Monday, December 23, 2013

Marathon Fever?

When I did the Fox Valley Marathon this September and had a rough time, I said I wasn't doing the Chicago Marathon or the Lakefront 50K that I signed up for. 

I toughed out the Chicago Marathon in October but said I didn't really want to do the Lakefront 50k I signed up for.

I did the Lakefront 50k in November and had the best time of all three...but swore I would never do another marathon ever in my life. 

I swore up and down that starting in 2014, the most I will ever run again is a half marathon. I was so confident of that fact that I told my boyfriend that he could slap me in the face if I signed up for anything more than a half marathon after 2013!  He actually recorded it for proof.  Maybe he knew something that I didn't?

Up until December 22, 2013, I was (at first) 100% confident in that statement, then slightly less confident but pretty sure (maybe) that I wouldn't do a full AT LEAST in 2014.

Then came December 23, 2013.  After weeks of hearing everyone talking about marathon training starting up right about NOW, I had an epiphany that I NEEDED to do a fall 2014 marathon.  Where did this come from?  What changed from last week to this week? 

Ok, saying I wasn't going to do a full EVER AGAIN was probably jumping the gun a bit.  But saying I wasn't doing to do one in 2014 was definitely reasonable.  My goals for 2014 included getting stronger, more physically fit, and losing weight.  I need to do these things to be a better runner.  And it's hard doing the marathons when I'm not in shape to do them.  And I know from experience that I CANNOT lose weight while training for a marathon. 

I was making my spreadsheet of the races for 2014 that I've already signed up for and ones I'm considering.  While looking at this list, I felt something was missing.  I have a couple triathlons planned, a duathlon, some half marathons.  But ONE THING was missing. The one thing that defines me from others.  Or the one thing that brings me closer to others!  A marathon. I was missing a marathon in my 2014 race schedule and I didn't like the feeling.  Am I being dramatic?  Oh yes, definitely!  But marathons are dramatic!  And so are marathoners!  And I didn't feel "complete" without doing a marathon in 2014.

And there came my obsessive search for fall marathons in 2014.  I have a one almost definite and some other possibilities.  And I'm excited!  SO EXCITED.  And yes, I will prepare my face for that slap!  And I will have a smile on my face!  Because I'm a marathoner!  ... And I enjoy pain?? 

Have a Very Merry Christmas!  And a Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santas, Santas, and more Santas!

This past weekend was the Santa Hustle 5k in Chicago.  I wouldn't normally plan on doing this race but my coworker told me she wanted to do it and asked if I would do it with her. Of course I said yes!  My coworker is not a runner but she thought this seemed like fun.  I just warned her... "Just so you know, it's in December and it might be really cold! If we sign up for it, we are doing it!"  She said she will do it. 

Needless to say, the temps for that day ended up being cold.  The high was supposed to be 20 but the low was supposed to be about 10.  I gave her some tips on what to wear.  We also had 5 other coworkers sign up for it so it was going to be fun.  Also a good way for me to get to know a few of my coworkers since I'm relatively new to the office.

Not gonna say much about the run except that, yes, it was cold.  At first I dressed in 3 thin layers but then decided to add an extra 4th layer since I knew I would be walking much of the run.  I also wore, 2 pair of socks, 1 pair of pants, 2 pairs of thin gloves (I need better gloves), a neck/face warmer, headband for my ears, and a santa hat.  The santa beard went with me too, I just didn't have it on my face.  I was actually just about perfect for the run.  The sun was out and only my finger tips were a bit cold for a while.

Let's just look at some fun pictures of the race!

Me before the run

My crazy coworker Elise that I ran/walked with

Photo bombed by the abominable snowman

Conrado, Kelly, Kristi, Me

This photo speaks for itself

Post Run - the whole gang (Bottom L-R: Brian, Kristi
Top L-R: Conrado, Me, Elise, Monika, Kelly)

This coming weekend...I will be seeing more Santas!  I signed up to do the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in Indianapolis on Sunday, December 15.  The reason?  Derek signed up to do it right after my Ultra.  I never wanted to run again at that time.  So I waited to see what I wanted to do with this half.  I would go either way.  So did I want to cheer and spectate?  Or did I want to run?  Well, at the time, not knowing how cold it would be and I was feeling better a few weeks after the Ultra, I decided to sign up for it.  My 6th half this year (I think??).  And the end of the 2013 race season for me.  Luckily, I think it's supposed to warm up to about 30 degrees (for a high) this weekend.  It will seem like a heat wave!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pure Barre Class Review

Honestly, when did it become December?  Anyway..

My latest kick on my quest to become bigger and better...( and better?) is to improve my core and overall fitness/strength in general.  I need to improve my core muscles.  I need to help my lower back muscles.  My lower back still bothers me sometimes since I hurt it at the end of August.  It's definitely tolerable and manageable but it's there.  And I notice it most when I'm trying to do core work.  But it's there when I'm running and it's there when I'm sleeping.  Also, it's no secret that a stronger core improves your running. 

Enter Pure Barre.  It's the new latest craze.  It's not so much a craze in Chicago yet as they are just starting to pop up.  What is Pure Barre?  You can go to their website and read all about it.  But in uses a ballet bar and incorporates moves from ballet and pilates into their classes focusing on small isometric moves to target the areas you are working.

They built a studio in Orland Park about 20 minutes from my house.  The classes are pretty expensive and even though I wanted to try it, I'm cheap and hate paying "up the butt" (um...) to workout when I can do it for free or go to the gym that I pay monthly for.  They offered 2 free classes in November but it was the day after my Ultra Marathon and I didn't sign up for it because I really wasn't sure how I would be feeling.  Disappointed at missing my opportunity for a free class, they offered another one on December 1st!  However, this wasn't the traditional class.  It was an "Intro to the bar" type class.  Even though I wasn't really sure what to expect with this class or how much hands on work I would actually be doing, I decided to go and give it a try. 

My main concerns were that some of the moves would hurt my knees (which hurt all the time anyway) or that I wouldn't be able to do stuff due to my shoulder injuries and my back.  I know there are modifications to most things but honestly, if I have to modify more than 1 or 2 things, I get frustrated and think...what's the point! 

I was pretty nervous to go to this class.  I knew people would be wearing all these cute clothes and looking all good and I'd be in a run shirt looking all shabby. (Yes, this is a fear of mine!).  I was also nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it.  But I need to get toned and stronger so ... in I went!

Since it was a free class for first timers, about 1/2 the class was new which put me slightly at ease.  There were also some repeat members.  The owner was there and also 2 other instructors.  Normally there will only be 1 instructor but they wanted to make sure we would get enough attention and make sure our form was good.

She spent about 10 minutes talking about the class and what we should expect. Then we got right into it.  The first thing we did was some pilates/ab work.  I was slightly uncomfortable in my back doing one of the moves but I did it anyway (knowing it was something I used to do).  Maybe that wasn't the right thing for me to do but I didn't want to make a spectacle on one of the first moves!  And the ab work was challenging.  But I did most of it and my abs were sore!  We went by the bare next but she had us remain on the floor sitting on our knees.  Well there is no way I can do that with my knees so I asked for a modification and luckily she had one. 

