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Running for Mothers

Hello everyone!! I have been waiting for this moment for months and months.  I am extremely excited to announce that I will be part of the pilot Running Ambassador program for Every Mother Counts (EMC)!

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 9.02.12 AMFor those of you who know me, you’ll know this is a perfect marriage of two of my loves: running and public health. So what does this mean for us?

  • Me: Identify a local running event, a 5k or 10k, or even a half marathon, and ensure I can create a team of runners
  • You: Register for the race, join the team, tell your friends about it, thereby raising awareness, and hopefully, raise funds
  • Me: Lead group runs, provide training plans if needed
  • You: Be awesome and support Every Mother Counts!
  • Us: Create a running revolution and make a united impact as a team!

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Race Recap: The party is over…

If you have ever been a part of planning a huge party or a wedding, then you get it. That empty feeling you have as the last guest leaves, and your heart swells up with joy and your mind is sorting through all the new memories you created. Maybe you are wondering, when will I see them again? It’s a dramatic sentiment, but it’s exactly how I am feeling now, post-triathlon. I feel like I said goodbye to a dear friend. One that I trained with for months and months. It kept me company every day and because it was new, every week was exciting. I loved the highs and lows of learning how to swim all over again. Oh, and the gear?? Buying a new swim suit after YEARS. Experimenting with goggles, paddles, flippers and buoys. Some things I never knew existed for the water before this year. The drama with my bike, wavering between, ‘will I like triathlons and if so should I buy a road bike’, or ‘Nah, I’ll just hybridize my mountain bike and deal with it’. I installed a bike computer and pedal cages which made me feel accomplished. I had the run covered, no sweat. But it was tricky learning how to successfully complete brick workouts from bike to run!

The 2014 Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon. Here’s how it went down.

The standard 4am wake up call: adrenaline woke up me and got me out of the house. I was in transition by 5:30am, set up all my gear as you can see below, and started eating my overnight oats. That was one of the smarter things I did that morning…

sweet bikes to my right and left...

sweet bikes to my right and left…

Then my fellow race pals and I decided to walk the T1 and T2 paths to familiarize ourselves with the course and stay warm. Transition would close at 6:45am, so by this point, we had about an hour. It was really great to walk around and see everyone’s transition setup, especially swoon over the elite bikes! That’s when it really hit me that my mountain bike with hybrid tires wasn’t going to cut it.

Before it all went down...

Before it all went down…

 

The 750 m Swim

Swallowed some EnergyBits tablets and it was time to head out. Grabbed my goggles and swim cap and we made our way. I had a mylar blanket to keep myself warm until my start time of 7:52 (Wave 14). In my mind I was thinking, I’ve got this! All I need to do is get into a groove and I’ll be set. I had NO IDEA what I was in for. For those of you who have done a triathlon, you know what I’m chaos I am referring to! A friend and fellow racer from my running club did warn me that it would take about 100-200m before my nerves would calm down / HR would come down. What I wish I had prepared for was that feeling of ‘HEY, is that woman trying to drown me?!?!’ Surely she is not, she is trying to do exactly the same as me, which is find some space and get into a groove. I was so anxious I had to flip on my back and swim backstroke for about a full lap. It’s simply very hard to swim well when you are constantly being kicked and smacked. No lane lines to see where you are going, you constantly have to look up. I kept trying to look out for my vista points but would lose them moments later. Maybe that’s just the beginner’s swim, and now it won’t happen again? I know I lost a LOT of time panicking and doing this. Despite the drama, my total time for the swim was 19 minutes.

T1: 4:58

Couple notes on T1. My bike was racked towards the end of the entry, so it was a long shuffle from the swim. Getting my bike off the rack – should have practiced after racking it in the morning. Lesson learned.

The 13.3 mile Bike

Got the bike off the rack, grabbed a fig bar, water bottle was already loaded but I FORGOT to add a Nuun tablet. And rushed out to mount. I had taped a Clif gel to my bike the night before so that would be my source of carbs for the ride. THE WIND WAS AWFUL. It was a double loop course so I thought I’d be safe on the way back since I was getting so much headwind, but no, not at all. Wind found me head on both ways, both times. Drank water every 5 miles, took the gel at mile 8. All I can say about the bike is that I was being passed up by mostly everyone and their mom and by the end if I heard someone say “On your left!!” one more time, I was going to S C R E A M! I made a point to pass up a few people and finished strong with a lousy 54 min.

