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!