Anyway, we did all of the moves, some of it was difficult.  Some of it was easy.  Some of it was difficult to figure out what we were working and exactly what to squeeze but the instructors were pretty good and trying to help everyone out.  My shoulder was never really an issue except a little with the side planks and I'm so weak, I can barely do push ups anymore.  My back was only an issue that one time.  My knees were so-so, I could feel them but usually they were ok.  The squats aren't really deep so I think that saves my knees a bit.

I didn't take any photos and it's a bit difficult to run through the moves.  Like I said, some of it was pilates and push ups and planks, etc.  Some of it was on the barre with moves that resembled the slight ballet squat and leg back thingies (technical term), some of it was using your arms and a small round ball or light weights. 

The verdict:  The next day every piece of muscle we worked on (mostly) was sore.  I felt my abs, my obliques, my butt, and my triceps, so much so that I didn't want to get up from my desk at work.  I think that's a success!  All areas I need to target. 

My problem: I'm cheap. I have a gym membership.  I run outside.  Maybe I can google a video and do the moves at home?  Maybe.  But I probably won't be as successful.  They offer a first time client special of 1 month unlimited for $99.  Actually a really good price considering 1 class is about $20.  They have 2 night classes available and weekend class (and early morning classes) that I am able to attend.  If I ordered the month, I would like to go 3 times a week for the entire month. 

I think I might look online this week and see what I can find.  Otherwise, I think I might cough up the $99 for the unlimited month and get my money's worth.

Have you heard of Pure Barre?  What do you think?  And would you spend the money?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ultra Marathoner! Chicago Lakefront Ultra 50k

I didn't name this post "race recap" because it's not really about the race too much.  It was more about me and my feelings on it.  I just didn't feel as though it is an accurate "race recap" but whatever! Let's get to it, shall we!

I remember at the beginning of this year, my friend Julie said she was going to run the Chicago Ultra 50k this November. I thought she was crazy. I told her my plan was to run 2 fall marathons about 1 month apart (with Fox Valley being the first).  I mean, 2 fall marathons isn't crazy or anything, right? She mentioned, "Why don't you do the Ultra as your second one instead of a 2nd 26.2 marathon?"  I simply said...and I quote, "I don't ever want to run more than 26.2 miles!"

Fast forward to ... maybe...August of this year.  I had signed up for Fox Valley Marathon in January.  Training was in full swing, and really wasn't going that great anyway.  My shoulder was giving me problems and I was considering having surgery this winter on it.  So while walking at lunch one day, I decided that I was going to sign up for the Ultra since I would probably be having shoulder surgery and would be out for a while after that.  Long story a new job and therefore not having surgery just yet.

After the hard time at Fox Valley, I almost didn't do Chicago.  Got talked into Chicago but didn't want to do the Ultra.  Finally after realizing my friend Julie wanted to do it with me, I decided to give it a shot.  I was feeling pretty good and thought that I just needed to finish anyway.

Race day was here.  Julie, Derek and I headed to the South Side of Chicago near Jackson Park.  The course was an out and back (5+ miles) and run 3 times.  Julie and I picked up our packets and saw some friends.  How I know so many crazy people is beyond me!  While waiting in the line for the bathrooms, we started talking to someone who'd done these before.  She had a big bag that she was placing near the start line (which is also the turnaround point 2 times, and the finish line).  People put bags there in case they need a change of clothes, food, whatever they might need.  Julie and I had nothing.  We had our race shirts on and that was it.  We were pretty cold and after talking to the woman, we decided to place a bag there because we wanted to layer up for the first loop and then ditch our clothes for the rest.  I commented to Julie that I liked how we were still deciding what to wear 15 minutes before the race start.

Julie and I after picking up our packets - Start line (No Whiners Allowed!)

Waiting to start (L to R: Julie, Nicole, Me, Susan, Joe)
Julie and I had a plan to run 7 minutes and walk 1 minute.  We never really tried this at a race before but we thought maybe it would help conserve our energy and our legs.  I set my watch for the intervals and it would beep and vibrate so I didn't really have to be conscience of it.

And we started.  And we ran.  We ran our 7 minutes and walked our 1 minute.  Many people had this type of plan and I was constantly hearing beeping and seeing people walk and run in the beginning.  Soon, lots of people passed us.  I didn't care. I just wanted to make it to the end.  Our first 10+ mile loop was upon us.

The first 10 miles went pretty well.  There was also a 50 miler going on and those people had 4 loops (longer loops) and started 2 hours earlier so there were already people running the opposite way from us.  Also, the 50k had an early start for those that wanted it.  I didn't want to start early because I wanted to full experience.  The out and back 3 loops provided many opportunities to cheer people on or have people cheer us on.  That was the part I liked!  Soon, we were done with the first loop.  We ditched some clothes and gloves and went to the bathroom.  Derek cheered us on and snapped this photo.

Running in after the first loop.  Bad form already!  But smiling!
I definitely liked the breakup with the 3 loops but the endless cheering from new "friends" we made on the course.  Julie and I both wore our Fox Valley Marathon Shirts and were known as the Fox Valley Marathon girls (original, I know!).  It was funny hearing people coming in the opposite direction... "Hey! It's the Fox Valley Marathon girls!  Hi guys! Great job!"  We were pretty recognizable and that made it fun!

The second loop was the worst.  First, the start sign said "No Whiners Allowed" and we definitely tried to follow that.  But we made some aches and tiredness known.  By mile 12, my legs were tired.  I still had 19 miles to go.  We saw people on their last lap...and we still had this one and one more.  It was pretty draining.  But, Julie and I made it through. For the most part, we kept our 7:1 interval.  Occasionally I slipped in an extra minute walk but that was it.  We also took our sweet old time at the aid stations, which had all kinds of food.  I'll elaborate later on that.  But finally lap two was complete!  Side note, to get to the start/finish/turnaround area, we had to go under the street which meant there was a pretty mean hill we had to go up every.single.time.  I'm proud to say I ran up it every.single.time!

Half way point!

About to complete our second loop and running up that dreaded hill again!  But still smiling!

The third loop was among us!  Only 10 miles to go!  We were definitely both tired, definitely both feeling it, definitely less talking going on.  Derek helped us by running the last loop with us.  We were crabby but it really helps having someone there! 

Derek and I on my last loop of 10 miles.

City in the background

Aid Station
 By this point, we knew where the aid stations were, we were supported by "friends", I was pretty optimistic since every mile down was one mile less in our LAST LOOP!  Near the end, Julie asked to cut it down to a 6:2 interval which was fine by me.  We actually only had about 3.5 miles left.  Julie was a little grumpier than me at this point. Somehow I found Ms. Optimistic in myself!  "Julie! Only 3 miles left!  Julie...only 2 miles left!  Almost done!  Look Julie!  The building!"  This building was one I remember from my 20 milers on the lakefront and knew the end was right by there!  I had said I'd never be so happy as when I saw that building!  Julie said later than my optimism did help a bit.

