Monday, August 15, 2016

Election season

So, background info: I don't usually hang out without pants, but I chafed a huge hole into my thigh on Friday's run that I'm trying to get to heal and it isn't playing well with pants. (I apparently tore my shorts on that run and was on such a runner's high I didn't notice that I'd chafed my inner thigh bloody...ow.) 

About an hour before my husband was due to get home, I was hanging out studying. The kids were playing in the playroom, I'm in the living room. There's a knock on the door and it's the same knock-rhythm my husband uses to be let in. (We keep the screendoor locked, because otherwise the toddler would very much love to make his way out into the world...he can't reach the screen door lock though.)

I got so excited that my husband was home early I very nearly answered the door in just my tshirt.

It was a political campaigner.

I'm glad I grabbed pants.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Someone throw confetti, because 4 years ago yesterday I ran for the first time!

It's hard to believe how far I have come and how much I have changed. More than 40lbs gone and I was struggling then to hobble through less than 2 miles in 25 minutes - yesterday I did an easy two miles in 21ish minutes.

4 years ago I started the Couch to 5K to just get a 5k off my bucket list and move on. Then my bucket list exploded. I stopped wanting to lose weight and started wanting to run. I never saw it coming.

What will the next four years bring?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Life in memes

School started yesterday and I've been a little scatterbrained so haven't been posting as much as I've been meaning to. So here's a quick recap of life lately, told in memes.

1) Double facepalm

I spent the last week looking desperately for a library book, annoyed I was going to have to renew it even though I'd finished reading it. Went online today to renew and discovered it wasn't checked out anymore. Apparently I'd returned it already...on June 21.

2) Humid bunny

This pretty much sums up running. I'm still streaking, today was day 16 and I have had plenty of 95%+ humidity runs. The good thing about morning workouts is how good I feel the rest of the day...but even though the temp is higher in the evenings, the lower humidity makes those runs soooo much easier.

3) I don't want to live on this planet

Last night at the RNC, Melania Trump gave a speech that directly plagiarized Michelle Obama's 08 speech AND rick-rolled everyone. I'm not even going to comment, because really, that's enough said.

4) Don't worry, I got this

I met all my class mates yesterday. Most of them are c-suite level executives and while I was in a managerial position when I worked full time - or I wouldn't have gotten into the program - it's sliiiightly intimidating. And by slightly I mean a lot. I just need to remind myself that qualifications to be in the program don't mean they're going to be better students than I am...but it doesn't stop me from feeling a little bit like this:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokemon Go go go!

So Pokemon Go came out last week and like a lot of people, my family and I are ob-sess-ing. (Most of us. My husband thinks the concept is neat but doesn't dig the critters. Fair enough. The kids and I are geeking out though.)

I mean, I grew up in the 90s. The idea of leaving my house and finding pokemon out in the wild was the stuff of dreams. It's something only good fanfic writers even really got to imagine. And now? I mean man - we got this!

Plus, we can take awesome silly pictures like this:

How is that NOT fun?

And even better, it's getting people moving. Even people with anxiety and depression who often find it challenging to leave the house. Beyond it being such a fun concept to find things in the real world through your phone, I'm a huge fan of anything that gets people moving. Seriously, in a culture of couch potatoes, I absolutely love that this game rewards you for moving! Some of the eggs in the game only hatch once you walk 10k - that may not be much to runners, but to a lot of Americans that's intense. I'm such a huge fan.

What I'm not a huge fan of is the hate. While the game isn't without its dangers - watch where you walk, not your screen, and for goodness sake use common sense (being aware of your surroundings while outside is something we should do no matter what we're doing, pokemon or not) - it has some haters who just can't seem to stand it. For whatever reason, they don't like it. And that's fine - I am of the mindset that I can like something you don't and you can like something I don't and we can still co-exist peacefully, even if you're wrong. (Just kidding!) I don't have a problem with that. I am a big fan of "And it harm none do as ye will."

But some people are awful threatened by it, to the point where they're ridiculing people who play, actively encouraging people not, and when that doesn't work, trying to shame them into avoiding it. "Grow up, pokemon is for little kids." "Grown men who play pokemon should turn in their man cards." "This has to stop, people are walking around everywhere."

