Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Looking forward - First world problems

"You know you're a runner, if you have no idea what you're doing this weekend, but you know your race schedule 6 months ahead of time."

Yeah, that's me! I'm not retiring, but keeping with the theme I had this year - one spring full, one fall full if Chicago will have me again. Some shorter races here and there, depending on location and cost.

Thinking about the spring, however, I immediately ran into a first world problem. When I went to Gettysburg in 2014, I discovered they have a marathon. Researching it online, it looks fun. Runners decide if they are running for the Union or the Confederacy, then all the runners on the winning side get an extra goodie. The course goes through the battlefield - what's better than that???

Problem 1 - it's the week before Cincinnati, which has become my go-to spring race.
Problem 2 - it's the same day as Toledo. I was completely fine with skipping Toledo this year, but 2016 is the 40th anniversary and races often make a big to-do on anniversary years.

I'm not necessarily done for this year either. The Indianapolis Monumental full has sold out, and I don't feel up for the Veterans Marathon. I'll probably do the half, but I can't handle the thought of a 2-loop course on dirt roads through hurricane-force winds with very very little crowd support. It doesn't matter than it's five weeks after Chicago. My body could handle it, but my mind balks at the idea.

I also plan to break 1200 miles for the year. I have 130 to go, so that should be no problem. Maybe 1500 for next year? Is that too big of a jump? Everything is good. I'm healthy, I'm enjoying running again. Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Race recap - Chicago 2015

Just after 7 am, I stepped in Corral G. I was one of the first 50 in the gate, which would later hold probably 5,000. The empty corral and the skyline loomed before me and I started crying already. I was full aware of how blessed I was to have the chance to run my third consecutive Chicago marathon. I had asked God, St. Sebastian, and the lottery fairy to get me there and they all helped me. I was healthy (the cold symptoms had thankfully disappeared), my body was ready to run 26.2 miles, and I had been given the opportunity to do it on my favorite course. I was truly blessed, and I knew it.

10 hours earlier, however, it wasn't nearly as good. I sleep horribly if I'm not home in my own bed. Every person we ran into at the hotel was there for the race, so you'd think it would be quiet. I was in bed at 9 pm, with a dose of Nyquil, and 2 minutes away from deep sleep, I heard a radio screaming "I don't give a f**k about you." Well, that was obvious. It ruined my sleep trajectory, and I spent the rest of the night in a half-asleep state, never going into deep sleep.

I was dragging when I got out of bed, but like any other race morning, I went through my getting ready routine, because what else would I do? We were able to find a cab quickly, arriving at Grant Park way earlier than any other year. It was cold - low 40s, and we were there before 6:15. I wouldn't start running until after 8. Before practically every race, I go to the Salvation Army and get a throw-away shirt, but for whatever reason (exhaustion, fighting against a cold), I didn't make it this time.

It was cold. I was dressed for the heat, so I spent over an hour shivering in the cold.

I started abreast of the pacing team, but not necessarily with them, because I like to run Chicago on the side, to see and interact with the spectators. They're the primary reason to run Chicago, at least for me. For the first several miles, I was right with the group. My first 5k time split was spot on, 10 seconds under pace.

My watch, however, was a mess. Almost immediately we run under a skyscraper, and she lost satellites and was screwed up for the rest of the race. When I hit the mile 1 marker, she thought I was at 0.6 miles. Then she had me at a 5:13 mile, then the next was 13+. Ah well, that's part of why I write my target time splits on my arms (same idea as a pace band, but big enough to read).

After an hour, the sun rose and it got HOT!!! The forecast had been for low 70s. Liars! It topped 80 in the first half and I found myself slowing down. As proof of the crazy heat, the city opened all the fire hydrants on the back half to provide a constant stream of cold water. We were later offered blue sponges that had been soaking in a kiddie pool of ice water. I used mine to wipe off the sweat, and squeezed the cold water on my hair - anything to cool off!

Once I stopped being so obsessed with 9:30s, it became really FUN!!!! The seniors' residents were watching again, but they added signs this year: We would join you, but we're busy eating donuts and drinking coffee.

Another group - one that I don't remember from past years - was the congregation of Moody Church. The street was closed in front of the church, but that didn't stop them. Before their service, hundreds of parishioners were out front in dresses and suits cheering for us.

