Running pic

Running pic
Yup, that's me!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lincolnwood Turkey Trot Recap

New PR! New PR!  That’s right – this weekend at the Lincolnwood Turkey Trot I broke the elusive 50 minute mark for my 10K time! 49:05 Woot! Also, beat the nemesis by slightly over a minute! Also, just checked Athlinks and the nemesis has NEVER broken 50 minutes.  Why yes, I am a big stalking stalkery McStalker  – what of it? What is amazing to me is how competitive my AG is (and big – instead of the usually 40-44, 45-49 they did a 40-49, so lots of people).  I was 10th in my AG, but the 25th woman overall.  I just looked at my time from last year and I was about 3 ½ minutes faster this year and my time last year was a PR for 2010 - not too shabby.  Here’s the rundown.  I almost skipped this race because I was doing it by myself – always a drag.  But, I got up out of my warm snuggly bed and had a cup of coffee and a slice of whole-grain peanut butter toast.  I had a PRP (you know what that is) and got dressed.  I wore Craft capris, a Saucony sports bra (TJ Maxx purchase), a random tank-top chosen because it isn’t cotton and it’s long enough to stay tucked in, a tech half-zip from the Zooma women’s half-marathon, Nike gloves, Balega socks, my Saucony racing flats (it still cracks me up that I even have racing flats), and my iPod shuffle. It was chilly and overcast with some wind but not too gusty.  They had free parking that was close - a real plus that you understand all too well if you live in Chicago and run many races, a for once a decent t-shirt (long sleeved tech-t!) where they minimized the super-ugly cartoon turkey that graces all of their shirts.  Port-a-potties were plentiful and clean and there was a covered shelter to wait under before the race started.
The race started well – I had managed to get close enough to the front so I could avoid the walkers and slo-pokes yet surely still have people to pass along the way.  The first mile went by really quickly – under 8 minutes according to my Garmin. Miles 2 & 3 also clicked off at just about 8 minutes or a little bit over. By this time we had split from the 5K portion of the race and I started to look for people to fix on and then pass as a way to keep my pace up.  Somewhere around mile 4 where the course starts making a sort of zig-zag or as I like to call it, a radiator pattern,  going up a street for about a half mile, then over a block and back to the main street – repeat three times.  I passed a woman in a sports bra and running skirt (OK already – we see your back muscles.  Now put on a shirt because you’re making me cold just looking at you!), and then I hung on to a woman in an Evanston Running Club singlet over a long sleeved shirt.  I passed her at a water stop around 4.5 – this is where I realized that I was clicking off the miles and hanging on to the ~8/mile pace and if I could keep it up I could beat 50 minutes.  Also about then I noticed a running buddy about 10 yards in front me and I knew if I could keep up with her she would pace me in (unwittingly – I didn’t let her know I was behind her) under 50 for sure and I decided then that if it killed me I was going to keep up with her. Luckily she’s a nice runner who keeps an even pace.  I stuck to her like glue and tried to keep a little gas in the tank for the home stretch.  Just before the finish line there’s a long straightaway and then a right turn into the - I don’t know – last maybe 100 yards to the finish and I could see the clock and I took off.  I heard my friend yell my name and it pushed me just a little bit more.  I saw the clock turn to 49:00 just before I crossed and I almost started to cry I was so happy.  I fully realize that breaking 50 minutes for many runners is no biggie, but we all have our personal goals.  I remember when breaking 30 minutes in a 5K or an hour for a 10K were big goals for me, so I know all too well that it doesn’t matter if you are an elite or a middle of the pack runner as long as you’re doing as well as you are able.
Next up I’ve got the obligatory Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and then the Schaumburg half-marathon over the weekend. While I'd love to PR in the half, realistically I doubt it will happen considering all the running/racing I've been doing so close to this race.  A year ago this was my first half-marathon and since then I've run one full marathon, one 20-miler, 5 halfs, 4 10-milers and more than a handfull of 5Ks, 10Ks, and 8Ks. Like I said - I'd love to PR, but I'm just happy with the accomplishments.  I have a check-up on the 28th and I can't wait to brag to my doctor!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Running shame

