Space Coast Marathon 2014

I ran the Space Coast Marathon on Sunday.

If you like abridged versions: I didn’t love it and I wouldn’t run it again. For those that like unabridged versions, read on.

The Space Coast Marathon takes place in Cocoa, about 50 minutes from Orlando. Michelle and I registered for this race almost nine months ago, back when we thought we wanted to run it. But the closer we got to the race, the more it sounded like a terrible idea, particularly around the holidays and after another marathon that took every last bit of running energy we had in us. So let’s just say we didn’t go into this race with a positive attitude.

Since there was no packet pick up on race day (lame), Michelle drove out to Cocoa to get our packets on Saturday. On Sunday morning, I woke up at 2:30 (kill me), got ready, and picked up Michelle and Tyler by 3:30. The race didn’t start until 6:30 but according to our pre-race emails, parking fills up early and we wanted to park close to the start to avoid taking the shuttle from the farther parking lots. Our plan worked out because we got rock star parking and the lot we were in filled up about 10 minutes later.

We waited in the car for awhile to keep warm and Michelle and I pumped Tyler up by singing Paula Abdul songs to him. Tyler was begging for us to sing to him more but we told him, no. We have a race to run. So we stood out on the curb for awhile while Tyler put on his shoes and bib and did other things we didn’t understand why he couldn’t do them in the car. Tyler is a secret race diva.

We still had plenty of time to kill, which was fine. I’d rather be early than late. We did the usual before a race – ate breakfast, used the porta potty, walked around aimlessly, and took pictures.

During our aimlessness, I randomly ran into Matt.

This was my first time meeting Matt in person. A couple years ago, we both ran the Disney Tower of Terror 10-miler. He was standing in front of me so of course I photo-bombed his selfie. A couple days later, he found my blog and commented. I checked out his blog in return only to find myself in the background of one of his pictures. Small world for sure. The rest is history as they say.

We watched the half marathoners start and finally it was time for us to line up.

Tyler was super nervous since it was his first marathon. This is him freaking out.

He’s single as a Pringle, ladies. Smile

The National Anthem played and the sound of the shuttle lifting off was our signal to start. The course is two different out-and-backs on a road with houses you could never afford on one side and the Indian River on the other side. It was very scenic and pretty, except for all the rolling hills. Those weren’t pretty.

Usually I don’t mind out-and-backs, but for a marathon it’s not the best motivator. I was feeling pretty good for the first half of the race.The first seven miles were very crowded on a narrow two-lane road. There were a few times times when I was stuck behind slower runners because my lane and the oncoming lane were so crowded that there was no way to pass.

The 4:30 pacer passed me pretty early on but I decided to concentrate on my music and the view more than anything. Around mile 6, I caught up to him, which I didn’t expect. Then I passed him (probably not the best idea) and stayed ahead of him for the next eight miles. Everything started going downhill around mile 14. The shade was few and far between and it was getting hot. The 4:30 pacer passed me at 14.5 and I shouted a big “ah shit” as he passed because I really thought I had a decent PR in me for awhile there.

At mile 18, I stopped at the port-a-potty and from then on, I walked every water station and then some. By mile 20, I was still lined up for a PR but the the last six miles were so miserable, I couldn’t keep running. I walked half of the last six. It was so hot (74*F by the time I finished) and I was wiped out. I used the same running nutrition as I did in Chicago but it wasn’t enough for this race. I kept telling myself over and over, “no more fucking marathons!”

When I had three miles to go, I texted hubs a sad face.

The last part of the race is called the lunar walk, where you run through a brick walkway. Michelle was there waiting and cheering for me which was awesome! The crowd in that whole area was awesome. I kicked up the speed and passed everyone in front of me, which was fun. I even heard someone shout, “That’s right! You lap them!” Passing people at the end is my total fave. I finished in 4:43:19, six minutes slower than Chicago. Super disappointing.

After the race, I found Michelle, Tyler, and Victoria. Or I should say they found me because I was a bit spaced out. (Ha! Get it? Spaced out.)

Tyler and Victoria both ran sub-4:00s like a boss and Michelle ran a 4:20 with a bad foot.

The race had a really great after party with beer and pizza and all sorts of other goodies. We all hung around for a bit and chatted until we were ready to walk back to the car.

