Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #16

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornRemember how I said I was in taper?  I was apparently confused.  Out of my mind.  Wrong.  Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve.  And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts.  I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen.  I was in a pretty dress and heels.  I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.

I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down.  One final 20-22 miler.

Here. We. Go.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Thank goodness for easy, recovery days.  With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little.  Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show.  I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run.  The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s.  It was supposedly raining.  It wasn’t.  It was a nice run that morning.  No pushing pace.  I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down.  It was a good morning for a good run.  Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain.  I ended up with just over 5 miles.  No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking.  I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace.  Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath.  And let this run be the miles I needed that day.  I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped.  Then, I got to add strides on to the end.  Six of them.  And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong.  And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather.  When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall.  Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function.  And right now…we’re right in my happy place.  Ended with 8 miles for the day.  Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Wednesday was a bad day.  Not that anything tragic or life changing happened.  But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday.  Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning.  I wasn’t loving it.  Not at all.  I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled.  I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s.  The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work.  And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning.  I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace.  At all.  So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out.  I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour.  UGH!  But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching.  I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon.  He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him.  Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go.  Had to improvise.  It just wasn’t my day.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

I love a good recovery run.  We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door.  My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning.  I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those.  I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect.  I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing.  My breath stayed controlled.  And I finished up with 5 miles.  Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches.  Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown.  And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something).  But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY

Full rest day!  YAY!!  I slept over 8 hours.  Got up to shower.  Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening.  I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees.  It was a good way to wrap up the evening.  I went right to bed when I got home.

Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT

Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort.  Not one bit.  In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold.  Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning.  I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family.  I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause.  So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female.  I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that.  I needed it.  It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team.  And for that…I am thankful.  So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank.  But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one.  I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting.  What an amazing race!

Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

To be honest…I expected today to suck.  I really did.  After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run.  I set an alarm for 5:15 am.  Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out.  It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves.  And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves.  Eventually.  I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home.  The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time.  I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run.  I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day.  YAY!  And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run.  I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday.  Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.  Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper.  I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good.  Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started!  YAY!

Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ.  I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.

I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week.  I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace.  And that’s fine by me.  I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired.  I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.

Who else is happy to hit taper time?  Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?

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Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #15

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhew.  I was hoping for the weeks to feel a little less daunting and less of a grind, since I hit that last 20+ miler last weekend.  But, apparently, my coach had other plans for this week.  I warned you…he’s very nontraditional when it comes to the taper.  That being said, I was expecting some room to breathe, so when I woke up Monday morning to my schedule (I go to bed before children go to bed…and sometimes I don’t have my schedule Sunday night before I go to bed…and this week, it came through 2 hours after I had already gone to bed), I was a little bit surprised.  I wasn’t thrilled with it…but I know there are methods to what my coach prescribes me in these weeks leading into my goal race…so I put my trust in him.

Take a deep breath…we’re diving right in.

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

I knew with every run this week having some sort of speed component in them, I really needed to pay attention to those that instructed me to run a base pace, or easy, and do exactly that.  My Monday morning run is generally the same every week.  So the fact that I didn’t have my schedule prior to going to bed wasn’t stressing me out at all.  The only addition to this week’s Monday run was the inclusion of the strides at the end.  This run went well.  I kept things controlled and easy for 7 miles.  I had been struggling in Florida with any sort of speed, and despite the heat and humidity, I managed to turn out some decent strides without feeling bad about my effort.  I did my additional hip strengtheners during my stretches that morning.  And I met with Corey, who did a full-body workout with me outside…which was insane and challenging.  Let me tell you, I was still feeling it two days later.  I did put in extra time that evening (after some further meal prep) to stretch and foam roll.

Tuesday:  INSTRUCTIONS: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

Welcome to Day 2 of some sort of speed element in my running this week.  Let me tell you, I run 6 days a week, and 5 of them included something that involved speed.  This is my nightmare.  BUT…at least he gave me my favorite of the speed workouts he throws at me – Mona Fartleks.  If you’re an avid reader, you’re very familiar with these by now.  If you’re just joining me on this journey…here’s how these work: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  I felt really good during the actual workout…but I had a few bumps in the road.  Not literally.  First of all, there was a woman riding around on her electric scooter with a mean, yappy dog VERY early in the morning.  And it was barking and coming at me, and at one point within my first mile, decided to chase me (there was no avoiding her), and it ripped the leash from the lady’s hand (and the handle cover off her scooter) and made for a very awkward situation and way to start.  I actually paused for a few minutes to let them scoot on away so I could, possible, stop encountering them along the way.  I don’t have a track (and it is currently WAY too warm to wait until the evening to do the track workouts with the local running store), so I do these on the road.  And for a bunch of these intervals, I need to cross a main road.  And this week…there happened to be a LOT of traffic at the time I chose to run.  This rarely happens, but it does make me mad when it does.  That being said, I did power through the intervals.  The fast mile was a struggle because my legs were getting really tired and the humidity was wearing me out…but I finished it up, did my cool down, and happily went inside.  I did my second day (I do 2 days a week usually) of additional hip strengthener moves with my stretches.  And, progressively got a little more sore throughout the remainder of the day.  That night I did attend Ladies Night at our local running store, which kept me out later than usual, but I got to hang with some amazing friends, which made it worth it.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Welcome to the one and only day this week that DID NOT include some element of speed.  Thank goodness I had one.  I woke up, still sore from personal training and very glad I didn’t have to push any sort of pace because of that.  I got to bed late, but as this was a run for me to choose the distance, I know I wouldn’t go too far, and if the soreness got worse, I would keep it really short.  I woke up later than my usual alarm (Thursday would be earlier, so it balances), got dressed, fueled, put on my gear and headed out.  It took about 2 miles for my legs to find a rhythm and to not ache as much in the muscles.  But they did feel better.  I was very mindful of any sort of pain, but as things got easier…the run also progressed.  Not with speed.  I still kept that down and under control.  I have enough speed happening this week…I wasn’t going to put any unnecessary energy into this run.  A recovery run did me good though, because I did feel the muscles loosen up and I felt a lot better afterwards.  I put in 5 easy miles…which I was thankful I was able to do and that my body allowed me to do that morning.  I did my stretches I got from physical therapy YEARS ago (the ones I do every morning and night) twice this morning, as I had a sports massage scheduled for that evening.  Corey texted to say he was sick, and very kindly didn’t want to give what he had to me.  I was thankful for that.  And I think my muscles appreciated an extra bit of time off.  The sports massage…was glorious.  I went to bed as soon as I got home though…because Thursday was the start of what I considered to be my hell.  HA!

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.