Hey – a rare non-race update from Poppy, the race whore! Mostly because I have running shame today and I need to share.  First some background.  About 9-10 years ago I had my gallbladder out.  Since that time when I need to poop, I have to poop NOW. I really envy the people who are able to sort of think, “Hmm… I need to poop but I can wait until I get home or to an acceptable substitute.”  Yeah – not me.  I can take you on a tour of Chicago and point out the McDonald’s, Starbucks, hotel lobbies, gas stations, park district field houses, etc. where I have had to stop for an emergency dump.  Running only intensifies the need – this is probably why I go on (and on and on) in my race recaps about whether or not I’ve pooped and the number of port-a-potties near the start of a race and on the course. I have in the past mentioned that the world is my toilet when I run, but that was on trail runs where you can be the proverbial bear shitting in the woods and as long as you go far enough off the trail no one will ever be the wiser.
So this morning I was meeting one of my running buddies at 6am for a 5 mile loop.  Now usually in this situation I would get up at 5am and hope to take care of business before I head out but today it was cold in the house and the bed was really warm and I couldn’t pry myself out before 5:35 which only left enough time to pee, dress, and brush my teeth.  Now some additional background.  I’ve always felt my husband doesn’t get enough fiber and since he has a family history of colon cancer and fiber is supposed to be good for preventing that I recently started putting a couple of tablespoons of Benefiber into the smoothies I make for our breakfast every morning.  I get plenty of fiber to begin with – a baggie of shredded wheat for my ride to work snack, 2 pieces of fruit every day, lots of veggies, whole wheat pasta and bread when I can – you get the drift.  So the Benefiber is probably a little overkill for me. When my running buddy and I hit the 3.5 mile mark I mentioned that I might have to make a detour in the park we run through at about the 4.5 mile mark.  I don’t know if it’s the mentioning of the potential poop, or that I started thinking about it, but the launch sequence began and I wound up suggesting we run through an alley and yes, I POOPED IN AN ALLEY.  Right between a dumpster and a telephone pole.  Am I not just the classiest broad around?  And yes, I did have tp with me. I think someone saw me too and I’m sure they have great fodder for their morning tweet or blog post or FB status. However, I immediately felt so. much. better.  I seriously think I could make my millions by installing those European pay-toilet kiosks around the city. 
Anyway, that’s today’s over-share, just for you.

Chicago's Perfect 10 recap

Too bad the Perfect 10 race wasn’t as good as I hoped.  I finished the Soldier Field 10-miler back in May in 1:27:XX and I was hoping to finish the Perfect 10 in 1:20:XX  or less.  Not so insane when you consider that my Hot Chocolate time was 1:18:XX – I was hoping I could squeak out the extra .7 miles more in 1.5 minutes or so.  Or not.  I finished in 1:25:XX.  Oh well. A new PR, but not what I’d hoped for and my nemesis beat me by ~45 seconds.  Grrrrr.  I wonder if I’m her nemesis?  Or if she even cares? Eh. I’ll probably never know.
I was already irritated because the race director changed the start time from 8am to 7am which would mean that I’d have to get up at freaking 4am to get down to the start at Navy Pier  and have time to check gear and hit the head at least once.  A friend from college came down to run the race with me and she was likewise less than thrilled at the time change.   We were bleary eyed at 4am but we persevered, downed our coffee, ate our breakfast of champions (frosted sugar cookies), hit the head, and hit the bus to Navy Pier.  It was pretty cold out and the first race of the year that I wore my tights (black Nike purchased for ~$8 at the outlet from the sale rack). I rounded out the outfit with an Icebreaker ¼ zip top, Brooks glycerin bra, thin Nike gloves, my pink Newtons, and a pink Oiselle fleece hat that makes me look a bit like a cancer patient but keeps my ears warm and was free to boot. Needless to say pictures from this race are fah-bulous – or not.  Runners were allowed to wait inside Navy Pier until the start which was really nice because it was cold and windy. The start was sort of disorganized since we had to run west on the pier to get to the lakefront path and then head south.  I could pretty much tell this wasn’t going to be an A race for me.  I was tired and had a little bit of the lead-leg going on.  When we hit the 10K turnaround ~3 miles in I was pretty sorry that I’d signed up for the 10-mile.  You have to know that when the dude in the cargo shorts passes you, and then you see the guy with his arm in a sling already headed back that it’s not going to be a great race.  It was pretty much only the thought of the fabulous breakfast I had planned that kept me going. After the race I had to get my gear and find my friend who finished about 10 minutes ahead of me (7th in her AG!), and then we went out for a much deserved breakfast complete with a.m. cocktail and then home for a nap.  Lesson learned – no more races at 7am unless they’re outside my front door.
As a PS in case anyone cares what I wore to the Hot Chocolate race it was as follows: long-sleeved grey Saucony Fleet Feet Chick’s Night reward shirt, Brooks Glycerin bra, my grey Layer 8 shorts (still the best buy ever from Marshalls/TJ Maxx), Sensah lavender calf compression sleeves, pink Newtons, and Nike gloves.  No chafing despite the pretty dumb choice to wear a brand new shirt.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15K recap

