Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flu Season is Here...Blah.

Fevers and coughing and frequent trips to the bathroom...oh my! Flu season hit home early this year. I feel fine (knock on wood) for the moment, but the boys are sick. 
I was up early and got in 2 easy miles before playing nurse the rest of the day. I like running this time of year. Crisp, cool fall weather, plus I get to look at all the Halloween decorations. I love Halloween!

I ran to Kroger to get some "sick supplies".

Since I got home from the store I've been cleaning everything. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the sickness passes me over this time. I got a flu shot last week Thursday, but who knows if that will help me out or not.
Oh well...this too shall pass. Stay healthy friends!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Black Cat Chase 5k Recap

Last night I ran my first race since the marathon, the Black Cat Chase. This would be my third year running it. It also happens to be my favorite 5k!

"Black Cat Chase Run hosted by the Frankfort YMCA and sponsored by Mainsource Bank - An annual, local 5K run/walk around Downtown Frankfort and the State Capitol with festive atmosphere, costumes, music, and fun for all ages and experience levels." -Frankfort YMCA 

Since the race is run near the end of October, the race tends to take on a Halloween theme, and many of the runners dress up in costume. I've never dressed up for a race, but I like seeing the all the costumes. Plus Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

                                                 Every year, they take a photo on the Old State Capitol Lawn.

I had been nervous about this race all day. I'm not sure why. Obviously, I can run 3.1 miles. Maybe I was nervous because I have only run 6 miles since I was in Chicago. Maybe I was nervous because I was really worried about what my pace was going to be. Before I began my marathon training, my average pace had been between 10:30-11:00/mile. Toward the end of training, I was running around 12:00-12:30/mile. I think that lots of factors contributed to me slowing down. I think it began with the heat and humidity during summer training, then the fatigue started to set in toward the end of training, and I just got used to my long slow run pace. Either way, I knew I was not going to PR (30:15) this year, and I decided early on that my goal was to finish under 33 minutes, and see if I could push myself the whole way.

After lining up at the start, I tried to get my Nike+ watch set up, but it never got a signal. Irritating! At least I had my Nike+ app on my phone and used that instead. It's not quite as accurate, but at least my run is recorded. I usually use my watch to check my pace, so I basically ran this 5k blind. My strategy quickly changed to, picking out a person who was ahead of me and then attempting to pass them. This worked really well, as we headed up the large hill to circle around the Capitol Building. I was passing people left and right! I continued using this strategy the whole race, and I ended up passing a person who I thought I would never catch! It was tough, but I finished strong. Official time was 31:16!

I'm really happy with my mile splits, especially since I was really unprepared for this race.

 I'm also really happy about my overall effort that I put into it. There were many points during the race, that I wanted to slow down, but I never did! So, no, it was not my fastest 5k, but it's a new starting point. I've been thinking about what my next goal is, and I have decided that for now, I want to work on getting faster. I'd like to get my 5k time under 30 minutes. My next 5k is the Thoroughbred Classic on Thanksgiving Day. Can't wait!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Marathon Weekend

For starters, what an amazing weekend! It went by so fast! The BoA Chicago Marathon put on world-class event. The expo was well done and easy to navigate, and race day went off seamlessly. The volunteers and spectators were fantastic, cheering for everyone all day. Traveling through all the different neighborhoods of downtown Chicago as a participant was awesome! I felt like I was on a sight-seeing adventure. To top it off, we had perfect weather too! I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my first full marathon.

My weekend began early Saturday morning with a 2 mile shakeout run. I had been so nervous and anxious that it felt really good to get a short run in before we left for Chicago to get my packet at the Expo.

The Expo on Saturday was pretty cool. Packet pick-up and lots of vendors to look at. I didn't buy anything, but I did try several different samples of protein bars and energy gels. If I would have had more time, I would have looked around a little longer, but none of us had eaten lunch and I was anxious to get to the hotel and eat!

I got my bib#! So exciting!

We ordered dinner from a place called Giordano's. Yummy! Carbs!

After dinner, I got all my gear ready for the following morning and set my alarm for 3:45am. I tried to get to bed early, but it ended up being 9:30 pm anyways. We didn't stay downtown since the hotel prices were $300-$400 per night. Instead, we stayed near O'Hare airport and I had planned on taking a shuttle to the train station and then took the Blue ('L) Line all the way to the start.

This is my "omg it's 4 am on race day" face!

I left the hotel at 5:00 and road the shuttle to the train station to get downtown by 6:00. There was a lot of runners and spectators on the train with me. It was really convenient, and the 45 minute ride was well worth saving $$$ on the hotel room.

I was set to start in Wave 2 at 8:00am in Corral H. It was kind of chilly waiting to start, but I wore a throwaway sweatshirt and gloves and that worked really well. (The only complaint that I have for the weekend is that there was not enough porta potties, and the lines were long. Really long!) Right before the start, I tossed the sweatshirt into a large pile of throwaway gear. 
I finally crossed the starting line at 8:15am. For the first mile, my Nike + watch was really off. My watch said I ran the first mile in 10:38; it should have been 12:38. I'm guessing that the tall buildings and running through tunnels at the start threw the GPS off a little bit. The first few miles went by really fast. I had to stop at 5 miles to hit the porta potty and waited in line for at least 5-6 minutes. I knew my family was coming a little later and was planning on seeing me around mile 16, so that was my whole goal for the next 11 miles. Just get to mile 16. Keep moving forward. I had my headphones in, listening to some podcasts, but there was so much to look at and tons of spectators yelling and cheering, it was hard to pay attention to the podcasts, so I switched to music instead. When I finally got to 16, it was the best feeling in the world to see my family. Liam was such a trooper! He gave me a high 5 and told me he made a sign for me! What a sweetie!

