Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chicago & Wisconsin, and Boston Training Weeks 1-2

Training for Boston started on Jan 29th.  Since I was at my parents’ house through Jan 2, I thought I’d get in all this training, with high volume, easy runs on the grass.  It ended up not happening.  I got 2x6.6 mi runs in during week 1, and that left me with a 10 miler as the long run.  There are 2 versions of the training plan that I like to use – a “hopeful” one with 4 runs per week, and a more realistic one with 3 runs per week.  Week 1 would be a 3-run week.

After driving from Charleston to Greenville on Saturday, Jan 2, I flew out to Chicago early the next morning (waking at 3am Eastern /  2am Central).  I was going in for a business trip early, to visit my old college roomie and her family.  Even though it’s been 5 years, it’s like we were never apart.  We played with their adorable 1-year-old, played board games (Dominion – a cool card game with options for variations in each game; Pandemic – a twist on board games, where all of the players work together to beat the game, vs. beat each other; and Princeton Carcassonne), had a luxurious nap, broke out a bottle of Malbec, and caught up.  The next day, church, a run, and more games and catching up.

It was snowing out, but I had 10 miles on the schedule, and it was a prime location for a great run.  They live really close to the Lake, which has green space running all the way down to downtown Chicago, which was about 8.5 miles away.  My welcome to the shore was the sight of tall waves crashing up against a snowy beach.  There wasn’t much visibility with the snow, so you couldn’t see too far out into the water.  Especially with Divergent, I was excited about the prospects of making it downtown, to see The Bean and the Hancock building.  

At first, I trudged along on the snow as much as I could, to avoid the impact of pavement.  I had bought the Salomon Mission trail shoes a while back when I first got into trail running, but I haven’t run much on trails since.  They were perfect for my trips up North, for getting traction on ice and giving me some un-muddy casual shoes for getting around during business trips.  It’s the Northern trip version of the minimalist Saucony Hattoris, which I ended up not using for running, but which made a great, light shoe for getting around Brazil.  

Since I’d be out for a while, and who knew what I’d need, I took the conservative route and over-dressed.  I had a fleece over a long-sleeve tech tee, a buff for my neck, long warmup pants, soccer socks, mitten-gloves, and a Salomon cap with a cape-like thing around the back meant to keep the sun off your neck.  I figured the cape thing would be equally good for keeping snow off my neck.  It’s also something that I had rarely used in the past (save during a trip to the West last year), which will come in handy now.

I went along on the grass for a few miles.  As it got warm, I took off my fleece, buff, and cap.  After going through the Nature Preserve section, the wind started beating pellet-y snow sideways.  It was getting colder, and the snow was stinging my eyes.  At this point, I got a bit demoralized.  I put my cap and clothes back on, though, and felt better immediately.  I was going by Google Maps on my phone to track my progress.  At two points, though, it shut off from being too cold, so I stuck it in my bra, and later, my fleece pocket, to warm it back up.  I took pictures and video along the way.  It was actually hard to get my mouth to cooperate in forming words, and  my hands to cooperate in pushing buttons.  I guess when it’s cold, its blood flow is reduced.  


I started going along the paved bike path, since it made for much faster progress than the deep snow.  With the weather, it was comforting to see that there were other crazy fellow runners out there, getting their runs in.  I passed some marinas, then a shore where there were big ice pebbles.  Having grown up close to the beach in Charleston, it was crazy-looking to me.  As I got closer to downtown, the city skyline came into view through the poor-visibility snowy air.  It was exciting to see it come closer and closer.  Chicago is like a condensed cluster of skyscrapers, with the shore on one side, and much smaller buildings all around on the other side, so it’s pretty striking.  

Finally, I got downtown.  I saw the Ferris wheel that Tris climbed, from a distance.  Chicago was a bustling place, with lots of people walking around despite the slosh.  I finally made it to The Bean, and I took some pictures and videos.  I had probably visited it once before, like 15 years ago, during a family vacation, although I’m not positive.  At that time, they had “Cows on Parade” statues scattered around, each one designed a different way, so that was the part that I had remembered most.  It was getting close to sunset, so I rode the metro back… I only remember just now that they did that in Divergent, too, with the raised platform and everything.   The metro ride warmed me back up nicely.  8.5 miles in 1:37:36, 11:29 average.

Back at home base, a nice dinner, more games, and talking.  I got to keep reading more of Sherlock Holmes volume 2, since they had the same book… nearly finished!  It was a nice weekend.  Even though I was travelling away from home, it felt in a way like returning home, seeing old friends again.
The next morning, I was supposed to pick up 2 fellow travelers at the airport, but they got delayed, so I drove out to Watertown, Wisconsin, by myself.  I had a productive few days there.  I didn’t run on Monday night, since all parts of my legs were moderately sore from the different muscles that got used while running through snow, and because I was too tired after dinner.  The soreness by itself would’ve been fine, but one foot felt a bit bruised, too.