I retract all the mean things I’ve said about RAM racing and the Hot Chocolate race.  This year they finally seem to have worked out all the kinks.  The expo was super-easy to navigate – I changed my corral (I was placed in the D coral and managed to move it not to the B like I’d hoped because it was already full, but into the C – no biggie because they weren’t really checking all that hard anyway), got my bib and goodie bag and was on my way to dinner all within 10 minutes. 
I got up in the morning about 5:15 and had the usual cup of coffee and a piece of whole wheat toast with low-fat peanut butter, waited about 15 minutes and had the P.R.P. (pre-race poop – sorry if that’s TMI). My sister-in-law came over about 6:30 and we headed to the L to get to Grant Park.  When we got down it was obvious that this was a huge race – I think I heard about 40,000 people which makes sense when you think about it.  They had to get the (very) expensive permits to close downtown streets and for that you need many runners to recoup your costs.  Gear check was a shit show – crowded with runners milling around.  Check your gear and get the hell out I say!  S-I-L and I got to the corral and waited, and waited.  Turns out the 5K course had to be rerouted due to a truck stuck under a viaduct and that delayed their start by about 15 minutes and in turn the 15K start. 
As usual, I can’t remember anything mile by mile.  I know I was doing fine and seemed to be ticking off the miles pretty regularly.  I remember passing the United Center and thinking the new statues of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita looked pretty good and I remember passing a row of townhouses that were on the marathon route.  Mostly I was just feeling relief that the course wasn’t jam packed elbow to elbow and there was plenty of room to maneuver and get ahead when I needed to.  As usual the ‘hill’ over the Roosevelt bridge at the end of the race was painful – it’s hardly an incline but to us flatlanders it counts and coming at the end of the race is always hard. 
I blew off the chocolate fondue at the end of the race and just grabbed three squares of chocolate and got my gear and met up with S-I-L at the Congress Hotel lobby.  S-I-L had a great race – she placed 4th in her AG which is pretty amazing for such a big race.  I think I was in the 120’s, but I beat my nemesis by about 15 seconds which felt pretty good!
Next up – Chicago’s Perfect 10 10-miler. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trick or Treat Trot Recap

You know how people are always talking about taking it easy after they run a marathon?  I sort of pooh-poohed the whole idea of taking it easy and scheduled races for the next (and I’m not shitting you here) ten weeks post-marathon.  One 5K, two 10Ks, one 5-mile, one 5mile brutal cross-country race, one 8K, one 15K, a 10-miler and 2 half-marathons. Not to mention my regular gym schedule of lifting 3 times and one hour of personal training. And my regular weekday running groups that account for 18 miles/week. Oh hai, I am an idiot.  My 10K this past weekend (Trick or Treat Trot) was for shit.  It was cold and very windy which didn’t make for PR conditions to begin with, but my final time was, for me, pretty terrible and my worst 10K time of the year.  However, due to a combination of the crap weather and a really popular half-marathon that was held the day before, most people must have stayed away because I wound up with 2nd place in my AG.  Normally my time wouldn’t have even put me in the top 25 – my AG is pretty competitive - but I guess the ‘good’ runners did the Monster Dash the day before.  Whatever, I’ll take it.  Supposedly the AG awards are getting mailed out which is good because there is no way I would have stayed around.  I hope it’s some sort of medal thingy because I don’t get these AG awards often so it would be nice to get something I can display instead of an award certificate. 
I did a run Wednesday  with my Chick’s Night group and it was my marathon training buddy’s birthday run.  It was a milestone birthday so last weekend we got together to make tutus to wear and surprise her.  I believe that they were much appreciated and if you were in the Lincoln Square area you certainly couldn’t miss the nine grown women hustling past in pink tulle tutus.  I have to admit that I enjoyed running in a tutu and I’m going to keep mine around for future use – I see breast cancer races and all-women’s races in its future.
This weekend brings the Hot Chocolate 15K.  I made the cut-off for the B corral (not too terribly competitive – I used my half-marathon PR of 1:55:XX from Green Bay ) which is good because as mentioned in the entry on the Bucktown 5K, RAM races are one big shit show.  Last year I wasn’t in a corral and it was crowded (this year the race has thankfully been moved to wide city streets) with walkers and slower runners.  I had to muscle past people and then when I stopped to use the porta-john I had to wait in line and then when I got back on the course I had to pass most of the same people again. Digestively not a good race for me, but that’s an entirely different story.
Did a 4 mile shake-out run this morning with my ladies group and it felt really good.  I wore my Newtons because they seem to have more arch support than the Kinvaras and the foot issue I was having seems to have gone away since I’ve switched back.  I’m planning on running in them tomorrow and I hope the added miles don’t hurt the tootsies – the Newtons have a tendency t squeeze my toes a little bit. It should be warm enough to wear shorts and compressions socks, but I haven’t thought out the rest of my ensemble yet so you’ll just have to wait until Monday to get the Fashion Report.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zooma Half-Marathon recap

