5 Hot Miles

Yesterday was 5 mile day! It was beautiful outside, but it was HOT when I decided to head out at around 2pm. It is officially way too hot to run in the middle of the day anymore this summer. I don’t mind the hot weather any other time, but the blazing sun can make for a tough run!

My run went fairly slow because of the heat, and I felt especially tired during the last half of the mileage. I was running on the roads that wind through the wildlife refuge though, so I kept myself busy enjoying the nature! The sound of my feet even scared off some wild turkeys! After I finished, I spent a lot of time stretching out on a pier that I like to go to at the end of my runs. I’m still nervous about getting injured again, so I’m trying to be proactive and have been really taking my time with stretching during and after my runs.

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Later that evening, my dad finally arrived and we started up the grill for dinner! I’m a Wisconsin girl through and through. To me, there is nothing like brats and corn on the grill. I could eat it everyday!

We spent much of today hiking, and it felt good to loosen up my legs from yesterday’s run. It was a perfect Memorial Day; sunny and 80 degrees! The light breeze and the shade from the trees kept us cool enough to hike without getting too warm. We had some great photo opportunities!

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Afterwards, we enjoyed some wine tasting at two local wineries. It has been a great long weekend, which was much needed before another crazy-busy upcoming week!

If you would like to donate to my personal fundraising page for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program, you can do so here. To find out more about why I’m running the Chicago Marathon through ACS DetermiNation, you can read my first post here. Thanks for your support!

“Unstoppable!”

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Wow, I have a lot to update! Remember on Sunday when I had a rough run? Well, there are bad runs, and there are great runs, and this week has been full of great runs! On Wednesday, I had to run my 3 miles in the morning again before work since my co-workers and I were leaving for training in Chicago overnight. I use the Nike+ Running app on my phone, and when a run ends, you can choose to log where you ran, the shoes you wore, and how you felt. I was able to choose “I felt unstoppable!” to describe how my run felt! It’s not always that I feel amazing after a run, so I was really excited that I was able to log “unstoppable” to describe it!

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My co-workers and I made our way to Chicago on Wednesday for training for our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The Strides season is coming up quickly, and after our Relay For Life events end, we need to be updated on all the new information about the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer walk. Wednesday was a very special day for the American Cancer Society, because it was our organization’s 100th birthday! (You may have seen commercials that have been on TV lately about how ACS is finishing the fight.) In honor of our birthday, businesses in many different cities, including Chicago, showed their support by lighting their buildings in red, white and blue on Wednesday night. We were excited to be in Chicago to see some of these buildings! We had a lot of fun with the photo opportunities. 🙂

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Early on Thursday morning, I did cross-training on the elliptical at the hotel for 30 minutes before our training began. I am not too fond of ellipticals and I always feel like I want to “run” out of them. I just can’t get used to them as much as I try. Next time cross-training comes up on my training schedule, I think I will try a different exercise. Any suggestions are appreciated!

We got home very late on Thursday eventing, so when I woke up on Friday morning, I was feeling groggy decided not to try to continue my morning run streak. Instead, I spent the day rehydrating and gathering up some more energy. I was still feeling sluggish after work, but I knew that I would feel a ton better during my run. I was right! I was able to choose “unstoppable” again! It was the perfect temperature outside, and I love running in the evening right before the sun sets. I have been really working on pacing, and I was able to stay right around the 9:00-9:15 mark the whole 3 miles.

Today is a rest day to prepare for my 5 mile long run tomorrow. I’m excited and looking forward to it! It has been so beautiful today, and since I had to rest from running, I went for a nice long hike with my camera. Here are some favorites:

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My dad is headed down tomorrow from Wisconsin to spend Memorial Day with me! Have a great Saturday and Sunday!

Power through

Yesterday after my long drive back home from Wisconsin, I set out for my 4 mile long run. Without sugar-coating it, it was a rough one! I think a lack of sleep and the festivities from Saturday night during Maddie’s bachelorette party had a lot to do with that. But despite feeling a bit sluggish, I powered through and made it. Whenever I am training for a race, I keep my goal in mind. In my mind, I have already completed this marathon over and over, so I keep reminding myself of that feeling and how accomplished I will feel when I cross that finish line. It sounds silly, but it works! I am looking forward to some great runs this week to make up for it!

