The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women’s Half Marathon

This race was pretty much a good excuse to go downtown and hangout with Mike and Chelsea, friends I made from the Chicago Ragnar team. I love going to Chicago for weekend getaways, and races down there are tons of fun. So many people running and lots of great fans out cheering!

Chelsea and I went to Fleet Feet Sports in the South Loop to pick up our packets, and had the feeling that this was a pretty small race by Chicago standards. There was a table of Luna bar tasting, one room to pick up packets, and then the shop. We were in and out pretty quickly, and on our way back to get Mike and go to dinner.

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I think that our pre-race dinner is worthy of mentioning; we went to Eataly, where I had some weird bread thing with cheese and zucchini (what a terrible Italian I am for not knowing what its called), and….. there was a Nutella bar. Where I had a NUTELLA COCONUT CREPE!

If I lived in Chicago I’d be eating these every day. Best food that had ever passed my lips!

We went to bed super early, and set alarms for 6 AM. I was awake and feeling rested by 5:30. Mike’s apartment is so close to Grant park that we were banking on a short CTA or Uber cab ride to the start, and we thought we’d be out the door at about 6:15. We almost were, but once we noticed we were within a few minutes of missing the CTA, we just waited until 6:30 and called an Uber. Mike rode his bike to meet us on Michigan Avenue, and Chelsea and I received possibly the worst Uber ride ever, where a 5 minute trip was over 15 minutes, our driver complained that all the roads were closed and he shouldn’t have to work, and he kept asking us if we were ‘close enough’ to just get out.

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We finally got out and ran to the start line, everybody was in their corrals and ready to go, the speeches were going on and they were about to do the anthem by the time we hopped over the gates and got into our corral. We barely made it on time!

Tons of people were upset about the abrupt change in the race course. Just a few days prior, the course changed from being downtown to being mostly on the lakefront path. The first 3 miles were downtown, including Michigan Avenue, which was pretty cool because it is never closed down for anything (and it was sort of the highlight of the race), and then we hopped onto the lakefront path, ran out 5 miles and came back. Mike met us on Michigan Avenue, and then rode his bike to see us on the path.

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I can’t even describe how happy I was with this course. I absolutely loved the lakefront path! It was so beautiful, flat, had the breeze from the lake (on a hot day!), the skyline in the background, and we got to breathe in clean air that didn’t smell like sewage (which is exactly what Chicago smells like). I ran with Chelsea, and she was shooting for about the 2 hour range, so for me it was an easy long-training-run pace. I had so much fun running this race! Where Chicago Rock’n Roll felt like an emotional roller coaster and at times very frustrating, this half marathon was relaxing and pure enjoyment.

It didn’t even feel like 13.1 miles, before I knew it we were off the lakefront and headed for the finish!

We finished in 2:06; Chelsea PR’ed by a minute!

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Post-race snacks included Luna bars, biscotti and chocolate-covered frozen bananas (possibly the best thing you could ever eat after a race). We didn’t stick around, there wasn’t a whole lot going on at the start line, so we made our way back to clean up, get lunch, and it was time for me to hop on a train to head back and see family.

 

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So this race was August 31st, 20 days ago… I’m finally caught up on my race blogs, and Fox Valley Marathon is tomorrow morning! This race is sort of a big deal, since it is my first 26.2 since Wisconsin Marathon, my SI has been in alignment for almost 2 weeks, and I’ve been keeping in better shape. Being in school for personal training has made me a better-rounded athlete. I was originally planning on running a Boston qualifier, but as of right now I’ll see how it goes. If I feel good I’m going to push hard, but if my hips start hurting then I’ll back off and hope for better luck at the Chicago Marathon. I will definitely hustle on getting that blog up as soon as possible!

Howl at the Moon 8 Hour Ultra 2014

Remember when I finished 35.86 miles in Green Bay and said “Dang! 40 miles for sure at Howl! My SI is feeling great!”? Well, my SI went out two weeks before Howl. I stopped running and stuck to lifting. I wore my SI belt every single day, cranked it so tight that it left bruising and welts on my waist. It got to the point where my SI hurt when I wasn’t wearing the belt, but wearing the belt was excruciating. I manned up and wore it though, because I refuse to let this problem consume me.

