Thursday, December 17, 2015

Honolulu Marathon - Recap!

Where do I even start with this one? I don't even know. If I started at the beginning, this post might become a novella, and if I start later I'll miss something! Maybe I'll start at the end:

And maybe back to the beginning now? We arrived in Honolulu on Saturday around noon local time which was 4pm central. We left Friday after dinner, caught a plan to LA to catch our connecting flight. After a chilly overnight layover in LAX, we hopped a plane to Honolulu  - and when we arrived, I was pretty much out of words. (I know, seems impossible!) It was hot but not in an overwhelming way - the lack of humidity made it feel perfect. The air port was open air without windows and right away - could see mountains in the distance. Mountains! Or a volcano! I have no idea but it was beautiful.

After a cabride, we got our packets. Pickup was easy. The expo had been going on for days so if we had wanted to, we could have been in and out. Of course, we wandered. My husband ran into his best friend and they chatted as we meandered. (I suck at conversation, so mostly I let them talk since they don't get to see each other much. Peril of being an introvert.) I bought a shirt, because HELLO HAWAII, I may never see you again. I'm not a neon person, but picked a neon yellow shirt the same colour as the pullover I bought at Chicago. Go figure. But it looks like it will be great for running in the heat, even lighter than the awesome tank Kim recommended that I ended up living running in this summer.

And then we wandered Hawaii. I took a ton of pictures which those who have me on FB can see, but since most aren't running related I will just post this pretty sunset from the evening before. In a fit of excellent preparation, my husband decided he wasn't hungry for dinner with the timezone change and got grumpy when I suggested I grab food without him, so neither of us ate the night before the race. He had a beer with his best friend though. We're smart.

On race day we had our alarm set for 3:45a, which sounds awful except that with timezones this was really 7:45. I still didn't want to get up, but hey, Hawaii. Up we got, hydrating and eating a super delicious protein bar. We left around 4:30 to meander to the start line, which my husband said was close to our hotel. He lied, it was about a mile and a half which isn't awful, but would feel awful after the race. We didn't even make it to the start line til 5am, which is bad because the race was supposed to start then and we still had to pee! Oops. Luckily we knew we had until 5:30 to cross, because it took that long to make it through the lines. It's okay though because there were fireworks!


And we were off! was hot. I actually felt okay, it was about 74 to start and the sun wouldn't come up for another 2 hours. I felt warm but okay - I'd been doing a lot of treadmill runs and the lack of airflow in there I guess maintained some of my heat acclimation because I didn't feel stressed at all. My husband was another story and while he'd rocked his November marathon, he was dying at the end of the first mile. He was already dripping sweat and his pulse was racing. We knew we'd end up run walking anyway, and planned to go verrrry conservatively because we were going from lots of 30-40 degree runs to 80+ degrees. So we took a drink, walked a tenth of a mile and then ran again. After the second mile I was still feeling great but he was clearly having a tough time, which wasn't good with 24-odd miles to go. We took another drink, walked another tenth of a mile then ran again, and did that for a few miles but it got clear fast he was not going to be able to keep that up. Heat is hard! We switched to running for a kilometer and walking for a kilometer, and then went more okay. His heartrate stabilized more. No pictures from this stretch because it was dark, but here's the startline we crossed at about 5:28:

Once the sun came up you could really see how gorgeous Hawaii is. I think this was around mile 7 or 8? I'm not sure. Unfortunately we also hit our first huge uphill stretch - you go up a mountain and it was gorgeous. But, mountain! Sun! Hot! We walked. I was okay with that, we got to see the elite women go by and that was pretty cool. I got to tell my husband he was a dope for being surprised she had an escort since she "wasn't winning, the winner had already gone by" and explain that she was winning the women's race. Mostly though, we walked and drank water and admired pretty Hawaii MOUNTAIN views.

Husband says, MOUNTAIN!

After the mountain we went back to running a kilometer and walking a kilometer. I was getting worried about him, he struggled more and more as we went on. I was okay though, making sure to gel and hydrate appropriately. We were sweating a lot so we were taking water and gatorade at each water stop plus what we had in our bottles, but mostly having a great time because HAWAII! So pretty, even if the whole course was on the roads so we got a lot of urban/suburban views. We meandered our way to mile 12, where disaster struck. We had just started a run interval and I managed to stub my toe on one of those light reflector things between lanes. (What are they called, anyway? I have no idea!) As I stumbled I briefly entertained the notion that I was going to catch myself and not fall, but alas, 'twas not to be. (I should have known better - I haven't fallen in a race since 2014 and I was running out of 2015!) I hit the pavement, going down hard and skidding. I did manage to avoid the cute Japanese ladies running next to me, so I'll call it a win. They did flutter around me as I sat embarrassed on the asphalt and handed me itty bitty bandaids for my knee, which was sweet. I have no idea what they told me, but it sounded encouraging and helpful!

Deceiving angles are deceiving, it's actually a pretty huge scrape.

At the water stop shortly after my fall, we saw Keith's best friend going the other way on course. I was trying to wash off my knee and didn't recognize him until he'd already passed us, but they managed to shout some playfully insulting things at each other, and on we went. I was still able to run, but I noticed we were walking earlier and earlier in our "kilometer run". We hit the halfway point in about 3:40, ran downhill for a stretch, and Keith said he thought he was done running "for a while." We didn't know it then, but this ended up being the rest of the race. It was in the 80s and he just couldn't keep cool enough. I had been rubbing ice on him and making him drink, but it wasn't enough. So - we walked! Or limped, in my case. At med tents we stopped for bags of ice to keep on his back / chest / neck and I packed my sports bra with ice when they had ice at the aid stations. At one point he stopped sweating, which scared the heck out of me, and I started making him take a second cup at aid stations and wiping him with the sponges they were offering. Honestly, he usually does much better than me with heat so the whole thing had me a little freaked out, although I didn't share that bit on course. When there started being a little bit of shade on the sides of the road I made him walk there.

We're hot but halfway done! ...did I mention it's hot?

I did okay until about mile 20, which was about 5 hours in. At that point my hip flexors started cramping, which kind of sucked, because the roads in Hawaii had a huuuuge cambre, and the heat did start getting to me because the sun was right overhead. My toe had bled through my sock at this point (from when I'd stubbed it - I broke the nail, ouch. I'll spare you pictures.) which wasn't much fun either. So, the last 10k was a bit miserable. But we did finally cross the finish line in 7:30 and change.

Overall, I am glad we did it. It was hot and I hadn't realized how much of it we'd end up walking, but I knew it was going to be a slow one because of the heat. It was definitely hard but so beautiful. We grabbed our finisher shirts (weird cut on the women's shirt, but I'm wearing it anyway!) and trudged...slowly...back to the hotel.

Sad shoeless trudging! Haha.

I don't know if I'd do it a second time, but don't regret doing it this time. I wish we'd been able to run more, but doing it in a safe manner definitely was more important. The only thing is, I now kind of want to do another marathon, because it occurred to me that if I did, I would qualify for Maniac status...'s official, I'm nuts. And probably not doing that. But, Hawaii was fun?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Schaumburg Turkey Trot HM - Recap

So this Saturday to support my best friend I ran the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half. You may remember that her first half, the Indy Women's Half, ended up black flagged due to weather. Boo! So this was first HM redux for her. I wasn't too happy because we knew she'd be running somewhere around 3-3:10 and from experience running at the back of the pack, some races are awesome at supporting everyone throughout the race and some are not. All Community Events is a very experienced well organized race, but they're not known for supporting the back of the pack. The Indy Women's Half should have been a great experience for her - this one I was a little more nervous for her. But, it was the only one we could make work for both of us - if she hadn't been able to make it work I would have been running the 5k though, because this race has awesome sweatshirts that I absolutely love.