I barely slept the night prior.  I had set an early alarm…for 2:30 am, with the hope of fueling (which isn’t easy on a weekday), getting ready, and heading out the door by 3 am.  I did manage all of that, but damn…I was tired.  With having spent most of the night tossing and turning, I was not looking forward to doing this run.  But, I told myself to just take it easy, gradually ease into it, and just prepare for those final three miles.  My legs felt SO much better after the sports massage.  Seriously!  But I was just fatigued.  I had fueled with the Maurten 160 Drink Mix before heading out and had one of their new Maurten 100 Gels with Caffeine on me to take around Mile 9.5 (which I did).  It was a hot, humid morning.  Every now and again, a bit of a breeze would blow, but I was not enjoying having to squeeze in a half marathon distance on a Thursday.  It’s hard for me to do double digits on a work day.  It’s hard enough to fit in single digit runs, and since I never sleep well before these double digit ones (they don’t happen often…but when they do…), I know the logistics just stress me out to that point.  I made a good effort of keeping those first 10 miles easy.  Then, I threw down, the best I could, for those final three miles.  They weren’t impressively fast…but they were good enough for the day.  The second one had a few more turns than the other two, so it was totally slower than the ones that sandwiched it.  But…I got it done.  And 13.1 miles later, I was happy to BE done.  I showered and stretched and ate a protein-filled breakfast.  And I really hoped I would sleep better leading into my rest day.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

I did sleep better leading into Friday.  That was good.  I slept in.  I showered.  I stretched. I finished packing.  I headed out to work.  I put in about 6 hours, leaving the office around 2:30 pm.  I went and picked up my order of “magic sushi,” loaded it into a cooler and headed up to Indianapolis for the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben.  I have never done this race before.  But I stopped by the hotel, dropped off bags (and put my sushi into the fridge), went to the expo to pick up packets (I was grabbing my friend’s , went to Fresh Thyme (I left my pre-race breakfast at the office in my rush to leave, so I found a good replacement with Brekki Blueberry Overnight Oats, Julie’s Real Cashew Butter (coconut vanilla bean flavor), and some waters for the room and pre/during/post race things.  Then we hit up Noodles & Co. so Cathy could grab herself dinner before we returned to the hotel, turned on Food Network to watch Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, and eat dinner.  I stretched and foam rolled, then…stayed up until about 9 before calling it a night.

Saturday: INDY HALF MARATHON AT FORT BEN AT MARATHON PACE

Okay…let me be the first to admit that I ran this WAY faster than marathon pace.  But, it was 47° outside.  And while I had another restless night…I was feeling good.  I connected with Kelly first thing in the morning when we got to the giant parking lot they parked us in.  So we hung out before the race, which was fun.  I don’t get to hang with friends ahead of a race very often.  With the fall air here, the bon fires at the start were nice and we hung there until we had to get into our corrals.  I will do a full race report on this, but let’s just say this…I felt strong for the entire run, even on the giant hills.  I knew I was running well because the 1:40 pacer was behind me the entire time.  And in my head, I kept reminding myself that my goal isn’t to PR…it’s to run a race at marathon pace.  The pacers in that group were phenomenal and while I didn’t run with them, I went and thanked them after the race itself.  I would go back and run this one again in a heartbeat.  Great race.  And I am only 21 seconds off of a new PR in this distance.  Knocking on the door of a breakthrough.  After the race, I showered, packed up, went to Woody’s Library Restaurant for lunch, grabbed some goodies at the gluten-free bakery up the way, went to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Half Price Books Clearance Sale (books were $2 and under), before heading home.  It was a lot of time in the car post-race and I did stiffen up some.  Got back and swung by the office to grab the breakfast I was supposed to have from the office so I could have it on Sunday, ran into Melissa, Paul, and Carrick.  Talked for a bit.  then went to get wheat we came for, returned home, didn’t unpack, just changed into pajamas, stretched, foam rolled, made popcorn, watched Top Chef…and went to bed.

Sunday: 11-13 MILES WITH 3-5 MILES FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL THE FAST FINISH AT THE END

UGH.  I didn’t sleep well leading into Sunday morning either.  UGH!  What’s up with these restless nights?  Is it the change in the weather?  I need it to stop now, please.  I actually got up a few times, but nothing seemed to really work.  I eventually through my comforter over me, and that helped for a bit.  Maybe I need a weighted blanket.  But what this did leave me with was very little motivation to do this workout today.  I wasn’t feeling it at all.  I really just wanted to curl up on the couch and not move.  But, I eventually got up, stretched, fueled, got my stuff together, put on sunscreen, got dressed and got out the door.  I kept those early miles easy.  I wasn’t loving the return of the 70°  weather this morning.  Or the humidity.  But I think it’s going away after today.  The first 8 miles felt harder than they were.  My legs were tired from the race the morning before.  The last 5 miles that I pushed pace were trash.  Honestly, they were the hardest in a long time.  And, because I’m dumb, I used my hilly Thanksgiving course for the last 5 miles, which made it even harder to push that fast pace.  I was dying.  It was a HUGE struggle bus.  But I just took it for what it was.  I ran too fast yesterday and that was reflected in my performance today.  I wrapped it up, hoping for a bit of a break in the workouts next week.  I don’t want speed every day again. I really don’t.  I’m also going to be out late because I’m seeing Dear Evan Hansen tonight.  So, tomorrow should be interesting.

And that’s how I taper, I guess.  I run really fast for 5 out of 6 days of training.  And I’m sure the workouts aren’t done yet.  That’s just how my coach does “taper.”  And I trust him.  With my performance at the Indy Half Marathon at Fort Ben, his methods are working.  But, dammit, I want to sleep, and feel rested, and maybe have a week to breathe.

We shall see.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #14

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornWhew.

Guys, coming back from vacation is hard.  I mean, you have a routine, you get off your routine (like…by a lot), and then you try to fall back into your routine…yeah…it’s not easy.  Not at all.

That being said, we had some cooler mornings this week.  I enjoyed two runs in the low 50s this week, which felt glorious.  I mean…I was still comfortable in a tank top and shorts and I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down by heat and humidity.  What a difference from the Caribbean and Florida, eh?

But the weather had some fluctuations in it.  And the other mornings I ran, we were up 20 degrees in the 70s.  No rhyme or reason to when these occurred…but of course it heated up just in time for my 4th and FINAL 20+ miler this weekend.

Now that I’m back on schedule…how about we dive into this week?  I had an extra rest day, which made for 5 days of running…and I could actually tell a difference.  Interesting.

Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! TRAVEL DAY!

What can I say?  I had an early-ish flight out of Orlando to get back to Louisville.  And while I could have squeezed in a run around the resort, I didn’t have to get up early to do so.  My coach gave me the day off.  So, I also didn’t have to try to fit it in when I got back, allowing me to be relaxed on the flight, enjoy lunch out with my friend Melissa (who was kind enough to pick us up at the airport) and get home, unpacked, and get some groceries, because…we literally had NO food in the house.  After running some laundry and doing the stretches I couldn’t do while on vacation (French Quarter had a hard wood floor) due to the way the rooms (on the ship and on the resort were) and also the amount of time I had to squeeze in runs every day…that just didn’t happen.  My body thanked me…especially when I got to foam rolling.  I went to bed around my normal time.  Trying to get back on my routine.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES  + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

This was basically the same run I had on the last day in Orlando.  The one where I felt like I was flying, but really I wasn’t.  HA!  Well, it went so much better.  This was one of my 50 degree mornings.  Seriously…even with it being my first run back from my 8 day trip, my legs and body responded well.  Even the strides went better than they had in Florida.  LOVE!  I was happy with the end result…definitely felt like I was getting my legs back under me.  In addition, I did my extra hip strengtheners that I hadn’t been able to do while on vacation.  They felt good to get back to, for sure! 8 miles total for the day.

Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.

Aside from some stomach issues that morning, this workout didn’t go too bad.  I only missed the interval speed on one of them (the 5th) but it was close and I rallied to hit the last 2 with some time to spare.  So, I mean, I wasn’t mad at it at all.  This morning was in the 50s again.  So, that made the 800s feel good.  I used the rest time to lightly jog, because that recovery is important to being ready for that next push.  And with 7 of them on tap, I wanted to be ready.  I ended with 11 miles for the day, with almost perfect 800s right in the middle.  I’ll take it.  Made sure I was properly fueled ahead of this, using the Maurten 160 Drink Mix.  It just works for me.

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Ahhh…recovery run.  The temperature was back up into the 70s this morning.  So, basically 20 degrees warmer than the previous day.  Glad it happened on a recovery run day instead of speed work.  Dodged that bullet.  I just let my legs go however they wanted, while making sure I kept it in recovery mode.  With my long run still looming over the weekend, I didn’t want to overdo anything.  I relaxed, kept my heart rate down, and rounded out the weekday runs with just over 5 miles.  I also did my second day of my additional hip strengtheners because it was the last day I had to work them in.  I try to do them twice a week.  Was surprised I managed this week.

Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!

Second (which is weird for me) rest day of the week.  What did I do?  Slept in.  Seriously.  I even went to bed early the night before.  YAY!!  Took a shower.  Stretched.  Ate breakfast.  Had coffee.  Went to work.  Went out for (MAGIC) sushi for dinner.  Stretched more.  Foam rolled.  Went to bed at 8 pm.  I had an early morning ahead of me and I wanted a full 8 hours of sleep.

Saturday: LONG RUN: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!! AND PRACTICE RADE DAY FUELING STRATEGY.

I was really happy to hear from my friend, Ron, on Friday asking what my run schedule was.  I have two weekend runs, but Saturday was my beast.  22 miles.  My last 20 miler in this series (and my 4th one…the most I have ever done in a training cycle).  Ron was good for 10 miles with me (possibly more), so I made arrangements to meet with him at 7:30 at the Greenway to run.  I got out at 6:15 am to hit the streets and get in 8 miles ahead of those miles with Ron.  It was warm (71 degrees) and humid that morning, but while the sun was down, it wasn’t too bad.  But the moment that sun rose above the clouds, it got hot.  Fast.  Ron and I stuck it out, with the last couple of miles being hard.  But, while he was done, I still had about 4 to go.  And, the route home didn’t have much in the line of shade.  I did practice my race day fueling, knowing exactly how I am going to space out my Maurten 320 Drink Mix and my Maurten 100 Gels.  I have it down and I feel like, as long as it isn’t hot (and it might be) in November…I finally got fueling and hydrating down.  I actually finished off the water in my hydration pack today (which had 2 Nuun tablets in it).  It was a hard run due to heat, but I remain confident and feel strong…and feel that Monumental is shaping up in a good way.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

Being back on a schedule was a glorious thing.  Because, despite having a soccer match on Saturday night (that kept me out later than normal)…I was up and ready to chase my sunrise.  I love having recovery runs on Sunday because I can wake up and head out just as it’s getting light out and the sky is turning gorgeous colors.  I make it up to the park just as the sun is climbing over the lake and it’s…my favorite thing to take in on Sunday.  It was nice not to have a distance run or a run where paces needed to be hit because I really enjoy these runs.  I ran comfortably.  Didn’t push it on the hills.  And got in 5 easy, recovery miles.  Perfect way to wrap up the week.

I do believe that my unofficial, official, untraditional taper now goes into effect.  My coach doesn’t taper the usual way…in fact, while mileage might be down a little, usually it’s the intensity that he takes down a notch.  So…we shall see where we go from here.  Race day keeps creeping closer.  But this week was much easier with an extra day off and sliding back into my usual schedule.

Project BQ – Marathon Training Week #10

dreams-hopes-poster-rhino-treadmill-unicornHoly crap, you guys!!  Can you believe that it’s been 10 weeks of training?  It feels like I’ve been doing this for 2 straight years.  Oh…wait…I haven’t stopped marathon training since I started training for Dopey 2018…which means…September 2017.

That’s two years of, dare I say it, injury-free training.  I mean, yeah…I fell down 3 times, but those were bruises, scrapes and just some minor inflammation.  My training has become smarter, more challenging, a bit more demanding at times…but for 2 years, I have been chasing a time goal and I’m finally ready to hit the mark.

We inch closer.  In fact, next week would have been the marathon I was going to run to attempt a 2020 BQ before changing it over to 2021.  And while its still early, the current temps for Erie look PERFECT.  I will NOT be bitter.

So, let’s jump into this week of training, shall we?

Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

That’s right.  My usual Monday run.  I had heard rumors that we were supposed to have some cooler mornings.  This was not one of them.  It was around 73 degrees.  I wasn’t loving that.  But…it was just an easy, recovery run.  But, it was also supposed to start raining.  With no thunder or lightning on, and the rain light…I just went for it.  Easy pace.  My left hip flexor was still niggling at me from my Thursday treadmill run.  MEH. It didn’t bother me while running though.  I actually, because I run with my watch covered, lost track of my mileage and went one extra mile.  That was not intentional.  But, hey, the easy pace and the misty rain actually felt good so I wasn’t mad at it.  8 miles to start off the week.  I did my extra hip strengthening exercises with my stretches.  And then I met with Corey for a TON of fresh hell training moves that included box jumps.  Box. Jumps.  This girl isn’t much of a jumper.  But, he got me through it all.

Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN – 6-8 MILES – 6-8 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – GOAL 7 MILES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN

Another morning in the low 70s.  MEH.  And I felt like the humidity was back in full swing too.  Oh, and a chance for rain was back as well.  I hate wearing a hat, and here I am starting off my week with a hat on my head to attempt to keep that rain off my face.  I don’t think it even rained at during the time I was out there.  This was the same distance as Monday, but I fell into stride easier.  I felt better rested.  My hip flexor felt a little better.   I ended up with 7.5 easy miles…then got to blast out 0.6 miles of strides.  My first one felt a little stiff, but my legs got moving after that and I managed some 5:00 paces.  LOVE THAT!!  I love it when my legs cooperate with me.   And I felt good afterwards.  But whenever my coach throws strides at me, that means speed work is coming.  And you know…with only one day during the week, that means the weekend holds some paced runs.  OY!  But Tuesday went well, and I fit in the second day of additional hip strengtheners with my morning stretches.

Wednesday: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT

 If you are new to my blog, you might not be familiar with Mona Fartleks.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t either until I started working with Daniel, my coach.  They work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down.  Of all the speed work that I can get assigned during the week, this one is my absolute favorite to do.  I don’t know why.  The intervals work out to be just over 3 miles.  In the end, I end up with 7 miles total.  That being said, my first push felt a little off.  But I soon found my stride, and while it did feel a bit harder this week, I ended up having one of my better attempts at this workout.  The humidity in the air that early in the morning did make that 1 mile push a bit of a struggle.  I finished it up and was thankful to have those cool down miles to reign it in and just polish up the workout.  I was happy with this.  I met with Corey again for my personal training session and he had me working those “fast twitch” muscles.  It was pure hell.  But I made him laugh a few times.  WINNING!

Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.

You are correct, my fellow readers…this is usually my Wednesday run.  But, as I told you…my weekend is pretty stacked as far as long run and workouts go.  So I had an early session and my usual do whatever you want however you feel run…moved to Thursday.  I slept in an extra 30 minutes.  It was glorious.  It was also 57 beautiful degrees this morning.  That, too, was glorious. I loved it.  I loved how good it felt.  My easy pace was actually faster than I thought I was moving.  I loved finding that out at the end too.  I was just going with the flow.  Breathing.  Letting my legs do what they felt while not working too hard.  After all, recovery was still the most important part of this run.  I honestly could have run further.  Longer.  And I would have still felt great.  But I knew I needed to really just get this body recovered for the weekend.  So, I did my usual 4 miles.  My quads were feeling that training with Corey from the day before…so I figured not to press my luck.  But, damn…it felt amazing out there.

Friday:  You know the drill by now.  Friday’s are made for rest.  Friday’s are made for sleeping in.  Friday’s are made for reading.  Stretching.  Eating well.  Getting to bed early.  Except that early bedtime wasn’t happening this time.  After a relaxing morning, and getting through the day at the office…it was the last of the weirdly timed Louisville City FC soccer matches.  Friday night.  MEH.  But, I will show up and cheer and hopefully get enough sleep before attempting my first of 2 paced long runs this weekend.  And for the record…we tied in the soccer match.  It was scrappy.

Saturday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11 – 13 MILES WITH 3 MILE FAST FINISH – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END

I thought I had this one planned out perfectly.  Mindless and a bit challenging throughout, even with the fast finish at the end.  There is a race that does a 5 mile loop near where I live, so I set out to run that twice, and then run fast down the street to the halfway point (this involves some rollers) and then back up (same rollers) to finish it out.  But, what I didn’t count on was that the community park I’d run through would be having some paving done.  Thus, it cut my first loop short at 3.3 miles into the run.  Adjust.  I turned around and ran back the way I came, then set out to run the parking lots at the university before heading back toward my home with the fast finish.  This actually was a perfect morning for running.  It was 71 degrees to start, but there was a lot of cloud cover and a nice breeze.  The fast finish was miscalculated and I needed some extra, so I turned down a nearby road, and into lines of cars from a yard sale going on.  Extra level of difficulty.  I got out of there, made a loop and finished up in the parking lot at my apartments.  I successfully got it done.  My fast finish got a bit faster with each mile, so that’s a win.  Even with the rollers, the hill, and the cars.  Pretty happy with how this one turned out.  It was a perfect morning for a run.  Then, I got to go hang with my friend, Laura, and grab (magic) sushi for dinner.  Setting up for my next challenge the following morning.

Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 1 MILE WU; 3X4 MILES MP; 1 MILE FAST FINISH; 1 MILE CD – TAKE 2-4 MINUTES BASE PACE/RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS AT MARATHON PACE

Seriously, my coach must be trying to kill me.  This is the 5th time he has thrown this workout at me…and this time he added some fresh hell.  The one mile fast finish before the cool down.  OY!!  Thankfully, my friend Ron was feeling the need to be tortured for a little while and said he’d give this workout a try this morning.  We met up at The Parklands and got started after I had a Facetime with a friend of mine who is in the hospital.  I hope to go see her tomorrow and bring her some good vibes and love.  This run was definitely for her.  We started off with an easy warmup and then hit the first set of marathon paces.  He was really good at reining me back when I picked up too fast and after the first interval, he said he felt good enough to go to the turnaround point with me.  So, we started the next interval and made it to the turnaround and was able to hit it once more.  With the sun creeping higher, he warned me that he might fall back on these last intervals.  We started them up, and on a hill, I went and he didn’t.  But he did VERY well running those paces with me and I was so happy to have the distraction.  I turned around at the parking lot to head back out for the last interval, recovery, and fast finish before my cool down.  I turned around at the halfway point. Overall, this run got me a total of 16.75 for the day.  Whew.  It was a hard weekend but I came through it, and definitely NAILED this workout this time.  I am thankful to have the assist from Ron.  It was a HUGE help!

With the labor day weekend upon us, I am totally looking forward to Sunday evening with my friends, Melissa & Paul (and Carrick by default).  We have a tradition of cookouts and just enjoying these long weekends together.  A year ago we were in Hawaii together getting ready to run the Kauai Half Marathon.  And then, tomorrow, off to go visit my friend in the hospital.  Busy weekend.  But I love my friends and love having time with them…under very different circumstances.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, loves!

Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL (October 7, 2018)

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Me heading to the finish line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon – Chicago, IL

Race: Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Place: Chicago, Illinois

Date: October 7, 2018

Time: 3:50:41

Oh, friends…sometimes you dream big.  Bigger than big.  You don’t want to dream big, because you’re scared of failing.  And you don’t want to let people down.  But people keep telling you that your dream is going to happen.  Ace in the hole.  No problem.  Easy as pie. And then those aspirations don’t go the way you planned.  And you feel like a failure.  And it sucks.  But you try not to let it get you down.  But it still sucks.

Welcome…to my Chicago Marathon.

You know, failing to reach a goal does suck.  Some people can just move on.  But I have never been one of those people.  In hindsight…I did a lot of things wrong leading into this race.  For sure.

I repeat…

A LOT.

Instead of flying, Melissa and Paul offered to drive us all up to Chicago from here.  It definitely saved time and airport stress, so we took them up on the offer.  Paul was running via a lottery draw and Melissa did an amazing job raising money for her charity, Team RMHC.  And Cathy…she’s our sherpa, cheerleader, and race mom, as always.  We got a bit of a late start out of Louisville, but we hit the road and were Chicago bound.  At some point, we all figured we needed to eat dinner…and we were in the Indianapolis area…so Cathy got on the Find Me Gluten Free app, and after a sketchy call to a pizza place…we ended up going to…The Tamale Place.

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The Tamale Place on Rockville Rd in Indianapolis, Indiana

We had never been to the Tamale Place before.  But the lady at the register was SUPER nice and super helpful and walked us through the process.  I guess she could tell we were new to the place by the confused look on our faces.  But they have a screen up front that shows what tamales they currently have…and how many.  They had one vegan one…so that was the one I went with.  That just happened to be the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale.  And since I had been wavering between tacos or a tamale, she suggested both.  And who am I to say no?  She obviously knows what she’s talking about, right?  So, I got a Veggie Taco as well with the spicy red sauce.  Because…spicy…duh.  The tortilla for the taco was homemade.  The masa in the tamale was AMAZING.  Everything was really, really good.  Ironically, this would become our dinner stop on the way home too.  I think we’re believers in The Tamale Place.  Also…it makes me think of Tawn.

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Veggie Taco and the Spicy Chipotle Black Bean Tamale from The Tamale Place

We ate our weight in food.  No really.  We did.  In fact, at one point, we were passing around this cup of Elotes.  I couldn’t eat too much of it, because the cheese situation on those were real…but I tried them.  We used the bathroom and then we got back on the road to finish the haul to Chicago.