And Julie and I wanted to finish together.  And I sprinted up that last hill!  Sprinted after 31 miles!  Up a hill!  And we finished.  Together.  Well, she finish 1 second faster but whatever! Ha!

Finish Line!!

After the finish (Me, Jen, Julie)
Did I tell you, we get homemade red beans and rice at the finish?  It was so good.  They even gave some to Derek which I was happy about.

Red beans and rice!  So warm and tasty!  Perfect 50k post race food!
We finished in 6 hours 22 minutes.  I was perfectly fine with that.  Considering I did 3 marathons/ultra in 6 weeks.  Considering I wasn't going to do anything else after my horrible time at Fox Valley.  Considering I didn't injure myself with all of these major runs.  Considering.  I'd say I did a pretty darn good job.

So yes, I was disappointed with my performance with Fox Valley and Chicago.  In fact, my Ultra marathon pace was better than both the 26.2 marathons!  So even though I was originally disappointed with the first two, I'm really proud of myself for that last one and in turn, really proud of myself for this amazing accomplishment of completing all three.  People have a hard enough time doing just 1 marathon...and I did 3. In 6 weeks. 

My next goal is to lose weight and get more physically fit before I ever do anything longer than a half marathon again.  I've been working on it and dropped about 10 pounds so far. 

I actually had more pictures to show but for some reason, I'm having a hard time downloading them.  I've been sitting on this blog post for a bit now and want to get it out. After all, my Ultra was over 2 weeks ago! Ha!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mission Run 5k Race Recap

I participated in the Mission Run 5k in Manhattan, IL this past Saturday.  The run was put on by Derek's sister Andrea and was for a good cause so I decided to sign up. 

I wasn't planning on trying to PR this 5k for a couple reasons:
- I am no where near in "race" shape
- It's between the Chicago Marathon and the Ultra (one week before the Ultra)

The race was small and we were able to pick up our packets race morning and wait inside St. Joseph's.  The weather was about 50+ degrees and I kept debating on wearing a long sleeve under a short sleeve, or just the short sleeve (I kept changing in the car!).  In the end I decided on the long sleeve under my FNRC short sleeve shirt.  In hindsight...I should have just worn the short sleeve but I'm not quite used to this weather yet.

We met up with some more of Derek's family while waiting for the race to start.  His sister and brother-in-law (Andrea and Joe) were inside organizing everything and getting ready.  His brother Craig was running it, his nephew Adrian was running, and his mother Nancy was walking. 

Knowing it was a smaller race, I started sizing up the competition..."I wonder if she's in my age group?"  That kind of thing.  Even though I technically wasn't racing, I've never gotten an age group award and this would be the kind of run that I may actually be in contention (small, not super competitive).  I then found out that my age group (30-39) was the largest in the competition. Great. There probably go my chances!

We started and Derek and I split up immediately.  My garmin didn't catch signal for almost a mile and I had no idea what pace I was running at first.  Derek's brother was way ahead right from the beginning. Funny thing is, both Derek and I thought that he would probably slow up later because he has never done a 5k, and really is kind of a beginner runner (he runs on the treadmill but did participate in the St. Jude run earlier this year)....he had on a cotton t-shirt, you know...  :)

I realized close to the beginning that I was running too fast, based on my breathing and slowed it up a bit (again, unsure what pace I was actually running).  Originally I had wanted to be about a 9:00 min/mile pace for the overall average.  Near mile 2, my watch decided to catch signal and I turned it on.  I started talking to a woman but then passed her up... (yes, I was passing people for a change! So unlike me! Haha!).  I ran a little with someone else in the second or 3rd mile but passed her too!  (Smile). 

My breathing was definitely off for this race but since I haven't run "fast" in a while with all these marathons...I understand why.  Also, the amount of gross food (aka donuts), I've been eating at work this past week were really catching up to me!  I wanted to walk but decided to just hold on and try to keep my pace.  My second mile registered at 8:58 and the 3rd registered at 9:02 or so.

While running, I noticed that while Derek was a pretty good distance ahead of me, I could always see him.  During mile 2 & 3, I noticed his pace must have been slowing up because I started catching up to him... although just a bit.  But those bits added up and before I knew it, close to the end of the race, I caught up to him.  Seeing him and trying possibly catch up to him motivated me to keep my pace during the race.  I caught up to him and said "Hi babe!!"  I think he may have been surprised to see me!  We ran for a minute and I noticed my shoe came untied.  I was close to the finish, guessing only about 0.2 miles away.  I decided to run through because the finish was close and I didn't want to stop.

When we saw the finish line cones, Derek (being Derek) said "Good luck babe!"  and took off sprinting.  Me, not being a sprinter at all and really feeling like I could die,decided to let him have his finish and beat me as I just kept my steady pace to the finish line.  The clock read somewhere past 27:30-ish.  I just didn't pay attention.

End results:

Derek's brother Craig finished in 22:31 minutes!!!!!!!!!  What???????  Ok, yes were were surprised and so was he.  For a newbie 5k runner, wearing a cotton shirt (and almost wearing his sweatshirt and sweatpants before talking to Derek), he did fantastic!!

Craig: 22:31 - 1st in age group 30-39
Derek: 27:31 - 1st in age group 20-29
Amanda: 27:47 - 3rd in age group 30-39
Adrian: ran/walk with friends
Nancy (Mom): finished 3rd in 40+ age group walkers

All in all...we were a bunch of winners with the Taylor family (and me...the girlfriend) taking home some medals!  This was my first age group award in a run (I received a 2nd place age group award in my small sprint triathlon I participated in in 2012).  It wasn't a PR 5k for me but I wasn't going for that anyway.  I was happy with my little 3rd place medal!

I really enjoyed running this 5k.  It was a nice, small, local 5k.  The course was nice and they had 2 water stations.  It's definitely a "to-do" race in the future. 

Next up:  Lakefront Chicago Ultra 50k.

Please help me...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Chicago Marathon 2013 - Race Recap

My original goal that I set at the beginning of this year was to run 2 fall marathons.  Done!  Ok, the 2 that I did weren't necessarily the ones that I planned.  I did plan to do the Fox Valley Marathon on September 22 and signed up for that one by the end of January.  My goal for the second was to do one near the end of October because that gave me 1 month in between to rest, recover, and keep training/taper.  I thought the Columbus Marathon or Grand Rapids were definite possibilities, which are both on October 20. 

