Monday, May 30, 2016

Run the District - Chuckle Run Report

Yesterday was the first of the Run the District races - the Chuckle Run. Each race is themed with something relating to the Western Fair District - this one because that is where Yuk Yuks Comedy Club is located.  Some of the themed elements included a rubber chicken race medal, three comedians performing along the race route, and a man in a chicken suit leading the fun run. Each participant also received a free ticket to Yuk Yuks, and since Doug and I haven't been there yet, we're looking forward to using them!
I've never really recorded a race report, but read an good article about them recently, so I thought it would be a great way to capture my Chuckle Run experience.

2016 Chuckle Run route
As expected, all the Run the District events take place in the Western Fair District and surrounding neighbourhood. This year, they switched up the Chuckle Run route to give participants a "behind the scenes" look at the district. The course was a 2.5k loop that started in the Agraplex and took us around the fairgrounds - including on the race track. This set-up allowed for three race length options - 2.5k, 5k, or 10k.  Since this was my first race of the season, I opted for the 5k route.  I'm not a big fan of routes that are loops or out-and-backs, as I like the scenery on my runs to change.  But at least for this one I was exploring areas of the fair that I hadn't seen before so it was "new to me."
2015 Chuckle Run - rain!


The event was on Sunday, with a start time of 10:00 am for all three distances (9:45 for the kids fun run.)  Fortunately, we had some rain on Saturday which brought the temperature down a bit on Sunday morning. It was still pretty warm, and humid - I believe the "feels like" temperature was around 80 F at the start - but a breeze helped, so it was bearable. This was a huge change from the weather last year, which was cold and rainy.  Neither extreme seemed to dampen the spirits of participants and everyone was having a great time.
I'm official now!


Pretty much regardless of the weather I wear the same type of running capris. Particularly when it's hot and humid, I need to have the right fabric covering my thighs - nothing worse than uncomfortable chafing after a run! I planned on adding fun socks for the run, but given the heat....?  I didn't realize I was going to get a special Run the District Ambassador shirt, so that was a pleasant surprise!  This was my first race in my new running shoes, but I had several training runs to break them in. I was really pleased with how my feet felt at the end of the race.

Thoughts Along The Way

I was not prepared for this race - I talk a bit more about that below, so I won't go into it much further, but I have to mention it because most of my thoughts were along the lines of keeping myself going. I started out the right way, pacing myself not trying to go to fast. When I started out I kept telling myself I just wanted to run the whole thing - it didn't have to be fast, I just wanted to keep running.  About 1/3 of the way in, Doug had to walk for a bit. This wasn't a big surprise, he's been having some knee issues and we knew this would likely
Just before we started!
happen.  I managed to keep going though. There were two unexpected hills (well, technically four, as I did the loop twice), as the route took us under a road twice, but my usual "head up, chest out" mantra my brother taught me got me through those.  After finishing the first loop, I didn't think I was going to be able to keep running for the entire race. I made it up the first hill on the second loop and had to slow to a brisk walk.  I was disappointed, but I was still going. I changed my goal - finish running and run all the hills.  I managed to do both. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, knowing that a few years ago I wouldn't have even attempted what I had just completed.

Finishing & Results
Posing with the finishing bell.

I did a whole post about how I'm training for these events. Admittedly, I wasn't as far along in my training as I had planned to be for the Chuckle Run.  I took a break from training while family visited and during the run of the show I was in. As a result my time wasn't the best, and I wasn't able to run for the entire race. That is always my first goal, but I just hadn't properly prepared. Lesson learned - I have recommitted to my training schedule and will be on track for the Run to the BBQ!
The "official" results aren't in yet, but I did check the unofficial ones yesterday. I finished in about 37 minutes.  While far from my best 5k time, it was also not my worst. I'm looking forward to the next race and seeing the improvement with consistent training!

On a personal note, writing about this experience at all is kind of a victory for me. In the past, it would have been hard for me to publicly admit to a shortfall, or not meeting a reasonable goal I had set for myself. Not that it was easy to talk about going off my training schedule and having to walk during the 5k, but to recognize it as a learning opportunity and to admit it is a big step for me. Maybe I am on my way to being a grown-up...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Run the District - Training

There is no lack of advice online on how to train for races, and I am by no means an expert on the subject.  However, I do know what it feels like to be new to running and feel overwhelmed with where to start.  Like any other new endeavor, it's easy to become buried in information and feel like you're never going to "get it."  I started small.