Miles 18-26 were really tough. My feet hurt a lot and my hips felt really tight. I just wanted to get to the end! I stopped at the porta potties again at 18. Then saw my family at 23. Next stop was the finish line. One of my only goals race day, was to run the last 1.2 miles across the finish line. I saw lots of people walking in the last mile, but I just kept running until I crossed the finish line. Ahh, sweet relief! Official time: 5:45:04

After a quick ice bath and shower, we went out for dinner and to celebrate. Naturally, we went to the Hofbrauhaus! Beer, Bratwurst, and a Polka Band, just like being in Germany, sort of. 
The perfect ending to a perfect day!

18 weeks of training has come to an end. So what's next? I'm not sure exactly. Will I ever run another marathon? I don't know. While the end result was worth it, and I learned so much about myself along the way, it was a very time consuming, exhausting process. Will I keep running? The answer to this is YES! Running has changed my life in such an amazing way, I will definitely continue, but for the time being I am sticking to 5ks or 10ks, with maybe a half  marathon every so often. But, at the end of the day, I did it! I am a marathon finisher!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Race Week and a Very Special Birthday!

Hello friends! 
Well, I've made to race week! At this point, I'm nervous, anxious, and excited all at once! It hasn't really quite hit me that I'll actually be running 26.2 on Sunday. 48 hours from now it will all be over! Yikes! I think I'm ready, well I hope I'm ready. This whole taper business has me going crazy. No joke, crying at work for no reason. Plus I've been really on edge and short tempered. No fun for anyone. Thank goodness my co-workers and family members have been really patient with me!
Anyway, I only worked Monday and Tuesday this week. Wednesday I drove home to Wisconsin to stay with my family until Saturday. It's great to be back in the land of cheese! I love my cheese! But enough of that. Yesterday my favorite little boy celebrated his 3rd Birthday!

He had a great birthday lunch at Gilles!

We got the best pizza ever at Joe's!

The party kept going on Friday when we went to the Little Farmer and got caramel apples! Yummy!

The afternoon was spent relaxing on the lake!

Friday night we had the best meal at Blank's Supper Club. I recommend the Blank's Special! Love my meat and potatoes!

Now, it's time for bed! Heading to Chicago and the Expo Center in the morning! It's hard to believe race day is almost here!
Looking back at my week, it looks like it's all been about food. Post race, we'll be celebrating with beer and bratwurst at the Hofbrauhaus-Chicago! I can't help it, I'm hungry. 
Night all!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Last "Long" Run Until Raceday

Saturday was a rest day, so I rested by getting up early and taking my buddy to Breakfast with the Works at Keeneland. It was a beautiful morning to be outside too.
We watched the early morning workouts while eating breakfast trackside. So much fun! They have lots of kids activites too.

After spending the morning at the track, I picked up some groceries and spent the rest of the day lounging around in my pjs. 

Fast forward to Sunday. Exactly one week from race day. I did my last "long" run today. 8 miles. Only 8 miles. I remember training for my first half marathon and running 8 miles as a training run. At the time it seemed like such a long run, and I remember being totally wiped out the rest of the day. Now, I say things like "only 8 miles" as if it's nothing. Not to mention that I feel as though I haven't exerted myself very much today either. I guess that's a good thing since next week I'll be completing 26.2. 

Now that it's race week, I'll be focusing on getting my bags packed and double checking everything so I don't forget anything important! 

Well, it's football Sunday, so time to watch some games! Go Pack Go!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Highlights and October Goals

September was a blur and with completing 131 miles it's no wonder I've been so tired. Waking up at 4:00am to squeeze in 8-9 miles before work may have had something to do with it too (just a thought). A lot of positive things came out of September. I completed my first 20 mile training run, remained injury free (some minor aches and pains, but no biggie), bought new shoes, ate some really tasty donuts, and had fun in the process. I'm so thankful for the help and support I've had through this crazy month from friends and family. Thanks mom, you're the best!

My favorite month is here! I love October. Everything happens now, birthdays, anniversaries, Keeneland Racetrack begins their fall meet, and my favorite holiday, Halloween! Halloween means candy and my total loss of will power. Brach's Mellowcreme Pumpkins...that is all (I have a problem). 

I could go on and on about why I love October and why fall is my favorite season, but right now my focus is solely on race day. We'll discuss my love of all things fall at a later date.

October Goals:
1. Stay Positive
2. Rest and trust my training during the taper (trying really hard not to stress over every detail)
3. Continue to eat healthy and stay hydrated
4. Pack all the essentials for race day
5. Enjoy the experience
6. Schedule post-marathon massage and pedicure (my poor little feet have taken a beating)

I'm especially looking forward to the massage! I've never had one before, but I imagine that it's delightful!