marathon recap.

Sunday, October 13. What a day.

It was 5:30 in the morning, and my alarm starts chirping. Hello, darkness. There was not even a single ray of sun peaking over the horizon. I felt quite groggy especially considering nerves and excitement kept me from getting a solid, quality eight-hour sleep. Despite the sleepiness, I sprang into action… Brew coffee. Make oatmeal. Stretch it out. I executed my morning plan. It was marathon day. And I was all excited.

I had my entire outfit laid out, everything down to my hair-tie. Are you a runner? Are you a lady? If so, you need to get this shirt immediately. As in, you’re allowed to stop reading this blog post and buy that shirt instead. I won’t take offense. It is absolutely my most favorite shirt ever. The mesh design allows the breeze to cool you down but the full-length coverage still keeps you quite warm. I realize that doesn’t even make sense… but it just works. Plus it’s super cute, snug and doesn’t chafe a wink. Of course you’re going to need something underneath. I’d recommend this Lululemon luon tank. My outfit worked like a charm. No wardrobe malfunctions for this girl.

photo-122

At 6:15, I headed to the race start with the big frijol and a bagel in hand. During my long training runs, I found that a whole wheat bagel with a smear of peanut butter works wonders an hour before the run. Carb loading ain’t no joke.

The weather was absolutely perfect; it was a chilly 50-something when we stepped outside and the sun was just beginning to rise over Lake Michigan. As we approached the start area, flocks of runners and supporters were gathering. There was energy in the air. I love race day. The excitement of race morning makes the hours and hours spent running and training worth every second. This is where the hard work pays off and the reward sets in. This is why we run.

photo-123

I had to say goodbye to my sweet husband at the entrance gate. There was heightened security this year for obvious reasons so only runners were allowed in the start corral area. See ya later, bean!

I was a good forty-five minutes early to my corral, which definitely worked to my advantage because I was in the front of the pack. Yep, the early bird gets the worm. (But wait… the early worm gets eaten. Anyway.) I was in the corral with other people running for charities so I like to think that we were an extra special group. Go us.

photo-116 copy 7

Next thing I knew, we were singing the Star Spangled Banner and the race had begun. We were off on a 26 mile journey. Ay caramba.

I love love love the beginning leg of this course. We run through The Loop for the first several miles and the crowds are spectacular. I love when the spectators give high-fives, especially the kiddos, which is one of the reasons I run curbside. Plus, running on the side makes it easier to maneuver around people going under your pace and not get trapped in the herd. I like it.

photo-122

I felt fresh right out of the gate. My Garmin told me I was going faster than I had planned but I was feeling great so I figured I might as well keep it up as long as possible. At the same time, a little voice in the back of my head was telling me not to overdo it and tire out too early. Starting too fast and pooping out is probably the most common mistake marathoners make. But like I said, I felt good so I was going to run with it (pun intended).

I saw my sweet momma just after the first mile. She took video footage of me… including the part where I reach out to touch her and knock her iphone out of her hands. I felt horrible!! She was so sweet to watch me, cheer me on and be one of my biggest fans. Thanks, mom!

The race took us through Old Town and eventually onto LaSalle Street where I saw my little bro and his girlfriend just shy of mile six. I liked their Hawkeye pom pom. It was so awesome seeing you guys!! Thanks for supporting me. At this time, I was still cruising over my planned pace and still felt great. One word: epinephrine. I guess we know that my adrenal gland works.

We continued the ascent north of the city and eventually turned around to head south at Addison Street. Mile eight marked my first fuel break. By break, I mean I kept running but ate a few of my trusty gummie bears and downed some water minus half of the cup I spilled all over my face. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be coordinated enough to drink and run simultaneously. Regardless, I continued to run through water breaks until mile eighteen. After mile eighteen, I walked through the water breaks to hydrate without spilling and rest my wheels.

Coming down Clark, I heard “Laura, Laura!” It was another one of my biggest fans, my poppa in the front row around mile nine. I was still feeling energized enough to give a huge smile and a “heey!!”! It was so nice to see him there cheering for me. Thanks, dad!

Around mile seventeen, things started to change. I was beginning to feel the burn in my quads. This was not a welcome feeling considering I had 9+ more miles to run… and so commenced an internal freak-out. A few of the thoughts that crossed my mind at that time were: “what if I don’t finish? my quads never hurt on my long training runs. will I go into rhabdo? i shouldn’t have started so fast.” Then I realized, all things considered, I wasn’t hurting that bad. Sure I was feeling the burn but this freakout was premature. Did I really think I would run this race without feeling pain? This was the point where the race turned into a mental exercise, as well as a physical one. One foot in front of the other. Just keep going and keep pushing yourself. If your body is truly shutting down, it will do just that. It will shut down, and you’ll fall to the ground. I was nowhere near that point. I think we are all stronger than we know.