I think I started this blog too late to bitch and moan about the massive hill (1.2 miles, 116 foot incline) that started the River to Ridge half-marathon that I did on September 24th, but compared to the hillfest that was the Zooma Great Lakes Women’s Half it was nothing.  Keep in mind that I’m usually the one to groan going up what I consider to be a hill around here – a highway overpass bridge.  Pretty sad. The Zooma race was this past weekend and I couldn’t be happier that it was on Saturday – otherwise I’d still be at home popping Advil and clutching my glutes.  I ran this race with my sister-in-law and a friend from college (both faster than me) and we all had the same thought – it MUST to flatten out eventually.  Alas, not.  We started out with the 5K crowd and ran out pretty much a mile and a half straight up then turned around for the descent.  My foot was still bothering me enough that I ran with a cheap-o ACE bandage/ankle support thingy on and I’m not sure it helped any.  It twinged on the uphills and just plain hurt on the downhills.  After the 5K runners split off, the course continued as an out & back with a small lollypop loop.  I accidentally left my Garmin on overnight on Friday so it was dead for the race and I can’t get the elevations from it but if you want to consider my aching quads and glutes as an indicator then you can divine that the course had virtually no flat spots. I did not come in under 2 hours – I felt lucky to have come in at all, but I’ll take the 2:06:XX and try to better it in the half I have coming up over Thanksgiving weekend which is mercifully flat. Since I’m all about the gear, I can tell you that I wore a Brooks long-sleeve top, a Brooks Glycerin bra, a pair of cheap-o shorts by Layer 8 (I think that’s the name) that I picked up at a Marshall’s and now wish I’d bought every pair they had, Under Armour socks, a SportHill baseball cap, Tifosi sunglasses, my Amphipod pack (no chafing this time thanks to liberal Glide application), my iPod shuffle and my Kinvaras.  It was chilly at the start, but not cold enough to wear the windbreaker I’d brought.  I saw some ladies heading out to the start line dressed like it was January and I figured that they would be sorry when they heated up – I know by the end of Mile 1 I was toasty and warm except for my hands which remained pretty cold for the whole race.  I need to swipe a bunch of the thin inspector’s gloves they use at work to use as throwaways. Since it was a women's race they had a nice gimmick - instead of a (most-likely) fugly and non-functional medal we received a very pretty sterling silver necklace - nice touch. 
I was really concerned about my foot the morning after the race – it absolutely ached and there was a shooting pain going up my Achilles tendon when I walked.  Luckily I iced it for 30-45 minutes and it went away so it couldn’t have been much of anything more than generally soreness and abuse, but I’ll take it easy and not run for a couple of days. 
Next up is a Halloween 10K on Sunday – should be fun and I’m hoping, hoping, hoping for nice weather, a wide course, and a new PR.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spirit of the Marathon

