Tag Archives: Chicago Marathon

Let’s Try This Again…

“Is this thing on?”

Well hello there! I know, I know, once again I popped in to say hello and tell my latest sob-story, and then I disappeared. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, haven’t I?! I know I’m well overdue for an update but I didn’t want to speak too soon, like last time. So let’s take a step back, shall we?

Last time I blogged was April. I’d run a pretty solid 5k while dealing with some weird non-specific quad discomfort, that after getting checked out resulted in an inconclusive assumption I had a femoral stress reaction. This latest injury put me at number three in the run/injure myself cycle since fall 2014. I’d gotten numb to the disappointment and frustration of a running injury, so I once again put away my running shoes and carried on as best I could. This time, however, was slightly different since it was a pretty clear-cut (and slightly serious) injury which required a more diligent and cautious rehab approach than my previous weird ankle and IT band issues. After the diagnosis I immediately got in touch with Finish Line Physical Therapy, and started seeing my PT, Caroline, about two weeks after the initial diagnosis.

Originally my doctor told me I could continue with any cross-training that didn’t include high impact to my legs (so no running, jumping, etc.), while holding off on running for a solid 3 weeks. It sounded a little short, but I figured it would be fine. When I went to physical therapy, though, Caroline wanted to take a more cautious approach… So I waited a full month before trying anything running related. While I wasn’t running, I kept going to Refine Method (and modifying any type of jumping with other, equally difficult exercises), took a few spin classes, and started taking hot yoga. My last run was on March 22nd, and my first short and slow run/walk outside was on April 23rd. After that initial run/walk outside in April, I switched over to the Alter-G for the next 5ish weeks (about 2x a week). [Side note: I am SO thankful Finish Line has an Alter-G! It was a mental game changer for me this injury go-around.] I continued with the run/walk approach, but rather than doing just two or three minutes at a time, the Alter-G allowed me to bump up the amount of time I was spending doing continuous running, sooner. This was all while going to PT once a week and getting some great soft tissue release on my quad and doing stability exercises for not only my legs, but also my glutes and core. By the time I hit the end of May, I was ready to tackle a continuous 15 minute run outdoors… two full months after I stopped running.

I thought the first run back was going to be terrible. Now don’t get me wrong, it was pretty uncomfortable and awkward, but I was running! And I didn’t have any pain during or after the run! There were — and still are — some aches here and there along my quad, but that’s just everything getting back in business and I’ve been reassured is totally normal. Since that first 17 minute run on May 30th, I’ve gotten up to a 16 mile week, including my longest run of 5 miles since March. I’m trying to keep a day in between each run as I ease back into things to give myself a little break, and I’m not running more than 4 times a week right now. There’s no point in pushing myself too soon, because I’ll wind up with another injury. I mean heck, with my history even if I don’t run much there’s still a chance I’ll get an injury. So slow and steady is the name of the game for me right now… which is fine because it is, of course, hot AF in the northeast. Yay for humidity!

So where does that leave me? What are my plans? Well, I went to PT this morning and was told that I’m progressing really well, and if I’m diligent and careful over the next few weeks, everything should be back to normal. Which means… I’m going to run the Chicago Marathon!! I deferred last year because of my weird ankle and foot issues, so I have an entry for this year that’s either use it or lose it. I made a tentative training plan and reviewed it with Caroline and she gave me the go-ahead. The race isn’t going to be fast or pretty (I’m topping out at an 18  mile long run with a max of 35 mpw), but I only have 13 weeks between now and race day and my number one priority is to get to the damn start line without an injury! If I can keep myself healthy (how many times have I said that here in the last two years? I’m a broken — almost literally — record…) and get over this injury cycle hump, I’ll feel a lot more confident to actually tackle racing a marathon. But right now I’m setting my sights on just getting to the start line in one piece. There are no goals for race day except to finish in one piece, so I’m hopeful I can at least accomplish that.

So here we go, again…

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No More Marathons

Before I get into this post, I wanted to let you know my GoMacro Bar giveaway is closed. Go check it out and see if you’ve won! Anyway…

 

“I was hopeful I’d have a better update for you, but no such luck…” is how I started my latest e-mail to my awesome (and patient) coach, Jason of Strength Running. We’ve been working together since the fall of 2013 and he’s helped me put in the work to drop my half marathon time by nearly 10 minutes, my 5k by 3 minutes, and to just overall become a better and smarter runner. So I knew that he’d be just as disappointed to hear what I was about to tell him – I’m not going to be running a fall marathon… for the third fall season in a row.

