Another brick day/muddy to fluffy

It was a long day, and now, my corgis are clean and fluffy, and I’m in a good mood because I had a good day. It is a good Saturday night 🙂

My day started with lots of love from my corgis. After the morning walk, they were so lovey-dovey. They snuggled with us for quite a long time and it was so lovely and nice. When we first got Jeter, he was not much of a cuddle bug. But somehow these days, he became such an affectionate dog. My sweet Cappy sometimes became a squirm bucket but this morning she lay down between us on the sofa and enjoyed being snuggled. We were going to go to the stores but we couldn’t leave the house because they were so cute. Really really cute. It took some time to recover from their cuteness spell. We left the house about 11am. Much later than we planned 🙂

After the brunch, we went to Dick’s sporting goods and bought a new exercise mat and a foam roller. I need them for my training. I wanted to buy one more thing but I couldn’t find the brand I have in mind. Then we went to Costco to find some dog treats. When you’re health conscious, you pick the food you’ll eat carefully. I think when it comes to the food choice, dogs are kind of the same with human infants. They can’t check labels. They eat the foods their parents or guardians/owners choose and give to them. My corgis are dogs but they are an important part of my family. So I always check things very carefully when I buy their food or treats. I don’t buy any treat made in China. I check the ingredients and nutrition information. I check the manufacturer’s record for being recalled. And I check the expiration dates and the packages. You can say I’m picky when it comes to choosing the dog food or treats. If you’re a dog owner, you know dog treats are not cheap. We don’t give a lot of treats to our dogs but we use some for training. And I buy some treats at Costco. Not all the time but sometimes they actually carry some good treats. We were happy when we saw ‘Wet Noses’ organic dog treats and Alaska salmon treats at Costco. But they don’t have them anymore. I was disappointed. Then my husband found ‘Three Dog Bakery’ treats. We loved TDB but the only store in Chicago closed last year. We bought 3 bags of little low fat biscuits for our corgis. I was happy to find their treats at Costco. Yes, small thing like that makes me happy 🙂

After we came back home, we took Jeter and Cappy out for their afternoon walk. We walked 1.7 miles around the neighborhood and it was such a good walk. My original plan was after the dog walk, to go out again and run by myself for a while. But during the walk, my corgis got so dirty. The low riders needed some bath time. Giving them each a bath, blow drying them, and cleaning the fur covered bathroom took a long time and effort. It was a little bit late to go outside to run. So, I went to the gym again. The gym wasn’t empty but everybody was into their exercise. It was strangely peaceful. I rode a stationary bike 6 miles and ran 3.32 miles. It was a good ride and a good run. I like a ‘brick’. But still my legs didn’t feel 100 percent. I will have an easy day tomorrow.

Now the corgis are resting happily. And we will finish the last episode of ‘Three Rivers’ on Netflix. I had a good Saturday.

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Brick day & dine out

This morning I felt really sluggish. I thought about having another rest day, but I didn’t. The rest day is for the day I’m really really sick. The rest day should be scheduled as an important part of the training program. So, today shouldn’t be a rest day. That’s why I went to the gym and exercised.

I have a DM friend who is a triathlete and training for her triathlon. I saw the word ‘brick’ so many times in her training log. A “brick” workout, in the triathlon community, is a bike ride followed immediately by a run. I’m not a triathlete but I can use this term too because that’s what I did today. I planned to ride a stationary bike only today. But it was so boring. Boring to tears. And after 5 miles on a bike, I started to get annoyed by a boy who was talking endlessly and so loudly while doing a stepper behind me. I saw that boy several times before. First of all, even though he is with an adult, I don’t know that the young boy should be allowed to use the gym equipment. And someone should teach that boy to shut up and exercise in the gym. Not to mention that on a stepper, bending to the side too much and literally hanging onto and leaning under the handrails is not safe at all too. That boy’s voice is so loud and shrill! I really need to learn a magic spell to shut people up. Even with my iPod on, I could hear him. Being bored and annoyed at the same time, I ended my bike workout at 7.04 miles. I immediately moved to a treadmill at the opposite side of that boy. I ran 3.12 miles quickly. That was my brick workout today. It wasn’t planned, it was the result from the boredom and being annoyed but at the end I can see the merit of the two exercises combined. Anyway I was glad I didn’t skip the gym and got my workout done.

