Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting back on the proverbial horse!

It's hard to believe that it's been almost 8 weeks since the Chicago Marathon. Even harder to believe I've run *maybe* 6 times since then. Training for, and running, two marathons really did a number on my  body, and I had to take quite a bit of time off to recover. Actually, I was mentally ready for a break as well. I had devoted week after week since early June to training for first the Fox Valley Marathon and then the Chicago Marathon, and I.was.done.

After a visit to a sports med ortho about 5 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Hamstring Syndrome. Basically, I have a pain in the ass. I started physical therapy right after that appointment, and Jessica (my PT) has kicked my butt for the last 4+ weeks. She said I also have an issue with my piriformis and my IT band, plus my left hip is just a slight bit higher than my right hip. I'm doing a lot of stretching and strength exercises, and 10 days ago I got the clearance to start running again.

I've been taking it pretty easy with my runs - keeping them under 2 miles, except for the Fox and the Turkey 4 miler on Thanksgiving Day. I've done that race for the last two years, and hated the idea of missing it this year. It actually went pretty well, considering that this was the furthest I had run in over 5 weeks. I was just 1 minute slower than last year, so I'll take that as a victory!

Since I haven't been running with my great friends, I've tried to keep up with the group. I've been blessed with meeting so many great people, and we have a blast together no matter what we're doing. There have been a few of us on the injured list, so at least I'm in good company.

Now I'm ready to get back out there. Doing the Fox and the Turkey made me realize how much running is a part of me. Originally I loved running because of the physical benefits I got from I love running because of the wonderful relationships I've made through all of this.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bank of America Chicago Marathon 10-13-13

I've been very slow to get all of my thoughts down from this past Sunday, when I ran the Chicago Marathon. Part of it is due to being busy and dealing with some weird illness thing with Thomas, and part of it is because I feel like if I actually write it all down then my marathon season will really be over. As much as I said I could not WAIT to be done, it's a bittersweet feeling.

I signed up for the Chicago Marathon back in the middle of February, and had already decided that I was going to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. This amazing group is the philanthropy for which my sorority Alpha Delta Pi raises money, and it's one I'm so proud to support. I was part of Team ADPi for Team RMHC, and together we raised over $30,000 of the almost $800,000 raised overall. Knowing that children and families will benefit from my blood, sweat, and tears (well, luckily there wasn't any blood) helped me keep moving. Plus, having our ADPi team of 25+ ladies and Team RMHC with over 600 runners provided amazing support.

The weekend of the marathon was busy, but wonderful. I headed down to the city Friday after work to pick up my packet and wristbands to give to my friends so they could join me in the Charity Village after the marathon. The shuttle service was great (although I would LOVE to see one by Ogilvie Transportation Center next year), and I had some time to walk around. It was great running into Caroline, Denise, and Glen at the Asics booth....I loved seeing some familiar faces. Oh, and I finally got to meet Renee Halpin with RMHC!! She has been such a rock and huge support to our whole team, and I know it wouldn't have all come together without her. After the expo I had a chance to meet Jennifer A., Jen W., and Laura M. - three ADPi sisters running the marathon with our team. It was a late night getting back home that evening!

The next day Chad, the boys, and I headed back down to the city so they could experience the Expo. Since Chad had to work Sunday night they weren't going to be able to come down for the marathon, so at least they got to experience some of the excitement. It was packed! But we did get to enjoy lots of free samples, won some cool items, and Chad bought me Superfeet insoles (which have felt incredible!). We took the shuttle back to the stop near Millennium Park, where I parted ways with the boys. They had to head back home, and I was going to meet up with my team near the Start line for a group picture. It was great to finally meet this amazing group of women! For some this was one of many marathons for them...for others, Chicago would be their first. I think we ALL had some of the same nerves and jitters! We were lucky enough to have a great pasta dinner put on by the RMHC family, and then it was time to head back to the hotel with my roomie Sarah to try to get some sleep.

