Friday, December 21, 2012

Five for Friday {Dec 21st}

1. Injury Update: I went to a sports doctor earlier this week who recommended I do physical therapy.  My pelvis/hip area is tilted a bit which makes one of my legs seem a tad longer than the other.  I also have weak hips which we are going to work on strengthening.  The physical therapist was confident that once I strengthen my muscles everything will be aligned which will make things feel better.  The exercises I have to do are tough, but I can feel the burn in muscles so I know something is working.  They said I could still run, but to keep the distance around three miles at a time.  I feel so much better knowing that I have a schedule to help things heal and get stronger!

2. I made a decision two weeks ago and finally bought a Body Media Fit armband to help with my weight loss efforts.  It arrived last week and I already love it.  
I'll do a full review soon, but, man, this thing is awesome.  It essentially tracks my calorie burn throughout the day which makes tracking calories so much easier.  After one week I've already lost two pounds!  It has been several months since I have seen any progress on the weight loss front so I am so excited to have found something that is helping me.  

3. In November I signed up for pv.body after seeing Lindsay blog about the new company.  It is a monthly subscription where you receive a workout top and bottom for about $50.  This is a heck of deal because the outfits they send out retail at least $100.  You take a short quiz about your activity, size, and style and they pick out the items and ship them to you each month.  They are still starting up and have been overloaded with orders so it took a while to get my first outfit, but it was worth the wait!  It came in a cute pink envelope and was nicely wrapped in tissue paper.  

I got a blue, racer back tank top from Electric Yoga and black leggings from Nux.  I have never heard of either company before but my outfit probably retails about $120!  

I'm not sure I will wear the two pieces out together (not sure the look works for me), but I love them individually.  
The top is light, sweat wicking, and flattering and the leggings might be the comfiest bottoms I have ever worn.  These tights are so soft and fit perfectly, not too baggy and not too tight.  And with the flat waist band there is no "muffin top" happening.  They are also seamless so they would be great on a chilly day under pants or under a dress.    

4. Christmas is only a few days away, can you believe it?!?  I can't.  Of course, Christmas is my absolute, favorite holiday.  It is also our busy season at work, so I will be here in Chicago.  I am really bummed I am not able to spend time with my family, but I am trying to stay positive.  I have plans to have dinner with a friend, go look at Christmas lights, and watch holiday movies over the next few days.  I will definitely be Skyping my family on Christmas as well.  It is difficult to not see them this time of year, but I am scheduling trips to visit soon!


Source: via Cate on Pinterest

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Mysterious Ache

I've been in a bit of funk lately.  Since the marathon working out has been sporadic.  I have been having issues with my left calf for over a month now which is making it difficult to work out.  Remember during marathon training when I had that strange leg pain.  Well it went away after a week or two and all was good for the marathon, but about two weeks after the race it started to hurt again.  

It is hard to describe what it feels like.  It is a fullness/pressure/numb sensation that is really annoying.  I have been visiting a wellness center with a chiropractor and massage therapist the past three weeks who were trying to help me with some physical and manual therapy to figure out what is going on.  When I run I don't feel anything or at least don't notice the pain.  I haven't really figured out a pattern to the pain or what makes it better or worse.  Sometimes after climbing the stairs my leg feels uncomfortable and extremely fatigued, but just my left leg.  My leg is also uncomfortable just lying in bed or sitting down or standing up.  I haven't figured out much that makes it feel better though.  
The doctor thought it might be a combination of my orthotics in a stability shoe.  She said I don't pronate enough to need that much support and, in general, orthotics in a stability shoe is too much support for anyone, so I have ditched the orthotics.  On her suggestion I took one week off of running, which hasn't helped my attitude that much.  I have been biking, but its not the same as a run.  The whole week my leg still hurt.  

My first run after the week off I kept short and the pace easy and everything felt fine; no pain.  On my follow up appointment she asked if anything has improved in the past few weeks and I told her not really.  The massage and stretches have helped just a bit, but the overall ache in my leg has not improved.  She recommended taking more time off running and/or seeing another doctor to get some kind of nerve testing done.  She can only do so much at their location and after checking many different things she is not sure what is going on.
I just want an answer as to why my leg feels so weird and what I can do to make the pain go away.  It is very frustrating because I enjoy running and not being able to run makes me upset.
I have run two times since that last appointment.  One was short and slow and the second I was feeling really good so ran about three miles and at a faster pace.  Everything felt fine during the run, but later that afternoon, at work, my left leg began to hurt again and is still achey today.  I don't really know what to do.  Right now I'm going to rest some more and say no running for another week or so.  I have also made an appoitment with a sports doctor in hopes they will be able to help.  

