Thursday, May 31, 2012

Non-Runner Related Things

Let's just say I'm a little irritated with my inability to run well right now.  So with that, instead of spending a whole blog post whining and crying about it, I'll switch things over to some other things going on right now!  Yes, I do have a life outside of running, contrary to what some people may think.

1. Summer Hours - We get summer hours at this job.  And they are the best out of any summer hours I've ever gotten at any job.  Starting next Friday, as long as our work is done, we can leave at noon!  For the entire summer!  Sweet!!  I'm planning trips to museums and beaches!  Frankly I like to go to the beach in Indiana but if it's a Friday afternoon and just a L-ride beach it will be!

Pulled from Internet - Picture of Oak Street Beach
2.  My nephew Tony is coming in from Ohio for a month!  If anyone knows me, they know I love my nephew (and lived with him until he was 12).  He moved to Ohio when he was about 14.  Unfortunately, I work and so can't spend every waking moment with him.  And rudely, other people want to see him too!  Guess I'm not the only one that loves him! 

My nephew and I in April 2011 (he has it as his profile picture on fb...awww!!  He loves his Aunt!)

New picture my nephew took of himself because he got a much needed haircut!
3.  There is a new roller coaster at Six Flags Great America!!  And it looks awesome!!  My nephew just had knee surgery but unfortunately luckily he was walking by the end of that week.  I did mention to him before that though that maybe we could take advantage of it and get a wheelchair and ride all the coasters right away instead of waiting in long lines for hours for the good ones (hello....Raging Bull!!  Best roller coaster ever!).  However, it does not appear that we will be able to abuse the system take advantage of his knee surgery and if we want to go on the new ride, will probably have to wait in a line upwards of two hours!  I am not a fan of that at all...

New Six Flags Coaster in Gurnee, IL

X-Flight picture pulled from Internet
It's a winged coaster and everything about it looks cool!  I'm a total thrill ride junkie and my nephew has become my partner in crime.  We go on vacations and hit up baseball parks and amusement parks.  I'm still a kid at heart!  I really want to go on this ride!!

4. I've been drinking more water than I have in the past 6 months!  This is a very good thing as my lack of proper hydration probably contributed to some of my injuries the past training season (which I am not talking about in this post).  This holds 24 ounces of water but I think because of the straw, it's really easy to keep on my desk and just keep sipping out of.  I've been drinking about 3 of these at work alone. 

My new water bottle for work
5.  My mom's neighbor wants me to house sit/dog sit for her again (3rd year).  I do not mind staying at her house at all.  But I don't know if anyone knows what happened last year when I was there!!

Eeeekkkk!!!!!!  This was a problem that evening for about an hour!
If you know know I do not like large bugs!  Especially when I don't know what they are.  I was paralyzed with fear over this thing.  Then I LOST it!!  OMG!!!  Then I found it and tried to kill it with the very large book I was reading at the time.  It wouldn't die!!!  It was awful!  I finally killed it and the world was a much better place.

**Do you have any non-runner related things you are excited about or that are coming your way during the summer?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Soldier Field 10 - Race Recap

Every Memorial Day weekend, I run the Ridge Run in Beverly.  They have a 5k and a 10k.  I've run this since 2004 and started with running the 5k and then graduated to running the 10k the last several years.  It's a fun run in the neighborhood of Beverly and the whole community gets involved.  This run is always on Memorial Day, which I why I've never done the Soldier Field 10 mile run.  The Soldier Field 10 mile run is always the Saturday right before Memorial Day.  And I never really wanted to run 10 miles and two days later run a 10k (although it was pointed out that I could run the 5k...maybe another time).

This year I decided to change things up.  After talking to my runner friend Mike (who I dated a little in the beginning of the year), I decided to do the Soldier Field run.  He has done it the last several years (and runs it in about 1:10!!) and he loves it and others that have done it have always said good things.

The run starts outside of Soldier Field and runs South 5 miles and comes back to the stadium where you run through the tunnel the Bears players run through out onto the field and they show you on the jumbotron and you finish on the 50 yard line.  I thought "Ok, sounds fine...I don't know what all the hubbub (technical term) is about." 

I rode in with some of my Yankee Runner friends, Shelby and Curtis, on the Metra Electric train.  The run started at 7:00 so we had to get on the train at about 5:30 am, which meant I had to get up at 4:20!  Sometimes I wonder why I do this!  I hate getting up early, but anything for a run, I guess!  Shelby was having some stomach problems while we were on the train and really started panicking and not feeling well.  We finally made it to the Stadium and I went to gear check and to use the bathroom while Shelby and Curtis tried to figure out Shelby's issues.  I really felt bad for Shelby and she said she wasn't going to run.  I was hoping she would change her mind (this was their first time doing this run also).  When I finally met back up with Curtis in the start corral, he said that Shelby isn't running.  I was hoping she would change her mind and end up running.

Outside of the stadium before the run.  (I stole this photo)...I was too worried about my friend to take any pictures.
Curtis is typically a faster runner than I am (I was figuring he would try to run a 9+ pace).  I was only planning on running a 10:30 average pace by the finish.  I've been having some breathing problems while running and struggle to run more than 2 miles at a time (sometimes running only half mile before walking during the runs).  So after almost half hour of waiting in the corral before we were able to start, I told Curtis to have a good run, since I figured we wouldn't be running together.  The start was crowded!  The path was small.  I wasn't going to weave around anyway.  I figured it didn't matter to me as I wasn't trying to be any times and was going to run easy anyway.  I've never run a 10 mile run before so it would be a PR for me anyway! lol.

As with so many Chicago runs, we usually run North and there is a viaduct we run under where all garmins and GPS devices lose signal, in which case it screws everything up on your watch for the remainder of the run!  I wasn't thinking this would happen since we were running South, but of course, right away we ran under the tunnel at McCormick Place and sure enough...we lose signal.  Damn Chicago!!  It doesn't matter to me since I was running easy but I still would like accurate results!  I skipped the first water station at mile 1.5 and figured the second was around mile 3 and maybe I could just run there before walking.  But after 2 miles, I was really struggling with my breathing and was trying to push through to mile 3.  It's really frustrating for me to be having these problems with breathing because my body feels fine (after all those injuries).  And I haven't had to walk this much during runs in years!  Even when I was more overweight, I could run 6 miles without walking, or even more....running 9 miles at a half marathon before walking at a water stop).

I was trying to push through and not walk until the water stop at mile 3 until we came to a uphill around 2.5.  I forgot to mention, the course is an out and back course...kind of.  We go out but are running on Lakeshore Drive and on the way back, we are running on the Lakefront path.  So since we were on Lakeshore Drive, we would sometimes have to run up the exit ramps and things like that.  So when I came to that uphill exit ramp around mile 2.5, I decided to run up half of it and walk up the rest.  And I stopped again to get water and gatorade at the mile 3 aid station.  I was trying to make my walking breaks short, just enough to catch my breath and then start running.

I was actually running fast the first 3 miles.  I was running about 9:30-9:50 and kept trying to slow up my pace.  But with the walk breaks, I was running about a 10 min pace.  Over the next several miles, I would try to run as long as possible but usually not more than 1 mile without having to walk for 20-30 seconds.  By mile 6, I was running about a 10:10 average pace.  I was kind of impressed with that since I was giving myself an expected finish pace of about 10:30 by the end.  At this point, I was more than half done and was way below that.  I then started to get a little competitive and thought maybe I could finish better than 10:30 (maybe even close to 10:15-10:18?).  But I lost a lot of time between 6-7.5.  And when we turned the corner to come back at mile 5 (running along grass uphill to make the turnaround), the wind really picked up since we were now right next to the lake.

