Friday, January 17, 2014

Legacy Finishers

Yesterday morning, the Chicago Marathon made an announcement. They laid out the rules and timeline for what will be the first official year of a lottery system. Lotteries are not uncommon in marathoning, especially for other World Marathon Majors like New York and London. The Majors consists of six races (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York and Toyko) which are arguably some of the best and most sought after races in the world.

After last year's registration site hiccup (as in, so many people were trying to get into the race on opening day that it crashed's servers), rumors have swirled that 2014 would be Chicago's first true lottery.

I was lucky enough to get in to both Chicago and Marine Corps during their registration debacles last year. Some of my friends and family members were able to get in at a later date as registration reopened or they decided to fundraise for a charity to gain entry.

This year, I've been waiting as so many others have to hear the news. What would the guidelines be? Yesterday morning I received a text from Sara telling me about the Legacy Finisher option. I'd never heard of such a thing. What does that mean? I searched for the term on my iPhone read this:


After months of dodging thoughts about my 2014 racing plan, today a door may have opened. Based on the prerequisites, I'll qualify as a Legacy Finisher. Which begs to answer the question, "How could I not run Chicago this year?" I'm happy to finally be thinking about racing again. I've taken a long break from any type of formal training program and a short hiatus from much running at all. With the winter rearing it's ugly head, I've been quite content not running.

Yesterday's news made me think of sunshine, shorts and early morning training runs along the lakefront. Of my mile trek down Sheridan where I wave to my neighbor Glen and constantly update my Playlists to get me through the hours of training each week. Of post long run trips to McDonald's for that damn fountain Coke. Of the friends I've made training and the places we've traveled in the name of racing. It reminded me of my summertime routine for the last 6 years.
Did I honestly think I wasn't going to run a marathon this year? Until yesterday, I might have said yes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Starting a New Journey

Last year, I embarked on a new fitness journey. Little did I know when I started taking classes at The Lab that it would become a place I'd relearn anything I thought I knew about yoga. As I posted recently on The Lab's Facebook page, "The Lab is a life changer."

Yoga, you's that thing that anyone can do. It's just simple stretching and relaxing, right? Wrong. The Lab is not your mother's yoga. Or at least, not what I knew of yoga.

I've taken yoga on and off over the last ten or so years, mainly with the goal in mind of supplementing running. Running was always #1. Yoga was a vehicle to fend off injury. Or something to do when injured. I never thought of yoga as being hard.

But oh, The Lab has taught me so much. It's reminded me to check my confidence at the door because yoga practice is something I have a LONG way to go on. Even now after a year of taking classes on and off at The Lab I say that. Though yoga practice isn't supposed to be about comparing yourself to others, I'm constantly learning from others. And so, seeing this on Pinterest reminded me of some of my practices. Set the bar low and start with little victories.

As I've worked through my weeks and months as a Level 1 (or barely Level 1) at the Lab, I've reminded myself that I wasn't always good at distance running either. Building myself up to be a distance runner took time (like years). I had a lot of set backs along the way, some of which were easy to recall:

I ran in shoes from Kohl's and got shin splints. 
I couldn't get past a mile and a half on the treadmill without dogging out. 
I couldn't acclimate to the heat. Or the cold.
I walked when I should have been running.
I couldn't talk while running. 
I couldn't run without music. 
I couldn't get over the fear that I would finish last in a race. 
I chaffed. 
I became injured while training for the Soldier Field 10 and couldn't run the race. 
I became injured again while training for a half marathon. 
I thought I should just give up after trying for a few years to be a distance runner. -- I'll just run 5 and 10K's, I can manage that.
I got runner's knee.
I irritated my IT band.
I didn't finish a long run.
I sprained my ankle.

But in the end, the end being the accomplishment of my first half marathon, I had erased some of the doubt. It might not have had pretty form and speed, but I finished. And that's how it starts. So I hope I can put my doubtful mind at ease as I continue to see small gains in yoga with the reminder that the master was once the student at just about anything.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Fly a Pigeon

I don't know many people who like pigeons. Especially not in Chicago. My friend Bill once referred to them as "flying rats," a term I took a liking to immediately. All this talk of flying and pigeons brings me to what might be my most feared yoga pose to date;  Eka Pada Galavasana or Flying Pigeon pose. 

