Get Lucky Chicago Recap

I am happy to announce that I survived a 1/2 marathon with very minimal train (6 miles was my longest training run-on a treadmill) and while breaking the rule-”nothing new on race day” and I have very little soreness today.

My mom and I completed the Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon yesterday.  It was my 5th one and her first.

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I was very nervous for this race for severals reasons:  the weather in the Midwest has been less than stellar for outside running, so most of my running was done on a treadmill.  I had only trained up to 6 miles when the normal amount is 10.  I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my mom since she did properly train.  Needless to say, I am grateful that muscle memory kicked in and I was able to complete the race with my mom.  Today we both said that we will do longer runs on the weekends so that we don’t lose any base training for upcoming races.

Weekend Details

We drove down to Chicago on Friday afternoon with two of my mom’s friends who were also doing the race with us.  We stayed at the Congress Hotel, which was Team Ortho’s host hotel.  It was an ideal location because packet pickup was right at the hotel and there was a shuttle for us on race day to take us to the starting line since it was about a 20 minute drive away.  After we picked up our packets, we walked down to Garmin to say hi to my friend Kristine and then it was off to Eataly for some carb loading.  I decided on pizza-it was pretty amazing.  After dinner, we ventured downstairs to check out the desserts.

eatalydessertsWe took a cab back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening getting our gear ready to go and catching up on Runner’s World magazine.  I was in bed by 8:45 and it felt great :-)

Race Day

We walked to closest Starbucks and hopped on the shuttle at 7:30.  The race started in Jackson park, near the Museum of Science and Industry.  I was excited to run a new part of the lakefront path.  When we lived in Chicago, I usually ran more north of museum campus so it was nice to see the skyline coming from the south.

We got to the race pretty early, so hung out, stretched and beat the long port a potty lines :-)

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At 9 am we were on our way!  I told my mom from the beginning that I would be staying her pace the entire time.  We started off at comfortable pace.  I kept one ear bud out so that I could talk with my mom and communicate with other runners if I needed to.  It was a great idea since there was ice on the path and runners ahead of you would yell out “Ice” so that you were aware of what was ahead.  The path was also very narrow, so it was nice to be able to hear if other runners behind you were trying to pass.

The course was an out and back and I was little surprised to see the turn around point at around mile 5.  It wasn’t until about mile 7 that my mom wanted to stop and walk for about a minute.  It was then that I started to feel my quads cramp up.  We ran the rest of the course and maybe stopped for walking breaks about 3 more times.  Even though it can be difficult to run at someone else’s pace, I’m really glad that I stayed with my mom.  It was nice to be able to have someone to talk to and keep your mind distracted.  While I was motivating her, I really actually just trying to keep myself motivated.  The race was route was really well laid out, until the end.  There was one point where we ran past the finish line, saw mile marker 13 and still had to keep running.  I was not a fan and it totally messed me up mentally.  That last mile was a tough one.  My Garmin was right on track with the mile markers until about mile 10, then it became slightly off, but still close enough.  At the end of our race, my Garmin told me I ran 12.95 miles in 2:18 minutes.

I’m so proud of my mom and the timing we got for her first 1/2!  She’s addicted :-)  This was my first time running with compression socks from PRO Compression and my calves feel awesome today!  Normally, my calves are what bother me the most after a long run because I tend to run more on my toes.  I’m not sure if it was the compression socks or the fact that it was a nice and easy pace, but my legs feel great today and I will definitely be wearing these for all longer runs.

The Get Lucky Chicago 1/2 marathon was a great way to start off the 2014 racing season. My goal is keep logging longer runs on the weekend and to earn a new 1/2 marathon PR at my next run which is the Rock n Sole on June 14th!

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So it Begins

Happy Friday!!!!  I’ve got my bags packed and in just a few hours, I will be Chicago bound to run my first race of 2014 and my first one since the Chicago marathon.  The Get Lucky half will be my 5th half marathon!  It should be interesting, since training for this was pretty nonexistent and the running that I did do, was mostly all treadmill.  BUT I am happy to be doing what I love in my favorite city :-)

getluckychiThis race is particularly special because I will be running it with my mom and it is her first half marathon.  My mom is pretty amazing.  A few years ago, she got really sick.  Everything that could possible go wrong with a person, my mom had pretty much dealt with.  She was thought to have MS, Celiac disease-in which she got her gull bladder removed.  She is a nurse and it was a struggle for her to just make it through the day.  She lost hair, suffered anxiety, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, heart palpitations etc.  This went on for over a year.  She was a medical mystery and no doctor could find out what was wrong with her, until she found a naturopathic doctor that specialized in Lyme disease.  My mom had been tested previously for lyme, but her tests always came back negative.  Well her new doctor, ran a different kind of test and found that my mom was positive for chronic lyme disease.  For years, the lyme disease went undiagnosed.  After finding out what her illness actually was, she began her road to recovery.