I stopped at a water stop at mile 7 and had to stop again at 7.5.  How frustrating this is becoming!  By the way, check out the photo I took at the mile 7 water stop.  I decided what's 30 seconds to stop and take a beautiful photo!

Chicago is a beautiful city - sometimes you have to stop and admire the beauty!

I knew Maggie from MagMileRunner was working the water station at mile 8.7.  So after I walked at mile 7.5, I thought I just needed to get to Maggie.  In my head I thought I would need to stop again at about 8.25 but when 8.25 came I just thought, "Maggie is close, I don't have to walk, just get to Maggie."  That actually was my chant from mile 7.5 to mile 8.7... "Just get to Maggie!  Just run to Maggie!"  lol.  It actually worked because even thought I was going to have to stop beforehand, I didn't.  And when I saw Maggie at the aid station, I stopped to walk, grabbed my water and gatorade and then started running again.  Thanks Maggie!  I totally helped and we all appreciate you helping out!

Now it was mile 8.7.  The finish is mile 10.  I thought, "Just run to the finish."  Even though in my mind again, I thought I might have to stop at mile 9.25.  But in mile 9 I thought, I can run the last mile!  I shouldn't have to walk.  So I did.  I just decided not to walk.  I wasn't going to collapse.  I knew I could finish.  I even tried sprinting a little bit but I was having trouble breathing so decided to stop that!

Right around this time, I saw a camera guy and remembered that I said before..."The next time I run a race, I'm going to do a "Kelly" pose at the camera!"  The Kelly pose (Kelly from Running Kellometers) is throwing your arms up in the air and smiling at the camera.  I never do that.  I hate all camera people while running because 9 times out of 10, I look miserable in the pictures.  But hey, I said I was going to do it and dammit, I was going to do it!  So throw up my hands, I did!  I may not have smiled though, not sure.  My Kelly pose needs practice.  (See examples of the Kelly pose here).

And then we were running alongside the stadium.  And still running along the stadium.  Geez!  Where were we going in at! Finally we turned the corner and inside we went (where of course we lost all signal on the garmin...again!).  As we ran through and I saw the exit to the tunnel and ran onto the field, I looked around...ok, this was pretty cool!  I saw the jumbotron.  I saw all the seats in the stadium.  I smiled for a minute.  Oh, and of course, did my Kelly pose as I finished!  I feel stupid doing the Kelly pose. lol.

I found Curtis and he said he had just finished too.  Come to find out, he finished about 50 seconds before me.  He ended up slower than normal because he did speedwork the day before.  So I told him to do speedwork every time before a race so that I have a chance to beat him!  He said we should have just run together and would have had more fun!

We got our medals and our football blankets and met up with Shelby.  I had a fun time.  Not sure if I will do this race again though.  I may do it once more just to beat my time.  Need to earn the PR!  My official time was 1:44:48 with an average pace of 10:29.  Wow!  I came close!  I wanted to finish under 10:30 and under a time of 1:45.  Guess that was mission accomplished!  My watch said 10:20 pace but with it losing signal twice, that makes sense.

The medal.  Pretty cool and definitely different from all the rest!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Feeling Fatigued?

Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps and extremely tired (more than my normal). I was pretty blue about things. I was trying to focus on positives by removing negatives. I also mentioned that I had blood tests taken because I had a feeling that I was anemic (as I was previously diagnosed more than 10 years ago). I just wanted to make sure there were not any other problems and wanted to get the official doctor advice before I just start taking some over-the-counter supplements.

I finally got a hold of the doctor’s office (because apparently it’s too much to ask them to contact you back with the results) and found out that I’m anemic (shocker) and that I have a vitamin D deficiency. I think these are two very common deficiencies to have. And they said everything else was normal, which I’m extremely thankful for. I’m a pretty healthy person normally and these two issues are definitely treatable. I was prescribed to take iron supplements (325 mg) 3 times a day (which apparently is a lot and so my iron levels must be really low) and vitamin D supplements 1 time a day (2000 units).

Now, I’m not a doctor. Far from it. So take anything I say with a grain of salt. It’s things I’ve read or heard. The things I already know about anemia and vitamin D deficiency? Fatigue is associated with both. I also know that lack of Vitamin D can result is some depression (ever heard of seasonal depression due to lack of Vitamin D from the sun in the winter months?). But that was really all I knew. What I tend to do when diagnosed with something is research it on the Internet to death (not always a good thing…especially if you are researching a surgery you are about to have)! Here is a little of what I found out regarding anemia.

What I did not know is that iron deficiency is a common problem for women athletes. So with high intensity training (marathon training), there is an increased demand for iron. Combine this with the fact that I’ve already had iron deficiencies in the past, I guess I’m a prime candidate for anemia. Also symptoms that pertain to me and anemia have been fatigue, irritability, shortness of breath, brittle nails, headache, and frequent injuries. Um…wow!! If I knew then what I know now! Lol.

First of all, I’ve been really tired. I’ve definitely been irritable (I know some people can vouch for that…and I’m sorry!).

Shortness of breath – so apparently when you are anemic, you have trouble getting enough oxygen to your lungs (or something with oxygen and lungs…like I said, I’m not a doctor). You will find yourself gasping for breath while running. One of the articles was written about an Olympic runner and she said the following, “If you’re thinking, ‘Normally I’m able to keep this kind of pace or run this distance and feel this way, and now I’m not able to do that,’ then you might have iron issues”. And when I read that, it was exactly what I have been thinking for the past 6 months! My pace is about a minute slower per mile than it was 1.5-2 years ago. And I just didn’t understand why I was gasping for breath while running, even at a slower pace!

Brittle nails – yes. Headaches – yes.

Frequent injuries. Um…hello??? Granted there are other reasons I may have had so many injuries during my last marathon training season. They were back to back to back almost the whole training season. Not properly stretching. Not properly hydrating. Most definitely! But apparently anemia is also a factor in frequent injuries!

Ok. I know all of this now. I can try to rectify the situation. I have lots of time before the 2012 Chicago Marathon. Training for that starts close to mid-June.

I think it’s kind of funny. My dad is always joking with me that I’m addicted to running, or that I only do things if it’s related to running. As much as that’s not necessarily true, it does give me a push to do something. For example, I’ve needed a new car for a couple of years, but I’m still hanging on to the same old thing. But when I wanted to go to Rockford to help my friend with her marathon this past weekend, I almost went out and bought a new car to do it! When I find out being anemic will make running harder and hinders performance, I’ll take my iron supplements! Look whatever it takes! And I enjoy running. It’s one of the few things that give me some joy right now. So anything I can do to not take running away…I’m all for it!

Anyway, all in all, I'm thankful that I'm a pretty healthy person.  Just need a few tweaks and I'll be in top notch performance mode (for me anyway)!  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I actually have a little 10 mile run in the morning which means having to get up at about 4:20 am!  I feel a midday nap coming on tomorrow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Blues

Summer is upon us! OK, technically it’s still spring. But with some of the temps lately, I’d say it’s summer! And I love summer! I love the heat. I love to sweat. I don’t turn the air conditioning on at my house unless there will be a string of days in the 90’s. Open the windows, go outside, it’s all fun!

So my question to myself is, why am I feeling so blue? Why am I in this constant state of depression lately? My problems are nowhere near as bad as so many other people’s problems. I hate complaining about anything! I try not to. I’m usually a really upbeat person with a smile on my face the majority of the time. So I haven’t been talking to anyone, about anything. If I don’t want to complain about my “minor” problems or if I’ve already mentioned them to someone and figure I don’t want to keep burdening them with these stupid (in my mind) problems, then I just keep everything to myself. And that can be a very lonely place to keep everything.