However, my pace did suffer some. My last miles were slower than the first by about 30 seconds to a full minute. I realize that all “real” runners aim for negative splits. Sure in an ideal situation I’d love me some negative splits, too. But that just wasn’t in the cards for me this race day, and I didn’t really care. What I cared about was reaching my sub-four hour goal, whatever my splits may be.

I pushed on. I don’t have much to say about miles 18 through 24 (which is a good thing for you because this post is looong). It was hard. I knew it would be hard. I no longer felt great. I more felt like dying. Once I hit mile 24, I was officially on the home stretch. We were on South Michigan, and there were two miles left. This feat was doable. As mile 25 approached, the crowds were becoming more dense and the cheers were unrelenting. Honestly, the encouragement and support of complete strangers was truly breathtaking. The physical strain of the race combined with the outpouring of love from strangers caused quite an emotional response in me… I actually started to tear up. It was intense.

As we rounded the corner onto Roosevelt Road, the last .2 miles of the race, fans disappeared. Only official race personnel were allowed that close to the finish. Lining the road were Chicago Police Officers and race volunteers including RNs, MDs, and EMTs. They were ones who made this race possible. It was very special to have those people shouting the final words of encouragement as each and every runner ran those last .2 miles to a triumphant finish. It was awesome.

Right after I crossed the finish line, I saw one of my coworkers who was a volunteer RN. I got a hug and a congrats immediately upon finishing. That was super cool.

My final time: 3 hours, 43 minutes and 2 seconds. I reached my goal and then some. I have to admit, I’m proud! I’ll also admit, I am totally feeling the pain. My legs have been so crazy sore since the race. It’s actually difficult to walk normally. But boy was it worth it.

Now let’s talk about the MVP spectator, Mister Lu, the big frijol. He trekked all over the city to find his little bean among 45,000 other runners. I saw his handsome face first on State Street. I had to fight the urge to run right into his arms for a warm embrace. Instead, I gave a huge smile and a wave and knew I’d see him again down the road. He hopped on his bike and spotted me around mile twenty. I must have been in the zone because I missed him… but I did catch a glimpse of that cute man at mile twenty-two. He knew I would need some serious encouragement on the last leg of the race. Thank you so much, bean, for supporting me and spending your day chasing me. You truly are the best.

photo-119

photo-121

photo-122

After the race, I collected the swag and post-race snacks being given out. Then I plopped down on the sidewalk at Columbus and Jackson to reunite with the hub. We walked through the 27th Mile after-party for a few minutes but all I really wanted to do was go home and take a hot bath followed by a cold shower. Yes, a hot bath and not an ice bath. This has become my strange post-marathon tradition. I know, I know. Everybody and their mother says to sit in an ice bath. I just don’t like to torture myself.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing and eating wholesome foods to replenish my beaten down body. That night Lu and I met up with of our favorite couples, Abby & Matt, and had dinner at Mexique in West Town. I highly recommend this restaurant. I forgot to take a picture of the four of us at dinner so here is a picture of Abby and their adorable kiddos, who I had the pleasure of hanging with for several hours on Monday.

photo-124

photo-118 copy

And there you have a recap of my second marathon and a PR. I’m still feeling very sore today and walking down steps is nearly impossible but it is significantly improved from yesterday. I was going to treat myself to a massage but I decided to go shopping instead. A little retail therapy never hurts.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate those of you who actually read this entire post. Talk about a marathon. Who knew I could have so much to say about that measly race? Thank you for the support people!

xo, lw

the eve of the marathon

It has arrived. The Chicago marathon is upon us. Twenty-four hours from now it’ll all be a memory… and let’s hope it is a good one.

The city is abuzz with people from all over the world who come for one measly race. And by measly, I mean gargantuan. Last year, the Chicago marathon had the most finishers of any race in the US with 37,315 people crossing that finish line on Columbus Drive. There were 109 countries represented. It’s known to be an extremely fast course (think Midwest: flat, flat, flat) and home to many PRs both amateur and professional. Yes, I plan to be one of those people and throw down a PR tomorrow.