It has been pretty awesome watching my mom get her health back and watching her become so active!  She bikes and runs…two things I NEVER saw her doing while growing up.  I’m so excited that I get to be there when she crosses the finish line and complete something I’m sure she never thought was possible.  I may not be ready for this race, but I know she is and her positive attitude about everything will keep me running to that finish line with her.

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Clean house, Happy House

Happy Monday Friends!  Did everyone enjoy a long weekend?  I feel like weekends are never long enough.  I had Friday off of work.  Instead of doing something fun and enjoying the day, Madelyn went to daycare and I went to a quick workout class and then home to clean.  It’s much easier to do a deep cleaning when there isn’t a toddler running around destroying everything in her path.  After 5+ hours of cleaning, I promised myself that I would never spend a Friday off of work cleaning again.  Enter the long awaited chore chart.  cleanhousehappyhouse

I’m surprised this wasn’t done sooner.  But it is here and I’m really hoping that it works, because spending your whole day cleaning is zero fun.

Also done this weekend?  My longest run since the Chicago Marathon.  After the marathon, I look a very long, much needed break from running.  It was nice to casually get back into it and run for fun not because I had to.  I had been keeping it around 3 or 4 miles each run, mostly because that’s all I could muster for the treadmill.  But on Saturday, I was feeling really good and I just kept going.

5miler5 miles done.  Now to increase my mileage and get ready for a half marathon in March.

Here’s what’s on the workout and dinner schedule this week:

Monday: Barre & leftovers from date night in (Recipe coming this week!)

Tuesday: Easy 3 miles/pasta with italian sausage, veggies and sauce

Wednesday: Barre/roasted chicken and butternut squash

Thursday: Run 3.5 + core / Fish tacos and beans

Friday: Much needed rest day! No set dinner plans.

I’m off to go get dinner prepared for Madelyn and then to get studying for my NASM test.  I hope everyone has a good week!

What’s the one household chore you hate the most?  Mine would be cleaning the shower!  Luckily, I came across a very helpful pin that will hopefully make it less painless.

Cold Weather Running

How is the weekend over already?  Normally, I have Mondays off, but with the Thanksgiving holiday and wanting to have off on Friday, I am adjusting my work schedule a little bit and having an extra long weekend :-)

This weekend was another packed one.  On Friday, I went out with my sister and our wedding photographer/friend.  We ate some good food and went and listened to a band at The Knick.  On Saturday, Larry and I participated in the ‘Stache Dash 5k in Hart Park.  We finished in 28:26.  The freezing cold weather was our motivator.
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Bloody Marys before the run…a little pre-race fueling ;-)

This race was the run that I think set the tone for the upcoming winter season.  I used to HATE running in the cold.  My lungs would burn, I could barely breathe…it was awful.  But last year after having Madelyn, something changed.  I don’t know if I was playing catch up from not being able to run while I was pregnant, but I started to run past November (usually a turkey trot would be the last outside run for me) and well into December and January.  Something about completing a run in the bitter cold is very empowering, once you get past the initial shock of cool air.

The most important thing about running comfortably in the winter is proper clothing.  The first thing you need is a base layer.
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My base layer is from the Champion line at Target.  Nothing fancy.  Just make sure that it’s moisture wicking/dry fit.  Whatever you do, avoid cotton.  Sweaty cotton=cold cotton and that’s no good.  The thumb holes really help to keep the shirt sleeves in place.

Next, you’ll need a mid-layer.
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I chose my Under Armour Wounded Warrior project hoodie.  I got this last year from hubs for Christmas.  I usually splurge a little more on quality mid-layers because they are also great to wear alone for Fall weather runs.

And because the weather was in the teens on Saturday, I wore a running jacket over my hoodie.
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This was another C9 Target purchase.  It’s waterproof and blocks the wind fairly well, but I do want to look for something a little thicker.  I saw a few women with running jackets this past Saturday that looked really warm.

Pants are another item worth investing in.  For this particular run, I wore my New Balance Windblocker tight.  In temperatures below 30, I wouldn’t wear any other pants.  They are amazing.  I also own a pair of lululemon fleece lined running tights, but these definitely take the cake when it comes to blocking wind and staying warm.

And of course you have your hat/ear warmers and techie gloves :-) I will admit, Saturday’s run was a tough one for me.  I was already toying with the idea of just calling it off on Friday.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the wind.  The start of the run was the worst, and once I got past that 1 mile mark things got a little better but a hot shower never felt so good.

