Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chicago marathon recap

The Hansons program kicked my ass the last 10 weeks of training. There were countless runs that I didn't want to do, and many others that were painful but I made myself finish. Every time I was struggling or unmotivated, I took myself mentally to that Monday afternoon at 12:20 while I was eating lunch at the middle school, when my runner status changed from "pending" to "accepted." That was months before the training started, when everything was good and I was elated to be headed back to Chicago for the biggest marathon I've ever gotten to run.

Our hotel with free parking and ample potties lol
When I woke up on race morning, however, I just didn't feel like running. I even asked Bill if he'd get a head start for me, but all he could offer was about 3 miles siiiiigh so I'd have to do the whole thing myself. I met up with Nancy and we waited together in corral G, then she immediately started faster than me, and I let her go. My plan was to stick to a 10:30, regardless of how much faster my legs wanted to go the first few miles.

The weather was absolutely perfect - mid 50s and full sun! It was slightly warm in the sun, and a little cold in the shade and early on I saw the best sign - "After 500+ training miles, this is your victory lap" I kept that in mind for the entire race.

After an hour or so, however, I needed a bathroom break!!! I'm not one to "go" while I go, but the bathroom lines were really long. At mile 12, there were a bank of potties with very few people waiting, so that had to become my stop which added 3-4 minutes to my time. I picked up the pace a little to compensate for that, and at the half, I was within 2 minutes of the time on my arm. Unfortunately I was also already 0.25 miles over the official distance.

Finish chute - I took NO photos during the race -
I had a PR to run!!!
I kept going, maintaining pretty close to 10:30s. For the first 19 miles, the only walking I did was enough steps to sip water at every table (every 2-3 miles). It hurt, but it was fun and I relished the crowd support. I savored running through Mexican Town where the crowd support was almost oppressive. I crossed through the gate into China Town, knowing the race was almost done.

I was still a few minutes over pace, then we hit Michigan Avenue, where I fell apart in 2013. Last year I gave in to the cramping and the exhaustion and did more walking than I should have. This year, however, I ran the entire stretch of Michigan Ave. with a huge smile on my face. It probably looked like an agonizing grimace, but I was smiling, knowing a PR was within reach and I was so close to the finish!

At mile 26, we turned right and went up "Mount Chicago," the ONLY uphill on the entire course. In 2013 it destroyed me and I kept breaking down into walks, but I had deliberately raised the incline at the end of every treadmill run as preparation, and this year, with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" blasting on repeat, I ran past people and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. My last full mile was a 10:57 and the last 0.5 was a 9:36 :D

#18 - not my best post-race photo :P
THEN I absolutely fell apart! The finishing chute in Chicago is massive and seemed like a solid mile from the finish line to where I'd meet with Bill. I was hit with a huge wave of nausea and I knew it was from dehydration and drinking water would solve everything, but the thought of putting anything in my stomach made me feel queasy. I slowly slowly slowly hobbled my way along, to the point that it took 45 minutes to reach him and I was concerned he'd employ our emergency plan if I didn't appear by 3pm. When we finally met up, I spread out my space blanket, covered up with my Hello Kitty snuggie and laid down in the fetal position. Like Kelly pointed out, though, it was worth it!

My final time was 4:54:12, which wasn't the time I wanted, but still a PR of 3:57. Bill pointed out that in order to PR, I had to get back to the best race of my life then improve on that! Looking at it that way, I improved 17 minutes over my 2013 time on the same course, which also reflected a 17+ minute improvement over my spring time. I love you Chicago marathon :)
A little food, a little water and I felt better
Still a plain ribbon, but the medal is better than last year 
Pic Bill got of finishers in my approximate time. He missed me though :(

Monday, October 20, 2014

Detroit marathon recap

When my alarm went off at 4:45 on Sunday, my cat looked at me and gave me a crazy look, wondering why I'd ever want to get out of bed that early and go run outside in the dark. I agreed with her and for a good 20 minutes debated texting Bill to say I was skipping it, to not bother driving downtown to see me finish.

Siiiiiiiigh Then I got dressed and left the house. I've never not done a race I was registered for and it was only fitting that Detroit would be my last* marathon, given that it was my first. Besides, I had already horsed around with the expo, and if I didn't run, I wouldn't let myself wear the shirt, and for all my complaints about the expo and the race, they always have really nice shirts. (They had my size and it fits)

It was cold. My throw away shirt was way too small and I didn't have any gloves. I wasn't in the mood to run. Sometimes though, you just get it done, even though my legs were still tired from Chicago and my pinky toe blister was guaranteed to come back very soon.

The start area in Detroit is always so congested and movement anywhere near the corrals is impossible. The only place I could get inside a corral was the C area, so that's where I started, despite the J marked on my bib. I went out slowly and still passed a good number of people. It makes me wonder why they bother with assigning start corrals if they're not enforced and it's too congested for runners to use them correctly.

Just for fun I applied the 4:40 pace band I had picked up in Chicago and for about 12 miles I was right on target. Then I just stopped caring and stopped trying. Walking became more frequent than just through the water tables. I walked about a mile going through Indian Village, then while on Belle Isle, it was so painful and I was going so slowly that it made no sense to try and jog. I could walk at the same pace for a whole lot less pain, so I did.