Oh and ladies, Tyler will hold all your babies.

#single

I think if I did just one thing differently during this race, I would have stayed behind the 4:30 pacer instead of passing him. In retrospect, that wasn’t a bright idea. (I totally blame the song Bounce from Iggy Azalea. That song makes me run-dance, which is basically just punching the air while lip-syncing.)

While there were some great things about this race (like lots of awesome volunteers), overall I didn’t care for it. I might consider the half but there’s no way I’d run the full again. The course is pretty but the two out-and-backs suck. There were also all sorts of random bikers and cars weaving through the runners. Runners in the oncoming lane were shouting “car back!” to warn us. I was literally running next to a truck for a quarter mile. I don’t even know how they were allowed on the course. Once you pass the finish line, there were so many random non-runners loitering around and making it hard to get through the area. The last thing I want after I just ran 26.2 miles is to be stuck in a non-moving crowd when my heart rate is through the roof because I just sprinted the last quarter mile. That whole area should be blocked off to spectators.

If anything, this race really showed me that I could run a 4:30 marathon. If I was only six minutes off Chicago with a stop at the port-o-potty and a ton of walking (which I didn’t do in Chicago), I know I have it in me. I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance to try again or not. I told myself this would be my last marathon, so we’ll see. I’m already forgetting how miserable this race was and I’m replacing those memories with things I liked about it. Race amnesia is a real thing, ya’ll.

 

Catch Up

I hate catch up posts. They’re the worst and now somehow I’m writing one. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

1.  I’m officially in taper (again) now that the Space Coast Marathon is this weekend. Although, I feel like I’ve been tapering since Chicago because there hasn’t been much running happening. My longest run in the past five weeks was 14 miles and my eight miler yesterday turned into a sad three miles that I stopped because I felt like eating instead. So let’s just call this the hope-for-the-best marathon.

someecard

2.  My first semester of school is almost over. I only have to turn in my final paper (which is a group effort) and the final exam. I wish I could say I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been so busy with school, but I have seriously put in minimal effort. I probably could have taken an extra class. I was told by several people that master’s classes are by far easier than bachelor’s classes, but man, I didn’t expect this. So either the teacher is insanely easy or this explains why I’ve met so many people with a master’s degree that aren’t that smart.

3.  This girl came in town for work so Michelle, Jackie, and I scooped her up to go out for tacos and drinks.

me, m, and m

We had a lot of fun and hung out for a few hours yet that is the only picture I got. I’m sure there has to be one with Jackie somewhere but it’s not on my phone. My phone is 90% pictures of Pants.

4. Speaking of.

Pants

She is not interested in having her picture taken but I keep trying. Whenever I get the camera out, she either gives me bitch face (see above) or runs to me and sticks her face in the lens.

5. I caught up on American Horror Story: Freak Show. Is anyone else watching? I hate this season but I keep watching for some reason. I have hope it’s going to get better but I’m not sure I’ve really loved it since the first season. Either way, the conjoined twins from this season are based on a true story. I found this video about the real girls and think it’s facinating.

6. Hubs and I went to Tampa with our friends Ken and Jamie to see Evil Dead The Musical. It was a birthday celebration weekend for Jamie so we made sure to drink all the drinks.

me and Jamie

I’m a firm believer that if you have a free hand, it should be holding a drink. Or food. That’s acceptable as well.

We all thought the show was funny and had a good time but I noticed there was a lot more dialogue and less singing than the first time I saw it. Not that that’s a bad thing because I don’t really enjoy most musicals. There was also less blood and blood I enjoy. So the show could have used more of that, but overall it was a good time.

7. I saw this at a gas station last week. Totally normal.

cat

Toonces, is that you?

8. My Christmas tree has been up for at least a week.

tree 2014

I don’t even wanna hear that it’s not Thanksgiving yet. I’m not one of those Christmas fanatics but there is nothing that I hate more than putting up that tree and having to take it down two weeks later. So that shit is staying up for six weeks. I’m going to have to figure out how to fix the top of the tree because it’s already driving me crazy that it isn’t lighting up.