T2: 3:37

Notes on T2. There is be no reason why this cannot be under 2-2 1/2 minutes. Especially because I was not wearing cycling shoes. Alas, I racked my bike, took off the helmet, grabbed the visor, Garmin but FORGOT my bib. I ran out, stepped on the timing belt and it wasn’t until a woman quickly called out ‘HEY you forgot your bib!!’. I ran back to transition and ran back out. So there’s my awful T2 time.

The 5k Run

The run was awesome! I got into a meditative groove right away, knowing it is my strength. However, the last race I did was the Soldier Field 10 mile and I cramped at mile 8. The cramping got me through the finish line until my legs started spasming so bad that I was wheeled into the medic tent. All I kept thinking about was thanking God for giving me the opportunity to race today, and to please keep my legs in check and let me just get through pain-free! And I did!! Also, I don’t race short distances so there was no time to complain 🙂 My average pace was 8:27 and my time was 26:15 (53/246). I will say one more thing, the finish line deceived me. There were two timing belts, placed about 20 m apart, I don’t know WHY I nearly stopped at the first one, until I heard a woman yell out to me to KEEP GOING (maybe the same one who said my bib was missing??). I have never ever done that in any race, so either fatigue set in or the race layout is all wrong 🙂

Overall

I know there was room for improvement in everything I did. And that’s the beauty of your first time, you create the framework from which to improve and make modifications. My overall time was 1:48. I planned for 1:45, mostly because it sounds like a really great number. Otherwise I have nothing to compare this to, so until I sign up for another sprint triathlon, which I will, I will happily take my beautiful medal and enjoy the fact that I set out to complete a triathlon, and now I can finally say, I’m a triathlete!!

Hopefully the first of many

Hopefully the first of many

 

My first triathlon!

This is it!

Raceweek! The homestretch! Whatever you call it, it’s here. I’m thrilled with my training, and can’t wait until I get into the pool on Sunday. When I consider the swim alone, I’ve come SO FAR in just a few months. I have successfully overcome my traumatic near-drowning experience in Kauai a little over 4 years ago, which kept me out of the water all this time. Time is both a great healer and mentor. I have done the hard work: the laps in the pool, the miles on the road, the indoor and outdoor rides. This week I need to focus on nutrition, sleeping and stretching. I’ll get in the water once or twice, ride and run twice. Friday is REST DAY! The two days before the race I will load up on complete protein and complex carbohydrates to top off glycogen levels. Can’t forget to hydrate! For race-day endurance I plan on taking my EnergyBits before I hit the pool, and again in T1 before I get on the bike. I will load my water bottle with Nuun and have a backup ready to go. Fig bars will be the energy of choice – they are a great source of potassium, sodium and are extremely portable.

Do you have a big race coming up? What does your raceweek look like?

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Cramp My Style

Cramp My Style

Why do I cramp on race day, and not the hundreds of miles I put on the pavement beforehand?

Competition.
Competition.
Competition.

What I have always loved about running is the competition. Against myself, not everyone else. I race to win, against myself. Around mile 8, I checked my Garmin and I knew I was going to beat my time from last year. So I asked myself, “Is this as fast as I can go right now?”, and kicked it up. My legs had other plans and my muscles weren’t having it. Muscle spasms, on both legs, down to my feet all the way through the finish line.

Competition. It’s a nasty beast, but character building. Life changing. I crossed the finish line and swore I would NEVER do it again, but here I am now, fondly enjoying my finish line picture (yes I will purchase it), dreaming about what I could have done differently. Maybe the cramping and post-race first aid experience wasn’t all *that* bad? (Yea, it was).

Until next year!

4/5ths of our strong Sunday Morning Running Club

4/5ths of our strong Sunday Morning Running Club

The Triathlon.

A couple years ago, in time for a special birthday, I made a vision board with some really serious goals. Run a sub-2hr half marathon and compete in a triathlon were two things I *needed* to get done. The marathon is on there too, but I’m still not convinced I want to run it.  Every year, the triathlon season comes and I wistfully watch it from the sidelines. I thought, I don’t have a plan, so why bother signing up.  In fact one year I thought I would do a super sprint tri, so I started training, but promptly ended training when I had nightmares of transition, getting lost while swimming or wearing the wrong shoes.  This was the problem in years past, I always figured I needed a plan and *then* I would sign up. Life passes you by when you are always planning, sometimes you have to take the first step and allow the universe to lead you.

“Some people follow their dreams, others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission” (Neil Kendall)

So here we go.. the triathlon is in June, time to start researching gear, and training plans.

