Monday, June 24, 2013

Race Around the World Duathlon - Race Recap

This past Sunday, I participated in the Race Around the World Duathlon in Tinley Park.  I heard about this race last year kind of late and it had already sold out.  Plus last year, I only had a mountain bike and I know how hard it is to ride on those!

This year I decided (along with other members of my run group) to participate in this duathlon.  I've never done a duathlon or anything like this (exception: the mini indoor triathlon last year) so really didn't know what to expect.  I just knew people told me it was fun, family friendly, and not super competitive.  Sounded good to me!

The duathlon consisted of a 2 mile run, 11 mile bike, 2 mile run.  My boyfriend Derek decided to sign up as well along with his friend Dale.  Coming closer to race day, Derek told me he didn't want to race it and just wanted to do it with me.  Well, I was skeptical and asked him 12,000 times (including race morning), if he wanted to change his mind, I would be ok with that.  Although, I did want to do it with him since we don't really run races together as we are always "competing" against ourselves and him against me (Men!).  It seemed like a fun idea.

Race morning, Dale met Derek and I at Derek's house and we headed to the race.  The race starts at the train station in my neighborhood.  Love local races!  I practiced clipping my helmet on and off since I've never actually worn it before.  Yeah, I know...

We met up with our F'N Runner friends and waited for the race to begin. 
FNRC (F'N Runenrs)

The race was set in 4 waves: Men under 40, Men 40 and over, women under 40, women 40 and over.   Dale told Derek that he wanted to do it with us.  I was a little surprised as, even though I don't know Dale very well, he seems to be super competitive and likes to try to run fast.  Derek and I were assured at packet pickup that we could start in any wave together as long as we just start near the back so as not to get in the way of those racing the event.  Derek told me we can just start with the women under 40 wave.  Dale, Derek and I lined up in the back of the Women under 40.  A race worker announced loudly on a megaphone "This is for women under 40!"...right next to where we were.  We chuckled and I looked at Derek.  And we were off...

I thought maybe I could push those first two miles, but when the race began, it had gotten hot and sunny (since the race started at 8:00 a.m.).  I gave those first two miles all I had but Derek and Dale seemed to be running easy and I was sweating and breathing heavily.  I didn't have my watch set up to give me my pace (WTF?) so I really didn't know exactly how fast I was going.  I just couldn't wait to get to the bikes and I figured it would be cooler and easier on there.

Dale (in the Black shirt), Me (Yellow shirt), Derek (Grey shirt)


Thanks to my friends for taking these photos!!

Heading into the transition for the bikes, I walked over and got my bike off the rack and started to put my helmet on...or at least I was trying.  The buckle wasn't buckling, I was panicking.  I calmed down and took my helmet off to look at the buckle and tried again.  Got it on!  Phew!  Dale and Derek were already walking toward the end of the transition gate and I started running with my bike (isn't that what you are supposed to do??).  I got to Derek and Dale and yelled out, "COME ON GUYS!  MOVE IT!"  lol.  Oops...We all started running and then it was on to the cycling portion.

I was glad when I looked at the course map that there weren't too many turns. I'm not a great cyclist yet and tend to slow up coming too fast down hills or on turns for fear of crashing!  Dale doesn't really ride long distance and hasn't ridden his bike much at all.  I would say Derek is the strongest of the 3 of us cycling with me in the second position.  We peddled and peddled...tried to stay with each other.  It's hard to keep checking and I think we just did the best we could.  We did mostly stay together.  11 miles on the bike is a long time actually!  Our road bikes are cheap and not as efficient as some of the more expensive bikes.  But I was glad to have it because riding my mountain bike is much tougher!

After a while, I checked my watch and only saw we had biked about 4 miles! I felt like I had been on the bike forever!  At some point, Dale asked me how far we went...and I asked him if he really wanted to know.  I told him we were about 5.5 miles into the bike, so about half way.

There was a huge headwind for a good portion of the ride!  People afterwards kept saying how much slower their biking portion was this year compared to last due to the wind and how tough it was.  I know at some point, I told Derek my legs were really tired and I wasn't looking forward to the last 2 mile run after this.  Finally, we came back into the transition and put our bikes up.  Actually, I got my bike to the rack and said, "Derek can you help me?"  I'm so weak! lol.  I didn't have energy to do anything.  Derek just mounted my bike up and off we went to start our run.

First time doing a cycling event
I told Dale and Derek in transition that they could go ahead of me on the run, that I would probably run/walk it.  It was hot, I was tired.  I ran 8 miles the day before as well and my legs were just shot!  Dale jokes around (but probably serious)... We started together, we are finishing together!

I started the run and just felt like I was going nowhere.  It was so much harder than I expected it to be.  Not the run necessarily, just the whole thing!  Our F'N Runner friends that were not competing where cheering us on and taking photos.  The run course is out and back and I was seeing many friends (FNRC & Yankee Runners) and they were cheer me on as they ran the other direction.