My weekend in Wisconsin was a lot of fun and it was great to celebrate with the bride-to-be!

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Today was the beginning of a crazy-busy week, which is good since it is my first week without Dan here! I’m glad I will be kept busy so I can keep my mind off of missing him.

Rainy Morning Run

Typically, I prefer to run in the evenings. I am not a morning person by any means so to get me out of bed and running before my day starts is a rare occurrence! Today, though, my three miles needed to happen before work since we are leaving right away to head to Wisconsin for the weekend! Dan is moving back to start his new job on Monday, and I am going to my friend Maddie’s bachelorette party!

I was surprised to get out of bed this morning and see rain! It has been so beautiful out lately that I guess I wasn’t expecting anything different for my morning run. Luckily, it tapered off by the time I got going. I felt a little tight this morning so my three miles went a little more slowly than normal, but afterwards I felt a lot better.

Since yesterday was one of our last days of living under the same roof for a while, Dan and I decided it was an occasion worthy of a date night. We went out for dinner at one of our favorite local places for all-you-can-eat barbecue chicken. Since the restaurant is located right in the middle of a state park, there are always some good photo opportunities! IMG_20130517_101701Afterwards, we were craving some dessert, so we headed to our favorite fro-yo shop!

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I was pleasantly full by the time we got home to finish up packing up the cars!

Fartlek

I remember one of my first high school cross country practices when I heard my coach say “fartlek” for the first time. The snicker that comes after saying that word does not go away, even when you are 25!

Yesterday after work, I went to the track at the local junior high school to run a 20 minute fartlek. I love running on tracks- they always make me feel faster for some reason! Plus, an added bonus was some cushioning for my joints for the day! I ran at  70-80% for 4 minutes, and then a 20-30% for 1 minute, and did this four times. I really wanted to incorporate some speed workouts into my marathon training, and fartleks will help me with speed and pacing myself throughout the workout. I felt great, but I definitely will need to work on pacing.

Lookin' sweaty after my fartlek!

Lookin’ sweaty after my fartlek!

In other news, yesterday I officially signed up for DetermiNation! You can view my pesonal page here to donate! What’s great about running with DetermiNation is that participants are offered in-person training if you live in the metropolitan area of the race location, or virtual training if you don’t live close by. Once I raise $250, I am eligible to start virtual training after June 1. I think it will be great to get a trainer’s advice throughout the course of my training!

After my workout, Dan and I decided to go for a short hike on the trails nearby. It was a beautiful evening! I love when the temperature is still above 80 degrees when the sun is almost setting. That means summer is finally here!

The water on the lake was calm and beautiful last night. It was a great night for a hike!

The water on the lake was calm and beautiful last night. It was a great night for a hike!

Today is a rest day, and I will be helping Dan pack as he gets ready to move back to Wisconsin for his new job. Two weeks went by too fast! It’s not going to be fun to be apart again, but hopefully it won’t be for too long. I have a lot to keep me busy right now, so I’m hoping that life will distract me in his absence!

Let the training begin!

I have officially started my training! I’ve been doing a lot of research and making sure that I’m ready to go to start my mileage. I adapted quite a few different marathon training programs and created my training schedule!

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I have given myself about 6 weeks longer than a lot of marathon schedules I found recommend. This is for a few reasons:

  1. This is not the first race that I’ve started training for…in fact, I have started training for 2 different half marathons in the past. During my training schedule, mile 9 was the kicker in both instances where I got injured. The first time was my hip, the second and most recent time (in January) was my left knee. Both times, I never made it to race day. Talk about frustrating. I learned quite a few things in both instances. Third time is a charm!
  2. Since my recent injury with my knee 5 months ago, I have been slowly easing myself back into mileage. I did two things to nurse it back to health: got new shoes and took two months off! It’s feeling 100% better, but there is no doubt I’m nervous about week 7 when I run 9 miles again! So, since I’ve already been running, I decided to make my initial mileage really low for the first few weeks for the plain old reason of just getting back into a schedule.

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I’m officially a Brooks girl now! I love my recent Brooks Ravenna 4 purchase…like running on air!

Yesterday was my 2 mile day. It’s been so beautiful outside lately, and that makes running a million times more fun! Day one went great!