This pose tops the list due to an encounter I had with it last spring. At the time, we were setting up the with a block to become familiar with the proper positioning. As I connected my folded leg with my triceps, I attempted to lean my weight forward to get my head out over my arms. 


Then my shelved leg slipped and I went down. I heard a unique crunching noise as my nose made contact with the wood floor. As I pressed up off the mat with my hands, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would there be blood? Did I dislocate my nose? 

I saw spots as I opened my eyes. Who knew you could fall so hard from 14" off the ground? Well, now I knew.
Flying Pigeon isn't a pose I'd ever encountered before, so I hoped that I might not run into it for some time. We were not off to a great start together. But shortly thereafter, over at The Lab, Flying Pigeon would make an appearance. Again and again. 

I can't say that I've come to terms with it completely, but with each practice, I'm taking steps to get a bit closer to something like this photo (and hopefully nose injury free).

Here's a short video of how to get into Flying Pigeon:

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Finding Time

Oh time...why does the mere thought of saying the word out loud launch me into an overplayed Hootie and the Blowfish song? Since we're already there - as the song says - time, you ain't no friend of mine. (And for the record, Darius Rucker, I really do prefer you as a country artist!)

I'm someone who hates to miss an opportunity, so almost to a fault. I rarely say no. I want to squeeze everything possible into my day, week and month. I don't want to miss anything if that's an option. I believe in getting up early and beating the crowds to a great breakfast spot. To be the first to arrive and the last to leave a theme park. To rise before the sun to run, even if I was out late last night.

I recently saw this graphic on Pinterest and thought it fit my "Burn the candle at both ends" take on life rather well:

Whether you're good or below average creating time, we give preference to our goals. 

Yes, it does take time to train for a marathon. Heck, it takes time to work out period. Whether we're talking a few hours a week or 15, that time can be found regardless of profession, marital status or age. 

Sometimes when I'm at a gathering with some of my running friends, it's interesting to me to think of how different we are. Yet we all have a common fitness goal. We decided that we would run a marathon that year (or a few half marathons, a tri, an ultra, or maybe an Ironman), and we're doing it. No or not possible is not an option, and so, we find time.

Here's to New Year's goals and keeping to them. Welcome, 2014.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Marathon Maniac

Once you've run a few races, you've undoubtedly seen the bright yellow singlets signaling a member of an elite club - Marathon Maniacs.

In my life, I've gotten to know two maniacs (and they just so happen to know each other). 

My friend George recently completed his quest to run a marathon in every state. You might wonder (as I had): "How can someone do that and work?"  Here's where the maniac mentality really comes in to play; George systematically plotted his 50 state journey, sometimes tackling two races in a weekend. I've read Facebook posts over the last year that went something like this - he flew to Wyoming and ran a marathon on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, he got in a car and drove to South Dokota to run a marathon there the next day. Following Sunday's race, he flew home. 
To close out his roundabout of states, he ran five marathons in five days this summer while raising money for a Greek American charity. 

George is a running machine. A true maniac at a completely different level. As George would say "I Love Running and Running Loves Me."

One of my coworkers used to work with George. She's also completed a marathon in each state. Among other accomplishments, she has run every day for the last few years. Every day. I can't even fathom that. I wonder how many pairs of shoes she goes through in a year...I digress. 

Following the Marine Corps Marathon, I received an email from another co-worker, our Ironman General Counsel. He takes is training pretty seriously and is quite fast, and so, I blush whenever I'm grouped in the same category as him in conversations around the water cooler. Truthfully, he's at a complete different level than me. Maybe one I can aspire to be at if I only didn't love chocolate and beer so much. Then again, that's what's makes this all for fun, right?

His email was brief, but went something like this:

Congrats on your Marine Corps Marathon finish. You've completed two marathons in less than 16 days. That makes you a Marathon Maniac.

Really? I'm a Marathon Maniac? I'm not plotting to run races back to back or in multiple states. Is he sure? Siri, what's the most basic definition of a Marathon Maniac?


2 Marathons within a 16 day time frame.
3 Marathons within a 90 day time frame.

And there we have it.  Who knew Jeff and I would accomplish such a feat last year? Actually, this is Jeff's second year running two marathons in 14 days, so it's safe to say he's a two-time Maniac.