Race morning came and we got up, ate, and got out the door by 7:50 for a 9:15 race start, The race was close to my house so this should have been plenty, but due to some issues with crazy runners arguing with cops we ended up cutting it close. The race started on time but we didn't end up crossing the start line til 9:22 - but we made it! Like last time, we planned to run our own races and then I'd run to meet her on course.

Going into it I knew I was not in PR shape - my PR is 2:11 and I have had some really slow long runs lately, with my best pace for a long run being 10:55. When I ran that half last year my best pace for long runs was in the 10:30s. I wanted to believe I was slower this year because it was hotter and more humid, but the truth is I never lost the 15lbs I gained when I hurt my knee. Losing weight was easy the first time I tried, but having a menstrual cycle has really complicated weight loss for me and I haven't been able to lose it. With it being said there are 2 seconds per mile per pound difference...yeah. About a 30 second difference for mile and that's pretty much exactly what I've seen in races and training runs.

My first few miles, which are usually my fastest on race day, were in the low 10:30s when there wasn't a water stop and 11ish when there was. (Even when I skipped the water stop, they were so clogged with cups that I slowed way down to avoid slipping, and mostly succeeded...except when I didn't, haha.) Even with the semi steepish bridgey thingamajig we ran in mile 2 I guess I'd just been hoping to do better here.

Mile 1: 10:30
Mile 2: 10:45 
(water stop I avoided)
Mile 3: 10:35
Mile 4: 11:10
(stopped for water, slipped on a cup!) 

My A-goal was a 2:15 which I thought would be doable, but my legs were just not cooperating. I felt like I couldn't get a deep breath either, so I knew I needed to adjust. This was just not going to be a fast race. My C-goal was to be faster than my spring half and my B-goal was to be in the 2:17-2:18 range. To be honest once I got going I thought I wasn't even going to make my C goal; I was trying to run a smart race but I usually die around mile 11-12 and my back half is usually much slower than my front half. With my first 4 miles not having a single mile in the A goal range, and how crowded the course was and how much weaving I had to do to get around people from starting in the back, I legitimately entertained that this might barely be any faster than my first post-baby half last spring, which was 2:24:57.

But right around mile 5 we ran past a little elk preserve with signs that said "do not feed the elk under pain of death". And right after seeing that sign I got to see not just a herd of elk, but one absolutely beautiful animal staring right at us as we ran past:

Right after the elk we hit a big bridge that was super annoying, especially because I knew we'd have to cross it again. But I guess the hillwork I've been adding to the treadmill is worth something (haha) because I ran up the whole thing, where I watched a lot of people stop to walk.

And then shortly after that, we hit the 10k point and then the turnaround (which was right around the halfway point too.) This course is usually a point to point but due to some construction they had to modify it a bit. I hit the 10k point in 1:06:06, about 30 seconds slower than my spring half,  and the halfway point at 1:10:10...which put me on pace for a 2:20:30ish finish if I held pace, which would be a hair better than my spring half, or if I slowed down like I usually did, an even slower finish. Once we turned around we were running into the wind. That sucked. And we had to cross that bridge again in the 8th mile! It was crazy because I was cold, felt like I was crawling, AND I was sweating like crazy. There were times I wished I'd worn a t-shirt. Crazy! And taking a gel slows me down. I do believe after a lot of trial and error that they work better for me than chews and beans but I am so slow getting them into my mouth, geesh!

Mile 5: 10:26
Mile 6: 10:52 
(skipped water stop but bridge)
Mile 7: 10:30
Mile 8: 11:05
(water stop AND bridge)

The last third of a race is usually my nemesis. I don't know why but no matter how many miles I run or what kinds of workouts I do or how well prepared or how not well prepared I am, the last third of the race I usually die. I start "needing" walk breaks, my heart suddenly won't slow down, blah blah. I do mental math and inevitably bungle it and decide I can't PR and slow down or walk. Well, as much as I am bummed about my pace, I am happy to say I dug deep here and dug for a well of strength I have never been able to tap before. With 5 miles to go I did the math and realized I was still in B-goal and that I could just barely squeak in a 2:19:59 if I fought hard not to fade. It was going to be close though and if I gave in, if I walked the last bridge or the hill I remembered was at 12.5 miles or doubted I was strong enough, I knew I wouldn't make it.

But you know what? I have completed some really hard runs this year. I have run two marathons, finished them while undertrained for one and hurting and emotional in the other, I have completed a 20 that sucked and almost didn't happen and dealt with the ego blow of being a bit fluffier so slower and I did 12 flipping miles on the treadmill and I have a well of mental toughness I don't always remember I can tap during races. I ran the last 5 miles. I picked up the pace slightly. I never stopped, I always pushed. I ran my fastest water stop of the race at mile 10 and my fastest mile of the race at mile 12. I ran even when my goofy watch said I was at 10.38 miles for over 3 minutes. (That was annoying!)

Mile 9: 10:31
Mile 10: 10:47
(skipped water stop)
Mile 11: 10:28
Mile 12: 10:19

And then I was on the last mile and my run numb brain told me I should come in the early 2:19s and that if I walked at all I was going to blow something I'd spent the last 4 miles fighting for. So I didn't stop. Not when my legs got mad or my lungs hated the wind or when that hill half a mile before the finish line had everyone else around me walking. My final time was 2:18:47 - which is over 7 1/2 minutes off my PR, but I feel like in a lot of ways this was a stronger and faster half than I've ever run before. Pace aside, I had a good solid negative split; I only walked a few of the water stops (though as an aside, I was surprised how hard of a time I had getting through them - between the thick clog of cups on the ground each time and people stopping hard and fast in front of me, it took a lot of extra effort to safely navigate them!). I ran up all of the inclines which I usually don't. There were never walk breaks. And I never math'ed myself out of running as hard as I could, which I have done a lot in the past. I may be slower, but I think I'm a better, stronger, smarter runner than I used to be, too.

And my best friend finished - I got to her at mile 12, because I couldn't get my legs into a run so I ended up walking to meet her which meant an extra mile on her own. I felt bad because when I caught up to her I realized she was having a bad asthma attack - and hadn't even realized! She walked the last mile in after I made her use her inhaler and still managed to finish in 2:57, way faster than she had expected. I am super proud of her! (Unfortunately with the asthma attack we didn't get a picture together, but I'm still very happy for her!)

Next up for me is the Hawaii marathon in 2 weeks, which we will be taking very slow. It'll be hot so I am looking at it as more a long scenic run walk with my husband. While I had toyed with the idea of a spring marathon, I think I am going to take some time to curb my mileage and focus on figuring out how to adapt to weight loss with my new hormonal situation - I think if I went back down to my normal weight running at the paces I want wouldn't be so hard. I think shorter runs with some higher intensity cross training might be a better way to kick things up a bit, and hopefully come spring I can take another crack at some speedy goals!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fitness Flashback

I've really been loving mapmyrun's new thing lately - I get "fitness flashbacks" emailed to me. The email will have a workout I did a year ago, two years ago, or three years ago so I can remember what I was doing a year ago. It's been neat. and it's surprising how often I remember the details of those runs! You'd think they'd blur together but honestly, I usually look at it and go, "Oh hey, that was the day where I ______!"