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Looking ridiculously colorful during a run last weekend!

The Background Story

Hello! Thank you for joining me!

I have started this blog to document my training for the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013 through the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program. Let me start from the beginning…

In high school, I found running. I loved that I could think about everything and nothing at the same time while running. I made so many friends. My entire personality changed and I became more confidant with who I was. It was amazing to me how running solved all of my high school “problems.” My friends and I would hash out a bad day and solve all our problems by the end of our workout. I loved it. In Cross Country, I learned that I actually liked running long distances (despite my original thoughts about it)! And it has stuck with me since then. So, I guess you could say that I’ve been running for the better part of my life so far.

Fast forward to 2011. I started working at the American Cancer Society. This was a dream of mine. The loss of my mom to cancer when I was 16 made me want to spend my life fighting back against cancer. I took all my experience with the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life that I gained in college and made my dream of working with this organization into reality. If you’re going to fight back against cancer, why not do it with the largest cancer fighting organization in the world?

StaffA few of my co-workers and I at our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October 2012!

During one of the days of my new-staff training, I learned about the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program. Here’s what happens: ACS is granted a certain number of spots in marathons and half marathons across the country (as are many other nonprofit organizations). In return for a spot in the race (many races sell out in minutes), participants fundraise for ACS. It sounds simple, but there is so much emotion behind it. People don’t just do DetermiNation for no reason. They do it for their mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, friend…or themselves!  Instantly, I became inspired. People have literally changed their lifestyles to run one race in honor or in memory of loved ones who have had this disease. Think about it. The amount of time, effort, sweat, tears and everything that goes into training for a marathon…is a minuscule fraction of the pain that our loved ones went through while fighting cancer. People run to fight back and raise money and prove that cancer can’t hold us down.

Ever since that day, I have wanted to join. WIth every fiber of my body, I hate cancer. Running helped me cope with the loss of my mom, and it only makes sense to me that I would run a marathon in her honor while fighting back against cancer.

Without trying to “sell” the American Cancer Society to you, here are some things for you to know. I will be fundraising, and I’m excited about it! Although fundraising isn’t the only reason I have decided to do this, it is an important part. Many of you will ask, “where does the money go?” Let me give you a REASon to not only encourage me, but also help me in my fundraising efforts.

R- Research- ACS is the second-largest cancer research funding organization in America, only behind the US government. We have funded more than 40 scientists who have won a Nobel prize for their findings in cancer research. We have also had a hand in every major cancer advancement in the past 100 years, including findings that are obvious facts to mankind today (smoking leads to cancer was not always a known fact)!

E- Education- Ok, so we can fund cancer researchers…but how do we PREVENT cancer from happening to begin with? Education. ACS works to bring cancer education to schools  and communities alike. If you start teaching kids young about how to prevent cancer (don’t start smoking, take care of your skin in the sun, eat right and exercise), then maybe our world really will have less cancer in the future. We aren’t just teaching kids, we’re teaching adults too.

A- Advocacy- Your tax dollars are going a lot of places…do you know everywhere they’re going? Thanks to ACS and ACS CAN, we give people a voice to make sure that some of their tax dollars are being spent to help prevent cancer and help families who have cancer patients. Did you know that right now in Illinois, women can get their annual pap smear and mammogram for free? That’s huge! Think about just how many lives that is saving. You can also thank ACS in part for helping to create smoke-free states.

S- Services…Patient Services to be exact. This is something that maybe my family didn’t know a lot about when my mom was going through cancer. Anyone going through cancer can get FREE patient services at their local ACS office. This includes a free wig (my mom paid for hers), free “Look Good…Feel Better” sessions (teaching ladies who have lost their hair and gone through treatment how to reapply makeup, fix their wigs, and tie head wraps), case management, support groups, FREE rides to and from treatment with Road to Recovery, and so much more. This is my favorite part of ACS. We are literally in communities trying to make patients’ lives easier if at all possible. I’m sure I will post more about all of these wonderful services in the future.

I’m hoping that this ends up being the sappiest post I write during the next 22 weeks. I promise they won’t all be this way! I hope that you will stick with me as I document my running. I have already created a schedule and finally started this week! I’m excited to share everything with you!