9.  Hubs sent me this song and it made me laugh a lot. It’s not safe for work, unless your work loves F-bombs.

10. I saw Mockingjay. I’ll go ahead an reserve my opinion of this movie for a later date when I can watch it a second time. All I know is there was not nearly enough Finnick.

finncik

When he was cast, I thought it was the worst casting ever but he won me over big time. Also, I was pretty impressed with JLaw’s singing voice. So I guess she can just do everything. Ugh.

Mockingjay…yay or nay?

Stuff I Did to PR

All this marathon talk isn’t over. I have another one at the end of the month that I was way more jazzed about when I registered for it than I am now. So get ready for some more bitching, particularly about my shoulder because that issue hasn’t gone away. *cries*

With any big race or PR, I like to reflect on what I did differently during training so I have something to look back on. First, let me say that I know everyone trains differently. I read Michelle’s post on what she did to PR and thought, “no way that would work for me” but it worked for her and she got a massive PR. So I realize this is mostly for my benefit. Selfish post comin’ at cha.

Here’s what I did for an almost six minute PR:

I ran three days a week.

I ran three days a week for my last marathon too (one easy, one speed, one long) and it’s about all I can take. I barely have time to do my laundry much less increase my running so I kept it at three days. I also cut my Crossfit from three days to two days a week. One thing I will never do is completely cut strength training. I am a firm believer that is helps prevent injury.

I cut my training time.

Last time around, I trained for five months and was burned out six weeks before the marathon. This time, I trained for three months and started with a 10 mile base. I enjoyed my long runs so much more. I also ran two 20+ milers instead of three. I was worried it wasn’t enough at first, but it definitely was.

I walked every mile during long runs.

It’s nasty hot in Orlando. If I don’t walk, I’m not getting through a long run. So I walked between .10-.25 of every mile. The time on your feet is what’s important so I tried to kept that in mind when I saw how much those walks killed my pace. Some people have a hard time with the stop and go but I find that it gives me more energy.

I skipped runs and that was ok.

I missed a bunch of weekday runs and one or two long runs. Almost all of those were because of social plans. I used to stress out about skipping runs but this time around, I enjoyed the occasional break.

I kept up with speed training.

If I missed a weekday run, I made sure it was my easy run. I always tried to get speed work in. The first time around, I followed my running group’s speed work schedule. It was a lot of “2 x 4 x 400” or “2 x 1200 x 800 x 600 x 400” type runs which I think did absolutely nothing for me. This year, my speed runs were the same every time. I ran one slower warm-up mile and then 2-4 speed miles at the fastest pace I could without needing to stop, usually between 8:45 – 9:10 depending on how I was feeling. Consistent speed works much better for me.

That’s about it. Nothing really crazy in there. Of course, I also had that giant knot in my calf (must start stretching) that I got rid of with sports massages. I’m hoping my shoulder can make it through this next race because another 26 miles of that pain is not something I want to go through again. This next marathon should be interesting.

What’s your favorite PR strategy? How do I go about detaching my shoulder for this next race? Isn’t that selfish panda the cutest thing ever?

So Long

I’ve been talking about so many other things lately that I haven’t had a chance to mention that Hammy didn’t make it. Sad smile

I know. He’s just a hamster. But we were rather fond of him, so indulge me for a moment.

He was doing so well after about a week of antibiotics. Well enough that he started eating and drinking a little bit on his own. He wasn’t completely himself but he was walking up to the third level of his cage when he could barely walk before. So significantly improved. Since he was doing better, I took him to get his teeth clipped so he’d have an easier time eating. I really thought he was on the up and up. A couple days before we left for Chicago, he took a downturn. His energy was just gone and he wasn’t opening his eyes as wide. So of course I felt awful leaving him. Our friend, Jen, took care of him while we were gone. She knew he might not make it and still took care of him. That’s a friend right there. Hammy passed away on the day of the marathon. Jen said he died peacefully while she was holding him. We were happy he didn’t die alone.

We (ok, hubs) told Jen that if he died to put him in the freezer until we got back. So of course, I’m just picturing my frozen hamster that last day in Chicago. To make things worse, we didn’t have time to bury him when we got home so we kept him in our freezer for four days before we had time. That was fun reaching for food. Anyway, hubs made him a little wooden box and we buried him in the backyard. Apparently his tail was so frozen, hubs couldn’t get it in the box and he was a little freaked out that it would break off. But he got him in there ok and even more importantly, I didn’t have to see it because I would have been a mess. Now, Pants is back to being an only child and I am trying my hardest to stay away from pet rescues.