And that I have a huge problem with. First, the gender argument is ludicrous - completely. Plenty of men play pokemon, the games, the cards, and maybe they even watch the show. If you don't want to play, fine, but you don't get to start using making the argument that something you don't like isn't manly because that necessarily implies that manly is better than the alternative. That automatically defines those who are feminine or androgynous as less and come on people - it's 2016. You can do better than that. Second, why do people feel the need to lessen other people's happiness? If you don't like it, don't play. Other people do like it. Are you so threatened by someone else's joy that you have to demean it? Why would you make fun of people for playing a video game? Does it hurt you?

I'm not sure where this is from - if you know I'd love to credit them.

Come on people. Spread joy - not grumpiness!

Unless it's grumpy cat. Always spread grumpy cat.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Run streak, school, and training

So my classes opened up today and I got a good look at what I can expect my workload to look like.'s high! It has me rethinking my ability to train for a marathon this year; if I can do it, I'm not going to be able to do it as well as I want. I just won't have the extra hours. Marathon training is time intense and as much as I enjoy running...I am not sure how much extra time I am going to have to devote to it now. I may end up revising to training hard for a half - still something I really want to do but not as much of a time-hog.

And yet on the other hand running is important to me and something I want to make sure I make time for. It's my active meditation, my true me-time. I may not be able to find a lot of time, but I don't want to neglect it either - and I don't want to forget myself either. So, I'm going to try to streak the holidays - run at least a mile every day. My promise to myself. I love running in general but running and I have had mojo disagreements lately - and while I think some of it might have been weather related, I have been reminding myself that we're not even at the height of the heat yet. The only way out is through, right? So I've been running every day, with #day8 being this morning, and last week something weird happened. I found my runner's high again. Last night's run I had planned at 3 and ended up going for 5 because I felt so amazing. The weather hasn't shifted, but it's like a weight fell off my chest - suddenly I'm running faster and feeling good again. Who even knows - but I'll take it!

What about you - have you ever streaked?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Indiana Dunes State Park

So last weekend we met my best friend to go hiking in the Indiana Dunes State Park. (Of course, she thought we were there for the beach, but my husband failed to tell me there was a beach...that however is another story!)

Playing on the beach I didn't know about.

We of course picked the day it was supposed to hit 90; it ended up hitting 95. We were melting, but the hiking trails there were gorgeous. In milder weather I'd love to run there some day. We did trail 9, which was about 4 miles and mostly flat with a couple decent sandy dunes to hike up. (Not as bad as trail 8, which is a 1.5m trail that's known as the 3 dune challenge...maybe some day!)

 At the top of a dune with a great view of the lake.

The great thing about hiking there was how varied this trail was. We had sandy dunes that were like climbing beaches, and shadowed humid forests with a tiny buggy trail to make it through, and boardwalk planks. It was supposed to be the trail most representative of what the park as a whole is like.
The baby hiked about a mile and a half, but most of the time he was in arms or on my back.

Despite the heat, it was actually a lovely day. My 7 year old hiked about 6 miles and thoroughly impressed me - I had been a little nervous about her doing the whole thing, but she was totally a trooper.

All done. Whew!

All in all I had fun and I'd love to go back...but probably on a milder day! It was $12 for us out of staters but I think my best friend only had to pay $7. Highly recommend it - and if I'd had a swimsuit, the beach was GORGEOUS!

Monday, June 20, 2016

School thoughts

Ahhh. How is that I am now less than a month away from starting school? (Fall quarter 1 starts in July, go figure.) I had so much time and and and and...crap!

Not that I've been wasting my time - I've completed entrance loan counseling, crunched numbers and accepted an appropriate amount of financial aid, researched and purchased my text books, completed my orientation class, and been studying/reviewing statistics. Still to go: Set up direct deposit for when financial aid comes in (note to self: do today) and get a laptop for school. That's it.

So I mean...I've budgeted my time correctly. It's just...going so quickly. In a month I'm going to be a full time grad student. I am going to be working on something I have wanted for a really, really long time.

It's kind of intimidating. This is one of the biggest life decisions I've made in years and I feel like I'm just hurtling towards it. Because I don't have the syllabus for any of my classes yet, I can't predict the workload or how the time pattern of the class is going to change my days, my weeks. I'm excited, but I'm terrified!

But everything starts somewhere, right?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Missing: One Mojo

I can't get in a groove lately. Even a rain run - which is usually my soul-cleansing cure-all - didn't bring it back. My legs don't want to turn over, I'm slow, and with the addition of heat and humidity...I'm just totally not feeling it.

