Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Post Marathon Happenings

Happy Tuesday!  Well, it's not necessarily a happy one for me but I'll make the best of it anyway.  And it's been gloomy in Chicago the last couple days which hasn't helped.  But onward!

The marathon is now 2 weeks past.  I miss it!  I miss training for it.  I like having a training plan to follow.  But I also like NOT having to run ALL THE TIME!  I like trying other things, or not having to worry about fitting in running when you are so busy you don't even have time to sleep in your own bed!  But more on all this later.

When looking back at the marathon, I wish I had done better.  Maybe I'm being too hard on myself.  After all, I did PR my time.  And I was under one of my time goals of 4:45.  But my ultimate time goal was 4:35 and I just wish I was a little closer.  But all in all, I'm still "ok" with my time.  I know what I need to work on to get that goal of 4:35 (and maybe even 4:30??).

Post marathon, my shoulders were really tense.  I had a chiropractor appointment where she spent most of the time on my shoulders.  And when I say "on my shoulders"...I mean she beat the ever living crap out of them.  So much so, that they were sore for several days if I tried to lay on my back for bed or doing ab work!  And a week later, I was getting dressed and noticed a bruise on each side.  And this was after a week!  And the next day I had a massage appointment where she tried to loosen my shoulders up too...I really made her sweat.  I'm not sure she really got them where she wanted them.
One of the bruises from the chiropractor - one week after.
So what has been going on with me since the marathon.  Well, I took 1 week off of running.  I've been trying out the LA Fitness in my neighborhood because I'm thinking of switching from Charter Fitness to LA Fitness.  The price is a little more but there is so much more to do and since my time is not consumed with running, I can do some other things.  Things that will help with my running too.  They have a pool so I can swim laps.  They have a variety of classes that I've been trying out.  So far, I've tried a Zumba class, 2 different core conditioning classes, and a yoga class.  Some I loved and some were ok.  But I think the core conditioning classes will really help strengthen my ....core (duh)...which will be good in the long run.

It was good though. I went to one yesterday and it was set up in circuits.  One circuit was squats while balancing on the bosu ball (the ball on the bottom and your standing on the flat top surface).  If you have never done the bosu ball...and have horrible balance like me, this is really difficult!  I started doing some of these with my personal trainer last year.  I used to have to hold on him, when I squatted, my legs would shake uncontrollably!  It was so hard!  I could never get on it by myself!  But with time, I improved.  So much so, that my second trainer had me starting on the ground and jumping onto it!  Yikes!!  I was scared at first, but did that too!!  So when I was doing the squats on the bosu ball yesterday during that class, the instructor walks over to me and told me "Very Good!!"  I later thanked my trainer for that! Haha!  I actually would love to buy one for myself but they are about $80-$100.

In addition to this, I have been running a few days out of the week.  I started out slowing last week.  It always seems hard when you skip a week of running.  I just felt like I couldn't breathe!  lol.  But overall, they were good runs (although rainy and dark).  Speaking of dark, if I run alone and on the streets, I have to wear bright clothing.  If I don't, I have to wear something reflective.  My reflective clothing is lacking and I hate my reflective vest, so a friend got me a reflective belt.  Even though it's not the most comfortable thing either, it gets the job done.

With flash, showing you the awesome reflectiveness before a run last week

No flash...and sucking in my gut just a bit! lol
It's really hard to get back into running in the dark.  And last week, it was rainy too, which added another element of difficulty.  I had to be careful to not slip or trip.  Plus I have to be aware of my surroundings.  But right now, it's dark in the mornings and evenings...and I work during the day, so it's either run outside in the dark, or run on the treadmill, which I don't like either.  I almost went last week but was going to just run 3 miles and didn't feel like driving the 5 minutes to the gym.  So outside night running it was.

But...all and all, I'm enjoying just doing "my thing" for working out. I used to belong to Ballys since I was 16 and to a aerobics place in a church basement my aunt taught at before that (since about age 12).  So I'm really enjoying going back to classes again.  They can be so much fun with the right instructor.  I like the tough classes too.  I don't want it to be too easy.  I want to feel tried and sweat after 5 minutes!  I want to take a kickboxing one again because those were always so much fun!