The course takes us through 29 neighborhoods in the city with adoring fans lining every inch of it. The crowd is one of the best things about the Chicago marathon; so many people come out to support the runners and that’s what makes it simply amazing to run this race. But it’s not all fun and games. The city raked in over $243 million in economic impact last year’s race weekend. Holy moly. Can I get a cut of that?

Last night Lu and I ventured down to the Expo at McCormick Place to pick up my bib and race-day info packet. We stayed for an hour or so snacking on samples and browsing various vendors amongst fellow runners. I got to take the annual #ownChicago picture at the Nike booth. Below is this year’s photo on the left and last year’s on the right. Yep, I’m in the same hoodie. Recycling outfits. No shame. There was also an #ownChicago board we signed… go little bean!

photo-116 copy 5

I hogged the photo booth until I got a picture with “Laura owns 26.2”.  Let’s hope it doesn’t own me. It sounds like tomorrow will bring perfect conditions. At race start it’s suppose to be in the upper 50s, the low 60s by noon and no chance for rain. I like it.

photo-116 copy 4

Here’s a picture of the big frijol at the Expo. Yep, he took the Divvy bike inside. What a goon. I love that goon.

photo-116 copy 6

After the Expo, we stayed up entirely too late watching blooper reels on Youtube. Yes, you read that correctly. Blooper reels. It was lights out at 1:30am but this little bean couldn’t fall asleep until 2:30. Cue: Sleeping in until almost noon… Oops. You know sleeping in that late means I’m going to need a fat cup of joe in my favorite coffee mug from my sweet Mexican Momma.

photo-117

A lazy Saturday is just what the doctor ordered. I did do a two mile shake-out, slow paced run to get a little blood flowing. The rest of the day will be spent hydrating followed by carb loading tonight and hopefully a much earlier bedtime.

I have the outfit all ready to go: my favorite Lululemon running capris, Brooks base layer on top, and Brooks Pureflow 2s on my footsies. I’ll probably sport the black sneakers tomorrow. I love how that shirt says run happy. Run happy!

photo-118

My fuel is ready, too. Strawberry Shot Bloks and jelly beans. My plan is to refuel at mile 8, 13, 20 and 24. I didn’t refuel enough mid-race last year, a key error that I won’t be making this year. No matter how many marathons I end up doing (and this one will quite possibly be my last), I will always think it’s strange to eat while running.

photo-116 copy

I want to thank each one of you for your loving support. Thank you so much to those who donated to the charity group I am running with, Imerman Angels. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I’d like to give a special thanks to one of my besties, Meghan, for sending me beeaaautiful flowers this morning (in a lovely tea cup, I might add) and making me smile big today. She’s seriously the best. Hurry up and get back to Chicagoland, Megs!!

photo-116 copy 2

If you’re interested in seeing my pre-marathon post from last year click here. And here is the recap of last year’s race.

Alright, I’m out. Going to get ready for the big pasta dinner tonight.  Lu and I are kicking it old school and going to the original gangster, OG, the Olive Garden. Haven’t been there in who knows how long. Hello, breadsticks and delicious salad. Can’t wait to see you again.

Please, send me good vibes! I’ll be back with a race update in a couple of days.

xo, lw

Marathon training: Week 4 review

Whoa… week four of training is now over, which means I’m one sixth of the way through this thing (insert my typical “time flies” comment).  I ran all of the miles Mr Higdon told me to run. I still cannot manage to get up and run before work but I did run after work last week and that takes serious motivation. I usually want to hit the couch with a snack in hand immediately after walking in the door. The key is to go straight to my room, put on my workout clothes and leave for my run before I have time to change my mind. Here is the recap:

12624375-dark-gray-jeans-texture-background

All of my runs were fairly routine so I don’t really have much else to say… Except that I did try out Honey Stinger energy chews during the half marathon distance on Sunday and I loved them. They’re very easy to chew and swallow while running. Anybody use honey stinger chews? What do you use? I still haven’t tried shot bloks but I want to.

And that’s all I got for now! Hope you guys make this Tuesday a good one.

xo, lw

Marathon training: Week 3 review

Before we get to my running week review, I have a couple of things to say.

1) Can you even believe that July means 2013 is officially half over?! The days are flying past me.
2) The drama continues at Wimbledon… Serena lost! That is almost more shocking than Fed’s exit… Is the world stopping?
3) Did anybody watch the season premiere of Dexter last night? LOVE that show.
4) I took a nap from 1:30 – 4:00 today. Who am I?