And usually the workouts are something like - hey, here's this awesome marathon you ran last year! Check out this time you PR'ed your half!

But today's was different. Today flashed me back 3 years, to the very first time I saw double digits on a run.

I called it my "Accidental 10 miler" because I had meant to run 9. My first planned 10 was supposed to be the week after, at the Perfect 10 10 miler. But I got lost. At that time, I didn't my neighborhood paths very well and I got turned around and PANIC LOST. I ended up on a road I hadn't seen before and it took an entire mile to get back on track. I still didn't believe I could eat or drink on a run, because I was convinced I was a special snowflake whose stomach just "couldn't" do it. I was lost and so afraid I was going to make a total idiot of myself.

But I did it. My pace was 13:46 and I think I was walking 5, running 2 at that point. That was a rockstar pace for me back then. I was so proud when I finished that run. I'm still proud I finished that run! It gave me confidence that I could finish my first long distance race. It gave me confidence that I didn't have limits I couldn't push.

Looking back, it makes me realize just how far I've come. If you had told me that day that I'd go on to run 3 marathons and a 50k in the next few years, I would have laughed. But I did it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chicago Monster Dash 10k - recap

This is my first post in a while - mostly because in what is apparently going to be a post-marathon tradition, I've been hella sick and not running much. My daughter brought home a nasty bug and I've been down for the count - I wasn't able to run for almost 2 weeks and for the first week of that really couldn't do much of anything. I added walking a few miles a day in the second week but even that left me a little breathless. I added running back in this week and was a little bummed to be struggling to run what should have been easy paces, especially with the cooler weather. But I had a bib for the 10k Monster Dash and I had wanted to PR...I figured I would anyway because my PR is really old. But with being sick I knew my primary goal of a sub-60 10k was probably out. My previous PR was 1:11:02, set at the Tryon Farm Trails 10k, and it was an insane course filled with obstacles. My A-goal was sub-60, B-goal 1:02 or better, C goal 1:08 or better, and D goal PR.

From the course of my 10k PR set in May 2014. I don't do many 10ks!

When yesterday dawned it was .. pouring, and chilly. Mid-40s is great for running unless it's a downpour, and then it's cold. But the weather report said the rain would break for a few hours, so while it would be cool it should have been good running weather and okay spectating weather too - since the race wasn't in the city my family was coming too because I won't do Chicago by myself. Well sadly - the weather report lied and my family was soaked to the bone!

But, we got to the race on time. I had gotten a bib from my running group because one of the ladies in the Lake/McHenry Moms Run This Town chapter had an injury and couldn't use it. So, we filled out the transfer form and I dropped it off race morning, and then had a whopping two minutes to spare before the race started because our Metra train was running 15 minutes late. I definitely set a PR for fastest portopotty use ever, and props to Team Ortho for having potties a plenty...usually there are lines but I am happy to say there wasn't one. WHEW!

Thank goodness for plentiful port-o-potties!

After the fastest portopotty use ever, I jumped into the crowd waiting to start. I had no idea where to line up because there were zero pace markers. Which uh...was not helpful, and I remember thinking it was odd, but I think the weather did a number on the amount of volunteers for the race because this was not the first place the race would have some issues. The gun went off on time (the half had started at 9, then the 10k at 9:20 and the 5k at 9:40 - actually a very very good system, worked really well here to prevent some extra course congestion) and we were off. We ran around Grant Park before circling back to go north for a bit. I quickly figured out I had started wayyyyy too far back or some people had started wayyyy too far up because I spent a lot of the first mile dodging. Dodging was less than fun because in Grant Park the sidewalks are hugely broken and I saw a lot of people trip and fall. Yikes! For the first mile it mostly drizzled. I wanted to be conservative so wasn't checking my watch - I knew I was definitely not back up to optimal and while a 9:30 pace would get me my sub-60, I was pretty sure my lungs didn't have that in me yet. When the first mile clicked in at 10:26 I knew I was right - that pace felt comfortably hard and while that is usually a pretty easy pace for me to maintain, today I didn't have too much more in me. It was what it was and I was happy to be out there. Oddly enough, the first mile marker came up at .9 miles. That had me thinking back to the lack of pace markers for the start - and I got glared at by a couple runners around me for saying out loud "That can't be right!" Hah!

Around 1.25 miles we turned towards the lake to start running south. The second mile clicked in at a steady 10:26. I was a bit disappointed I hadn't sped up a little, but there was a stretch here where we were climbing onto the lakefront and I think the big uphill jag had more to do with that than anything. There was no mile marker for mile 2, which had some people muttering around me and me still pondering the structural oddities of the race. I was also concerned because while I didn't need an aid station, the race website had said there would be 4, which had me figuring about every 1 1/2 miles...Mile three came in at 10:04, which may have been a bit fast, but hey - at least it had a mile marker! The first aid station showed up at 3.5ish miles. I skipped it because unless it's hot I don't usually drink if it's a single digit run and I didn't want to walk if I didn't have to - I've taken walk breaks on every other 10k I've run and I figured today I could run the whole thing even if A goal and B goal were out of reach. We hit a turnaround point shortly there after but it was terribly marked, and I later heard that a lot of people missed it entirely. It didn't help that the course overlapped with the Lakefront 50/50 this year, so there were two races going opposite directions on the lakefront with their own markers.

For mile 4 I tried to tone it down a little bit, thinking with how my chest felt that may have been a bit fast and it popped in at 10:12. I was happy there were only 2 miles left - I could definitely tell I was not healthy / recovered enough to be racing today. Not surprisingly, there was no mile marker here either, and we wouldn't see any the rest of the race except for the 11 mile and the 13 mile for the half. My husband told me later he saw all the mile markers in the race village, on the ground. I can't think why they wouldn't have been set up but it was a bit disconcerting to have a few randomly about. In mile 5 it started pouring, and I started feeling tremendously guilty that my family was out there waiting for me. I was cold, and wet, and I knew they had to be colder and wetter. So much for a break in the rain - it literally never stopped!  I hit mile 5 at 10:03 and felt about done. I reassured myself I didn't need to walk - not 5 miles into a 10k! - but I also found myself internally muttering about a particularly peppy looking runner and grumbling that people could only look peppy 5 miles into a race if it wasn't a 10k. I'm not usually that much of a hater so I just have to laugh at my internal monologue!

And who's a big sourpuss? YOU ARE! Err, I am! Whatever.

The last mile about killed me, I think. I felt like I was crawling. I told myself it was okay to slow down, but not to walk - I had run almost 20 miles at a faster pace than this without walking, there was no reason to walk now! I was sure I slowed down but didn't check my watch. It was still pouring and I felt pretty miserable. Mile 6 at 10:03 and I was amazed I hadn't slowed down but simultaneously bummed I didn't have a sub-10 this race - I had at least one mile in the 9s in both marathons, but not for my 10k. Oh well! As we continued heading north on the lakefront I was about ready for it to just be over. By the time we crossed Lake Shore drive to go under the bridge to the finish line, my watch was way past the 10k mark and if I had had more energy I would have been irritated because I knew that other than some dodge/weave in the beginning I'd done a good job at tangents, way too good to have my watch show almost 2 extra tenths of a mile for a 10k. But whatever, I was done with an official time of 1:04:51, which is a 6:11 PR. Looking back I hit the 10k mark at 1:03:15. When I'm healthier, I'll chase that sub-60 goal again and I'll get's race pace is usually my easy pace. I'll get it!