I am upset by the whole situation, but I'm trying hard to not dwell on the negative.  This is our busy season at the Spa and Fitness Center so work has been keeping me busy.  Of course Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year so I am trying to enjoy every moment with Christmas music, tree decorating, baking, shopping, looking at lights, and watching holiday movies.
My Christmas Tree 

How do you deal with an injury?    

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Charleston Turkey Day Run & Wobble Gobble 5K: Race Recap

I didn't have to work this Thanksgiving and got to visit some of my mom's family for the weekend.  My mom is one of five children and every Thanksgiving we all try get together.  This year we stayed in a lovely house on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  Two of my mom's siblings and their families were able to make it this year.  It was a short visit but I had a great time with everyone.  

Thanksgiving morning most of the family got up early to make our way into Charleston for the 35th Annual Turkey Day Run and Wobble Gobble 5K.  It is the largest 5K in the state and this year there was a new record of over 6000 participants! 

It was a colder morning than I was expecting and had to borrow my brother, Patrick's coat to stay warm before the race.  

Pre race they were handing out Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  My sister, Caroline, and I decided to split one as our "pre race fuel."  They were making the doughnuts right in the square so it was warm and fresh!

We all lined up together, but split into different groups as we ran.  Patrick, Caroline, Mom and I ran together for the first mile.  They decided to take a walk break, but I was feeling good and kept running along and ended up running the whole race.  

The race path has us run from Marion Square down to the harbor and back down King Street.  We passed quite a few Charleston landmarks on the run so it was a pretty run.  At mile three I ran into my Aunt Wendy and ran with her for a second before continuing forward.  I was feeling good and thought I might be able to earn a a new PR.  Soon came the finish line where I picked up pace to cross it with a smile.  There was a bit of a traffic jam at the line as people were tearing off their timing chips turn in.  I checked and stopped my Garmin right as I tapped my timing chip to the sensor.  I achieved a new 5K PR by five seconds - 35:16!  This race was kind of last minute thing since I didn't even think I was going to make it and to PR, if only by a few seconds is pretty cool.  

We all met up in the square after the race where there was water, beer, food, and even a band playing.  
fam turkeydayrace
The Turkey Day Runners!
We made our way back to Kiawah to cook and enjoy the rest of our Thanksgiving.  After our meal everyone took a walk along the beach while the sun was setting.  It was really pretty and we had a great time.  The weekend went by so fast, but I'm really thankful for the time I got to be with my family!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Time to Make a Change

It's been awhile since I have talked about my weight loss journey.  More of a detailed story is here, but in short over the past four years I have lost, and now maintained, a 100 pound weight loss.  
After reaching such a big milestone it has become a lot harder for me to get rid of these last twenty pounds.  They say the last pounds are always the hardest to get rid of and this has proven true for me.  100 pounds was a goal that seemed so far away for a long time and to finally get there is rewarding and kind of makes me feel like that should be it.  However, this is a lifestyle, not a destination.  In reality however, I am not at my healthiest weight.  I am not looking nor expecting to be a stick figure, but there is more work to be done.  I carry most of my weight around my midsection and although I am definitely healthier and fitter, I am not where I want to be.  

I lost the weight using the Weight Watchers plan, but as I have gotten closer to my goal I have been rethinking the plan.  I have been going back and forth about this for many months now and have finally decided to end my membership with Weight Watchers.  I think the program is great, it taught me a lot and helped me lose the weight, but it is not working for what I need now.  The new Points Plus program is definitely the best incarnation of the plan, although I do wish they didn't push some fake foods.
After hitting the 100 pound mark I had hard time losing more.  Part of it was mental, because I felt like should be finished so I wasn't really trying as hard, but some of it was also what and how I was eating.  I have maintained my 100 pound weight loss, but over the past ten months I have lost and gained the same eight pounds, which has been super frustrating.  When I started training for the Chicago Marathon I put weight loss on the back burner and just focused on training.  Many people do gain some weight during marathon training and because of all the running my appetite was pretty veracious.  

