Monday, July 18, 2011

Heart o' the country

Ahhh...the country; fresh air, rolling hills, fields of green, and blistering heat. That pretty much describes my run this weekend in my hometown of Milan, Illinois. Not to be confused with the fashion mecca of Milan, Italy. Although I did see some great fashions, like shirtless men in overalls. I was back visiting my parents and headed out early Sunday morning to try (unsuccessfully) to beat the heat. At least I had some nice scenery as I was boiling, well, what I could see of it. I had a contact lens malfunction that morning and was running with only one lens in. It's a miracle that I didn't roll down a gravel hillside since my depth perception was way off.

I often forget how quiet things are in the morning once you get out of the city. I could almost hear my sweat hitting the pavement. (By the way, I think there is a certain point when you are just so sweaty, that even slathering yourself with Body Glide won't prevent chafing. Curse you sports bra!) And the people you pass along the way are so friendly, always ready with a wave and basically veer off into the oncoming lane of "traffic" (I use that word loosely) to give you running space.

Another thing that I miss out on living in a city apartment is the ability to hose yourself off after a sweltering run. There are no garden hoses at my apartment, but at my parent's house on the farm, there is always a hose hooked up and I was grateful for that as I doused myself with it after my run. Well, after that first shot of hot water from the part of the hose that had been sitting in the sun ran off.

Of course, there are perks to running in the city, like plentiful water fountains, public restrooms in case of emergencies, and shady tree lined sidewalks. There are pros and cons to both city and country running, but a change of scenery is always a pro in my opinion. Especially when it looks like this.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Running...

Had me a blast... Summer running.... happened so fast. For some reason that brings to mind the tune to Summer Nights from Grease. Although, admittedly, I'm not having a blast, and this summer running is certainly not fast. After a 12 mile run on Saturday morning in the Chicago summer heat, I was nothing but slow and miserable. I had forgotten the importance of hydrating before a run on a hot summer morning, since I really haven't run in any super hot temperatures yet this year. But I was brutally reminded immediately after finishing when I felt like a train was barreling through my head. Heck, I'm just now starting to feel normal again 2 days later.

I'm already dreading those 20 milers coming up this summer as I prepare for Chicago's Bank of America Marathon in October. Although, somehow, a 197-mile relay in Oregon has been incorporated as part of my training. How the heck did that happen? And more importantly, how am I going to train in Chicago for a mountainous run from Mt. Hood to the Pacific coast? I did have a nice rolling hill run in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last weekend, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do more than one set of rolling hills to have even a slight chance at not keeling over during the Hood to Coast Relay. If any of you have ideas on where I can find some hills in the Chicago-land area, let me know.

So my mantra this summer...hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And try to drag my arse out of bed earlier than 10 a.m. to beat some of the intense heat. Of course, I could follow the lead of Bob, owner of Bob-San Sushi (which is delicious, by the way) and run at 3 a.m. after strategically hiding bottles of water throughout my pre-mapped course. I'll be looking for his ponytail during the Chicago Marathon and maybe if I look tired and pathetic enough I can get some post-race sake out of him. Sake counts has hydration, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Running Free

On Monday, July 4th, I ran the Red White and Boom! Half Marathon through the streets of Minneapolis. What a day! The atmosphere was festive and a lot of runners were dressed for the occasion, some in red, white and blue outfits and others in costumes - and others yet in red, white and blue costumes!

The weather was pretty hot so I didn't push myself to run too fast. I fell into an easy pace and enjoyed the crowd. I met a friendly older man who was a race walker wearing a red t-shirt that said "Ask me about Race Walking." So I did. He helped me get through 2 hilly miles with his stories about race walking events he'd participated in. His goal is to secure the world record in the 50K (which, by the way, is longer than the marathon) for the 95+ age category, a category that currently has no contenders. Sir, you'll probably never read this, but I wish you luck and hope to read one day that you've reached that goal! Then, at mile 12, I ran into my new friends Beth and Julie Elliott, dressed in matching red and blue tutus. Seeing them made me smile! We finished the last mile together and celebrated our accomplishment.

My next big race is the Hood to Coast with Kristine, Mark, and Betty, as well as 8 other friends. As a relay team, we'll run 197 miles from Mount Hood through Portland to the Pacific coast of Oregon. It is only 7 weeks away! I'm thrilled to be running it in support of American Cancer Society as part of ACS's DetermiNation athlete fund raising program!

As you might know, I'm raising money for ACS in honor of my Aunt Susie, who was a tireless advocate and fundraiser for ACS until she sadly lost her battle with cancer. In addition to continuing the legacy that Aunt Susie started with her support of ACS, here's another reason why I hope you'll consider making a donation to ACS using this link: I passed a store today that caught my attention because it had a big pink neon ribbon in its window. The store, called Underneath It All, specializes in fitting post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors with bras, swimwear, sleepwear and tops. On the homepage of the store's website is this inspiring poem:

"Our wish for you...
Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Gentle hugs when spirits sag."

I hope my efforts will help ACS find a cure, or at least help bring more comfort, smiles, rainbows, laughter, sunsets and gentle hugs to those who need it while we continue the fight for a cure. I would be honored if you would consider making a donation to ACS, whether in memory of Aunt Susie or someone else you know whose life has been touched by cancer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am not only a huge fan of the Girls on the Run program that helps set girls on the path to a "lifetime of self respect and healthy living", but also a volunteer and coach with GOTR's Manhattan chapter. Making a donation to GOTR or becoming a GOTR SoleMate athlete fundraiser (like me) is a huge help in ensuring that GOTR has the means to bring its curriculum to girls around the country. But volunteering with GOTR is also a fulfilling way to support GOTR - with the benefit of seeing the girls grow self confidence and excitement for running throughout the season.

After such a great experience with GOTR Manhattan, you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that there was no GOTR chapter in the Twin Cities. So I am THRILLED to report that GOTR is launching a Twin Cities chapter starting with the upcoming fall season! Welcome to the Twin Cities, GOTR!

On August 4, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm, there will be a GOTR Twin Cities Kick-Off Event at Summit Brewing Company. Summit beer, root beer and local foods will be served while attendees mingle and share experiences, ask questions and get to know fellow GOTR supporters. I can't wait! And if you're a TC reader who is interested in volunteering with GOTR, I hope you will join me there on August 4!