After the race, I rewarded myself to a trip to the new Athleta at Bayshore to pick up something cute to wear for a fun, special event that I’m participating in on Tuesday :-) Check back for more details on that.

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So cold weather runningYay or nay?  Do you bundle up and hit the pavement or are you a treadmill runner in the winter?

Marathon Virgin No Longer

There’s something to be said about your first time.  You’re nervous, excited and scared.  You don’t know what to expect.  What will it feel like?  What if I don’t finish?  How do I keep from going too fast too soon?  Did I prepare enough?  The marathon distance can be very intimidating for a first-timer, but the high you experience when you reach the finish line is unlike any other.  And just like with anything else, it gets better with time and practice ;-) (Or so I hear…)
finisherLooking back at my months of training, I can honestly say that I did not give my training 100%.  There were times when I’d adjust the mileage and skip out on the occasional buildup run-once when I was on our anniversary trip to Michigan and also the weekend of Madelyn’s first birthday.  If I could do it over again, there are some things I’d do differently-both in preparation and on race day.
  1. Follow the marathon plan you’ve chosen.  Bart & Hal know a thing or two about marathon training.  It’s okay to move your long run around (doing it on Sunday instead of Saturday), but if you want to be successful, don’t skimp out on mileage.
  2. Get serious about nutrition.  During marathon training, I was not a carb queen much to my surprise.  I did eat relatively healthy but my breakfast before most of my workouts consisted of coffee, water and a banana.  Post workout would be a protein shake.  No good for those longer runs.  The week before the marathon, I loaded up on the good carbs as best as I could.  Next time I’ll plan out my pre & post run meals/protein & carb ratios out a little better.
  3. Have a hydration plan in place and use it on those long practice runs. Toward the end, I switched over to Endurolyte tablets by Hammer.  I liked them because they were just little electrolyte capsules I could just chug with water or Gatorade and I didn’t have to worry about carrying chews or trying to suck down a gel packet.  I used them a few times on my practice runs and my system worked well.  However, you tend to forget about replenishing your electrolytes when you’re running the streets of Chicago, high on life.  There were a few times when I’d pass by a water stop, chug my water and continue on my way without even giving my electrolytes a second thought.  Do whatever you can to try and remember to get the proper nutrition in during the race.
  4. Don’t forget your sunglasses/visor/hat.  The whole time I trained, I wore either my sunglasses or visor and low and behold, on race day I left both of them in hubs’ car.  Don’t do that.  Squinting is no fun, it causes headaches and wrinkles.  The last thing you want to do is weave in and out of the course to get to the shadier spots.  Which brings me to my next point.
  5. STUDY your race course and hug the corners as best you can.  A few weeks prior to race day, Larry posted this article stating that if runners don’t hug the corners of the courses 36 turns, they could possibly add up to a half mile to their race.26.8miles
  6. Set multiple goals for yourself.  You never know what can happen on race day and if you only set one goal (i.e. a finish time) and you don’t achieve it, it will take away from the awesomeness that was just accomplished.  Look back at your training.  You had good days and not so great days.  The same thing can happen when it comes to marathon time.  Not to mention other things you can’t control.  Like the weather.  Or the sun.  Goal #1 for me was just to finish.  Goal #2 was to finish in under 5 hours.  Goal #2 didn’t happen, but I did achieve my main goal and now, I can take everything I learned and put it into practice when it comes time for marathon numero 2.
  7. Write your name somewhere visible on yourself.  I wish I would’ve done this!! I saw lots of people with iron ons, bright tape & black sharpie (if you don’t want to ruin a shirt), and people who wrote their names on their arm with sharpies.  Strangers will call out your name and cheer you on during the race and it’s really motivating.
  8. ENJOY every single moment!  The marathon was honestly the fastest 5 hours of my life.  There will be times on the course when you’re on top of the world one mile and the next mile, you’re hating life, questioning your sanity and wondering why you thought this was a good idea.  Then you’ll hear Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful as you approach the finish and realize that those few miles of agony were totally and utterly worth it.