So, the weather here in Chicago is pretty shitty.  Cold, rainy and windy.  But, our outing for tonight to Goose Island Brewery is still on! I figure this will give me a chance to try out the Sugoi Hydrolite jacket that I found – AT THE SALVATION ARMY. Yes, that’s right, THE SALVATION ARMY.  I picked it up when I went in to find a throw away shirt for the marathon and in addition to a decent throw-away tech shirt, I scored the hydrolite jacket for $5 and a like new Mountain Hardware shell for $12.  Who knew?  What’s funny is when I was picking up my Bucktown 5K packet I was oogling the hydrolite jackets at Running Away Multisport but couldn’t justify spending $90 for a jacket that I’d only wear if it happened to rain when I had a run scheduled.  Yeah, yeah, the new ones are shiny and white and mine’s the old grey version, and yes it’s a men’s XS which fits – just barely – but you can’t beat it for $5. Anyway, the run is only 4 miles so how bad can it be?
I’ve been watching the documentary Spirit of the Marathon on Hulu in bits and pieces over my lunchbreak and I have to say it was very inspiring, especially since it was filmed in Chicago and I recognize the course and the paths that the runners trained on.  I know I should embrace all the runners profiled, but I thought the guy who hurt his knee and couldn’t run was sort of douchy.  He exemplified the sort of driven ultra-competitiveness that some guys seem to have and that attitude seems to suck the fun out of running.  And Deena Kastor came off somewhat badly, but I think that was mostly editing.  There were all the shots of her getting world-class training and support put right next to shots of people making do with whatever they had and the one really bad comparison was when this older runner was talking about how he needed to buy a new pair of shoes because his pair was miles overdue for replacement paired with a shot of Deena Kastor opening a big box of free shoes and gear from Asics.  I mean, I know she’s a professional athlete and for chrissakes, she WON the Chicago Marathon that year (1st woman), but she seems to not realize how special that is – to get free shit, access to awesome training facilities and top-notch medical care, and have a crew of (mostly hot male) pacers to keep her on track timewise. Also, Jesus Christ lady – eat a sandwich.  Paula Radcliffe looked positively plump compared to Deena Kastor. OK, enough complaining.  If you haven’t seen Spirit of the Marathon it’s on Hulu for free (just a few ads) and it’s a really nice documentary.
I’m starting to get worried about the half I’m running on Saturday.  Apparently one of the hills is called Killer Hill.  Hills with names are bad news.  When I did my first 20 mile run, this huge hill on the Sag Valley trail almost killed me. As I dragged my sorry ass up a woman passed me and yelled at the top, “Suck it Big Bertha!”   See? Hills with names = despair.  Despair with a side of exhaustion topped with a big swirl of doubt.  On the up side, my foot doesn’t hurt anymore - which is good because I’m figuring that everything else will after Saturday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Corn Maze 5K

Oof. Bank audit at work keeping me too busy to write a post, but I can squeeze in a little one.  I did a 5K on Sunday entirely in a corn maze.  It was surprisingly well run considering the number of things that COULD have gone wrong.  There was no pre-race packet pick-up so my husband and I got to the farm just early enough to get our bibs and t-shirts.  Running the shirts back to the car put us a little behind our expected start times – the organizers started people every three seconds by their expected finish times.  I think I may have started one group back from where I should have, but that made it kind of fun because I got to pass a few people on the course.  They had roped off the aisles that were not part of the course so that you wouldn’t accidentally get lost, but that left over 250 twisty turns and two stair/bridge crossings.  All the turns made the race really fun and kept my mind off of the distance.  I managed to finish close to my 5K PR, so that makes me think that if I could find a 5K with a flat, wide course (i.e. no Bucktown 5K) in cool weather I could probably get a new PR.  After the race I was walking back to the car and some guy told me that I blew by him which made me feel pretty good because that doesn’t happen too often.  I guess it was pretty easy to pick me out considering I was wearing obnoxious compression calf sleeves with hearts printed all over them – mostly I admit, for the warmth and not the compression. 
I’d definitely do this race again next year, but I’d consider running in trail shoes.  The dirt was pretty packed down and the bumpy soles might have given me a little more traction.  At some point I almost wiped out on a corn leaf or husk but managed to pull through – I’m not sure if trail shoes would have helped in that situation.  It rained early in the morning so I wore an old pair of Kinvaras because I didn’t want to trash any of my clean shoes.   Short spikes would be ideal, but I don’t think I can justify buying a pair of spikes just to run one gimmicky trail race a year although as I have said many times in the past, I’ve spent more money on stupider things – one look at my eBay buying profile would tell you that.  Still unless I can miraculously get my 5K time under 20 minutes (wait – you should hear the laughter right about……now) I think I’d look pretty silly in spikes.
I went running with a couple of friends later in the evening – 6 slow miles – and the bottom of my right foot was bothering me a little bit – probably from one of the turns in the corn maze.  I didn’t run yesterday but took spinning and weights classes instead.  The foot is still bothering me today so I’m taking the day off and I have it wrapped.  I’m hoping it’s nothing more than a pulled muscle because there’s a Fleet Feet Chick’s Night outing on Wednesday night and we’re scheduled to run 4 miles to a local brewery for a tour and tastings and I don’t want to miss that!  Then I have to lay off the running – maybe just 4 miles or so on Friday morning because I have a half-marathon scheduled on Saturday up in Lake Geneva.  Aren’t I just the glutton for punishment?  I keep getting e-mails from the race organizer that warn of the hilly course – oh joy.  I did a hilly half last month in Janesville, WI that was really hard (picture a 1.2 mile hill that climbs 116 feet right at the start of the race) but I managed to keep it under 2 hrs (barely).  I’m hoping to keep this one under 2 hrs. as well – we’ll see, I’m not the greatest hill runner by a long shot.  I have another half Thanksgiving weekend that has a pretty flat course so I can try for a new PR there.
I’ll be back for sure next Monday with a report on the half.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago Marathon recap