And so…we pulled up to The Hotel Blake in the pouring rain.  Cathy and Paul had directed Melissa into the bike lane, so the valet guy helped unload us and the luggage before having Melissa move the car.  Some rude taxi driver honked at her and the valet started shouting at him.  It was dark, wet, and just awful that night.  But she got the car where it needed to be and he got her inside.  Cathy got us checked in and we headed toward the elevator with Showtime, our valet.  He had the luggage cart.  We piled into the elevator, and the doors closed, minus the Nolans.  Whoops. So, we decided we would get their stuff into their room, then our stuff into our room and get it sorted.  Showtime asked us, “Why did you make the pregnant lady drive?” Cathy assured him it was better if she was the driver than if she wasn’t.  We got

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The living room area of the King Suite I stayed in. That couch would be important later!

to our floor and headed down the hall.  They were in room 719.  We were room 722.  So we were close.  Cathy and I were staying in a King Suite.  And the Nolans were in a King room.  As we unloaded their luggage, they texted to ask what room they were in.  I went to go get them while Cathy got our stuff into our room.  They met me at the elevator bay and up we went, with me dropping them off.  Cathy said, “You have to see our room.” So…I went inside to scope it out and we texted to invite the Nolans over as well to hang.  But I think they were ready to crash because they never made it over and we eventually went to bed.  But the room was amazing.  Big ass couch.  Chairs.  Dining area.  Microwave.  Fridge.  Garden tub.  Shower.  Fit for the princess that I am.

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Meli Cafe’s Tofu Scrambler, Fruit Cup and Coffee.

The following morning, we all met up for breakfast at Meli Cafe, which is just off the lobby of The Hotel Blake.  It’s convenient…so we ate their regularly.  Cathy and I went and got a table and started to peruse the menu and drink some coffee.  My best friend from my childhood was coming in that morning and once she arrived and dropped her stuff in the room, we were all going to take the shuttle bus to the expo.  But we definitely needed to fuel up for the day.  I ended up ordering the Tofu Scrambler, which is sautéed broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, roasted red peppers, and organic tofu in a giant bowl.  Since they didn’t have a gluten-free bread option, I subbed for a small bowl of fruit instead.  It was delicious.  And filling.  And not too spicy (because the day before the race is one day you really want some bland food)…even if I added a couple dashes of hot sauce.  We ate.  We went up to the room and hung out.  And Heather arrived while I was in the bathroom.  So I came out and immediately hugged her.  It was amazing to have her in Chicago for me again.

Next stop: THE EXPO!!IMG_2848

The Abbott Health & Fitness Expo is probably the largest and best expo I have ever been to.  I have done this one twice, and it’s just…endless and amazing.  But first stop is always…race bib.  We had to take a short walk a couple of blocks down to the Hilton Chicago and got on the bus. Most of the seats that were left were in the back.  Melissa gets car sick, so we just prayed it was a smooth ride.  It wasn’t a long ride and we made note of the Green Stop being where we needed to return to in order to get back to the Hilton to get back to our hotel.

We went inside…and immediately I got swept up in that race expo bliss.  There were a few photo ops before I had to show my participant info to the security people in order to get in and get my race bib and the info for where to get my t-shirt.  It was an easy exchange and after I got this…we decided to branch off from Paul and Melissa so we could all get our necessary things done.  I had one thing I wanted at the race expo…the Newton Chicago Edition shoes.  Because…NEWTONS.  CHICAGO.  YES!  But first…I needed to get my t-shirt and check the size to be sure that I was happy with the fit.  As I was trying it on, my friend AmyLee messaged me to say she was there.  She said she would come find me at the t-shirt area.  And…she did!!  It was great to hug her and wish her luck and just sit and talk about life and catch up.  She’s amazing.  And…she’s doing the Galloway Method…which I totally respect and believe in, as the run/walk intervals helped me have a strong finish during the marathon at Dopey Challenge at Disney World in January.

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Me and AmyLee at the Chicago Marathon Expo!

We had to part ways eventually, and I had my sites set…on the Newton booth.  Cathy had already scoped it out and so…I skipped the first few aisles just to go and get these shoes that I NEEDED.  WANTED.  NEEDED.

Trust me.  I needed them.  And, one of the guys working the booth was my friend, Dan’s, friend.  And Cathy already had talked to him and he was ready for me.  He brought out my size in the Chicago edition shoes…and…yeah…they came home with me.  And I wear them.  A lot.  They’re amazing.  And with that done…it was time to shop, sample, and spend more money.

And I did.  I picked up the Shefit Sports Bra, which I sadly ended up returning due to it chafing me up really bad on two runs.  But the customer service was super nice and very helpful.  I got 6 BondiBands.  Heather got me three of them as a birthday present, because she’s amazing like that. All of the ones she got me had purple in them.  And they totally suited me.  Totally.  I bout more Nuun (of course) and I got a water bottle with it.  And I am totally hooked on their Immune flavors now.  I popped one of my tubes open for Heather while we strolled the expo.  It was their Energy one.  Her favorite.  And hydration is important.

There were photo ops everywhere.  And snacks.  Snacks just being handed to you.  And

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Here’s to finish lines!

opportunities to win free passes to the Shedd Aquarium (we didn’t…none of us).  We did win those stainless steel straws though.  So, hey, reusable straws.  We zigzagged our way down each aisle, stopping at the booths that interested us and making note so, if necessary, we could come back.  We honestly made an initial sweep and then returned to booths if we wanted to try something or if we were interested in the product.

After some time of doing this. we texted the Nolans. They were in aisle 200 (I think there were 900 aisles, maybe 800).  We figured they were probably wrapping stuff up like we were.  I wanted to stop by Nike Official Merch (NOT IMPRESSED THIS YEAR!) and also hit up the Abbott area as well.  They had a TON of things going on, including the big treadmill you might have seen where you try to match Kipchoge’s marathon pace at Berlin for as long as you can.  I would have LOVED to have done it, but not the day before the race.  That sounds like an injury waiting to happen.  But I did do the thing where you run across this special floor and it feeds you information about your stride and speed.  It compares your stride to an elite’s stride.

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My stats from the Abbott Booth at the Chicago Marathon Expo

Mine is WAY shorter.  And it calculates your marathon pace if you could maintain that short sprint speed they measured.  It was fun.  But I am thankful for the guy at the end whose job it was to catch people.  We all would have hit the booth wall, and probably take them down in the process.