Now to the running review. Those of you who suggested I do morning runs on workdays will be proud of me… somewhat proud of me. I took the first step and set my alarm for 5:20 on Friday to get up and run before work. But then I blew it by snoozing until 6:30. Maybe next time I’ll actually get out of bed. Baby steps. I did run 6 miles after work that day. All’s well that ends well.

I’m still tweaking which days I do which runs to fit my life. I did log all of the miles prescribed by Mr Higdon this week plus a couple extra. While I do have a very flexible schedule, I have come to accept I cannot do every run when he suggests it, and I’m OK with that. I am definitely following the plan more closely than I did last year. Woop. Alright, here is week three:

week 3

I need some good cross-training ideas. How do you guys cross train?

Since most of my day today has been spent either running or sleeping, I figure it’s time to get productive. I’m going to make a quick run to the grocery store and then clean up around this place before the husband gets home. Hope you guys are having a great Monday… it’s a short work week!

xo, lw

 

Marathon Training: Week 2 review

Time for the first (of what will become weekly) marathon training update! Woop woop.

But before we get to the running recap, I have a confession. Please don’t judge me. I skipped a run last week. Let me explain… It’s hard for me to run more than three miles on a work day. I leave for work at 7am and get home from work in between 8:30 and 9:00pm.  After spending most of the day on my feet and moving patients, I usually have close to no energy when I get home. Excuses, excuses. I’m working on it! One of the things I’m considering is doing two runs on days I’m off work. I welcome your tips and advice.

I also switched my rest day. I did increase Wednesday’s scheduled five miles to seven miles in anticipation that I might skip a run… I know myself too well.

Now to the recap. I am trying to push myself with speed on the shorter runs. I did June 18th’s run on the treadmill because it was rainy in Chicago. Sometimes I feel like I can push my speed harder on the treadmill than when I’m outside. Anybody with me on this one? Overall, I was satisfied with last week except for the obvious disappointment.

DioxPurpleLightA

There you have last week’s running recap. I started week three with a bang and had a great run this morning before breakfast. Now I better get my housewife on and clean up our apartment. Have a great day you guys!

xo, lw

marathon training commences

Marathon training season has begun! I’m entering week two of my training plan, Hal Higdon’s intermediate 2. I used his novice training plan for my first marathon, and I feel like I can amp up the mileage this go-round. Last year my goal was to finish (and not cardiac arrest). This year I have a more specific goal in mind…  to finish in under 4 hours. Last year’s time was 04:20:17 so I’m looking to shed twenty minutes off, which sounds like a lot to me. But hey, we can do anything we set our minds to, right? We’ll see. Here is the plan:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 10.34.46 PMI cheated last week, and I ran on the cross-training day. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at cross-training. Running is my jam. I just can’t get into the elliptical or other machines. But it’s important for me to find an activity that I enjoy, or at least tolerate, besides running. I’m planning on trying swimming soon. Our apartment building has a lap pool so I really have no excuse. Anybody have other suggestions?

I’ll be tweaking the plan just a little bit. I’m changing up the pace runs and making them tempo runs. Is that a bad idea? I feel like I have to do speedwork to improve my time. I’ll probably do fartleks during some of the mid-week runs. Hal Higdon incorporates speedwork into the advanced training plans but I’m definitely no advanced runner. I’ll just do a little bit of speed on my own terms and call it good.

The things I like about this specific training program are: Three 20-mile runs and only one rest day per week. Also known as, I’m going to work my butt off.

I saw the coolest infographic on HungryRunnerGirl’s blog the other day. It shows the changes that occur in the body with endurance training from this website. Very neat and motivating. I think my favorite adaptation is angiogenesis. It’s so cool that the body just builds more capillaries that link onto each other without spilling blood… The body is fascinating.

IllustratorTemplate072010

In addition to the running plan, I’m going to follow a more healthy eating plan during the training weeks. Last year, I didn’t really pay attention to what I ate. We eat pretty healthily on a daily basis but I can do better. Specifically, I have to focus on getting more protein. I am always on a quest to get more protein. I have used the My Fitness Pal ap in the past to track macronutrients and I may use it again to ensure I’m getting enough of the good stuff. If I don’t put a conscious effort into eating protein, I could soak up carbs all day long. That does not a healthy diet make.

I’m excited that training season has started! It’s always fun to be working toward a specific goal. Who else is in training mode? Anyone out there doing the Chicago marathon? What training plan do you use? Happy Tuesday. Make today a good one!

xo, lw