I’m sure a lot of you saw me tweet last Friday that I was able to run 2 miles without any foot and ankle pain, which is true. However, a few hours after the run while sitting at my desk at work, I started to feel that all too familiar discomfort. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely didn’t instill any confidence in me that I could run again the next day. With only thirteen weeks until the Chicago marathon start, I knew what I had to do. I had to pull the plug on marathon training.

If you’ve been following along, I had a killer spring and summer running season in 2014. I was pumped and ready to go for marathon training and it was well underway until ITBS came barging in at the end of September. By the middle of October I knew that my hopes for running (and crushing) the Philly marathon that November were gone. I spent the next two and a half months strengthening and going to PT and was ready to get back into it by late January. I started running again (albeit cautiously) and had a few decent workouts and longer runs. Then around the end of April/beginning of May I noticed a slight discomfort in my foot and ankle area after one of my longer runs. I didn’t think anything of it at first and was able to continue running without much issue. When it didn’t go away and started to get more noticeable, though, I realized it was time to take a little break; this was the end of May. It was at that point I realized I was dealing with the same issue I had in the summer of 2013, but I was hopeful I caught it early enough that I’d still have plenty of time to get back into marathon training. I did the take a week off, try to run, take another week off, try to run again cycle for a few weeks, and after running the Mini 10k and having my ankle swell afterwards, I went to the doctor. It’s not a stress fracture (which is great), but it’s not something I can run with, either. I can’t commit to training for a 26.2 race when I can’t get through a 2 mile run and not having pain during or after. Even if this completely clears up by next week (which I’m not holding my breath for), I don’t have a solid base to go into a rushed training cycle. With my track record, I’d wind up injuring something else either during training or on race day. It’s just not worth it.

So what does this mean? Well, it means I’ve wasted a whole lot of money [insert the flying money emoji here]! I’m obviously extremely disappointed and frustrated; this is now the the third season in a row that I’ve signed up for a marathon and will be unable to run it. And you know what they say about three strikes — you’re out. So I’ve committed to NOT signing up for any more marathons for quite some time. Once this current injury is gone, I’m planning to stick to the shorter stuff – I’m thinking 5k/10k revolution. Only after staying injury free for a while will I even entertain the idea of signing up for another marathon. At this point, my wallet and my sanity couldn’t handle it any other way.

That being said, I’m unsure if I’ll be in Chicago for the marathon or not. The hotel is already booked, I have a lot of friends running, and Chicago is one of my most favorite cities in the world. So I’m leaning towards using it as an excuse for a weekend trip and cheer session. Sure, it’ll be hard to be on the sidelines, but the deep dish pizza and beer will help make up for that.

In the meantime you can find me sweating it out at FlyWheel and Refine Method. Thank goodness for awesome cross training options.

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A Necessary (Running) Update

Remember when I said I was going to try and blog more frequently and consistently? Whoops. I had intentions of blogging but then this little thing called life got in the way, so blogging took a back seat (as usual). The good news is, though, I have a post scheduled for Friday with a giveaway!

Anyway, the title of this blog is called ‘a necessary update’ because last time we chatted, I mentioned some foot and ankle pain I was dealing with. I assumed it was my peroneal tendon and thought I’d be back in action sooner rather than later. Well, after running the Mini 10k with some friends on June 13th, I realized things weren’t so simple. I quickly made an appointment at the Women’s Sport Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery and spent the next two weeks panicking.

After my initial visit, my doctor wasn’t sure if I had a stress fracture or not, so she sent me for an MRI the following week with a follow-up scheduled for two days before my birthday – talk about a make or break diagnosis! When I went to the doctor initially I was sure I didn’t have a stress fracture, but after seeing her uncertainty I was then convinced I did. I wallowed in self pity, didn’t go to any Refine Method classes for fear of making it worse, and tried to figure out what the heck I was going to do with two fall marathons on my calendar (neither of which have deferral options).