My husband feels much better. We went out for dinner. Our favorite brunch spot ‘Katie’s kitchen’ opens for dinner on Friday night. We thought about trying their dinner menu but never did it before today. I ordered fish and chips and my husband got a grilled salmon, mashed potato, and a cup of clam chowder. We also ordered an appetizer – coconut shrimp. Overall the verdict of today’s dinner was ‘disappointed’. Their brunch is excellent, but the dinner items we got today were not. Coconut shrimp and clam chowder were blah, my fish and chips was too salty. My husband said his salmon was good but nothing special. Maybe we will try one more time but I think this restaurant is a good place for brunch but not for dinner.

Easy day 2

I’m flirting with a cold. I have chest congestion and cough but not a really serious one. So I was glad I planned to have easy days until Sunday. It was the day I needed to take it easy.

It was much cooler than yesterday. The high temperature was around 50. I went out with my corgis and did a slow run/walk for 3.07 miles. Jeter and Cappy loved the cooler air but they were slower than yesterday. Based on the way they played in the house, they were already recovered enough from yesterday’s little run. I think they were just bored. They looked so much happier when I took them to the Forest Preserve Trail. Jeter especially didn’t get that excited about going around the track at the park near our house. Sometimes he looked at me with a grumpy face as if saying ” I don’t like running around this boring track!” 🙂 Today was the same. I needed to bribe them to go on.

I thought about going to the gym to spend some time on a stationary bike but my husband came back home early. He isn’t feeling well. I needed to give myself a break not to be sick more, and I wanted to be with him. So, I didn’t go to the gym. I will go there tomorrow. I lay down with him and Jeter and Cappy joined us on the bed. They know daddy is not feeling well. I love holding their warm furry bodies. It gave me such a soothing feeling 🙂

New beginning

After having a real rest day, I went out and ran again. It was a new beginning 🙂 I went to the Forest Preserve Trail with Jeter and Cappy. The weather was great. It was a little bit windy but the temperature was just right. It was the perfect day to take your furry friends out to run. After the warm up and doggie bathroom breaks, we started to run slowly. Jeter and Cappy ran side by side and they were so cute! Usually Cappy tends to go ahead and Jeter stays behind but today they decided to go next to each other. They made many people smile. They made me happy. They are such adorable pups. I wanted to go more but the bright sunlight tired my dogs out. After 2.5 miles, Jeter slowed down. After 3 miles, he didn’t want to go more. Of course I gave them water and treats during the run but still they are not ready to run more than 3 miles. Anyway I decided to have an easy week before I start to work on Hal Higdon’s training program so I came back to the car. Today’s mileage was 3.24 miles. That’s good enough for today. Now my corgis are dozing off happily.

End of the streak

Today I ended my little streak after running 135 days in a row. This morning I just decided to have a real rest day. I’m not injured and even though I have a slight cold, I still could go out to run. But I’d like to end it when I want to, not when I had to. Just like the day when I started it, there was no specific reason for picking the day to end my streak. Somehow it felt like the right time to wrap it up. But I did consider some factors.

I’ve been thinking about the quantity and the quality of my running a lot these days. I’m very happy and proud of the way I did my 100 day project. The quantity AND quality were there in a balanced way. That was a good one to build my endurance base and I managed to keep myself from getting sick too much. So I didn’t need to run just for the sake of the streak when my body was not in a good enough condition. My mileage was pretty good too. I ran 4-5 miles everyday constantly. But to be honest, after completing the 100 day project, things got a little bit boring and the streak was becoming a borderline obsession. Running should be something for a dedication, not for an obsession. I want to control my run, not the other way. I want to add some variety and cross training. And, if I have to pick one, I will go with the quality over the quantity. I want to run smartly, not stubbornly.

If I could turn back time, I would’ve had a rest day on my Day 101. But runnIng 35 days more wasn’t that bad. I don’t know why but actually Day 135 sounds good 🙂 In 135 days in a row, I ran a total of 640.58 miles. And I ran my first race of this year during the streak. One thing I didn’t want to do was ending my streak as the result of frustration. But at the race, I had the good, pick-me-up run at the last 1 and a half mile. And I had a good recovery run yesterday, too. So, it feels like now is a good time to close chapter one and move forward to chapter two. Many baseball fans, including me, respect Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games played streak, but it was true there were some controversies and debates about whether his streak was becoming a burden to his team at the later part. So he removed his name from the lineup card voluntarily and ended his streak. My little running streak is nowhere to be compared to Ripken’s but it’s true I felt the same with what he said later. He said that he decided to end the streak entirely on his own terms while he still could.