Had I not been with Derek and Dale, I know I would have walked many times during that last 2 mile run.  But I ran on, no matter how slow.  I got water at the 1 mile mark and just said I wanted to walk for a minute.  I walked and then Dale got me running again.  On the second mile, I noticed we were losing Derek a bit.  He had been having some calf issues during the running portions that day and I think that plus the heat just got to him.  About 1/2 mile left, I told Dale I was going to walk and wait for Derek to catch up.  After all, we started together and we were going to finish together, right?

I felt like I was running 11:00-12:00 min miles.  My legs were heavy.  I felt like I was slouching.  It was rough.  Coming to the finish line, I heard all my friends cheering and I kicked it into high gear!  Um...I guess I had more energy than I thought.  It was clearly ALL MENTAL that I was running slowly, complaining, etc.  The 3 of us ran in together.  We started together and we finished together.

I was concerned about being the weak link in the group of us.  But what happened was, we all waited at various points for each other.  I might have been slower on the first run, Dale might have been slower on the bike, Derek might have had a little trouble on the last run.  I think it worked out well, we all kept each other going and we all encouraged each other to keep going.  I definitely enjoyed doing it with them and I hope they feel the same way.  I'm also glad I did this so that I can get a taste of the transitions and the bike to run part for my upcoming triathlon!

My official times:

Run 1: 2 miles in 18:20 (9:10 pace)
Transition 1: 1:23
Bike: 11 miles in 44:13 (14.9 mph)
Transition 2: 1:27
Run 2: 2 miles in 19:49 (9:55 pace)

Total Time: 1:25:13

This may not be the fastest time (of course) but I'm pretty pleased with our results. 

P.S. later that day I kept saying... That was so much fun!!  And was delirious to the fact that I did all that complaining during the last two miles!  I really have to stop all the negativity that is going though my head lately.  Training runs, races, anything that is physically uncomfortable, I'm complaining about it. When did I become such a baby??  "It's hot!" or "I'm tired!" or "I can't!"  How do you guys push through?  And how did this happen to me?

P.S.S.  In other news...I won a giveaway for the Chicago Half Marathon on September 8th!  Yay!!  I love winning half marathons!   My race calendar was starting to look a little bare (as I don't sign up for many things when training for a marathon.  I won't really be racing this half however.  It's the week after my 20 miler and a couple weeks before my marathon.  It does fit in perfectly with my training calendar though as I'm scheduled to do 12 miles and this is 13.1!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Short Run on a Long Day 5k

Yesterday was the Short Run on a Long Day 5k held in Frankfort, Illinois.  Last year was the first year I participated in this race...and I think it was like 95 degrees out last year.  It's a small, local 5k that draws many of our Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club.  We all put on our Gold FNRC shirts and basically....have a blast!  This year was no exception!

My plan for this race was as follows:  I knew I wasn't in shape (hadn't properly trained) to PR a 5k.  Kelly helped pace me to my last PR at a 5k last December (Recap here) and I think I'll leave that PR in place for now.  I decided I would carry forward that favor and pace a friend of mine!  What is more rewarding than getting your own PR?  Helping someone else achieve their goals, of course!  My friend Becky had wanted to run a 5k with me for some time.  She asked me a while ago if I wanted to pace her at this 5k and I didn't hesitate!  Of course I will!  I know how helpful it was for me to have Kelly pace me, and I knew how helpful it would be for Becky.

Becky's goal:  First and foremost, she wanted to PR.  She told me her PR was 32+ minutes.  I knew that wouldn't be a problem, in fact, she could probably get that PR herself!  But I would still help her along.  Her second goal?  Get a sub 30:00.  Until the day before, I thought we would be safe running a 9:45 avg mile to get that goal. In fact, a couple weeks ago during my Thursday night run group, Becky and I did just that for 3 miles!  Then the day before the race, I calculate it to be sure and I came to find out a 9:39 (actually 9:40) would be about 30:00.  Uh...oops.  So I emailed Becky to tell her and we just decided to do the best we could.

This race is on a Wednesday evening every year, on or near the longest day of the year.  I went to work, left a little early, met up with Derek and headed to the race.  There we met up with Derek's sister and the rest of the F'N Runners.

Behold...the F'N Runners

Derek and I pre-race
He knows I hate being picked up
My friend Becky and I pre-race
Finally we headed to the start line.  This race is chip timed but the start is "gun timed," meaning there is no sensor at the start and essentially everyone starts together and the clock starts running.  Becky and I placed ourselves around the middle of the group, because even though we didn't want to lose precious seconds after the race starts and before we hit the start line, we also didn't want to get trampled by the faster runners!