Talk to someone you know who's a runner.  For me, that was my brother. When I first started running he had recently completed the Chicago marathon and so was the resident "running expert" in the family.  His advice: get a good pair of shoes.  That was the basics for him, and all you really need in order to run. He told me to go to a running store, take the athletic shoes I currently owned (so that the associate could see how they were wearing), make sure they watched me walk/run, learn about my pronation (I'm an overpronator), and suck it up and purchase a proper pair of running shoes.  I still consider this the most fundamental part of running. I've ramped it up a notch by actually tracking how many miles I put on a pair of shoes, so I can be sure I replace them when needed. But even this you can usually tell by feel.

Start simple and don't overdo it. I'm an all or nothing kind of person. I have a tendency to throw myself into something and then burn out when it gets to be too much. Since I'm aware of this, when I start something new I make sure to pace myself.  When I started running it was with the Couch to 5k program. This program is designed to take you from a non-runner (couch sitting) to being ready for a 5k in 9 weeks.  You only run three times a week, and it starts of very simple - alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking. There's a temptation to speed up the training to get there sooner, but that increases the risk of injury and burn out.  Even now, preparing for the Run the District races, I have to remind myself to take it easy. Right now my running schedule is every other day, and I make sure to listen to my body if I need to take a day "off" or repeat a workout that I don't feel I'm ready to move on from.

Make whatever plan you choose work for you. The great thing about the

couch to 5k program (and the various other programs that advance from there) is that everything is set up for you. To make it even easier, I found a podcast that a blogger had created with music mixes and prompts for when I needed to start jogging and then walking. Downloading these made the workouts incredibly easy. I just picked the correct workout (week/day), pushed play, ran when I was told, and stopped when it was over.  (To give you an amusing visual, when I first downloaded these podcasts, I didn't have an mp3 player. So I actually burned them to a CD and jogged while holding my portable CD player flat. That's how cool I looked when I started running...) I was going to include a link to the podcast that I used - but Google Chrome keeps warning me it's a suspicious link, so I won't do that.  But trust me, search for free couch to 5k apps or podcasts, and you won't have any trouble finding one.  Right now I'm using the ZenLabs Fitness 10k training app. The basic version is free. It doesn't have any music, but I've been various Spotify Running playlists and that has worked well.

Hold yourself accountable and stay motivated. As mentioned in a previous post, I'm an externally motivated person, so I've instituted several methods of holding myself accountable. First it was just registering for races. This gave me a solid deadline for training and I found it to be a huge help. I've also scheduled my runs in my Google calendar. Like anything else, if you write it down and make time for it, you're more likely to do it. I've also started running with a buddy.  My husband Doug and I help motivate each other. So even on days when neither of us really "feels" like it, we're still getting out there to run. It's amazing what having a buddy will do for you!  I've also been sharing my completed training days on Twitter and Facebook.  Blogging about my journey also helps. So whatever works for you to keep you motivated and hold yourself accountable do it!

My Run the District training plan. This is actually what I intended to write about - but somehow this post turned into an advise column. I guess that's what happens when you get carried away... Anyway, as I mentioned above, I'm using the ZenLabs Fitness 10k training app. I timed it so that I would be prepared to do the Chuckle Run this Sunday as a 5k (they have 2.5k, 5k, and 10k options for this race.) The first three Run the District races I've registered for 5k, and the last two I registered for the 10k. My goals for each race is pretty basic - run the entire time (unless injury or something unplanned prevents me from doing so) and improve my time for each race.  Like I mentioned above, I'm keeping it simple.  I've been doing most of my training runs with Doug, and he's tracking our distance with the Map My Run app since the 10k trainer is based on time not distance. (If I try to run too many apps at one time my phone is not happy - so we split between the two of us.)

Stay tuned for an update early next week on my Chuckle Run experience. I recently read a great article about writing a race report, so I plan on doing that shortly after finishing the Chuckle Run. If this year is anything like last, I should have a lot of fun photos to post with it! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

London Stage Debut

If you've asked me recently what I did over the weekend, chances are my response included "had rehearsal" or "made Doug run lines with me."  Though I've been trying not to let it dominate all conversations, I'm pretty excited about getting back into theatre.

My first experience in theatre (outside of the school plays - though I do have vivid memories of singing "Yellow Rose of Texas" with Randy Searson in kindergarten) was as part of the children's chorus in Ohio Northern University's production of Evita. As I remember an email went out to faculty and staff at ONU announcing auditions for children. My parents told me about it and it sounded like fun. I had never auditioned for anything before, and decided to sing my favorite hymn - Pass it On. Despite my lack of theatre knowledge, I got a part and was hooked then and there.

