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. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kalamazoo Marathon - Recap

On 5/8/16 my husband and I ran the Kalamazoo Marathon in Michigan. It was marathon #11 and state #10 for him, marathon #5 for me. This had been on the radar for a while but that plague I mentioned derailed my training plan entirely. To the point where my longest run going into this was 13 miles. There was no way going into this to race it (and it's hilly enough in retrospect that that's okay anyway....) and realistically/responsibly...yeah, probably should have said "Oh well, stuff happens" and scrapped it. Instead, I ran it with my husband at his pace and actually had a really really good time.

Kalamazoo is about 3 hours from where we are, so we headed out to the expo Saturday and stayed in a hotel that night. The expo wasn't much to write home about but all things considered was okay.

Obligatory bib shot!

We ate at a pub called Olde Peninsula and it was delicious, albeit super slow service. Apparently it was prom night. Who knew! The area is well known for its microbreweries and Keith had an anniversary IPA, with a ridiculously high ABV. As I am not a beer drinker, I stuck to water.

This beer is in a fancy liquor glass because reasons.

After an early morning wakeup on Sunday, we got dressed and bodyglided up, had breakfast and set off. It was supposed to get up there in temps - 69 by 11, with mostly sun. I wore my heat gear, which is my happygirl skirt from Skirt Sports, Nike Dri-fit tank that Kim recommended (seriously, why did I cheap out and only buy one of those? sigh), and I decided to trial my new Skirt Sports visor. (I'm not a SS ambassador - I just really like their stuff!) I managed to not get a full body shot all day, but it's pretty much a minor variant of what I wear to every hot race albeit with the visor instead of a bondiband.

Fortunately, the portopotty lines were fast and when we made it to the start line, there were portopotties there too, so what the heck - we went a second time. The race went out on time although it was realllly congested to start with; they started the full at the same time as the half. They've done waves in years prior so this was kind of disappointing, but really the only complaint I had about the race. It was chilly waiting to start but I ditched my arm warmers almost right away; it was mid 50s which was perfect to run in.

After the first four miles, the half split out and suddenly the course was empty. We were running at the back of the pack and there were only about 500 people anyway, including the Mitten Challenge people who had braved the Wisconsin marathon the day before. (Apparently there were about 90 of them, so fully 20% of this race had done a marathon the day before...and we still came in almost last. Haha!) My goal was very simple: This was Keith's race and I was just tagging along. If I didn't slow him down, it was a win. He runs a lot slower so I thought while being out there a long time was gonna hurt, I was pretty sure I could at least not slow him down. The first 5 miles were probably a little faster than he intended since they were all flat or downhill slightly, but it wasn't bad.

I took my first gel at mile 5, sticking to my normal fueling plan. I was a little thrown because they didn't have gatorade or powerade on course - it was "GU brew" and the stuff was...undrinkable. I decided I'd see how I felt and gel more often if I needed to. Other than figuring out the GU brew snafu, the first 7 miles were pretty uneventful. When we hit mile 8 we saw people coming back towards us because there was a little turnaround point around mile 10; I overheard someone say "I was not ready for these hills!" My husband only walks inclines, he won't run them, so I wasn't terribly worried, but since his best friend had told us the course was flat I was a little...surprised.

Not even the biggest hill on course. 

Miles 8-12 were pretty boring other than watching an eagle soaring above the hill. We were going through what looked like an industrial area (but I think was actually campus for WMU? and included a "solar garden" full of solar panels"), and there were very few people around by that point. I took another gel at mile 9 because I felt hungry (weird) and otherwise played leapfrog with a couple other back of the packers. We did see course volunteers doing a cheer about "Running for the health of it" but from a distance, it sounded a lot like "Running for the alphabet" which was both confusing and funny. We hit a pit stop at mile 11 right before we left the industrial area, which is only notable because there was a HUUUUGE spider in the portopotty I picked...right on the INSIDE handle. That moved as I went to reach for the handle. I screamed. It was about the size of a dime...and that doesn't count the legs. It was black and white and I have no idea what kind it was. Needless to say, every portopotty we stopped at after that I did spider checks before I went in...and got teased for it, but man, no regrets.

It had warmed up quickly and by the time we got to the half point it was mid 60s and pretty sunny, but I was doing surprisingly well. We hit the half at 2:54 - I felt strong, he felt...okay. The fun part was there a bacon station around here, and not that I eat meat, but it sure smelled good. Plus, even for us stragglers, there was a ton of cheering folks. Really nice!

The next few miles I don't remember a ton of. I remember being very pleased with myself at mile 15 because this was now the furthest I'd run since Honolulu. The course here was very pretty, residential streets with plenty of ups and downs until then - at mile 15ish I took a third gel and we hit a nice stretch of downhills that seemed to go on forever (and had Keith nervous about what kind of uphill must be coming!) But at the end we hit a good flat stretch for a few miles after mile 16. I joked with Keith about my emotional breakdown at mile 16 in Chicago, but despite the fact that this was now longer and farther than I'd run in a while I felt good. A little warm but fine.