Our first mile...ended up too fast.  Well, essentially I started out at like an 8:15-8:20 pace and realized within the first 0.2 miles that I was pacing someone! Not running the 5k for myself!  I told Becky we have to back off.  We tried to slow down gradually.  When we got to 9:10-9:15, I told Becky we were still running fast and we should slow it up just a bit.  Becky was still running that pace so I just said, "Ok!"  And went with that pace for the first mile!  Pacer fail?  Maybe.  But I've never been a pacer before and I can only do so much!  Either you listen to the pacer or you don't! Haha!

The second mile was more on pace and probably came in around 9:30 or so.  I knew Becky was struggling and I kept trying to give her encouragement.  We saw Kelly cheering with her dog Pepper a couple times on the course and that was great!  We also saw a few of our running group running as we either passed them or them passed us.  It's great knowing so many people at a race!

When we hit the 3rd mile, Becky stopped to walk.  I just said "Ok!  We can take a quick break, get our breath back!  We have a little cushion."  We started to run.  Probably with 1/2 mile left in the race, Becky stopped to walk again.  She was having issues with her lungs and breathing (I can relate) so even though I really didn't want to stop and walk because we were getting close to that sub 30:00 pace, I just said again... Ok quick walk break.  I tried to get her running when we were nearing a mailbox, "We will run at that mailbox." And Becky flat out said "No we won't!"  lol.  Um. Ok.  walked past the mailbox and we were nearing a corner.  I tried again... "We will run when we get to the corner."  And this time Becky didn't protest!  Phew!  Good!!  Still on pace for that sub 30:00!  My watch was a tad off from the mile markers so I knew that we were a tiny bit slower than my watch said, so I was just hoping we were still ok!

With about 0.3 miles left, Becky said something about wanting to stop and walk.  I knew that after this next turn, we would be at the home stretch!  I didn't want her to walk and wanted to get her to push past the uncomfortable feeling!  I know it all too well from when I was running with Kelly.  I told her we were almost there. I said that we are not stopping to walk.  I said she could punch me when we are finished!  I told her to fight and dig deep.  I knew she slowed her run a bit and I told her it was good as long as she kept running.  Rounding the corner... (Do you feel the suspense??), I saw the finish down the end of the road.  I told her to focus on the orange finish area.  I told her this was it!  Just keep running.  We were almost there!

Nearing the finish line, I saw the clock and it said 29:45!  I yelled at Becky, "Look at the clock!  We have to go!  We are right there!"  And even though Becky told me about 15 seconds earlier she wasn't going to sprint to the finish...we sprinted to the finish!  And our Thursday night FNRC friends were cheering us on as they knew we were right near Becky's goal of a sub 30:00!  And you know what????

Becky's time: 29:58
My time: 29:59's not nice to beat your pacer!  BUT...we finished under 30:00!  Barely!  Yeah buddy!!!  Great job to Becky for finishing strong and pushing passed her limits!  I'm really happy we got the sub 30:00 too.  I was almost more nervous to pacer her as I would have been to try to go for my own PR!  It's hard when someone is relying on you and you don't want to let them down!  But it's so rewarding to help them accomplish their goal too.

Becky and I sprinting to the finish
Post race party
Our friends all gathered at the pavilion afterwards for a small post-race party.  This was just some of our group there.  I really love running this race.  It's local.  It's cheap.  It's a fast course.  You get pizza afterwards.  A good majority of our run group represents!  Frankfort Park District loves it too!  A great race that I hope to continue doing!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Open Water Swim Clinic

Last Friday, I participated in an Open Water Swim Clinic held by Lifetime.  It was $20 and included all of this...
- Free wetsuit rental
- Free box lunch
- Free granola bars (Luna Bars, Cliff Bars, etc)
- Free goodie bag
- Wetsuit waddle to the beach from Millennium Park (Um...)
- Hour long open water swim clinic
- 2 (count them...2!) Free beers afterwards

All of this for only $20!  It started at Millennium Park where we registered and got all our gear.  We registered online beforehand (registration is limited to 200 people) and the area opened to get all settled in and get your stuff between 11:30-12:45.  I get off of work on Friday during the summer at noon (Hello summer hours!)  so I just left about 11:45 to head over there.  It's only about a 10 minute walk from my office!  I met up with several other runners from my FNRC run group.  We are now becoming cyclists and swimmers, with various people getting bikes and doing duathlons and triathlons!  Why limit yourself to just running!

Have you ever put on a wetsuit before?  This was my first time and it wasn't pretty.  I was only half way done trying to get it on and my arms were so fatigued!  I guess people say you are supposed to put it on wet but we weren't by water so...anyway.  They had people coming around helping and giving tips to get it on.  Two people must have seen how pathetic I looked much trouble I was having trying to get it on and came to talk to me.  They did it in a subtle way as to not make you feel stupid... much appreciated!