Ok, so I’m a liar.  I said I’d post a marathon recap on Monday and here it is Tuesday and all, so sue me. Let me start by ruining the suspense: I finished.  Now I can start at the beginning. I woke up at 4:10am to the lovely sounds of my gang-banger neighbor coming home blaring his car stereo.  Thanks asshole for taking away the last 20 minutes of sleep. This on top of my asshole neighbors who thought it would be fun to get drunk and play bags in their front yard until 3am.  I stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 4:30 and quietly tiptoed downstairs.  I pushed the start button on the coffee maker and put my slice of multi-grain in the toaster and hit the head to pee.  I put on my shorts and glided up the spots where the seam is at the bottom of the compressions shorts and then I put on my sports bra and glided up the band that goes under my boobs.  Then I looked in the mirror and was dismayed by the fact that with my super-short haircut I look a bit like 90’s self-help guru Susan “Stop the Insanity” Powter. Oh well, nothing to be done about that now.  I put on my tank and sat down to glide up my toes, put on my socks and shoes and headed back to the kitchen to eat.  Then the waiting game begins – will I or won’t I?  I did.  I had the PRP (pre-race poop) that I consider so crucial.  At 5:40 I put on my .96 cent throw-away long sleeve from the Salvation Army (it was actually a nice shirt) and headed over to my running buddy’s house to share a cab down to Grant Park with a few other people.  We made it in plenty of time - she gear checked a bag, we used the port-o-potties, and got into the open corral somewhere between the 10 and 11 minute mile pace areas. 
We crossed the start line about 20 minutes after the gun and pretty much immediately pulled over in lower Wacker Drive to pee behind a concrete embankment.  Despite being illegal this was a good move because there were no lines and it was the last time I needed to think about any bodily function for the rest of the race.  I was running with two of my training buddies and we managed to stick together for the first 17 miles.  If you were running and you heard three annoying women yelling, “Wolfpack,” that was us.  Anytime we got a little strung out the lead runner would yell Wolfpack! and then the other two would yell the same so we’d know where we all were.  I’m sure the runners around us were thrilled.
Like I mentioned in the last post I’m not great at remembering things mile by mile.  I remember being disappointed by Boystown – I didn’t see a single cheerleader in drag. Seeing three running friends volunteering at the Fleet Feet aid station was a huge boost. I saw my friend/support crew at mile 13 where she handed me delightful frozen water, I remember I remember the looooong straight stretch heading west towards the United Center – that was where I started to be pretty sure that there was going to be some sort of foot/toe issue.  My husband joined us at mile 17 and this is where I told my friends to go ahead – I needed to slow down a bit and I didn’t want to hold them back.  At mile 20 I was still OK, but from 21 on it all kind of fell apart.  I never hit the proverbial wall, but I just kept getting slower and slower.  It was a combination of the heat, the direct sun, and the volcanic blister on my left pinkie toe.  I remember at mile 24 my husband said, “C’mon – only 2 more miles!” to which I moaned out, “but those 2 miles will take me 30 minutes.”  Yeah, it was ugly, but I finished.  My time was not great, not what I expected or hoped for, but it leaves plenty of room for improvement.  Right after the race I swore up and down that I would never do a marathon again but I’m already considering Marine Corps in DC next year.  Sucker.
The after effects aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they might be.  My hips are a little sore and the blister is tender, but I’m mobile and it’s nothing a little ibuprofen can’t handle.  I’m taking 2 days off and then it’s back in the saddle again – running at Chick’s Night on Wednesday.
Next up is a crazy gimmick race – a 5K held entirely inside a corn maze.  If I don’t trip on a corn root and kill myself I’ll be back to let you know how insane it was.