I also moved just days before leaving for Howl! I was pretty tired, and keeping my fingers crossed that the heavy lifting and air mattress wouldn’t piss off my SI.

Friday morning I met my parents and we left for Danville, IL. At about 4ish hours away (close to 5 with rest stops), it felt like nothing after the hellish journey to Memphis in January. When we got to Kennekuk State Park, we found a campsite and dashed off to pick up packets and get beer. I normally wouldn’t eat McDonalds and drink beer the day before a race, but I guess this race is just different that way.

I wish I’d gotten a picture… but the RunJunkee guy had his campsite right by ours! We talked to him for awhile and got some of his branded stuff. He lives in Yorkville, which is local-ish, and is pretty cool in person. Go check out his page if you haven’t already!

After setting up our tent and popup and helping others in our group set up as they arrived drinking beer in a chair and watching everyone set up, we had an awesome pasta dinner; a new addition to the race this year! Fortunately for me, there was a vegetarian option.

Dave captured me doing what I do best when camping.... drinking beer and watching.

Dave captured me doing what I do best when camping…. drinking beer and watching.

After dinner, we did the Baby Howl, which is just one loop walked around the 3.4 mile course, usually with a beer in hand, and a cool trinket at the end. Since we all know how badly I do at taking pictures during a race, I juggled a beer and my phone to take some pictures of the course. It is a very pretty course, and doesn’t get quite as boring repeated over 8 hours as you would think (although after 8 hours I’ve had enough of it to last me until the next year.)

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The memorial for Scott Hathaway, who died at this race a few years ago. In hindsight, I should have paused to take this picture..

The memorial for Scott Hathaway, who died at this race a few years ago. In hindsight, I should have paused to take this picture..

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I fell asleep as soon as my head hit my pillow, despite the fact that I was sleeping in a tent on a thin air mat. At around 5:30 we woke up, and I was not feeling too good. I woke up with my legs aching. Not a good start to the day! I wasn’t expecting much out of myself for the race.

All the pictures during and after the race are from Dave, who actually takes pictures.

All the pictures during and after the race are from Dave, who actually takes pictures.

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My feet don’t require as much tape as they used to because of the calluses I have built up, but the ones on my big toes had peeled off a day too soon, so my dad covered those spots with duct tape. I took an anti-inflammatory, and my legs felt better going to the start line, but I wasn’t about to set unrealistic expectations for myself because of the SI problems and the time I had to take off. I decided 10 loops would make me happy and I’d be sitting just above the distance I ran in Green Bay.

Although my Garmin kept signal the entire race, I once again forgot to turn off the setting that pauses it when I come to a stop. Perfect setting for training runs and missing the green lights, horrible for keeping track of time during an 8 hour race!

On the mega-hill!

On the mega-hill!

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On my third loop I found Dave, and we ran together the rest of the day. I can just as easily run alone, but it is nice to have company and it makes running easier as the urge to walk becomes stronger. It became clear as the clocked ticked down that there would be plenty of time to run 11 loops instead of 10, and I didn’t feel too horrible!

Much of hours 3-6 are a big blur. Dave and I ran around in circles and kept up a steady pace.

My feet and legs felt trashed early on from the rocky trails, but I still had plenty of running left in me even after everybody around us dropped to a steady walk. We also found another friend near the end who was on the same lap count as us.

The weather was oddly cool and comfortable; it didn’t heat up until the last hour! It kept crossing my mind that a 12th loop would have been in the bag if I hadn’t been having SI problems, but I didn’t allow that thought to linger. I was doing something that few people can do, after dealing with a problem that would probably sideline other people.