Now that training is over for the time being I am refocusing my weight loss efforts.  I am declaring it publicly on my blog to give me the extra motivation to stick with it.  I have started counting calories.  I am using the My Fitness Pal website and app to track my calories throughout the day.  It has only been two weeks, but so far so good.  I feel that by tracking calories instead of Points I have a clearer idea of how things are going.  I have the real information about the foods I am eating instead of arbitrary Points.  My Fitness Pal has a huge database of foods and restaurants, allows you to enter your own foods, and has a nifty barcode scanner to add foods to your tracker as well.  You can also track your workouts with the app.  It is kind of like I am starting from the beginning and familiarizing myself with what everything is worth.  I have also gone back to the basics, by measuring and counting how much of something I am eating.  

As far as workouts I am still running about three times a week to maintain my fitness as I try and figure out what my next race will be.  I have also added Jillian Michael's Six Week 6 Pack DVD into my workout rotation.  My midsection is the area that needs some attention, so I think workouts focused on my core in addition to cardio will help.  Changing up my workouts is going to be good for me.

I have been eyeing the Body Media arm band as well.  It is a band you wear throughout the day that monitors calories burned, workouts, and sleep efficiency.  My mom and aunt both use it and love it.  My mom wrote a review of it on her blog.  I am an information junkie, so I think knowing all I can about my body would be interesting and useful.  I have also considered the fitbit which is similar except it clips on to your shirt or waistband.  I know a few bloggers use this and seem to really like it.  The biggest difference between the two is the price point, but if it is for my health, price really doesn't matter.  I am leaning toward the Body Media, just because I feel like it is the more accurate of the two.  

As I make my decision I am going to keep tracking my calories and focusing on my goal.  I know I can get there is just takes time, dedication, and the right attitude!

How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?  Any opinions on the Body Media or fitbit?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five for Friday {Nov 2nd}

1.  This past Saturday I finally got a chance to attend the book club some Chicago area bloggers have put together.  I have been working the days it was scheduled before, but this month I was free to attend the meeting at Diana's place.  It was great to see friendly faces and some new ones too!  We spent the afternoon eating and chatting.
pic from Sierra
We read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  I have heard lots of people talking about her most recent book Gone Girl and was looking forward to reading one of her books.  

The synopsis from the back of the book:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. 

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

The story is definitely dark, but I couldn't stop reading it.  None of the characters are particularly like-able, but Flynn's writing style and story pulls you in.  

2.  My workouts this week have been so so.  My work schedule has been a little all over the place so I have been quite tired.  My left leg still feels weird too so I have been taking it easy this week.  I feel a little guilty about not working out as much, but I know that my body needs some rest.  

3.  Fleet Feet Chicago is having their annual See and Be Seen Fall Fashion Show next Wednesday, November 7th.  There are still tickets left for the 9pm show.  It is a great event that showcases some awesome running gear.  A ticket gets you entry to the show, a great goodie bag, and access to the store after the show for beverages, food, and shopping.  I am excited to attend.  If you are local you should get a ticket and come check it out!

4. I have been eating up spaghetti squash like it is my job.  I tried it for the first time last fall and was happy to see it at the market this year.  It is so easy to make and can be used in many different recipes.  I have substituted it for spaghetti and eaten it with marinara sauce and veggies.  I have also made a Mexican bowl with the squash, homemade black bean salsa, and cheese.  Both are great, nutritious meals and perfect for an easy dinner after work.  I bake the spaghetti squash in the oven and have tons of "spaghetti" to have meals throughout the week.  Here is a casserole I shared last year with instructions in the beginning of how to roast a squash.

5. For the past two weeks I have been listening to Mumford & Sons and The Civil Wars on repeat.  I just can't stop listening to their music.  I listen to it on the way to work, hum it all day long at work, listen to it on the train ride home, and listen to it when I get home.  Mumford & Sons is categorized as English Folk Rock.  Both of their albums are amazing.  Their sound is unique with a guitar, banjo, piano, kick drum, and even horns.  Their songs are performed with such passion and I find it hard to not be enveloped by their interesting lyrics.  
The Civil Wars have a quieter sound to their music and is in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter genre.  Their songs are mostly about the good and bad of relationships.  They are emotional and beautifully written and performed by Joy Williams and John Paul White. 
You should go take a listen to both of them, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Have you read one of Gillian Flynn's books?  What is a song you have on repeat?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Post Marathon Thoughts

Well now that I have run my first marathon, how do I feel and what's next?  The two days following my legs were pretty sore.  Mostly my quads.  I headed right back to work the next two days.  I stand up and walk around during my work day, so I figured it would be good to move around a bit.  Walking down the three flights of stairs at my apartment and the stairs to get to the train was not pretty.  Ow.  Thankfully I wasn't walking funny.  At work everyone was really happy and proud of me for completing a marathon.  Even mentioning to guests that I ran a marathon!  They also got me a cute "Congratulations" card.  

