Sunday, July 21, 2013

A few words from a local Chicago runner

This week somehow managed impressively to be both extremely stressful yet unfortunately boring.  I'm talking the kind of week that has your brain pounded "meat tenderizer style" at work followed by Saturday afternoons spent cleaning your apartment.

That's not to say that I didn't feel great when I finally finished.

In one sense, it's kind of depressing that even after spending hours scrubbing the joint, it's still a little shoe-box apartment in the city.  But you know what?  It's my little shoe-box apartment in the city.  I guess this is what parents of really ugly kids tell themselves: yeah, Tommy may be the greasy snaggletoothed kid always picked last in kickball, but dang it, he's my greasy snaggletooth.

Even better is remembering why I decided to scrub the corners behind my radiator this weekend: after vacation next week, my little shoe-box will have a new inhabitant!  That's right, this studly fellow:

has a one-way ticket to Chicago!  He must really like me if he's willing to overlook my shoe-box situation, so I'm going to make sure it's the cleanest shoe-box he's ever set foot in.

I know that Derrick is going to have a lot on his hands as he readjusts to an entirely different way of life.  Luckily, he'll have a local to help him out.  You might say that I'm nowhere near "local" status, but I'd disagree; this weekend, the guy at the register remembered my name at my favorite local restaurant, the Bourgeois Pig Cafe (where I do most of my blogging).

Part of me was a little ashamed to be recognized at a local restaurant (where I'm usually alone with my computer).  But the other part was doing sort of an internal fist-pump, like "Oh yeah, I'm a regular!".  I'm just waiting now to see how long it takes before they start remembering my usual, gazpacho, half of my favorite sandwich (The Sun Also Rises), followed by a gluttonously proportioned biscotti.

Moving on to what I really wanted to talk about in this post: running.  First, I want to mention that two of my lovely co-workers, former members of the BAMFs, completed the impressive feat of finishing their first half this weekend at the Chicago Rock n' Roll Half Marathon.  Congrats to Natalie and Adrian; always respect and sympathy to someone whose run lasts longer than a Disney movie!

As for me, I just finished week 5 of my 18 week training plan for the Grand Rapids Marathon in October.  I've decided to go semi-professional and base my training schedule (somewhat loosely) on Hal Higdon's "Advanced 1" schedule.

I obviously am not following Hal's schedule religiously.  I add a bit of my own cross training, such as cycling and the elliptical ("e").  I'm also doing some strength training (regular weight workouts, "w," or kettle bell workouts, "kb").

But I am doing it more by the book than my first marathon, the Disney Marathon last January.  For that race, I followed my own personal plan: the "A Cycling Instructor is my Only Friend" training schedule.  It definitely wasn't your typical training schedule; it involved mostly two-a-days consisting of shorter morning runs and afternoon cycling.  It was more than enough to get me a Boston qualifying time, but this time I'm going to set my goals a little higher.  Hence, my consultation with ol' Hal.

Lately, I've been talking with Erika a lot about marathon training because she is also training for her first one in August.  For those of you who don't know, Erika is an absolute beast runner.

Yeah, I'm best friends with #7, Patriot League Champion at the Steeplechase.  No big deal!
... So I'm flattered whenever she asks me for training advice.  I'd like to say that I know what I'm doing now but that'd be a lie.  Apart from learning how to unwrap a mid-race Starburst without slowing down, the most substantial thing I took from my first marathon is that there doesn't seem to be one magic formula for success as long as you just get out there and actually run.

I totally get out how new runners might be intimidated by all that running stuff out there, but I don't think all the fancy equipment is necessary (although I will say that I still am very much in the honeymoon phase with my new GPS watch).  But as a marathoner who did the majority of her runs without a watch, iPod, heart-rate monitor, or any fancypants drink carrier... you can be a runner without that stuff.

How do you know if you are actually a runner?  If you wear spankies in a blizzard, then you can go ahead and label yourself now.

But for those of you who aren't nuts like #254 (e.g. me, loving my Under Armour), I spent my last long run putting together a list to help you out (it was a 14 miler without an iPod... I had time to think):

How You Know You're a Runner

1. You have a designated “spitting side.”  Sympathies to any unfortunate victim of a stray loogie, but sorry, you’re not sorry.
2. Using “10 mile” and “easy run” in the same sentence is perfectly natural.
3. You know the meaning of: PR, fartlek, negative splits, BQ, and tempo pace.
4. You’re American, but you think in terms of meters.  Because 200 meters is a halfway around the track, but who know how far 600 feet is?
5. You know who Ryan Hall is.
6. You've bought the same make of running shoe for the last 5 years.
7. Car GPS systems isn't the first thing that you associate with “Garmin.”
8. After meeting another runner, your immediate impulse is to Google their times.  And you judge them accordingly.
9. You know what “the stick” is.  And it isn’t something dirty.
10. You see this, and you pass absolutely no judgement:

More than anything, running is a lifestyle, not a hobby, for a real runner.  It means getting up early to fit in a run and apologizing in advance before a pedicure.  It's a self-inflicted torture that you admit is illogical, something that you can't explain to someone who doesn't get it and don't need to explain to someone who does.

I'm excited for my next marathon and I'm crossing my fingers that Hal knows what he's doing.

That's about all I have about running this week.  Who knows what I will come up with in two weeks, though, when my long runs are supposed to increase to 16 and 17 miles?  As for now, I'm just enjoying my glorious mood as I come down from my endorphin-induced running high, knowing that I will soon be with my family and Derrick.  Nothing, no running calloused feet or achy long run legs, can rain on my parade this weekend.

 Wishing you all a fuzzy, endorphin-like week!

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