The second guy that came over to talk to me and my friends asked if we were signed up for any marathons. I told him I was signed up for Fox Valley and he told me he was pacing it.  He asked what my pace was and then ... get this... told me he was the 4:30 pacer!  What!?!  It's fate!  I told him he better remember me when I talk to him before the marathon!  His name was... um... Bob, or Paul... or Ron...Fabio??  I don't remember.  Stupid memory has been really bad lately!  No worries, I'll find him and HE BETTER REMEMBER ME!  He told me we are getting that 4:30!  Nice!  (I actually "think" his name is Bob...maybe).

At 12:45-ish, we started getting instruction and headed over towards the face fountain thing at Millennium Park.  We were told to take off our shoes and socks.  I thought we were just taking a picture.  WRONG!  One of the trainers proceeded to make a mockery of us in front of all the tourists (who were taking all kinds of pictures of these crazy people in wetsuits).  We did jumping jacks, push ups, planks, etc.).  I guess it was a warm up.  Needless to say, it was really fun and entertaining.  And I'm sure we gave those tourists something to talk about later! 

Doing Planks
Running to the beach (the F'N Runners)

The whole group posing for a photo
After that, we headed for our little wetsuit run to Oak Street Beach, which is about 1.5 miles away. It was a warm day and the wetsuits made it even hotter!!  We had them rolled down (although I didn't bring a sports bra to wear and so had my partially covering my bathing suit top) but we were just dying in those wetsuits!  Finally we made it to the beach and the clinic commenced.

The clinic was a lot more swimming than I actually thought.  And since there were major storms two days before, the water was pretty choppy!  I actually don't have much to talk about with the swim clinic part. lol.  Ok, I'll try...

We worked on breathing techniques and citing.  This can be difficult while swimming in open water and they wanted us to work on it.  They gave us something to try and we would swim out to one of the instructors and swim back.  Then they would give us something else to practice and we would swim out and back.  They also gave us different drills for the arms to practice.  Ex. Tough your hands together every time you bring it in front of you before you begin your next stroke.  You won't be doing this when you are swimming normally but it was a drill to make sure you didn't have your arms too far to the sides.  Another drill was to swim with your fist closed.  They wanted to show you how to use your arm as a paddle...and also how much you actually use your hands for swimming.  These were just a few drills they made us practice.  Basically we just got pounded with the waves.  I thought I was doing well with swimming straight in the beginning but by the end, I was tired and drinking the entire Lake Michigan!

We were able to take the trolley back to Millennium Park and get the beer and hang out.  I actually didn't drink any beer (not a huge beer drinker...I know, I know...).  And let's just say...I was really tired when I got home.  That was a great workout!  And so much fun!  I've never actually done any swimming in open water (besides playing around at the beach and swimming for fun), so it was a lot of fun and great to see what it's like.  The instructors were all great.  The photographer was great.  All the workers at Millennium Park were great!  I had a fantastic time...and let's face it, can't beat that price!  And I got to meet my future pacer!! 
After the swim clinic

Yay for Triathlons!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Training Week 6/10-6/16

I've had time to decompress from my Ragnar Relay experience.  It was tough.  It was fun.  It was an experience.  Definitely!

Monday: I had a personal training session with my old personal trainer Mike.  It was my first session in about 1.5 years.  And I'm weak.  I haven't been doing much (if any) core work or other strength training workouts.  He put me through the wringer...although the stuff he had me do seemed pretty basic.  I was shaking, sweating, wishing it were over...almost before it began!  Ha!  But I like going to him because he knows I push through even when I'm shaking (and groaning).  He won't let me quit and in fact, may even add a few reps on!  What??  And my abs were sore for 3 days after!  Like...don't make me laugh (or sneeze, or cough, or run) because...ouch!  It hurts!

Tuesday: I ran some hills with my friends.  I've been slacking on the hill work the past few months and I can definitely tell when I'm running anything with a slight incline!  Need to try to get back at these hills!  They made me tough and strong around January! We did walk a little. A friend was a little sore from P90X and I didn't mind the couple walk breaks since it was pretty hot!

I did 5.13 miles of hills with a 10:37 average pace.  A little slow but it's ok.

Wednesday:...REST!  LOVE!  Actually I was supposed to see Spirit of the Marathon II with Derek and some of our run friends.  There were storms and high winds.  It calmed down when I was on my way there but as I got there...there was a handwritten note plastered to the door saying the theater was closed due to weather.  So we went to the nearest restaurant/bar and a few others met us there for dinner/drinks and the Blackhawks game (wow...these games have been intense!).  While we had already ordered...someone said (at 7:30), they were playing the movie!  What??? Ugh.  Well, we couldn't really leave at that point and were over it so I'll have to see it when I can rent it or something.

Thursday:  I decided to try to incorporate some speed work back into my running plan.  Since it was my Thursday night run group and I know a few of my friends are my pace and want to do more speed work, I decided to open it up to them as well.  And I just did a short round of speed work to get back into it.  Plus it was a little on the warm side.  We did 1 mile w/u, 4 x 400 meters speed & recovery, 1 mile cool down.  It went pretty well and I felt great afterwards. 