Our 11th loop was a rough one, and included more walk breaks than any other loop. We might have had enough time to complete a 12th, but we were running too close on time and our pace per loop was deteriorating too quickly to rely on making it in on time. Following Howl tradition, we got our margaritas at the aid station on our final loop (yum!). We made it back to the start/finish with about 13 minutes to rest before the out-and-backs began.

The out-and-back course is a half mile, and opens up in the last half hour to try to amp up your final mileage. For each one, you get a popsicle stick. The three of us made a pact right before starting to do 5 out-and-backs. 2.5 miles in a half hour might sound easy, but after 7.5 hours of running it isn’t quite so easy. After I got my 5th popsicle stick, the clock said I only had less than four minutes to do a half mile. If it had been the half mile increment that would pitch me over the 40 mile mark, I would have risked it, but I just felt as though there was no way I would finish in time. Maybe I could have though; Dave was behind me and he still squeezed in a 6th out-and-back!

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The feeling of finally being finished after 8 hours is such a great one, especially when you are incredibly happy with what you did. I managed 38.69 miles for a new PR! 

After planting my butt in a chair and peeling off my socks, I found a blood blister the size of a cherry on my big toe (right where my callus had peeled off). No other major blisters, but this one more than made up for it. I waited a couple hours to let my dad pop it because it was too big to not show off. Everybody got a picture of it but me though (and apparently Dave).  :-(

Kendra, myself, and Megan

Kendra, myself, and Megan

It turns out a lot of people in our group won age group awards. Since the age groups are organized differently, they handed out awards about ten deep. Results still aren’t posted online, so I’m not sure my actual place, but Kendra and Megan also won awards for Open Women.

The rest of the night was spent not moving too far from our chairs.

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After coming home a few days later, I realized that I wasn’t sore for very long. My SI was still aligned and my legs recovered remarkably fast. The same phenomenon happened after Green Bay. How is it after running ultras my legs feel great, but after the Rock’nRoll Half I was miserable for a week? The trails are softer on my joints, but I’ve done these races before and never recovered so fast. My theory is that my body is made for endurance running and speed in conjunction with road running causes my legs to be so sore.

 

I’m so behind on my blogs….My next race after Howl was The Magnificent Mile Chicago Women’s Half Marathon… a last-minute sign up that I ran with my friend. Blog coming soon :-)

Chicago Rock’n Roll Half Marathon

It has taken me over a week to get this blog up for several reasons. It was a tough race for me, and for once my SI joint was not the main culprit. Sometimes, life pops some surprises on you…. and sometimes those surprises are the week before a race.

I can’t exactly explain why I bombed this half marathon without giving a little background on what has been up with me (trust me, I tried to think of a way to avoid it). Matt and I broke up after 4 years together. Even though it was mutual and I’m doing much better now, it is a pretty big life change that threw major kinks in my routine. People handle stress in odd ways; some people drown in junk food. I, on the other hand, can’t even look at food without wanting to barf. So I didn’t eat much for a few days, and that contributed to my energy being lower than it has in about a year. Pair that along with apartment searching and all that comes with moving, and I went to Chicago in vacation mode rather than racing mode.

I woke up ready to go on Sunday morning, bright and early at 5:15. We took a cab from Mallory and Tessa’s apartment to Grant Park with plenty of time to spare. I was surprised by how well organized the race was considering how large it was.

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I was in a good mood and happy to be at such an exciting race with two of my best friends, the 6:30 start time was no problem. I was going to start in Corral 4, maybe move back to Corral 5, but I somehow ended up in Corral 3. Oops!

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I knew at the first mile with all the tunnels that my Garmin would be inaccurate. It was an entire mile off by the end, and according to Strava I ran 15 miles. It kept saying I was running miles in the 6 minute range… which was so far from the truth. Garmin, go home, you’re drunk.

I have never run downtown before, and despite the fact that I’ve lived my entire life pretty close to Chicago, I rarely visit (this will need to change). It was a whole new experience running through the city and the crowds were great! I don’t mind small races with little to no crowds, but it really did help to have so many people out supporting the runners.