Once I was certain that I honestly shouldn’t spend any more money…because Roll Recovery, Shefit, Newton, Nuun, BondiBand…and a couple others got my money this time around…we checked in with the Nolans again.  They were now in Aisle 300 at the CEP Booth.  This was when we realized they were just starting the great expo dive…so we went over there to help them shop for compression and I spotted Goodr next door, which Melissa is a big fan of, despite the tendency of the lenses to flake and scratch.  I had been on my feet already longer than I expected and we still needed to get Heather and her stuff over to her hotel.  So, we offered to take any bags that they wanted to ditch so they wouldn’t have to haul them around.  We also changed dinner plans.  Melissa really wanted to go to her charity dinner…which is fine.  I really wanted to go to a place just outside the city proper, Da Luciano’s, which has a gluten free menu as big as the regular menu (honestly, it was my one requirement on this trip), so we compromised and said we’d go as a celebration after the race.  We left them to continue their expo explorations and do the charity stuff, while we hopped the shuttle back to the Hilton and then back to hotel.  We dropped off stuff, grabbed Heather’s stuff and went to hop the Blue Line (I think) to her area of the city.  She was staying at a very nice hotel, but it was a walk to get to the train, and then a walk to get to the hotel.  Reverse it after we hung in her room for a moment to head back to our neck of the woods to grab some Garrett Popcorn, pre-dinner, and then make our way to our new dinner idea…the impromptu dinner at…Brightwok Kitchen.

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Fall In Love Stir Fry Bowl and Sweet & Sour Pickles from Brightwok Kitchen – Chicago.

I first discovered Brightwok while I was in Chicago to see Hamilton.  Cathy and I had gotten out of our show and we were STARVING. Everything there is gluten-free and dairy-free.  And the food is phenomenal.  So…I couldn’t complain too much.  It wasn’t what I had hoped to be eating the night before the marathon, but it was a good supplement.

I ended up getting the Fall In Love Stir-fry Bowl.  Fall in Love is Fall 5-Spice, Brown Rice, Carrots, Peppers, Local Zucchini, Butternut Squash, and a Sweet Potato Fritter.  It usually comes with Local Chicken, but being that I’m a vegetarian, I had them add the tofu, I think.  I actually claimed the last sweet potato fritter, so, as Heather got the same thing as me, I split it with her, because…necessary.  I also got a side of their Sweet & Sour Pickles (which are AMAZING).  Seriously, I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t like.  After that…we parted ways.  Heather went back to her hotel…Cathy and I returned to ours.  We started to lay out everything for the following day so it wouldn’t be a madhouse trying to get out the door on time.  My plan was to hopefully be in bed by 9 pm. I think, after having some downtime and the Nolans over for taping and necessary race pep talks…it was closer to 10 pm.  Lights out.  Because the next morning…it was time to run Chicago!

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Me dressed and ready to run the Chicago Marathon!

Race morning.  The usual routine.  First alarm.  Get up for the meds I need to take.  Go back to bed.  Second alarm.  Get up and actually become a functioning member of society…go to the bathroom, change into race gear, check weather, eat something, check weather, brush teeth, put hair in pigtails, check weather…you get the drill.

Heather arrived to leave her bag in our room and to head to the start line with us.  I got a text from Melissa saying she wanted to hug me before we headed out (I was in Wave 1 and had to get to my Gate really early)…and she was reapplying some iron-on symbols to her race shirt from her charity that she was running for.  She had a different gate and was in the wave after me.  So…we swung into her room (me wearing an attractive big garbage bag because I didn’t want to be soaked if I was going to be out in the rain that was predicted) and we hugged and wished each other a good, safe race.  She told me to have fun.  I loved her for that.  We left and took the elevator down to the lobby to head out the door to make the walk to the start.  We had to get over to Grant Park.  They could take me as far as my gate…which was Gate 2, before security check.  We stood there for a moment, and they told me I was going to be fine and I would be great and to have fun and enjoy the run.  That’s what friends do.  I really wished I had been in better shape…but, you just do what you can with what you have.  We took some selfies…and then hugged…and then they put me in the LONG line to get into Grant Park by way of Gate 2.

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Cathy, Me, and Heather at Gate 2 at the Chicago Marathon

And that…was where I stood…for a very, very long time.  Barely moving.  Just a short trudge here and there, waddling up bit-by-bit.  Glance to the left…and Gate 1 was just moving easily.  Look to the right…and Gate 3 had traffic moving freely.  Gate 2…was at an absolute standstill.  And every runner there was basically in Wave 1 and needing to be in their corral.  And yet…we stood.

At least it wasn’t raining…yet.  Not yet.  But, we who were left to stand there and shuffle slowly forward were about to go into panic mode.  We couldn’t understand why this gate wasn’t moving.  And panic was setting in for me.  Usually I would have stretched more…and taken my time eating the banana I brought with me…perhaps use the bathroom near the corrals…but nope. Finally they had runners who didn’t need to check bags get into a separate line (that was me), and while it still moved slowly, it got us through.  And then the panic speed walk began for everyone.  Because to get to Corral C & D, you had to go behind the other corrals to a separate entrance.  And at this point…the National Anthem was being sung, quite beautifully, but I couldn’t enjoy it.  I was trying to make it to Corral D so I could start on time.  Panic and adrenaline was setting in.

I did learn one thing from standing forever in that line at the gate.  Count the kilometers, not miles.  There are more of them, so you feel like you are getting places faster.  Nice trick.  But I digress…

I got into the corral with 1 minute to spare before they closed it.  I quickly shed my trash bag and the half-zip I had worn to keep warm, as I was in a crop top and shorts for this one.  The start temperature was warm…almost 60 degrees…but rain was coming and so were some rather steady winds.  The announcers said all the names of the elite field that were running and the corrals would cheer for each name.  And then…they sent off the first wave.

IMG_2925To the song Sweet Home Chicago.

After the initial walk to the start line, we could see it grow closer and closer and soon the walk became a job and soon the jog became the run over the start mat and under the starting gate.  I was off.  For my second ever Chicago Marathon.  A race that was so magical for me in 2013.

This experience, however, was going to be a lot different.  Because mistakes were made throughout the race as well.  I was relieved to start without the rain, and while I knew that it wouldn’t be kept at bay, I was hoping that it would hold off longer than it actually did.  The first couple of miles were pretty dry.  But as I headed into Mile 3…the rain began.  I also knew that Cathy and Heather were going to try to catch me before I hit Mile 3…so pretty much just before the bridge.  And I spotted them thanks to Heather’s purple jacket.  She was SO easy to spot.  I gave a wave and a smile, feeling absolutely strong at this point and continued on…knowing I wouldn’t see them again until Mile 13.

I should mention here that I really just wanted to run by feel for this race.  Go out and have fun.  Enjoy.  And to make sure that I wouldn’t check my watch and fuss over my pace, I set it to only show me the time.  The clock face.  No pace.  No distance.  None of it.  Not even time elapsed.  And I never once looked at my watch the entire race.  Nor did I make not of the clocks along the course.  But this is where I may have faltered.  I ran the first 12-14 miles on pace for my goal for this race.  But…it got a lot harder than I anticipated at Mile 10.  Mile 10 is not a good place to have your legs start feeling like lead.  I pressed on, hoping that maybe the flat course was affecting them, so I hoped they would wake back up.  They didn’t.

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Heading into Mile 13 at the Chicago Marathon. I am not having as much fun as it looks like I am.

I took Honey Stinger gels at Mile 6 and Mile 12…and pressed on.  I did see Cathy and Heather around Mile 13.  I spotted them and waved as I went by…I think I managed a smile, but I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as I had when they saw me 10 miles previously.  I managed to press on through the screams and amazing people at Soul City Church, who were rocking Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” as we ran through.  But that, friends…is where it got hard.