Friday, October 7, 2011


So the bib & goodie bag is all picked up.  The expo was better than I expected.  I’ve been to a few small expos for half-marathons and for the Shamrock Shuffle, but they weren’t nearly as large as the Chicago Marathon expo.  I was a sucker and I bought a couple more pieces of official Nike merch, a Saucony commemorative t-shirt, and a pair of compression calf sleeves that have hearts all over them.  I tried countless nutrition bars and hydration products, got a great sample of frozen Kefir, registered for a January half-marathon in Chicago (Really? You’ll let me have my fleece now and then you’ll mail my bib to me? Sign. Me. Up.), and took numerous pictures at all the photo ops.  Brooks gets the nod for best booth – tricked out like heaven to showcase their new Pure Project line of shoes.  I’m glad I got to see it when the shaggy white carpet was still clean and fluffy.  I bet that by the end of the expo it’s a hot mess.  It was nice to go early when all the people staffing the booths were still fresh and excited to be there.  Having had to do similar duties before for the animal shelter where I volunteer, I know all too well that by then end of the shift you start to get a glazed look in your eye and check your watch every 2 minutes to see if it’s time to go home yet.
I’m going to take it super-easy tonight.  Dinner will probably be a rice bowl of some sort from Whole Foods and then I’ll catch up on last week’s episode of Glee and head to bed.  I contemplated taking a candlelite yoga class, but it doesn’t end until 9:30 and that’s when I’d like to be heading to bed.  I’m debating taking a sleep aid since I don’t have to wake up until 8am on Saturday.  It’s probably a bad idea, but I’d love to get a great night’s sleep.  My running buddies and I are meeting at 9am for a 3 mile shake-out run and then I have a busy Saturday to keep me distracted.  I have to pick up a Groupon box of baked goods, get my hair cut (buzzed in lightning bolts because I’m a dork), pick up some pasta sauce with another Groupon, clean the house up a bit and then make dinner.  I’m planning on eating at 6pm and having a chicken breast, some whole wheat pasta with a vodka sauce, bread, and a salad – it sat well before my last 20-miler so I’m not going to monkey with it.  Then it’s off to bed again to get up at about 4:15 when – I’m just going to say it – I really, really hope I poop.  So much of how a race or really any long run goes depends on the almighty dump.  If you have it before, you’re golden.  If you don’t (or at least for me) you worry and then inevitably have to stop on-course at a port-a-potty.  When I did my first long race – last year’s Hot Chocolate 15K – I had to stop mid-race at the p-o-p and then I got hit again as I came through the finish chute and had skip the finisher’s chocolate to scurry through the barricades and find another p-o-p.  Not pretty, but I think I didn’t know then about the importance of eating the right meal the night before.  I’ve got my marathon outfit all planned: black Nike Tempo 2-in-1 shorts (the kind with the built in compression shorts), black Brooks glycerin sports bra, aqua Under Armour tank with my name sewed on, Under Armour socks, Kinvaras, Amphipod clip on pack w/CTA card, $10, tissue, and 2 vanilla Cliff shots (I’m taking them at 7, 14, and 21 but I don’t need three because they give them away on course at some point so I’ll just take the third one there and stow it until I need it), my Garmin, my iPod shuffle (only to be used in case of emergency), and Tifosi sunglasses.  I’ll slather on the Glide and hope it all stays chafe free. I’m heading down with my running buddies and we’re all meeting at the L station at 5:30 to head down to Grant Park and then it’s just waiting around for the race to start.  I don’t have a goal time – I just want to enjoy the experience and then the next marathon I do I’ll set a goal for myself.  I want to be able to gawk at the cheerleaders in drag in Boystown, hug my friends who come out to see me, and not die in the above average heat expected for the day.  I’ll be back on Monday with a recap – not mile by mile because my memory for that kind of stuff is for shit, but I’ll try to remember most of it and report back on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bucktown 5K recap