And in about 1 week (Oct 31st), I will be heading to Vegas with a few friends of mine.  I'm really excited since the last time I went was in 2000!  It's definitely time to go back...and I really need to get away from my life for a few days! 

What have my marathon friends been doing post marathon?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012 - Full Recap

It's been well over a week since the marathon and I have yet to give my full recap.  I know, I know...


The week before the marathon, I started off really nervous.  I seem to do that every time.  I start second guessing myself.  I knew I could DO the marathon, but what about beating my old time?  Even though I was convinced before that I could do it, all of a sudden I started having doubts.  Well, after a few days of that, I put it behind me.  I got really excited.  Many of my friends were doing the marathon as their first one!  I felt the nerves and excited in the air.  On the Thursday before the marathon, as tradition with my 10:00 pace Yankee Runner group, we went to Bourbon Street for a few drinks and some food.  It was cute because some people were taking notes and we were all sharing tips and ideas.  I was unsure all week how to dress for the marathon.  It had appeared that, although ideal marathon running temps were forcasted, it was just a tad colder than I thought I would have wanted.  It was kind of hard to tell exactly what the temps were going to be and I was trying not to stress too much over it.  As long as it wasn't going to be 80+, I was fine with it.  Up until the night before though, I had no idea what I was going to wear and figured I would bring several different options, in case I wanted to change when I got to the hotel that morning.  In fact, the Saturday before the marathon, it was FREEZING!  I was so cold and that made me slightly nervous for race day.

I went to the expo this time on Saturday instead of rushing through it on Friday like last year.  I went with two training friends and we took our time walking around and taking photos.  I missed taking photos last year because I was by myself and in a hurry.  This year I was making the most of it...taking all the stupid photos I saw everyone else taking!

Betcha didn't know!

Me, Shelby & Curtis

I really wanted this picture!  Haha!

I was getting tired and cranky.  I hadn't eaten much that day and was panicky because I had the marathon the next day!  So we left and ate lunch before I headed home and Shelby and Curtis went to the hotel they were staying at downtown.

The morning of the race, I stepped outside preparing for a blast of cold air and was pleasantly surprised!  It wasn't as cold as the morning before.  I drove downtown and parked in my cheapy $2 parking lot that is a secret (ssshhhh)...I know about it because I used to go to a gym across the street.  I have since let a few people in on my secret.  I've been parking there for many years for Chicago races.  It's about a 15-20 minute walk and I just use it as my warm-up.

I met my charity group UPS for DownS at 6:30 for a photo.  

UPS for DownS Charity Runner Group

This is the same place we took a photo last year.  I'm on this ledge and as I was going to jump down, I got a little nervous and hesitated.  I finally went to make the jump and my right leg got caught and I twisted my knee (seriously, I felt if I had twisted it a little more, I might have broken my leg!!).  Several people asked if I was ok, and I said I was fine.  Then I started limping back to my bag and my knee hurt so bad.  I wanted to cry, not from the pain, but because I possibly just hurt my knee right before the marathon I just trained so hard far.  I tried to put it out of my mind and started walking to the Congress Hotel that I was meeting my training group at.  Luckily my knee seemed to loosen up and started feeling fine.

My training group hung out at the hotel for a while chatting and taking some pictures.  I wanted to use the bathroom there but the line was wrapped around the entire floor.  Because I'm a part of CARA, we get our own private port-o-potties and so I decided to just go there.  As I was rushing out of the hotel with my training group, I ran into some FN Runners (I wasn't going to be able to meet them that morning as it's usually too crazy to try to rush around the morning of the marathon).

Just a few of the FN Runners: Me, Susan M., Don, Meg, and Jeni (up front)
I was glad to have run into them and give some hugs all around.