The rain never seemed to stop.  Most of my race was in this annoying drizzle.  And with the winds coming on strong too…I was getting cold.  And…by Mile 15, I started my run/walk method that got me through Dopey.  Not systematic though.  I’d guess on how long I was walking and push as long as I could handle a run…and repeat.  It was hard.  And it was breaking me.  I could tell my little goal I had set was going to get away from me…and fast.  But now…now it was about getting to that finish line.

As we went into Mile 16, a female runner slightly ahead of me, started to slow and wobble to the side of the road.  Her legs were like Jello.  It was too early for that…so I was glad I was listening to my body and easing back, despite not reaching expectations everyone had for me performance-wise.  It was scary to see.  I kept with the run/walk method as I ticked off a few more miles.  No intervals…just as much as I could run, I would.  And then I would count (for the most part) to 30 in my head before I would try again.  Around Mile 20…there was a runner down on the corner, covered in jackets, with police officers around them.  Another scary moment.  Especially as I am pressing on just to finish these last 6 miles.

I managed to pick it up a little bit for the next mile…but slowed back down.  Mile 24 was the only one where I hit the 10s (although some of my 9 minute paces were close).  I don’t know what happened there.  But I gave myself the pep talk.  2 miles.  20 minutes.  I could do anything for 20 minutes.  Even if it was at a run/walk.

The last two miles seemed to come and go…until I hit that hill at Mile 26.  This hill takes you up an exit ramp and then you head down to the finish line, back inside Grant Park.  I won’t lie.  I walked this hill.  It got me.  This entire race got me.  I got inside my head.  I let expectations weigh me down.  I didn’t follow a good routine.  So, yeah, this hill bested me.  But I made the last turn and I said I would run it in…no matter what.  So I picked it up.  And as I was running, I spotted Heather and Cathy…screaming their heads off for me as I ran past them and headed toward that finish line.  I had no idea what my time was…my pace…none of it.  It stopped my Garmin…and looked.  3:50.  And change.  I was WAY off.  But I knew it.  I knew that would happen by Mile 10.  Was I still disappointed?  You bet!

I made my way through the finishers area, grabbing that famous Finish Line Beer, which I can’t drink, but I promised Melissa and Paul that I would pick one up.  They had to open it though…so as I went past Buckingham Fountain and further into the park to where we exited for Runners Reunite…I had to dump it out.  But I could keep the can.  I immediately headed for the letter X…it’s the assigned meeting spot for myself and my friends as NO ONE is ever at X and EVERYONE is at B.  But as I made the long walk, I noticed neither Cathy nor Heather were there.  I stayed there for awhile…then made my way up to B…because perhaps they forgot.  They weren’t there either.  So, back to X I went.  And then I got lightheaded.  I quickly sat down on the boards holding up the inflatable X and held on.  My vision was going black.  I was shivering and cold.  I wanted to get back to the hotel.  I wanted my friends.

Once I stopped having my vision go black and knew I could stand, I slowly did and made my way over to the curb…where I sat down and huddled my mylar blanket around my body.  And shivered.  And that’s where they found me.

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Me after finishing the Chicago Marathon

I stood up and they came and gave me hugs and a rose and a stuffed bear.  I started to cry a little.  I have the best friends.

Cathy asked me if I wanted to do anything in the finish line area.  I told her I just wanted to go back to the hotel and get warm.  So, Heather took my rose and I snuggled with my bear and under my mylar and they walked me back to the hotel.  We got inside and up to the room.  And they were gracious enough to help me out of my shoes, socks, compression and my crop top.  I stayed in the rest while Heather went to start a hot shower for me.

I got cleaned up and put on some fresh, warm clothes and went to sit down on the couch.  Cathy said the last check in with Melissa and Paul was the half, but she got a message that they were behind pace, the mats were being pulled up, and that they would keep us informed of their progress.  Cathy went and got me warm coffee and I tried to eat some things, but my stomach wasn’t ready for food.  Not yet.  I hydrated as much as I could with my stomach being off…and we sat and watched some television, talking, laughing, checking in with Melissa and Paul.  Cathy had me put my feet up on some pillows and she covered me with my hoodie and the blanket from the bed.  I was toasty warm now.  Paul texted to see if we could grab some snacks and drinks from the charity hospitality tent, and since we all had wristbands…we could.  But neither Heather nor I wanted to move.  So…Cathy went and grabbed as much as she could.

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Me trying to warm up after some hypothermia action at the Chicago Marathon

When we got word that they were at Mile 24…I put on my shoes and jacket and we all made our way down to the finish line area.  Security wasn’t letting people through at first, but after some women sneaked inside, the woman said, “I’m a volunteer, I’m done.”  And she walked off.  And so…we walked in.

We waited patiently at the finish, with me moving around as much as possible.  When the gates started to come down, we got even closer, moving up toward Buckingham Fountain.  We took some time to take photos of the fountain until we got word that they had finished.  We tried to direct them to a street, but Melissa’s calves had pretty much cramped up at Mile 6 and she was done.  We were going to them.

We found them…Melissa on the ground, shivering, and Paul trying to rub her calves and feet.  Poor thing!  It was crazy miserable in the rain and then the winds, so if I was this bad off…I couldn’t imagine how she felt.  Plus…pregnancy doesn’t help her either.  I knew Heather wanted to catch dinner before she had to get to the airport, so we changed dinner plans again…and moved everything to Meli Cafe again.  Which was fine.  It was closer and less hassle for sure.  But with Da Luciano’s being closed on Mondays…this meant I once again was missing my chance to eat there.  Next time…it’s happening.  Because I will make it happen.  Heather and I went to drop off things at their room and head down to dinner.  We told our waitress we’d be coming in waves.  Cathy got Melissa up and moving and she said that she was meeting us at Meli Cafe…to which Melissa said, “I could eat.”  So…YAY!!  At least the whole gang would be there to celebrate.

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Me with my Chicago Marathon medal and jacket at Buckingham Fountain

Cathy joined us first…then the Nolans.  I was just finishing up when they got their food, but it meant I could walk Heather up to get her stuff and take her outside of the hotel to give her hugs and tell her to have a safe trip back to Minnesota.  She had a flight to catch.  I went back inside to sit with my friends and just reveled in what we all accomplished.  We pushed ourselves even when things got hard.  Even when they seemed impossible.  And we all finished.  Safely.

After we ate, we hit the lobby for a couple of photo ops and then headed back upstairs to rest and recover.  We hung out in our room, watching Food Network and just talking and drinking water/cider.  It was the perfect way to close it out.

So…the official results of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are that I finished in 3:50:41.  Definitely nowhere near what I had hoped.  BUT…I will follow with my conclusions on that in a moment.  I was the 11156 finisher overall.  The 2941 female to finish.  And I was 566 in my age division.  Not bad, considering over 43,000 runner signed up for this.

So…what mistakes did I make?

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Finishers…Friends!