My follow-up appointment was on Friday 6/26 and I’d like to think it was a combination of the gay fairies and birthday juju that gave me the answer I needed – no stress fracture!! Instead, my sinus tarsi is overworked and angry about it. So while I won’t be sidelined like I would have been with a stress fracture, I do need to take things easy. I’m started back up with Refine Method last week (thank goodness) and did a 15 minute run on Monday morning. Thankfully I’ve been able to do Flywheel without issue, so three to four classes a week has been my savior. I know that I have to continue to do more cross training than running for the interim and thankfully I got a lot of fitness gift cards for my birthday.

So what does this mean for my fall marathon plans? At this point, I’m not sure. As of this past weekend, the Chicago Marathon is 14 weeks away. So in theory, I still have some wiggle room and the ability to train for it. Sure, it may not wind up being the goal race I had envisioned back when I signed up, but that’s okay. Chicago is an amazing city and I loved every step of that race in 2012, so I have every intention of being there in October. The jury is still out on NYC Marathon, but we’ll see how the next few weeks go. Oh, and I’m running a beer mile on July 18th in Brooklyn… LOLZ for days on that one.

To sum it all up, I’m in a slightly better spot than I was two weeks ago, but I’m not out of the woods yet. So I’m going to keep my fingers and toes crossed and keep up with cross training. I’ve had a lot of moments where I want to completely throw in the towel, admit defeat, and break up with running. But I know there’s more to this relationship, even if it’s slightly abusive at times ;).

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On Marathoning

I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.

My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).

Hope I can actually "own it" this time!

Hope I can actually “own it” this time!

By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!

Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).

Hurray for marathons!

Hurray for marathons!

So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!

Tell me…
Do you have fall marathon plans? 

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What’s Next?

Thanks again for all the congratulations on the Chicago Marathon – it was so much fun and is definitely a race I hope to do again in the future!

You may remember that after registering for the Chicago Marathon, I also put my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, figuring I wouldn’t get accepted. Well, of course with that mentality I made the cut, and was all ready to run NYC on November 4th. As I was going through the motions of my “training” for Chicago, I started to question whether or not I could really run NYC a mere 4 weeks later. For me, it was more than just if I could physically do it – a big part of it was mental, too.

I realized that NYC had a deferral option, which a lot of races do not offer. After looking into it more, I knew I could run Chicago, assess how I felt, and still have some cushion time to decide whether or not I’d toe the line (well, bridge) on November 4th. By the time training had finished for Chicago, I knew there was a very small chance I was going to be running New York; I was just mentally tired and wanted to have my weekends back. I wanted to be able to go for a run because I wanted to – not because I had to. So, I went and ran Chicago, had an amazing time, and was surprisingly not very sore considering my lack of efficient training. All signs were pointing to me being able to successfully complete the marathon. But for the first time in a long time, I sat down and thought to myself: “is this really the best idea right now?”

After a few days of contemplation and seriously battling the all too familiar runner’s high, I decided to defer my entry to the NYC 2012 Marathon to next year. The real nail in the coffin so to speak was my start time – 11:30am! That means I’d be hanging out for a solid 4.5 hours before starting to run… for likely another 4.5 hours. Thinking about that just made me tired, and I realized it just wouldn’t make sense for me mentally and physically to put myself through another 26.2 just 4 weeks later, with less than solid training behind me.

So now that I’m out for NYC, what does that mean? Well, I’m still doing the Goofy Challenge in Disney the second week in January – that’s right, 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday! From now until then I’ll be running some shorter local races, and enjoying cross training. Of course I need to ramp up training again within the next two weeks or so to make sure I can tackle the 39.3, but that race is done more for “fun” so I’m not concerned with time, just mileage. I’m thinking about maybe running a marathon in the Spring/early Summer, but have no definite plans yet. I’m going to just enjoy running, and if I feel like I’m ready for another marathon in the future, I’ll address it then – no more of this signing up for races months and months and months in advance!

And before I forget, here’s a video of me finishing Chicago – I’m in the blue shirt with the 4:25 pace bib on my back doing what I thought at the time was “blowing by people in the final meters,” but was really a light jog, ha! Thanks to the hubs for rushing over to the stands to catch me!

What are your fall/winter racing plans?

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Chicago Marathon Recap: The Food

You didn’t think I was going to give you a Chicago Marathon recap without talking about food, did you?! I wish that I had a glowing food post for you like I did last time I was in Chicago, but unfortunately this trip was more about the race than it was the food, and I didn’t get to visit everywhere I wanted. At least that just means it’s an excuse to go back!