What I didn't plan on was having crazy runner friends with crazy ideas that then get implanted in my silly little head thinking I can do all these crazy things too signing up for the Chicago Lakefront Ultra 50k on November 2nd.  Well, sometimes things don't end up the way you think they will.  So after thinking about my friend Julie signing up for the Ultra (and she signed up for Fox Valley and the Chicago Marathons too), I thought... end the year big and do the Ultra. After all, it is ONLY 5 more miles than the marathon right and I've run marathons!  Maybe I should have waited until I completed Fox Valley before signing up for the Ultra but, well...crazy is as crazy does.  The Ultra on November 2nd it is!  And with that came 6 weeks between the Fox Valley Marathon and the Ultra.  Too long in my opinion and I was going to need another really long run.  But all my friends would be doing or at the Chicago Marathon, so who would I run with? decision to buy a bib cheap from someone and run the Chicago Marathon too.  Long run and medal! 

Fox Valley Marathon came and went.  Along with my very worse time for a marathon ever by over 20 mins.  Sigh.  I mean, I completed it and overcame some difficult miles and pain so that is an accomplishment.  But no, I'm not happy with the time, or the tears that I shed, or the pain I endured for at least half of the marathon.  It took everything I had to dig down and complete that marathon.  When I finished (and twice during the marathon), I made a decision to definitely NOT do the Chicago Marathon or the Ultra even though I already paid for it.  I didn't care about the money.  I didn't want to feel the way I felt at Fox Valley ever again.

So after numerous people telling me to still do Chicago, I caved and decided to give it a shot.  My goal for the Chicago Marathon was simple. Do not cry.  Have as much fun as you can.  After all, this was just a training run.  I wasn't going for time and it wasn't even under my name so really it didn't matter if I sucked, right? 
Message to myself (Derek constantly tells me this)
I drove down with Julie and her sister.  It was a clear crisp morning of about 46 degrees.  I was chilled but that was how I want to feel before a marathon, otherwise it's too hot.  Perfect weather. 

My thought was to start with the 4:40 pace group because it was located in my corral but I had a hard time finding them and then I was so far back, it was too hard to get up there.  When my corral was a few minutes from starting, the security people were letting us out to use the bathrooms.  Really?  I was completely surprised that people were just streaming out of the corral to the bathrooms and back in the corral without security even checking anyone!  Especially in light of the Boston bombings and the heightened security measures being taken at the marathon.  BUT...I was thrilled because I had to use the bathroom again and so I went.  About 2 mins after I got back to the corral, my corral (G) started.  I wasn't with the pace group or any of my run friends.  It was just me, 45,000 other runners, and 1.5 million spectators. 

Because we are in Chicago, the garmin is virtually useless.  Several times it lost satellite, my pace was off and so were the miles.  I pretty much stopped looking at the garmin and just decided to run...and run easy.  Make it through the miles, 1 mile at a time.  And the crowds during the first 10 miles are the best I've ever seen!  The neighborhoods up north are so much fun and there is such positive energy.  I smiled and laughed and thought, "Now, I know why people want to do this marathon year after year!" 

Approximately mile 7.5
I felt pretty good.  My aches and pains that bothered me at Fox Valley were not nearly as bad.  I bandaged up the toe that blistered before and that was fine.  My back was sore but definitely manageable.  The top of my foot did start bothering me but I stopped at mile 6.5 and loosened my laces even more and that seemed to work.  I saw Jill around the 10 mile mark and she ran a few blocks with me, which was great.

I felt pretty good through about mile 14-15.  I was by no means "perfect" and could feel the effects of just running Fox Valley creeping up on me.  My legs really started feeling heavy during the last 10-11 miles though.  I started walking a lot between miles 15-18.  At 18, I reset my garmin and decided to mental "start over."  Was working great but then I realized about 1/4 miles in that I forgot to start my garmin back up! Ha!  Ran straight until about mile 19.5.  Run/walk followed for the rest of the time.  My legs felt like lead.  I could barely lift them.  Mentally I was still ok.  My boyfriend Derek and former coworker Geovanna was sending me some "keep going" texts and periodically I would pull my phone out to read them and respond.  In fact, the marathon photography folks caught me in action...
I forgot to look for any of my friends or running group at the various locations they said they may be cheering or volunteering at.  Total sadness.  I was in my own little world of joy and pain! So with the exception of Jill at mile 10, I was alone.  Until mile 25.  After I got done drinking water at the last water stop, I noticed one of the volunteers was Spero from my Yankee Runner group.  I was walking and he asked if I was ok.  I told him I was fine, just legs were heavy.  He told me to loop my arm through his and walk with him for a bit.  Um...ok...  I told him again that I was ok but he was being so kind that I walked a bit with him.  Then I told him I was going to start running and finish it up.  Super sweet and made me smile.

Anyway, the second half of the run was rough.  BUT...I had fun and that was my goal.  Never did I shed a tear or even make a sniffle.  I had my game face on and I kept it on and for that I'm proud of myself.

Not really sure what's going on here!

Finish straight away!

I'm pretty disappointed with the fact that I did get my worse marathon time ever... 5:28:26.  I know I wasn't going for time and I was fresh off a marathon 3 weeks earlier so that's something.  And I ran the entire marathon alone, which is a first for me and actually felt a little empowering (if that's not a little weird).  I knew I had to rely on myself and no one else.  I know there are a few things I need to work on for any possible future marathons (like losing some weight and making my core stronger).

I have the Ultra 50k in 2 weeks.  I really wasn't going to do it but have decided that since I signed up for it, I will give it my best shot.  Honestly, shoot me now please.

Probably a contestant for "Worst run photo"...and really captures how I felt! Ha!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Down...Two To Go!

Thanks for the kind comments on my Fox Valley Marathon Recap.  I wonder how things went so wrong with that one.  I know some of it was definitely physical and there isn't a whole lot that I can do about that but listen to my body. 

But some of that was mental.  When I contemplated walking the last 8 miles because I was sore and tired.  When I broke down in tears and hyperventilated about mile 13.5.  I mean...I used to be tough.  I used to look at these marathons head on and conquer!  A little pain?  No big deal! I won't die!  That's how I was the first marathon.  Even the 3rd marathon (the 2nd marathon was rough and we won't talk about that).  I've always been able to put my "game face" on and deal with it.  My long runs, my short runs, good days, bad days. 

Now I feel like a big baby.  I'm not sure what happened this year with my running.  I can venture a guess and say that all my injuries in February with my shoulder definitely made me take a step back.  I never quite recovered to the pace and level I was at in December and January.  Gaining weight, losing all affects my running too. 

But frankly, I'm kind of tired of being a baby.  I'm tired of feeling so weak mentally.  Someone isn't there to push me, I give up.  I mean, really I don't give up entirely as I always finish.  But I walk more.  I cry more.  Ugh.  I can't even stand me anymore!

Right now, my goals are "easy".  Finish my next two marathons.  Just survive and try to get through it as happy as I can.  I've been taking running very easy.  I've been trying to let the top of my foot recover (although it's still just a tad sore at times).  My back definitely feels better, it rarely hurts ever, just a rare occasion I know it's still there.  I guess I'll just bandage up my blister toe and hope that stays manageable.