Clearly I overdid it in May. But I think the stress of getting ready for school is probably getting to me too; there's student loans to consider, books to think about, schedules to's a lot to think about and I am sure it's affecting me more than I realize. I think the cure is some good cross training, easy runs, and rest...maybe a little more rest and some easy runs, and then a little more rest.

What about you? How do you find your mojo when it goes missing?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cincinnati Zoo takeaway

So unless you've been living under a rock lately (in which case, I envy you), you already know that recently, a highly endangered silverback gorilla was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo because a 3 year old managed to clamber into the enclosure. While the two female gorillas in the exhibit responded to their handlers and left the exhibit, the male did not and actually interacted with the child. The zoo determined the safest course of action for the child was unfortunately to kill the gorilla, who was behaving in a way consistent with his sex and species. It is a sad, tragic loss.

But none of this is news. Social media is awash in verbal diarrhea about how the zoo is at fault and the parents are horrible and they should have done X or they should have done Y and why didn't the parents do Z and the mother is a terrible person and blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

It has amazes me how many people are simultaneously parenting experts and gorilla behaviour experts who know exactly what the parents did wrong and know exactly what the zoo should have done. How many people just "know" from a short video clip or the many varied and conflicting witness statements exactly what happened.

I'm not going to go into whether the zoo did the right thing or had the right enclosure. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. I'm not an expert on gorilla behaviour and I am not an expert on safety standards. Maybe the enclosure was safe and the kid got "lucky" getting in - maybe it wasn't and we had just previously been lucky that more kids hadn't fallen in. I don't know. I'll leave that to people who know more about zoos than me.

I'm also not going to go into whether the parents weren't paying enough attention or whether they were, whether they should have jumped in after their kid or whether or not they tried to. I wasn't there, I don't know. Some witnesses say they were and some say they weren't. It's been said the police are investigating and I don't know if that's true, but regardless, I do not and will not have enough information to know if they were neglectful or not. I don't think it's clear cut enough for me to know.

But here's what I do know: It could happen to any parent. I have been accused of being overprotective and a helicopter parent, that I need to loosen up with my kids and let them take some risks, that I can't protect them from everything. But it could happen to me.

It could happen to me, because kids are fast. Small kids have no sense of self preservation. My son is going to be 3 shortly, and he does not understand what is dangerous. I hold his hand whenever we're outside, but he has wrenched his hand out of mine and taken off. He's never been hurt, but he's done it. My older daughter has held on to me when we're out, but she's let go and I haven't noticed because you get distracted by the other kid or you think she's holding on but it's the weight of your keys in your pocket. My son has climbed up things before I've caught up to him. He has grabbed things out of areas I didn't even know he'd learned to reach - and probably hadn't before he grabbed them. In his stroller, he's unbuckled himself and shot out of the stroller before I could even process he'd messed with the buckle. He's run towards the street when cars are coming. I've caught him (and cried hysterically after it was over) but he's done it. If he had the chance to run off at the zoo, I don't doubt that he'd try.

It could happen to me, because my son has no concept of heights. He doesn't understand that jumping off things means he could get hurt, or gods forbid, worse.When he was in diapers he tried to fling himself off the changing table. He's tried to leap off of my (high) bed. I doubt he'd think twice about leaping off a high barrier like that little boy in Cincinatti.

It could happen to me, because my son doesn't listen to "no" when he has his sights set on something. He understands what no means, but like many small children, it's a crap shoot whether he decides to listen. When he gets older, he'll listen more. My daughter certainly got better at listening to Mommy and Daddy when she grew. But right now? There is no way to say no when he wants to do something. You can distract him, redirect him, physically restrain him, but "no" isn't something he's decided he has to listen to yet. If I were in that zoo and he broke away, I could be running behind him screaming "No! Stop!" and he'd laugh, because to him, it would be a game. If he got to that barrier before I did. he might have slipped in too.

It could happen to me, because sometimes good kids do bad things that good parents can't save them from in time. Sometimes that misbehaviour has tragic consequences, as it did here. Toddlers have fallen out of windows, they have run into the street, they have jumped off things and gotten badly hurt. It happens to good parents who do the best they can to watch at every moment, it happens to people who worry, and it happens to people who are too confident to worry. We would like to believe it only happens to bad parents who aren't watching, but the truth is, it happens to good ones too. We can't be overconfident and assume we're too good for it to happen to us. Kids are humbling, and teach us every day that they can get hurt even when we think we're watching carefully.

