doing anything else, always discuss running.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Gear

The minimalistic nature of running is redefined with cool temperatures.

In the spring and summer months, all a runner needs is a pair of socks, shoes, shorts, tank top and hat. It's very easy to throw your gear in to a backpack and take along with you, where ever you may go, in case there's an opportunity to sneak in a run.

As the end of the year approaches, the winter gear comes out.

Add onto the tank top a long sleeve technical tee, an Underarmor-type long sleeve/longer cut piece with a pocket, and a windbreaker/waterproof shell

Switch out the shorts for a pair of running tights. Teal optional.

Add gloves to your hands and a headband on top of your hat.

Winter gear adds up to bulky pile of stuff.

More laundry, even if I'm running less.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Man in Teal Tights

Earlier this week, I went on a run at lunch. The temperature was in the mid 20's with low wind. I'd brought my cold weather gear, so I decided to head out for an easy four miler.

I ran at my average pace (10 to a 10:30) until I reached the Shedd Aquarium.

I turned around to head back and made a quick stop to tie my shoes.

As I started running again, I saw him. A man in tight teal running tights.

He was a shorter man, running rather slowly up the hill between Museum Campus and Lake Shore Drive. After taking a quick glance at his pace, I had a feeling I'd be passing him.

As I came within a few strides of him though, he picked up the pace.

I sensed that he wasn't going to be outrun by a girl even in his teal tights, so I stayed within a few strides of him. Our pace went from a ten minute mile, to a 9:30.

I remembered how, in the CARA marathon training group, we'd discussed 'speed training' in the winter so that we would all start in the 10 minute mile group next year. I guess I mind as well take advantage of this situation, right?

We passed Buckingham Fountain and he took a look back to see where I was, then turned it up again. Now we were doing around a 9:15. I considered easing off and letting him go, but at this point in my run, I had nothing to lose. So I stayed with him.

As we crossed the bridge over the river, we were doing a sub 9 minute mile.

It was tough to keep the pace for long. My breathing was labored. We were nearing my turn off point on the north side of the river - I just hoped I could stay with the teal tights until then.

When we reached my turn, we went our separate ways. I am sure teal tights thought I wimped out and quit. I guess I did, sorta. I reached my ending point and did a short walk to cool down. I was breathing hard and was walking slow. My lungs burned, but other than that, I felt great!

I walked back in to my office. Even a half hour later I could tell I'd had a challenging run.

Speed work in the mid-20s = very challenging.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hot Chocolate 15K Run [and November Wrap Up)

The Hot Chocolate 15K Run was what I'd like to call a success.

I had recovered from the marathon and was excited to get back out and run that morning.

A group of us met up at the CARA tent before the race and walked to the start line together.

For the first time this year, the Hot Chocolate Run was held in Grant Park.

The course left something to be desired, but I've run worse courses.

For quite some time it was the Kims, Brian and I. Then it was just Kim A. and I.

Had Kim not been beside me the entire race, I would have certainly slowed down. She's faster than I am, and it's easy to forget how helpful it is to run with faster people. They give you the motivation and the push you need to challenge yourself.

We finished the race with a 9:4 pace overall. I can't even tell you how long it's been since I've done a run at that pace, and I've certainly never done a run of that distance at that pace ever.

The race ended with a backpack full of chocolate bars, followed by a trip to Ann Sathers.

The mild weather made it easy to run outside throughout most of November.