Chicago Marathon Recap

Brace yourselves people, this will be a long one. So grab some coffee or wine, sit back and enjoy.*
And just like that, it’s over and done with.  After months of preparation, training, sweat and tears, the Chicago Marathon weekend came and went in the blink of an eye, and it could not have been more amazing.
Larry, Madelyn and I met my mom and sister at a park & ride on the way to Chicago on Saturday at 8am and they followed us to our hotel in Rosemont, which is right near O’hare airport.  Months ago, I had looked up hotels in downtown Chicago, including the marathon host hotel, The Hilton, and even with “special” marathon deals, I couldn’t believe how outrageous it was.  It would’ve cost us over $600 for a two night stay.  Luckily, my husband has some  connections in the hotel industry and was able to get us a really great deal at the Aloft Hotel.
aloftAfter we dropped off our bags and got settled into the room, we all piled into one car, headed to Panera for a quick breakfast and drove down to the McCormick Place to brave the race expo.  When we got off the expressway, you could feel the buzz and energy that the marathon created in the city.  There were people everywhere carrying their clear, plastic expo bags.  I was getting even more excited and slightly nervous.  The packet pick up at the expo was very well organized.  The only issue I had with it, was the way they had the BIB pick up and T-Shirt pick up on two completely different ends of the expo.  Since I was planning on walking around, I didn’t mind so much, but for someone who wanted to get in and out, I could see it being a hassle.
IMG_2151The expo wasn’t too insane and Madelyn was being the perfect angel, so we were lucky enough to get through all of the booths.  I wish we would’ve had a little bit more time to spend there because there are some booths that I would’ve liked to have spent more time at but the little one did start to get antsy toward the end.  The main thing is, I was able to give my remaining donations to Team Salute and visit my wonderful friend, Kristine, at the Garmin booth.  I was having a crisis with my foot pod the night before the expo and lucky for me, Kristine and the people at Garmin were able to fix it.  What a lifesaver!
IMG_2170The expo also had a lot of fun & interactive stuff set up:
Take a magnet, write a message
take a magnet & write a message
IMG_2160 IMG_2180After the expo, we headed to the Niketown on Michigan Ave to pick up some Chicago marathon swag.  The Nike clothing exhibit at the expo was INSANE!  Niketown had a much more stress-free atmosphere plus they had a DJ spinning and the employees were all dancing.  It was a lot of fun and it helped pump me up for race day.
When we were done shopping and mom and Melissa were done standing in line for popcorn, we headed to Scoozi! for a pre-marathon dinner.  Before we left for Chicago, I “googled” Chicago marathon pasta dinners and Scoozi! was one of the restaurants that came up as having a special pre-marathon dinner.  I had a couple of Italian restaurants in mind that I would’ve liked to have taken my mom and sister to, but I wanted something that was definitely kid-friendly, as Madelyn’s behavior in restaurants is very unpredictable these days.  And of course, she was on her best behavior.  We even received a compliment from the people next to us about how well behaved she was :-) {Proud mommy moment}.
Back to food.  Scoozi! was offering a family style meal.  We picked what kind of salad we wanted (Caeser-soooo good!), two pasta dishes, and tiramisu for dessert.  Everything was phenomenal and the service was excellent.  The only thing missing was a glass of wine, which I wanted so badly, but decided to wait until after the marathon.
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After I carbo-loaded, we headed back to the hotel, organized all of my stuff for race day, and was in bed by 8:45pm.  It was awesome getting to that early.
The next morning, I woke up at 4am.  I got ready, drank some coffee, and we were out the door and in the car by 5am-bagel with peanut butter and banana in hand.  We drove to the CTA blue line stop, parked for $5, and took the blue line all the way to the Monroe stop.  It was super early for everyone (not so much for me, since 4:30 is my usual wake up call), but my cheerleaders were excited and in good spirits!
lpicWe arrived at the Monroe stop at around 6am.  I couldn’t believe how many people were up and around.  It was pretty neat to see Michigan Avenue buzzing with so many people at that time of the day.  We walked to the Hilton Hotel where Team Salute had a room set up for their runners and at about 7am, I said good-bye to my family and I was out the door to my start corral.
startIt was a brisk morning, so I brought a light jacket with me.  Looking back, I wish I would’ve just sucked it up, or better yet, bought a cheap jacket at Goodwill to just toss because I really liked that jacket!  Oh well, I just keep reminding myself that all the tossed clothes went to a good cause and that hubs needs to take me back to San Francisco so that I can buy another one ;-)
By the time I got through the gates and past security, I waited in my corral for about a half hour.  It was nice to talk to other people around me and shake off some nervous energy.  At exactly 8 am we were off and running!