Most couldn't believe I was working the day after running a marathon.  Honestly, it wasn't that bad.  Yes, my legs were sore, but it wasn't like I was unable to move.  The second day I was much more tired and definitely looking forward to a day at home to do nothing though.

I did some light stretching on Tuesday and then went on an easy bike ride Thursday to move my legs some.  My first run was the Saturday after the race.  It was three miles, but it seriously felt like it was the first time I had ever run.  The marathon distance does a number on your body!  It was a very slow run, but that's OK.  The past few weeks I have been getting back into my regular workout routine which is three or four days of running with two or three days of cross training, slowing increasing the times and distances.  Things have been going well.  However the past few days my left calf has been feeling strange, like it did in August.  I have been wearing compression socks every night, stretching throughout the day, and foam rolling since that helped last time.  Hopefully things will feel better soon.

Training for a marathon is no joke!  You have to be both mentally and physically prepared for all that comes with it.  I thought, maybe, maybe I would try a marathon some day.  A day far in the future.  After volunteering for the 2011 Chicago Marathon though I was really inspired and the thought of a marathon in the next year seemed possible.  I continued my regular running routine and building my running base.  
I used the marathon training plan from John Bingham and Coach Jenny Hadfield's book Marathoning for Mortals.  I used the half marathon plan for my first half marathon and a variation of it for my next two half's as well.  I highly recommend the book if you are thinking about running a full or half marathon.  Even if you have already run one you should read it.  The book is broken into four parts: Getting Started, Training, The Toolbox, and Game Face with eight training plans in the back.  It is chock full of good information and I refer back to it often when training.  

My training plan was 17 weeks, so just over four months long.  Marathon training is really time consuming.  I knew that it was going to be a big commitment and I am glad I stuck with the plan.  I liked knowing that my workouts were planned out for me for the upcoming weeks.  I didn't have to think about what workout I should be doing next.  My plan also included lots of cross training which allowed me to do different activities, instead of just running.  Cross training is great because it helps prevent injury, allows you to use different muscles groups, and breaks up the runs throughout the week.
The weekday training runs were all time based and long runs were set with miles.  This was nice because I never ran longer than an hour on weekdays.  With other plans near the end of training some weekday runs can last two hours.  Another thing about this training plan was that I used my heart rate, instead of pace, to measure the intensity of my runs.  My Garmin has a heart rate monitor with it so I wore it on all of my runs to make sure I was in the right training zone.  Instead of worrying about meeting a certain pace, I ran by effort.  Some days the pace was faster, some days slower, it all depended on how my body was feeling each day.  

Yes, it was a lot of time and miles of training, but it was all worth it and I enjoyed it.  Many things have been written about how a marathon changes a person and I have to agree. Everything I put into training and running the marathon has made me a stronger runner, a healthier person, a happier person, and allowed me to prove to myself that anything is possible.  

So what is next?  Oh, I will be running another marathon!  I have been researching and trying to decide which one will be next.  I am looking for one in the spring.  

I don't have anything on my race schedule for the rest of the year right now.  I would like to do another half marathon soon.  I am considering the F^3 Half Marathon which is in January.  I am also thinking about a Thanksgiving run and a Holiday run for December.  

Do you like having a training schedule?  Any race suggestions?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The 2012 Chicago Marathon Expo

I told you how my first marathon went last week, but the expo for the Chicago Marathon is too awesome to not blog about.  Last year when I volunteered at the race I decided to check out the expo and was totally amazed how big it was.  This year was no different, except Mom and Andy were able to see how cool it was as well.  Things are always better when there is someone there to share in the experience.  
Friday, after a tasty meal at my favorite breakfast place Over Easy Cafe, we made our way to McCormick Place where the expo was being held.  

The first thing I did was to pick up my race bib, tech shirt, and goodie bag.  