The only thing I really did not like was the fact that parts of the course smelled like used toilet paper. But hey, thats Chicago. Nobody ever claimed it smelled like fresh country air (and if anyone does, they are also drunk and should go home).

I was running nearby a guy, and I’m probably way off, but he looked Kenyan and like he could have finished in the top-something, but instead was helping his friend through the race. He kept asking me how I was doing, if I was feeling alright, and was making sure I was hydrating. I lost them later on as I was fading, but it was just more proof that runners are a really great crowd.

Mallory and Tess were at Starbucks and caught some creeper pictures.

Mallory and Tess were at Starbucks and caught some creeper pictures.

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I can’t exactly remember the point in which I started to fade. I knew from early on I was going to be struggling. At the halfway point, I was trying to keep positive but my body was hitting the wall. It was perfect, cool weather, so I was extremely upset that life got in the way of taking advantage of the weather and flat course. I told myself that I simply have no control over what life throws at me, and there will be more half marathons to PR at. I was looking forward to this race, and I deserve to enjoy the experience without stressing about my time.

I realized at the GU stop at about mile 8 or 9 why I hate GU (the salted watermelon flavor was very good though)… my sweaty hands and nasty mouth can’t open the slippery packets near the end of a race. I was almost past all the water before I got it open :-( {please please make GU easier to open like the Clif Shots!!}

At mile 10 we turned around and ran mostly along the lake back. It was here that they started playing some trippy dance music and had flashing lights lining the path. It was at about this point that the stress of the past week was really catching up to me and consuming my head, so I was thrilled to enter a pumped-up atmosphere for the last 3 miles. I picked up the pace for a short time, but I really didn’t have any gas left in the tank. If I had been running a PR, those last 3 miles would have been so epic.

I could see the finish line from about a half mile away, and it was killing me! It was so close, yet so far, and not seeming to get any closer.

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I finished in 1:49, 9 minutes off my half marathon PR, but still not my worst half marathon by any means. It feels like I bombed it because of how horrible I felt, but I’m pretty proud of managing to stay under 1:50 considering all that has been going on and the fact that my SI was likely slightly out of alignment. As soon as I finished, my right groin began to hurt.

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"That sucked. Just hold me."

“That sucked. Just hold me.”

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It sucked, but was still tons of fun, and I realize that only anther runner could understand that statement.

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Oh yea, and because I ran the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, I got the Remix medal. Woohoo! They give out such awesome medals here, I love it.

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There was so much stuff going on in Grant Park, we wandered around a little and hit up some booths before heading to the beer garden.

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We met up with Mike and Chelsea in the beer garden… they were in my van at the Chicago Ragnar Relay! Unfortunately, that is the one thing Mallory did not snap a picture of. She is the best race photographer ever.

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I was in absolutely no rush to go home, so we spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. It was beautiful, and so relaxing! I fell asleep for probably about two hours.

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I really did not want to come home. A weekend downtown with friends and lots of running was exactly what I needed. This race couldn’t have come at a better time for me, and I think I needed the break from life more than I needed a PR. There will be many, many more half marathons in my future.

Chicago Rock’n Roll 5K

Nobody was more surprised than me to hear that one of my close friends, Tessa, wanted to start running and wanted some advice.

Since she is living downtown with her sister Mallory (who came with my to the Wisconsin Dells Marathon), and I would be staying the weekend for the Rock’n Roll Half, I suggested doing the 5K together the day before. She agreed and said that it would motivate her to not give up.

Considering Mallory and Tess have dispersed themselves around Illinois a bit (AKA they have lives while I sit in my hometown and do nothing), I don’t see them as often as I’d like to, but the time together counts for a lot. After meeting them at the train station on Friday, we bolted right to the McCormick Place for the expo. I have never been to a Rock’n Roll expo… and it was everything I had hoped it would be!

I was pretty proud of myself for not buying anything extra. I’m usually a huge sucker for race swag. The three of us walked around for awhile and left with lots of samples in our stomaches and lots of freebies in hand.