So long, little guy. I hope your second home with us was much happier than with the people who gave you up and I hope Hammy Heaven treats you well.

The Chicago Picture Fest Part 2

If you read Part 1, you’re probably thinking that all we did in Chicago was eat. Ok, that’s true. But we walked a lot too. I just want to put that out there so you don’t think we were hanging around outside restaurants waiting for the next meal time. Not that I’m opposed to that.

Saturday

In the morning, I went to the expo with Michelle and Melissa. After that, we parted ways and I walked back to the hotel by myself (didn’t get lost!) to meet up with hubs. The first order of business was getting hubs a Chicago hot dog. The man talked about his future dog for weeks before we left. The mere mention of Chicago put him into a hot dog frenzy.

We went to Portillo’s (another fave of mine) and I was very excited that our whole meal was only $12. That was basically free compared to our other tabs. Hubs had his dog and I had my pre-race bacon cheeseburger. Hubs said the dog was everything he imaged it would be, so I’m happy that one of my favorites did not disappoint.

After lunch, we were nice and carbed up for our walk all over creation, a.k.a, the Navy Pier. Hubs was particularly excited to ride the Ferris wheel.

We walked around the pier for a while and checked out a few shops. It was close to dinner time, so we walked back to the hotel area to find a place to eat around there. I was feeling pretty meh about all the places we were passing. Finally, we decided to give Gino’s East a try. Gino’s is Lou Malnati’s direct competition so I was a little apprehensive to cheat on my man, Lou. We’ve had a really close relationship for a long time and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. Hubs asked me before the pizza arrived if I was scared that I would like it better and man, I really was.

The verdict: meh. The crust was undercooked (maybe on purpose?) and tasted corn-starchy. Not my thing. I still ate it all so it’s not like I went hungry but Lou’s is so much better. Lou and I have decided to continue dating and I’m not going to mention that fling with Gino. It meant nothing!

After dinner, we walked to Firecakes for a donut ice cream sandwich. I spotted the sign for it a few days earlier and would not shut up about it until it was in my mouth.

Unfortunately, the idea of it was better than the execution. It wasn’t bad, but I would never get it again. We didn’t even finish it between the two of us.

I think you all know how Saturday night went. I won’t rehash that one.

Sunday

Of course, Sunday was race day. While I was running, hubs booked a harbor cruise we had been eyeing for a day or so. There wasn’t much time between my shower after the race and cruise time, so we had to fast track it if we wanted to eat. We took a cab over to the cruise area and then walked to D4 Irish Pub because it was the closest thing that wasn’t Subway. We sat at the bar and shared two appetizers in lightning speed. I was wearing my medal and as luck would have it, that got me a free mimosa.

I don’t usually drink mimosas because I’m not a big fan of orange juice but when free and alcohol come together, I can make exceptions. We made it out of the restaurant in less than 30 minutes and walked back over to the harbor cruise.

The cruise was all about the architecture and design of the skyscrapers. It was fun to learn how Chicago pioneered the skyscraper. The first one in the world was built in Chicago in 1884. Also, the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world for 25 years after it was built in 1973. The cruise was 90 minutes long and really interesting. That was also 90 minutes in which I got to sit and that made me extremely happy. Plus, they had giant cookies.

After the cruise, we met up with everyone at Rock Bottom for a post-race celebration. I can’t even recall what I ate for dinner but I do remember a bunch of jalapeno bread sticks and beer, so we’ll just go with that. After dinner, everyone went back to the hotel except me, hubs, and Michelle. We were all tired but felt the need to stay out because it was 8:00pm and we had a strong desire to not be lame. We ended up at an Irish pub near the hotel. We made it an hour and a half.

Monday

On Monday, we wanted to check out the sky deck of the Willis Tower. Unfortunately, there was zero visibility so we decided to skip it. I swear the sun was out when we left the hotel.