1mi w/u & c/d: 9:50, 9:45
4x400 speed: 8:18, 8:17, 8:33, 8:28
4x400 recovery: 9:54, 9:49, 10:06, 10:26
Total 4 miles.  Average pace: 9:30 min/mile

Friday: ...let's get back to this tomorrow.  It was the Open Water Swim Clinic I participated in!  FUN FUN!  It was a 1.5 mile run (in wetsuits) and a swim clinic.

Saturday:  My schedule actually called for 11 miles but I was almost going to call it a 9-miler instead.  My legs were pretty tired from my Friday shenanigans (plus the rest of the week).  My marathon training group is following the schedule for Chicago and my marathon is 3 weeks earlier, so my mileage is higher than theirs!  Their schedule only called for 6 miles (opening training day).  What I decided to do to get more miles in was to run from home to the run (1.5 miles), run with the group (6 miles), run home (1.5 miles)...then tack on an extra mile and make it a nice 10 mile run.  I train with the 10 minute pace group.

Miles 1-5: 9:38, 10:01, 9:47, 10:08, 10:03
Miles 6-10: 9:54, 10:03, 10:04, 10:16, 10:00
Total Time: 1:40:00 (on the dot!!)
Average pace: 10:00 min/mile
(How did that even happen!  10:00 pace to the second! Haha)

Sunday:  I had plans to ride the bike with Derek, Becky and Doug.  We did 13 miles with Becky & Doug but I wanted a higher mileage so Derek and I hopped back on for a total of 21.58 miles.  We rode flat Old Plank Trail for the first 13 then when we went back out, hopped on the Schmuhl Hills for about 6 miles.  Love riding on Sunday morning after long Saturday runs!!  I'm going to keep this in my weekly rotation!  Even if I go alone.  (Although to be honest, I don't feel completely safe riding alone as I don't know much about bikes...but the trails usually have enough people on them that if I got into trouble, someone may be able to help me).

It was a full week and I'm pretty tired.  I've got personal training tonight but I'm taking tomorrow as a rest day.  It is SO NEEDED!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ragnar Relay Recap

This past weekend I got a chance to do something I've wanted to do for 2 years now. Participate in the Ragnar Relay Madison to Chicago.  I mean, what sounds more fun than a team of people running a total of 195 miles, sitting in a van for countless hours, trying to sleep sitting up, using endless amounts of port-a-potties, and not showering for 2 days.  I know!  I couldn't wait to do it!

I took the day off of work to finish (start?) packing and in the afternoon, I was going to head over to meet my teammates.  My teammates were mostly other bloggers and/or members of the FNRC!  My trip started with going to Kate LF's house since it's in my neighborhood.  Kate S. was meeting us there and together (along with Sam, Kate LF's hubby who was a driver, and Maggie) headed to Melanie's house.  We were using Melanie's mini van as one of the two vehicles for our relay.  The other was going to be a 15 person van that we were renting.  We headed to get the van and luckily I had my credit card to use to rent the van as most of the girls (and Sam) didn't bring a credit card (major CC - not debit) with them on this trip.  We got the rented van and headed over to Suzanne's where the entire team was meeting for some photos for the sponsors and to get all the rest of the stuff together before heading to Madison, WI.

After arriving (later than expected) in Madison, we checked into our hotel, decorated our vans with the patriotic theme, and headed inside to make sure we had all necessary safety gear we needed for check in for our vans.  I shared a room with Melanie, Maggie, and Sara.  Maggie had pulled out some red and blue nail polish and I decided my nails needed some work!  At about 10:30, we headed to bed.  4:30 was going to come all too quick!

Patriotic Nails
Wow!  The day was finally here!  My room got up and dressed and headed downstairs to meet our teammates.  Our hotel was nice enough to move the breakfast up from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. for the Ragnar people staying there.  Our start time was 7:00 a.m. and we wanted to be there at 6:00 a.m.
While eating, we put on some patriotic tattoos and checked out some of the other teams.  Our team was decked out in matching red, white and blue gear and we got a lot of compliments at the hotel.

We got to the race, checked in, went through the briefing and waited for the 7:00 a.m. start.  Of course, we had to get a few team photos by the start line!  I was really excited to begin our adventure!

Race morning
American Sweathearts
Excited to start Ragnar!!
Our van :)

Our van #1

Suzanne (one of the Ragnar veterans) was starting us off.  Our team waited off to the side to cheer her on!  As soon as she passed, I looked around and didn't spot my team!  Where'd they go?  I looked in the store but no luck.  I didn't want to move too far in case they were around.  I thought...This is bad news if I'm losing my team already!  We just started.  I texted Maggie and she said they were on their way to the van.  On my way there, Melanie had come back for me (thanks Melanie!). 