It was cold this morning but the temperature went up in the afternoon. It was a good day to run. I can’t lie I wasn’t tempted to change my mind and go out to run. But I didn’t do it. I told my husband and DailyMile friends about my decision to end the streak in the morning. I even didn’t read other runners’ posts about running. Now, it’s too late to go out to run so I can say I ended it 🙂 I celebrated my streak, and my long missed rest day I had today. And I’m looking forward to having a new running adventure and challenge. Be happy for me!!

Day 135 – “Rest” day

Last night, I felt yucky and started coughing. My husband has been suffering from a cough and chest congestion since last Tuesday. My body was tired from running the race and doing things afterwards. My husband was tired, too. He was a wonderful supporter for me and yesterday he did it again. I appreciated that but what he needed was to rest all day. So we both took cold medicine and went to bed early. We slept all night and all morning – my husband had a sick day.

After the afternoon doggie walk, I went to the gym and ran 3.13 miles. It was an easy recovery run. I’m feeling much better today.

Day 134 – My first race of this year

In an ideal world, you would be ready for your first race of the year after spending more than an hour everyday all winter running. But in a real world, many things can happen no matter how hard you try. The important thing is, you should do everything you can do. Then whatever the result is, you can enjoy and celebrate it. Success is relative. And this is my enduring and hard, but all-good-in-the-end successful race story 🙂

2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K is the largest timed 8K in the world.
40,000 runners participate to celebrate the unofficial opening of the outdoor running season in the Chicago area. And this was my first race of this year and also the first race for me since the 2009 Chicago Marathon. I signed up for this race on my day 59. And for the last 70 something days I tried to get myself ready for this race. I didn’t follow a specific training program until I finished my 100 day project but I did build up running distance and did tempo runs. I could run 6-7 miles at 10 minutes a mile or less. So I aimed to finish between 45 – 50 minutes at the race. But two weeks ago I got a side pain and after that my pace plummeted to 14 minutes per mile. I didn’t have any specific pain in my legs but just couldn’t run at my usual pace. I got so frustrated and disappointed. Just one day before the race day, my slow running mystery started to go away. But I didn’t know what to expect on race day. I wondered if my legs don’t cooperate, will I be able to finish the race within the official time limit (75 minutes). I know myself. Once I started a race, unless both my legs are literally broken, I would somehow cross the finish line. Of course I can’t deny that I hoped to have a very good race while I was preparing myself for the worst case scenario.

The night before the race, I couldn’t fall asleep. Not because of the typical pre-race anxiety, but because I had a serious tummy problem. I slept only about 3 hours and didn’t have any energy what so ever in the morning. I wasn’t sure I could finish my race. I worried about the possible injuries the race day can bring especially when I’m not myself. Just before the race started, I gave my watch to my husband to prevent me from running harder than I should. But once I crossed the starting line, I was feeling okay. I mean for a while. My legs felt weak, but okay enough, and actually it was better than the last two weeks’ runs. But around Mile 1, I started to have a tummy problem again. I already passed the bathroom so I just tried to keep running until the next one. Since I went to the bathroom so many times last night and I did go to the bathroom in the morning, I thought I don’t have anything left in my tummy but I was wrong. It was so hard to run when you have a tummy problem. You can’t run fast. It was a shame because at last my legs wanted to run at my usual pace or faster, my tummy didn’t cooperate. The next bathroom was after Mile 3. It was a very difficult and painful 2+ miles. At last I saw the porta-potty. I wasted some time for waiting and using a bathroom but I was so grateful. I never used a bathroom during a race before and hopefully I will not have the same problem in the future.

After the bathroom break, I ran the way I wanted to. The last 1 and a half mile was the best part of the race. I enjoyed that a lot. That was the one good run I wanted to have in last two weeks! That was the stress busting, pick-me-up run. I finished strong. Even though my total time(57 minutes) was far from good – 10 minutes more than my original goal time – but I call this a “good run”. I enjoyed a banana, 2 tiny pieces of Home Run Inn Pizza, and a cup of cold beer. I had a good time. I can set my PR next year 🙂

This year’s Chicago Shamrock Shuffle had a wave start. Start time for the fast runners – Elite Corral, Corrals A,B,C,and D – was 8:30 am and the rest of the runners’ start time was 9:15 am. Even before I started my race, some fast runners finished their race and came back to the start line to cheer on their slower friends. It felt a little bit weird though. Thanks to the wave start the course wasn’t that crowded and even at the post race party the beer tent line was fast!