What's still on my agenda for this year?
- Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013
- Chicago Lakefront 50k on November 2, 2013

I'm not sure who to blame for me signing up for these.  I guess I can only blame myself.  To tell you the truth, I'm actually scared to run the Chicago Marathon (even though I've run it twice before).  I don't want to feel the pain and misery that I felt at Fox Valley.  In fact, thinking about it now, makes me want to start crying!  (See!  I'm a big baby!)

But once again, I will pull those big girl panties on and put my game face on and tackle this next challenge.  I'm not going for time at all.  I decided to do Chicago as a training run for the 50k. 

When you are using marathons as training know you are officially crazy!

I'm not running under my name, however, so you can't track me there.  I'm running under Amy Flaherty from New Lenox (if you want to track me).  Yes, I'd like to do better than Fox Valley.  Yes, I'd like to get under 5:00 hours even!  But if I don't get under 5:00 hours, I'm ok with that.  I just don't want to hyperventilate at 13.5 miles again (or at all).  That's my goal!

How do you "suck it up" when you just want to quit?  Any words of advice or tips?

Plus, look what I made (and Derek helped with)!  I wanted to frame my marathon bibs and medals.  With the exception of the Illinois Marathon (can't locate my bib right now), they are all done and I love them!  I bought enough frames for the next two...(and one more...just in case).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fox Valley Marathon "Race Recap"

To say I have fallen off the blogger bandwagon is an understatement.  I thought about just stopping blogging altogether but then I would miss all of you.  So if I'm a sporadic blogger...know I am still here and will be back at some point!

Ok with that said.. I ran another marathon 2 weeks ago.  Was it two weeks ago already?  Seems like yesterday as the pain is still in the forefront of my memory!

I like running marathons.  And I liked this marathon.  I wish mine would have gone more the way I wanted it to but as I said to someone in the beginning of the marathon in the Corral, "Every marathon is different."  Which the same person reminded me later that day after I had my complete worse marathon to date. 

I know, I probably sound like a complainer.  And I'm really trying hard not to.  Let me start by telling you the good things about running the Fox Valley Marathon.

1. Friends.  I had a good amount of runners from my run group there running as well.  Since the course is a bit of an out and back, I pretty much saw ALL the runners that I knew at some point along the course and that was fun.

2.  Support.  Even though this wasn't in our neck of the woods, it was still "close" enough for support to come down to help out.  It was located in St. Charles, which is about an hour away.  I had a couple support friends come out and Jill from Jilly Eats even ran a mile during with us and about 5 of my last miles with me which was a huge help that late in the game.  My boyfriend Derek also came along and he was our official photographer and food/drink support. 

3.  Course.  A good portion of the course was along the Fox River and was beautiful.  A few miles in the beginning, a little in the middle, and part of the end was on regular streets but otherwise, it was along the path along the river.  It was at least 80% shaded.  The scenery was beautiful.  I had a nice time, even when I was alone and miserable, checking out the scenery.

4. Packet Pickup - The race offered an alternate location a week before the race to pick up your packet.  You had to pre-register by the Thursday before if you wanted to pick up your packet early in downtown Chicago.  I decided to do that even though I wouldn't get the expo effect but I wasn't sure what time I would be getting down there on Saturday (since I was staying at my cousins house) and thought this would be easier.  Since I was going, I also picked up a few other runners packets.

5. Aid stations - With the exception of the first aid station, that wasn't until almost mile 3, there were plenty of aid stations stocked and ready to go.  They also had Gatorade at all the aid stations, orange slices around mile 17, and nuun around mile 20.  They also had a good number of medical tents, of which I give a big shout-out to the one I visited around mile 16 (They touched my gross feet!!).

At the start with Julie and Meg

**Now everything else...

One problem with the course was that when they had people turn around to come back, they kept all the runners on the left going in both directions.  Sometimes this was not clearly marked and typically people run on the right, so that caused a bit of chaos and was a bit odd to run on the left. 

Around mile 10, there was a split for the people running 20 miles versus the people running the full marathon.  In addition, there were runners from the marathon running out and return runners running back.  Along with a split in the trail and a lot of spectators.  It was pretty chaotic around that point.

Around mile 10.5, getting some fuel (a banana)
My driving me crazy.  Can I cut all the bad parts out and still run?  I'll give a short run down.  1.5 weeks before I ran my 20 miler, I hurt my back.  In fact, I only ran half of my 20 miler and it ended in a complete meltdown of tears.  I rested for a week and even though my back felt better, it wasn't 100%.  I also completely dislocated my shoulder 1 week before the marathon.  I am now a "repeat dislocator" and can put my shoulder back in on my own.  Trust me, it's nice not having to go to the ER for that but it's not a good thing.  I got it back in but there were several loud cracks and it was sore for 2 days.

During the marathon, my back had a constant soreness.  I think this would have been ok as there were no sharp pains but this wasn't my only ailment.  Close to half way though the marathon, I was getting a blister on my pinky toe.  I was also just running though that.  I was running with one of my BRF and fellow marathon training partner, Julie, for about 11-12 miles but I told her to go ahead as I could tell I was starting to struggle.  Around mile 13.5, I texted Derek to ask if he had a bandaid (for my blister).  He didn't and I texted him and told him I was tired.  Then I completely melted down. I was thinking that I still had a whole half marathon to go.  I was already tired and hurting and I didn't want to do a whole other half!  Derek told me to just slow down and recover.  I stopped texting him and basically started crying and hyperventilating.  Yeah, I lost it for about 1/4 mile during the half way point.  I realized however, that I needed to pull myself together if I had any hope of making it through the whole marathon.

Around mile 16, I realized that the medical tents "probably" had bandaids!  Duh!  It took me 3 miles to figure that one out.  So I stopped while medical put a bandaid on my toe (I just felt sorry for them to touch my stinky gross feet).  I went on running but the way they put the bandaid on was pulling at my toenail and it hurt.  I saw Derek at mile 17 and sat down to fix the bandaid, which helped.  Derek had pealed an orange and I had half of that.  I walked with him for a little bit but knew I had to keep running. 

Around mile 17 with a FN Runner Jenni
Somewhere within this second half, I started getting a pain at the top of my foot (off to the side of the top).  That started really bothering me and I had to stop and walk more.  I contemplated walking the entire last 8 miles.  I even went so far as to try to figure how long it would take me to walk 8 miles and if I could finish the marathon under 6 hours if I did that.  I just didn't care anymore.  I wanted to be done with the marathon. 

I even told myself that there is no way I was going to do the Chicago Marathon or the Lakefront 50k that I signed up for.  I didn't spend too much money on either one and just didn't want to feel like this ever again in my life. 