We made a plan to go up and down every aisle of the expo.  We probably spent three hours checking out all the awesome booths and mini stores set up.  There were samples of Clif shots and bars, Nuun drinks, Larabars, chocolate bars which we all sampled.  I knew it was going to be chilly on race day and was looking for a long sleeve half zip so we explored every clothing booth.  As I've mentioned before I'm not great at making decisions and I'm pretty picky about clothes, but I finally found something at the New Balance exhibit.  I know your not supposed to try new things before a race, but it had flat seams and fit well.  It ended up being perfect for the race and thankfully I didn't have any issues with it.  
I also ended up purchasing a super cute Chicago Marathon shirt from Saucony.  I debated one that was at Nike, but I am happy with my choice.  I love the graphic on the front and the map with all the neighborhoods on the back!  
Nike, one of the big sponsors of the race had a giant setup in the middle of the room.  There was a wall with every runners name on it.  I think it was in alphabetical order, but I could not find my name, and I looked for a while.  A few of the people next to me said they didn't see their name either.  Maybe I was looking in the wrong spot?  Nike also had a neat area where you could scan your bib number and your name would appear on a screen in one of three or four phrases. 
So cool, right?!
Brooks had a stand out exhibit for the expo.  It was a giant pasta bowl with a fork sticking out of the top.  

Inside the bowl you could have your picture taken of a meatball chasing after you and a gait analysis.  I decided to wait in line for the gait analysis and I'm glad I did.  I ran on treadmill barefoot while a small camera recorded my stride.  From there the guy who helped me used some cool technology on his iPad to analyze how I run and the recommend the best Brooks shoe for me.  I am an overpronater and he suggested the Ravennas or Ghost with inserts depending on which felt best.  After the analysis everyone got a small scratch off card to win one of three prizes: a CD of accordion music, a bag of running shoe shaped pasta, or a free pair of Brooks running shoes.  The guy asked me to choose a card from the large stack and after choosing it he looked through the cards again and said I probably wanted another one instead and handed me a different card.  I scratched off the first circle to see a small running shoe and the other two showed the same thing.  He mentioned that he just realized that under a certain light he could see what the prize was, so essentially he gave me a free pair of Brooks Running shoes!  How awesome is that?!?!?  I was incredibly grateful and thanked him profusely.  I didn't get the shoes that day, I have to mail in a card with my size and style first, but it was so neat to win!  I can't wait until they arrive in the mail!

Mom and Andy ended up purchasing quite a few things for themselves as well.  The expo had anything and everything a runner might want and some things you didn't even know you wanted.  Those vendors definitely made a lot of money over the two day expo!  

It was a long afternoon, but we all had a good time at the Chicago Marathon Expo!

Do you like to explore race expos?  What are some of your favorite things to see at a race expo?  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My First Marathon: Chicago Marathon 2012 - Race Recap

After 17 weeks of training, I did it!  I am officially a marathoner!  I completed my very first marathon this past Sunday at the 35th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon and it was amazing!
My mom and stepdad, Andy, came to visit and cheer me on this weekend which I was really happy about.  I was feeling really anxious and nervous about the race all day Friday and most of Saturday.  I just kept worrying that something would go wrong, or I wouldn't be able to finish, or I wasn't really ready for this race.  My mind just kept racing!  For dinner we shared a delicious pizza from Piece Brewery and Pizzeria before heading home to rest up for the big day.  I laid out my outfit and gear and watched Spirit of the Marathon before falling asleep. The movie was really good and calmed my nerves a bit.  

I slept pretty well that night.  Mom and Andy left before me as they were going to volunteer at the Fleet Feet Aid Station.  Soon after they left I got up to get ready.  I had a glass of water and toasted pbj english muffin for my pre race meal.  My nerves about the race were not really at the front of my mind as I was checking and double checking to make sure I had everything and that I would find my way to the start corrals all right.  It always makes me smile when I get up early on race days to see all the other runners heading to the race too.  The train was full of runners drinking Gatorade and having their pre race meals.  It was chilly morning, about 38 degrees, but I brought throw away clothes to wear.  I made the short walk from the train to the corral area around 7am.  After waiting in line to use the bathroom I grabbed some Gatorade Chews to add to my iFitness belt and Gatorade Prime to have before the start.  I was in the second wave of runners in the back corral and had some time so I found a spot in the grass and wrapped my Georgia Half Mylar blanket around me to stay warm while sipping on my G2.  After about 20 minutes I decided to go stand in the corral.  
I was cold and ready to start running so I could warm up; the wait to start moving seemed so long.  Finally the corrals started to move forward.  Once we began to walk I got rid of my extra shirt and pants, but kept the mylar blanket until just before the start line.  I also drank the Gatorade Prime about 15 minutes before I started running.  My nerves seemed to have disappeared as inched closer to the line.  I was just excited and ready to run!  