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I couldn’t believe how fast the first mile went.  I looked at my watch and realized that I was running a lot faster than what I was planning for.  When I first set out to train for the marathon, my ultimate goal was just to finish.  I had never ran a marathon before so I didn’t know what to expect.  As it got closer to race day, I thought maybe I’d like to try and run it under 5 hours.  In planning for that, at mile 2, I slowed down my pace and kept it up the first half of the race.  Miles 1-13 were a breeze.  The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were AMAZING!  My favorite neighborhoods to run through were Boystown and Old Town.  There was a point in Boystown when the cheering of the crowd completely drowned out the music I had going in my right earbud.  I couldn’t stop smiling!  The crowd was just as amazing in Old Town and the Lululemon cheering squad was so much fun.  I love all of their signs!
When I approached the second half of the race, I had never been so excited to see a 13 mile marker.  I was at the halfway point and well on my way to finishing within my goal time.  At about mile 16, the top of my left foot started to hurt.  I ran through it because the pain wasn’t too bad, but by mile 17 I had stopped to check it out.  I thought maybe I had tied my shoelace too tight, so I retied it to be a little bit looser and continued on my way.  It seemed to have helped until mile 18 when it started to hurt a little bit more and instead of powering through the pain, I stopped to walk.  I alternated walking and running for the rest of the race, but by mile 20 I knew that my goal time was not going to happen and at that point, my main goal was just to finish this thing with all that I had.  I saw my family again (the first time was in Lakeview at around mile 7) at mile 23, and I told them that I wanted to die! A little dramatic I know.  I thought to myself, “okay only 3 more miles to go-you run that all the time!)  I tried my hardest but my legs (and injured foot) could only take so much.  It wasn’t until mile 25 when I got my second wind after a spectator shouted, “You only have one more mile! You can do anything for a mile!!”  With that encouragement and Salt & Pepa’s Push It blasting in my ear, I got my second wind and gave that marathon everything I had left.  For anyone who’s ever ran the Chicago Marathon, you know how awesome the turn is at Roosevelt.  As I was still running on Michigan Avenue, approaching Roosevelt, Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” came on my playlist.  I lost it.  To hear that song while making the turn on Roosevelt, up the hill to the finish line is scene that will forever play in my head.  When you make that turn, you know you’re almost there.  The cheering section is out of this world.  You know that when you make that turn, nothing else is standing in your way to the finish line.  I cried when I crossed the finish line.  I had made it!  I set out to accomplish a goal and to fulfill a dream of mine for 4 years and I did it.  I wanted to hug the stranger next me I was so happy, but I refrained.
After I sprinted to the finish, my legs were completely useless.  I could barely walk.  I texted my husband to tell him that I had finished and, because of security, he wanted me to walk to meet them.  I had to sit in the grass and stretch a bit before I could set out to find them.  When I did eventually get to him, I hugged him and with tears in my eyes, I said to him, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  Which is exactly what I said to him after 6 hours of natural childbirth :-)
After a lot of stretching and usage of “the stick”, I was able to muster up the strength to head back to The Hilton to change clothes and freshen up.
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Looks can be deceiving.  I’m smiling on the outside and crying in pain on the inside :-) It took me forever to walk to Lou Malnati’s for pizza, but that buttery deep dish and 312 were totally worth it!
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Drooling as we speak.  Later that night, I added a charm to my necklace that my mom had bought for me at the expo the day before.  I earned this runner girl necklace at the Zooma 1/2 marathon where I PR’d and took 15 minutes off of my time.  I waited until I had completed the Chicago Marathon to add the 26.2 charm-I didn’t want to jinx it.
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20 minutes after I completed the marathon, my sister asked me if I’d be signing up for another one.  I laughed.  It’s like asking someone who just went through childbirth if they were ready to have another baby.  I told her I couldn’t answer that in my current state of being :-) But that night, I knew the answer.  Looking back at my training, and even race day there are some things that I should’ve done differently (saving those details for a different post).  But yes, I do want to sign up for another one because I know that I can do better.  I remember the first 1/2 marathon I ever ran.  I didn’t train as properly as I should’ve.  My time was not what I was capable of, and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck.  3 half marathons later, I felt just fine after my most recent one in August.
I completed my first marathon in 5:07:41.  The one thing that I learned that day is that the body will do anything you set your mind to.  If you believe you can do it, you can!  If you sit and doubt yourself and you don’t try, then you fail.
Chicago has, once again, stolen my heart.  I’m so happy that I was able to run my first marathon in the city where I truly fell in love with the sport of running.  I miss the city and the lakefront running path a little more every time I have to leave.  Hubs and I talk about how when we retire, we’re going to buy a condo and retire in the city, which is completely opposite of what people do.  Until then, I’m lucky enough to be a 2 hour car ride away.
ChitizzleP.S. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the KIND bar giveaway!