At mile 17 Keith started telling me this was hard. (He had just run the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon 2 weeks prior.) And at mile 18 he hit the wall - hard. He'd had heartburn since the start of the race and it had been fueling and hydrating really really hard - he was in some serious pain and it was weird because he never gets heartburn, whether he's running or not. He had a waffle and OJ for breakfast. We were guessing it was the OJ but whatever it was, he hurt, and it made it hard. He was ready to walk the rest of the marathon and while we could have done that and finished in course limits...I did push him.

The next 7 miles really blurred together. We crossed a timing mat at 19.65 miles and I joked with the timing person about the importance of knowing your 19.65 mile split. I pushed Keith to run/walk, we passed some of the smelliest pond/lake water EVER (eww - and near a side that said "Runners don't die...they just smell like they do"), we navigated what turned into a not-so-well-marked course (it was a paved park trail, and I'm sure it was easy to follow if you were earlier in the pack but with almost no one else around there were times I legitimately wondered if we were even on course...we did hop off course accidentally at one point and added .07 to our mileage, but mostly we did okay), we saw funny signs ("Humpty Dumpty had problems with walls too" right around mile 20), and we persevered.

Mile 21. He fakes it good for the camera, but I felt surprisingly great.

Mile 22 brought another really huge hill. Maybe not the biggest on course but by that point it felt like it. Keith had given up running entirely but I walk too slow and felt good running, so I would run a block ahead and then walk, he usually caught up almost right away. We went on for that for the rest of the race. Mile 25 had us back on the roads near the finish/start areas and we got to see a pair of cops roast a driver who wasn't paying attention (they tried to cut a runner off as the cops were guiding her around the was bad!)

Mile 25 was not flat. Going uphill in mile 25 sucks, but going downhill in mile 25 sucks too. Mile 25 pretty much just sucks. But then it was over, and suddenly Keith remembered how to run again - his finishing kick was way better than mine because I'd actually BEEN running the whole time. Jerk. Lol.

In the end it was a 6:11 finish. Running way at the back of the pack in a small marathon is a trip, and I give major props to people who do this regularly. Running in midpack or late midpack is way, way easier mentally and physically. But I did have fun and I did not slow him down. Bronchitis didn't rob me of -all- of my fitness and while I was sore after the race this might also be the fastest marathon recovery I've had yet. The race was beautiful and had a lot of awesome spectators. My only regret is forgetting to put sunblock on my cleavage, other than that 10/10 and would do again if given the chance. Just with more sunblock next time and less bronchitis.

Not the most flattering picture but I ran a marathon, shut up!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Time for a change

Before having kids, I knew what I was going to do with my life. I worked full time and attended school full time (yes, I was crazy, and yes, it was a TON of work), working first on my bachelor's degree and then on my master's. I finished my bachelor's (BS in Healthcare Management) in 2007, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0. I finished my master's (Masters of Business in Healthcare Administration) in 2009, graduating with honors with a 3.75. I was on track to be a high level manager in healthcare and I worked really, really hard to develop the skill sets I needed. I worked for an awesome clinic and they were willing to train me on new aspects of management I hadn't done before, so I gained a ton of skills from things they were willing to let me take and run with.

Pregnancy didn't change that despite HG. I loved my job, I loved what I did, and I was good at it. Then I had my first baby and while I won't go into details here, it was a very traumatic birth that culminated in an emergency c-section. I don't know what the ultimate cause was, but for the first time in a long time I didn't think I could balance everything. I worked until my daughter was a year old and when my husband landed his first attorney position after graduating from law school, I resigned from my employer. I kept up a relationship with them (and still do, to this day) and continued to work for them as they needed, doing projects and even filling in when my boss went on maternity leave, but I was very focused on creating a healthy environment for kids to grow up in. I had just been thinking about going back to work when I unexpectedly became pregnant with my son.

2 1/2 years after having my son I almost feel like I'm waking up. I was never totally happy with what I did - happy with my kids, yes, happy with my family, yes. I can't say I regret the time I gave them and I think it benefited them greatly; you can't regret the lives you didn't leave or it will paralyze you. I have memories, and gave them memories, that are irreplaceable. But other than running, I realized I haven't done anything for me since I had kids. I mean, I lost weight and got healthier. But me, not just my body. I have always been ambitious but it's like I forgot who I was for a few years. I like achieving things. I like finishing things and doing a good job. None of that really happens as a stay at home parent and to be honest, I have not felt fulfilled as a person in a long time. Running filled the achievement gap for a while but I have missed using my intelligence and solving issues that affect more than just my little microcosm. My family loves me, but no one notices if I keep the house up well - they only notice it if I don't.

I'm ready to be me again. I'm ready to impact that world more directly. I'm ready for a bigger worldview. I'm ready to do more. And though I'm extremely nervous, I'm ready to do what I need to do to make that happen. Starting this fall, I'm going back to school - this time, to work on my doctorate.

