Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Amazing Race that is the Chicago Marathon: race recap part 2

Hi everyone! I'm back for the last part of the race, as promised!

When we left off, I had just loaded up on Biofreeze. But the truth is, for almost the last half of the race, FOR 13.1 MILES, all my body wanted to do was quit. When I realized I was definitely not going to hit my goal time unless I sprouted wings, the negative thoughts threatened to take over:

I started to question my sanity about running, and ability to run, the distance:

By the way, this always happens when I get past 20 miles.

I was having kind of a hard time staying positive.

Things were not great.

Erika could tell I was struggling, so she revised our plan to get to the finish.

I had a fairly fully-formed sentence in my head, but all I could muster was this gesture for her to interpret.

Erika thought I was really angry but I was just preserving my energy so I didn't fall on my face.

She tried everything in the book to keep me motivated.

Encouraging words:

Stern talking-tos:

Dancing in Boys' Town:

I used a couple of other fingers to respond that time.

But honestly, how come she had so much energy??

There was nothing to be done. I just had to keep moving through the misery. As Sir Winston Churchill apparently once said:

Sure, he was probably talking about war, but whatevs.

For the last 2 miles until close to the end I think we did something like a 4:1 walk/run, then we ran the last half mile in.

My finish time was 5:14:34, which is 4 minutes slower than my previously slowest marathon, but I was so relieved to be done!

I received my finisher's medal and got my picture taken.

That photo sure is a keeper.

Then I found a spot of pavement and tried not to pass out or vomit.

Thankfully I did neither, and once we I gathered ourselves myself, we wandered back to the hotel, showered, and limped to the restaurant next door for dinner.

We did actually eat too.

We  did a bit of sightseeing that night and before heading to the airport the next day, we even made it to the Bean!

So, here are my final thoughts on the race:

1. While I had really wanted to come in under 5 hours, I am happy that I pushed myself to finish. The thing is, my marathons never live up to my training.

I *should* be racing faster, based on my training paces. Mere seconds are lost per mile but over hours they add up and the number in my head goes right out the window.

2.  Hurting my IT band definitely had an effect on my training, and I'm certain that one 16 miler was not enough to prepare me. But, that was the best I could do with the time I had left.

3. No matter how rough it was, running with my best friend is one of my favourite things to do!

4.  The Chicago Marathon has great volunteers and unbelievable crowds. I never turned on my music because there was always something to see and hear. It would be a great first marathon!

5.  Yup. I'm retiring from marathons.


UPCOMING POSTS: Plans for the upcoming year--Will I race more? Will I blog more?? 

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Amazing Race That is the Chicago Marathon: race recap part 1

On October 8th, I ran the Chicago Marathon.

The day beforehand I flew to Chicago, met up with my bestie Erika and went to the expo, where we got our packets and played fun activities.

In my defense I...yeah, I have no defense.

And, after obsessively googling for weeks, I found a place that had plain chicken for our pre-race dinner:

As you would expect, we went to bed early that night. However, Erika's home team was playing their nemesis and it was a very exciting game!  She tried not to hoot and holler during her team's football game while I slept.

If you've ever observed someone try to scream in excitement silently, you'll know it's pretty entertaining!

We woke up the next morning having both slept surprisingly well. We reviewed our race strategy, and  despite the fact that I had only done one 16 mile run as my longest run, I decided that a sub 5 hour finish was completely within my reach.

The start of the race was great. The spectators were amazing and helped make the mile markers feel like they were 5 minutes apart.

After 6 miles Erika and I were pretty sure that I could average an 11:30 pace for the rest of the race, which would net me a sweet PR.

By mile 13 I started feeling tired but my pace was alternating between about 10:30 and 11:30, likely because I was walking every 2 miles for 30-60 seconds to take in my nutrition, and another 30 or so at the water stations.

I was still holding on, but fading.

By mile 18 things had taken a definite turn; I was firmly riding the struggle bus. My knees were hurting.

My hips were hurting.

I DESPERATELY wanted to sit down for *just a minute* but knew that would be the end of my race.

Looking at my stats, it's pretty clear that I hit the wall.

And I hit it hard.

Around that time, a girl suddenly appeared and started chatting excitedly with Erika.

Who was she? Why did she look so fresh???

It turned out she was Erika's childhood friend who was spectating the race, but it was a very confusing few minutes for me.  Just after seeing her, we had a stretch of road leading into Chinatown where there was a huge vat of Biofreeze.