That was a fun 20-minute walk for nothing. After that disappointment, we walked over to Ed Debevic’s for lunch. Ed’s is a diner that’s famous for having waiter’s that are rude to you. The waiters were more sarcastic than rude. I would describe them as that cool waiter you get every now and then at a regular restaurant. Unfortunately, the food was awful. I had the three-way chili, which was really greasy. I could see the grease separating from the chili. Apparently, the grease didn’t even like it. I also got a Cesar salad and sent it back because it had a lot of black, wilted lettuce. I did have an Oreo shake that was good. Except the whipped cream wasn’t good.

#neverhappy

Hubs had a chocolate shake that he liked as well but overall, I wouldn’t recommend it. I did think it would be good place for kids since the waiters stand on tables and sing. So if  you have kids, drop them off for the day. Just kidding, don’t drop them off. Unless that’s what you do with kids. How should I know?

After lunch, we went on The Untouchables tour. Hubs was really excited to learn about Chicago’s mobster history but the tour took a big dump on his dreams. The tour guides were pretty good but the tour itself was terrible. We didn’t learn where things happened, like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and instead were pointed to general areas. I feel like the guides also needed to kill a lot of time because they didn’t have enough material to cover, so they would play the Godfather theme randomly, which was a little weird.

I know that’s Scarface but I just don’t know how to segue to something that amazing.

To top it off, the bus got stuck in a construction zone and, while trying to 3-point turn the way out, hit an overpass. It took the driver a good 10 minutes to get us out of the area, which I think cut the tour short. They didn’t cover John Dillinger (who was captured in Chicago) even though he was on the brochure and they covered everything else on it up to him. It was just a big suck fest. After the tour, I really wanted to check the damage on the back of the bus but I chickened out. We left for the airport after that.

Lastly, here’s a picture I found that Michelle texted me at some point over the weekend. Thanks to her husband, I have been immortalized somewhere in Chicago.

The Chicago Picture Fest Part 1

While I went to Chicago for the race, I definitely planned an extended weekend around it. We packed a lot of fun into five days, so here are some of the things we did as told by my cell phone camera. Also, get ready for some food pictures. Hubs asked why I always take pictures of my meals because I never use them. Since I don’t appreciate being called out or other people being right, I’m going to use them now.

Thursday

We arrived in Chicago around noon. We took our first Uber to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and went to EPIC for lunch. After we sat down, we  noticed everyone in the restaurant was in suit and tie business attire and we were in jeans. It was awkward but they seated us so we owned it by putting our elbows on the table in defiance. We had the crab cakes as an appetizer and they were really good.

I also had a beet salad with a fried egg on top. Not something I would usually order because runny yolks = no, but I liked it. My taste buds are changing and that’s confusing hubs. He stared at the salad for awhile because he couldn’t believe I ordered it. I forgot to get a picture but I’ll make it up to you with a bunch of other pictures of food you don’t care about.

After lunch, we slept. For three and a half hours. It was glorious not being woken up by an alarm or needing to be somewhere at a particular time. Here is a view from our room at the SpringHill Suites in River North. (Super friendly staff there, by the way.)

Thursday night, we went out with our friend Roxie (far left).

Roxie moved to Chicago a year ago but we haven’t seen her in two years. She took the metra an hour into Chicago from Orland Park to see us because she’s awesome like that. We went many places and drank many drinks. But first, we tested the resilance of our arteries with a bacon mac and cheese burger from The Squared Circle.

The best burger I’ve ever had is here in Orlando and that burger rivaled it. It was ahhmazing and I felt like complete shit after eating it because I was so full. Although, that probably had to do with the fact that I also had an appetizer and pizza just before it.

Our first Chicago pizza was gluten free, because Roxie has Celiac, and I thought it was pretty good considering I like my pizza with extra gluten.

Toward the end of the night, we wanted to go somewhere else but weren’t sure where. I suggested The Ory and Roxie busted out laughing.

You know what, if you want your establishment pronounced correctly, don’t put a big O in the middle. That’s all I have to say about that. Anyway, we had a really great first night and it was a lot of fun catching up with an old friend.

Friday

Friday morning, hubs and I missed breakfast at the hotel by 12 minutes so we walked down the street to Lyfe Kitchen. Lyfe Kitchen has a super healthy menu which we were pretty happy about after the dinner we had the night before. I had the spinach and avocado frittata.