In the corral, I decided to start with my training friend Shelby.  I wasn't sure how long we would stick together but figured something is better than nothing.  I wasn't going to see any of my friends until about mile 16.  While in the corral waiting to start, we came across Julie who also trains with us.  Shelby, Julie and I decided to start together.  Of course, while in the corral, we took a pre-race photo with our throw-aways on!  There was also some corral peeing (not by me)...gross.  I've never witnessed this before but luckily (??) finally got to see it!  lol.

Yankee Runners in Corral K waiting to start
The marathon was set into 2 waves this year (new from the previous years).  Wave 1 had Corrals A-D, which you had to qualify for, and Corral E, which was a charity corral of all paces.  I was not in the charity corral because my charity was not in charity village.  This wave started at 7:30.  I was in Wave 2, which consisted of the rest of the corrals through M.  I was in corral J and officials were pretty strict about jumping up or back.  However, my pace leader knows the art of distraction and we mosied on into corral K.  Wave 2 was scheduled to start at 8:00 am.  I ended up starting around 8:13 with Shelby and Julie and we just took it easy.  We just wanted to start out at 10:30's and see how we felt later.

Like I said before, my main goal was to have fun, because what's a race if it's not fun??  And mission accomplished on that.  I think I had a smile on my face for the first 7 miles!  At about mile 5, I mentioned to my friends that my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much!  But the 3 of us were having some fun, reading signs, hearing people call out my name.  Oh yeah, I put my name on my shirt.  But I've never done that before and so in the beginning people would cheer for me and I'd be like, "Huh?  Do I know them?"  Then realizing...DUH AMANDA!  Your name is on your shirt! 

Pretty early on, all 3 of us had to go pee.  We decided to wait until after mile 7 because we didn't want to go to early and have to go again.  But all the bathrooms we saw had HUGE lines! I'll be damned if I was going to blow 10+ minutes waiting in line for the bathroom.  I told my friends I would go in bushes or an alley but one of my friends said that that would not be possible for her (if you know what I mean).  So I think the next 5 miles, I spent all my time scoping out port-o-potties!  And every time, the lines were huge!  Getting close to the half way point, I think we all started getting a little tired.  It was hard for me to tell exactly what our pace was (since the garmins get all screwed up and running around the buildings, at times, it didn't seem accurate), but my guess was that we were fairly consistent.  Sometimes I saw 10:30, 10:15, 10:45. I figured it was balancing out at 10:30.  Right were we wanted to be.  In fact, when I saw my friends at mile 16, they told me our 5k splits were right on 10:32 pace every time!  (And it's true, it was weird! 10:32, 10:32, 10:32).

Right after the halfway checkpoint, I spotted port-o-potties to the right side behind the gate barriers with...wait for it...NO LINE!!  I immediately told my friends and we veered around the gates and used the bathroom!!  Now, after I stopped, I noticed my legs were tightening up and knew I just needed to keep running!  I saw my charity group at the mile 14 charity block and was super excited!!  I was to the point in the race where I was just looking forward to the next person or group to keep me going.  

After mile 14 at charity block
My friends Becky and Kathy were going to be around 16.5 and that was the next time we would see someone.  They actually texted me and told me they were at a sign that said 27k.  I saw the 25k but it seemed like FOREVER to finally get to the 27k marker!  Becky and Kathy joined in with Shelby, Julie and I for a couple miles!  About mile 18.5, they jumped out.  It was great to have them there and the 3 of us were starting to feel a little slow and cranky.

L-R: Julie, Me, Shelby - I like that we are all in sync on the same foot. Mile 16.5
Actually Shelby, Julie and I were still running together which I was pretty amazed by.  I think it really started helping all of us out and we weren't walking AT ALL except at some of the water stations, were we might have walked for 10 seconds while getting our water/gatorade.  Now around mile 18-19, I get pretty grumpy.  It seems that happens during every marathon.  I do NOT like the 18 mile mark.  BUT, I knew that my old boss was going to be around mile 20.5 and Julie's mom was going to be near the same area.  So in my mind, just keep going until then.  I knew our pace had slowed a little but we were still moving so that was all I cared about.