My friend Jill met up with me around mile 20-ish and my cousins dropped by around mile 21 to show some love.  I was really struggling at this point and walking a lot!  I tried to run at times and would get a sharp pain at the top of my foot. I stopped to massage it MANY times.  I stopped to take my shoe off and rub that part of my foot 2-3 times.  I tried to run as much as I could and having Jill there really helped.  At some point around mile 21-22, Jill texted Derek to let him know I was struggling and walking a lot but that I was ok.  Derek texted her back... "Tell her to suck it up buttercup for me!"  And Jill did and I laughed as that's his favorite thing to say to me when I'm complaining about running. 

Jill and I around mile 21 with my cousins

Jill is a pretty hyper and super supportive run friend!  If you know her, you know what I mean.  It's also fun running with her.  In fact, with 1.5 miles left in the marathon, I told her I was going to run the rest.  We were closer to the back of the pack and people all around us were hurting and walking.  Jill starts yelling, "Who wants to get on our running train!  Do you want to join our running train?  Choo Choo!!"  And sure enough, the first woman that was walking joined our running train.  And so did the second woman.  I was laughing and thought this was fantastic.  And those women ran with us the last mile and I'm sure when home thanking the crazy woman asking them to join her running train!

Basically, I finished.  I got the medal.  I didn't take any finishing photos.  Basically I was glad it was over.  I wanted to get back to my cousins, shower, and eat.  I am thankful for all the help I got from all my run friends, Jill, and Derek.

My cousins were also terrific.  They made me dinner the night before and cooked us lunch after the marathon. They let me sleep there and shower there.  It was really nice to have all this for us and I'm forever grateful.

My pinky toe with the blister swelled up with fluid by the end of the day.  The entire toe was swollen and it hurt to walk at all.  So I had to pop the blister and drain the fluid (ewwww gross!!).  But that felt so much better after that.

My sore back, it's also a lot better.  It's still not 100% but I can tell it is better now than around the time of the marathon. 

The top of my foot...well, that still hurts.  I've been trying to take my running easier to help that heal but it's not 100% and the thing that worries me most about the upcoming marathon.

I'm pretty terrified to do the next marathon.  The thing that worries me the most is the top of my foot. I'm going to rest it a lot this week and hope for the best. I'm not going for time, I'm just going to finish and hopefully have a better marathon this time around.

This has nothing to do with the marathon. My boyfriend Derek and I...because I love him! 
And because he apparently wants to be featured more in my blog or something(??)  :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Moving on...Naperville Sprint Triathlon

I had a whole race recap started for the Naperville Sprint Triathlon that I participated in but I was never able to seem to finish it.  So it will be very brief...and with pictures!  Yay!!  Need to just move on here!

I went to pick up my packet the day before the race.  While there, we (Derek and I) participated in a race day preparation clinic.  It was very valuable and helpful.
Pre race preparation clinci

The signs that were going to be held up to line up for swim

Still pre race clinic - view of the beach we would be swimming at

Transition area

Race morning started bright and early.  We got up at about 4:00 a.m. (seriously, I need a new hobby).  The important thing was that the transition area would be open from 5:00-6:45 a.m.  We were advised to get there early as you don't want to be rushing trying to get your bikes and all your stuff set up!

We got there by maybe 5:30, parked our car and headed down to transition.

Race morning - our bikes
On the way into the transition area, we had people marking our numbers on our arms and writing our ages on our calf.  I was told about this in the pre-race clinic but I still thought it was a little odd!  Although later, during the run, I really liked sizing up my competition...or seeing who looked really good for their age!  They also checked our bikes, made sure our number was on them, etc.  Then we finally got into the transition area and scoped out our spot!

The key in triathlons is to see where your bike is located in relation to the "Bike Out" and "Run Out" areas.  Some triathlons, you get to pick your own spot and some area assigned to you.  This one was assigned to us based on our bib numbers.  I found that my spot was in great location to Bike Out (Score!).  After trying to set up my area and for some reason forgetting the million things I'd been told about it, I finally finished and went to check out Derek's spot.  I told him that I was unsure how to "site" my bike spot.  Basically I needed some landmark so that I knew approximately where my bike would be when I was done with the swim and running to my bike (and to put my bike back before the run).  Derek mentioned that my spot was directly in line with the path when we were running in from the swim and lined up with the tree.  I just had to run over the little grass and my bike was second from the end.

I then made my way over to the port-o-potties and waited there for approximately 30 mins!  I brought what I needed and left everything else in transition as I wasn't sure I would get back to transition before it closed at 6:45.  While in line, I noticed one of the two straps on my goggles were broke!  I slightly freaked out and had brought a cheap spare pair but it was in my back in transition and I was in line for the bathrooms!  I decided that my goggles should hopefully hold out for the swim and tried not to mess with it.  Finally made it out of the bathrooms right around 6:45 and headed back towards Derek.  We then made our way over to the swim area.

The swim area had signs being held up with signs that were basically "under 10 mins" and "over 10 mins" ...more or less.  I had gauged my swim to be about 10 mins.  I knew in the pool I can do it between 8-9 minutes but wasn't sure how our open water (man made open water) swim would be.  Derek and I watched some of the elites swim the course before we lined up.  A woman was in the lead coming out of the water!  I told Derek good luck and I went to go line up.  However, when I looked at the mass of people waiting to get into the water, the pace signs were no longer there!  Now I really had no idea where to line up.  I walked all the way over to the side and kind of slid my way up a bit.  I really just wanted to get in and get done.  Before I knew it, it was my turn.  They were letting people go in 6 at a time, about every 10 seconds.  I couldn't believe how fast they started us and was already confused before getting into the water!

The swim was in a man-made beach and they shaped our lane as an M.  We started at the lower right corner and worked our way through the M shape,  The lower end of the M was shallow enough that you could stand and walk.  Being the awesome swimmer that I figured I was...while everyone walked in as far as they could before starting to swim, I jumped right in and started swimming!  BIG MISTAKE...

By the time I got half way up the right side of the M, I was tired.  I lifted my head up and realized how far I still had to go before even getting through the one side!  I'm used to swimming laps and grabbing the side each time before I turn around.  There were no sides to grab here.  If you needed to, you could grab the bouys or the lane lines but I didn't want to have to do that.  So I had to implement a "one-two-three-four-breathe-lift head up-curse" stroke method.  And I pretty much did that until I got through the one side of the M.  Shit and F- words were common phrases of mine.  When I started going back down the 1st side of the middle part of the M, I just wanted to get to the part where it was shallow enough to walk.  I couldn't believe how hard this swim felt to me.  And it was only 400 meters.  Since I only had a short piece of the M to do before I could walk, I just put my head down and started swimming and much as I could.  I finally was able to stand and walk around the middle part of the M before I had to swim again.

I finally made it through the swim.  At the shallow end near the end, everyone started getting up and walking through the rest of the M.  Even though I was tired, I realized I was going faster swimming then others were walking, so I swam past people to finish up.  Finally, I got up and wanted to start to run but my legs felt like jelly!  I really just wanted to sit down and not move. I was exhausted, disoriented, and had jelly legs.  But all the spectators were watching so I forced myself to run.