Hubs and I shared a banana kale smoothie because I figured I should probably eat a vegetable.

Both were really good. They also had your choice of water – ambient (??), chilled, or chilled sparkling. I felt fancy and confused all at once, especially since there was no charge for the sparkling.

After breakfast, hubs and I walked over to the bean. I just love this picture. Hubs hated the bean so much that his reaction to it was the best part of seeing it.

Hates beans.

We took another picture under the bean that hubs quickly pointed out looks like a vagina.

Can you find us in the vagina?

After our close encounter of the bean kind, we walked back to the hotel to meet up with my big brother, Tom!

20141010_121642

He and my SIL drove in from Cary (about 45 min away) to see us. Get this: I hadn’t seen him in 15 years. I don’t even know how that’s possible or how we could allow that to happen. He was supposed to give me away at my wedding but wasn’t able to travel because of many slipped discs in his back. Since walking isn’t the greatest on his back, we walked to lunch right by the hotel at Harry Caray’s.

I thought Harry Caray’s was going to be a pub. Nope. Super expensive steakhouse with table cloths. So I ordered off the super cheap lunch menu and got half a corned beef sandwich (that was still huge) and a wedge salad.

After lunch, hubs, my SIL, and brother sat in the hotel lobby for awhile chatting and catching up. It was nice to see them. It was the first time my hubs met my brother and the first thing he said after my brother left was, “well, now I know why you talk about your poop so much.” #truth

Friday night, we met up with Michelle and her family and Melissa and her family at Lou Malnati’s, aka, the best pizza IN DA LAND.

I grew up on Lou Malnati’s. My mother put me on diets because of Lou Malanti’s.

Hello lovah

The Lou’s in River North is a new location and it doesn’t have the ambiance of the other location I used to frequent. So I was a little disappointed that hubs didn’t see the Lou’s that I grew up loving. The pizza is amazing but it’s also about the atmosphere for me. Lou’s at Christmastime is the absolute best. They deck out the whole restaurant with decorations and anamatronics. I get warm fuzzies remembering the times I would go there with my Dad and how much I loved it.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and took a nap that lasted 11 hours.

 

Inaugural Lake Nona Half Marathon

I ran a half marathon today.

I registered for this race maybe six months ago and was going to use it as my first training run after Chicago. Seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, only I don’t really use races as training runs – I run them faster – and who knows how I was going to feel after Chicago. So in retrospect, not my best laid plan.

A lot of friends were running this race too and I love running with friends, so it wasn’t all bad.

Next to Michelle is one of our friends/co-workers, Keith, and to the right of him is Tyler. Tyler picked Michelle up at Best Damn Race and they’ve been running soul mates ever since.

The race took place in Lake Nona, which is about a half hour South of Orlando. Lake Nona is a cute little town and I’m sure there’s got to be a lake in it somewhere, but I didn’t see it. The race took place on a pretty, long, out and back road. It wasn’t scenic but it gets pretty points for having well maintained shrubbery in the median.

The race started at 6:00am. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that started that early but I liked it because the first six or seven miles were in the dark. Plus, the weather was a perfect 61 degrees. This is the time of year when I don’t want to kick Florida in the junk. I will not miss you summer.

The race went a lot like Chicago: my legs felt great; I didn’t feel the need to walk; my shoulder started to hurt at mile 2; and the top of my left foot hurt. That foot thing I didn’t mention in the Chicago recap because I noticed it after the race, but it’s still hanging around. Maybe my shoes were laced too tight? I also had to poop from mile 6 on. (Didn’t think you’d get away from poop talk, did you?) I thought about stopping at a port-o-potty but then just decided to power through it. I got my first negative split ever because of it!

Poop makes you run faster. My colon just keeps on giving.

Those aren’t the prettiest of negative splits, but it’s the closest I’ll ever come to them. My Garmin crapped out in the first mile and I didn’t notice it until almost a mile in, so that’s why the mileage is off. My goal was to finish the race in under 2:15 (my Chicago half time) and I came in with 2:08:36, so I’m really happy with that.

After the race, we all hung out for a few hours and chatted and waited for Keith’s wife to finish.