We made an effort to go to bed early because the 5K started at 8 AM, and we wanted to have plenty of cushion time to get ready and take pictures.

Mallory is, by the way, the best person imaginable to take to a race. She is a full-on runner’s assistant. She takes the best pictures, knows her way around the crowds, and always has whatever you might need in her purse. I just want to bring her to every race with me.

The 5K started across the street from Grant Park by the lake. It was a very pretty course. I was happy and pumped up because the 5K was my easy day, and I also wanted to use it as a warm up to see what my body might have in store for me the next day.

The image of inspiration.

The image of inspiration.

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Tess was a little nervous, it was easy to see as the start time approached. It was her first race ever, and I could tell she was thinking something along the lines of “oh shit, what did I sign up for??”

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We started running at about a 10 minute pace, which I thought was great. Tess had never run more than two miles, and had not run more than about a mile consecutively. She looked awesome that first mile! I was impressed. I announced when we had hit the mile mark, thinking (in my long-distance brain) that she would think “wow! A mile already!” the response I got instead was “We’ve only gone a mile!?” Oops.

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At about 1.3 we started to walk a little until we hit the 1.5 mile mark according to my Garmin. I knew without me there she would be walking most of it, so I wanted to push her a little bit. She was tired, but I could tell by her breathing she still had some gas in the tank. We ran from 1.5 to about 1.75 for water, then made our way back along the lake towards the start/finish.

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With less than a mile to go, Tess insisted on a couple more walk breaks, and I insisted they be short (at one point I believe I was dragging her). There was a small child nearby, and I wanted to make sure that she didn’t let that kid beat her.

We hung around after we finished in the beer garden. It was a fairly small 5K, and I thought it was a lot of fun. Tessa ran more than she ever had, and even though she said it sucked and won’t ever do it again (whatever, she’ll totally do it again!), she felt pretty accomplished. We ran most of it and finished in 36 minutes, and that is something for her to be proud of. Many people can’t run or they choose not to.

This picture was 100% unplanned!

This picture was 100% unplanned!

You'd think it was a marathon!

You’d think it was a marathon!

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It was an early night for us because we had our alarms set for 5:15 to go back for the half marathon!

Green Bay 8 Hour Ultra Marathon 2014

I was a little bit nervous going into this race. Still recovering from the SI problems that destroyed my BQ at the Wisconsin Marathon, my pain was minimal but my endurance left a lot to be desired. My longest run since the marathon was 7 miles. My SI also screwed me over in the week leading up to the ultra, which I caught before it gave me any lingering damage.

All these factors considered…. I was not expecting my best performance.

My parents and I also left for Green Bay Friday night at 11:30, arrived at UW-Green Bay before 4 AM, and were off on the trail at 5 AM.

That means…. all nighter!

I went out on Friday afternoon for drinks and snackies with a friend, and it just did not feel like the day before a big race. I’m used to being in a hotel or somebody else’s house the day before a race. It wasn’t clicking that I would be running soon… and no sleep would precede that run.

Attempts at napping before we left and napping in the car only left me more tired because I couldn’t fully fall asleep. After my dad’s best friend arrived, we started getting ready to run. It was too dark for any pictures, which is a shame. UW-Green Bay is a beautiful campus (I almost went to school there!). It got light as we wandered towards the start. It didn’t even cross my mind to take a picture or ask our cheerleader (my dad’s bestie’s wife) to take pictures.

Less than half an hour to the start, this was how dark it was. My failed attempt at a picture of campus.

Less than half an hour to the start, this was how dark it was. My failed attempt at a picture of campus.

I have a whopping ZERO pictures from this race. I am a terrible photographer and rely far to much on others to take pictures for me. Sorry everyone!

Map of the course from the Green Bay Ultra facebook page.

Map of the course from the Green Bay Ultra facebook page.

Since this was a “green” race, they asked runners to carry water bottles or hydration packs. I can’t handle much more than my Flipbelt around my waist, so I used a handheld water bottle. I used it one time before race day, but it didn’t bother me as much as I was afraid it would.