For me though, I think this will be my last Team Ortho Race. I've run the Polar Dash a few times and it's never well organized. Their Women Rock this year had the cutoff times drastically slashed at the last minute to the point where many friends who signed up could not complete them in time. This race wasn't fully set up, wasn't even close to fully staffed, wasn't well marked at all (and come on - Chicago has races all the time - you can do better!), and the food at the end was bananas and pretzels and chocolate milk. Fine for a 5k, marginal for a 10k, felt bad for the half marathoners. Their swag is great usually, the medals are okay, the races themselves are getting worse and worse. Though they push packet mailing (to the tune of $30 before a race) I can say from experience they wait until the last moment to mail them and not everyone gets them in time, and their packet pickups tend to be really inconvenient. My first half was through Team Ortho and for nostalgia's sake I want to love them, but they're too expensive for the poor experiences they give their runners. Glad to have my PR, but wish I'd done the Muddy Monk trail race instead!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Running obsession?

Runners obsess over lots of things. Medals (and I do), shirts, shoes...all normal.

I realized I seem to have an odd collection though. I was organizing my gear and realized I could run every day of a week and not have to rewear any headbands...

Left column, bottom to top - plain teal, MRTT aqua, Super Mom light pink, Sub30 club spandex hot pink
Right column, bottom to top - Pain is Temporary Pride is Forever yellow, Gotta Run! olive, Suck it up buttercup light green, tye dye print spandex

But in my defense, they're awesome, and I reach for one for every run and every race. I sweat a lot and they help keep me from feeling yucky - if I forget, I end up with wet hair and it just feels so gross. They may not be the most fashion savvy accessory, but I seem to keep ending up with more. I honestly thought I only had a couple and was debating buying another.

However, I probably don't need one.

Even if the baby likes them too.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Post marathon brain dump

Just like last time my brain still seems to be whirling, so here's another brain dump.

1) I got my PR. I'm glad. So why do I feel like it's not a time worth being proud of? Sometimes I annoy myself, I ran a marathon and still have this feeling like my time isn't "good enough", that "real" marathoners can run faster, can run in the 4:30s, blah blah blah. I've done this before, that "real" runners can do a 5k under 30 and a half under 2:25 and blah blah. Why, when I should be celebrating, am I having a bout of insecurity? Rationally I know that's nonsense and I did well. I met my goal, I finished and stayed strong for most of it. Why am I torturing myself because I hit my limit at 23 miles? I know that will get better the more of them I do. I will get better at this. It's only my third marathon, there's no way I can figure out how to have run them perfectly. And yet I just feel so slow. Like I should be able to be faster, stronger...bleh.

2) On the plus side, zero hot spots or blisters or chafing. I had two blisters from the Indy Women's Half (speedwalking is hard) that got irritated, but no new ones.

3) On another plus side, no injuries either! At Alaska I tweaked my calf and had to rest for a week, but while I am still super sore (hip flexors, quads/hamstrings) I have no injury tweaks - just muscle soreness. That's good!

4) I am sooooo tired this week, but I am not sick. Everyone in my house has had a cold for the past two weeks - except me. I was paranoid convinced that I was going to be running Milwaukee with a cold. I guess this was karma for the 50k I ran with a chest cold!

5) I don't know why, but I'm frustrated that the race has super nice finisher merchandise. The finisher jacket looks really nice, and I could see myself wearing it. But buying it costs as much as the race itself. Which, isn't a huge deal - I bought a similar souvenir after Chicago - but the race shirt for Milwaukee is so awful I feel like it's unwearable. My Chicago shirt wasn't amazing but it's wearable at least, and my Alaska shirt is actually pretty nice. I feel like if I want something to remember Milwaukee by I have to spend a ton of money, and that is frustrating. I'm okay with boring race shirts but ones that unwearable are uncool!

6) It took a long time for the soreness from Sunday to go away. I still had some in my quads on Thursday morning..for both previous marathons it was gone by Wednesday when I woke up. I don't remember how I felt after the 50k but since I was so sick that's not surprising. Alaska was a harder course and I was less trained, although it was a mile shorter. I would have expected to have less soreness this time so I'm surprised.

7) My husband is very patiently waiting to ask me to run the Honolulu marathon this December. The reason I was able to do Alaska and what makes Hawaii feasible is that for 2015 I have free flight benefits because my husband's best friend works for an airline - so we wouldn't be paying for the flight. He's smart enough to wait for me to recover from Milwaukee before asking me to consider it, but I know it's coming. Hawaii sounds amazing. Right now I'm not sure another marathon does though, although we'd be doing it together at his pace. Decisions...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon - Recap

I'm relieved to write this - Milwaukee marathon is on the books. A point to point course in Milwaukee, it was mid 50s, cloudy, and started at Grafton High School.

For a variety of reasons I wasn't looking forward to this marathon; it wasn't just that running in Alaska took the wind out of Milwaukee's sails, although that was true (early goal fulfillment, even if the course ended up being short - I still did it, and really, how could WI compete with Alaska?). It wasn't just burnout, although I do think I was a little bit burned out on distance. It wasn't just that my husband and kids decided to ditch me for a baseball game either, although that didn't help. It wasn't just that I wasn't sure if my goals were attainable or that my running hasn't been where it was last year. It was more like everything at once and I just didn't have any excitement for it...I looked forward to it being over, but not necessarily doing it. Which was unfortunate.

But time marches forward and the day of packet pickup arrived before I knew it...Saturday at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee. Kind of a pain to park but otherwise fine, got my packet and ugly shirt (seriously, my husband calls it a scuba diver cut...something really weird and square on the women's cuts, unfortunately), bought a couple gels, and that was that. I set up my to-go bag and outfit (skirt and tank for running in, sweatshirt and diy arm sleeves for waiting at the startline) and went to bed.

Sunday rolled around and 4am wakeup alarm went off...I was out the door by 4:30 and on my way to Milwaukee. After almost an hour and a half and two bathroom stops (...marathon hydration has consequences, man), I arrived at the Italian Community Center to catch the shuttle to the start line. Fortunately parking was way easier that morning and in a weird bit of coincidence I ended up sitting right next to a few ladies from my running group (MRTT Lake and McHenry chapter). I should have been chatting but race day jitters weren't there and I ended up drifting during the shuttle ride. When I woke up we were at the high school where the race started, and even got to use real bathrooms! I dropped my gear check bag on the UPS truck they had for that purpose, and took my place in the startline.

Too early for smiles, apparently.

Fortunately for me, since it was a chilly wait, the race started promptly at 7:30. I stripped off my sweatshirt expecting to never see it again but held on to my arm warmers until the aid station at mile 4 - the cold felt nice but I was definitely not used to running in it. I tried to settle in but I was not enjoying myself, it felt like a little rolling uphill was just around the corner and there never seemed to be a downhill to make up for it. My pace wasn't suffering - I kept up solid 10:45s, slow enough to feel easy but solid enough to hit my a-goal (sub 4:50). But I was definitely annoyed.

Of course, I wasn't too annoyed to be amused by all the dudes jumping off course to water the trees. Lol! Must be nice to be a guy, portopotty lines didn't look so friendly on course - there were 2-3 at each aid station but there were almost always lines. It was still amazing to see so many guys peeing though, because they were not even slightly discreet for most of them...and one dude peed on some poor person's recycling bin. I mean...what?!