Music to My Ears

How cool am I?  Well I’ll tell you.  I’m so cool, that I first heard about Spotify from my MOTHER! haha!  When I made the switch from the iPhone to the Galaxy, my biggest complaint was that I didn’t have access to itunes anymore through my phone.  So, I resorted to listening to Pandora during my runs and prayed that it wouldn’t cut out on me.  One day my mom told me about how she was planning on using Spotify to create a running playlist for a race she was doing.  I signed up for it and instantly became a playlist making machine.

One of the topics that I was kind of “meh” about in reference to the marathon, was whether or not I should run with earbuds.  I didn’t want to miss out on the whole experience.  I’ve been a spectator at the marathon so I know what the crowd support is like there and with it being my first time, I wanted to take it all in.  When I posted my dilemma on Facebook, a few of my fellow marathon runner friends suggested making a playlist and listening to music with just one earbud or listening to it very low.  Crowd support will only get you so far, and there is a dead spot on the course where crowd support isn’t as lively as it is in Boystown-which by the way is when most of my Gaga & Britney will be played :-)

Right now, what gets me going is Applause by Gaga, Work B!tch by Britney and Give it to U.  What’s currently on your workout playlist? Do you prefer to run with music or just your thoughts? :-) 

Why I Run

runnersisters

A few days ago, a Facebook page that I “like”, Fellow Flowers posted a video titled, “Why Women Run.”  It touches on how Fellow Flowers came to be and how the sport of running has changed these women’s lives.  It made me think about my own personal relationship with running, how I came to be a “runner” and most importantly why am I choosing to run 26.2 miles in two weeks.

I started running as a way to lose weight in high school with one of my best friends.  It was a much simpler time, before Garmins and iPods.  I’m not sure how far I ran or how fast, but we would just run until we got tired.  I kept running through college as a way stay in shape and to keep up with my Air Force PT tests.  It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago where I signed up for my first race and running became more to me than a way to keep the pounds away.  Since 2008, I’ve ran a number of 5ks, 10ks, participated in a snowy Shamrock Shuffle 8k, and have run 4 half marathons.

When I tell people that I’m running the Chicago Marathon, I get a lot of different responses: “That’s awesome!” “I’m so proud of you!” How far is that?” “You’re crazy.” “Why?”

There was one point in my training where I had a really bad build up run.  All I kept asking myself is, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?”  I’m proud to say that I only had ONE training run like that.  The rest of it has been a pretty positive experience.

So, how did my goal of running the Chicago Marathon come to be this year?  In January, instead of making resolutions, I make goals.  The two top goals of the year were to buy a house (check!) and run the Chicago Marathon.  When I went to register for the race, the website had been shut down due to too many people trying to all register at once and, for the first time in Chicago Marathon history, the registration was being opened a few days later in a lottery.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t make it in the lottery system and I thought my goal of running the Chicago marathon would have to get pushed off another year.  Then the tragedy in Boston happened.  I was at Target when hubs texted me the awful news.  As a runner, I knew what a honor and big deal it was to make it to the Boston Marathon.  Not just anyone can sign up for it.  You have to qualify in a previous marathon.  It’s a big deal.  Something happened that day that made me realize that if I really wanted to run Chicago in 2013 I needed to make it happen one way or another.  How did I know I was guaranteed next year?  And so I started to look into charities.

Asking people for money has never really been my “thing.”  I started looking at different charities and I couldn’t believe some of the fundraising minimums.  $1500 is a bit too high pressure for me.  There were so many to choose from:  Do I run for cancer? Or this women’s cancer charity? They give pedicures before the race! Or childhood illnesses?  I do have a child after all.  What about PAWS?  Oliver might appreciate that.  Then I saw Team Salute and I knew that was my charity.  The fundraising minimum is only $700 but you do have to pay for your own registration fee, which I was completely fine with since I was going to do that anyway.  Team Salute raises money for military members, veterans and their families.  It’s an awesome charity and I felt that this was way of giving back to those in need because the military has done so much for me and my family.  You can check out my Team Salute story here.

So why am I running 26.2 miles?  Because I can.  Because I believe it’s important to set goals and not let obstacles stand in the way of them.  Because I want Madelyn to know that you can do anything you set your mind to.  And because I like to run.  Some days I do have to push myself to get out there.  Other days, I cannot wait to hit the ground running.  It’s my therapy.  It’s a brainstorming session.  It allows me to think about anything and everything or nothing at all.  It’s a release from a stressful day.  I believe that it makes me a better wife and mother.  Although my husband may beg to differ some days :-)  Yes, some may think I’m crazy but it’s been an amazing journey so far and has taught me a lot about myself.