As I mentioned in my race recap, we were up early and off to the expo on Saturday morning, so breakfast was a stop at Starbucks next to our hotel. After the expo, though, we headed to Native Foods Café for lunch, which happened to be just around the corner from our hotel. It’s actually a chain, but only has a few locations; mostly in Chicago, California, and Colorado (guess they like C states!). I had searched for vegetarian restaurants prior to the trip, and since this was around the corner and had good reviews, I knew we had to check it out. After quickly browsing the menu, Andy ordered their Portobello “Sausage” burger with a side of seasoned fries, while I opted for the Twister Wrap [salad greens, fresh avocado and cucumber salsa, creamy chipotle sauce and your choice of crispy, blackened, or grilled Native “chicken” in an organic whole wheat wrap] with a side of kale, and we split their lavender lemonade.

The food was awesome. The Native “chicken” looked, felt, and tasted like chicken (I opted for it blackened), and they didn’t skimp on the avocado which I always appreciate. And Andy, not a vegetarian (but woefully eats as one most of the time) really enjoyed his burger, too. I would have loved to try everything on their menu, but unfortunately our trip only allowed us to visit once. I would love to have a vegetarian restaurant like that around me!

After a trip to Target and relaxing our legs for a bit, we headed off to dinner at Rosebud Theater District. Our main goal for dinner on Saturday night was very simple: pasta. So, the obvious choice was to search for a nearby Italian restaurant. Despite staying in the financial district of the city, we had a lot of options that were open on Saturday night (though there were equally as many that were closed). The restaurant had the best reviews out of every walkable place I researched, so we made a reservation prior to our trip in order to secure a spot. We started off sharing a house salad and bruschetta, which was delicious. They topped their bruschetta with fresh mozzarella, which I really enjoyed. Of course I had my fair share of the table’s bread, which they served with olive oil and parmesan cheese. I’ve never thought to mix parmesan cheese into olive oil for dipping, but you better believe I’m going to do it now! By the time we were finishing up our appetizers, dinner arrived and we dug in. I ordered the penne alla vodka and while it may not have been the safest option, it was vegetarian and I had a pretty good feeling it wouldn’t upset my stomach (thankfully I was right). I would love to go back on an evening where I could enjoy some wine!

Our final meal in the city was at Giordano’s for deep dish Chicago style pizza. I know there are a lot of different restaurants that offer deep dish pizza in the city, but we actually visited this restaurant four years ago on my first trip to Chicago. As we were being walked to our seat, we both looked at each other and at the same time echoed; “seriously? This is exactly where we sat four years ago!” I mean, what are the chances of that?! Since the pizza is made to order and we were finally gaining our hunger back post-marathon, we ordered some parmesan fries to share while waiting for our pizza. We ordered our pizza with onions, peppers, and jalapenos, and it was awesome. We even made sure to get a pizza big enough to bring some back to the hotel, since we both knew our hunger would rage late into the night; and it did. I’m a New York style pizza girl all the way, but sometimes it’s nice to change it up and do what I like to call ‘knife and forking it.’

Now, I wouldn’t typically make note of airport food. I purposely didn’t mention the food we ate at Newark Airport because it was awful. I do, however, feel the need to mention the food I had at Chicago O’Hare. Since we were flying United, we were stationed in Terminal B right next to the most delicious airport food I’ve ever experienced – Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera. If you are even remotely into food, and more specifically Mexican and Southwestern food, then you know the name Rick Bayless. As you all know I am obsessed with both food, and more specifically, Mexican/Southwestern food. So as soon as I saw that name attached to a sign hanging next to our gate, I insisted on getting something. I double checked Yelp an FourSquare reviews, and it was no surprise to see phenomenal reviews. After quickly doing a once-over of the menu, I ordered the rosted garlic mushroom torta which had crimini, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, chipotle garlic mojo, goat cheese, black beans, and arugula. It was heaven between two pieces of crusty bread.

Just like I can’t wait to run my next marathon, I can’t wait to head back to Chicago to enjoy the city more. Hopefully, I won’t be waiting another four years to make my return!

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Chicago Marathon Recap: The Race

And just like that, I ran another marathon.