Time-wise the miles were slow, but in terms of a fun experience, they went so fast! At one point I was talking with a runner from Grand Rapids, when a man on the side pointed to me with both hands and said "Go Michelle!! You got this!! Finish strong!!!!!!" I raised both arms and waved to him, then admitted to the runner, "I have no idea who that is." lol
Love the shirt. Brought home the size I ordered :)

Shortly thereafter, a group had Dixie cups of beer. Yes, please :) If I wasn't going to hit my goal time, I was going to enjoy every second of the race. A woman had a "free hugs" sign. I took one, even though I don't normally like being touched. She wrapped her arms around my sweaty back, squeezed me tight and said something encouraging. I don't remember exactly what she said. Something nice.

Something funny - I always say I don't notice what we run past, but I can tell you which spectators I saw more than once on a course - I saw a woman I had seen in Cincinnati. I recognized her by the same sign - Free hugs, especially to hot guys named Chris. Must be her husband or bf, or whatever. Another funny one - The Chicago Marathon, only a few more runners than the GOP presidential race.

We ran through Mexican Town, through Chinatown, and onto Michigan Ave, where my body always takes a huge sigh of relief. It's still 3 miles away, but we're sooooooo close!!!! Run straight towards the Sears Tower, turn, and finish!

With 10 minutes to go, there as a DJ. "Who are my first time marathoners?" he asked. "Who's running your second?" Then "Who is never ever running again after today? Ever?" he asked. I raised my arms and cheered lol I didn't mean it. Of course not, I was having too much fun.

Bill watches for me on the shady (left) side of Michigan Ave right by mile 26, so I was staying on the left side of the road, even though the shortest distance blue line was on the right. I was nothing but smiles at this point. The goal time wasn't happening, but I was finishing my 21st marathon, I was healthy, I wasn't injured, I've been blessed with the ability to consistently finish marathons. I was tougher than Jay Cutler, according to several signs lol :D

I finished. My pace runs were always extremes. When they were good, they were very very good, and when they were bad (when it was hot), they were horrid. Weather in the midwest is a total crap-shoot, and it worked against me this time. Ah well, there's always next year. 2015 was time-wise my worst Chicago marathon, but I've never had more fun during a race.

One of the secretaries I work with asked if I had a good time. No! Well, yes!!!!! But no! It all depends how I define a good time :) It wasn't my best time, but it was the best time I've ever had!
Why is there a whale on the medal? I know it's supposed to be "The Bean" sculpture, but it looks awful haha
Sometimes I wonder if they're in a race to the bottom with medals. They get worse every year lol :P
#21!!! You can't see my knee socks - I looked so cute!!! hah

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3 days later

The Chicago marathon was 3 days ago. My legs are still a little sore, my joints are still a little unsteady. I have done ZERO exercise since then. I haven't even written my race recap, but I'm already thinking about what's next! :D I trained so long and so hard, and for that? For an unexpected weather fluke that killed my time? Yes, I enjoyed the race, but my time is in no way reflective of what I CAN do, especially after my 9:30s all summer.

The problem, though, is that there are NO good options until the spring. Grand Rapids and Columbus are this weekend, but I'm not ready for another full. The only others within driving distance are the Indianapolis Monumental, which I've done twice and not loved either time. Besides, it's far. Or the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City. I like the small town feel, I like the people who run the race, but the course and the weather aren't conducive for a PR. There are way too few people, it's a 2-loop course, and the weather tends to be WINDY, like hurricane gale-force winds. Given those prospects, it looks like I won't have another full until April. Going to be a long winter!!!

I have a few thoughts though - probably do the Veterans half, perhaps in my Storm Trooper pajamas :) More seriously, I've considered many times running it without a watch. The conditions aren't right to PR, so why set up expectations to fail? Why not just run it because I like to run it? Whatever time I get, I get, and I enjoy the experience.

Another thought is to do more maintenance and less formal training. The Hansons program is 18 weeks, and I'm usually burnt out by week 10-12. The first 6-8 weeks are all base building, which I don't need every time. What if I skip those and do my own maintenance? I can run 4-6x a week, 20-25 miles, without being so beholden to a piece of paper telling me what to do. I want to enjoy my next training cycle, but I also want to be ready for my spring races (which is another story altogether :) If I follow the Hansons to the letter, that doesn't start until late December anyway.

Monday, October 12, 2015


Theme song for 2015: "If you need to crash, then crash and burn, you're not alone." Haha at least it was fun. Full recap later! Back to sleepy sleepy! Zzzzz :)

Friday, October 9, 2015


A+ goal, when the stars are aligned, the weather is perfect, I'm healthy, and nothing hurts:

Realistic goal:

Lousy goal, when the weather is too hot, my body hurts, or I don't feel well:

Worse case goal, where I'm a total mess, hating every step of the race:

I feel ok, not great. I'm so thankful school is closed today. I could have probably worked in a different district, but resting and not getting sick is the most important thing. I went to bed at 5:30 pm on Thursday, woke up a few times, and got up for good at 6:30 am. Since then, I've had an Emergen-C packet, a vitamin D pill, a shot of preventative DayQuil, a super healthy lunch, and tons of water. I've avoided sugar, and had only minimal dairy (milk in coffee).