So I guess I’m using this blog to get it all out. I’m not going into specifics about my issues but even venting about it right now will hopefully make me feel better. Although I’ll be honest, even as I’m typing this I’m starting to cry. It happens a lot lately (although not in front of anyone). It happens as I’m driving to the train sometimes, or as I pull up to my house in the car, or while I’m watching TV in the evenings, or even sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk at work.

As I won’t be naming all the issues, I’ll list a couple. One issue is that I’m tired all the time. It’s so bad lately that as soon as I wake up, I think about the next time I can take a nap or go to sleep! I’ve always been this way to an extent but lately it’s been really bad. My eyes hurt all day. I think about all the things I want or need to do and how can I fit it all in, but I’m lacking the motivation and energy to do it all. And even when this crept up really bad this most recent time, I was eating properly so I wasn’t eating sugar all day long making me crash and become tired or something. I know that I’ve been diagnosed in the past with anemia. And I haven’t been taking ANY vitamins at all in months. So yes, my iron level could be extremely low, which causes fatigue. But instead of just starting to take over the counter medications again, I decided to go to the doctor and have a whole string of blood tests done just to see if there was anything else wrong. I haven’t received the results and I’m kind of irritated by that! Lol. I was going to call yesterday but decided to give it one more day and sure enough, that department is closed today! Figures. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Another problem is that I’ve gained weight. I’ve gained about 20 pounds in the past two years (about 10 pounds a year according to my doctor’s records). Some of it is my fault, sure. But I’m just not sure it all is my fault. Maybe if I figure out what’s going on with me medically, I can figure this issue out too. But I’m just not happy about it. None of my clothes fit anymore. I look like a blob of mess in all my pictures. My face looks fat. I’m reminded of the person I used to be before I lost any weight back in 2007! I’m nowhere near that weight but it’s just been really hard and really exhausting. When I think I’m making progress, I get derailed even further.

Two steps forward, four steps back. It’s been the story of my life lately.

I feel like I’m moving in slow motion. Monday I had off because of the NATO summit protests here in Chicago and I had all these plans of things I wanted to do. But I couldn’t even get out of bed and when I did, I went and laid on the couch. There was a fun run on Monday I never get to go to that’s held by the local running store because I’m always working, but since I didn’t have to work, my plan was to go. And I almost skipped it! I had no motivation to leave the house! Of course, I went and felt better and even came home and mowed half of the lawn before it got dark out.

Ok, enough of the complaining! Because what I’m going to do is focus on all the things that make me happy (or keep me busy). I love running in the summer. Sure it’s hot, but unless it’s in the 90’s, I still love it. I love to get sweaty. I love to look at sweaty shirtless men running too (added bonus). Nothing sexier than sweaty runners in my opinion! That look of “I’m about to die!”…. ahhhhh!!!! Hotness! Haha!

So running…love it! Also love flowers and vegetable gardens. Ok, I’m not digging the prepping of my garden (digging, get it??)…I actually am digging it. And because I don’t do the proper maintenance care before the winter, I think it’s extra tough to re-start in the summer. But I love planting my vegetables and seeing them grow and reaping the fruits (uh, vegetables) of my labor. I’m a little behind on where I want to be with it right now but I’ll get it done by this weekend.

What else do I love? My nephew! I do love him! Lol. And in the summer, he comes to visit! He will be coming for about a month around June (in from Columbus, Ohio).

I love less clothes! I do love wearing shorts and tank tops and not having to put on several hundred layers before going outside!

I love going to the beach (although I rarely go)!

I love driving around in my convertible! Although I’m sad because I need to get a new car. And I don’t love that my current car has black leather seats and the air is broke, so if it’s above 90, I still have to put the top down and basically bake in the sun/heat! But that’s a minor problem and one I won’t complain about (except when the metal part of the seat belt burns me, or when I forget to sit on something on the black leather and scald my legs and jump up and scream like I’ve just seen a spider!).

I’m sure there are more things I love. But right now, as I was typing the beginning and starting to cry, thinking about the things that make me happy about summer started to make me smile. So that’s my goal. I’m going to focus on the things that make me happy. Stay busy. Keep smiling. And definitely keep running!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spectating the Rockford Marathon

This past Sunday, May 20th, was the Rockford Marathon. I had a friend, Susan, that I met through my Frankfort/New Lenox Run Group that was running it as her first marathon. On a whim after the Palos half marathon a few weeks earlier, I mentioned to her that I would like to go up and help support her in her first marathon. After working out some logistics, it was decided I would go. I was super excited to be able to help her because I know what a challenging experience a first marathon (or second marathon for that matter) can be and I wanted to “spread the love”. I’ve helped others in marathons and others have helped me. It’s one of the best feelings to feel you have support in something that is so challenging and you’ve worked so hard for. Come marathon day, you never know what to expect and nothing ever goes as planned.

Susan and I drove up to Rockford on Saturday afternoon. We were staying at her brother’s house near the marathon. Let me say something about Susan’s brother, Tony. He ran his first marathon last year (and actually ran 3 marathons all last year). He has qualified for Boston all 3 times, with his best marathon time being around 3:05. Amazing! He, however, has no desire to go to Boston.

Susan’s brother Tony, sister-in-law Chrissy, her friend Katrina, and myself were all going to be helping Susan run the marathon at different points. As the day approached, the weather was looking like it was going to be a pretty hot day for a marathon. I think that is what was freaking Susan out the most. She didn’t want them to cancel it with all the training she invested in the marathon.

Saturday after arriving at Tony’s house, we went over some marathon day stuff and then went to pick up her packet, which included coupons for cigarettes and other such items, and headed to dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was an unusual place and we had a lot of fun there.

Me, Susan and Katrina at Lino's
Back at the house, there was some more discussions over marathon day stuff. We went over who was dropping in to run with Susan at what points and Susan was trying to figure out exactly what to wear. Tony’s son who was four took a liking to me and wanted me to play with him. I finally caved in and we played with some legos before he had to go to bed. I thought it was especially cute when he asked me before he went to bed, "Want to go up and lay in my bed and just talk for a little while??"  He's learning young, huh??  Haha!  I was actually sleeping in his bed that night and he was sleeping with his parents.

The bed I got to sleep in, fit for a 4 year old (or a 33 year old)

Playing Legos

As bedtime for us neared, we did some stretching and rolling on various items. We weren’t foam rolling but Susan had a weird looking ball that you use similarly to a foam roller and Katrina had some other weird hand held contraption and I wanted to try all of these strange items! Wow! I really felt it too. It hurt (but that good hurt way). I have to get myself some new “toys”. Then it was time to hit the sack.

New Toy
Me rolling on the new toy

Susan and I showing off the toys...added bonus, the cowboy hat. Not sure how she talked me into that one.
Marathon morning felt nice. There was a cool breeze and if the whole marathon was like that, it wouldn’t be bad. But this was only 5:30 am. It was going to be hot that day with highs getting near 90 degrees!

Susan and I before we left the house

Tony, Susan, Katrina and I headed down to the marathon. Katrina was running the 10k and then was going to help Susan with the later miles in the marathon. I was scheduled for miles 4-8.5. I actually wasn’t too thrilled with my designated spot only because Susan is a faster runner than I am by about 30 seconds per mile average. We were going to try to keep Susan from starting too fast due to the heat anyway (about 9:50-10:00 min miles) and I thought I might be able to push through those 4.5 miles. 7:00 am came and Susan was off.

