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(??)  :)