Friday, June 6, 2014

Belated National Running Day

Unfortunately, I did not celebrate National Running Day on the actual day. NRD had the unlucky chance of falling on both my busiest and most stressful work day of the month, as well as a planned rest day. Considering my brain felt like it was oozing out of my ears after 11 hours of non-stop journal entries, celebrating by lying on the couch sounded like the best.

I was disappointed I didn't have the time to participate in the RunChat questions on Twitter, so I thought it would be fun to fill them out here and hopefully give a little bit of insight into my running.

When did you start running?
I started running the summer of 2011. I had to do a double-take and check my math because it's hard to believe I've almost been a runner for three years!

When was your first race?
My first race was September 3, 2011. (I use this date for my runniversary because it feels the most official.) It was called the Run Back to School 5K, and we got the ugliest yellow t-shirts, but I still treasure mine.

By treasure I mean keep at the bottom of my t-shirt drawer.
When do you like to run?
My favorite time is to run at night. I feel like I'm in the tiny minority, since I feel like very other runner out there is a diehard morning runner. But to me nothing is more relaxing than looking at the stars on a cool evening while I work off the stresses of the day.

When's the earliest you've ever gotten up for a race?
I think getting up at 4:45 AM at Med City a couple weeks ago was the earliest I've gotten up for a race. I know when we hit the mountainous Western states some much earlier wake-up calls are coming. I'm not too worried since we get the Eastern time zone bump.

Not even too early to be annoyed by this crap.
How much water do you drink a day?
This is a rough estimation, given that my water bottles are 24 ounces, but I would estimate at least 80 ounces a day. That's based off what I'm currently drinking on low mileage and relatively cool summer temperatures. I wouldn't be surprised if this edges closer to 100 come July and August.

What's your favorite non-racing distance to run?
I would say four miles. I almost said five but then realized not only do 8Ks exist, I've done one. When I run a marathon, I break the race into four mile sections. For some reason this chunk of distance is particularly satisfying - three miles doesn't seem like much on it's own, and five miles actually takes a bit of time for me to complete. Four miles is the perfect happy medium.

How many days a week do you run?
Right now I'm running five days a week as I'm in the base-building(-ish) phase of Hansons. In a few weeks this is going to increase to six. I do generally look for a plan with five days of running, however. More than two rest/cross-training days make me feel antsy.

Everyone should run at least a mile today because ____.
I don't actually like this question. I didn't run because it was a rest day, and there's nothing wrong with that. Run a mile if you want to, not because anyone is pressuring you. Put that in a fortune cookie.

What's your top piece of advice for a new runner?
Don't be afraid to run slowly! When I look back at how slow I was running when I first started running without walk breaks, I was probably doing 13 and 14 minute miles, even though I was only running two or three miles at a time. This was not only essential to me building my fitness but to keeping my pace easy enough that running was still fun.

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What's your favorite PR?
My favorite PR is my 10K PR (56:08). I set it at the BTN 10K in 2013. I didn't train specifically for the race, instead just adding it in as part of my tri and marathon training. We were somehow blessed with weather in the 50s race morning even though it was the end of July in Chicago. I felt strong the whole time and like I could've gone even faster if the race hadn't been as congested.

What's your favorite race?
BTN 10K. It was definitely tempting to pick one of my marathons, but this is one of the two races I've ever repeated, and I really love it. Running while sporting my school's colors is definitely unique and fun. Plus the course alone the lake in downtown Chicago is pretty spectacular.

What's your favorite running shoe?
Mizuno Wave Riders! This was probably the easiest question. Other than my (sadly) rarely-used trail shoes, I have only ever run in this shoe. I love that it fits my narrow feet while still giving me tons of wiggle room in the toe box. As someone who has always struggled with getting shoes to fit just right, these are a godsend.

Though mine aren't white because a non-runner friend assured me these were ugly as sin.
What's your favorite racing distance?
I feel blasphemous not saying marathon, but I think the half might be my favorite (even though I've only done two). It's long enough that it's much more about endurance than the 10K but not long enough to turn into an unending sufferfest like the marathon can.

How many races have you done in 2014? What was the best?
Six: Winterlaufe 8K, Crossroads of Northwest Indiana Marathon, BCBS 5K, Fargo Marathon, Med City Marathon, and Pine Trine 5K. Med City has been my favorite so far. The course was super scenic and would've been perfect if the weather had cooperated.

I love running because _____.
It's amazing stress relief for me and makes me feel accomplished. No matter how bad a day at work is, I know my run is waiting for me when I get home. And no matter what else I've struggled with that day, I know I can knock out what's on my training plan and get a win.

What's the strangest thing you've seen on a run?
Back when I would run at night during college, I definitely saw some interesting drunk people. My favorite was a rather overweight guy - wasted, of course - trying to ride a too-small bike with flat tires. The sound of the rims scraping the pavement was absolutely horrific, but he was clearly baffled as to why he wasn't making much progress.

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Approximate recreation.
What's a piece of gear you have you couldn't have imagined 10 years ago?
First of all, the answer should be everything, because I never though I would be able to be a runner 10 years ago. My less sappy answer is my iPod shuffle. I remember how cool it was to get an iPod in eighth grade. That thing was gigantic and couldn't even hold that many songs by today's standards. Now I have one that fits in the palm of my hand with about the same capacity. That's pretty amazing.

Why did you start running?
I've always wanted to be a runner. It seemed amazing that some people could just put on their shoes and go for miles under their own power. Plus people were always telling me I looked like a runner, and I wanted to prove them right.

What are the top three races on your bucket list?
This one is challenging, since my bucket list right now is basically to complete the 50 states. Boston is number one by far, Antartica is a closer number two (mostly because the limiting factor is money and not my turtle speed), and any marathon in New Zealand is third.
Can't mention Boston without Meb.
What's the most challenging race you've run?
It's so tempting to say Med City because its agony is quite fresh in my mind, but I'm going to go all cliche and say my first 5K was the most challenging. Running three miles was still a pretty big deal for me at that point, and I wanted to use this race to prove to myself I was a real runner. When I suffer now in a marathon, I know I'm going to finish, just slowly. That first race was special.

What's the biggest lesson running has taught you?
Running has taught me to break difficult tasks into small chunks, mentally. This came in especially handy when I worked 12 hour days all week during an internship. I would just tell myself to focus on getting through the next two hours, which was much more manageable than 12. I think I would've gone completely insane without this.

What will be your biggest accomplishment in the next 12 months?
Right now my goal is to run a 4:20 marathon at the end of September. If all goes according to plan, I would ideally like to target something faster than that. If my biggest running accomplishment a year from now is running something between a 4:00 and 4:10, I will be a very happy camper indeed.

What makes your local running community so great?
This isn't a very formal answer, but I love how many active people there are in the community. It's great to see so many people out running on the rail trail no matter what time of day it is.

I run because ____.
It's awesome! It chases away the crankies and the blues, it gives me goals to reach for, and it keeps me healthy and strong.

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