What did bother me though was my Garmin! It kept losing signal throughout the course and would pause if I slowed to almost a stop (a feature I didn’t think to turn off!). I was getting so mad at it… next time I might have to just use an old fashioned stop watch.

The trail around the campus was beautiful. It was mostly dirt and wood chips (easy on the feet), and mostly shaded. There was a nice view of the bay, and even though there were a couple short yet steep hills, the views were pleasant. Less than 100 people total participated, so I found myself very much alone for long periods of time. It was peaceful, but I missed the energy that is present at other events, especially around the 4 hour mark when I was slowing up. If the two aid stations on the course had boom boxes… I wouldn’t complain!

The picture of me from the Green Bay Ultra facebook page.

The picture of me from the Green Bay Ultra facebook page.

Besides walking the hills, I ran the entirety of the first 15 miles. This was more to boost my ego than anything else. It felt good to know that I still have some endurance left in me. I started to walk chunks of the 4.75 mile loop at this point. The loop felt extremely long, and it was difficult to mentally gage where the mile markers were.

To run 40 miles would mean 12 minute miles for 8 hours. Much harder than it sounds! I had some faster loops in the bank early on when it was cool and I still felt good. I thought that 8 loops might be possible (38 miles), but set a goal for the day of 35 miles. Like I always do, I started doing math in my head in the last several hours. When the 6 hour runners finished, the trail was even more empty than it was before. I started breaking it up in my head… to do 35 miles, I would need to walk 6 miles in 2 hours. 4 miles in an hour and a half. Thanks to my strong first half, I could reach my goal at a power walk.

Another stolen picture....

Another stolen picture….

also stolen.

also stolen.

stolen. Sorry, I'll work on being a more responsible photographer in the future.

…stolen. Sorry, I’ll work on being a more responsible photographer in the future.

Power walking was about all I could do after loop 6. Running just felt terrible, and by the time I got to loop 7, I realized that I could easily finish 7 loops and be able to at least make it to the first aid station on an 8th loop (runners could finish at an aid station and have the distance count toward their total miles without finishing the loop, making it less risky to start a new loop with not much time on the clock). However, in order to finish 8 loops, I would need to run almost the entire loop at an 11 minute pace, which was not going to happen.

I made it to the first aid station and ate a few pieces of watermelon while the volunteers told me how much time I had left and my total milage if I made it to aid station 2. They also told me that they were giving rides back to the start/finish at aid station 2 (good enough reason for me to keep going!). I had about half an hour to walk 1.8ish miles, so I set off pretty pleased with myself.

Leading up to aid station 2 (between 400-800 meters away) was a sign that said “Don’t poop your pants! Port-a-potties ahead!” and I had been calling this the poop sign. As soon as I saw the poop sign, there were a couple twists and turns, and then I could see the aid station through the trees and I was there. On loop 8, however, I was starting to panic. My Garmin was a few minutes off due to it pausing and losing satellite, and I knew I was cutting it close. I couldn’t find the poop sign. It seemed further away than ever! So I mustered up all I could and started running until I finally saw it. The few twists and turns to the aid station also felt longer than ever.

The second I saw the white pop-up through the trees, the first thing in my head was “EXTRACTION POINT!” I have clearly been watching too much Naked and Afraid. It was strange to finish somewhere other than the finish line.

I finished with 8 minutes to spare and with 35.85 miles!

Another runner finished a few minutes after me, and a volunteer drove us back to the start/finish. It felt so wonderful to be done!

I also took the opportunity to sneak up on my parents and their friends, who had their eyes glued to the path where they were expecting me to finish. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

We got our belt buckles for finishing and had our free lunch at the golf club (I almost thought I would go hungry until an employee ran off to get me a veggie burger… thanks golf club employee!) Around this point, the fact that I had been awake since 7 AM Friday morning was starting to make an impact, though surprisingly the lack of sleep ZERO sleep didn’t have much of an effect on my running.

