Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Change Will Do You Good...

When school got out a couple of weeks ago, the plan was to shift my focus on running and start an official training schedule for the half marathon in September. Well...things weren't going as planned. I was still finding a hard time fitting in running on a regular basis with my work schedule. This seemed odd, since one would think with more free time it would be easier to find the time. In hindsight, I realize now wasn't so much finding the time, but getting mentally in the right place. I just wasn't as excited about running as I was before, but couldn't figure out why.

Like many other things in life, it turns out a change was what was needed to give me a jump start. I had gotten new shoes, started my blog, but still that spark was missing. But then I found it, the inspiration that I needed...a change of venue.

After running in the Morton Arboretum 10K a month ago, I thought maybe it would be nice to go there and run my long runs occasionally. The thought remained in the back of my mind and resurfaced last Sunday when I ran seven miles in my neighborhood in the heat. The run was tough...I struggled to get through the last couple of miles. I thought about how I would doing this every week, all summer and realized it was going to get old fast. The shade in my subdivision is non existent. And this is the same for all the subdivisions around me. The scenery is all the same too...houses, cars, houses, cars. But then, as if it was a sign, I got an invitation in the mail to become a member of the Morton Arboretum at a reduced price. So I decided to sign up and give it try...BEST DECISION EVER!

 

I used to be a member of the Arboretum a long time ago, but it wasn't until I ran there for the first time Friday that I remembered how much I love that place. It was so beautiful and quiet, I actually ran the first mile with no music...I just listened to the wind blowing through the trees and the birds singing. It was wonderful. It was just what I needed to get me motivated again.

Since the Arboretum is on my way home from work, the plan is to stop there after work three days a week and run. I also will probaby do some of my Sunday long runs there as well, as I can't imagine running in the hot urban jungle when I can run in the peaceful woods. The only disadvantage is that it will be a 40 minute drive to get there from my house, but I think it will be worth it.

If you are in the Chicago area, you should definitely check out the Morton Aboretum. Not only can you run there, you can also bike and hike, or simply take a drive through: mortonarb.org

 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Beer + More Beer = Large Shoe Purchase

We went into Chicago this weekend to watch the FA Cup final at the Globe Pub and then decided to check out a local run/swim/bike shop. I went in with the intention of possibly picking up another pair of the Kinvara 3, but I should know better than to shop while slightly intoxicated. And to further lower my shopping inhibitions, it was Cinco de Mayo and we were served free Modelo while we browsed. Long story short, instead of buying the Kinvaras, I decided to try a pair of Newtons out of curiosity and ended up buying the Newton Distance U:

Newton the cat with Newton the shoes

I took them out for a six mile run, but really am not able to give them (or the Kinvaras) a fair assessment yet as I have been dealing with some residual hamstring pain in my left leg from a failed trial of a pair of Brooks Glycerins (apparently my left foot hates all Brooks).

Since I am super busy with work and finals this week, I will have a few days to rest up the left leg and hopefully be able to try them both out again this weekend and will have a full report then.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Do These Come With Jetpacks?

After I ran in my first 10K a couple of weeks ago, I decided maybe it was time to check out the shoe market in case there was a better option out there. After trying on numerous shoes, I have determined two things: me and my big hobbit feet only fit nicely in Sauconys, and I would prefer a more minimal shoe. I was running in Saucony Triumph 9, and had no problems with them, but it is a lot of shoe and there still is a heel drop of 8mm. So I decided to give a more minimal shoe another try and ended up with the Kinvara 3. I also liked the Cortana, but felt there was still too much heel to get in my way.

My assistant Newton modeling the Kinvara 3s.


I have to say, the Kinvara 3 is an absolutely magical shoe. It is extremely light and the improvements to the upper of the shoe make it very flexible. Heel drop is 4mm, but feels much less noticeable then the Cortana. I took them out for a 3.5 mile run last night and could not be more impressed with these shoes! Because there is no bulky heel to get in the way, I was able to run with a more mid and forefoot strike, which is what my body prefers and it was more comfortable. I think because of this, my legs were far less fatigued and I ran the first two miles with almost no walking. I would have probably ran the whole time except that the heat forced me to take a couple of walk breaks. I felt like a gazelle...it was great!

The main concern when switching to a more minimal shoe is your legs adjusting, but since I walk around barefoot all time my calves had no problem handling the change. Only some minimal discomfort in the tendons/ligaments around my left knee, which went away completely post run. The big test will be taking them out on a long run and see if the cushioning will be enough.

The only thing I did notice is that after two runs in these shoes the soles seem a little more beat up. I would expect this as they are not as beefy. So I will probably be replacing these a little faster than normal. Which is a great excuse for me to buy more in different colors. :)

Overall, I am super excited about these shoes. They may not be for everyone, but they are definitely worth a try if you are looking for a change.
  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One Step Up From Floaties

Went to the gym for a swim on my lunch break today. It always amazes me how I can feel refreshed and recharged after a 30 minute run, but after a 30 minute swim I feel like a large meal and a nap. This is probably due to my highly inefficient swimming technique (think one step up from toddler with floaties). Fortunately, my fancy swim cap and goggles give the illusion I know what I am doing, so most of the other swimmers ignore me while I desperately try to stay in my lane while flailing my arms in a feeble backstroke attempt. Today I only bumped the rope once...however I also think I may have ingested half a gallon of salty chlorine water. I take solace in the fact that I actually burn more calories being a bad swimmer than being a skilled one. And I don't think there is any danger of this changing in the near future.

I usually drink just water after I swim, but lately I have been wondering if I am a more "salty sweater" and perhaps am losing more electrolytes than I think during harder workouts. So today I tried drinking some watered down Gatorade and I think it did help. I managed to stay awake and somewhat focused for the rest of the day. However I know I will be out once my head hits the pillow tonight. That's something I always love about swimming...you may be tired, but it's a good tired.

I have been doing some maintenance runs while juggling work and class, but tomorrow I will official start my training for the half marathon. I will be taking the new shoes for a spin...I have a good feeling about them! Really hoping they work out to be my main shoes (and then I can buy lots more in different colors...that's what us girls do :) )