Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May the odds be ever in your favor

Tuesday was the longest day. I felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve as I waited and waited and waited to hear from the Chicago marathon about the lottery. When the Marine Corps marathon didn't pick me, they had the decency to tell me at 6:30 am, so I didn't spend all day wondering and hoping. There was nothing from Chicago when I woke up. I had to keep telling myself that just because I started work at 7:45 didn't mean that everyone did, especially not people in the central time zone.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

In 2014, I got my approval at 12:20. That time came and went.

I waited some more.

Based on facebook traffic, acceptance notifications started posting just before noon.

I waited some more.

At 4 pm, I went outside to tinker with my car and try to get the battery revived after storing it all winter. I came inside at 4:14, hit "refresh" for the 785th time, and saw the magical green banner and best word: APPROVED. Wahooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

Based on further facebook traffic, the denial notifications began around 5 pm, so I was among the last 20% of people accepted.

I don't know why I was able to get through the registration debacle in 2013. I don't know why I was picked in the lottery in 2014, then be blessed with another lottery selection in 2015, but I'm so grateful. Some people entered the lottery, not sure they even wanted to do it, but I never had any doubt.

My bestie (and prayer warrior) and I call each other "Chica." We've done it since we lived together in South Quad. She's Catholic and knows the patron saints, and I had asked her on Monday night if it was frivolous to pray that I be accepted. One of the last things she texted me was "St. Sebastian [patron saint of athletes], help Chica out with Chica-go." I love it - Chica-go!!!! :D

Bill and I had talked the odds over brunch on Saturday. After the 2013 race, I assumed it would be a once and done experience, but every subsequent race further cemented how badly I want to keep doing the race. One can't put a price on 1.7 million spectators!!!! I don't have a 3:40:00 qualifying time, and I can't afford to run with a charity, so my only option is to play the lottery until I become a legacy runner, someone who has completed 5 Chicago marathons within a 10 year period.

When we did the odds on Saturday, I needed to be selected 3 times in the next 8 years, or 37.5% of the time, which are already pretty good odds. Now I need to be picked 2 times in the next 7 years, or 29%. He mentioned that if it's the last year in my 10-year span, and I've only completed it 4 times, it might be worth it to pony up the money and buy a charity spot to secure my legacy status, at least until they change that form of guaranteed entry.

I can worry about that later. For now, I'm so happy! I wore a Chicago jacket to work today. I had wanted to wear one yesterday, but I didn't want to jinx my selection, as if that's even possible.

See you at the finish line!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Don't need a Plan B

Sooooooooooooooo happy!!!!!!!!!! Guess there's no off-season for me this year lol

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where medals go to die...

Ann Arbor is a weird town. As the city-provided map declares, it's "6 square miles surrounded by reality." Um, yeah, agreed. Bill and I were driving to brunch this morning and I saw The Scrap Box, and asked him to turn in, curious what it was. It's a "creative recycling" facility where people can buy industrial scraps. For what purpose, I'm not exactly sure, but when my parents took me there many years ago, my creative 7-year old self loved it! I spent hours creating "art" with fabric squares, pieces of foam, etc.

As as adult, I didn't see anything I needed. There were a few scrapbook punches I looked at, a few rubber stamps significantly below retail, but nothing I needed, especially not when I'm saving money for the summer, to buy more stock, etc. Gotta watch the disposable spending!

Then I saw a small box on the bottom shelf in the back corner, full of medals from the Ann Arbor marathon and half marathon, both 2013 and 2014. The price? A staggering $0.25 each!!!!! I can't decide if it's hilarious, or insulting to the finishers who probably paid $60+ for the experience. Since I didn't do the race, I didn't buy one, or several, although I had great ideas of using them to decorate a photo frame, or a shadowbox, or the cover of a photo album. The creative options were endless, but I can't buy a medal!!! (At least not if I didn't do the race! Duplicates of finished race medals would be great :)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oink oink

From previous experience, it's about the size of a hockey puck :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015


It was cold on Thursday - really really cold and windy with 100% cloud cover. For once I was thankful that Thursday has become an optional second speed day on the TM (or just garbage miles outside if I'm not feeling it).

My plan initially was to do 800m repeats, with 400m recovery breaks for one hour.

I did my mile warm up, then started the repeats. The first was at 7.0 mph (8:30). The second was at 7.1, and the third started at 7.2 and increased to 7.3.

Then I got bored with 20 minutes to go.

One of my goals for the year is to run a mile under 7 minutes. The Little Kings 1-miler is quickly approaching, so I figured I should see how my legs feel going that fast. Why not today?

Part of me thought of course I'd do a full mile. Another part of me thought just see what it feels like and get my lungs used to pumping so hard, and hang on as long as I could.

So I cranked up the TM to 8.6 mph (6:58, the "slowest" sub-7 option) and just started. The good thing about going so fast is that it's over quickly. I immediately started counting hundredths of a mile. At 23 I wanted to stop. At 33 I told myself it was 1/3 over. At 48 I could almost start counting down, rather than count up. At 75 it seemed like enough. At 80 I wasn't quitting for anything, not even my slipping feet because the treadmill didn't have enough traction.

At 1.0, I was DONE!