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There were only awards for the overall winners, but I was happy to find out that I was in a three way tie for third; meaning only two women ran further than me.

I know that I originally had a goal of 40 miles, but all factors considered, I’m thrilled with how I did. I also did not feel nearly as crappy afterwards like I usually do after marathons. I think that the soft footing helped but I think my body is also getting used to the abuse I give it on a fairly regular basis. I think that getting more long runs in would have helped me at least finish my 8th loop, but there was nothing I could do about that. I have been trying to build up since being recovered, and wasn’t ready for anything long yet. Now that I know that my body can handle the stress (NO hamstring pain, NO hip flexor pain, and my SI stayed in place and didn’t cause ANY pain), I’m excited to start getting some longer runs and some speed work in for my half marathon in July and my fall marathons.

Three days after the race, and I was able to use the elliptical at the gym, and I’m feeling pretty good! It took me a week and a half to feel this good after the Wisconsin Marathon.

The bad news, though, is that my right big toenail separated from the toe during the race. I thought it was be ok, but putting my running shoes on today made me think otherwise. So my dad removed it… not fun. However, snap chatting a short video of the removal to a bunch of friends cheered me up. It was worth the friends I probably lost. I knew the nail would need to go, and the sooner it was off the less runs I would have to miss. Meanwhile, I’m hobbling around with a bandaged toe. Thank baby Jesus I don’t work as a dog groomer anymore…. a psycho dog jumping on me and landing on that toe would be a perfectly reasonable excuse for me to slit a throat (sorry dog lovers, but thats the cold truth)!

Oh yea, I hope nobody was eating while reading this blog...... Anyone who has run an ultra can sympathize.

Oh yea, I hope nobody was eating while reading this blog…… Anyone who has run an ultra can sympathize.

So now its time to get some long runs in so I can do 40 miles at Howl and get ready for Chicago Rock’n Roll in less than 3 weeks! As soon as one race is finished, I get so giddy for the next one, so I’m loving all that I have planned. I convinced one of my close friends (who has always hated running) to do the Chicago Rock’n Roll 5K the day before the half marathon, so I’ll be run/walking that with her. It should be a fun event and I hope she gets hooked on running!

Great swag at this race... cool shirt in an unexpected girl cut, nice embroidered backpack, and belt buckle for finishing.

Great swag at this race… cool shirt in an unexpected girl cut, nice embroidered backpack, and belt buckle for finishing.

 In case anyone was wondering… 35.85 miles in 8 hours is a PR for me!

Happy Running!

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Just a Few Updates Before Green Bay….

Tonight at about midnight we’ll be leaving for Green Bay to run the 8 hour ultra tomorrow at the UW-Green Bay campus. I almost went to that school!

a bit of the course I stole from the GBRC Ultra Marathon facebook page

a bit of the course I stole from the GBRC Ultra Marathon facebook page

It does not feel like the day before a big race to me. There isn’t much to do today besides make sure I have everything packed and make sure I don’t eat too much junk food. I already failed at that by polishing off my jar of Nutella…

My runs have been going great ever since Ragnar, until last weekend. My left leg started to feel ‘off,’ and my IT band was hurting. I’ve NEVER had IT band problems. I suspected SI problems again, and made a physical therapist appointment. Thank god I did; my entire left leg became achey.

My left hip was misaligned, leaving my left leg a half inch longer than my right. I’m upset that this happened again (and now it has happened to both hips), but I’m happy that I was able to feel that something was wrong and catch it early. Hopefully nothing was damaged and I can at least come close to my goal of 40 miles tomorrow.

If I don’t reach my goal, it isn’t the end of the world. Word on the Facebook page says the trail has some hills (but will be shaded), and I’m still not really up for hills. Why would I? Chicago RnR Half, Fox Valley Marathon, and Chicago Marathon are all pancake flat. I really have no reason to do hill training with no hilly races in the near future.

Also, I can hit my goal of 40 miles at Howl at the Moon in August. I don’t have to live in agony for a year and seethe at what I could have done differently.

