Gear Check

Gear Check: REI Flash 18 Pack

REI Flash 18 Pack

There are few things I feel I can live without.  This REI pack is quickly becoming one of them.  On my long 1/2 training group runs, I just feel the need for more “stuff.”  Cutting down on “stuff” should be my New Years Resolution.  During these frigid runs, I try to bring at least a 2nd jacket and a new shirt to change out of my sweaty running clothes, and I am learning that as a runner, I seem to need more hydration than most.  The water fountains are turned off on the Lakefront Path, so I need to bring my own.  For the first longer run, I left things in someone’s car.  That hasn’t worked the last few weeks, so I ran 2 weeks with a swing bag from a race.

This is NOT FUN.  Swing bags (drawstring backpacks) are usually given away for races.  They are filled with your race number, a few advertisements, a power bar, etc. They are made cheap.  And they are not fun to run in.  They are too big, and swing all over.  Hence, the REI Flash 18 Pack:

Why I Love It:  I love the size of this bag.  It holds about the same amount of “stuff” as the drawstring bags, but has a few mesh pockets for other things as well.  It has a hydration pocket if later (maybe this summer) I decide to buy a pouch to go in.  It stays tightly closed, holds a jacket, a few bottles of water and anything else I might need.  I also love that it has a chest strap and a waist strap, so it makes it much easier for me to find and keep my rhythm in a run.  I’m not holding on to the shoulder straps and trying to avoid the bag swinging all over my back.  Size and weight are just right.

What I would change:  I am wondering if this comes in different sizes.  Right now I have the straps pulled kind of tight across my chest (these straps are up pretty high to avoid smooshing my “girls”, it buckles near my sternum), and across my waist, but the excess of the straps from pulling it tight is really long.  I have to tuck the tails in to the straps so they don’t flap around or get too annoying.

Where I got it:  Lincoln Park REI Store (1466 N Halsted)

What it cost:  I got this for $29.50 which was right in my budget.  According to REI’s website, this guy is on sale right now, so for those of you running longer runs, or  looking for a good daypack, I recommend this one.  I just used it as a carry-on on the plane and it works great for that too.


Half Marathon Training: Week 7

12.19-12.25 seventh week of training = Done!

Monday = Had to take another day off.  Felt really off all day at work on Monday, was totally wiped out and felt nauseous and feverish.  Came home and went to bed at 10:00.  I think the weekend was way too much and I needed a break!
Tuesday = Good night.  I ran 1.7 on the treadmill, then did yoga for an hour, then got back on the TM for 2.7 more miles.  Original intention was 5 miles, but that gets so hard to do on the treadmill…
Wednesday = DOR, was flying home.  Walked laps in the airport.
Weigh In Wednesday (on Tuesday) 12.20.11: -1.4 (Hit my -50lb mark)
Thursday = 4.5 miles outside, rainy loop in Grandview.  Was a much slower pace than normal, but felt great after it was over.
Friday = 4 miles inside. Ran laps on the track at dad’s gym.  Also doing some yoga later this afternoon.
Saturday = Planned 6 miles.  I think I will do the same Thursday loop, adding a 1.5mi loop.  Want to get out early, to get “recovered” early and be tip top for the rest of the holiday celebrations.
Sunday = DOR for Christmas holiday!

I’ve been staying pretty much on plan this week, trying not to let holiday sweets tempt me.  Keeping up with my water intake has been helpful with that.  I am feeling pretty in control this week!

Gear Check

Gear Check: Intro

I started running because it did not require a membership, or any real investment other than a commitment of time.  Now that I’ve become more dedicated to running, I am not only hooked on the activity, but the accessories the activity “requires.”  I have a few essential pieces, a few things that have not turned out so good, and some items I’d like to get advice about.  So I’ll be writing a weekly “Gear Check” post about things I love (or hate); feel free to share your favorites too!


What is 50 lbs?

50 lbs is….

Six gallons of

gallon of milk
six gallons = 50 lbs

A small

Small hay bale
Smally hay bale = 50 lbs

The weight limit for luggage on most airlines.

over packed suitcase
Weight limit = 50lbs!

A large

Large bag of dog food
Bag of dog food = 50 lb.

The amount of weight Rob McElhenney has gained for this season of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

Because Fat Mac is funnier…?








The average weight of

A seven year old
An average seven year old weighs 50 lbs.

…and the amount of weight I have lost since March 9, 2011.  Nine months of tracking, C25k-ing, Wii Fit-ing,  running, portion controlling, and life changing activities!

Before + During picture
July 2010 and September 2011

Half Marathon Training: Week 6

12.12-12.18 Sixth week of training = (almost) Done!