We saw Julie's mom at mile 20-ish.  She jumped in and was going to run with Julie the rest of the way.  I also saw my old boss Chris and his fiancee at around mile 20.5 and they jumped in.  Right around this time, Julie and I lost Shelby!  Damn!  After running for 20 miles together, it would have been great to finish together!  We tried to keep looking for a little while but it was no luck.  Shelby would have yelled to us if she was nearby.  Julie and I just made an unspoken decision to also part ways.  While I was running with my boss, I could tell his fiancee wasn't too happy.  She was overdressed to be running and even though the temps were slightly cool, it got really sunny around the half way point (and therefore, hot).  She stopped after close to 2 miles and Chris told her he would see her at home (they live in the city).  He said he wanted to keep running with me (THANK GOD!). 

Chris was totally enjoying himself at the run.  During Chinatown (around mile 21), he was throwing his arms up posing for photos, slapping hands when people were congratulating him and telling him "good job on the run!", to which he thanked them.  I could only chuckle.  He was pretending he was running this marathon!  lol.  But I was glad he was having fun because it was keeping me entertained.  And I got a second wind around mile 21 and felt pretty ok.  He also said around mile 22, "This is so much fun!  I think I could do this!"  To this I said to myself, yeah, you only jumped in at mile 20!!  lol.  I've never run with Chris before and he is just a very occasional runner.  He used to do it but stopped.  However, hearing about me and my running adventures this past year, he started running again.  He was actually a very good runner!  He ran a total of 5 miles with me (between mile 20.5-25.5).

Mile 21-ish (Chinatown)...Whoa???  I did the Kelly pose without thinking!!
Mile 23-ish.  Chris and I running together

Also, Kelly had an opportunity to help me during the run and jumped in somewhere around mile 23.  I get REALLY grumpy around mile 22-23 so having both Kelly and Chris there was really helping keeping me going.  Since Kelly probably knew I was getting grumpy...she said, "You know we are taking a picture, right?"

lol, God bless Kelly sometimes!  Haha!
I did stop to walk once that was a non-water stop walk.  I had passed a water stop thinking I didn't need any (I had water with me)...but then was tired and stopped.  But not bad considering this was the first one and it was around mile 24.  I didn't stop too long and started running again.  Kelly and Chris told me I wasn't walking anymore...and even though I was not planning on it...I wanted to say "Screw you!  I've been running for over 24 miles!"  lol.  But I knew they were trying to be helping, motivating and encouraging and knowing that I was just feeling really grumpy at this point...haha.  Sorry Kelly!

This stretch down Michigan Avenue for the last 3 miles is probably the worst part of the marathon for me.  I ran it alone last year.  I was really glad to have help this time around.  But like all good things...it had to come to an end.  They kick "helpers" or "bandit runners" or "ghost runners" off the course right around mile 26, when you make the turn to Roosevelt Hill.  So when I saw the 800 meter sign, I said goodbye and thanks to Kelly and Chris and headed over to the opposite side of the street to make the turn onto Roosevelt Hill.  I told myself that I only had 1/2 mile left.  This was also the first time in this entire marathon that I was running by myself (how did that happen?). 

Last year during the Chicago Marathon (my first one)...I walked a lot the last 8 miles.  This time, I only walked once!  My last goal was to run all the way up Roosevelt Hill.  I know you have heard me talk about Roosevelt Hill before (and other Chicago runners)...but it's not really a large hill.  But after running a half or full marathon...it becomes exponentially larger!  And it's pretty long, which is probably why it's so rough sometimes!  And during last year's marathon, I ran up part of it and had to stop and walk up the second half (which is not what you want to do in the last 600 meters of the marathon!!).  This year I made a goal to run up the whole thing.  I would not stop and walk.  I knew I could do that anyway.  So this year...I ran up the whole thing!  Some might think that's such a weak goal but to me at mile 26, that was a good goal to have.  In fact, I had to dodge around other people walking in my way!  "Move people!!  I'm trying to finish a marathon!"  This is really what was going through my mind!  lol