I so don’t understand people who bitched and moaned about having to take public transportation to this race – the North Ave bus drops you about 3 blocks from the start line and it was way better than driving and having to park more than 5K away from the race.  So, it was cold.  I wore Capri length tights for the first time this year and a long sleeved lightweight half-zip.  My friends and I got to the race early and we had to stand around for about 45 minutes during which time I pretty much stiffened up - this did not bode well for a speedy time.  The race was crowded which I expected – at least 6,000 people.  The corralled runners started a few minutes late and then they funneled the rest of us schlebs into the start chute and you just started as you passed over the timing mats – I probably didn’t cross the start line until at least 8 or 9 minutes into the race.  The course was very crowded and as is par for RAM races there were many, many non-runners and new racers on the course who aren’t familiar with the race etiquette so for the entire 3.1 miles it was like playing dodge ‘em as I wove around walkers, strollers, little kids, slower runners, etc. I completely forgot my iPod which was probably for the best since it would have made me less aware.  Like a moron I also forgot to start my garmin and I also missed the first mile timing clock entirely so I had no idea how I was doing pace-wise.  I could tell the first mile was slow partially because the crowds were worse at the beginning but also because it took about ¾ of a mile before I warmed up enough to be completely able to feel my feet.  This is one race where it would have behooved me to do a little research and at least look at the course map beforehand so I would have had some idea where I was in relation to the finish line.  Ultimately I didn’t PR, which I wasn’t expecting to, winding up with a time about 2 minutes slower than my best time.  I did wear racing my spiffy new racing flats and while they felt nice and fast, I don’t know that I’m tuned in enough to notice the difference of a few ounces from my regular Kinvaras.  Meh – I’ll keep using them for 10Ks & 5K’s but I don’t know that they’ll help much.  The post-race celebration/food situation was kind of a shit show.  The lines were super long and disorganized and the portions were pretty small so we skipped it entirely and went to a local diner, snagged the last three seats at the counter and had a delicious breakfast.
The day before the 5K (Saturday) I did my last ‘long run’ before the marathon – 10 miles.  I went to a weights class at my gym on Friday night and learned myself a valuable lesson to CUT BACK on the heavy leg stuff during taper because my legs didn’t feel so hot for most of the 10 miles.  The weather was perfect – chilly but not much wind since we were on the North Branch trail which is pretty protected. We kept to about a 9:30/mile pace which is a little faster than I plan on going at the big race but a little slower than I would regularly run 10 miles.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little nervous about the marathon, but the last 20-miler went well and the weekend after that I did a half that had monster hills and I finished that race in better than expected time.  Since this is my first full I’m not setting a time goal for myself – I just want to enjoy the run, be able to greet the people who are coming out to watch me and not be disappointed at the end if I don’t meet a specific time.
I’ll check in again later this week – I haven’t looked at the weather for Sunday so I’m still not 100% positive what I’m wearing and I’m sure I’ll also want to write about the packet-pick-up and expo.

Thursday, September 29, 2011 this thing on?

Hey.  I guess I’m back after months (years?) of neglecting my Diaryland blog from way back from when they were online diaries and not even called blogs.  Don’t bother looking it up – it was pretty awful.  This go around I’m going to focus more on the active side of my life.  I just became a new member of the Fleet Feet Cheer Team and since it’s all about the social media it behooved me to start blogging again.  A little about me: I’m 42, married, live in Chicago, and work a regular full-time job.  I’m at the gym about 5 or 6 days a week and I try to run between 30 and 50 miles a week.  My current goal is the Chicago Marathon in 10 days – this probably would have been more interesting if I had started blogging at the same time I started training because who really wants to read about the thrilling taper period before a marathon?  Better late than never.  I’m going to try to post a couple of times a week with race reports, training updates and gear reviews. 
I enter a lot of races and since I’m unlikely to place in my age group unless it’s a pretty small race (like really, really small) I have my own personal goals that I work towards.  For better or for worse for my marathon training, I’m running the Bucktown 5K on Sunday.  Every time I do a RAM race I swear up and down that it’s the last one I’ll do – expensive, oversold, cramped courses, packet pick up hassles – but then someone will ask me if I’ll do one with them and I can never say no to a friend.  I picked up the ‘goodie bags’ today and note to RAM – a goodie bag means that there will be goodies in it.  Don’t say you have the best goodie bags if it’s just a bag and a race shirt or jacket– I get that for any race I enter. Best goodie bag would have other stuff in it. I understand that with so many races being held now it’s hard for sponsors to get goodies to put in the bags - the last race I did was just a paper lunch sack with my shirt, bib, pins, and a sample electrolyte tablet.  I don’t do races for the goodies – they’re just a plus – but I take offense when the goodies are supposed to be a highlight and then they’re a let-down. Yeah, I know, picky, picky, picky.  I’m not planning on going for a PR at this race but you never know.  I’ll be trying a pair of racing flats for the first time – Saucony Grid Type A4’s.  Probably also a bad idea to try any kind of new shoes right before a marathon but I figure 3 miles in any kind of shoe can’t kill me. Famous last words.
I’ll be back on Monday with a race report and a shoe review provided my feet aren't covered in angry red blisters.