On to the race!  I was in Van #1 and so we were on the move.  Van #1 would go through all their runners first and then Van #2 would take over.  Since we were a 9 person team instead of a 12 person team, we mostly all had an extra leg added on.  Suzanne was running a double first.  We drove past her several times on the way to the next exchange to cheer her on!  It was a lot of fun yelling, "GO SUZANNE!!  USA! USA!!" as we passed by!

The runner order in our Van was Suzanne, Sara, Me, Maggie, Kate LF.  We tried to pass our runners at least once if the route allowed for it and stop to cheer them on at at least one point on the course for the first set of legs.  I wanted to get a photo of all of Van #1's runners running at least once!  We were having a lot of fun and there was a lot of action!

Kate LF
Kate S. & Melanie
I had the 5th leg (3rd runner, since Suzanne and Sara did double legs to start).  My run started about 10:00 a.m. and was 6.3 miles  I decided to carry water with me for every leg I did as I knew there wouldn't be any water for me on the course.  I also carried fuel whether I thought I would need it or not.  Better to be prepared. 

Waiting to start my first leg
My team having fun cheering me on during my first leg
Yay!  Farmland!
My leg ended up being on back roads (aka nothing-land, aka farm land, aka so boring) and provided no shade!  The temperature might have been about 65 (maybe nearing 70) and full sun.  I got really hot but I just tried to keep moving.  I stopped to walk while eating my GU around mile 4. While walking, I noticed a bunch of the vans (most teams had these 15 person vans) waiting up ahead to cheer on the various runners.  I figured my team was probably up there too (because they were awesome support!) and I didn't want them to catch me walking!  I started running and met up with my awesome team who was cheering me on and taking photos!!  They headed to the exchange and I finished out my leg.  At the exchange, my team was cheering so loudly.  And all the other runners were so nice that everyone there was cheering my name!!  It was a great feeling!  At the exchange, we had to slap a "slap bracelet" onto the next runners arm.  I couldn't get that darn thing to slap!  Anyway, Maggie was off!

Maggie's first leg was not on a supported course, meaning our van couldn't follow her or stop to cheer her on. So we went to the next leg and I took a photo of her coming into the exchange.  She handed over to Kate LF.  During Kate's leg, she called Sam (our driver and her hubby) saying someone ran past her and told her there was 3.8 miles added to her leg.  Now, poor Kate.  Her leg was originally only 4 miles.  That got extended prior to race day to 7.7 miles.  Now 3.8 more miles got added on right in the middle of the leg??  It was the middle of the day and hot and we knew we should try to swap out the runners.  The next runner was Lisa and her leg was cut to 2.7 miles so she said she would do about 4 miles of Kate's leg.  Sam was a stalker husband and tracking Kate on the phone and it was a good thing. It made it really easy to find her (and Kate was calling us to let us know if she made a turn).  We swapped runners and all was good in the Ragnar world.  Kate did awesome though! 

While Van #2 was doing their legs, our van had down time.  We stopped at the exchange and waited for their last runner Melanie to come in.  We had a good 5-6 hours to wait.  We got free candy (that we got to make ourselves) at this exchange and some grub.  The boy scouts were putting on this pit stop that included burgers, chicken sandwiches, sub sandwiches, etc.  It was a little disorganized as we were there right when they opened.  I decided to get a burger to eat then and a sub sandwich to eat later in the day or evening (thanks to great thinking by Maggie!).  While eating, I decided to check if there were any caches (geocaches) in the area (we were at a park).  There were and one was really close to me.  I debated on going to look for it because Ragnar has strict rules and I didn't want to be wandering around and get a strike against our team!  After watching other wander around, I thought it might be ok so I went to the van and got a pen.  For those that don't know, google geochaching.  :)  But really, on the app on the phone it will tell you where one is and you walk towards it and it might be hidden in a tree or under rocks or wherever.  It's just something someone hides and has a log in it for you to sign saying you were there and found it. 

Where did I find this one?  Right by the exchange!  People were probably wondering what I was doing searching in the tree/bush. 

Anyway, the exchange happened.  Run, rest, repeat.  it was our van's turn again.  My leg didn't come up again until about 9:15 p.m.  I had a double leg (legs 16 & 17) which were 4.9 miles and 3.8 miles (total 8.7 miles).  I was so thankful it was dark and the sun was down. I've never been so happy to run at night before!  We had to wear reflective vests, lights and a light on the back.  My first leg was on a bike path.  I really like running on the nice flat surface.  The only downside was it was a little scary s there weren't many runners around (one would pass every once in a while).  But I really enjoyed this leg!  Nice and cool weather.  Refreshing!  I came into the exchange but since I was doing a double, kept right on running.  The next leg was on some regular neighborhood streets and regular streets with large intersections.  I almost twisted my ankle twice stepping on some holes in the streets and decided since I knew my legs were tired, I needed to slow it up and make sure I don't fall!  I headed into the exchange and handed off to Maggie.  3 our of my 4 legs were done!  I just had 1 more the next day! 