The turn after running up Roosevelt Hill and the beginning of the home stretch.
And I actually sprinted to the finish!  If you know me...I do not sprint to the finish of long runs.  I feel like, "What's the point??  What will a few seconds make in the end of 2 hours, or 4+ hours?"  But this year at a few races, I have started saying, "Screw it!  I'll just sprint to the finish."  Which is what I decided to do for the marathon.  Also because during the last several miles, I knew I was nearing one of my time goals.  My time goals were to beat my PR of 4:53...with a final goal of 4:35 (10:30 pace).  However, I also said I would be pretty happy with anything under 4:45.  I knew the last several miles that 4:35 was out.  But I was well within my goal of sub 4:45.  That's one of the reasons I sprinted to the finish. I didn't really have any idea how close or far (within 5 minutes), I was to 4:45.

Sprinting "Amanda Style" to the finish line!
 And I crossed the finish line.  As I stopped running, I immediately felt my legs tightening up (as they were anytime I walked briefly though a water station the last half).  And because running a marathon for me is not an easy task (and because I knew without a doubt I PR'd), I started crying.  Um...this is starting to become a trend with me (crying at the finish, or the last mile or two of a marathon...yes, I almost started crying at mile 25...in which Kelly snapped another photo).  So I started crying but it was behind my sunglasses.  They were happy tears and tears of "This shit sucks, why do I do it?"  But immediately after crossing the finish line, I saw several of my training friends standing to the side waiting for people.  I didn't want anyone to see me crying so I hid the tears and went up and gave them a group hug.  After talking for a few minutes and finding out how everyone did, we made our way to the food area and to take the traditional "finisher photo".

I love this photo!
As we were walking through the finisher area, I looked around and we were all walking so slowly.  But it wasn't just me and my friends, it was every runner!  It was really funny looking.  Then I heard someone off to the side say, "Look at all the misery on their faces!"  Haha!

Bob and I made our way slowly back to the Congress Hotel to meet the rest of the group.  We took some more photos.  I also met up with some of my "helpers" back at the hotel.  I seriously don't know if they all know how helpful they were.  Even just seeing them would have been great!  But to run any amount with me (and to come down for me), meant a lot. 

Yankee Runners 10:00 pace group - marathon finishers!

Some of my helpers L-R: Kelly, Kathy, Me, Becky

How do I feel about this marathon. Overall, really good.  I do wish I could have gotten closer to my 4:35 goal but I PR'd and got sub 4:45 (4:44:54...guess that sprint really helped!  haha!!).  I know what I need to do to get a better time and some things I need change ... I will write more about this in another post.  My 3 main goals were accomplished: 
- I PR'd
- I had fun
- I ran up Roosevelt Hill

Even though I had not planned on "bothering" anyone to help me this time...and I had only planned on possibly running for a short time with Shelby in the beginning...I ended up running the whole thing with someone!  I ran with Shelby and Julie for the first 20.5 miles.  My helpers jumped in at 16.5 until 18.5 (Kathy & Becky), Chris jumped in from 20.5 to 25.5, and Kelly jumped in from 23-25.5.  So much for my big girl panties and running it alone!!  I wouldn't have done this any other way!  Loved not being "alone"!

I think this is by far ....enough for today's post. 

Next up...things I want to change and what's on my agenda post-marathon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CM 2012 - Mini Recap

The weekend has come and gone and that means only one thing...the 2012 Chicago Marathon is over!  I'm anxious to read some of your recaps on running it or spectating it.  Some of you have been wondering how my marathon went and I want to tell you but unfortunately, do not have time to write a full recap at the moment.  So here is my mini recap and later this week, I hope to provide you with a full one.

I finished  - YAY!!
I PR'd - YAY!!
I had fun "most" of the time - YAY!!
My friends did awesome - YAY!!
I ran all the way up Roosevelt Hill - YAY!!
I have some awesome memories that will last a lifetime - YAY!!