Anyway, that sadly wasn't enough to distract me for long and the miles kind of dragged. I took my first gel at mile 5, and picked up a second when they gave them out around mile 8 or so. (I had my own with me but they happened to be giving out the brand I use, so I snagged it and stuck it in my spi belt. It was apparently not my day and I snagged it in the zipper, rupturing it, but didn't realize til after the race. Oh well.)

I saw some spectators from my running group just before mile 10, but my brain was so fried from just grinding through miles that I think I barely acknowledged them. Shame on me because spectating is hard work and it was awesome of them to be out there...mentally, I just wasn't there. I took my second gel here, and kept going. It's a testament to my mental state at the time that I was already thinking about walk breaks, 10 miles into a marathon. Derp! I told myself firmly I hadn't spent all summer training for this to walk not even halfway, and promised to reconsider at mile 15 but not a .01 of a mile sooner. And on I went

The halfway point hit at 2:20. Physically I felt fine - strong - nothing sore, no trouble breathing or with my heartrate. I was happy to hit the halfway point. I figured the back half, if Alaska was anything to guage by, would by about 2:25 which put me on track for a 4:45 marathon which was well within my goal range (sub 5) and very safely within the a-goal too (sub 4:50). This cheered me up and for the first time all race I actually was glad to be out running. The little rolling uphills were still annoying but I was still clicking along at a decent pace.

Not the best picture but I still felt good!

And then at mile 15 I hit a minor disaster....let's just say that mother nature plays a mean trick on women and it isn't bad enough we can't pee easily like the dudes, and it necessitated a 3 minute portopotty stop. D'oh. But I took my third gel afterwards and on I went. Despite the stop things were looking up, and I was pretty cheerful - only 11 miles to go and that felt a-okay to me. I picked up a second gel around mile 19 (I had brought four of my own, but they were giving out the flavor I use!) and on I plugged.

I took my fourth and last gel at mile 20 and was feeling pretty good - 10k to go, and I didn't feel like I did at mile 19 of Alaska. Better fueling must be helping, right? I was slowing down but I was still within the 2:25 area I expected to run for the backhalf and still running. I was getting sore - my quads felt the rolling hills and I added a short walk break at the top of every mile to avoid cramping. In retrospect I wonder if I should have done them more frequently while I felt good to preserve it, but I did feel good. At mile 22 my chapter leader from MRTT, who was spectating, even jumped out on course to slap me 5. Whoo!

My photography was better in Alaska, but still smiling!

And actually, I felt good until mile 23 and then it felt like the wheels fell off the bus. It didn't matter how fast or slow I ran - my heartrate at that point refused to come down long enough for me to run more than a couple minutes at a time. I started walking every 3/4 of a mile, then every half mile. At mile 25 I resorted to walking .05 every .2 miles. I was so annoyed but my heart was pounding and it made me feel short of breath, which is exactly what happened in Alaska but at mile 19 there. That lends credence to this being a fueling issue since I fueled better at Milwaukee than Alaska, and got four more miles before I came apart. But on the other hand this never happens in training, where I fuel less, and why do I feel short of breath with not enough cals? Is that a normal reaction?

Either way, I eventually crossed the finish line with an official time of 4:48:04, which beats my adjust Alaska time of 4:55 and is 3:11 more than my actual time of 4:44:53 for the 25.24 there. If I hadn't had my uh...girl issues...I would have been within a few seconds of Alaska, which is pretty neat for running an extra mile. Altogether, the marathon went well and I more than hit my A goal and came dang close, all things considered, to my pie-in-the-sky-not-a-chance goal of 4:45.

And best of all, it's done.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Big Hollow PTO 5K - Race Recap

So the Big Hollow PTO 5k has been on my radar for a few years and just never worked out, but I knew my local Moms Run This Town chapter has talked about it a lot. This year I had it in mind, but in all fairness, I had it in mind last year too and overslept.

But this year, I did not oversleep! It was supposed to be 60s, low humidity, and partly cloudy - my running group said it had some rolling hills but it sounded similar to the difficulty of the Loop the Lakes 5K I ran in April so I figured I could still PR on it; I felt really strong coming out of the hot and heavy parts of marathon training so I figured if I had the right weather I had a pretty good shot at taking some time off my PR.

Pre-warmup selfie!

After a little confusion with road closures and being turned in a circle by the (very nice, actually!) police officer who had the road closed by the startline, I got there at 8:20 instead of my predicted 8am, but was parked, registered, and back in my car by 8:24. Conisdering registration closed at 8:30 I was pretty content! I went off to warm up and to my chagrin the temp display said 72 and it was sunny, but oh well - it was what it was and it was too late to change my mind!

At the start line I ran into a couple wonderful ladies from my running group and to my huge surprise and pleasure - I heard someone call my name and it was Kim! Despite living relatively close together, we rarely end up with races together and the only other time was when she volunteered at the North Shore Half when I ran it while pregnant. And she had Gina with her, who I have so much about on her blog that I got to make a total dork of myself by telling her I knew her, except not! Haha. /socially awkward moment

Anyway, the race started not too long after that and while it was warm I felt pretty good, the humidity was lower than I've been running in. I was planning to try to run 9:20s and figured I could scrape a PR out - it was hot enough that I didn't think I'd get a big one but I thought it would be doable if I didn't go out too fast.

The first mile went pretty good, we turned into a hairpin turnabout before getting back on the main course (which was weird, I hate turns - I always feel like I slow down!). I saw Kim here but it was such a short out and back I forgot to cheer! I hit the mile one point at 9:19 and still felt really strong, like I could pick up the pace - I was momentarily optimistic until I realized that the first mile is relatively flat. (You can see a picture of what we ran up on Kim's race recap. According to my garmin, my normal flat route is hillier - but This was tough for this flatlander!)

The first aid station was at mile 1.25, but I skipped it. I didn't want to waste the seconds to grab water, I could get it after.  Of course at the halfway point we hit a spot marked "5k turnaround" - and ran riiiiight past it. Which was mentally a little unnerving, but we hit the turnaround around 1.75. I did get to see Kim and Gina before that - I cheered for Kim and on I went! Mile two chimed in at 9:31. I was bummed to have lost that much time but it was much hillier and I still felt like I did pretty good. I felt strong, wasn't tapped out but was running hard.

We hit the second aid station around mile 2.4 (same aid station, just hit it a second time) and I skipped it again. I cheered for the ladies in my group I saw still heading to the turn around and buckled down - last mile and I was determined to go a bit faster. Well, mentally. Physically I was giving it what I had, but the 3 mile mark - thanks to all the hills, came in at 9:26. I had thought I had more in me but I'm really not used to running hills!

Final time ended up 28:53, which is 18 seconds off a PR. Not where I wanted to be but considering heat and hills, I'm very happy with how well I ran. And, I got to watch Kim dance Gangam style while we waited for the awards ceremony. (I sent her the pics. She can post them if she wants. It was hilarious.)

And as a great bonus, I took second in my age group! (Kim beat me. By a lot. Maybe some day I'll be fast!)

I took second in my AG, my MRTT chapter leader took 3rd in hers! (Yes, we wore the same shirt. Nope, not planned!)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Indy Women's Half Marathon - Recap

So this weekend my friend April was slated to run her very first half marathon, and of course I was running it with her!

Or at least...that was the plan. But Mother Nature had other plans.