Tyler got third in his age group with a PR, Keith PRed, and Katy hasn’t run more than 4 miles since August and still ran a sub-2:00. Let’s hate her together.

Overall, I had a great time. The race was well done and my only complaint is that there was no toilet paper in the port-o-potties after the race. I know, because I checked them all. Some nice lady gave me two of her Kleenex. I shall forever be grateful to the Kleenex lady.

I really enjoyed the race. It’s a great course for a PR, so I might be back to run this one again next year.

 

Chicago Marathon 2014

Chicago is one of best, or even the best, race I’ve run. Everyone who gushes about its amazingness is telling the truth. I’ve never been around so much constant energy. It’s definitely infectious. If you have a race bucket list, Chicago should be on it.

Expo

I don’t really talk about expos anymore because they are all the same to me. I just want to get in, get my race packet, and get out.  But for how giant this race was, it was unusually easy to catch the free shuttle to the expo and to pick up my race packet. Over 40k people ran the race and I stood in a line for about two minutes to get my bib. Super easy.

There was also a lot of great picture taking opportunities at the expo as well. They had big Chicago Marathon signs, a fake start line with a count down clock, and a cool, 3-D, light up course map. This picture was one of my favorites with my girls, Michelle and Melissa, the day before the race.

Pre-race

I have a pre-race ritual that didn’t go exactly as planned. That plan: drink all the booze two nights before a race (I’m serious) because the water/salt retention from it two days later really seems to help out my hydration. Yes, I could also eat a bag of chips, but where’s the fun in that? My pre-race lunch is always a cheeseburger (lots of carbs/protein) and then a light dinner the night before as to not upset the bowel gods. I ate the cheeseburger (Mmm, Portillos) but ended up eating pizza  for dinner (meh, Ginos) which had me a little worried because it was heavy and I need more time to digest that kind of stuff. I never drank on Friday night, not because I’m turning over a new healthy leaf, but because I drank on Thursday night and I’m way too old to drink two nights in a row.

The Night Before

If you’ve been reading for a while and you’ve missed the pooptacular posts of days past, you’re in for a real poopy treat. The day before the race, I was getting pretty worried that the magic hadn’t happened for a good 4-5 days. I was traveling, I didn’t run all week (my normal poop inducer), and I was eating all sorts of delicious food that I usually don’t eat. Not exactly the ingredients for my daily poop cocktail.

Michelle, Melissa, and hubs were giving me expert pooping advice, but I was hoping nature would take its course naturally. With everything that I had been eating, I knew the race would be a disaster if something didn’t happen soon. So, I started with hub’s first suggestion: run two miles on the treadmill at the hotel. Not what I wanted to do the night before a marathon, but that usually gets things going for me. I ran the two miles and of course, it didn’t help. Then, hubs made a trip to Walgreens to “see what he could find.” He came back with this:

Have you guys ever taken this before? I think it’s what they use to clean you out before a colonoscopy, let’s just put that out there. The label said it should work within 30 min – 6 hours. I had nine hours before I had to leave for the race, so I threw caution to the wind and drank that bad boy.

The Morning of the Race

After I drank the magnesium citrate, it was like I couldn’t stop watching the clock. Thirty minutes. Nothing. Two hours. Nothing. I woke up during the night at least four times to pee but nothing beyond that. Finally, seven hours later, I pooped. It was a nice poop. I was happy with it. An hour after that, another poop. A bonus poop, if you will. I was feeling pretty good about that one too. But that stuff lulls you into a false sense of poopy security because an hour after that, all hell broke loose. This was 45 minutes before I had to leave for the race. It came in waves. I thought I was fine, but then I wasn’t.

When I was feeling ok, I would jump up and down and do sit-ups to get things moving faster. I was so worried I wouldn’t make it to the race on time. Eventually, I just had to leave and chance it. I left the hotel 40 minutes late and hightailed it a mile to the corral and hoped for the best.

I got to my gate, walked to the wrong corral, and had to double back with at least 10 other people. There were so many people and even though Michelle and I were texting each other our exact locations, it was hard to find each other. So you can imagine how happy I was to finally find her after the ridiculous morning I had.