The morning came way too soon, as it always does on race day. Sarah and I grabbed a cab to get us down to Charity Village, and we made it there around 6:00. It was a cool, but fortunately perfectly clear, morning. RMHC had breakfast all laid out for us, and it was great not having to worry about that. We did a huge group picture, then everyone headed to our corrals.
Team RMHC - before the marathon
The sun had started to come up, and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day to run 26.2 miles. 

Seriously...the weather couldn't have been any better!

We made it to our F corral with plenty of time to spare, and having some of my ADPi sisters with me kept me from totally freaking out. Before we knew it, our wave was starting off!
With Sarah and Laura
I honestly cannot believe how quickly 26.2 miles went for me! While I was only a tiny bit faster than my Fox Valley Marathon (had I not stopped twice for the porta-potties, it would have been even better), there was always something to see and distract me as we wound through 29 of Chicago's neighborhoods. The crowd support was unbelievable! People were cheering for everyone, passing out candy, pretzels - and even beer at one station. There were tons of aid stations, with amazing volunteers...there was never a time when I wondered when the heck we'd get to a water station. It helped SO much to see my awesome cheering squad (Dave, Christine, Michelle, Pat, Sue, and Erin) at mile 13 for hugs, and then again at mile 16. I did falter some the second half of the marathon, but there was never a doubt that I would make it. I met up with Patsie around mile 22, and we stayed together for a couple of miles...even threw a diamond for the photographers!

The last two miles, while painful, actually went by pretty quickly. I made myself run as much of it as I could. I won't lie - that hill at mile 26 looked like a mountain, and I did walk up that. After that I took whatever gas was left in my tank and poured it in to the last 0.2 miles to the finish. Right after one of the lovely people holding medals placed one around my neck, my friend Dawn (who was volunteering at the finish line) came over and gave me a huge hug. My time was 6:18:41, and honestly I was pretty happy with that. 

After I made it through the finish area I made the trek back to meet up with my crew. I felt like a celebrity walking out to the runner reunite was a huge crowd of people, with security lined up to keep them back. Sue and Michelle came running up to me, along with everyone else. Those were the best hugs in the world! 
Sprinting through the finish chute

Best hug ever!

Yeah....I have no idea what I'm doing here lol!

With Christine!

My groupies!
We still had a long walk to get back to the Charity Village, and I was so ready to eat. My brother Keith was waiting there for me, too! After some amazing food, champagne, and chocolate milk, we made our way back to the hotel. My awesome friends were kind enough to shuttle my smelly self back home so I didn't have to ride the train. 

I was so sad to see the weekend, and my second marathon, come to an end, but being with friends and family made it so much easier. Without their support I never would have made it to the starting line, much less the finish line. Thank you to everyone who has listened to me, read my blog, and supported this crazy idea of mine. And a HUGE thanks to all those who supported RMHC through your donations!

Now....on to recovering (which, luckily, I'm already feeling almost 100%)...and planning for next year's Chicago Marathon!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Reflecting on the marathon, a couple of days after the fact

If you read my last blog, you may recall that I was really struggling with how I finished the Fox Valley Marathon. I was disappointed because I felt like I let down the race directors Dave and Craig by not maintaining a pace to get me in to the finish at 6 hours as the "back of the pack" party. Now I'm just mad at myself.

Not because of the fact that I didn't finish like I wanted to....or because I hit the proverbial wall around mile 20.

I'm mad because I was so concerned about my time that I couldn't take the time to relish in the fact that I ran (okay, ran and walked) a freakin' marathon.....completed 26.2 miles....all as part of a phenomenal racing event.

Three years ago (and many pounds heavier) I never, ever thought I would be able to accomplish such an incredible feat. Yes, I know there are people out there that run several marathons a year, but for anyone who knew me when I was younger they would remember that I HATED running. I dreaded having to do the mile in gym class, and would just stick to riding my bike or aerobics for exercise. Luckily, back then I had a super-high metabolism, so I never really had to worry about staying just happened.

The Fox Valley Marathon is something I looked forward to all year long. As a volunteer and committee member I had the honor of seeing all of the magic behind the scenes, and getting to know so many other volunteers in the process. In some small way I've been involved with FVM since 2011, when my kids did the Kids Marathon and I volunteered at packet pick up. Last year I volunteered some more, Matt and Nathan did the kids marathon (Thomas was too old, so he volunteered), and I ran the half.