(This is where it becomes short and sweet)

I hit transition and used all the info I had learned prior to race day. Big fail on wanting to put capris on over my swim suit and it got stuck.  But I was committed so I pulled those suckers on and got my bike and hit the bike course. 

The bike was great.  It was a 2 loop course and with the exception of 2 U-turns (that we had to do twice), it was smooth sailing.  I did better on the bike than I anticipated.

Back to transition to rack my bike and put on my visor.  After putting on my visor, I stood there looking around like an idiot all dazed and confused.  "Oh shit!  I'm in a race!"  I had to get moving!  Not sure what I was thinking.  And out to the run I went. 

I was dreading the run portion (even though it was only a 5k) because I had such a hard time at the duathlon I did.  So right away I saw water and stopped to walk and drink water.  But I started running and felt pretty decent.  In fact, every mile was better than the previous mile and I ended with negative splits!  I was pleased.

I had no idea what my goal should be ... but I decided I was shooting for under 1:40. 
My total time... Total 1:26:44  (WHAT!?!)  I was shocked when I got the results!  Very pleased!

Here is the breakdown:
Swim: 10:01
T1: 4:35
Bike (20km): 40:36 (pace: 18:31)
T2: 1:35
Run (5k):  30:00 (pace 9:41)

Again, very pleased with these results!! 

And great job to my boyfriend Derek on his first sprint triathlon.  I will say that I did beat him (smiley face) but in all fairness, he doesn't really swim and that's why I beat him overall.  I only beat him by about 2.5-3 minutes.  I honestly think we both did great!  And had a lot of fun!  Another sprint triathlon is definitely in my year!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I believe I ran my first sprint triathlon almost 3 weeks ago!  I also believe I just did something REALLY crazy (yesterday).  Where are my blog posts about it, you may be asking??  My work is just really crazy and so is life with training for a marathon(s)...I haven't had time to blog lately! I'm so sorry and thanks to everyone that responded on my last post that I may not have replied to! 

I hope to have my triathlon recap up within the next...maybe...4 days (??)...  And maybe a post about the crazy thing that I did (that some of my run group friends already know about). 

Until then, bear with me and I try to figure out this crazy thing I call life!  Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Go BIG or Go Home!

Hey there guys!  Sorry about not posting anything lately.  CRAZY busy at work right now (until the middle of September).  I did compete in and finish the Naperville Triathlon this past Sunday!  I plan on doing a recap but haven't gotten a chance to get it together yet. I had a great time though!  I'll get it by next week, I promise!

Earlier this year, my marathon goals were this: complete 2 fall marathons about a month apart.  I already signed up for the Fox Valley Marathon on September 22nd! In fact, I signed up for that in January.  But with the series of shoulder dislocations, etc, I decided to wait until later in the year to decide what my 2nd fall marathon would be, depending on how I felt, how my shoulder was doing... 

While waiting to decide, I debated on not even doing a 2nd fall marathon and just sticking to Fox Valley and call it a year.  I'm tired, stressed, lots of shoulder dislocations.  I thought maybe after Fox Valley, I would just have shoulder surgery.  But I will tell you, thinking about not doing a 2nd marathon was bothering me a bit. It's never fun when you make a goal and decide not to try to accomplish it.

My friend Julie had signed up for Fox Valley Marathon (9/22), Chicago Marathon (10/13), and the Chicago Lakefront 50/50 (doing the 50k, 11/2).  She's insane.  She mentioned she thought I should skip the 2nd marathon in late October and do the 50k with her (obvi!).  I said earlier in the year that I am 100% certain I never want to do anything longer than 26.2 miles.

While walking on lunch yesterday, I thought to myself that I have done a lot of "firsts" this year...Ragnar, Sprint Triathlon... I swear I thought there was more??  Anyway, I came to the conclusion on lunch that I was going to sign up for the 50k instead of the 2nd marathon.  Why?  Eh...why not?  Go big or go home, right! 

I just decided that I didn't know what the future would hold or when/if I will have surgery on my shoulder so I figured I might as well finish the year off BIG!  I will already be trained.  If I did it next year, I'd have to retrain.  It's only 5 miles more than a marathon I was going to do anyway if I did the 2nd marathon.  Might as well. 

Julie was super excited I signed up for it. She was worried that she would be doing it alone.  We are planning to do the whole thing together, not for time, just to finish.  Julie and I train together on a regular basis and we are the same pace (pretty much exactly), so I think this is a good plan.

Have you done any ultra marathons?  Is it on your bucket list? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July in Review

Figured I better get right to my "July in Review" before it's the middle of the month, like when I did my "June in Review."


Total Run Miles: 101.65
Total Bike Miles: 48.75 miles (plus 4 spin classes)
Total Swim Distance: 0 meters

My June was so crazy busy with new acitivies but my July...not so much.  But I needed to start getting serious about marathon training so I needed to stop having fun screwing around and start logging those miles. 

I did make it over 100 miles for the month (barely).  I know I skipped some weekly runs or didn't run the full mileage some days during the week but I've tried to get much better about getting most of my runs in.  I did some speed work, some hills, and continued on with my personal training for some core and strength training workouts.  The weather was hot for a while and that made it miserable but I did notice a huge improvement in my running when the weather cooled off recently and I had to get in my 15 miler!  Felt so good. Now if that could happen on marathon day, that'd be great! 

Bike miles...these have been decreasing slightly but it's just because my running got into some serious marathon training.  I've been trying to ride on Sunday's but after my long run Saturdays...I only ride my bike between 10-13 miles and I'm spent.

Swim distance...well after I dislocated my shoulder yet AGAIN while rafting at the end of June/beginning of July, I wanted it to heal as much as it could.  I've been meaning to hop into the pool the last week or so but never managed. I wanted to "test" out my shoulder for my upcoming triathlon but, well, it's in a few days so does it really matter at this point?

That's my big news!  I have my first sprint triathlon this coming Sunday!  It's the Naperville Triathlon and I'm super excited and pretty nervous. Yes, I think I'll have a lot of fun.  Yes, I'll be cursing during the run at the end.  Ahhhh, can't wait!

Last news (yes, this is a short post, but I wanted to update you all on everything), I had a sick doggy recently. My dog lives with my parents (when I moved out, I moved to an apartment and therefore, couldn't take my dog with me. I now live in a house but have cats and my dog has remained with my parents).  My parents got home on Tuesday late afternoon and found my dog laying on the floor with vomit all over herself and in every room. She couldn't walk and my parents thought she had a stroke.  They rushed her over to the vet where I met up with them.  My dog is 14 years old and I thought this was going to be her last day.  We thought she was going to die.  In fact, I thought she would die or they would put her down before I got to the vet.  I was hysterical on the train but trying to maintain composure. 