So hopefully my next blog will be a happy race report about how my SI being misaligned and realigned within the week did not result in a terrible race!

also stolen from GBRC Ultra Marathon facebook page.... and possibly my new favorite motivational quote.

also stolen from GBRC Ultra Marathon facebook page…. and possibly my new favorite motivational quote.

 

Woodstock Challenge 10K

I love to sign up on impulse for races. I came home from Ragnar and signed up for Woodstock Challenge!

I ran this local race many times when I was really young, back when they had a 2 mile race. I ran the 10K once or twice in high school, and ever since then it has flown under my radar. This year I didn’t forget about it, and I was anxious to see how I would do in a 10K so I know where to go from here with my training.

It starts and finishes at Emricson Park… my main hood! The rest of the course loops around a very pretty area of Woodstock; an area we used to run on a regular basic in high school for cross country. Its little things like this that make me happy!

I saw plenty of people from high school track and cross country here… and Lisa found me at the start!

Now, Lisa was a straight up beast in high school. She set school records in swimming and track. Her junior year, she switched from swimming to cross country, and continued to kick ass. She continued her beastly ways by running track in college.

There weren’t very many people running the 10K, I guess the 5K was the popular event. Lisa and I took off…. or, Lisa took off and I couldn’t help but try to tag along. I looked down at my Garmin, which said we were rolling at a 6:55 pace. I nearly died… I haven’t run that fast since high school!

I was able to stick with Lisa the Beast until mile 4. I still can’t believe that I was able to keep up with her and didn’t finish too far behind her. She was so beyond my league in high school. I know that she definitely didn’t get slower, I got faster!

But seriously, the pace was so close to suicide pace it was sort of ridiculous. I was almost laughing at myself. Not only had I no intention of running that fast, but I didn’t know that I had it in me.

Before mile 5, there is a gigantic hill on Kishwaukee Valley Road, and I could tell that Lisa was struggling (not many hills on a track I guess). I was struggling too, but I managed to make it to the top and pick up the pace for the last mile. I knew at this point that I was going to hit a new PR, so I just decided to roll with it.

There was a young guy just ahead of me who had horrible “running” shoes; his feet rolled in so much that it was painful to watch his stride. And I could hear his stomach slosh if I ran too close to him. Another guy around me was a mouth breather to the tenth degree. I surged a little just so I wouldn’t throw up.

Of course, my parents were nowhere to be seen at the finish because I told them to expect me around 52-54 minutes. Nobody expected me to PR by two minutes.

Mile 1….. 6:57

Mile 2….. 7:07

Mile 3….. 7:23

Mile 4….. 7:38

Mile 5….. 8:28

Mile 6….. 8:06

.27……. 1:45

FINISH TIME…… 47:27.2 (7:34 pace)

my official chip time was 47:32, and a 7:39 pace… but I’m gonna agree with my Garmin on this one.

 

Then....

Then….

......

……

aaaaand now! Almost 7 years later and we still run like teammates :-)

aaaaand now! Almost 7 years later and we still run like teammates :-)

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I was the sixth overall female and 23rd overall finisher. I won 2nd place in my age group 20-29 (Lisa won 1st).

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I have no words for how freaking happy I am with this race. Can Lisa please come with me to all my races? I double checked my 10K PR before I left for the race, and knew I had no shot of breaking it in the shape I’m in. Today, I learned that I’m in better shape than I think, my body is bouncing back, and I can rock my fall marathons and hopefully PR at Chicago Rock’n Roll half marathon!

If Lisa happens to be the lucky charm then I’m in for at least one great marathon… she’s also running Chicago in October! It’ll be her first marathon, and she seems nervous about the distance (she’s a sprinter), but she will do fantastic. I love seeing my old teammates still running and racing. Too many athletes quit under the pressure they are under, especially in college.

My next race will be the Green Bay 8 Hour Ultra. The complete polar opposite of a 10K! I’m not sure how I’ll do with endurance, but I’ll be fighting as hard as I can to hit the 40 mile mark :-)

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