Night Leg
After we headed into the next exchange where Maggie handed off to Kate, I took a nap in the back of the van.  I was out for a full solid hour and missed Kate coming back in!  When our van was done, we tried to get rest.  We let Sam, our awesome driver, sleep in the back since he had been driving all day.  I tried to sleep sitting up and it was really (REALLY) difficult.  I kind of ended up trying to sleep in a hunched over position with my head on the window and bent down towards my knees.  I think I got another 1-2 hours of really choppy sleep and woke up.'s Saturday now...

I decided to stay awake because sleeping kind of sucked.  Our final legs would be starting soon.  I knew I'd probably be running about 9:00 a.m. for my final leg.  While waiting in Kenosha for Van #1's final legs to begin, I got to see the sun rise over the lake.  It was maybe 4:30-5:00 a.m.  I'm never up early enough to see the sun rise and I couldn't resist getting out and taking a few photos of it.  It was really beautiful! 

Beautiful sunrise!
My final leg was from Zion to Waukegan.  It was on a crushed gravel bike trail.  I don't typically run on this surface and so it takes me a little bit to get used to it.  My quads were sore and I had a slight pain on the side of my calf/shin.  I decided to wear compression shorts and compression sleeves.  I took some Ibuprofen as well.  I think all of this helped my legs slightly and even though they were tired and I was tired, they felt "ok" on the final leg.  However, I was mentally exhausted and after 11 minutes of running, decided to do a run/walk of 9 mins running and 1 min walking to help keep me going!  Otherwise I wanted to walk the whole thing.  I saw the exchange up ahead and never ran as fast as I did to that exchange!  I really wanted to be done with my leg!  And everyone was cheering (even people I didn't know), I loved it!  I handed to Maggie and cheered her on for her final leg!

Before my last leg =- so exhausted
We finished off our van and headed to get something to eat. Considering we were smelly, sweaty, and had run clothes on, we decided on Wendy's.  I got a baked potato and some chili.  Afterwards, we headed to Montrose Harbor in CHICAGO (YAY!!) for Van #2 and where the finish line was!  We rested for a bit and I took the backseat in the van for about another 30-45 minutes of solid sleep.  At that point, I was going to take whatever I could get.

And finally, we were waiting on the final stretch before the finish line waiting for our final runner Melanie to come in!  I saw her and we all jogged off as a team to the finish! 

Running to the finish


t-shirt and awesome medal

Teammates and drivers!

We were all so happy to be done and finished!  We got our medals.  They also gave two whole pizzas to the finish team.  It tasted delicious after all the granola bars, bagels w/ PB, and candy I ate for 2 days.  Our team finished around 3:30+ in the afternoon on Saturday.  Our predicted time from a sheet I brought with was about 3:23 p.m.  So even with the 3.8 miles added on, we only came in about 10 minutes past our expected finish time!  (These calculations were based on a 9:30 average pace per runner.  Some runners were much speedier and some were a little slower).  It turned out to be a good average base time for us to go off of.

- I really liked our team.  Kate S. and Suzanne were veteran Ragnar runners and helped keep us organized!  All the rest of the girls were awesome!  Everyone gave it their all.  We stayed positive and had fun!  Sam and Kelly W. were the drivers and they had a hard job!  They were awesome!

- I loved the exchanges! (Except when they had us running on weird surfaces to get to the exchange).  I loved the camaraderie and all the cheering.  Strangers were yelling my name!  It was an awesome feeling!

- It's got to be hard for Ragnar to put on these events!  Just the logistics that go into organizing something like this that goes through multiple states, towns, etc. have got to be difficult.  I found some of the paths dangerous and I almost got hit by cars not paying attention twice.  But I think Ragnar does a great job trying to organize this.  And how else are you going to get runners to run 200 miles without running where there are cars??

- I'm not sure if I'll ever do another Ragnar.  It's exhausting.  As much fun as I had, I'm tired!  With that said, if another team needed someone, I might consider it.  And if we were doing one in another state, I might consider it.  Ragnar may be a "one time done" deal for me (??)...

Kudos to all my teammates, drivers and the volunteers for our team.  I couldn't have done it without you and if I did, it wouldn't have been as much fun!!

I didn't tag them in the post but here are some of my blogger teammates race recaps!
Maggie - recap here
Kelly J. - recap here 
Kelly W (Driver) - recap here

Recaps not yet available...but read their blogs!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Countdown To Ragnar Relay

It's definitely no surprise that I'm running the Ragnar Relay this week/weekend from Madison to Chicago!  If you are tired of hearing about sorry.  I will not stop talking about it.  But you are in luck....this will be my last post about it this week and there will probably be one (or two) posts about it next week.  Then my life will be normal....or maybe not since it's marathon training season.

I've been meaning to put together a post to thank the sponsors who provided some awesome things to our team. When I signed up for Ragnar, I didn't know we would have any sponsors!!  Our team is incredibly thankful for all the support shown to our team American Sweathearts!