I don't know if the Cincinatti parents are good parents or not. I don't know if the supposed criminal history has any relevance for their parenting. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Maybe they were paying attention and maybe they weren't. But I know I am a good mom who does her best, and I know it could have happened to me, to my kids - so the only thing I'm doing tonight is hugging my kids and being grateful that today, I was good enough at protecting my children. Today, I was faster than my 2 year old. Today, it didn't happen to me.

Rest in peace, Harambe. In the end, it's you who paid the price.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Soldier Field 10 - recap

So, I did drag my sorry butt to the Soldier Field 10 today. (I wasn't so sure I would as of yesterday.) I got up at 4am and was out the door by 4:50am. As late as 4:45 I was still debating whether or not I wanted to go brave the heat and humidity but..I hate bailing on a race I've paid for! The drive to soldier field took about an hour at that time of day and then once you got the street the parking garage is on, it took about another 20 minutes for race traffic directors to get you in. But there was plenty of (free) parking which is a nice boon compared to most city races. So at 6:15 I walked out of the parking garage - and right into the block of portopotties by the start line. I met up with some of the women from my local MRTT chapter and a group photo was taken - if that's ever posted I'll add it here.

But I ended up with about an hour to kill since my corrals didn't even close til 7:15 and since I was in K (I totally qualified for an earlier wave but was lazy about submitting race results to actually get in...yeah, note to self if I ever do this again) I knew I probably wouldn't be running til at least 7:30. I took some pictures, hydrated as much as possible, and talked to a nuun rep. Can you tell what an exciting morning it was? It was already over 70 and humid; I just could not get myself excited.

Harder than it looked to get the sign into the pic, hence the funny expression. All enthusiasm pictured is fake.

I finally wandered into K corral around 7:10. Got to watch a big dude who had an M bib get told to go to the correct corral and tell the (tiny, female) volunteer to pretty eff off, proving that no matter how awesome the running community is overall there are jerks no matter where you go. We finally got to cross the start around 7:30ish and man, it sucked just as bad I was afraid of. The only saving grace was the constant breeze - the moments it died the heat was pretty yucky, and the humidity worse. My legs just did not want to move. My first two were right around a 10:30 pace and while I think I could have done it for was pretty clear pretty fast that was not a smart way to go through the day. It needed to be about 15 degrees cooler - if I was going to finish the race safely today...yeah, not so much. The race was at Moderate Alert at that point, but if not for the light wind it would have been pretty terrible. I backed off and decided an 11:30 pace was mostly went with that.

The first five miles are on the street and were pretty much uneventful and boring other than a high school band around mile 2. The only thing worth noting is that I had never had nuun before and it has a weird almost carbonated bite to it, and the race never thinned out - the first five miles were full of dodging and weaving. The turn around point had us cross grass to get on the lakefront trail, and I got to see a dog retrieving a ball from the water. I decided that was more noteworthy than anything else I was doing so I took a picture.

Swimming retriever. I bet he was cooler than me.

In the second half of the race we were heading back towards Soldier Field on the Lakefront path now. The weather status was raised to red and we were told to stay hydrated and smart. I took a quick portopotty break at the next aid station and watched someone taken away on a stretcher. Each med tent I passed was full of bad news, racers dropping out or being told they had to. The sun was coming out intermittantly in the second half and it sucked, but the wind was a fairly constant companion at least.

All hands, red alert!

It stayed crowded and there was lots of dodging and weaving; a lot of people were walk/running at this point. I drank a cup of water and a cup of nuun at each aid station and dumped a cup of water on my head, but by mile 8 I was still not doing great staying cool enough so I walked .05 at mile 8, 8.5, 9, and 9.5. It helped a little but honestly I don't know how much, just that I didn't want to not finish so close to the end.

Crowded race. I think I prefer smaller ones.

The tail end of mile 9 brought us into the stadium; we ran through the corridors of the stadium for a while. When we finally escaped the indoor part of the run, it spit us out onto the field - which we ran on for about 20 seconds before crossing the finish line. I didn't even see the jumbo tron until I was heading towards the soldiers to get medalled. (Very nice to see all the soldiers and get to thank them for their service, but felt a little weird to. They had them handing out medals and stationed at exits...didn't feel like the nicest way to thank our troops.)