The real question... does it count? Yes, my body moved that fast, but it was all in response to the machine, so the TM was doing the work, while I was hanging on. First world problem.... I think yes, it counts, but with an asterisk, to be removed only when I repeat it in a race, or out in the real world. If my Garmin tracks it, that counts too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


A good race involves four components, some of which are easier to control than others:
1. Good training
2. Good health
3. Good weather (sunny and cool)
4. Good course (flat)

Going in to the Martian, my training and health were both excellent. The course is decent - not great, but predictable and I know the hill locations. The morning was spot-on perfect weather, upper 60s and full sun. For a race that didn't start until 8:45, however, it was hot! I stepped outside very comfortably in shorts and a t-shirt and probably should have swapped out the knee socks for ankle length ones.

I got to the race with plenty of time to spare, downed a Red Bull and met up with the 2:00 pace group. It's kind of sad - after the thousands of miles and dozens of races I've done, I trusted the pacer more than myself. I've gotten really close to breaking 2 hours, but any extra help is good, and while I'm not normally one for staying with a pace group, it was worth a try.

We started out fast!!!! To break 2 hours, one needs an average pace of 9:09. The first mile was an 8:58 and he blew through the first water table. I finally said "Pacer guy, what's your name?" Then I asked "Ron" about his strategy, if he would be walking through water, starting fast, going consistent throughout, etc. He said "I never stop! haha We'll do this the whole way." Ok.

At the start he had 30-40 people running with him. By mile 7, it was half that. "Hey Ron," I said, "You're going way too fast. We haven't run a single 9:09 yet." He said he liked to have a little time cushion for the last few miles, and I've talked with pacers in the past, who have all been instructed to finish 1 minute faster than goal. Even though every mile was in the 8:50s, I stayed with him, occasionally falling back a few steps for water, but always catching up.

It was hot and had reached the 70s after an hour. I was pouring sweat. I ran most of it slightly light-headed, but Ron was always within 5 seconds of me. Around mile 9 I said "Tomorrow is my birthday. Everyone keeps asking me what I want, what I want to do. All I want is to break 2 hours." "We'll get you there," he promised.

Mile 11.5 I walked a few paces for water and he pulled ahead a little. It would have been sooooooo easy to watch him go and numbly give up. "Do it girl!" I said out loud, "Less than 20 minutes. Do it!" I caught up again, only to lose him at mile 12.1. He looked back a few times and I was always there. "Who put this huge hill here?" I asked, catching up to him again at 12.5.

Mile 12.8 was another uphill, and Ron and his two remaining runners pulled ahead again. I hit the top of the hill, saw them, saw the finish and I was off! "Go girl!" he yelled as I blew past him and surged across the finish line. Victory!

Official time: 1:58:39 baby! I was 14th out of 122 in my age group. I PRed by +/- 3:30 over the Rock CF half. More remarkable is that in one year, I improved 10:10, from a 2:08:49 to a 1:58:39. Crazy! :D I had long considered running Toledo's half next Sunday, but I'm going to skip it and save my money this year. What else do I possibly need to prove (in the half)???

2015 PR count: 3 half marathon, 3 PRs - 6 total races, 5 PRs

Evidently I had 5 water breaks, looking at the time chart :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The emergency day off

One of my favorite things about my Thursday school is that it's less than 2 miles from home, so I can zip home, eat lunch, and make it back within 30 minutes. The comfort of home is just wonderful in the middle of the day. Today, however, was a lot less wonderful than usual. My little kitty was in her litter box three times, and seemed to be looking for other places to use as well. When I observed her in the box, she only produced about 3 drops of urine. Then I noticed a drop of blood in the chair where she likes to sit and watch the world.

So I called the vet and asked for confirmation of a bladder infection. Three hours later, we were on our way to the vet, hoping it was "just" an infection, but knowing it could be bladder cancer, a tumor, anything. She's already 15, so I have to be mindful of what I'm willing to pay, both financially, and in terms of the toll it would take on her body.

Traffic was bad. We didn't make it home until after 7, and it was raining. Definitely not a day to force myself to do a speed workout. Comfort food and pajamas were more my speed. Besides, ONE 5-mile run isn't going to make any difference either way. Taking care of ourselves is more beneficial, given the day we had.
My sweetie on a happier day

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anatomy of a 45-mile week

Wednesday: Run 10 miles at marathon pace (10:30)
Actual run - 10.25 miles at 10:21

Thursday: Run 6 miles
Actual run - 6.1 speed workout on the TM

Friday: Run 6 miles
Actual run - 5.65 in crazy strong wind through the hills of Ann Arbor

Saturday: Run 16 miles
Actual run - 16.0 miles at 10:31 pace. Was visiting Bill's mom and I hadn't slept well, was hot, hilly and sunny. Previous 16 this training cycle was 17 seconds faster. Counting this one as a win :) Body felt great after. Sure, I was dehydrated and ate everything I could find that night, but my biggest physical pain was the slight sunburn on the back of my knees. Not bad!

Sunday: Run 5 miles
Actual run - 3.6 miles. Still in Indiana, still hilly, but now windy as well. 3.25 was enough to break 40 for the week.

Monday: Strength workout (generally 5-6 miles)
Actual run - 3.0 miles speed workout on the TM. I think I tried to go too fast, and quit 2 repeats earlier than I had planned. Legs were SHOT!

Tuesday: Blessed rest day!!!!
Actual day - lay down with my cat and watch Jeopardy! Take the Jeopardy! online test, do the dishes, etc. Basically do all my dippy errands and enjoy not running :)

Next up:
W- 10 pace
Th - 5 or 6 speed workout
F - nothing
S - 13.1 race
S - 5-7ish
M - speed workout

Officially I'm "tapering" now. The brothers Hanson sure have a different idea of a taper than does Hal. I'm missing his taper lol The Hansons got me a PR though.