Cautiously optimistic about my colon.

After 30  minutes or so, I  gingerly sipped my water/Powerade Zero. I was so thirsty but also worried about upsetting my stomach. So I started the race very thirsty and very dehydrated. Not ideal but my stomach was finally feeling ok and that’s what mattered most at the time.

On a side note, you probably already know I was running for the American Heart Association (more on my thoughts about that later). The team shirt they sent was really uncomfortable so I cut it up and pinned it to my Camelbak so I could represent them.

My Camelbak was filled with water and Hammer Perpetuem (not an affiliate link) and I also carried a water bottle with half water/half Powerade Zero. I swapped back and forth sipping them through the race. I’m probably the only person in the history of racing to carry a water bottle while wearing a Camelbak. I’m a genius.

The Race

The race was so fun and exciting and hard and taxing. There was never a point in which I wasn’t surrounded by thousands of runners and spectators. The cheering was often so loud that I couldn’t tell what song was playing on my iPod. My legs felt unusually good. In fact, I only walked once through the mile 22 water stop. At mile 20, I remember thinking, “holy shit I haven’t walked yet!” I never imagined I could run that far without stopping. If it wasn’t for finishing my water bottle and needing water, I probably would have kept going.

Unfortunately, my shoulder started hurting pretty early in the race. This is the same shoulder pain that I had during my first marathon that turned out to be inflammation from overuse. Ever since then, it comes and goes. I’ve had it on a few training runs over the summer but nothing too bad. It was definitely the worst I’ve ever experience during the race. As the miles went on, the pain got worse. And worse. I ran most of the last half the race looking like Quasimodo with my left arm down at my side because having it in a regular running position was excruciating. So, I kept to the middle of the road, ignored the crowds, talked to my dad in my head, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I was so pissed because despite my morning, everything else felt great.

Once I saw the 400 meter sign, I booked it. I passed around 10 people and felt like a bad ass doing it. Even in pain, it was the best finish to a race. Plus, I was so freakin’ happy to not be running anymore that my six minute PR was secondary. While I started the hobble through the finisher’s shoot, I got a text from hubs that he was waiting for me just outside of it.

Time: 4:37:50
Pace: 10:36

My Garmin disagrees.

My shoulder was in such bad shape after the race that I couldn’t raise my arm more than three inches off my body, which was concerning. The original plan was to meet up with Michelle and Melissa after the race, but I just wasn’t feeling well enough. So hubs and I sat in the grass for 10 minutes while I ate a protein bar and then we walked back to the room where I stood in a hot shower for a long time. The water helped me get a little bit of mobility back in my arm, enough to be able to reach my hair to wash it.

I’m bummed I didn’t get the post-race medal picture with my girls. I did get to meet up with them for dinner and drinks later that night when we were all showered and feeling better. We tried to make up for it then.

Overall, I loved the Chicago Marathon. I want to run it again right this second I loved it so much. I got to run with some of my favorite ladies and raise money for a good cause. Plus, Chicago is one of my favorite cities and they definitely do racing right.

The Year of the PR

I know I owe you all an update on the marathon and I swear I’m working on it (it’s half written). We just got back in town late last night and apparently deadlines at work don’t disappear when you’re on vacation like I thought they did, midterms don’t take themselves, and Pants is unable to drive herself home from the bunnysitter.

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Once I get all that sorted out, I will be back in a day or two with a recap that includes a lot of pain, even more poop, but also a close to six-minute PR.

Finish time: 4:37:50

Marathon #3

This morning, and maybe while you’re reading this, I’m running the Chicago Marathon!

I don’t want to forget the most important reason I’m running this race:

Dad

I’m running in memory of my dad by raising money for the American Heart Association. His birthday would have been tomorrow, so the race is also timely. If you’re new around these parts and didn’t read the story of why I’m running Chicago, you can check it out HERE. I’ve already made my fundraising goal thanks to a lot of you, but I’m still raising money. If you have the means to give and would like to or meant to and forgot, you can still do that HERE. Every bit counts.

I’ll talk to you all after the race. In the meantime, check out this thoughtful little gift my team at work put together for me. <3

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The gonna hold them to that bag of Oreos. And that second ear on the bunny being X’ed out is appreciated.