Jumbo tron.

All in all...part of me feels like I should have stayed home. The medal and shirt are okay and seeing the ladies from MRTT was nice, but the weather sucked, the course was meh at best (I think I am spoiled by too many pretty travel races lately) and I want to be mad my performance was so poor. In the end I can't because between two marathons this month that I am still recovering from and the awful weather, it was what it was, but eh. Probably will not repeat this race again. I knew I wasn't going to hit my time goal with the way my training season went anyway and I added a lot to that with the marathons, but the weather killed any chance of a decent performance. Oh well. Bad races happen. The only saving grace was despite fearing the worst, I tried anyway and didn't talk myself into a bad race - I am very confident that attitude had nothing to do with how hard today was. So - on to the next adventure.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Soldier Field 10 miler - pre-race

So when I initially planned and registered for this race, the plan had been a winter of speedwork and I was aiming for a sub-10 pace (1:39:59 or less). That should have been VERY doable; my PR hm is 10:01 pace and was set in summer.

Initially, we had talked about the kids being somewhere else - probably grandparents.

Initially, this was supposed to be 2 months after a 5k pr attempt.

Of course, bronchitis knocked me out of running for months. I could barely keep up running - and got put on enforced rest for a while - nevermind speedwork. It was a while before I could even start doing long runs again.

In short, I am in no way shape or form set for the pace I wanted to run. Add in the fact that it went from late winter to hello summer pretty much over night, I should still have a PR because I really have almost nothing at this distance (my current PR is slower than my half But it's going to be a struggle.

At this point, I think realistically I need to hope for 1:49:59 or better, be okay if it's anything under 1:59:59, and be super happy if it's 1:45 or better. It's going to be hot and humid (although cloudy).

And honestly, I don't even really remember why I registered for this race. I hate going into the city and there is a serious chip on my shoulder telling to forget it and just stay home. I need to turn myself around, get in a better headspace, but man...I'm going to be getting up at 4am to go run.

What about you? How do you get yourself about a race that's lost its charm for you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Post Chicagoland Spring Marthon thoughts

  • I'm absolutely exhausted after this one. I should be, but I'm totally, completely weary. I expected it to a degree, but it - like the difficulty of the marathon itself - was something I did underestimate a bit.
  • I'm also more sore than I've ever been. The course was one of the easier ones I've run, so I'm chalking this all up to doing them too close together. It took until 4 days post marathon to feel decent; I took an entire week off running to feel more normal. I did walk 2-4 miles a day, but no running. 
  • On a related note, my hormones are out of whack. I'll spare details, but my body is letting me know in no uncertain times to cut back and recover now, kthxbai. 
  • My appetite was just ridiculous. I have no appetite, I have no appetite, I have no appetite, MUST EAT ALL THE FOODS, I have no appetite, I have no appetite, I have no appetite...etc. I don't remember being this up and down after training runs or after other marathons. 
  • Why do races water down gatorade? Is there a benefit to this I'm not aware of? It seems to me that that makes it...less useful. 
  • Yay for free race photos! Not the worst ones I've ever taken either. Free race photos balances out the awful medal, too. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Meatless Monday: Lentil Potato Curry

So, lentil curry is a staple around this house. We're not vegetarians as we do occasionally eat shrimp or fish, but for the most part our meats are faux meats (we use morningstar, TVP, Not-Beef, etc). This recipe happens to be vegan, but it wasn't intentional or anything - it's just delicious on its own. It's a great stew for winter, but even in the summer the spice in it is great. I'm sure the base of the recipe comes from somewhere but at this point I've been making it so long that I don't remember where it came from or what the recipe originally looked like, but in this house, even the kids clear their bowls and ask for more.


1c dry lentils
1 medium onion
3-4 medium potatoes
3-4 big carrots
5oz spinach (I use frozen)
olive oil to sauté onion
2tbs curry
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 veggie bouillon cube (or chicken/beef for those so inclined)

Lentils don't require soaking. Which makes them awesometastic.


1. Dice onion and dump in pot with olive oil; chop potatoes and carrots and set aside.

2. Sauté onions until translucent, add curry and mix well.

3. Add lentils to sautéed onion-curry mix in pot, coat thoroughly.

4. Add bouillon of choice & cayenne pepper along with 4 1/2c water.

5. Add carrots potatoes and spinach, stir to mix ingredients together; heat to boiling.


6. Reduce heat to simmer and cover,

7. Cook for an additional 30-45 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft and water is reduced, stirring occasionally; stew should be thick and not runny. Cook longer if needed to reduce the liquid.