Well, if only it had been that easy. Leading up to Sunday’s 26.2, I was nervous. I hadn’t run more than 14.5 miles in any single training run, topping off at 19 on a day I wound up doing a double (which I did a lot of), and with all of my GI issues, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through the race without needing at least one pit-stop. So, all things were pointing to me struggling through the race and just being happy to finish. But as I said in my post last week, I know that I’m a much stronger runner than I was last year when I ran my first marathon, so I still had high hopes for a PR of some sort.

We arrived in Chicago on Friday night and headed right to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. On Saturday, we were up early and off to the Expo. We had met a couple on the flight there who ran last year, and said we should get to the expo early if possible. I’m really glad we did, because on the way back the lines for the shuttle were really long! I didn’t buy anything (though I wanted all of the Nike gear), but I did score a sweet picture with Mike Ditka (boo to the blurry picture)!

Da Bears!

There were plans to do touristy things on Saturday, but after roaming around the Expo for awhile, we realized it was probably best to save our legs for what we were about to put them through. So we stopped off at Target to get some throwaway gloves and long sleeve shirts, then headed back to the hotel to watch some TV and relax before dinner. Of course dinner was pasta, and we were back to the hotel and in bed by 8:30p.

Thankfully I had a great night’s sleep, and my 5am alarm wasn’t too jarring. We brought bread and peanut butter with us, so I was able to have my usual pre-race breakfast, and started our trek to the start line. Unfortunately Andy and I were in separate corrals (he was in the 7:30a start wave and I was in the 8a wave), so we said goodbye rather early, and I headed off on my own. I had enough time to stop at a port-a-pottie and stretch before making my way to corral J. I had plans to run with the 4:25 pace group, and I spent a solid 5 minutes trying to find them in a sea of people. Soon after I found the group, we were off!

As soon as the race started, I realized I needed to use the bathroom. The pacers took off (WAY faster than the pre-determined 10:06 pace average), and so I stayed behind. I read way too many blog posts about how energetic the first few miles of the race are, and how so many people get overwhelmed by the spectators and start too fast. Knowing all to well how awful a race can be if you go out too fast, I kept it as slow as possible (but still under goal pace). I knew I wasn’t going to make it much further without a bathroom break, so I veered off at the first stop. From that point on, I was good to go; the first half flew by. I kept my pace nice and comfortable, and was loving all of the crowd support. I stopped at every water station, and had a Clif shot at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20.

By the time I got to mile 16, I knew that friends were likely done. I took out my phone to check the runner tracking, and was thrilled with what I found. Andy was trying to qualify for Boston, and while he just missed it, his 3:08 was a 15 minute PR! And, even more thrilling was to see my friend’s 2:52. That’s right; she finished 10th in our age group and was the 29th woman OVERALL! Talk about inspiration for the last 10 miles! At that point I was feeling good, and decided to pick it up a little. I decided to run just under a 10 minute/mile pace, and was able to keep that for the next 5 or so miles. Unfortunately, my hips were tight almost the entire race, and by the time I hit mile 22, my IT band had enough.

As we turned into Chinatown, my left knee had a searing pain, to the point where I had trouble picking up my leg. It’s a pain I remember all too well from the end of the Philly marathon, and a pain I’d experienced when I first started running. Instead of walking, though, I slowed my pace down and tried to keep my legs as straight as possible. The pain seemed to go in and out (eventually both knees were hurting), and my plans to pick it up at mile 22 were dead in the water. Instead, miles 22-24 were my slowest. My per mile pace never hit 11, but there were definitely points where I felt like I was crawling. I started to slowly pick it up at mile 24, and by the time I hit 25, I knew that it was time to dig deep and just go – I knew the pain wasn’t going to get worse, and as long as I could keep one leg in front of the other, I’d be okay.

While mile 25 to 26 felt like forever (I even heard a woman exclaim, “this is the longest mile of my life!”), the crowd support was unbelievable, and I don’t know how anyone could have slowed down. As we closed in on mile 26, I was slowly lengthening my stride, and using my arms as much as possible. We turned the corner for the final stretch (uphill of course), and I gave it everything I had, passing as many people as I could powering through the slight incline. The entire course was flat, so even though the hill wasn’t much of anything, it felt like a mountain in those final meters. I crossed the finish with an official time of 4:26:10, a solid 11 minutes faster than my Philly marathon time.