This year was amazing! I volunteered to put together the display for the Municipal Building window, and did that along with the help of Sue and Craig. I paced the 12:30+ pace group for the training runs, and I know without that pushing me and Pat offering to train with me on the off weeks I never would have even made it to the starting line. Even with the thunder, lightning and pouring rain during our 20 miler I wouldn't trade a single moment. I also served as the Kid's Packet Pick Up Captain, and LOVED seeing how excited the kids were to turn in their log, get their t-shirts and, for many, their first ever bib number.

I was done thinking about all that DIDN'T happen, and focused on all of the positive highlights from Sunday. So last night I stopped by Dick Pond Athletics to pick up a Fox Valley Marathon 26.2 magnet to add to the minivan, alongside Nathan's Kid's Marathon magnet. Yes, it might be seen as bragging or downright annoying to some, but it warms my heart to see that when I walk by it and reflect on the last several months. I never thought I'd say this, but bring on next year's Fox Valley Marathon!

Monday, September 23, 2013

One of the hardest things I have EVER done!

I started to write up my Fox Valley Marathon recap last night, but between exhaustion and the kids I decided to "sleep on it" and finish it this morning. I was still kind of in a daze after everything yesterday, so I'm glad I made that decision.

My day started off pretty well. I didn't get a great night's sleep (too many dreams about oversleeping), but I still felt pretty rested. I got up, showered, dressed, and ate my bagel and banana before doing a last-minute sweep to make sure I had everything together. It was a beautiful, cool morning - perfect for marathon day, with a beautiful sunrise.
What a great way to start out the morning!
It took a little bit of driving around to find a parking spot, but luckily I was only four or five blocks away from the Race Village. I dropped off my gear bag, hit the porta-potty (where I met a blind runner and one of his about inspirational!), and met up with my family as I made my way to the back of the pack. It was great getting hugs and well wishes from them!

The wave start was slowly helping us make our way to the starting line. I was with probably the last group to start. This year Dave and Craig, the best race directors EVER, had talked about having a "back of the pack" person...someone who would run the marathon at a 13:45 pace, and let the aid stations know that they were technically the end. This was also for those who were worried about being the only person out there. I'm a slow runner, so I said I'd do it....then it hit me that I'd be running TWO marathons this year, three weeks apart! I did get some fabulous advice from my friend Aldona on this sign she posted for me along the race course:
This was such a great surprise on the course!
Time to run!
After all the training this summer, I felt like I was really ready to tackle my first marathon. Oh, how naive I can be! Everything started off well enough, although I did have to slow down after the first mile because I was actually running faster than the pace I needed to keep. I had thought that I would run until we got to an aid station, and then walk. That plan worked great until about mile 14...then I started adding in some fast walking. I kept that up for the next 4 or 5 miles, and then I bonked - big time. My legs, hips and feet were done running. I munched on my Fig Newton and took some Gatorade chews, and that gave me a little pick up until mile 23ish.

It hit me then that I wasn't going to finish in the 6 hour time limit....I was crushed. I knew there were still some runners behind me, but I felt like I had failed at my job as the "back of the pack" person. I sent my wonderful friend Christine a text to let her know I wasn't going to make it under 6 hours...that it would probably be at least 6:10 for a finish time. I knew she'd be there, along with my other friends, family, and my FVM "family". She replied, said "I'll be here waiting for you!" and I said I was going to need a big hug when I got done. I was in tears - not from pain, but because I really thought I could do this in 6 hours. I had actually been training a bit faster than a 13:45 pace, but it wasn't in the cards for me yesterday.