Such a pretty stew!

Prep time: About 15 minutes of chopping
Cook time: About 45 minutes
Serves: 6-8


We serve with garlic bread or just french bread, although I usually pass on the bread personally. We usually end up with half of the batch leftover, and it's great cold - plus goes really well as sandwich filling the next day.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chicagoland Spring Marathon - recap

I meant to write this yesterday but was sooooo tired. (Not just the marathon, tired in general.) On 5/15/16, exactly one week after running the Kalamazoo Marathon, I ran the Chicagoland Spring Marathon. I did this in order to qualify for Marathon Maniacs. Why do it when I'm not in racing shape? Because I can't imagine wanting to do it when I am in condition to actually race it - getting sick put me in a place where I could only go and have fun, I couldn't race and couldn't even think about PRing. So I had fun in Kalamazoo with my husband, and at Chicagoland, I had fun and did something for me.

Spoiler alert!

This race is super local, in Schaumburg right near where my husband works - I did the half last year when it was mid 60s and humid. April and May weather in the midwest can be very hit or miss but this year it was supposed to be 40s to 50 and windy -way better than both last year and the almost 70 from Kalamazoo. The wind was tough and bugged a lot of people but I like wind, so hey. Parking at the start was pretty easy; I parked in the Woodfield corporate parking garage. The only snafoo here was it looked like the first lot filled up before people caught on so the traffic cop had a heck of a time redirecting people. It was easy to get to the startline although like last year, the portopotty lines were kind of a mess. They had a lot, but there were still people in line after the gun went off. There were a lot of portopotties but I don't think it was enough for how big this race is.

Obligatory bathroom line selfie...while the dude behind me also takes a bathroom line selfie. 
Headband is swag from Milwaukee and says "Pain is temporary / Pride is Forever". Seemed apropos. 

The gun went off for the race on time - 7:05 start - but the starting line was funneled as badly as last year and it took forever to cross. I didn't start my watch until 7:13. I knew this going in because the set up was identical to last year but it was still weird. But then I was off and repeating my motto to myself "Slow and easy...forward progress, no burning out." My initial instinct was to go out at the same pace I went out at Milwaukee and I had to fight myself down; my first mile was too fast, but I got myself under control. My plan was to try to stick to around a 12ish pace and hold it as long as I could. I knew I was going to do some walking the last few miles, but I wanted to stick a slow but okay pace for as long as I could. The first two miles are on the highway with some mild ups and downs, but mostly flat. About 2.4 miles in you hit the only real incline - the big bridge into busse woods. It's pretty steep for a bridge but it's also the only big hill in the race - there are some little steep climbs around mile 9 and 15, but no real hills except for this. I walked it; I felt weird walking that early in the race but the name of the game was finish healthy and feel strong as long as possible - and burning energy in mile 2 on a bridge to gain a minimal amount of time wasn't in the gameplan.

Okay so I actually took this in mile 23 going back, but same idea. Just picture it with a lot more people.

After cruising down the back end of the bridge, it was onwards at a steady pace. Mile 5 clicked in at 59 and change, which meant I was pretty much exactly where I wanted to be. We crossed an itty bitty short bridge, and the crazy wind was kicking up rapids but it was pretty cool. I was taking both water and gatorade at every aid station, although the gatorade was soooo watered down (and orange! yuck!) that it felt more like taking two cups of water.

The half and the full split off between mile 5 and 6; the course got a lot less crowded and I complimented one of the course marshall volunteer type folks on his awesome shirt. I had to get a picture (which okay, technically I got when I came back at mile 16, but whatever), and the couple next to me joked that they wished somebody had told them that before.

"Try not to suck" - words to live by.

Most of the next few miles were just about being slow and steady. The course had emptied a lot with the halfers gone and we weren't to the loop section yet so there wasn't a lot of marathoner company either, but it was kind of meditative. At mile 8ish we crossed a bridge (walking the incline, of course) to the "DO NOT FEED THE ELK SECTION" I remembered from the Schaumburg Turkey Trot last year. No elk today though, and apparently no picture of the do not feed sign.