Monday = Good 4 mile run outside.   Same 4 mile path, needed the run before the Steppenwolf Holiday party!  Was a great time there, then a long night at work.
Tuesday = Sick day…  Blech.  Had a bad headache after a late night at work on Monday, so stayed home and rested all day.
Wednesday = Odd day.  A great friend’s father passed away, so I left work to be with her.  Had a few glasses of wine, so to get in to running that evening was difficult.  Ended up running 1 mile to the gym then doing 2.7 (30 minutes) on the TM.
Weigh In Wednesday 12.14.11: -3.2 (0.8 away from -50lbs!)
Thursday = Strength and Stretch.  Ended up having to go pick up my race packet after work, and it took longer than I thought it would.  Got home and quickly changed for yoga.  Watched the bus drive right past my stop before I could get there.  Did not make it to the gym.  Ended up doing my Yoga for Weightloss DVD.  I’ll say it here.  I LOVE YOGA.  I am probably doing a lot of it wrong, and I’m not incredibly flexible, but I love the way it makes me feel.  I also ended up doing 30 minutes on the Wii Fit step.  That -50 is looming in my future!
Friday = Ground breaking 5 miles outside.  I decided to take full advantage of being a Chicagoan, and run on the lakefront path.  I mapped out 5 miles from South Loop, so I ran from Jackson north to Belmont.  It was cold, and there are plenty of portions of the path that are not well lit, but by the time I got to Belmont, I felt AMAZING.  I took it at a nice slow pace, and stopped when I needed to, and I made it home about an hour later than I normally would from work anyway.  This is an incredibly motivating feeling, to be able to double my commute as exercise.  This will definitely not be the last time I do this run!
Saturday = Jingle Bell Run 5k recap!  Felt good to be back in a race again.
Sunday = I’m still in my PJs. I am about to get going to the gym for 40 minutes on the elliptical, and 3 miles on the TM. (Then an ice cream tasting of Jeni’s Ice Creams! I love you, Jeni Britton Bauer!)


Race Recap: Jingle Bell Run 5k

The Jingle Bell Run was my 6th race of 2011.

Time: 35:34

Yes!  On 12.17.11, I broke my own PR (personal record).  In the SNOW.

Let’s talk about this more.  I started running with C25k (Couch to 5k) on May 23.  Seven months ago, to be exact.  I started running in rainy spring.  I had some really beautiful running weather, even though I didn’t even know what that was yet.  By the time I finished C25k, all ten weeks of it, including the extra week I had to repeat because I wasn’t ready to move forward, I ran in the morning, I ran at night, I ran in the rain, and I ran in the scorching August heat.  When it got too hot, I ran on the treadmill, and joined the gym.  C25k changed my active life, and turned me in to the runner I am.

2 weeks ago, as part of my 1/2 marathon training, I ran when it was 10 degrees.  THAT felt hardcore.  But the snow really threw me off.  It may  have had something to do with the fall I had a few weeks ago.  Walking out the front door and in to the snow in my running shoes just felt totally wrong.  I could feel my feet slipping on the sidewalk, and it just didn’t feel right.

The race started and ended at the Peggy Notebart Museum.  It was a little zoo-ey in the museum as the Green City Farmers market was also taking place, but there’s nothing like vendors selling organic fresh roasted chestnuts to get you in to the holiday mood!  I checked my bag and went to the bathroom, etc. getting pre-race jitters.  When the museum lobby got too crowded, I waited outside.  Yep…  still snowing.  I tried to wait under the entryway to keep from getting too much snow on me, but even that got crazy crowded.

I went to the starting line and ended up doing a few warmup laps.  I have seen in some running/race tips that some people recommend a warm-up mile before a race.  This may seem like a crazy idea, but the more I think of it, the more I think that is a good idea  The key is to not allow too much time to pass between your warm up and the race start.  I feel like I waited in the starting line up for too long.

The first quarter mile or so was just getting used to the ground, and trying not to fall.  I was more aware of everyone around me, and watching their footfalls too.  After awhile of that, I had to remind myself that if I stared at the ground too long I would do just as much damage if I ran in to something ahead of me!  First mile and the clock read 11:45.  Whaaat?  I have NEVER seen a clock lower that 13:00 at Mile 1.  I secretly smiled, then reminded myself to slow down.  Mile 1-2 was something of a struggle.  My brain wasn’t in the game.  Too distracted by trying to talk myself out of wanting to stop, and trying to just concentrate on sloooowing down my pace.  Mile 2: 23:30.  Still way fast.  The turn around and the return 1.5 was the slipperiest, but that is where I felt I hit my stride.  By Mile 3 (35:00) I felt like I could run 3 more miles.

Official chip time showed that I beat my own PR, in the snow.  Yay!

Now back to concentrating on training for F^3 Half Marathon.  Was supposed to be an 8 mile run yesterday, but I turned my focus to the 5k instead.  Going to make up for it with 3 miles on the treadmill today.