Susan and Katrina

Susan and her brother Tony

Susan starting by the 10:00 min mile pace area
Tony and I drove to the 4 mile mark. I used the bathroom and then we stood on the corner to wait for Susan. We saw the first and second place people come through. Then Tony noticed that the mile 4 water station was not set up and manned! It was already pretty hot out and Tony and I decided to set up some water as best we could until we had to leave. It was kind of ironic because Tony had mentioned in the car on the way to the marathon that maybe one day he should work a race instead of just criticize. Now was his chance! We tried setting up water cups and two girls waiting for their friends came over to help. It was a disaster! People started flying past us. They were expecting water and Gatorade. We just filled up water cups because we needed something out there for the runners! The girls were handing water as Tony and I were pouring it.  We couldn't keep up! A race organizer came and told us this was the only water station that the people didn’t show up to and he was trying to get some people from another station here to help. He appreciated our help. I felt really bad for the runners coming past and we couldn’t keep up with the demand. I heard a few people say they had hoped there was Gatorade at this station (as there was supposed to be). I did the best I could and at least some people got water because we helped out. It was close to the time that Susan may pass so I set out to wait for her.

Tony helping at the water station after I stopped to wait for Susan
 As I saw Susan come around the corner, I let Tony know (who was still helping at the water station) that I was leaving. That way he knew he needed to head out to and meet us at mile 8.5 where his wife Chrissy was going to jump in. As I started running with Susan, I found out if she needed anything and what she would need at mile 8.5 where our car was. She was holding a good pace at about 9:55. She seemed to be doing well. I, on the other hand, started to struggle. I was having a hard time keeping that pace in that heat! When I was running, it was along a highway with no shade and full sun! I’m not sure of the temps but I would say it had to be upper 70’s at least. I tried to keep up with Susan as best I could. I didn’t want to drop back from her. I was supposed to be helping her. She was running a marathon! I only had 4.5 miles! Do it, Amanda! Do it!

I’d ask Susan if she was ok and she said she was fine. Sometimes she would ask if I was ok and even though I wasn’t really, I wasn’t going to tell her that! So I simply said, “Yup! I’m fine!” Inside I was saying, “Hang in there Amanda! Hang in there!” After a few miles, I didn’t think I could keep up. I didn’t want to hold her back if she was feeling good. I waited a little longer and after about 2.5 miles, I decided to fess up and tell Susan that I could hang at her pace and I was going to have to drop back. She said it was fine and thanked me for running. I asked if there was anything I could make sure Tony had at the car at mile 8 and she told me a few things. I wished her luck and dropped back.

I felt like such a marathon supporter failure! I was definitely disappointed in myself but the heat was getting to me. I walked and called Tony to tell him what to prepare for Susan at 8.5. I was about 6.5 and we decided the best thing for me to do was to keep running to the car. So I still had to finish my run! Lol. I just slowed my pace and continued to run with the marathoners. I actually passed Tony’s car and didn’t see him and ran to mile 9. I knew that was wrong so I called him and he said he was not really looking because he was trying to get all the kids situated. I had to run back to the car in the reverse direction (I wonder what the other runners thought of me going the wrong way). So that time, I ran 5 total miles, although only 2.5 with Susan). Also, at mile 6, there was supposed to be a GU station, and there was but there was no GU left! Seriously marathon organizers! Get it together! We weren’t even at the back of the pack and there weren’t things!

We drove over to mile 13-ish to wait for Susan. Her brother Tony was going to jump in at that point. Katrina had signs and we were holding them cheering on the marathoners. It was hot, some were struggling. There weren’t many spectators and I think some appreciated our efforts. Soon enough we saw Susan and Tony jumped in. Susan looked strong and seemed to be doing ok.

Susan after her brother jumped in, around mile 13
Next we drove to about mile 18.5. We were in a residential area but on a larger street (not in the neighborhood). We waited on the corner and again Katrina and I were cheering on the runners. The runners passing us were probably ones that would finish (normally) in the 3 hour range. And many of them were walking. They were hot and tired. Some were amused by Katrina’s signs of Zombies chasing them or “Don’t poop out”. Others gave a faint smile and a “thanks”. One race personnel on a bike asked if we had access to any of the hoses at the houses, which we didn’t. Katrina started walking around to the houses and asking if anyone would turn on their hoses to spray off the runners but we couldn’t find anyone that would. We felt awful for these runners. Again, there was no shade and the sun was beating down on us. It was most definitely in the 80’s and boiling hot!

Susan came around with Tony and he was going to keep running for another mile or so. I decided to jump back in (to redeem my previous failure of a supporter) and off the 3 of us went. Susan was at a run/walk pace at this point. She was tired and the heat was getting to her. I gave her some pretzels and along we went. I think she was starting to get frustrated because physically her legs felt fine, she just couldn’t go faster due to the heat and she wanted to make it to the end. At about mile 20, Tony dropped out and Katrina jumped in (and later Chrissy jumped in with us too). I decided to stay a little longer but only until 21 or 22. Katrina was going to run to the end with her.

Chrissy, Susan and Katrina - Mile 20
Susan kept saying sorry to us after having to stop and walk. We kept telling her there is nothing to be sorry about! I know how she felt because at my last marathon when Kelly was helping me, I was a run/walk pace after mile 16 and I kept apologizing to her too! I think I jumped out about mile 21.5 and wished Susan luck on the rest of the marathon.

Chrissy was going to jump back in around 24 and so Tony and I were waiting around 24.2. Chrissy was going to call us when she saw her. Chrissy called but it was to tell us there was a woman walking the opposite way of the runners with her shirt over her boobs and her boobs were just hanging out. Um…and apparently they were rather large and it was completely shocking and gave some marathoners a thrill. Lol. We think the woman lived near there and was possibly on something as she didn’t seem to be in her right mind (from what I was told). But it probably gave all the runners something else to focus on besides the horrible conditions of the marathon. (By the way, as Susan passed me she yelled to me..."I have something really good for your blog!!",,,referring to the boob woman).  I think Susan mentioned my blog about 4 times during the marathon!  Haha!  Thanks for the blog help!  Anyway, at 24.2 Susan passed at looked determined! There was only 2 miles left to go and I know she wanted to be done with it.

Running through the Ghetto (where the poor kids play) at mile 24.2
 The "where the poor kids play in the caption above was a joke from the night before.  Tony took us around to various spots to show us the course and this was one of them.  I'm sure this is not politically correct, but he mentioned this area was "the other side of the tracks where the poor kids play" and "ghetto and industrial".  It made us laugh and Susan said she got a laugh as she ran past it.
Tony and I drove to the finish line and waited for Susan. At some point, we saw a woman running super fast! It was a major spint towards the finish! We were wondering who that was. We didn’t think it was Susan but we commented on the speed with which this woman was coming in! We were impressed. And pretty much too late, we realized it was Susan! Too late, I got no picture! Tony said he got one almost too late, but I don’t have access to that photo.

Susan got her medal and took her finishing photo. Then started giving us all hugs and just started sobbing (hope you don’t mind me throwing that in there Susan!). She was crying and saying that that was so hard! It was the hardest thing she’s done. She kept saying that it was so hard, over and over again! We congratulated her and told her she was a marathoner!!

After Susan got her well deserved marathon medal!

Susan and I after - excuse my horrid fatness in this picture, it's not about me, it's about Susan!

Her running support group - Me, Katrina, Susan, Tony and Chrissy

Group shot of the entire family/support group

 I can never imagine what it would be like to run a marathon in that heat and sun (especially for your first one). My first marathon ended in the mid-70’s with full sun and that was warm enough (3rd warmest Chicago marathon). Susan’s marathon ended with temps near 90 degrees and full sun (the high for the day was 93 degrees). Her time was slower than she wanted by probably 25 mins but she still beat BOTH of my marathon times! I think she did an awesome job! The heat was a lot and I’m sure many runners (if not all) did a slower time than they wanted.

As I said before, you can’t predict what will happen on race day. Nothing is ever perfect no matter how much you plan. But finishing 26.2 miles under those conditions is truly amazing! Great job Susan! And I’ll be running with you in the Chicago Marathon this year (where we will both do awesome!!).