There are so many participants wearing the race t-shirts. Maybe this years’ t-shirts had some magic power or something? There were fewer people who dressed goofy this year, too. Maybe all funny, goofy runners were in Wave 1.

The weather was perfect. The best race day ever. Not too cold, not too hot, mild breeze and a very sunny beautiful day. Compared to the last time I ran the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle in 2009, it was like day and night 🙂

Perfect weather. 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle

2009 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle - running in the gusty wind and snow

I got the Shamrock Shuffle scarves at the race expo and my corgis wore them.They look so cute 🙂

Cappy : "Mommy, what is the Shamrock Shuffle???"

Jeter and Cappy

Jeter : "Have some fun at the race, mommy!"

Thank you for reading this long story. Happy running!!

Day 133 – Polar HRM is alive again!

Yesterday at the race Expo, I saw the Polar heart rate monitor booth. Every race expo I’ve been, I saw their booth but it was the first time I saw it’s providing a battery change service. My Polar HRM batteries are dead. I use a Garmin when I run around the neighborhood but GPS doesn’t work right at the forest preserve trail so I just use the HRM over there. And at the gym, if I wear the Polar chest strap, the Polar treadmill shows my heart rate. I needed to replace the batteries but I kept putting off sending them to the service center because it felt like a hassle. Instead of doing that, I even considered buying another Garmin or a new HRM. Then I saw the Polar booth with battery changing service! I don’t need to send a package, I don’t need to wait, I don’t need to pay the shipping. So we went back to the expo again this morning. It was way more crowded than yesterday afternoon. I replaced the batteries for my wrist unit and transmitter. I bought a new chest strap too. Total cost was $35. It was cheaper than buying a new one or Garmin.

When we were done at the expo we went to Ina’s for brunch. My omelet wasn’t that good but the vegetable hash my husband ordered was pretty good. I wish I ordered a BLT sandwich instead of the omelet. One old lady at the next table was eating a BLT and it looked so good.

After going here and there and taking the doggies out, it was already late in the afternoon. I went to the gym and ran 3.24 miles. I didn’t want to do too much. I don’t know what to expect tomorrow. Yesterday my legs felt better but today, they felt heavy again. Two weeks ago I was cruising so well until I got that side pain. Since the side pain, everything didn’t feel right and it feels like I failed to get myself ready for the race. It is disappointing but well.. it will not be my last race. I will just try to enjoy it tomorrow.

Day 132 – Better day / Race Expo

It was raining hard this morning when I was heading to the gym after I drove my husband to the train station. It looked more like a summer storm than a spring rain. Even rain skipped spring this year.

The gym was a little bit crowded. I went to the treadmill I usually use to block the sight of some unpleasant members. I ran 3.5 miles. It was a slow run but it felt different. It felt better. It felt like I finally saw a little light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t decide what to do for the 8K race on Sunday yet but maybe I will be able to run it without putting my legs at risk. I’ll still be very careful though.

When I came back home, my corgis were so lovey-dovey. They are such sweet pups but today they were sweeter than usual. Maybe they sensed my not so cranky mood 🙂 I played with them and groomed them with a FURminator. Just 2 days ago I FURminated them but boy, I was buried in their fur again. Maybe they are two sheep not corgis! They really enjoyed the spa time and looked thinner after that 🙂 If I could shed my time at the race like them, I would be an Olympic medalist! Once I heard about the service that makes yarns using your dog’s hair. I’m sure I would have a lot of yarn if I use that service.

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In the afternoon, I met my husband at his work and went to Navy Pier with him to pick up my race packet for the 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t that crowded. I got my bib and t-shirt. We walked around and bought some GU gels and chomps. I tried several headbands but still couldn’t find any good one which doesn’t slip. This year, race day weather will be good. Not like 2009. You can see some pictures of that one in my previous post by clicking this link. Day 58

There was a fog warning issued in Chicago area. Rain is on and off. But somehow I had a better day.