Once I passed Prairie Street, I could see the finish line. It was only another 0.3 miles to go, and I was determined to run that last bit as well as I could. There were still some spectators there (you have NO idea how much that meant to me!), and as soon as I rounded the corner heading on to the Illinois Street Bridge I could hear Bob Hackett welcoming me back. Then my brother, Thomas, and Nathan ran out with me to run me in to the finish. I saw so many of my friends there waiting for me, and I just hung on to Christine and sobbed for a bit. Carrie gave me my medal, and I got more hugs from Pat, Jeanne, and I swear Colleen although it was kind of a blur at that point...haha! My family also came around the finish area for more hugs, and then Pat made sure I got my "space blanket" and food/water/Gatorade. Erin made sure I had my Endurance medal for running a FVM race a second year in a row, and I got to see my friends Sara and Catherine after they finished.

Luckily I took today off of work, and I'm planning to go for a nice walk at some point...gotta keep the muscles moving. I allowed myself to throw a little pity party for one this morning, but now I'm trying to get over that. Because in the end, the thing that really should matter to me is that I finished my first marathon. And I still got some cool bling ;-)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bring on the taper!!!

And no, I'm not talking about tapered jeans....although that does make me think of the Saved by the Bell episode I watched this morning at 4:30. Apparently that's about the only actual show on that early. Today was my last long training run! Can I get a woo hoo?!?!

This morning started before dawn. I am NOT a morning person, so this could have been a very bad thing. But since I was meeting up with Aldona, Pat, Meilssa and Julie to get 4 of our 20 miles out of the way, I got my butt out of bed. Ate my bagel with cream cheese, a banana, and drank some water after getting dressed in my running gear. Oh, and LOTS of body glide was applied to the feet...not that it mattered a lick (more on that to come...). I made it over to Dick Pond in my town about 5:10, and we were off right after that. It was actually a pretty easy 4 miles! I've been doing a run/walk method for my long runs, so it was nice to see I could still run some straight miles. But oh, how things would change.

It started to drizzle right before we started, which was actually a welcome addition to the start. It kept things cool as the sun was starting to come up. Then, about 3 or 4 miles into the 16 miles, the skies just opened up and it POURED! Not just a steady drizzle - I was soaked in about 5 seconds. But it didn't look too bad to the west, so I hoped I would just dry out as the run went on. Apparently I'm just that naive.

It rained a little bit off and on until I hit about mile 8 or 9. I could see the skies darkening to the west, and thunder was starting to rumble. I got another mile down the trail and it poured - again! I did stop for a few minutes under a bridge since the lightning was getting pretty bad. But I didn't want to hang out too long, so once the worst past I got back to work. At that point I just gave up trying to avoid the puddles. I knew my feet were already trashed at that point, and the water actually gave a little cushion for a bit. I met up with some other runners with the Fox Valley Marathon group, and we all kept plugging along through the rain, thunder and lightning.

I was so happy to make it back to St. Charles! My calves had started bothering me with about 2 miles to go, so I was probably doing more walking than running at that point. Looking back, I'm pretty sure it was due to dehydration. I actually still had Gatorade left (that never happens on a long run), and I only filled up my water bottle once. It's a good lesson for me to keep in mind for race day.

Another upside of getting the 4 miles done early is that I actually was NOT the last one back today haha! Of course, the other people coming in after me had run 20 miles in the time it took me to do 16, but it was nice to have others joining me. My dear friend Michelle had just come back a little bit before me, and I sat with her for a little while since she was having some calf/knee issues...I hope some R.I.C.E. will help her!

Several of us headed to The Office afterwards to celebrate the last group training run. Luckily I was able to get out of the wet clothes first (I could literally wring out my socks and shorts), and we had a great lunch. After that I finally made it home for a most welcome hot, hot shower. I feel like I'm human again!

So for the next three weeks I get to lower my mileage, and let my body rest and recuperate. I am so ready for it, and can't wait to cross the start line in three weeks! A huge thank you goes out to all of my friends and family who have supported me, encouraged me, and run with me. I could not have gotten to this point without all of you.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's getting closer!'s hard to believe I only have five more weeks until my first marathon. Today was our second to last group training run, and it looked like it was going to be a cooler day for the 18 miles we would be running. The sunrise was beautiful at 6:00 a.m., and I just wish I could have gotten a picture of it.