Mad Dog saw me on the bridge and we chatted for a bit. I said I was sticking with what had been my plan since April, which was PR in Chicago, then horse around in Detroit and just finish. Then I admitted I was going to walk until mile 26.1 then jog the last bit just to save face. I didn't even manage that because I saw Bill and ran over to hug him before I crossed the finish :)

My time... who cares? It wasn't a PR, but it was never intended to be one. I finished 57 minutes faster than my first Free Press when I actually had been trying.

Despite not even trying in the second half, I had a number of mini-accomplishments:
- I ran the entire Ambassador Bridge, for the first time in 4 tries. It's a steep hill that goes for well over a mile and I've always walked part of it.
- I ran the entire tunnel
- I ran the entire Belle Isle bridge, which is flat, but loooooong and late in the race.

Some runners have a mantra for each race. This was my first time repeating one to myself: "I never ever ever have to run another full marathon!"lol
Brrr!!! It was cold despite the sun!
They have great medals every year. They're always the same,
but I'm fine with that :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chicago Saturday - fail!

I didn't need to see Hal at the Chicago expo this year, so there was no great hurry to get there super early. It was open Friday and Saturday until 6pm. We had driven to Chicago and parked at the hotel (free parking!), then walked a half mile to the Nike store and took a free bus to the expo. The bus was super convenient and saved us a lot of $ and headache. I wish they offered the same service to/from the race on Sunday.

It was massive, yet there were very few things we actually wanted to see. I picked up my number, which was super organized. I had to show my id and booklet, which was scanned, then I was directed to the appropriate number. By the time I got there, the volunteer had my packet in his hands. Super fast and easy.

Then it was time to pick up my shirt. I ordered a large and paid for it way back in April. They had more than enough time to order the shirts according to what people ordered. I was there approximately 2 hours before closing and they were all out of women's larges. Huh???? I ordered a large in April so it should have been sitting there with my name on it! Evidently the shirts ran small this year and the shirt exchange raided ALL the shirts. THAT'S NOT HOW A SHIRT EXCHANGE WORKS!!!!! There is supposed to be a small number of extra shirts that can be exchanged as a convenience, and if they run out, that's too bad. You don't ever take the shirts from registered participants who haven't shown up yet!!!!! It's a good thing the shirt is so hideous or I would have been irate. They offered me a women's small - do I look like I wear a small??? Or a men's small. NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS!!!!! The design is ugly. Did they forget to design the shirt until the last possible second or something? It's unfortunate because last year's had a great design and fits great so I wear it often and proudly. This piece of crap will get tossed in the basket of race stuff I never wear.

Then we looked at the race gear. I would have been happy to spend a lot of $ on a jacket, but there was absolutely nothing I liked. For the prices they charged, I'll wait for someone to buy everything at the outlet store and post it on eBay. Or not. The selection was not good.

We did stop for a minute to take a photo like last year, and the guy working that booth gave me the absolute best thing from the expo - two bandanas that match the background of the display.

The expo had free pace bands for 4:30 and 4:40, but I wanted a 4:35 band. I took the 4:40 but made my own pacing chart before bed :)

Nancy and her husband were in town for the race as well and we all mentioned meeting up for dinner, but after the expo Bill and I wanted something quick that wasn't super noisy. I wasn't particularly hungry, but I made myself eat anyway. Then back to the hotel for an early night and dreams of running....not so much. I slept terribly :(

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago - PR

I ran a personal best marathon time in Chicago. That's all. Too tired to tell the story - in a day or so.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Contest time

Here is a fun contest to pass the time until the big race - Guess my finishing time and post your prediction in the comments. I'll bring home some goodies from the expo for the closest guess :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The truth about tapering

Here's one more: After not walking all summer, you suddenly can't run further than 3 miles without a walk break.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday - A slight change

I'm scheduled to run 5 "easy" miles today. It's cold and there's a steady rain - definitely not weather I want to be running in! Besides, at 5 pm, it's already practically dark. I could use a treadmill, but that would involve driving 15-20 minutes each way to use the gym, and while running 52 minutes outside is nice enough, doing the same on the TM is a boring, painful chore.

Change of plans! Tuesday is a scheduled day off, so I'll swap out Monday and Tuesday this week. I'm maintaining fitness at this point, not trying to build any new strength. Must not get sick, which would be entirely possible if I were outside, cold and wet, or if I spent any considerable time around germy people!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

T-minus 1 week

Chicago (aka the biggest race of my life) is one week away. I feel ready and wish it was this weekend!!!! Waiting another week increases the chance of the weather getting worse and the likelihood of getting sick again.

The plan for the week is:
1. go to bed early every night!!!
2. Avoid student germs!!! (wear a blue surgical mask as needed - they can laugh at me, I don't care)
3. Start carb loading in a few days, otherwise eat super healthy and naturally

I'm getting super excited for this one! I haven't been this excited for a race since fall 2012. I wound up running the Free Press with a head cold that year, but even with that, it was my best running season. I had my 3rd best time ever at the Free Press, then PRed at Columbia City, and I feel tons stronger this fall. I've certainly never trained harder for a race. Fingers crossed! Let's do this!!!