Since this was my first marathon my main goal was to finish.  Ideally I wanted to finish under six hours and if things went really well under 5:45.  I trained by monitoring my heart rate and did the same for the race.  Before the race I decided to break it into sections to make the distance not feel as daunting.  I mainly thought about it as two 10 mile runs with a 10K finish.  As I went along I did break it up a bit smaller though marking the 10k distance and then the 15k, etc.  I wanted to start out easy and gradually speed up as I went along.  

I finally crossed the start line around 8:20am and started running!  My toes felt a bit numb from the cold so it was kind of awkward running the first half mile or so until they warmed up.  Despite the numb toes my first mile was bit faster than it should have been.  The energy of all of the other runners and spectators was awesome and made me go out a bit fast.  I slowed down my pace and just enjoyed running through the city.  

The spectators and support throughout the race was amazing and made parts of the race fly by.  I had my name written across my shirt so people could cheer me along which was great.  I waved or smiled at everyone who cheered for me.  I honestly had a smile on my face for most of the race.  Early on I saw a sign that read some like, "Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment."  That really resonated with me and I made it one of my mantras for the race.  I was going to enjoy every moment I was out there running and be thankful that I could.
Although I was cold at the start the weather was great for running the race.  Cooler weather is perfect for running!  The first few miles went by quite fast.  I must have had too much Gatorade before the start because I realized I needed to use the bathroom.  I so did not want to stop, but did not want to pee all over myself either.  The first few port-a-pottys along the course had long lines so I held off until about mile five before stopping.  It was a short stop, but I was bummed I had to make it.  I never had to stop to use the bathroom during my training, but of course when the actual race comes I had to pee within the first half of the race!  Even though it was a short stop I picked up my pace just a bit for the next mile to try and make up some time.

I fueled with the Gatorade Chews first and then switched to my Honey Stinger chews after, which was about every three miles.  I made sure not to have Gatorade drink and chews at the same time and switched back and forth.  During training I usually walked for a minute every two miles.  For the race I ended up walking a short time through most of the aid stations to simply drink water or Gatorade.  

Mom and Andy were volunteering around mile 10 with Fleet Feet and I couldn't wait to see them.  They were there smiling and holding signs!  
After I saw them I turned on my music for the first time and kept going along still enjoying the signs and cheers from random spectators.  Once we headed west on the course there weren't as many spectators and it got a bit boring.  I started to get a slight headache before the halfway mark and decided I needed some real food.  Thankfully I brought a fig bar and had that with some water which helped.  My hips and thighs started to feel a bit tight around mile 15 but I kept chugging along.  
I was so happy to get to the Clif Shot Zone at mile 17.5 for some different fuel.  I ate the chocolate one and it was exactly what I needed!  I love my chews, but I wanted the taste of something different.  The chocolate tasted so good and gave me a great little boost.  
I arrived at mile 20 aware that I could "hit the wall" soon.  I'm not sure I ever really did though.  I mean, my legs were sore, but I didn't feel horrible and never thought I couldn't finish.  I think I fueled pretty well throughout the race.
I wasn't sure when Mom and Andy would be finished at their aid station so I didn't know when I would see them again.  I kept scanning the sidelines hoping to spot them as I really needed to see their faces.  Just as I turned a corner I looked ahead and saw my mom's purple jacket and started waving.  It took a moment for them to see me.  
SO happy to see my cheering fans!
I smiled and told them I was so happy to see them.  Mom asked how I was and I told her I was OK, just that my legs felt sore.  They told me I looked great and they would see me again at the finish.  The timing for seeing them again was perfect!
I tried to pick up the pace for the last five miles of the race.  I kept running and actually passed quite a lot of people.  It hurt more to walk than to run so I ran much more for the last section, maybe not as fast as I was before, but I was running. 