I was on my feet way too much the day before the race.  I didn’t fuel as I would have liked and tried a different method…the day before the race.  I think my marathon paced runs killed me the weeks leading into the race as well.  I let expectations get to me.  I didn’t let my watch tell me to SLOW DOWN (I think that was my biggest error).  I didn’t dress for the weather that was moving in.  I probably should have fueled more than I did. I did every 6 miles…I am going to work on putting that closer and more frequent.  And…I told myself I wasn’t fit enough so I went into it believing I wasn’t fit enough.  And there are more…but I won’t dwell on it now.

I finished…I made it.  My friends finished.  They made it.  We all were safe.  We all did the best we could with our circumstances.  We may not have lived up to our own expectations, but dammit…we at least tried that day.  We at least got out there and gave it what we had.

Chicago…maybe one day I’ll be back.  But for now, I have other fall marathons to tackle.  You were a great learning experience.  And I know…if I keep trying, I’ll reach my goal.

Your Pace or Mine (And Why You Shouldn’t Care)

comparisonOne of the best pieces of advice I have ever received as a runner…was to stop posting my Garmin face post-run with distance and time.  Stop putting my splits up on social media for others to see.  While a lot of times, this garnishes so many LIKES and compliments…it also, honestly, is no one’s business what my run looked like that day.  And, sometimes, it can also bring about negativity…or pressure to perform.

How often do we do this to ourselves?  We go for a run.  We feel good during the run.  Or maybe we don’t.  Maybe the run feels hard, but we’re pushing.  And we’re just giving it all we have (I don’t recommend doing this for every run you do, btw).  And when we’re done, we click that stop button on our watch and check our time…

And how often does that time…or overall pace…determine for YOU…whether that run was a “good run” or a “bad run?”

Hey…I’ve been guilty of this myself.

When a run feels hard and it should be easy…guess what…you’re probably running too hard.

When you feel good through your entire run, but then stop your watch and are disappointed with your overall pace…guess what…you have forgotten the golden rule of…easy runs should be easyhard runs should be hard…and BOTH are important.  You probably did this run perfectly…you felt good…but your Garmin spouts off an average that makes you feel inadequate.

Why?

So many people play that social media comparison game.  Just because one person can easily crack off 7 minute (or less) minute miles, everyday, for most distances….doesn’t mean that you have to be able to do that too.  That’s the great thing about being a human being.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  And guess what?!  OUR ABILITIES ARE ALL DIFFERENT!!

Am I screaming at you?  Yes!!  Because I often get told that someone doesn’t think they need to recover as much as I do because I run so much faster than them.  Well, my 8 minute mile might be just as hard to me as their 10 minute mile is to them.  The effort is equal…the paces are different.  But someone’s slow will always be someone else’s fast.  And it’s a serious problem if you are judging your worth and your fitness or your place in the running community based off of how fast your legs move to propel you forward.

And social media has done nothing more than take all of this insecurity and elevated the comparison game to new heights.  It is great to motivate people…but your paces and your miles logged don’t really do that.  WORDS do that. Examples do that.  Just because you can run that 6:XX mile tempo, doesn’t mean that I can.  And expecting me to be able to isn’t right too.  Telling me that you’re an extreme runner, or getting it done right, doesn’t make me feel good about my 8:xx tempo of the same distance that day…probably less consistent than yours.  Your Garmin watch face…your split times…your average pace…that does have the power to motivate…and inspire…but it also can really get into people’s heads.

And let’s talk about burnout.  So many times…these “extreme” runners that consistently post these fast times in training often burnout or hit a wall…when it counts most.  On race day.

Sure, it might seem fun to post your 7:XX mile runs during training, every day, no rest days, no days off, but when you end up sidelined with an injury, or your marathon times don’t match up to your training runs, or you hit a wall…hard…at Mile 21, those social media brags and posts will have been in vain.

Let’s face it…an 8:20 pace is not easy if your marathon pace is an 8:30.

IT. IS. THAT. SIMPLE.

Whether you consider yourself a speed demon, a middle-of-the-packer, or a back-of-the-packer…ultimately…the comparison game will only bring you unnecessary stress.

And that’s why, my friends, my Instagram posts don’t show off my pace, my distance, my stats, my splits…because that is for me to know and for me to work on.  Not for anyone else to cast judgement on or to compare themselves to.  We’re all different.  We all run different.  We all train different.  But in the end…I’m not here to set a precedent for anyone but myself.

Comparison is the thief of joy…and I’m not looking for anything but happiness out on the roads right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have my goals and am actively pursuing them the best I know how to.  After all, happiness is definitely a goal worth pursuing.

Real Talk About Disappointment

I heard it so many times…

“You’ve got this in the bag.”

“There is no way you’re not going to Boston Qualify.”

“The only way you won’t BQ is if you get hit by a car.”

“Look at what you did at Dopey…this one will be easy!”

ALL. THE. WORDS.

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And while I appreciate that people have confidence and faith in me…there were a few things I was contending with…

I didn’t have a coach or…technically…a plan starting in August, when marathon training was really getting heavy.  I figured it out by turning back to an old training plan from 2013 and making adjustments.

I didn’t feel like I was in shape, personally, for my goal.  After all, my longest run in my training plan didn’t go well at all.  It ended with me walking my last 1.3 miles of it to hit the mileage and almost passing out thanks to the heat.  Let me tell you, that really did little to boost my confidence at all going into the taper and the race itself.

I still feel out of shape.

And…disappointed.

With myself.  With letting those who believed in me down.  For not doing what others did that day.  For feeling like an absolute failure every time I hear the success stories of those who ran the same race at me…but achieved their goals.  For letting myself down.

Maybe I didn’t want it enough.  Maybe running without my watch telling me pace and distance was a mistake.  Maybe I didn’t spend enough time off my feet the day before.  Maybe I didn’t fuel right that day or at dinner the night before.  Maybe I didn’t wear the right thing for the weather.  Maybe I didn’t fuel enough during.  Maybe…maybe…maybe.

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Excuses?  Reasons?  Justifications?

It doesn’t undo how much it hurt to know that I didn’t achieve a goal that I was told was going to be so easy for me to get this time.  It doesn’t undo the fact that I ran a marathon in January an entire minute faster after running a 5K, 10K, and half marathon in the 3 days leading up to it.  It stings.  It hurts.

I am very proud of my finish, please don’t get me wrong.  But it feels like such a let down because, while I wasn’t actively proclaiming my goals from the rooftops…I carried all these high hopes with me.  They drove me.  They pushed me.  And in the end…I still came up short.  By a bigger margin than it should have been.

And that’s a hard pill to swallow at times.

Still.

Even today.

I am okay with how my race turned out…but I’m not satisfied.  And I’m not happy.  I know, just like everyone who told me, that I have at least one more BQ in me.  It just wasn’t this race.  It wasn’t my time.  And it’s okay for me to not be okay with it.  But it’s not okay for me to dwell on it.  Or to let disappointment hold me back.

After all…I still have goals to meet.

I am proud of every finish line because, ultimately, my goal is always to finish.  Sometimes it feels easy…and sometimes it’s a struggle.  I still believe every struggle and every shortcoming is a learning experience and something to grow from and improve on.  So, while it didn’t happen this time…and perhaps might not happen next time, I’m driven and striving to get there and make it happen.  I know it will.  I’ll chip away until I reach that goal.

For everyone who believed in me then…believe in me now.  I’m not done yet.

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