It was great to get there and see some of my great friends, and I hung out chatting with my pace group while we waited to start. Our little pack of runners has grown quite a bit over the last couple of runs - it's great to see! We all seemed ready to go, and started off strong.

The first 4 miles flew by, and right about then I saw this:
Turn-around for the Half Marathon trainers
Did I wish that was where I turned around? I'd be lying if I said no, but it was still pretty cool at that point, and I thought "hey....what's another 14 miles!" Ha - it's amazing how the mind works on these long runs. Although it really is nice seeing my friends as their pace groups make the turnaround and head really keeps me going. Still, it was great to see this right around mile 9:
Not quite half-way there, but it was still nice to see!
I knew we'd be running pretty far south, but I honestly didn't realize just how far down we'd go. It kind of sunk it once I was heading back and came up on I-88...yes - we went PAST 88 into Aurora:
For any Fox Valley friends...this is the trail south of 1-88...I remember when I didn't even like to drive that far!
Luckily the rest of the miles pretty much flew by until I hit around mile 15. The sun was out, the temperatures were rising, and my calves were getting pretty sore. I saw Sara coming up to the 16 mile water stop, and she and I finished off the last two miles together. The Japanese Garden "tour" was a killer, though...but it's good prep for race day when we'll have to do that twice. We speed-walked the rest of the training run, which I was totally fine with at this point. It was great having a chance to chat with her again! And yay - we got Freezie Pops when we made it back to Geneva!!

I did break two of the cardinal rules of the long run...I wore a brand new running tank AND tried new food/fuel for the course - OOPS! Luckily the new tank felt great. I didn't have any issues with it all, and it kept me cooler. The new fuel I tried was Fig Newtons...haha! I've notice the last couple of weeks that I would be starving around mile 12 or so, and the Gatorade chews just weren't cutting it. So I grabbed a few Fig Newtons, stuck them in a Ziploc bag, and ate one of them around mile 11. It worked!! I wasn't hungry at all until about 2 blocks from getting back to the FVM group.

Afterwards Pat, Jeanne, Christine, Colleen and I headed over to Geneva Diner for a wonderful breakfast. I have to say - I have met some of the BEST people since I started running. We had a great time chatting, and finally figured out what they REALLY put in those Gatorade jugs to keep us going...hahahaha! We've all "drunk the Kool-Aid", so to speak.

So now I look to the rest of training for this amazing experience. We'll have one more training run in two weeks (20 miles - yikes!), and I'll need to keep up my training on my own as well. Sadly it's supposed to be hot hot hot again this week, so I may move to the treadmill for my mid-week long run. I'm just glad that, less than 12 hours since I started running 18 miles, I'm really not that sore at all. As long as I keep moving, it makes a huge difference. I'm just definitely ready to get a good night's sleep!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Feeling SO much better about my marathons!

My marathon mindset over the last 2+ weeks has done a complete 180 degree turn. My last blog post, for those that read it, was a reflection of how low I was feeling at the time. I had been struggling with some pain, and the 10 mile training run was brutal. My right calf hurt for a good portion of the week, and I was doubting myself...big time. My training was not where it needed to be, and my mileage was much lower than where I wanted to see it.

I think the turning point came when I did the 14 mile training run with the Fox Valley Marathon group. While it was still a warmer day, it was much better than we had seen in the days leading up to it. I made it through that run, and while I was slower than a sloth, I felt so much better at the end than I had when I finished the 10 mile run. Plus, I was able to get a couple of runs in that week as well.

Thank goodness my awesome running buddy Pat asked me if I'd like to do my 15 miler with her last weekend! 10 miles, even 12 miles, are okay if I'm by myself. But anything over that would be sooooo loooooooong without someone to chat with. Pat is great about running whatever pace I need to do, even though I know I'm slowing her down. She always says "miles are miles, no matter what your speed is". And we had such a beautiful morning for our run! We headed out to the Great Western Trail, and it was actually chilly at times. Never thought I'd be able to say that in July around here!