The sponsors (in no particular order) are:

  • Chobani - Chobani is providing some race morning snacks for our team.  Can I tell you how excited I am about that?  I love Chobani and in fact, brought some for work today.
  • Haeleum - Haeleum provided our team with insect repellant shirts with our team name on them!  How awesome is that?  I ran in the shirt for a trial run and it fit and felt great!

  •  Body Glide - I should buy stock in Body Glide!  They provided our team with some Body Glide for Her and a t-shirt!
  • Bondiband - Bondiband provided us with a cool star themed headband which goes perfectly with our USA theme!
Teammate Kelly J. modeling the Bondiband!  (Hope you don't mind I borrowed your photo!)

  • Freshii - Thanks to Freshii for some much needed financial help and coupons!!    
Teammates at Freshii (L-R: Kate S., Kate LF, Lisa, Kelly J. )
  •  Oiselle -  My friend Kelly is a Oiselle Ambassador (and a driver for our team) and I've been hearing and see their products for a while now but haven't been lucky enough to try anything!  They provided our team with shorts and a t-shirt! 
  • Handful - Thanks to Handful for providing us with some hats to protect us from the sun!
  • Honey Stinger - I recently bought some Honey Stinger Waffle for race fuel at an expo but haven't had a chance to try them yet.  Honey Stinger provided us with some great fuel to help us get through our legs of the relay!
  • Aspaeris - I had a few pairs of their compression shorts already and love them!  Thank you Aspaeris for providing each member of our team TWO pairs of the Aspaeris Pivot Compression Shorts!!  This will definitely come in handy for running and  recovery between legs!
Some members of American Sweathearts (L-R: Maggie, Me, Kate LF, Melanie)
  •  Proud Runner - Proud Runner provided each team member with a pair of socks! You might remember my "Bad Ass" socks (which I PR'd my half marathon in January 2013 while wearing them).  Yup...Proud Runner makes them!
"Bad Ass" Runner!
  •  Brooks - Brooks provided us with some sunglasses! 
I never knew all the support we would get from all these amazing sponsors!  Thanks to everyone that is helping us make our team and this race possible!

So I'm ready to go!  Let's get ready to shove 9 people (plus drivers) into 2 vans and run, sweat, and have fun while running from Madison, WI to Chicago, IL!  Our team starts on Friday at 7 a.m. 

I am running 3 legs (well 4 legs since we only have 9 runners instead of 12, but 2 of my legs are together).

My legs are:
Leg 5:  6.3 Miles
Legs 16 & 17:  Total 8.7 Miles
Leg 29: 5.5 Miles

Total Miles I will have to run: 20.5 Miles in about 1.5 days.  Let's bring it on!!  Wish me and American Sweathearts luck!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

May in Review

Wait...what!?!  It's June already???  Where is this year going?


Total Run Miles: 62.53
Total Bike Miles: 97.15 miles + 2 spin classes
Total Swim Distance: 1,550 meters (2 days)

My run miles were less this month for a few reasons.  I was taking it easy after the back to back half marathons and before I needed to start marathon training in June.  I was burnt out after the IL half and Indy half and really needed a break!  I think it helped! 

But I did my fair share of cross training!  Hello bike miles!  I got my cheapy new road bike and LOVE IT!  Love riding it.  Went on a few long 20 mile bike rides plus some additional rides here and there.  I did wipe out on my bike on the way to the train today though.  Luckily I knew I was going to wipe out and dove for the grass instead of the street.  And luckily it was on my left side and not my right side where I would be more likely to dislocate my shoulder!

Swim!!  What!?!  Yes!  I managed to make my way to the pool at the gym and did 2 short sessions of laps.  I knew my shoulder could take the short distance and didn't want to push it.  I only need to do 400 meters for my triathlon so each time I did about double (750 meters and 800 meters).  My shoulder really starts to feel it after about 20 lengths of the pool though so I'm swimming cautiously and sort of slowly for now.  Better than a big goose egg (0)! 


I have Ragnar this weekend.  I can't believe it is so soon as I've been planning this since about September!  More on this to come.

Marathon Training.  I cut out the first two weeks of my plan and just did my own thing.  I think it's good for now.  But that means, I'm supposed to start this week.  With Ragnar this weekend, it's a little screwed up so more than likely, I'm really starting the schedule next week.  I'll be running enough this weekend!

Tinley Duathlon!  My first duathlon and this one should be fun!  Run 2 miles, bike 11 miles, run 2 miles.  And in my neighborhood!  Can't beat this!  Plus the boyfriend and some other FNRC members will be doing it too!

Short run on a long day 5k - Super excited for this 5k.  Not because I'm racing it for me (I haven't been training for a 5k PR), but because I'm going to help pace a friend for a sub 30 min 5k and PR!  Love helping people out! 

That's all I have for now folks!  Work calls.  Mind is thinking about Ragnar.  So much to do!