Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Running Made Me

There are not enough answers at a time like this. I've been thinking about yesterday's events and reading updates online. I didn't know if I should write a post about Boston. I wasn't there.

But tonight I saw something on my walk from work to the bus that encouraged this post. A small group, maybe eight runners, gathered on the lakefront path near Ohio Street beach. I was wearing running gear having finished a late afternoon run towards the end of the work day. I glanced the group's way as I walked by. When I saw the flag, I smiled. It touched me. Then a guy from the group smiled back and asked "want to run with us?"

Had I not crossed paths with them with a backpack, purse and rain coat, maybe I would have joined the group. After all, the idea of running with strangers isn't really strange at all. That's the beautiful thing about running. We can all do it.

Which lead me to think as I continued my walk to the bus. Where would I be without running?

I would know less people. I would have fewer stories and memories. I would have laughed less.

I would have gone on fewer trips. I wouldn't have foam rolled. Or gu'd. Or drank three the night before a race.

I wouldn't have gotten up before the sun on weekends to meet with dozens of people who were once strangers, but now my friends. Some of my closest friends.

I would have never experienced an entire city coming together, through its dozens of neighborhoods, to act as one on race day. People that have never met me would not have cheered for me. I would have never felt the overwhelming since of pride for my city the way that I do on race day. I would have never known how it feels to cross the finish line of a marathon.

It's hard to even imagine. Where would I be if running hadn't made me?

Friday, April 12, 2013

I am cornholio

Ok, I'll admit it, I was never much of a Beavis and Butthead fan.

But I do remember the 'I am cornholio' bit of the show.

Does this photo from the F^3 Lake Half Marathon remind you at all of it?

The swag for registering for the F^3 Lake Half Marathon was a head gator.

A head gator is a tubular piece of fabric around 1' x 1' which you can contort into a half dozen different shapes - many that were quite handy on a windy January day.

I found the head gator to be quite useful during the race. I remember thinking - just when I thought I had every piece of gear related to running, Kim had introduced me to something new. And it worked great. I loved it.

Here's an image of Brian and my finish. Notice Brian's picture-perfect pose. And I, well, I am cornholio.

And I'll use it again. Many times I'm sure. Hopefully there won't be a photographer around to capture it. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dave meets the Foam Roller

Last week, the weather broke (well, at least for a few days).

While I was out running and eventually falling, Dave was out golfing. Santa brought Dave a new set of clubs that he's been itching to break in.

On Friday, we went out to dinner. As I was driving to the restaurant, he told me his side was bothering him. I asked him to be more specific. As he explained more, it sounded all too familiar. Ah ha! Dave too has an IT band.

As we exited the car, I demoed the 'cross one foot over the other and lean' IT band stretch. It didn't seem to help much. At dinner, I told Dave he was going to meet his fate that evening when we went back home. What Dave needed, my friends, was the foam roller.

He didn't seem worried. Ah yes, I remember the days before I first foam rolled. I would see people using them at the gym. I thought it was just a fad, like The Reebok Step. But then I foam rolled and damn, did it hurt.

When we returned home that evening, I pulled out the foam roller and showed Dave a few, seemingly painless, moves. Minutes later, Dave had his first encounter with the foam roller. And the foam roller won.

He rolled. He grimaced. He howled. He screamed obscenities. He took a breather. Then rolled again. "This hurts!" He told me. Yes Dave, it does. I saw sweat forming at his hairline. That's when I knew the foam roller was really getting to him.

He next night, he was at it again. Rolling. Sweating. Swearing.

Once again, the foam roller shows it's domination in my house.

The foam roller always wins.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Making of a Marine

For the last five years, I've ran one marathon a year. Quite possibly the greatest marathon in the world - The Chicago Marathon.

While friends have traveled to different cities, states and counties, I've stayed with my hometown race.

I've had dreams about running London, but its near impossible to get into. I've also had another race on my mind - The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. A few friends have run it and had good things to say (ok, all but Brian).

One day last summer, Jeff and I got to talking about other races we might like to do. We talked briefly about Marine Corps then. Jeff then proceeded to run two marathons in October last year- Chicago (we ran the race together and both PR'd) and then Amsterdam (Jeff ran with Kimberley and she PR'd).

Shortly after the new year, jeff and I were part of an email discussion on other races to run this year. Marine Corps came up and we both said we wanted in. Marine Corps registration was not until the end of March whereas Chicago's was at the beginning of February. And so, the idea of two marathons in October was born.

After much anticipation following Chicago's registration and last year's Marine Corps selling out in just a few hours, the day came. Carl, Jeff and I were all logged in a noon EST to be in the minute registration opened.

This registration process proved to have its fair share of challenges. The same Chicago had a few weeks earlier and the same as the Wine Country half a month earlier. The overwhelming interest in these events is driving people to all rush the registration sites the minute they open. And so, for two hours, the three of us tried. Carl and I got in just minutes before registration closed. Jeff wasn't able to get in that day, but has a few other avenues to look into to get a bib for the race.

We'll run Chicago on October 13th, and on October 27th (my 34th birthday), we'll run Marine Corps.

I can't wait. Even if it means we can barely walk at the end of the month.

The [Almost] Shuffle

I've ran the Shamrock Shuffle on and off for the last eight years. Off years were when the Shuffle conflicted with a vacation or worse, I was injured.

I was prepared to run it again this year, remembering last years warm temperatures and my standing 8k PR. I'm more than ready to say goodbye to winter weather right about now.

Wednesday, I joined a fun run from the new Universal Sole location in Lakeshore East. The 3.5 mile loop took us down to run right on the lake's edge as opposed to the bike path closer to Lake Shore Drive. As I ran that night, I thought about how I never think to run down right on the water like that. Maybe I'd start mixing it up a bit.

The following day, I met a friend for a lunch run date. I met her about a mile in to my run and we headed south. Again, we went along the water's edge. The weather was so beautiful I had tied my coat around my waist. We were in a conversation about our Easter weekends when it happened. All in slow motion. My right ankle buckled and I began to lose my balance - Oh no. This is happening. Again.

We regrouped in the grass and I assessed the sprain. Could I walk it off? I thought so. We continued south for a few minutes, then picked up running again. We ran another 6 miles together.

By the time I returned to the office, my ankle was getting stiff. Unfortunately, I know this process all too well. So much so that I have provisions at work to RICE (rest, ice, elevate, compress).

Though I was disappointed in my klutzy performance, I hoped that this little fall wouldn't sideline my Shuffle plans. After all, it was only Thursday.

Fast forward to tonight. I decided just this evening, after reading more online, taking to my massage therapist and trying to think of the bigger training picture, that I won't run the race tomorrow morning. Though my ankle seems to be on the mend, a week of no running is probably the best remedy to ensure it has a chance to heal.

Dave tried to console me by saying, "it's just the Shuffle. It's not the (Chicago) marathon or Marine Corps (marathon)." He's right. The Shuffle is not my 'A' race this year. But I remember not so long ago when it was. I think it's a great event that gives many runners a big city race feel.

The most difficult part about not running tomorrow is that I am forfeiting my commitment to run the race. That's unlike me. No matter what race I've signed up for over the years, I've always been there on race day. Ok, there was one Soldier Field 10 I had to pass on due to an injury, but its the only race I can think of. Tomorrow will be two.