I'm about to lay down and hopefully nap with kitty. I'm still not sick per se, but as close as I can get. I can deal with a sore throat, I can deal with a minor ear ache, but I have to do everything in my power to not reach the point where I get the mushy brain, light headed, woozy feeling. I've worked way too hard to get sick now!

There are tv shows I really like that air from 8-10pm, but I can watch them online sometime later. I'll probably go to bed at 7, if not earlier. There is nowhere I absolutely have to be today, it's all about staying healthy!!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Livin' on the edge

I'm not sick. But, I'm about as close as I can get to being sick, without actually being sick. Does that make any sense? I have a slight runny nose at times (clear, so no infection (Insert mean joke here about me always being a little snotty)), I blow my nose a few times a day, and I have a slight nagging sore throat. I'm constantly tired, but that's a side effect of the jobs. It's getting me run down, though, so I need to be vigilant about not succumbing to the sickness.

When people sneeze at work, I sanitize my hands, then hold up my sleeve and breathe through that. When the smoker across from me comes back from a break, stinking, I breathe through my sleeve. (I mentioned it to my manager and thought he and HR addressed it, need to bring it up again.) If I walk past someone who sneezed, I hold my breath until I pass.
I have at least one Emergen-C every day to get 500% of my recommended amount of vitamin C. Does it help? The jury is still out. I'm probably just producing expensive urine, but it's worth it, if even a little gets absorbed.

The biggest thing is sleep! If I have a spare hour during the day, I don't try to clean the house or do anything. Nope, I lay down on the couch with kitty, who's an excellent napper! Even if I don't fall into deep sleep, I'm still resting and giving my body down time, and giving my brain time to shut down.

Thursday is the last day I have morning work, it's also the last day I see the students. I'm working from home, so I'll be spared the office germs, and I have a surgical mask in my purse if the kids are sick. School is closed on Friday, and I'll be sleeping, resting, and eventually making it to yoga.

I'm pretty much guaranteed to get sick after the race, when I'm inundated with germs, but my white blood cells are busy trying to repair my legs. That's fine. Just get through Sunday heathy!!!!

The forecast still looks amazing, if a little hot. I'll need to deliberately add more salt to my diet on Friday and Saturday. Otherwise, don't overthink it. It's not supposed to hit 70 until 1pm, when I should be done. More incentive to finish fast!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's the final countdown

The race is in less than a week!!!! It feels like I've been waiting forever, but at the same time, I can't believe it's already here!

I don't feel great. I went to bed at 8, which would be great, but I had to wake up at 3:50, so I didn't really get any extra sleep. I felt tons more exhausted than normal, had a slight sore throat, and couldn't keep my eyes open. As soon as the morning job ended, I went back to bed!!!! (My students were all doing standardized testing, so I wouldn't have been able to see them anyway). I slept on and off until 11:30 and feel marginally better. Slight headache, very slight sore throat. About to go run my "easy" 5 and go to bed!

I'm wearing my last new pair of turquoise shoes today. The old ones are still perfectly fine, but the new ones feel like clouds under my feet, and I'm all about comfortable feet during a race!!!! I'll wear them for my 16 total miles this week, and be good to go on race day.

This week is all about sleeping!!!! My goal is to be in bed, with my phone call to Bill over, and my lights out before 8pm. School is closed on Friday, and I could work in a different district, but I'd much rather have that extra day to sleep in and relax and not be exposed to germs!!!

My house is a mess - that can wait. I need to put away clean laundry - that can wait. Everything that isn't work or running can wait. I have priorities here!!!! I already picked up my pre-race food. I need to schedule a massage, and make sure I go to yoga on Friday. Then on Saturday, time to go!!!!! Yes, we're stopping at The Chocolate Garden - is that not one of the main reasons to drive ourselves???

The early forecast looks GREAT!!! Mid-50s at the start, low to mid-60s at the end, and SUNNY!!!!! Mid-60s is a little warm, but the summer has been warm and I trained through it. Now that I know the weather, I know what I'm going to wear (pink tank, purple and green skirt, green knee socks). I had 3 shirts and 2 bottoms picked out, all weather dependent. I'll probably pack everything, just in case :)

I'm sooooooooooo excited!!!!