Finally I arrived at the last mile and checked my Garmin to see that I could finish under 5:55.  I was keeping a consistent pace and knew I only had a mile left until the finish and pushed just a bit more.  I turned onto Roosevelt and went over the one small bridge in the race (I know, a hill right near the finish) and made the final turn and began to sprint.  I saw Mom and Andy cheering from the sidelines and other spectators were cheering my name as went by.  

I gave it everything I had and crossed the finish line with my hands up!  I did it!  My official time was 5:54:19, under my goal of six hours and less than 5:55!  

I had finished a marathon - 26.2 miles!  My legs ached so bad after slowing down to walk, but I was happy to have finished.  I walked over to receive my medal and the lady said congratulations and that I deserved it.  I cried a bit from the joy and the pain.  
My legs were aching but there was still a bit of a walk to get to the finishers meeting area.  I was glad to finally meet up with Mom and Andy and hug them both. 
Tired, but happy.
I walked a bit around the post race party.  My body was craving something to eat or drink.  I had a bottle of water, but they had run out of the Gatorade Recovery drink by the time I finished.  In the post race area I had two tiny cups of Sierra Mist and a mini bag of pretzels which helped.  We were going to take the train home, but decided a cab would be faster.  
Walking up the three flights of stairs to get to my apartment was not easy, but I made it.  I ate two cheese sticks as soon as I walked in the door and had some more water.  I had a headache and needed more real food.  Mom and Andy went out to get burgers while I took a shower.  They came back with burgers and fries from The Bad Apple.  
The food was so good and just what I needed!  I got the Bad Apple Burger and ranch seasoned fries.  It was a lot of food, but I ate everything and felt much better afterwards.  

It didn't really hit me that I had a run a marathon until later that day.  Before I started running, even after my first half marathon, I never imagined I would or could run a full marathon.  It is absolutely incredible what you can achieve if you put in the time and keep a positive attitude.  I am so thankful for all of the support from my family, friends, coworkers, and followers.  All the comments, tweets, posts, and texts from everyone was overwhelming and so appreciated!  
I really enjoyed the race!  Yes, it was long and I was sore after, but it was worth every moment.  I had a great time running through the city of Chicago.  I can call myself a marathoner now which is so crazy and so awesome.  I have a feeling I will be running another marathon in the future!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 16 & 17- The Final Countdown

Monday: 45 minute Easy Run - 3.07 miles
Tuesday: 30 minute XT - Bike Ride 4.4 miles
Wednesday: Tempo B with Four Stride Drills - 3.72 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 60 minute XT - Hot Power Fusion Yoga
Saturday: 6 mile Long Run 
Sunday: REST

Monday morning it was chilly outside and I had to wear a light jacket during my run.  Just an OK run around the neighborhood.  I had a difficult time finding my stride.  My heart rate and pace were all over the place.  This was supposed to be 40 minutes, but I didn't plan my route well, so went five minutes over.  During this run I did finish listening to World Without End.  It is a monster of a book, 45 hours long, but I really enjoyed it.  It was the perfect book to listen to while marathon training. 

After an work Tuesday I decided to bike to the store to get in my cross training.  I kept it easy although riding back with a backpack and bag full of groceries was an additional challenge.  

Wednesday was another cool morning outside.  I am so happy for this cooler weather!  It took me a few minutes to find my stride, but once I did it ended up being a good run.  This was the Tempo B workout which included 10 mins easy, 10 mins tempo, 2 min walk, 10 mins tempo, 10 mins easy.  I also finished up with four stride drills.  It was nice to run faster and a good start to the day!

Friday I decided to go to the early morning class at Core Power Yoga.  It was the Hot Power Fusion, which is one of my favorites.  It was a small class with only six people, but good practice.  It has been a couple of weeks since I have been there so my balance was a little shaky on a few poses.  I also felt challenged by some of the poses I usually feel good in.  It wasn't perfect, but it was a good class.  My mind and body definitely appreciated the practice. 

Saturday I broke my last long run into two parts.  A couple weeks ago someone posted information about the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K (<-race recap) and after reading about it I knew I had to sign up.  I ran about three miles to get to the cemetery and then the race to get in my six miles for the day.  It was a cool evening which made for a good run.  The race was pretty dark, but I had a really good time!  (I also walked the a mile home which is why the chart says seven miles.)  