The course got a little weird here after this and I'm struggling to think how to describe it. We hit an aid station, did an out and back to mile 9, came back, and hit the same aid station.  Then there's another out and back to mile 12, where you come back, hit the same aid station again, and do the initial out and back again towards what had been 9 but was now 15. Then on the way back you hit the aid station one last time and you go back out towards the elk the way you came in, to reverse the rest of the course. It was not nearly as confusing to run as it is to type, and on the plus side, they weren't watering down the gatorade here. I had continued to grab water and gatorade each time, so while I had my 24oz handheld, I was less than a third of the way through it.

Mile 10 hit about the 2 hour point and mile 15 at the 3 hour point - I was right on pace, but my legs were tired. This is not surprising, considering I was only a week out from Kalamazoo, but I'd really been hoping I'd be a little less tired since the previous week had been at my husband's pace...I'd really hoped that it had taken less out of me than apparently it did. I switched to a walk/run strategy right around the halfway mark - my overall pace went down maybe 10-20 seconds but overall not a huge drop. I had a brief mental struggle with myself that went something like:

"Oh no! I'm going to have to DNF!" 

"Don't be stupid. There's nothing wrong with walk/run."

"But I promised myself not to deathmarch! This was a bad idea!"

"It was a stupid idea, but I'm not deathmarching. Relentless forward progress!"

And on I went. Mile 16 I felt tired but otherwise okay. Nothing hurt, no stomach issues, and a text from my husband said he would meet me with the kids "after mile 20". My pace was still in the low 12s, and I was happy. Tired, but happy.

Still smiling, still able to crouch down for a selfie.

I passed through the elk area again and back over the bridge - at which point I passed a finish line. No, not MY finish line - apparently there was a 5k going on the same bike trail that morning. When I got to the aid station I told them a fake finish line was just mean, and they agreed. And then the true enormity of the situation hit me after I passed them - the 5k had JUST STARTED. A 1.55 mile out and back. Which meant for the next mile, at mile 17 in a marathon, I got to dodge hundreds of people walking and a bunch of runners...on a crowded narrow bike trail. I was absolutely terrified I was going to end up missing my turn on the marathon course and end up on the back end of the 5k course - and trying to run next to the walkers while dodging the people who were running towards me. Let me just say, it was not the most fun I've ever had in a race. I made sure to note course marshals from my race and heard them yell out "There's our marathoner!" which got murmurs from the folks from the other race, but I was just glad for verification I was still on course. Eventually I hit the turning point where marathon marshalls waved me in to the turn and I have never been so relieved in a race. Yikes.

And to be honest I don't remember mile 19 or 20 after that. I know I was irritated because my last gel didn't tear off all the way, so I was squeezing it through a teeeeeny pinprick hole. It must have been hilarious to watch me. My brain seemed to quit working here, I tried to take a mile 20 picture and forgot how to make my camera flip around. My hip flexors were starting to get really tight and getting the picture proved outside my capabilities. Which is really funny in retrospect.


I hereby dub these pictures "No," "Not Quite" and "Nevermind"

I hit mile 20 in 4:02, which was sliiiightly behind where I'd been at miles 5/10/15, but close enough that I was pleased. I texted my husband and kept on trucking. I was running .3, walking .05. My garmin died at mile 21 though, which sucked. It had made it through Alaska and Milwaukee but I need to get a garmin with a better battery life; I'm not fast enough for the F10 to get all of my marathons. If I'm off pace, or running an ultra again, I'm going to lose my record of the race...which I did. I switched to running 3 minutes and walking 1, which I could still time. I texted my husband when I got to mile 22 and he told me they were waiting at the mile 24 aid station. That meant I had the big bridge standing between me and them...and my hips were starting to really protest. I wasn't able to truly time my pace without my watch, but based on watching the clock on my phone I had slowed to a 13 minute pace here. With the big bridge in mile 23 I hit about a 14-15; I had been able to walk it briskly at the start of the race but I was out of energy.

And then at mile 24 my kids were clanging their bells and my husband was waving! I drank some watered down gatorade at the aid station, handed off my water bottle and hugged the kids...and then told them I'd see them at the finish line! This mile ended up being about a 15 too, I think because I stopped to talk to them. No regrets!

Back on the high way, I was running 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute. It was about the best I could manage, and it was more than everyone on course around me was. I was in the back of the pack so this doesn't say a whole lot, but no one passed me the last two miles; I picked quite a few people off though. Mile 25 was about a 13 and then mile 26 was too...and then it was hell bent to the finish line so I could just be done.