I also joined up with the Dick Pond Speed Club that meets on Thursday evenings (thanks Karla!). The first night I was there we did 400 meter relays, and it felt great. This week we did hills. And other than feeling like I was going to throw up around the third time up the hill, it was a great workout. Okay, so maybe the post-workout Summer Shandy helped with that (maybe it was the second one....). Between the miles I was doing on the training runs, the workouts, and other runs I've done on my own, I actually hit 50 miles for July! I was really happy with that, since the beginning of the month started off so slowly.

Wow...over 300 runners for Training Run #4!!!!
So that brings me to the most recent training run, which took place yesterday. There was a HUGE turnout, I'm sure in part to both the gorgeous day and the longer distance we had to do. I swear I've done many 5Ks that didn't even have this many people! I had 16 miles looming ahead of me, but I was pumped and ready to run! I had time to chat with some friends, and get some pictures as well:
Karla and me rockin' the pre-run attitude
Seth and me getting ready to run!

I was still pacing the 12:30 group, although it's really 12:30+++...I'm known as "The Sweeper" now...haha! Our little group has actually grown quite a bit, and I saw many new faces mixed in with the people I've gotten to know over the last month with our runs. I also met a new woman, Sarah. She had checked with one of our awesome race directors, Dave, to see if here are slower paces with these runs. It was great she did that, since Dave could let Jeanne (our fearless training run leader) know, and she sent me an email to alert me as well. I met Sarah right before we set off, and another running friendship was born :).

The weather was SO much better for our run!! It was cooler, with much lower humidity, and beautiful blue skies. I felt great when we started off, and our group sort of spread out, but I could still see some runners behind us. At the first big turn, I stopped to make sure they all followed the group, then took back off to lead the pack. Karla was also pacing the 12:30 half marathon group, I could see her up ahead. Around mile 2 1/2 I caught up with Sarah, and we spent the next 5+ miles running together. I've been following a Jeff Galloway plan of run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute, and she stayed right with me while we did that. Around mile 7 we were getting in to Red Oak Nature Center, and that area has a lot more rolling hills. I still felt strong and kept up our 12:25-12:30 pace, and Sarah dropped back a bit. I saw so many friends passing back by, since they had already hit the 8 mile turn around. It was wonderful and uplifting to see all of the! It really hit home again what an awesome community us runners have. 

I waited at the 8 mile turn-around for Sarah to hit that point, along with Ann, another woman I've gotten to know. There was a great sign telling us to turn around, but I wanted to make sure a)they were both okay and b) they didn't miss it. We all took back off, and started our way back. I was a bit ahead of them, but we caught back up with each other at the 9 mile and 12 or 13 mile water stops. I stopped at Island Park in Geneva for a quick bathroom break, and they got up ahead of me. I came back up on them around mile 15, and we made our way back to Dick Pond. My last mile was slower, although we did run some of the time. Sadly, my phone died with 0.5 miles to go, so my Runkeeper app didn't log the full run. 

We made it back to the store, and got hugs and high-fives from our race directors and great friends that were still hanging out in the great backyard area. Luckily Christine and Karla saved a freezie pop for me! I felt incredible when I finished. Yes, I was tired and yes, I was sore - but I just added another distance PR that day, and I felt like I could keep going. Probably not another 10 miles at that time, but at least a couple more miles. 

I'm looking forward to another long run this weekend, along with additional runs I'll do this week for training and speed workouts. And I'm finally realizing that yes - I can do this! It's less than 2 months until the Fox Valley Marathon, and Chicago is just three weeks after that. I'm starting to visualize myself crossing the finish lines at both races, and the chills have already started. I can't wait to see what the rest of training brings!

Monday, June 24, 2013

So this is marathon training - a.k.a. What the hell was I thinking?!?!

Okay - I may be exaggerating with my title, but man am I debating my strength and resolve right now. Yesterday was my first organized training run with the awesome Fox Valley Marathon (FVM) crew. And since I've been dealing with a piriformis/glute issue, it was the first run I had done in over 2 1/2 weeks. Oddly enough, the issue I was having didn't bother me when I walked, but I wanted to be smart and rest it while I'm still early in my training. While I've felt a bit sloth-like with zero running, I'm happy I made that decision. The weekly mileage is still (luckily) on the lower side right now.