I'm ready to take this on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bunny Wabbit 5k - late recap

Okay so this is like, a month and a half late. But my feelings were mixed which left me unenthused to write a recap and has been pretty busy so it kept getting pushed off...and pushed off...and well, oops!

But on 3/26/16 I ran the Bunny Wabbit 5k put on by FrogHops in Independence Grove. I have run with them before and had issues with that race but they were my own; last time I had some kind of heat freak out, or possibly just dehydrated. I had initially planned to do my traditional Egg Shell Shuffle in Busse Woods, but construction ousted the race this year and this one looked similar, with a nice egg hunt that the kids would love. (And they did, both of them.) I signed up and not too long after got sick, but also got a message from a friend who was thinking about the race and asked if I recommended it. I did and she signed up. (Which, I would later feel guilty for.)

Husband and kiddos at the egg hunt. Runners were told not to cross the starting line for fear of triggering our chip, so I wasn't there. 
Photo credit: FrogHops. Thanks!

This had initially been planned as a pr race and I did a lot of speedwork...and then I caught plague came down with bronchitis. I ended up way down in mileage and intensity and finally got kicked out of running for 10 days by an urgent care clinic, who also put me on antibiotics and an inhaler. (I thought I had a cold and was tired from the kids. I guess I was so tired I didn't realize it wasn't normal tired.)

In the end, I am super glad I didn't try to PR here - if I had paid attention to the race I ran with them in 2014 I would have realized this isn't a chip timed race but a gun time race. However, there are chips on the bibs and well...I just didn't think about it. You pay for a race with similar pricing to other chip timed races, rather than the cheaper non-chip timed ones, and well...there's a chip on your bib. It wasn't a stretch to think this race was chip timed. So because I had been sick, I started at the back of the pack - and because it was also a 10k and a 15k plus the 5k I was running, it was a fairly big pack. Here's where the guilt came in - my friend Barb did this race because I recommended it, and it was expensive. Her two kids each did the $35 kids race (which did come with a nice medal, but the two different distances didn't her little one ran the race with her older kiddo) and she paid $65 for what she thought was a chip timed 10k. She was really really unhappy.

I ended up doing better than I thought I would; I ran a fairly even but slightly negative split race. I saw Barb at the start (she was running the 10k) and we fell off pretty quick; I was being conservative since I had no idea how my barely recovered lungs were going to function in the cold outdoors (not freezing by any means, but weather in late March in Chicagoland is always unpredictable - this ended up in the low 30s to start and I think 40 by the end of all 3 races). Mile 1 was 9:40 and oddly enough about 1/2 mile in I realized that Barb and I were side by side - there had been people in between us so neither of us noticed. Funny, and we ended up running the next two miles together which was nice since I so rarely get to see her.

Barb and I at the start, me in pink. I joked I needed a picture because I'd never be ahead of her in a race again!
Picture credit - B's husband Shannon

Mile 2 was 9:35 and included us branching out into an out and back to make our mostly-loop a full 5k. The turnaround point came at almost exactly the halfway point of the race, but was very confusingly marked "half marathon" turnaround. I watched a number of runners - including Barb - run right past it before realizing it was US who was supposed to turn around since there was no half. I realize this is probably a budget issue but it was confusing because we weren't even sure that the sign belonged to this race company - it wasn't marked. For all we knew it belonged to another race that ran the day before or something, and since the Easter race I usually run DOES have a half marathon my brain didn't quite catch up. We did see a race photographer here and I was looking forward to seeing a pic of B and I racing together, but somehow in the 500 pics of the race that got posted, neither of us made it in. Oh well.

Shortly into mile 3 my chest got tight. I needed to be done, I had forgotten my inhaler and knew I'd been pushing it for the level of recovery I was at. I told Barb I was going to pull away because if I didn't finish soon I was going to have to walk. She told me to finish strong and I ended up with a 9:23 mile 3 and :38 .1. I forgot to stop my garmin but it said 29:30...doing quick math I think I actually finished at 29:16. But it doesn't matter, because my official time ended up being 30:30* anyway...since I started at the back of the back. Good enough for 2nd in my AG, although the race doesn't do age group awards even though they're definitely big enough that they probably should. Doing the 10k, which is two loops of the 5k, Barb passed the start line about a minute later and I hung out waiting for her to finish while my kids played with hers. I told my husband I was dumb for not bringing the inhaler but otherwise had a solid race.

In the end I'm conflicted. I had fun and that's the most I could expect given how sick I had been. I got to see B and that was awesome. I want to support a nice local company. I might do one of their races for fun in the future but it can't be a race I make a serious effort at unless they clear up a lot of organization issues - gun timing wouldn't have been so bad if they did wave starts for the 3 different races so it wasn't so congested, but that wouldn't have worked for the way they used the chips. (It captured finish time - it just didn't capture our START time, so our start time was when the clock started instead of when we crossed the start line.)

I dunno, in the end. But it's a cute medal.

*Actually, the race results say 30:10 now...? But it's totally irrelevant because when I asked on FB, the race offered to change my official results based on the garmin when I complained that I thought the race was chip timed. They later deleted that post.