Fortunate to have a facility like the Freed Center for the Performing Arts in my hometown, I took every opportunity to audition when I could.  Over the years I was lucky to be cast in shows such as Annie, Music Man, Holiday Spectacular, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Nutcracker. My parents were incredibly supportive, taking time to drive me to rehearsals when I was cast in out of town shows including Annie Get Your Gun and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But, as often happens, after high school "real life" took over, and theatre took a backseat to figuring out a career path and general "adulting."  I still considered performing a part of who I was - anyone who's done historical interpretations knows it's just another form of performing - but I stopped seeking out opportunities to be on stage.

Fast-forward a few years - after purchasing my first home my parents brought up all my extra stuff they'd been storing since I moved out.  That was the deal, they'd hold onto it as long I was renting and moving, but once I was settled in a house, they were packing up a trailer and hauling it here!  As I went through all my things I came across my theatre scrapbook and happily reminisced. I didn't realize how much I missed it. It donned on me that London has a vibrant community theatre scene, and nothing was stopping me from auditioning again.

I followed a couple local theatre's on Facebook and started to see calls for auditions.  The second audition I attended was for Maybles' Productions, and a role in a comedic play called 1-900-DEE-LITE by Canadian Playwright Uwe Meyer. I was offered the role of Jennifer and enthusiastically accepted. I've been fortunate to have this opportunity to work with some very talented and professional individuals, and couldn't have asked for a better re-introduction to the stage.  I could attempt to describe the play, but it is summed up best on the event page:

"Dee is not your average grandmother - sure she's witty, kind, compassionate and loving but...she also has a job...a special job which requires her to speak to clients on the phone and, know.

When Dee gets a special man in her life, she is faced with a question - how to tell him she's a phone sex operator.

While Dee struggles with her secret, her son Scott is facing his own questions about love and friendship. With one failed marriage behind him, moving forward and taking a chance on love will not be easy.

Jennifer is the girl next door who has been Scott's close friend (and perhaps his only real friend) since they were children. How long can one wait for love before looking somewhere else?

Tom is Scott's 'Old English Teacher' and has recently reconnected with Dee. How will Scot react when he finds out his mother is dating his 'arch nemesis?'

A story about family, friendship, love and sex.
A crowd pleaser that will leave you giggling 'wee wee wee all the way home.'"

The show opens in two weeks - I'm excited and nervous, but I'm sure it will be a great time!  If you're in the London area, I highly recommend picking up a ticket - if nothing else than to see some of the amazing and talented people with whom I get to work!

Tickets are also available online.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Run the District Ambassador

If you follow me on social media at all, you've likely seen me excited about being chosen as a Run The District Ambassador. Everyone has been offering congratulations - quickly followed by the question, "What does that mean?"

In a nutshell, this means you'll be seeing me post a lot more about running than usual!  Basically, I'm going to help promote and support the running events by providing updates, talking about my training, and sharing my experience participating in the races.

There are several reasons why I wanted to be an ambassador.  As many people know, I love the neighbourhood in London where we live - Old East Village. The "district" part of Run the District, is the Western Fair District - a great entertainment area, and one of the many perks to living in OEV.  Our house is a mere block away from the Western Fair District, and we attend events there regularly. I'm always letting people know about things going on in the District, and how awesome it is to live in OEV.  So this position seemed like a natural extension of that.

Fayetteville Running Club circa 2009
Second, anyone who knows me - really knows me - knows that I'm an externally motivated person. I've always wished that I were more internally motivated, but that's just not the case.  I've learned to use this to my advantage and find ways to provide external motivation to keep me on track for certain goals.  Running is one of those things that, for me, requires some external motivation. This usually comes in the form of registering for races. Once I've invested money in something, that's a powerful motivator for me. I was already planning on participating in these events to help me maintain a running routine over the summer/fall. This ambassador position is another way to maintain that motivation. I'm going to be sharing about how my training is going and encouraging people to run with me. That's a lot of accountability, which means this will likely be the best running season for me since I was a member of the Fayetteville Running Club!

The more I've gotten involved in running in London, the more I've enjoyed it. Two weeks ago I volunteered as a marshal for the Forest City Road Races and I had a blast! There is a great supportive running community in London, and being an ambassador seemed like a great way to get more involved. Plus, I participated in a few of the Run the District events last year - and they are a 

So, if you'd like to run with me (which trust me, you don't have to be fast to do...) register for one or more of the events! I do receive perks if you register through my links, so that is much appreciated (but not required!) The series is as follows:

Chuckle Run - Sunday, May 29
Run to the BBQ - Friday, June 17
I Run for Ice Cream - Sunday, July 17
Women Run London - Sunday, September 25 (sorry guys, women only!)
The Classic Championship - Sunday, November 6

Or register for multiple events to receive a discount!