*Side note, I asked Susan if she would like to write a guest post about her marathon day experience. She said she may be up for that and I told her possibly next week. She does not have a blog but I know I’m interested in hearing about her experience while running. I was there for parts of it but I don’t know what she was thinking at various points, so look for it next week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rockford Marathon - May 20

My spring marathon is over but there are other spring marathons upon us. At the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon (aka Palos Half) a few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, Susan, who is doing the Rockford Marathon on May 20th. I met Susan because I had a few long runs during training that I couldn’t run with my normal Yankee Runner group and posted a message on my Frankfort/New Lenox Running Group facebook page to see if there was anyone that would be able to run the miles with me. Susan responded both times and that’s how I met her. I love the convenience of facebook group pages sometimes.

After the Palos Half, I was talking to Susan about the upcoming marathon for her (her first one) and briefly, off-the-cuff mentioned that I should come down to support her at her first one! Susan looked thrilled that I would do that! Susan actually has family that lives there and will have a lot of supporters (and running supporters) during the marathon. After thinking about going to the marathon for a few minutes, I told her that I wouldn’t be able to drive down because my car is a piece of crap. She offered to have my drive with her and stay with her family the night before. I then just needed to make sure my schedule was clear for that weekend.

Susan and I met up later that afternoon at a party for our run group. I had realized earlier that we are celebrating Mother’s Day at my house a week late and it falls on the day of Susan’s marathon. I was completely bummed that I might not be able to go but Susan said it was completely fine if I couldn’t and she appreciated the fact that I even offered to go. I told her I would see if there is any way I would still be able to go and I would talk about it later. If I went, I would have to leave around 1:00 pm (not long after she finishes the marathon) to get back in time to eat dinner with the family.

Long story…um…long, we bounced back and forth ideas about driving down with her and coming back with her friend. My dilemma was that I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone (especially Susan)! I toyed with the idea of just driving my car there the night before and hope it doesn’t blow up on me! I even considered rushing to get a new car prior to that day so I can drive down there. Funny thing is, I’ve needed a new car for about 2 years and have not yet gotten one. Leave it to me to consider getting one immediately due to some running related issue! Haha!

I wasn’t sure who wanted me to go more to Susan’s marathon, me or Susan! I think I wanted to go so much because I know how I felt for my first marathon when I didn’t think I would have any supporters, and I know how I felt with the supporters that I did have come out. The difference is, Susan will have supporters. Her brother is even a Boston Marathoner and he will be there running with her for a portion. So, in my mind, it’s not like Susan “needs” me to come. But what can I say? I want to go and support a friend no matter how many supporters she has there! To me, first marathons are important ones. I want them to be memorable. I want the first time marathoner to have such great memories of that day because it will be the only first one they have!

Anyway, Susan then threw a plan across the table saying that I can drive down with her Saturday, eat dinner and do all that fun stuff the day before. The next day, I can take her car (she’s giving me a car?? Sweet!!) and drive home. She will then catch a ride back with a friend and pick up her car later (damn…she isn’t giving me a car!). I was all for that idea as long as it was completely ok with her! And she said it works out great for her. Works out great for me. Deal done!!

So this weekend, I will be spectating at the Rockford Marathon. Maybe I should just become a marathon spectator instead of a runner?? Hm….

Susan is going to do great at her marathon. Her training has been going so well. I’m really excited to see the outcome!

This weekend works out well for this because I have two extra days off (Friday and Monday) due to the NATO Summit that will be held in Chicago this weekend.  Read about some of the travel restrictions on Running Kellometers blog.  I'm one of the lucky workers that was given that day off for safety reasons and because of the hectic travel down here those days.  I will not complain about 2 free days off of work with pay!  It seems to be a little crazy already with strange barriors going up around fountains, the Picasso at the Daley Center, and around buildings like Boeing.  There was a rally in Bridgeport last night (near my dad's work) that seemed a little crazy, and that's not even the half of it.  Should be an interesting weekend to watch the news in Chicago.

Of course, this would have been a great weekend to have gone to visit my nephew in Ohio.  He just had knee surgery and I would love to have gone to see him.  But with my car situation and us having Mother's Day, it was not going to happen.  But he is doing good and will be up and walking by the end of the week anyway. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Run Fail & Race Medals

Saturday I was supposed to run the Quarryman Challenge 10 miler.  It was a spur of the moment decision last Sunday to sign up for it.  Well, unfortunately, I woke up to gray skies.  On the way to the run, it started raining and lightening pretty fierce!  On the way, I considered just picking up my packet and going back home.  I really didn't know if I wanted to run 10 miles in the rain.  I got there early and headed to packet pickup.  I waited for some of my friends and we headed to gear check.  We took a group photo (obviously!).  While waiting, the run was delayed for 15 minutes and then delayed again another 15 minutes.  The rain would subside and then begin again.  At this point, I wanted to run it.  I had gotten up early, drove there, waited around.  We thought it was going to go because the rain pretty much stopped so a few of us headed to the bathroom. When I got back, there was some commotion and I asked my friends what happened?  I was informed that the police cancelled the run.  We were all pretty upset!

We went and picked back up our gear and didn't know what to do.  We saw a group of runners start running the course anyway, but since we had our bags, we couldn't follow them.  I opted that we should go to breakfast.  Unfortunately, I was with runners (clearly) and we all decided to go somewhere else to run. The loop we were running was maybe a little short of 3 miles.  We decided to put on the new shirts we got from the Quarryman in defiance of it being cancelled and took another photo. I like this side by side photo (or top/bottom).  Thanks to Kelly for taking it and putting it together.

From left to right (Top Photo) - Kelly, Maggie, Susan, Nicole and Me

We went one time around (2.8 miles...but with a slight detour) and I was completely exhausted.  I tried to figure out what was wrong and realized that it had now been over 3 hours since I ate breakfast.  I took a Gu and hit the trail for another loop by myself.  I let my friends go without me because they were a little faster and I didn't want to slow anyone up or feel like I needed to run faster, since I was already struggling.  I kept changing my mind on how long I wanted to run.  I kept thinking of running 6 miles or 5 miles or 6 miles.  When I got through the second loop, I was at about 5.5 miles and figured I would finish to an even 6 miles.  But of course, I start running and forget that I should probably stop.  I decided 6.5, then 7 miles.  I considered just going through the loop again but decided I should stop at 7 miles and call it a day.  While I ran, it started raining for maybe 5 minutes and we got a good soaking, but it stopped.

So, all in all, it was a bust of a run. I'm still glad I got one in but I've been running since 2003 and I've never had a run cancelled before.  I guess there is always a first time for everything.

On another note, I know many people that do races love to get the medals.  I've never been a person that runs for the medals.  After looking at photos other runners have posted of their medals, I realized I don't even have all of mine.  I have mine hanging on a hook to a curio cabinet in the living room and I only have medals from maybe 2010??  I'm missing 3 of my half marathons (2006, 2008 and 2009).  I've always done the same half marathon in Chicago.  It used to be called the Chicago Distance Classic and I think around 2009, it changed names to the Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I've moved twice since running my first half marathon and moved in my house in 2009 (November).  So I'm thinking maybe these medals are packed somewhere (since I've never completely unpacked some things).  I decided to lay out the medals I do have for a photo.

The medals that I know where they are (left to right): 1. 2012 Illinois Marathon, 2. 2011 Chicago Marathon, 3. 2011 Chicago Rock N Roll Half, 4. 2011 YMCA Half in Plano, IL, 5. 2011 Capital City Half in Columbus, 6. 2010 Rock N Roll Chicago Half.

Left to Right: 2 of my charity athlete medals from my charity group, my 2nd place triathlon medal and the medal we got for participating in triathlon (two medals for the same thing!)