I applied some liberally to my knees, hips and back.

With my lower body  87.6% numb, I ambled past the dragons and into the last big chunk of the race.

I'm already working on the second part of the recap, but this felt like a good place to stop.

I'll be back soon!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

I'm Tapering and I'm ABSOLUTELY FINE

Well, here we are. One week until the Chicago Marathon and one week into my taper. This is my A race only race this year, To be honest, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping the taper madness at bay.

It might have to do with the fact that I already had my meltdown 6 weeks ago when my IT band derailed me for awhile. I was pretty positive I would have to walk the whole marathon.

What's that you say? I could have considered not doing the race or deferring to next year?

I was already in too deep. 

Nevertheless, it did force a few days off and a drastic decrease in mileage. I was TriGirl, Interrupted (minus the institutionalization, of course). But I've clawed eased my way back and despite only getting one of my three 16 milers in, I'm feeling pretty good.

Yeah, I'm good.

I just have to not think about how far 26.2 miles is. The trick is to break it up into manageable chunks.




Errr, perhaps the madness is creeping in just a bit.

I guess some things never change. 

See you on the flip side!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Road to Chicago is Paved with Poor Decisions

As of today, I am 4 weeks out from the Chicago Marathon. And I have absolutely no idea what my race day will look like. My training has been, oh, what's the word?

That's the word.

It actually didn't start out that way. It started out perfectly. I had done weeks of base building and then had to drop my weekly mileage when I started my plan in June. In the past I've used the Hal Higdon plan with some tweaks, but this time around I went with the Hansons Marathon Method.

Things have really fallen apart in the last few weeks, so let's break things down by section, shall we?

The first 5 weeks are dedicated to base building, all of which 4 weeks of which I executed flawlessly. The fifth week I had my sister and her crew visiting, so one day I chose to skip so I could do stuff with them (I could have gone out early in the day but I was lazy). Then we spent the weekend in Palm Desert where it was 124 degrees.

So while I could have jumped on the treadmill for my runs, I just opted for this instead:

Thus I ended my base building 15 miles short. But I wasn't worried because it was time for the next phase!

I jumped into this part with lots of excitement! I had a speed session and a tempo session each week, along with easy days. Long runs started in the second week of this phase. Right off, this was a big jump in mileage, from 24 to 37. BUUUuuuUUTTtt, I had only run 8.5 miles the week before, so it was a huge jump and I was pushing the pace. Other than this little snafu, I was spot on did okay, missing only two runs over the next two weeks.

My last speed week was PERFECT. I was feeling great about the distances and paces I was hitting and ready for the last big phase:

This is the longest phase, at 7 weeks. In the first week I switched out my rest day from Monday to Wednesday because it was my one chance to visit my grad school girls. This meant I started a new phase by running 8 days with no break.

Nope, nope. I'm sure that was fine.

Actually that point is moot anyway, because that Sunday was my first 16 miler. I was cool, I was confident; I scoffed when my husband said that I could text him if for any reason I needed to be picked up.

I really did feel good.

Just a few miles in, I stopped to snap a picture of Venice High because it is the front of Rydell High!

*I was obsessed with Grease growing up.

When I started up again I was hit with this sudden pain on the outside of my knee.

I was honestly confused.

What was this pain? Where did it come from? I tried walking it out. I tried digging the heel of my hand into my thigh. Moving made it worse, so after a quarter mile I texted my husband and he picked me up.

After a day off I tried to run again but couldn't go more than a couple of minutes without having to stop and walk.  I was pretty disappointed.

I decided to return to my strength exercises (far too late, I know), drastically decrease my mileage, rotate my shoes, and stick to flat routes. Following two weeks of this plan, more resting and buying an IT band strap, I'm back on track!

I still feel that pain edging up after a few miles so I'm taking walk breaks. I also have not done any long runs, but I will do 10 this weekend and hopefully be good to run longer next Sunday. After that it's taper time--I'm extending it from one to two weeks--so these two Sundays are all I have left. I have given up my PR hopes at this point and am hoping for finishing without injury.

Luckily, no matter what, I will be running (and walking) with my friend Erika so it will be a fun day! It has been far too long since we raced together.

I'll just leave the math to her this time.

*I am still somewhat obsessed with Grease.

1. Have you ever been hurt at this stage in your training and had a happy ending?
2. I know I asked this before, but are you running the Chicago Marathon?

UPCOMING POSTS: What I see on my runs, race recap


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