The FVM runs are such a nice perk of this great local race. Yes, other marathons and stores offer training programs - but this one is completely free! They set up aid stations, have the route marked, and there are refreshments at the end. I've been in races that didn't offer that much!

I will say, though, the 5:00 a.m. wake-up Sunday morning was not pretty. I'm sure it didn't help that I was out at Karla's bachelorette party the night before. I behaved, and only had a small glass of champagne, but it was still a late night. (On a quick side note - you know you're getting old when you are at a nightclub, and you're totally psyched about the appetizers you're served vs. getting all excited about the different alcoholic beverages you can consume.) I did get a high five from the bouncer who had just been by our area and asked why I was leaving so early...I told him I had my first 10 mile marathon training run in the morning...haha!

I was wiped out, but I ate a quick breakfast, got dressed, and headed out for a coffee on my way to Geneva Running Outfitters. There was already quite a crowd forming when I got there (turns out we had over 100 runners!), and it almost felt like a race day. I got a hug from my great friend Michelle, had a chance to FINALLY meet Melissa, and caught up with Sue. I think most of my friends now see me in running clothes a heck of a lot more often than regular clothes. 

There was a need for a pace leader for the 12:30 marathon group, so I volunteered to do that. There was a small group of runners, some who were running the half plan and just a few of us doing the full marathon training run. We started off at a nice pace, although some of them jumped on ahead. It was hot, humid, and sunny, so sadly my pace dropped off. I also think I wasn't hydrating enough, since I started to have issues with my right calf around mile 6.5 or so. I felt bad that I wasn't a better pacer, but one women who stayed pretty close to me gave me a huge hug at the end and thanked me for starting her off at a slow, steady pace. And, on the upside, I was able to let our fabulous aid station ladies know that I was the last one and everyone else with the training run had gone through. I also think my Runkeeper app wasn't working very accurately at first...I'm going to have to try out my Nike+ to see if I can get it to work. 

My calf is still oh-so-sore today. I know part of it is because I didn't get to take a nice Epsom salt bath last night, thanks to the sunburn I got yesterday when I took the boys to the pool. Sitting in the cool water, though, was pure bliss. I don't think I have it in me to do an ice bath, but this was a nice alternative. One of the benefits of training in the summer, I guess. 

So now I'll just rest up my legs for a couple of days, and head back out there for some more training later this week. At least I know I'll have great friends training with me, since I know my family will get very, very tired of hearing me talk about this all.the.time....they're great at supporting me, but they can only take so much abuse :-).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013's that marathon training going?

It's been nearly 4 months since I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Since then I've decided to also run the Fox Valley Marathon. I think I've crossed from nuts to full-blown crazy. The reason I decided to also run Fox Valley is that it's been such a part of my love of running. I ran the half marathon distance of the FVM Marathon Races last year, and it was an amazing event. The organizers are the best of the best, it's in my hometown, and it was seriously the most fun I think anyone can have when they decide to run 13.1 (or 20...or 26.2) miles! I really wanted Fox Valley to be my first marathon, so there ya go.

So...back to the training. Or should I say - lack of training. My head knows that I need to get miles under my feet this week, and my body will know this very, very soon. But my exhaustion is just sucking every tiny bit of willpower I normally have. This Friday marks the end of our fiscal year, and as with any sales job it's a little insane and stressful. Couple that with a husband who works nights, end of the year concerts and activities for the boys, and just life in general and I'm down for the count. I'm going to be so ready for the boys to be out of school so at least we'll have one less stress to deal with.

This weekend I'm going to get back out and finally kick off my marathon training. I've already planned to go run with the NSRC Saturday morning (Erin will keep me honest!), and I'm going to start bringing my running gear with me when I leave for work so I can hit the trails as soon as I'm out of the office. I know myself well enough to accept that once my butt hits the couch after a long day, that's pretty much it for any movement

Oh, and the best part of my marathon training - getting a new short 'do!

I'm sure this will make me a speed demon...hahaha!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I run for many, many reasons...

And tonight I ran for Boston.