What I've noticed is that Chicago Rock N Roll Half needs to work on their neck ribbons for the medals (totally plain!! lol).  Maybe one day soon, I'll find the other medals that I'm missing for my other half marathons.  I'm also wanting somewhere to put these medals.  What do you do with your race medals?  I'm going to get a few more this year and my current place is in disarray!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day!  We are celebrating it next week because it works out better for my family.  I actually may be visiting another full marathon next week to support my friend Susan. Just working out the logistics since it's not too local (couple hour drive) and my car is a piece of...well anyway...more on this later!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Half Marathon, Peer Pressure & Potty Talk

Thanks for the congratulations on my 2nd marathon finish (read about it here).  It's kind of cool to know I have to marathon finishes (and medals) under my belt.  I have to say, even though it was hard and yes, I did cry for a minute, I'm pretty proud of myself.  It's so easy to give up when things are hard.  And even though my time might not have been what I initially hoped for, I'm proud of the time I got for the hard time I had during the run.  And I'm just completely ecstatic for my next (3rd) marathon attempt in Chicago later this year in October!  I really have a good feeling about it.  And 3rd times a charm, right?

I haven't run since the marathon, which is what I planned.  I planned to take 2 full weeks off of running just to make sure a lot of my previous injuries were healed up.  It's only been about a week and a half since the marathon and I'm itching to run again!  A lot of my friends participated in the First Midwest Bank Southwest Half Marathon over the weekend and a few of them ran in the Illinois Marathon with me the week before!  Crazy people!!  (Even though I considered running because I was offered someone's bib).  I decided spectating and cheering were just as important as running.  Plus there were some friends running that were first time half marathon runners too and I was excited to see how they did (or worried because some didn't train well).  I even wore running clothes just in case!!

Anyway, after driving around and around and around for over an hour trying to get to the spot to meet some other friends that were also cheering, I couldn't get there.  All the roads were blocked.  There really wasn't anywhere to pull over and park.  This place is only about 15 mins from my house!  I started getting incredibly frustrated and almost went home.  But I got a phone call from another friend telling me to just come by the start/finish line, which is what I ended up doing.  Since I was by the finish, I saw most of the elites finish and a lot of the VERY fast runners finish.  I also found out my one friend that I went on several dates with earlier this year finished with a time of 1:35 (which he said was 5 minutes slower than his PR).  I did always tell him that I hate him and his fast-ness!!  lol.  He completes a half marathon quicker than I complete 10 miles!  He then told me he wants to get me under 2:00 for a half.  I told him I'd be happy right now under 2:10 (my best is 2:!3).  I digress.

I missed seeing my friend Kelly finish (I don't know how!  I kept saying that I needed to stay until I saw her finish but yeah, I missed it!).  And I need to start posing like Kelly does in all my run photos too!!  I swear she looks like this in almost every photo that's taken of her during a run!!

Kelly at the Southwest Half 5/6/12

At the Cupid's Chase 5k with me on 2/11/12
Kelly is obviously the one with her hands up - I look like I want to kill someone.
 Guarantee I'm throwing my hands in the air on my next official run!  But the half was fun to watch.  Since it was a local half marathon, there were tons of people I knew running it.  I will consider this run for myself next year.

Speaking of my next run...clearly as you can tell if you look to the upper right where I have a list of my upcoming runs, that my next run is this Saturday in Lemont!  What???  It's not there??  How can that be?  I updated that list about a week ago after my Illinois Marathon!  Oh I know why it's not on my scheduled list of runs!  Because I wasn't planning on running this run!  What run, you might ask (since it's not on the list)??  It's the Advocate Good Samaritan Quarryman Challenge 10 miler (There is a 5k option too).  Anyway, I was at an after party from the Palos Half on Sunday celebrating all kinds of achievements and what do you know...I was completely FORCED to sign up for this run!  Like almost at knife-point!  The conversation went something like this:

Friend: "Does anyone want to sign up for this run?  Amanda, have you thought about it?"
Me: "Yeah, I heard about it."
Friend: "Today is the last day for online registration.  It's a good price. I'm just doing it for fun."
Me: "Um, I don't know. Uh...I kinda want....oh I don't know....I haven't run since the marathon. This is a hilly course...uh, uh, AHHHH!!!!!!  FINE! I'LL DO IT!!!!!  ENOUGH WITH THE PEER PRESSURE!!!"

I mean, seriously!  Peer pressure at it's best right?  Pretend that you don't care!  Gets them every time!  So hilly 10 miler is on its way this weekend!!  Check out the course map and elevation here.  The first hill looks like death to me!  I guess I just like a challenge! I'm just going to run this very easy and not for time and just have "fun". 

Now just a funny story to end this post.  I completely forgot about hearing this story after the Illinois Marathon.  My friends Shelby and Curtis ran in it.  Shelby told me that Curtis has bathroom issues while running (my guess is #1 issues).  By the way, I told them I was going to blog about this.  After talking to Shelby and Curtis after the half marathon last Sunday (which they ran in), I was reminded of Curtis' bathroom issues at the Illinois Marathon.  First of all, he had to stop 4 times in the first half of the marathon to use the bathroom.  During one of those times, he asked a police officer orcourse volunteer or someone when the next port-a-potty was.  Apparently there was not one coming up any time soon.  And what did Curtis do?  He asked someone if he could use their bathroom (much of this course was residential).  The woman apparently looked at him like he had 3 heads, but reluctantly let him use her bathroom!  I thought that was a funny story and completely blog worthy!  I'm sure I missed some information about it, but you get the point.

I would completely let someone running a marathon use my bathroom if I lived on the course!  What would you do???  In fact, my house is on a 5k route for Tinley Park Turkey Trot every year and if I didn't run it, and someone needed to use my bathroom, I would let them!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Illinois Marathon 2012 - Race Recap

(WARNING: Long blog post to follow.  I didn't want to split it into two posts, but I wanted to put everything in here.  I use this to remember my marathon experience.  Read my 2011 Chicago Marathon experience here.)

I gave you a small update on my last blog post on the very basics of what happened during my 2nd marathon. I’ve also posted in a recent post about the numerous minor injuries I’ve had to deal with throughout my spring training for this marathon (minor calf strain, tendinitis in left ankle, Pain/IT band in my right knee, small ankle pain in right ankle).  

I’m not going to give you a woe-is-me post. It was what it was. I tried to deal with any injury immediately! I tried to take rest days or cut back runs. I tried to let injuries heal. I iced and even took my first ice baths!! Brrrrr!!!! I think these are the things I did right. Because even though it’s important to make as many runs as possible and try hard not to miss any long runs, it’s equally important to take the time needed to rest and recover from injuries because if you don’t, you might not even make it to the start line.

Some things during training that I did wrong:

1. Didn’t drink enough water. Sometimes I was only getting 4 glasses of water in a day, definitely not enough for marathon training (not even enough for a regular day). I tried to correct this about 3 weeks before the marathon, better late than never.

2. Didn’t do much stretching. I’m a bad stretcher to begin with. This did not help with preventing injuries.

3. Didn’t do much strength or core training. You use many muscles during running and you use a lot of your core. Not having a strong core = having a rougher time during marathon.

4. Didn’t eat as well as I should have. Sure you need to eat more food while training, but that food should not consist of crap!


I took Friday off of work and headed down with Don, my roommate for the marathon and fellow FNRC member (FNRC = Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club = F’N Runners). We met Julie, another FNRC member and headed to the expo. It was a small expo but we had fun nonetheless.