Today I decided that I was going to treat myself to some new gear at Lululemon.  I was in the dressing room with Madelyn trying on a few pairs of shorts and a running skirt.  When I came out of the fitting room the store manager asked me what I was shopping for.  I told her that I was running the Chicago Marathon in a few weeks and that I couldn’t decide if I wanted the shorts (which I was used to running in) or the running skirt-because it was cute and comfy.  She looked at Madelyn and asked how old she was and I responded with a year.  The store manager said, “I’ll tell you what.  Since I think it’s so amazing that you are not only running a marathon, but that you’re running your first marathon 1 year post baby I’m going to give you these shorts to run in for the marathon.”  I looked at her and asked, “Are you serious?” She said, “Absolutely.  I think it’s awesome that you have such a great goal and you’re on your way to achieving it.  All you have to do is let me know how they were to run in.”  I said thank you about a hundred times and left with my shorts, my skirt, tears in my eyes and a heart full of gratitude.

lulushorts

It restores my faith in humanity when people do amazingly selfless things for other people.  2 more weeks until Chicago!! To say I’m ready and excited is an understatement.

It Happened

This past Sunday I hit a pivotal milestone in my marathon training: my 20 miler!  When my alarm went off on that rainy Sunday morning at 5:45a.m., I rolled over, looked at hubs and said, “I can’t do this.”  Translation? “I don’t want to do this.”  Not the best mindset to be in when you have that long of a distance looming over your head.  He responded with, “You gave birth to our daughter without pain meds.  You can do anything.”  And with that reminder, I got out of bed and got ready to take on 20 miles in the rain.  I debated on skipping out, maybe waiting until the rain stopped but I knew that if I did that, 20 miles would never happen.  Besides, if it’s raining on race day, I will have no other option but to run so I looked at the rain not as an obstacle, but a training tool to better prep me for the marathon.

I headed out the door to the lakefront with coffee in hand and doubts subsided.  When I arrived at the group run, the rain had turned into a light mist, the skies were cloudy and the air was cool.  Absolutely perfect.  {Sidenote: I keep praying every night that the weather is exactly that on October 13th.}

The group director talked a little bit about upcoming fun runs and races, the need for volunteers etc, etc.  After that, he explained to us the route and off we went.  I wasn’t really sure about how this run was going to go.  I didn’t have the highest of expectations to tell you the truth.  The weekend prior, we had drill and instead of doing 12 miles on Saturday (like scheduled), I ran 5 on Friday (something’s better than nothing, right?).  The last long run I had done before this one was 2 weeks prior and that was 17 miles.  After which I thought I was going to die.  I started off feeling really good.  My yurbuds were staying in place, my shorts felt good and I wasn’t too hot in the windbreaker that I was wearing.  I kept this up probably until mile 15, which was when I stopped to walk and stretch a little bit.

I treated this run like I would’ve the marathon.  I chased 3 Endurolytes capsules every hour with some fluids.  The first 1/2 of the training I hydrated with water and the second 1/2 I hydrated with Gatorade.  When I felt a side “stitch” coming on, instead of stopping to walk, I’d adjust my breathing to work the “stitch” out.  Changing my breathing to more abdominal breathing rather than chest breathing really helped with that.  It’s kind of hard to explain how I did it, but it’s a trick I picked up in Runner’s World magazine that really helped.  Between my Spotify playlist and my thoughts, I had a lot to keep my mind occupied on this 20 miler.

I finished the run in 3:45 and my legs.  Oh my legs.  I didn’t get to stretch as much as I wanted to because by the time I was done running, the rain was pouring down and everyone was huddled under the 1 of three tents that were set up.  After I chowed down on Gatorade and watermelon, I made, what was meant to be, a mad dash for my car and headed home.  Shivering in cold wet clothes, I kept thinking about what was waiting for me when I got home.  I was so excited and proud of myself that my 20 miler was behind me.  “Now it’s time to taper and buy some much needed new shoes!!” I thought to myself.  But I knew the worst was still to come.  At a stop light, I texted hubs what I had been dreading: “I’m done running and on my way home…Can you pick me up two bags of ice?”  Ice baths are bad enough on their own.  I did one after my 17 mile run and it wasn’t awful only because it was so hot.  But there is NOTHING worse than running in the cold rain, freezing your ass off in cold, wet clothes for 45 minutes only to hop into a bath full of ice water.  I think I must have lost my damn mind somewhere on that lakefront.  All I could think about was how much I wanted a warm shower and my sweatpants.  When I got home, I went into the bathroom only to be greeted by two big bags of ice.  I put my swimsuit bottoms on, along with a hooded sweatshirt, sipped on some hot green tea and stared at the bathtub.  For the second time in a day I said, “I can’t do this.”  Plain English, no translation.  To which hubs responded with, “You have to.” And I knew he was right {I hate it when that happens}.  If I wanted to be able to walk the next day, I was going to have to sit myself in that cold, cold ice bath.  And so I did.

ice ice baby

It hurt for a few minutes, and in past ice bath experiences, the burning usually goes away and I get used to it.  NOT the case this time around.  I thought my toes were going to fall off.  I sat in there for about 10-15 minutes and right from there, turned the shower as hot as it would go and hopped right in!  Now that felt heavenly!  The verdict, as far as science goes, is still out on whether or not ice baths are effective but you can read more about them {here}.  I feel that they are effective (why else would I put myself through that kind of torture?) but to each their own.