Long story short, after tests and blood work, they said my dog most likely had Vestibular Disease, which is an inner ear problem.  Since it affects the inner ear, it causes dizziness and nausea.  They said that most people think the dog has had a stroke and the scene is usually horrific.  Luckily they said that she should get better within 2-4 weeks.  (P.S. If it wasn't that, they said a brain tumor in which case she'd get worse...we hoped for the first thing, which is what the doctors really seemed to think it was).  They gave her a lot of fluid because she was so dehydrated from vomiting (about 0.5 liters).

It was rough going and we are only on the 3rd day but she is slowly improving.  She wasn't eating for 2 days but the doctors suggested making chicken and white rice.  My mom did and she lapped that right up!  She loved it because we NEVER give her people food!  She is still stumbling and falling and dizzy but it seems to slowly be getting better.  I can't believe what a miracle that was for us and her.  I love my dog!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rock N Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

Hey guys.  I'm just not feeling the blogging thing this week.  I almost wasn't even going to do a race recap on my half marathon last Sunday.  I've got the blogging blues.  Anyway, I'll make my recap brief...

I came, I ran, I finished.  :)  Ok, just kidding.

I started off my half marathon on Friday with my charity pasta dinner.  It is always really nice to see everyone as I really only see them once or twice a year.  Derek came with and it was nice to share this charity dinner with him.
Pasta dinner - I'm in the pink on the left...looking girly...
Sunday morning came early as I had to get up at 4:20 a.m. (and that's pushing it).  I wanted to leave my house at 4:45, which included eating breakfast in the car.  The race starts at 6:30 but I have to get down there, park in my secret $2 lot that's a 20 minute walk and meet up with my charity group.  I left at 4:50 a.m. so I was pretty close.  I wanted to try to meet up with the Chicago Running Bloggers as well but frankly, I'm tired and new it would be hard and didn't feel like running around, so I just hung out with my charity and took a team photo before heading to the potties and the start line.  On the way to the start line though...look who I ran into!

Charity - Pre Race (I'm peaking out on the left, second to last row, maybe 3rd over)

Maggie and I pre-race
I was in Corral 6, with an estimated finish time of 1:50:00.  Um...I don't belong anywhere NEAR corral 6! What was I thinking last year when I put an expected finish time of 1:50:00!!  Anyway, with the line for the bathrooms, I made it to the corrals 5 minutes before the start but could only get as far as Corral 14 so I figured that was probably good enough. After looking around, I saw the corral's finish time as 2 hours and thought that sounded more reasonable (even though I knew I wouldn't finish that fast).  It was a better corral for me.

While in the corral, I tried to turn on my bluetooth headphones and as always seems to happen before a race, they didn't turn on.  I hate them.  I had a newer model but the bf's dog ate I'm back to an old pair.  They also didn't turn on for me during the IL Marathon (full marathon) in 2012! Maybe you remember my race recap??  I had to run the whole marathon sans music!!  Well, looks like I was going to be running this half marathon sans music.  Whatev...  I've always been a fan of the saying..."you never know what will happen on race day."  Now I just need to figure out my headphone situation.  This is clearly not working for me.  Bluetooth headphones suck.  That is all.  Even more annoying was the guy in the corral in front of me was wearing the same headphones.  Maybe I could knock them off his head accidentally and do a "switch-a-roo" with mine??  Hm...

The race started and I was off.  I didn't have a time goal for this half. I wasn't planning on racing it and with the way the weather was (mid-90's) the week before, I knew it'd be hot.  I just wanted to use it as a training run, try not to let my mind spew negative thoughts all over me, and have fun. 

I started off pretty good with times around a 10:00 min pace +/-.  I wore my hydration belt too but just with the two back holders figuring I could use it to supplement the water stations.  My shoulder has been bothering me if I care a hand held too so even though I don't like my hydration belt, I figured I'd give it another shot. 

The weather was supposed to be cooler than it was but it ended up probably being in the upper 70's and completely sunny.  Still better than the past week but still hot for a half marathon.  I just kept running along thinking happy thoughts to stay positive. I also kept thinking I had friends doing a half ironman that day so what could I really complain about.

Well, it did get really hot. I was completely overheated.  I ended up drinking both of my water bottles and refilling one once and drinking it.  I stopped at every aid station and drank water (with 2 Gatorade stops).  I put ice down my sports bra in hopes of cooling me off.  I ran through 4 places where people were spraying us with hoses and got completely drenched (loved this!).  I grabbed the sponge from the sponge station (because where else do you grab sponges?).  I mean, I couldn't get enough to drink or to cool myself off. I was wondering what my problem was. I don't think I've ever had this much to drink while running.  But I still felt dehydrated as my fingers were getting swollen.  But I had some side stitches and didn't know if I was over hydrated or dehydrated! 

By mile 9, my "fun" run was starting to be over and my negative thoughts were trying to rear their ugly heads!  I probably spent 5 minutes walking and doing nothing but wasting time between mile 9 to 9.3!  I really didn't want to continue running and wondered if anyone would "look down on me" for walking the last 4 miles.  I decided that I just walk way too slow during a race and it would take me FOREVER if I walked the last 4 miles.  I ran off and on and walked a good portion of the run between miles 9-11.  By mile 11, I seemed to get my running legs back and started running again but by mile 12, I was done. I contemplated walking the last mile since that wouldn't take me "too" long but decided that I needed to just run and suck it up.  The whole time I was trying my best to remain positive.  "Trying" is the key word.  I just felt really dehydrated and my head was hurting so it was a constant struggle. 

I finished in about 2 hours 21 minutes.  No where near my best time of 2:03.  But I finished and that's all I have to say about that.  It's a summer half and the last couple years, they have been hard.  I finished my two summer halves last year in 2:29 (June) and 2:24 (July) so this time seems about right for the conditions.

I also chafed on my shoulders from my sports bra and spent half the time running with my straps down around my shoulders.  I have blisters from chafing on my boobs (TMI?) on the top front.  My headphones ended up rubbing (I guess) on my chest and I have a check mark branded on me.  I didn't know what it was at first as it was red and swollen and looked like a burn.  But then we figured out that my headphone must have been rubbing and with the heat... well... anyway.  I have a blister on my pinky toe.  Yeah, it was a good day. 

But I will most likely sign up for it next year. And the year after.  Even if I have to walk it if I have shoulder surgery.  Because I run this run for 3 reasons:

1. It was my first half marathon in 2006 (when it was called the Chicago Distance Classic)
2. I run it for my charity group every year.
3. I had a friend murdered in 2008 not far from where I was parking for my half marathon (on that day, at that time), right around the same time I was parking and I run it year after year in memory (my memory) of him.

Hopefully next year it will be cooler?  If not, I'll probably still be there...

Post Race with Josh and Liz (my friends that I started running this charity for)
For being a 5 year runner of this half
(although I did it 2 times before under Chicago Distance Classic)...7 times in 8 years
Doing the "Kelly" pose...of course!

Smiling, looking happy...but that's because I'm talking to these two nice people
that told me they were from my charity group.