The race was in Indianapolis, about an hour and fifteen minutes away from her apartment. (I'm about 3 1/2 hours from her, so it was a long day for me lol!) We hit the expo the day before to pick up our packets / shirt and it was a decent expo, several vendors and games and freebies and race promos and stuff. I was actually impressed, I've seen big expos for the marathons I did but I think this was the biggest half expo I've ever seen and there were some neat little freebies to pick up too. April won a $5 gc and I got a swim cap at one booth...and no I don't swim, but it struck me as better than the sticker that was my other choice...I think?

The morning of the race we watched the radar a bit nervously, because it was either going to be hot and humid (70 and 84% humidity) or the heavens were going to break over, and while I love running in the rain the radar looked bad. We we got up at 4:45 to be out the door by about 5:30, and made it to the race with plenty of time. Portopotties were perfectly adequate although strangely the sinks provided were out of water, which was weird, but we soon headed to the startline. It was here things went a bit downhill.

At the startline, the opening ceremony was supposed to be at 7:15 but at 7:30, which was the projected start time, we didn't here anything. Nerves had both of us needing to pee, but we weren't sure when or if we were starting the race - there was talk about delaying due to weather but the race officials had AWFUL mics and we couldn't here a thing. Suddenly we heard the end of the national anthem when the crowd turned to put their hand over their hearts and face the flag, and then two minutes later we were off. Or supposed to be - since I hadn't known we were anywhere close to starting, I hadn't started my garmin, and the gps was sluggish to catch. I wished April luck (she run/walks and speedwalks during her walk intervals, I can't keep up with her during the walk bits, so we weren't running side by side) and she took off while I waited for my watch to grab the satellite. It eventually did and I started near the 3:30 pacer, but I tried to settle into a groove.

When we passed the startline portapotties though, not even a third of a mile in, I jumped out of the crowds to pee. I've never done that before but waiting around nervous hadn't done me any favours, and I figured it'd be faster to stop now before I got sweaty or wet from rain since it wouldn't take forever to pull my skirt back up! Unfortunately, the first unlocked potty I tried was actually occupied by a very distressed lady. She seemed so mad at me, but geez! Lock the door! Fortunately it was still a fast stop and I was in and out in less than a minute.

Shortly after we got to slap some in uniform soldiers high 5, which left a big grin on my face - and then it was time to settle in! The first mile clicked in a 11:12, which considering the bathroom stop I was okay with. I am not as fast as I was last year and knew especially with the weather a pr was not in my forecast, but I was determined to give this race a solid effort.

At a mile and a half, the sky broke open and I was thrilled. I love running in the rain, I think I've mentioned that. Around me women moaned and groaned but I loved it, it helped a lot with cooling me off and just felt awesome. Mile two came in at a solid 10:30 and I struck up a conversation with a nearby pair of runners, who also preferred the rain to the heat.

And then the lightning started. It looked distant, but it painted the sky. Within half a mile, the cops on the course we telling us the race was black flagged - cancelled, and seek shelter! Runners on the course  gave a collective groan, we still wanted to go, but they were kicking us off the course. Grumpy, but with lightning still painting the sky, we turned around to run back to the finish line. I texted April to give her the news if she hadn't heard it and kept running, but the cops directed us back to the start in the shortest way rather than back the way we'd run and I got back to the finish line around the 5k point according to my watch.

I get that lightning is dangerous and they had to make the best decision they could. But. Here's where it stops making sense. From here, we were directed across the finish line and through the finisher chute - to collect snacks, medal, and our rose. Nobody was seeking shelter and race officials were still working. Volunteers still super busy. I waited for April to make it back through the chute - about 20 minutes after me, I think - and activity showed no signs of dwindling. Photographers were still out taking pictures even. It was pouring, and lightning did flash occasionally, but if this was dangerous enough to bag the race - why was the finish line village still there?

But either way, once April was through we made the driveback to Indiana and decided we still wanted to earn our medals, so we'd run them when we got back to her place. Well...eventually that was decided. She was understandably bummed and a bit grumpy and it took a bit to talk her into it. But eventually we did get out there, although after 5k she decided that we were just going to walk instead of do the run/walk intervals. With the race gone I figured as long as we got in the miles we were good - and I found out that when dragged, I can walk a 14:10 mile. Who knew!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Training recap

And the capstone week for Milwaukee is in the books! I took a meandering path this training cycle because of Alaska thrown in the mix, but I got there and had a solid week!

Here's how it went -

Monday 9/7 - rest. I was planning to run when my husband got home from work, and he had to work late. Oops. I'll run T/W/Th this week instead I guess, and try to fit two runs in the weekend if I can..although with the holiday, not optimistic...

Tuesday 9/8 - 3m @ 11:41p in 79* and 90% humidity. The real-feel was 88 for this run. Yuck! I kept it slow and did what I needed to in order to finish, and promised myself - no more hot runs because the heat wave was supposed to break the next day! 

Wednesday 9/9 - 3m @ 10:16p in 72* and pouring rain. I love running in the rain! It's honestly my favourite thing ever. Especially when it's 70* - it feels like running through a shower! This was supposed to be a 6 mile run today but due to child issues I could only squeeze in 3 miles while I had my husband home for lunch. I figured I'd do 6 the next day.

Thursday 9/10 6m @ 11:56p in 69*and 82% humidity. This stroller run was SO hard! And I think I know why - my tires are out of air. Oops. It's the first time I've used this since spring. We're going to take it to the gas station and reinflate the tires this weekend. Hopefully the stroller run will be much easier next week!

Friday 9/11 - 6m @ 9:52p in 64* and 72% humidity. This run went amazing! It would have been better if it rained like it was supposed to but it was breezy and overcast and my last mile was my second or third sub-9 mile since I hurt my knee. AMAZING! I felt so strong, like I could have kept running for miles, too. 

Saturday 9/12 - 4.54m @ 11:33p in 62* and 50% humidity. This was supposed to be my 20 miler - my capstone run of marathon training, the pièce de résistance. And the weather could not have been more gorgeous. Overcast, no humidity, and low 60s. SO PERFECT. But the baby started waking me up at 4am, I woke up with a migraine, and my husband was doing furniture moving because we were getting new couches so when I couldn't run in the morning and then didn't get home until 4, which is late to start a run like this. (I've done later, but I hadn't planned on missing the whole day with him.) I tried - I really did - but my legs felt so dead. By 3.5 miles in I was thinking about quitting because my legs felt like we were at the end of a long run...not the beginning. But he didn't answer the phone. I took it as a sign to keep going and did another mile...and then called it. This was not working. I was in tears because I didn't understand what was wrong. I was hydrated, I was fed, and the weather was perfect. I was also panicking. If I didn't get my 20 in - I'll have only done one real long run (when did I stop considering 12miles a long run?!) since Alaska. How was I supposed to do Milwaukee like that?! 

Sunday 9/13 - 20m @ 11:15p in 60-68 with negligible humidity. I was so nervous going into this run. What if it failed too? What if I couldn't get it in and I was doomed for Milwaukee? What if it being so much sunnier and warmer meant I death marched? The what-ifs plagued me and I stalled getting out the door, but finally made it out the door and just...ran. I slowed down the first couple miles out of nerves, running them in the 12ish range out of paranoia that I ... what? Blazed in speed and burned myself out in my attempt at a long run yesterday? I dunno, but I soon relaxed and settled into an 11ish pace, right on target. It was sunny which felt warm but the breeze mostly kept me cool and with all the experience from the summer I had running warm, it was okay! I'd been thinking about fueling issues I had during Alaska and Kim's advice about thinking I was underfueled, and changed my usual fuel strategy - I switched to gels and took one every 5 miles. And for the most part - this run went really well. I had plenty of miles right on target at 11, I had plenty sub-11s ranging from 10:30 to 10:50, and I had a couple 12s when I took a walk break. But for the most part, this run went really, really well and I think it was a great high note to start taper on!