Final time: 5:25:36. I have no regrets, today I am tired and sore but I finished without injury, I finished with a smile on my face, and I qualified for the maniacs. I got exactly what I wanted out of this race.

Some final random thoughts:

  • Course was well marked. The multiple out and backs got a little weird, but I never worried I wasn't running the right course.
  • Weather was chilly and windy. I liked it.
  • The medals are not as nice as last year - half and full got the same medal. Weirdly, marathon had blue bibs but medals with yellow ribbons, and half had yellow bibs but blue ribbons. I think they oops'ed that one, to be honest. But since there's nothing on the medal or ribbon to distinguish which was meant to be for the full and which for the half, I don't blame volunteers. Bummed ACE cheaped out here though, I loved last year's medals. 
  • Course food afterwards was meh. Under ripe bananas and granola bars and cookies, plus some cups of watered down gatorade that had junk floating in it. I was in the back of the race and would write it off to that except apparently that's what they had all along. Disappointing after the half, really a bummer after the full.
  • Almost no spectators, which considering the weather wasn't that surprising. Volunteers on course were pretty awesome, especially the ones at the aid station you hit a bunch of times. Lots of enthusiasm. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Maniac status: Go!

Well, I quit waffling and decided to go for it - I feel good, my legs feel good, and the weather is almost 20 degrees cooler tomorrow than it was last week. Gods willing, next time I post I'll have qualified for the Marathon Maniacs and can stop thinking about it!

My goals for tomorrow: Smile, stay uninjured, and finish. I have no time goals, no pace goals. I am just going to have fun.Super bonus is coming in around 5, but hey - if I cross that finishline it's a good day!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Post Marathon Brain Dump - Kalamazoo edition

So as is a somewhat regular habit, I have thoughts and stuff after Kalamazoo this weekend. In no particular order -

  • I'm shocked how okay I felt the whole time. I know it wasn't really a challenging pace, but I expected it to hurt a whole lot worse than it did. I was drastically undertrained - shouldn't this have killed me? I either didn't lose as much fitness as I thought I did (thanks bronchitis) or the slower pace took away a lot of the impact. Once again, I didn't really start hurting much at all until after the 5 hour mark, so maybe my body is just okay until that point? I hurt at the end of Milwaukee but I was pushing it a whole lot harder there. 

  • On a related note, it was hot and I am super super happy with how well I did with the heat. Hot and sunny when I've had exactly no runs in the sun and it hasn't been more than 50 when I've run? Usually no thank you. It was 67-68* and sunny for most of the race and while that isn't terrible, it's definitely a lot harder than the 30s-50s that my few outdoor runs had been at. I think running in my garage has helped me hold onto my heat adaption here - I talked about this a little bit in my Hawaii recap but it's frickin hot in my garage and there's no air flow because there's no fan. I sweat SO badly when I use my treadmill because of this and it sucks, but I guess the suck pays dividends? I can't think what else to attribute this to. 

  • Speaking of sun...yeah, I may have had inadequate sunblock on.
I can't imagine what makes you think I didn't have enough sunblock on. Ignore my glow-in-the-dark striping.
  • I'm thinking Marathon Maniac thoughts again. My husband became eligible after Kalamazoo because he'd run Oklahoma two weeks prior. The thing is, I can't put my finger on why I want to join - just that the thought keeps staying in the back of my head. It just looks so nice to have MM members shouting at each other on course to support each other. Part of it is I feel SO okay right now that I think I could putz my way through another one this weekend or next weekend. (Currently pondering the Chicagoland Spring Marathon and the Rockford Marathon.) I'm not in shape to race or PR and in a way that makes it even more tempting than it was before; I can ONLY go and have fun. And I did have fun last weekend. Mile 25 sucked, but I don't think I've had a race where mile 25 didn't suck, other than possibly Alaska because it was short a mile. My only spring goal had been to PR the 5k and run a sub-10 Soldier Field 10 miler, but with being sick derailing me for so long the focus has shifted to just having fun and chasing PRs in the fall. So, this would be fun. (I think.)

  • We didn't take enough pictures this weekend! We always take a bunch when we go run a race together...but I guess somehow Michigan wasn't exciting? I mean obviously Anchorage and Honolulu were super exciting but it's so rare we get to go take a weekend without the kids....I wish we'd taken more pictures together.