My PR was by about 8 mins.  I had hoped for a little better but overall, I'm happy with my time.  My marathon times for all three are as follows:

Chicago Marathon 2011     4:53:06
IL Marathon 2012              5:02:46
Chicago Marathon 2012     4:44:54

As you can see (and from my past posts) my Illinois Marathon was a rough one.  My time goals for this marathon were first of all, to beat my PR time of 4:53.  Secondly to get as close to 4:35 as possible.  I knew the 4:35 time would be challenging for me but I'm always up for a challenge.  What are goals if they are too easy to achieve, right? 

However, in my mind, I said I'd be thrilled with anything under 4:45 and by 6 seconds...I beat that!  I guess when I decided to "sprint" to the finish (I mean...if you can call what I did a sprint)...I guess that sprint was a good idea!  I'm normally one that feels..."The distance is so long, what does a few seconds really matter?"  And it's true...except this time it made a difference of beating 4:45 and not beating it.  Although I really had no idea how close I was to that time.

My goals (not based on time) were to have fun and run up Roosevelt Hill.  I did both and I'm happy about that.  In fact, I had a smile on my face for the first 7 miles straight!  So much that my cheeks were hurting!  I was running with some great training friends and fellow marathon buddies for the first 20.5 miles and that's why I had such a good time.  More on that to follow in my next post.

But I'll leave you with a few good signs/shirts I saw:

"If marathons were easy, it'd be your mother!"
"Kenyans are lazy! They only run for 2 hours!"
"I thought you said 2.62 miles!"  ---Always one of my favorites!

On a shirt:
"Drinking club with a running problem"

Did you see any good signs while you were running?  I know I saw more but memory fails me.  And some signs I just plain don't like... 

"This is a sign"
"Do you know how early I got up to make this sign"
"(Name Here) run faster!  My arms are hurting!"  ---Ok, that's a little funny.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Race Week!! Am I ready? Are you?


Last Sunday, some of my Yankee Runner marathon training group (all paces, not just mine) ran the last 6 miles of the Chicago Marathon course.  I participated in this last year as well and thought it was a good chance for first time marathoners (or first time Chicago Marathoners) to get familiar with what can be a very difficult time during the marathon.  For first timers during the marathon, it puts them at miles that they've never run before.  Typically, the longest run they may have done is 20 miles.  The last 6 miles is unknown territory.  So the reason the Yankee Runners do this "last 6" run is to familiarize yourself with the course, know the turns, will there be shade, where might there be crazy crowds.

It is weird because we get dropped off in the middle of nowhere.  We run near and through Chinatown, on the streets where there are cars.  People look at us like we are crazy!  What is this crazy group of people running around here for??  Maybe next year we should put old bibs on and make it look like we are doing a race.  That would be fun!  Haha!

I also joked with Maggie that we were taking a sightseeing tour of Chicago...by foot.  A woman asked us as we ran past if we were "practicing for the marathon".  The wording of that was really funny to me.  Yes, we are practicing.  Here is Maggie's recap of that day. 

The Yankee Runners that participated in the last 6 mile run

Some of my 10:00 pace group I've been training with all year (and all new run friends I met this season).

Now...it's race week!!  I'm super excited!  If you would have asked me in March, while injured and training for the Illinois Marathon, if I was excited to have signed up for Chicago this year...and 2 marathons at that...I would have said without a doubt...NO WAY!!  Kelly even mentioned to me that I could sell my Chicago bib if I wanted to, which depressed me even more (and knew I couldn't do that unless I had no choice).

I was miserable in March.  I was injured.  I couldn't run a good pace anymore.  And my Illinois Marathon was equally miserable.  It was mentally and physically challenging (so much so that I started to cry at mile 24...first time during a run ever).  But as I said before, as soon as I crossed the finish line and found out that I only missed my best time by 9 minutes (and felt 100 times worse), I was excited to start training for Chicago.  I KNEW I could do it!

After realized I was severely anemic and getting that under control as well as my physical injuries, my pace started picking back up.  Right before starting this summer training, I could sometimes not even run 1/2 mile before I had to stop and walk, completely out of breath.  I later found out this was a symptom of the anemia.  I remember when I was finally able to run 4 miles straight through again and I could have jumped for joy!  Granted it was at a slow 10:30 pace but I was able to do it. 