Total: 42.54 miles run and tons of miles walked. I forgot to mention this but I totalled up my walking miles two weeks ago and realized I'm walking 20-30 miles a week...walking to parks with the kids, walking for different errands, and just walking to go for family walks because we usually do a 1-2 mile family walk each night with the kids and I usually do a 2 mile walk with the baby every morning because he gets antsy if we stay inside too long. I wasn't walking any unlogged miles last year so I do wonder how that will affect Milwaukee since I plan to try to taper those too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Training recap - catch-up edition!

Whoops, I haven't posted a training log in a few weeks - it's because I wasn't running as much at first after Alaska as I recovered, and then I was trying to figure out if I was winging things or on a training plan or what I was doing - but I've figured it out now and will be posting about that soon. In the mean time so I don't lose the data (I reference last year's training cycle data so much more than I ever thought I would!) I better put this stuff down!

So the last few weeks -

Monday 8/17 - rest (travelling back from Alaska)

Tuesday 8/18 - rest (still travelling back from Alaska...)

Wednesday 8/19 - rest (actual rest, I was home!)

Thursday 8/20 - 1.5m @ 11:45p in 72*and 51% humidity. This was supposed to be a 3 mile recovery run - my legs felt heavy but I cut it short because my calf still ached like it did from the last few miles of the Alaska marathon. Jerk! :(  

Friday 8/21 - rest. Planning not to run until the Fort2Base and hope it is better!

Saturday 8/22 - rest.

Sunday 8/23 11.8 @ 11:17p. Fort2Base! I didn't write down the humidity but it was supposed to be wasn't. Oh well! On the plus side, the calf behaved just fine - a little tired in the first mile, but I was soon to sweaty and cement-legged that I didn't even notice it. Haha. Definitely was not recovered from the legs felt so heavy and did not want to turnover at all.

Monday 8/24 - rest. Decided to take the week off after realizing how much my body needed rest.

Tuesday 8/25 - rest (

Wednesday 8/26 - 3m @ 9:58p. Supposed to be resting but I took advantage of my husband being home to go get fitted for new shoes, since my reeboks were sending definite signs they were worn out and the model I use changed from neutral to stability. The heck?! Got Brooks Glycerin 13s and...I am in love. I forgot to even write down the weather. Lol!

Thursday 8/27 - rest. My calf felt fine and my legs were moving yesterday but I decided not to run days in a row...this is still supposed to be a week off...ish...

Friday 8/28 - 3m @ 11:07p. Ran this at a very easy pace and I .. didn't write down temperature data. GG me.

Saturday 8/29 - rest.

Sunday 8/30 rest. I thought of running today but not to...we had a family day instead and it was awesome.

Monday 8/31 - rest. I was planning to run when my husband got home from work, and he had to work late. Oops. I'll run T/W/Th this week instead I guess, and try to fit two runs in the weekend if I can..although with the holiday, not optimistic...

Tuesday 9/1 - 3m @ 11:30p in 70* and 94% humidity. I kept it easy, it was hot and humid!

Wednesday 9/2 - 5m @ 11:43p in 80* and 60% humidity. This was meant to be 5 miles but I was super struggling. When my stomach started cramping at 4.96m I was like, eh 5 is good enough. Not like me, but I also figure I'm still recovering from took almost a month after the 50k last year to find the guts to run longer than 3 last year so I figure I'm still ahead of schedule! 

Thursday 9/3 - 3m @ 10:03p in 74*and 70% humidity. Isn't it funny how some days you crawl and some days you fly? Today, I felt like I could go on forever.

Friday 9/4 - rest.

Saturday 9/5 - 16m @ 11:44p in 84* and 89% humidity. It did drop down to 75 by the end of this run but it was still hot, and I will admit, I fought with myself to finish it...I kind of wanted to cut it at 14. But I really wanted to get at least 2 3-hour+ runs in before Milwaukee or I figured I really wasn't going to be any better trained for Milwaukee than I was for Alaska, and since I have a half on 9/19 and should really be tapering the week after, I really needed this weekend to be one of those runs. My only solace was that I knew the weather was going to be drastically cooler the following week - and to be honest, I felt pretty strong for this run!

Sunday 9/6 rest. Well sort of rest. Definitely no run, but we walked around the Renaissance Fair for hours in 91*. Cross training?

So that's the past few weeks for me. Being able to pull out a strong 16 miler despite the abysmal weather helped my confidence a lot. Hopefully this weekend, when it's supposed to be a high of 62, I can rock a 20 and start counting down to Milwaukee!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fort2Base Pictures

I didn't realize when I did it, but Fort2Base had free race pics - and they came out fairly nice!

Of course...the skirt was much cuter when it was drier. Rather than adhered to my thighs with rain and sweat...

And this was the inspiring moment after getting to the top of Hero Hill - I look so happy to be at the top!

Of course, I still derped at the finish line. Because it wouldn't be a race if I didn't make a funny face there. At least I wasn't flapping my arms?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fort2Base - Race Recap!

Well Fort2Base is on the books, for better or worse! On Sunday 8/23/15 I ran the 10 Nautical Mile Fort2Base race (about 11.5 regular miles). I'm calling it my 10 mile PR. Because I've only run 2 10 milers, and my nautical mile 10m is faster than my regular 10m. Hah!

Going into the race I had no expectations except to use it as a recovery run from the marathon last week. I thought it was a reasonable distance considering looking at marathon recover plans runs of about 2 hours are about on par. I didn't count on a whiny calf stopping me from running during the week, but I didn't think that was going to affect it much. I was a little nervous my calf may have actually been hurt, but my backup plan was if it hurt I was walking - the race has a generous time limit so I knew I'd be okay. And packet pickup was 10 minutes from my house the day before the race - easy easy, and the shirt is nice. A brighter pink than I usually wear but I like it.

Left: Front / Right: Back. Cute, right?

So since Fort2Base is a point to point we actually parked at Rosalind Franklin University and hopped shuttles to the respective start lines (in addition to the 10 nautical mile race I ran there was a 3 nautical mile one). While I heard some drivers got confused and attempted to take runners to the wrong start line (3milers were NOT interested in ending up in the 10, imagine that!), my shuttle was easy to hop and after texting Marcia (since for the first time we know *ahead* of time that we were going to be at the same race!) to tell her I was hopping the shuttle to the start I was off!

On the shuttle! Sun barely up so it was dark.

Waiting at the start line was strange - I was there for about 45 minues and for a good deal of that I was legitly shivery. I met up with my Moms Run This Town chapter and kept my eyes peeled for Marcia, but the breeze and overcast morning had us all hoping the chill would carry into the race - it was expected to be high 60s but only 70% humidity, which didn't sound bad. (Spoiler alert..the nice breeze stopped shortly after the race started! Bummer!) I did manage to catch Marcia right before she and Emily hit the portopotty lines (I wished them luck - the lines had gotten long at that point!). I am happy to report she was even nicer than she seemed from her blog, and it was great to finally connect after being at so many races together and not realizing it until after we put up our recaps!