After picking up our packets and doing a little shopping, we headed to our dinner at the marathon pasta feed. Eh…I wasn’t too thrilled with the dinner but did go back for seconds (hey! I needed to carb load!). After dinner, my Yankee Runner group (the group I trained for both marathons with) was having a slide show presentation at the YMCA. Don and Julie weren’t going to go but Don said he would give me a ride and I said I would get a ride back to the hotel. Well, it was NOT EASY to get around at that time. There was a 5k run that night and it had started with meant tons of street closures. In fact, at one point, I noticed we were stopped by the 5k…(the 5k walkers!!). I was already late as probably was everyone else. I told Don that I would get out and walk the rest of the way since he could only turn around. It was about 0.25 miles away so no big deal. I made it there and the presentation by the Yankee Runners is always a fun and memorable time. We all sent in pictures and it’s so moving to see the happy faces of the fellow runners! My fellow Yankee Runner friends, Shelby and Curtis, gave me a ride back to the hotel (many of us were staying in the same hotel).

When Don got back to the hotel, we went over some plans for race morning…what time to get up, what time to leave, where to park, etc. We did a little foam rolling together, since it was Don that told me to use the foam roller to relieve my knee pain from the IT Band issue 3 weeks before. Don joked as we were foam rolling that he was going to cry because this was such a beautiful moment with both of us foam rolling together! Haha!! At about 10:00 pm, we decided it was lights out! That would have been great except no matter how tightly I closed my eyes, I couldn’t sleep! Before I knew it, it was 11:30 and I got up to use the bathroom. Then it was 12:30 and Don got up to use the bathroom. Yes, I was still mostly awake! Grrrr!!!! I wanted to sleep. I probably slept fitfully until about 2:30 when I got up yet again to use the bathroom!! And next thing I knew it was 5:00 am and time to get up! I said as Don turned off the alarm… “Are you f#@cking kidding me??


We got up, did all the good stuff such as dressing and doing all the necessary personal hygiene stuff. Before I knew it, it was time to leave! I couldn’t believe it! We didn’t have time to do any stretching or eating but I figured I would eat in the car and stretch when I got there. Before I left, I wrote necessary reminders on my arm. As with my first marathon, a goal for me it to smile at every mile marker. This way, no matter how bad I’m feeling or if I’m having a rough time, I will see the mile marker, smile and hopefully clear my head for the next mile. It was also supposed to rain and it was raining when we woke up. So also on my arm, I wrote a reminder that I love to run in the rain (not true). But I figure I can try to trick my mind into thinking it’s true. If it’s raining and I’m miserable, I would look at my arm and see that I LOVE to run in the rain! Haha!
Arm Graffiti

Parking was easy. Ate in the car. Said goodbye to Don (since we were going to start at different places in the race). I wanted to meet up with my Yankee Runner group for a pre-race photo. I’m still trying to hunt down this photo!


It was raining all night and until we parked the car but the minute we parked the car, it stopped raining and kind of cleared up! The marathon peeps (technical term) said the run should be rain-free!! Yay!! But it was windy and felt cold! I wasn’t going to run in my Hot Chocolate windbreaker but I figured I would tie it around my waist when I got too warm. I had a short sleeve shirt and sleeves on. Shelby and I met up and stuck together before the race since we both wanted to start out with the 4:30 pace group (10:18 min mile). Shelby had a rough first marathon in Chicago last year, which required a 15-20 min stay in the medical van but she did finish. She was hoping for a better second marathon. Our pace leader, Coy, was HILARIOUS!!! And this marathon marked number 50 for him (which also includes larger runs such as 50K’s). Crazy! The run started and after a few minutes, I said to Shelby, "I think I can do this!" Of course, I got a strange look from another runner. I didn’t mean I think I can do the marathon! I meant I think I can do this pace. Whatever. Let me break the race into mile groups.

MILES 1 TO 4 – I felt pretty good. Fun pace leader. I was running with Shelby. Things were on the up and up! I took my jacket off at mile 1 and rolled down my sleeves after mile 2. That’s when I saw the fact that I was supposed to smile at every mile. Oops…In fact, forgot about it again until later. Coy was great. He would do silly things like sing. At one point during mile 3, he ran off to the side with the crowd and clapped for us as we went by. Haha!! But what I noticed was a few of the miles were too fast. Coy was going to run to every water stop and take a cup and walk for 30 seconds and start running again. I can understand needing to speed up a little to keep on his pace goal but Miles 1 through 4 splits were: 10:20, 10:00, 10:17, 10:05. That second and fourth mile were too fast for me to run a marathon at. I decided after mile 4 that I couldn’t keep up that pace any longer and I decided to back off of the pace group. Sad times!!  But can I say, I'm impressed with the amount of college kids that were up at 7:00 am cheering us on!  Some may never have gone to bed the night before and were drinking beer but hey, I'm not picky!  They were there!

MILES 5 TO 8 – The marathoners were also running with half marathoner and 10k folks. The crowd was good and very motivational! There were a lot of people but usually not too many (except for a few narrow paths by forest preserves and parks). I’d have to say a good majority of this marathon was on residential streets. I was still feeling pretty ok. I did notice a little fatigue and decided to just slow it down a little more. My splits from Mile 5 through Mile 8 were: 10:23, 10:42; 10:49; 10:40. I think at this point I was close to running a 10:30 pace average and felt pretty ok with that. I was even ok with running 10:40’s. Also, around mile 6, I tried to turn on my bluetooth headphones. Um… I tried to turn them on again. Um…they weren’t going on! You have got to be kidding me! They were fully charged! I tried them again and mile 7 and they didn’t work then either. I was seriously going to have to run a full marathon without any music??

Then the dreaded quads started acting up around mile 8! For Chicago, the ONLY thing that I had trouble with were my quads but they didn’t start hurting until about mile 15-16. Mile 8 was kind of early and I didn’t like it. At this point I was trying my headphones again and looked at my phone (which is what I listen to my music on) and saw a bunch of text messages. I didn’t read them all at the time but liked the support and encouragement from friends. I saw Kelly texted me and since I knew she was going to meet up with me later in the marathon to help me out (more on that later), I read her text. It was a photo text of her waiting for me at Mile 15 with a banana (my one request for her to bring). I LOVED the picture and totally made me smile! Oh I forgot, up until this point, I only smiled at maybe mile 6. I was failing at this goal of mine miserably!
Kelly waiting for me at Mile 15

MILES 9 TO 14 – My quads just really started to kill me! I would also hear things like…at mile 10, “Only a 5k left!” Clearly that was meant for the half marathoners and at that point wanted to trip every single one of them! I had a half marathon PLUS a 5k! My mind started mentally becoming negative… “My quads hurt and I feel pretty tired and it’s only mile 10! I still have over 16 miles left to run! I don’t want to do this anymore!” I said to myself just keep running. Just get to Kelly! At mile 11, I thought mile 15 seemed so far away! Kelly was so far away! Kelly texted me and said she was waiting just past the mile marker at 15. I texted her and said ok. Then I texted her back and asked if she could walk up a bit. I was really starting to struggle and just wanted to get to her as fast as possible. She said it was no problem. At mile 11, I also decided to play the music on my phone out loud since my headphones decided to crap out on me.  A few people came by and said they loved the song that was playing, or started to sing along.  It wasn't very loud and I had to hold the phone in order to even hear it but it was better than nothing.  I kept that playing for about 2 miles.  A few times other runners would come past and ask where I was from as I had my Hot Chocolate jacket around my waist.  The one woman knew it was a Chicago race (it's also raced around the country), but one guy asked if I was from Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Good guess!  Haha!  