I am currently in my final week of marathon training and it is pretty relaxed from all the previous weeks.  Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday were 30 minute runs and I have one 20 minute shake out run Saturday before the race.  It is so strange to not be running longer than 30 minutes, but this last week is all about making sure my body is well rested and fueled for the full marathon Sunday morning!

I have been checking the weather constantly throughout the day this past week to see what it will be like on race day.  Right now it looks like it will be cool, low 36, high 52.  That sounds good to me, cold weather is better to run in than hot.  I have most of my race outfit ready, but I am not sure on my top.  I haven't run in 50 degree weather since earlier this year and don't really remember what clothing works best for me.  
Because I have not been running as many miles recently I am starting to second guess some of my training.  It is weird to think that I am going to run 26.2 miles on Sunday when my last long run was six miles.  I am not going off my training plan and adding more miles in, but what they say about taper madness or craziness is true!  I am anxious to run this race though.  I go back and forth between feeling ready and wanting more time. 

My mom and stepdad arrived last night to visit and cheer me on this weekend for my first marathon.  My family, friends, and coworkers have all been really supportive and excited for me, which I am super thankful for.  I plan on eating good food, attending the race expo, reading some marathon race recaps, and watch Spirit of the Marathon all in preparation for the big day.  

I am bib 51775 and will be in the second wave of runners which starts at 8am CST.  I am in one of the back corrals so it may take 30 minutes for me to actually begin.  You can track me or any of the other awesome people running the 2012 Chicago Marathon here.  
If you are spectating or volunteering hopefully I will see you out there - your cheers will certainly be appreciated.  I'll tweet a picture of my race outfit Sunday morning (once I finally decide what I'm wearing).  Good luck to everyone else running this weekend as well!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K: Race Recap

Last week when Erin posted about the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K I knew I wanted to run it!  I am huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and this seemed like a unique opportunity to run a non traditional road race through an old graveyard (and pretend to be an awesome vampire slayer)! 
The Rosehill Cemetery is the largest and oldest cemetery in Chicago and was chartered in 1895.  War veterans from every war, including the American Revolution, are buried there in addition to many famous Chicagoans.  (source)  

This was the first time they have done this race so there were a few kinks, but overall it was fun!  I had to get in one last long run before my first marathon and split it into two parts to get in six miles.  I ran about 2.7 miles to the start area.  The race was supposed to start at 7pm, but it didn't start until 7:28pm.  This was quite frustrating.  No one was happy about the situation.  
We started right outside the entrance to the Rosehill Cemetery and ran through the stone archway as the race started.  

It was really dark for most of the race, thankfully there was a full moon which shone a bit of light in areas not shaded by trees.  The darkness made things difficult to see at times so I tried to be very careful about where I was running.  I kept a slower pace because I did not want to twist my ankle a week before the marathon.  If the race had started on time it would have been a bit lighter which would have made running a bit easier.  I was looking at the ground a lot of the time. 
The moon shining through the tree cover.
A few areas of the path were candlelit, but mostly it was dark.  Some runners had glow sticks and small lights which was smart and helped light the path if you were near them.  I expected it to be a dark run since it was at night, but the path could have been better lit considering there were many turns and some uneven pathways.  A bit more light would have made it easier to see some the graves and crypts we ran by as well.  
Around mile two there was a section that was lighter and was really cool to run.  It was by a small pond in the cemetery and I got to see some of the cool crypts and statues.  This was really cool, I just wish it would have been like that the whole way.  That was really my only complaint about the race otherwise I thought it was really cool.  Unfortunately my phone doesn't have a flash so all my pictures are pretty hard to see.  I should have brought my digital camera. 
My finish time was 40:23.  Certainly not my best, but it's not a big deal to me; it was dark and the race was more for fun than anything else.
Post race in front of a crypt in the cemetery.
There was small after party once we crossed the finish line.  They had a good band playing, food truck, and post race snacks for us to enjoy in the cemetery.  This was a smaller race which was nice.  I stayed and listened to the music while enjoying a BBQ pork sandwich from the food truck Beyond Borders.  It was messy, but pretty tasty.  

I hope they do the race again next year and fix a few things to make it even better.  There is really so much potential!  A few other local bloggers ran, but I missed them before the race and it was hard to find anyone after, hopefully next time we will be able to meet up though.  I had a good time and I think it is really cool to say I have run through a cemetery!

What is one of your favorite non-traditional road races?  Have you ever run in graveyard before?