 But the opening ceremony was there before we knew it and while I was worried it would end up long, it was actually really short after a very high pitched version of the star-spangled banner. (Not a bad rendition, but it was strange to contrast - last week at Moose's Tooth the anthem was sung low and deep by a man with a very lovely voice at the low end of the musical it was exactly the opposite!) And then we were off - ready to run towards Great Lakes Naval Base! We ran a loop around the start line, finally passing it again, before we hit the official course. (I'm not sure what this loop was for, it wasn't on the course map, and there is some talk it was unplanned and added distance to the race - most people came up 11.75+, leading to speculation the course was more like 11.7 than the 11.5 it was supposed to be.)

Start line, shortly before I embarrassingly forgot to take off my hat during the national anthem. GJ me.

I was super paranoid and trying to be very conservative the first mile, nervous about my calf; I could tell it wasn't totally normal but it wasn't hurting unless I wasn't careful when I went to pivot in a turn. (Which really means, if I used poor form I could tell it was still a bit sore.) Mostly though my leg was fine, although I was 100% prepared to stop and walk if I needed to.  I was fine the first mile though, even with it being slightly uphill for a good chunk, and I mostly relaxed. The first mile hit my watch (and most people's, apparently) at around 1.15...I assumed that meant it was a nautical mile and not a regular mile, but apparently it was meant to be a regular mile. As a bonus, I watched Marcia run by me in her super cute purple skirt!

Once I relaxed though I realized something - I was tired. My legs did not want to move. At all. And the breeze hadn't followed us onto the course. I was already feeling hot. At least it wasn't sunny, but it felt way more humid than the 70% predicted - in trying to find data on it, it looks like the humidity never fell below 80% yesterday, which means it was probably much higher that early in the morning. Whatever it was, yuck. By mile 4 I could wring sweat of out my hair. Eww.

Mile two honestly didn't feel any better than mile 1, and I gratefully walked the water stop that came shortly after the 2 mile mark. My legs weren't loosening up and I honestly just felt awful. I took in a cup of water and a cup of gatorade.

Mile three I started contemplating walk breaks. I could already feel sweat just dripping down me. The path we were running was beautiful - a lovely tree lined bike path - but I barely felt able to appreciate it. I took more gatorade at the aid station, wondering if my electrolytes were off and it was kicking my butt.

Mile four I was dragging. When we crossed a concrete bridge that swayed with foot traffic (seriously freaky - it looks solid, but it moved like a rickety wooden bridge...scared the crud out of everyone near me who was crossing it) it took me a moment to realize what was freaking me out. I thought my balance was off.

Mile 5 I knew that whatever I needed to run a long run, I didn't have it today. My hair was soaked and I gave up on my hat - it was overcast anyway - and clipped it onto my belt. I didn't know - and still don't - if not being able to run during the week had knocked me off my game or if it was just a bad day or if I just wasn't recovered enough from the marathon, but whatever it was, I didn't have it. I wasn't ready to walk/run yet but I knew that I couldn't do this today.  I wasn't even half way and picking up my legs felt impossible. I promised myself once I hit the halfway mark, I'd add regular walk intervals. I wasn't ready to walk the race - but I knew I couldn't run the whole time. I was struggling more than I did at the end of the marathon. This aid station only had two volunteers, so I skipped it and sipped from my handheld instead.

And mile 6 was pretty much when I gave up the race. It wasn't mental - physically, my body just couldn't do it. I started with walking a minute every half mile. By mile 9 I was playing tag with the 11:30 pacer, and walking every quarter mile other than a short interval where it rained a little and the cooling drizzle helped me regulate my temp a little better.

But on the plus side, we were running into the base at this point and there were only 2.5ish miles to go - some very strict service members sternly reminded a runner in front of me not to take pictures of the base when she stopped for a photo op, which I was tired enough to only find mildly interesting. My legs felt so fatigued. There was an enormous downhill in this mile, but I was so physically tired that instead of enjoying it I focused on not face planting. I am happy to report, no falls, even with the slippery ground from the earlier drizzle. At the base of the hill I watched a man wet his hands in a puddle (I'm not sure why - heat?) and a volunteer tell him there was an aid station right ahead of us, that they'd throw water on us if we needed and we didn't need to use the puddles. I found the energy to laugh as I walked into the aid station, which was filled with military personnel. I gratefully took some water, thanked them for their service (I mean - I always say thank you to volunteers - always - but I thanked them for their military service too) and walked on. I knew we had a big hill coming so my plan was to run until I hit the bottom of it.

The stretch to Hero Hill was filled with inspirational quotes about what it was to be a hero, and how to do the impossible. Exhausted and depleted as I felt, the quotes were perfect. At this stretch there was less than a mile to go in the race, and it was the perfect place to read them.

And then...Hero Hill. Wow. That sucker was enormous. I started walking up it, when a member of my running group, Angel, challenged me to race her up. She was with a guy, who ran with us too. "This is BS!" he said, and I tried to laugh, but that hill sucked. And I tried running it...but about 1/3 of the way up I gave up. "Are you sure? We're almost there!" "I'm sure. I can't. I'm sorry." I was just dead.

They went on, and I walked...until a service member (a chief, I heard them called? a navy serviceman? a soldier? Here I must profess my ignorance, but definitely active military personnel) told me to run with him up the hill. They had personnel at the top of the hill, picking runners to run them up. I find myself sitting here now with a loss for words. I can't describe the feeling of him running me up the hill. I was panting, I was sweating, but he got me up there. "You did it, you beat Hero Hill!" I thanked him, but I can't even begin to describe the moment any better than that. It was amazing. I hate hills but that moment was worth the entire race. For that moment, for that hill, I will try to run this race every year going forward. It was that amazing, even on dead legs. If you haven't done this race, I highly recommend it for this moment alone.

And then it was the final stretch. The course was long and there was the last aid station in here - an amazing one again staffed by military personnel, handing out water and gatorade and chanting - but most of it's a blur. I cajoled the man who had also been running with the kind MRTT lady to finish strong with me - I could see the finish shoot, no walking now, even on dead legs - and he laughed and told me he had no shame, he'd walked the last .2m in the Chicago marathon every year. So I told him about dragging my husband across the finish line because I was so ready to be done in those .2m. "The hill?" he asked, and I was honest and told him I hadn't even noticed it because I was so ready to be done.

And then I finished. I was medalled by a man in uniform, and given a towel. I tried to thank them, but I am afraid I wasn't terribly coherent. I collected my race food (popcorn, pita chips, water, sobe lifewater (diet?? or are they all calorie free?), granola bars, and cracker jack. And then caught the shuttle back.

One of the biggest medals I've ever gotten. And heavy, too.

In the end - I don't know why, but my body was not digging the run. My guess is it was a combination of factors, but I was not recovered from the marathon and that didn't help. This was a strugglefest, but it was also a great experience that I highly recommend.

This week, I'm taking a forced break. I dunno what this will do to training for Milwaukee, but my body is tapped out. I'm not sore, but my muscles are just tired. Deeply fatigued in a way that's concerning. I'm not injured, but I don't think logging miles this week will do me any favours...I'm going to walk with the kids, push fluids, make sure I get enough to eat, and hope that next week I can jump back in. And that missing a big long run (it's supposed to be 19) doesn't hurt me. It is what it is.