When we got to the "Half/Full Marathon" split at mile 12.5, I seriously contemplated cutting out at the half. My quads were hurting something fierce and I was becoming mentally exhausted from trying to stay focused on the run and remaining positive.  If our time would have been recorded, I might have quit at the half.  (I later found out someone from our training group did cut out at the half, so it definitely wasn't just me!)  But I didn't train for the half, I trained for the full.  I didn't want to quit.  And I knew Kelly would be less than 2 miles away.  My mantra at that point was "Just get to Kelly!"  True Story!  Lol.  I did see another Yankee Runner, Julie, during this time too and ran with her for a few minutes.  It was her second marathon and she was doing great!  After chatting a while, I told her to go on ahead.  I didn't want to slow up her pace.  Also, when the half marathoners split from us, that took at least 75% of the runners away and at least 90% of the crowd.  So the course got a little more lonely at this point.  But I will say, I still thought the crowd was great.  The spectators did an awesome job keeping us going!  Best spectators I've ever seen!
My splits for Miles 9 through 14 definitely got worse but by mile 14, my average pace was still a 10:45.  Splits were: 11:08, 11:25, 10:53, 11:57, 10:55, 11:37.  I was still trying to hang in there.  And then I met up with Kelly!!!  YAY!  I made it to Kelly!  Now only if she could have strapped me to her back!  I told Kelly I was behind my pace.  She said, "Don't worry about it, you just want to beat your old time, right?"  And I basically just said, "I don't even care anymore! I just want to be done!" 

MILES 15 TO 20 - Really what is there left to say?  Even though at this point I was completely ok with not beating my previous time and just wanted to get this marathon over, I still did have some hope I could do it.  I was still under the 11:11 average pace from my last marathon but my pace was definitely getting slower and my quads were still hurting.  Splits for these miles were: 11:04, 11:54, 11:44, 11:21, 11:24, 11:52.  Since my headphones weren't working, I know Kelly sang to me a little.  There may have been a rendition of "We are the Champions" somewhere in there.  Frankly, I know I was irritable and grumpy and Kelly was doing her best to keep me positive.  I felt a little bad as I know I snapped at her a few times!  I also contemplated walking from mile 16 on.  It's true.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I knew that I had more in me than just walking.  Even if I just ran 1/2 mile and walked, I had more than walking in me.

Since part of my goal is always to smile at every mile, and until I saw Kelly, I probably only smiled around mile 6, she told me she was going to take a picture of us smiling at every mile (and we mostly did!).  A few miles got away from us though.  And even though I definitely didn't want to smile, I knew it was a good way to stay positive and try to throw in a little fun.  Thanks Kelly!  Here are just a few pictures of our smiles from our miles between 15-20.

Mile 15

Mile 17 or 19 ??

Appropriate picture for mile 20
MILES 21-26.2 - Really, I just don't remember much.  I remember at mile 22 spotting Shelby (the Yankee Runner I started the race with).  She had been doing great and should have been way ahead of me at that point.  So the fact that I saw her, I was a little worried.  We ran up to Shelby who was walking.  She said she wasn't doing well and seemed frustrated.  She really just wanted us to go on ahead.  I later found out that she was with our pace group until about mile 17-18, stopped to use the bathroom, lost the pace group, and then just couldn't get her legs running again!  She was incredibly frustrated.  After Kelly and I ran on from Shelby, I was a little concerned.  It was strange because while running the marathon, I almost didn't care about me anymore.  I wanted to make sure all of my friends had good marathons!  I think I told Kelly about 5 times in the next 1.5 miles that maybe she should go back and try to help Shelby.  But we left it the way it was and later Shelby told me she wouldn't have wanted to run with anyone at that point anyway.  She did end up finishing though and did beat her previous marathon time! 

I also remember that at about mile 23, I ate the absolute best orange slice of my life.  It's true.  This is one of the things I remember.  It was about 30 seconds of pure bliss!  Haha!!  At that point, my quads didn't matter and the marathon didn't matter!  The only thing that mattered was that orange slice!  Mmmmmm......

I digress...  Anyway, when I got to mile 24, I had a small emotional breakdown.  I started to cry.  It went something like this, "Kelly?  I'm really sorry but I think, uh....I think I'm going to start crying now!"  And I babbled like an idiot for a few seconds in between a little laughing because I couldn't believe I started to cry!  I started to cry for a couple of reasons.  First, tears of joy.  I only had two miles left!  I could do two miles!  Then I was so mentally exhausted.  I had been running since mile 8 with sore quads.  That had been 16 miles of running with sore quads.  Trying to tell yourself to keep going, fighting through maybe 3 hours of running when all you want to do is quit can be so taxing emotionally.  When they say running is 90% mental, this is what they are referring to. 

But I did stop crying after maybe 30 seconds to a minute (I really don't know).  I just figured maybe I would feel better if I got that out.  And in true form, Kelly had to snap the mile 24 picture right when I stopped crying.  I told her I was going to take off my sunglasses so you could see my teary eyes. lol.

Mile 24 - Post Cry
Kelly decided to head off around 24.75.  She needed to go back to her car and meet us for post-race celebrations.  So she ran with me for almost 11 miles.  Totally appreciate the support and all the effort you put into helping me run Kelly!

And at this point (and since mile 16), I was only run/walking.  I might run about 1/2-1 mile and then walk (Usually only running about 1/2 mile at a time).  Every step hurt.  But did I tell you, my ankles and knees where I had all those injuries while training?  Completely fine!!  I was very happy about that! 

I saw the stadium and also knew I had only 1/2 mile left.  We finish on the 50 yard line in the U of I campus football field.  As I rounded the corner to go into the stadium, I felt the tears coming back!  OMG!  I was done!  Run to the finish!  I had a quivering lip and teary eyes but I finished with a smile!  It was over!! My splits were: 12:47, 12:49, 13:07, 13:19, 13:29, 12:45.  Here are a few finish pictures that the marathon people took:

Then I took my post-marathon finisher photo and posed with Shelby's husband Curtis. 

Ok, I made the pic of me and Curtis X-Large.  Why?  Do you see the bleachers in the background?  Do you see the sign that says "Food" with an arrow pointing up?  What sick bastards marathon organizers would make people that just ran a marathon climb stairs to get to their food???  I made it up the stairs ok but I did see other people helping their loved ones up the stairs!  Just cruel!  CRUEL AND WRONG!! 

It was also just wrong that they ran out of the heating wrap foil things (technical term) and they also ran out of pizza!  Pizza sounded really good at that point!  Damn you marathon people!! 

I found my other friends Julie and Don from the FNRC that I went to the expo with and posed with them.  I also met up with my Yankee Runner group for some post-race celebrating and food!  There was also a little kissing going on!!

Julie, Don and myself

Yankee Runners

Told you there was a little kissing going on!  I earned every minute of this medal!!
Marathon #2 is complete!  My total time recorded by the marathon was 5:02:46, which is about an 11:33 avg pace.  I actually only missed my previous marathon time by 9 minutes, which completely amazes me.  I "thought" I did so much worse, but maybe the key was that I never stopped trying to beat my time, or I kept trying to get the best possible time I could.  I was constantly setting new goals if one wasn't reached.  If I wasn't going to beat my old time, maybe I could come in under 5 hours?  Ok, it didn't happen but maybe I still had a relatively ok time because I kept trying and kept setting new goals and just never quit.

Also before this second marathon and with the hard training season, I was completely regretting signing up for Chicago again this year (which is in October).  But after this marathon, and after only missing my time by 9 minutes, and after knowing everything I did wrong, and after all the injuries (which I can probably prevent with proper hydration and stretching), I feel like I can do great in Chicago this year.  Before this 2nd marathon, I had doubts...everything seemed to be going wrong.  But maybe I needed this struggle in order to really know what I can get through.  Hopefully with some ideas I have in my head to better prepare, I will kill my best marathon time!  I will share all these ideas in a later post as this one is just about novel size!!  Thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback you all give me!