So, 20 miles under my belt with very little pain.  I felt it in my heels on Tuesday morning so I know for sure that it’s definitely time for some new shoes.  I reordered the same ones I’ve been running in and they should be here by next week!  Time to TAPER!  A little less than a month to go :-)

Marathon Training Update

marathonsomecard
In the midst of planning multiple birthday parties (Two BIG ones a 50th & a 1st), gardening/vegetable farming, getting settled into a new house, and maintaining an inkling of a social life, there was some sort of marathon that I was supposed to be training for…and so far it’s been successful :-)
I started training for the Chicago Marathon the week after I returned home from Guam.  And lucky for me, my first build up run (6 miles) just so happened to fall the same weekend of the Rock n Sole quarter marathon.  Since then, I’ve stayed on track with my training and despite all the other things I had going on this summer, I can say that I only missed one long run-which fell the weekend of Madelyn’s 1st Birthday.
rocknsole
So how have I maintained my homelife, work, sanity, etc, etc while training for 26.2 miles?  Lots of wine after those long Saturday morning runs ;-)  Just kidding…kinda…not really :-) In all seriousness, I really could not have made it this far into my training without the awesome support system I have.  I have to especially thank my mom who has woken up numerous Saturday mornings at the crack of dawn to come stay with Madelyn while I went to my training runs and who so graciously traveled to Chicago with me to be my race day babysitter.  And of course there’s my husband.  He’s been pretty wonderful if I must say.  He has powered through working nights and instead of going to bed on Saturday morning, has stayed up with Madelyn so that I could go run.  He also gives THE BEST foot massages.  So without you guys, I don’t think this would be possible-I can’t even begin to imagine what pushing Madelyn for 15 miles in the jogging stroller would be like…shudder.  End sappiness.
Another HUGE factor in the success of my marathon training thus far has been the fact that I get an hour a day to workout while at work.  This is one of the biggest perks of my job.  On Tuesdays, I’m now up to 4 miles-so I’ll run with a co-worker first thing in the morning.  Wednesdays are a little bit longer now and this was one of my biggest hurdles (How could I possibly finish 8 miles in an hour?!).  So instead of running in the morning, I’ll leave an hour early, park at my mom’s house, run an 8 mile route and then head home with Madelyn. Problem solved.  Thursday runs are done at work (probably sometime in the afternoon) and then Friday is supposed to be a rest day, but I usually do upper body strength training & core in our gym at work.
I don’t even want to type what I want to say in my next point, for fear of jinxing myself…but things are going well.  Really well.  Not at all like in 2011 when I fell and rolled my ankle BAD the first week into training.  After that, I didn’t even bother.  I owe it to strength training with hubs at the gym and rotating through Bar Method and Physique 57 DVDs on a regular basis.  I also gave in a bought a foam roller that I use just about every night and I’ve been trying to get back into yoga.  Yoga is one of those things that I always praise how wonderful I feel after doing it and how I’m going to do it more often and then never follow through.  Maybe more yoga will be a goal of mine for September.  I’m toying around with the idea of compression socks for my longer run days and to wear for the marathon.  I’m thinking of going to a running store this week to stock up on gels, check out some shoes and talk to someone about compression socks.
Along with strength training and stretching, I’ve been eating more consciously.  When I first started marathon training and the miles were piling up, I was so hungry after my long runs I would just eat whatever.  I had just run 12 miles, I didn’t think twice about eating a burger or wings and a beer.  Well this mentality would carry into Sunday and then into Monday and finally on Tuesday when I went back to work and would run, I felt awful.  I’m really glad I figured out how important nutrition is early on in the game when it comes to training for an event of this calibur.  While I still consume wine and other adult beverages, I will usually limit myself to one glass of wine Friday night and an occaisional glass of wine here and there over the weekend.  Running while dehydrated after a night of one too many drinks is no bueno.  After the marathon is over though, I’m looking forward having some quality sister & wine time.
For those of you who have ran marathons before, what type of advice can you offer to first-timers like myself?  Any tips and advice are greatly appreciated! 5 1/2 weeks until CHICAGO!