Tuesday morning, I went to the hotel fitness room to run, but the treadmill was taken.  I should’ve gone out at 5:30am like I had originally planned, instead of sleeping in and waiting until 6am.  Maybe it was for the best, though, to let the bruisy ball of my foot to recover.  I did the stair stepper instead, for 35 min, breathing through my nose after the first three minutes.  It was a decent, low-impact alternative to running.  If I had had the time, I felt good enough to do a short run after that, but I had to get on with getting ready for work.

Wednesday night, finally got in a run again.  In the past week, I had only done the one 8.5 miler, so this 6.0 in 49:05, 8:11 average, was long overdue.  I was in Racine, Wisconsin, then, where the hotel has a very very warm gym.  It was a good run… not too hard, got in the miles.
Thursday morning, while I was running to my car, I slipped on the ice, haha.  I fell on my side, so it was only a short distance to the ground.  I felt nothing at the time, although my right bursa-area seemed to be a bit bruised.  It might’ve been just a flare-up of my bursa, but I think it was probably the fall.  I prefer that it be fall-related, as opposed to the more chronic flare-up.  

Friday morning, I did a strength session.  For the past few weeks, I had been feeling like my kinetic chain wasn’t as strong as it used to be, particularly compared to how it was when I was training for Obstacle Course Races.  What I mean is that the muscle groups aren’t in balance, so some muscles have to make up for others… like my back and butt don’t feel as strong.  Burpees would remedy that, though.  Whenever my muscles feel out-of-balance, with some over-used and some under-used, the strength session does a good job of re-setting everything.  Friday night, flew back to Greenville, which brings us to another story…

I landed at 11:30pm, and it seems like there was something wrong with the baggage claim, because flights kept coming in, and no conveyor belts were going.  We waited for 1.5 hours, until one finally started going.  My suitcase was the 4th one, jackpot – so I got it and headed home.  I had only like 36 hours at home, so I had to get laundry going for the following week’s trip to Canada.  When I opened up my suitcase, though, I discovered that it wasn’t mine!  My suitcase model has been appearing in various stores in the past year.  It looks unique, but apparently, many people have it.  Fortunately, I live close.  I felt terrible about not checking, like the announcements often ask you to do.  I had been so excited to get my luggage.  I dropped it off, then left my contact info so that when mine got returned, I could pick it up.  

That night, I decided on another new year’s resolution: Everything in its place (putting stuff away as I go along, instead of living in a tornado disaster area), so that I don’t have to hunt for stuff as much.  In the past, I’ve kept stuff out for quick and easy access.  But sometimes, it means hunting.  At the plants that I’ve visited for work, I’ve seen how they put outlines of tools in the spots where they belong, so that stuff goes back to where they should go.  I won’t go as far as putting in outlines, but the general idea is there.  Another cool concept I learned at work, is that of “interleaving”, where instead of going to pick up something, putting it away, going to the next item, and putting it away, such that you’re only carrying stuff one-way, you can carry stuff both directions, and put stuff away with almost half the time.  I’m not sure whether or not I was already doing this naturally, when cleaning my apartment, but I certainly do it very intentionally now.

Anyway, I had to fly out to Canada on Sunday morning, so that left one day to get my luggage back.  I was dependent on the person with my suitcase figuring it out and driving back to the airport in time for me to make my flight.  On Saturday morning, therefore, I started packing as if I wasn’t going to get my luggage back in time.  I decided on another optimization strategy.  Instead of packing and unpacking my one set of supplies repeatedly, I decided that even if I did get my luggage back, it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and buy replacements of stuff like a comb and other toiletries.  I could just keep that stuff in a bag, just to be used for travel, while keeping my existing set at home.  I ended up getting my luggage back at noon, having gotten the call just as I was driving home after the shopping trips.  So… there was a bit of drama, but my irresponsibility in not checking the luggage has prompted some changes that should help me save time in the future!  And it’s cool when stuff from work/school is applicable in the real world.

I got in my long run on Saturday evening.  12 miles were on the schedule, and I managed 12.8 in 1:54:59, 8:59 average.  Temps were chilly.  Right before the run, I had an almond butter + peanut butter + cinnamon wrap, plus a mini bag of chips, just seconds before, because I craved the calories and salt.  Didn’t need any fuel or water during the run, though. 

The next morning, flew out to Canada…

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