Starting marathon training in June, I was unsure what pace group to run with.  I was struggling to run a 10:00 minute pace but that was the pace I trained with before and that's where all of my friends and my awesome pace leader were at.  And I was struggling running with them.  I would try to "hang in there" until our scheduled water stops.  And more often than not, I fell off pace by the end and lagged behind.  After I dislocated my shoulder in July, I decided that the 10:30's might be a better fit for me, especially because of my injured shoulder.  But after running with them once, I was miserable.  The pace leader didn't talk (and wore headphones), everyone had their own "clicks" of which I was an outsider.  I never ran with the 10:30's again.  I moved back to the 10:00's and decided even if I ran half with them and half on my own...it was better than being "alone" in the 10:30 group.

But I didn't have to worry too long.  I'm convinced a good part of my running success as of late is my iron.  I think once my iron levels really started to improve, so did my running (and breathing).  I had always said when I was struggling, before I knew what was wrong.."My legs feel great!  They want to keep running.  It's my lungs that's having an issue!"  So once iron levels improved...my running improved quickly.  I'm feeling close to where I was in 2010.  I try to run an "easy" pace, which used to be around 10:00's or later...and I can't seem to go slower than 9:45, more often 9:30's (for shorter distances).  And it makes me happy...Every.Single.Time.


I'm not an idiot to think I'm going to be some super speedy fast lady at the marathon.  I have finally made a decision on how I'm going to start.  Since I know it will be crowded anyway, this is a great opportunity to pace yourself.  I will start with my friend Shelby and run as easy as possible...I'm guessing as close to 10:30 for the first 3-5 miles...as a warm up.  After that, I will see how I'm feeling and just take it from there.

And while I wasn't thinking I was really going to have much running support (I will have some general F'N Runner spectator support), I actually do have a couple of possibilities for a few "jumpers".  My friend Becky (from H.S.) and my F'N Runner friend Kathy are actually going as MY run support.  I have planned out for them to be at miles 3.5 and 11 (because they are a block away) where they will cheer all runners on.  From mile 11, they will move to mile 16.5 and jump in with me until mile 19.  This is a guarantee.  My other support comes in the form of my former boss.  Even though he told me he WILL DEFINITELY be there...I will have my doubts until I see him.  He lives in the city, right near the course.  I decided to put him at mile 20.5 where he will jump in with me until maybe mile 23.25.  I mean, really??  Runner support from just about mile 16-23!  I will take it!  There is still a possibility that Kelly may find me near the end and jump in with me, but I know she has first timers she is helping and that's totally fine with me if she can't get to me.

My spectator notes...
 Until then...it's the week before.  I have not been doing my traditional (and obsessive) stuff...like eating exactly one serving of pretzels every day the week before for the sodium.  In fact, my eating has been a little off all week...I'm hoping to correct it starting today.  The only good thing is that I'm getting my water in.  At work, you will generally find 2 things of water on my desk at all times.

And I'm even more excited for my first time marathon friends!!  I hear their excited and their nerves!  I remember those days like they were yesterday (and since I still feel the excitement and nerves!).  I know my friends will do amazing.  I'm tracking several of them even though I won't know what happened or is happening until I finish the marathon.

I almost forgot!!  The weather!  It keeps changing but seems pretty consistent as of late with it being in the low to mid 50's for a high and upper 30's to lower 40's for a low.  And partly sunny.  Um...can you say almost near perfect marathon temps!   I haven't been obsessing over the temps since all of my friends are obsessing enough...and posting 12 times a day on facebook about it.  Since it's closer, I may start obsessing...but no sense in worrying over something you have absolutely NO control over!

I have a busy weekend too.  I have my charity banquet dinner on Friday night up in Schaumburg (such a far drive!).  I have a blogger meet up lunch downtown on Saturday.  And so either before or after lunch, I will make my way to the expo.  Most likely alone.  I seem to always go to the expos alone!  Although I might ask some stranger to take a picture of me this time while I'm there!