I plan to follow the 12WeekOlympicDistanceTraining created by Karena Dawn from Tone It Up.#TIUTri I’ve been a member of their team for years and am really excited to try their #TIUTri plan. I plan to start getting acclimated with swimming by getting in the pool once a week for 30 minutes, and adding a run after my weekly spin class. The last 8 weeks prior to the triathlon I will kick training into high gear and just hope for the best on race day. I’m also excited to change up my nutrition and strength training a bit to accommodate brick workouts and figure out tri gear.

 

Have triathlon tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

13.

I’m in a rut. I have writer’s block. I’m feeling very uncreative. I’m running all my miles on the treadmill for crying out loud! It is the dead of winter. We’ve endured and survived a thing called “polar vortex”, and I’m just over it. I’m ready for spring so I can remove things that have been frozen to the ground.  Weeks ago, like everyone else, I had written this gratitude list of 13 *things* I am grateful for this year. I didn’t feel like posting it, but I do think looking back allows me to look forward and plan out my year. I don’t dwell on the past, but rather consider life events and experiences as artifacts of my life. Every event had a proper place, given its context.  And in true Aquarian style, I’m posting it now, on my own terms. And after having thought about it a little more. 

My parents, my husband of 15 years, my two sons and my siblings


My new house, which I adore curating into our beloved home


My talent, which enables me to be successful in my career


Watching Derrick Rose play at the United Center


Traveling, whether with friends, family or for work


Running a sub-2hr half marathon


Getting physically stronger, lifting heavier weights, and boxing more

Writing MY narrative – check out www.MuslimahMontage.com

Amazing locally roasted coffee – Every morning I make myself a latte with the freshest locally roasted beans. Seriously, Chicago coffee has some attitude that rivals my favorites from the Bay Area and NYC. If you’re looking, try dark / espresso roasts from Big Shoulders and Halfwit Coffee Roasters – that stuff will go right through you.

My girlfriends

My health – part of the “Five before Five” sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Take benefit of five before five:
your youth before your old age,
your health before your sickness,
your wealth before your poverty,
your free-time before your preoccupation,
and your life before your death.”

and finally,
Being able to do it all over again in 2014. (God willing)

Naperville Half Marathon Recap

It’s done. I’ve joined the club. My journey to the sub 2hr half marathon club started one day when I decided (on a whim) to run a half marathon. I had no idea what I was in for, and had only run 6.2 miles prior to signing up. In 2010, I trained myself and enjoyed every minute of it all to myself at the Inaugural Monster Dash Half Marathon.

2010: Inaugural Monster Dash Half: 2:24

Ran it again in 2011 with my brother and my time improved.  

2011: Monster Dash Half: 2:09

I knew I could have run it faster because I had not trained as well second time around. The improvement was enough to make me wonder what life was like on the other side of 2. I ran four more half marathons to find out:

2012: Inaugural Chicago Women’s Half: 2:01:31
2013: ING Miami Half: 2:01:18
2013: Oak Brook Half: 2:24 – Oops, What happened there? Worst. Race. Ever. .

Because that race was awful, I trained so hard for Naperville. It was my last chance in 2013 for my legs to prove they were capable. Race week my friend sent me goal pace text messages every day that read: “8:45”. My mind was ready. I sprinted, I ran hills, I boxed, I jumped boxes, I practiced fast feet drills from my track days. I cross trained with spin class, I hit PRs with weights on leg press and squats. I built a better body to run faster.

and…***drum roll please***

2013: Inaugural Naperville Half: 1:55:03.

In addition to my improving time, it looks like I have a thing for inaugural races. I love the smaller ones (Miami being the only exception of course) 

When you run for charity, as I did for Naperville, you can’t help but think about all the people who donated to your cause. How could you let them down with anything less than what you consider an epic race?

The homestretch!

Homestretch, baby!

Homestretch, baby!

The race itself was excellent. Maybe the ridiculous cold weather has something to do with being able to sustain a faster pace for longer. The course was beautiful, slightly hilly and packed with spectators with great signs. The weeks before the race, I worked hard to avoid the mistakes, aches and pains I experienced with the Oak Brook half, which were primarily due to dehydration. I foam rolled my calves almost daily and worked on the minor tibialis anterior pain I experienced upon dorsiflexion – again all related to dehydration. I drank water and electrolytes like it was my job. The thing is that when you want something so badly, you won’t let anything get in your way when it’s dangling right in front of you. So what’s next for 2014? Is there another club I want to get into?

Happy but completely FREEZING. It was 35 degrees.

Happy but completely FREEZING. It was 35 degrees.

Maybe the 1:45…we shall see. For now, I’m retiring my racing legs with a smile.