Yesterday went from terrific to tragic in the blink of an eye. I had run out for lunch, and I was reading up on the top finishers for the Boston Marathon - awed at the fact that they can run a full marathon faster than I can run a half. I did a quick check of the weather there - looked like it was sunny and in the mid-to-upper 50s...and I thought "'s a perfect day for them".

I had been back at my desk for a little bit when a coworker called me. She had received a breaking news report on her cell about the explosions at the finish line. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The t.v. was on in our lunch room, and I caught a brief bit of what was going on. Trying to focus the rest of the afternoon was a huge issue, but I plugged along. It was a relief to get home and hug my boys.

My heart was breaking for all of the runners. Their incredible journey, all the training they've done, only to have it marred by this unimaginable act of terror. Then I thought of the spectators, who really bore the worst of the bombs. And I cried....cried thinking about how spectators cheering on us crazy runners when they probably don't understand why the heck we'd choose to run long distances, but they are there, yelling their encouragement to every.single.runner. It doesn't matter if they know them - they keep us moving forward with their funny signs, their excitement, and their enthusiasm. They make the race an amazing experience, and I know I would have struggled to finish my two half marathons without them spurring me on.

So today I wore my Shamrock Shuffle race shirt to work. I'm sure some people were wondering what the heck I was doing, but it was important to me to show that the terror won't win. The running community is such a supportive group, and I know there were many others like me out there today.

I ended my day by honoring those affected, injured or killed by the blasts yesterday. I was sad I couldn't join the Dick Pond group, but I think the solo run helped me think and clear my head. It started to rain as soon as I started out, and it rained the first 2.62 miles - fitting, isn't it? I restarted my app and finished the run back to the church to pick up my younger two boys from choir. As I went along, I came up to a beautiful sight:

Seeing the flowers blooming brought some comfort to me, along with the miles under my feet. I ended up with a total of 4.09 miles. The time on the finish line clock when the explosions occurred was 4:09 and some seconds.

On a final note - I've had many people ask me if I still plan to run the Chicago Marathon this October. If anything, this tragic event makes me want to run it run it for those who lost their lives, suffered serious injuries, and for those runners who didn't get to cross their finish line in Boston. I will cross it for them, and they will all be on my heart during my 26.2 miles.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday - doing it up right!

Whew....I took "Fat Tuesday" a little bit to literally today! One of my coworkers brought in paczki to the office today, and I indulged in one. I actually couldn't even eat all of it, which was a slight blessing. And wow - it was good!!! But this fried dough (filled with chocolate...and topped with chocolate....) pretty much capped off about 10 days of poor diet choices.

It started with the Super Bowl. We had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies and yummy yeast rolls. Not exactly typical football-watching fare, but still pretty darn good. Then Chad kept baking cookies and brownies. Of course I don't want to be rude, so I had to eat them...and lots of them. Oh - this was all rounded out by the three boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Sadly the boys don't really like them, so that left it to me to eat them up. Yeah....they're all gone now.

On top of the bad eating, I just haven't been active at all recently. I can't even entirely blame it on the weather, since we didn't get slammed with 2+ feet of snow like the East Coast. I tweaked my ankle Friday night, so I missed out on running with some friends. Then I jacked up my tailbone when I went sledding with the boys on Saturday. It rained all day Sunday, and I spent that day plus Monday icing my ass....good times. Luckily it feels less painful today, so I'm going to make myself go out tomorrow for at least a couple of miles.

I decided that I'm giving up chocolate for Lent, plus re-committing to eating healthy and exercising. I stopped at the store tonight and picked up apples, bananas, clementines (one of my favorites!), green and red peppers, and mushrooms. I made an omelet-to-go recipe I found on Pinterest, and loaded it up with diced veggies and a tiny sprinkle of cheese. It made a dozen, so hopefully they taste okay! Now I really have no excuse to grab crap - which, luckily, isn't a problem in the mornings - and will get my veggies in early in the day.

So now I refocus...I have big plans for this spring, summer and fall with running, so I need to set a good healthy base now. I can't guarantee I won't indulge every now and then, but at least I have the tools and drive to get back on track.