My first order of business was to grab a mylar blanket, my medal, some water, and FREE BEER! I’ve always seen races that have beer at the finish, but this was the first race I’ve been to that had the luxury. While it may not have been the best idea, my very first post-marathon sip was some Goose Island 312. As I made my way through the finishing area, I met up with my husband and headed right for the massage tent; another first for me. After the massage, I realized that while the thought of hanging out at a “post race party” sounded fun, the barely 50 degree weather was enough to send me right back to the hotel. After a quick (relative to post-marathon moving abilities) shower, we headed right for deep dish pizza at Giordano’s.

This race was without a doubt the best race I’ve experienced. Not only was the course phenomenal and the spectators great throughout the entire city, but the race was so well organized, and all of the volunteers were amazing. Seeing everyone so excited to pass out water and gatorade was great – a little smile and a “you got this!” goes a long way when someone is out running a marathon. Even the people at the finish were great – the girls giving out water waved me down and shouted “hey! come and get your water – you deserve it! congratulations!!!”

I suppose I did!

I don’t know why, but I found myself tearing up at multiple points throughout the race, for no other reason than the fact that I was running a marathon; my third marathon. I know for a lot of people that isn’t much, while for others it sounds absolutely insane. For me, being able to run a marathon was something I always dreamed about, but never thought I would actually do. Even in those moments where my knees felt like they were going to explode, I realized why I run. Its for all of those seemingly insignificant moments that make up a marathon experience; seeing strangers on the course give you a thumbs up, hearing strangers cheer your name that you meticulously ironed onto your shirt, having that brief conversation with a fellow runner, and to feel that rush as you close in on those final meters of the race. I wouldn’t trade the way I felt on Sunday for anything – even the hobbling I’ve been doing since.

I can’t wait for the next one!

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Another Marathon on the Horizon

It’s hard to believe that this coming Sunday, I’ll be running my third marathon (within less than a year)! I wish that I could say I’m going into this race super confident for a big ‘ole PR, but I don’t want to jinx myself. Training was lackluster (per the usual), so I’m hoping just to come in under my 4:37 PR. I think it’s totally doable based on two very important facts (in my eyes): I know I can complete a marathon, and I’m a much stronger runner than I was last time.

Checkout the sweet App you can download for the race!

Even though my training wasn’t any better than it was for the Philly Marathon despite trying to convince myself “this time would be different,” I know that over the course of the last year I’ve become so much stronger as a runner in general. Sure, I may not be strong enough to shave off 30 minutes like I was originally hoping (though my half marathon time will tell you otherwise), but I know that I can beat 4:37 (as long as something doesn’t go horribly wrong).

My plan is to run with a pace group. I’ve never run with a pacer before, but in most races where they are available, I try to keep my eyes on them if possible (this was especially helpful for my half marathon PR). The problem I had running Philly is one that novice marathoners know all too well – I went out too fast, despite feeling great and still being on the “slower side,” and by mile 16 I wanted to be done, and by mile 21 I wanted to cry. This time, I’m hoping that if I’m forced to run slower (they make you wear an extra bib on your back to be a part of the group in this race), I can at least keep it at a more-than-comfortable pace for the first three quarters, and then, if I’m still feeling like it’s easy (as a relative term, of course) I can pick it up and finish strong. Even if I run with the pace group I’m planning to run with the entire time (the reach pace is 4:10 and the hopefully easy option is 4:25), I’ll still tackle a 12 minute PR, which is pretty respectable if you ask me.

Can you tell I’m trying to talk myself into this being a good race? Whatever it takes!

In all seriousness, as we get closer, I’m excited. Truthfully, I was dreading it a few weeks ago, really fearing I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I know better than that – I can do it. It may not be a stellar performance, but I’m running my THIRD marathon! That has to count for something, right? Plus, it’s in one of my favorite cities, and the thought of getting to go there (even if just for a long weekend) makes it all worth it. I can’t wait to devour some cupcakes at Molly’s and probably eat my weight in deep dish pizza.

Alright, who else is running Chicago? 
Any last minute tips/words of encouragement?! 

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Marathon Training: The Home Stretch

With the Chicago marathon a mere 5 weeks away, I suppose you’re wondering how things have been going. The only way training can be described is “okay.” Even though it’s only okay, it’s the first training cycle I’ve had since my training for my very first half marathon (back in May 2010) where I haven’t gotten sidelined by a running related injury! I have, however, had a few struggles with my GI, most recently the flare-up that caused me to try giving up gluten.

The longest run I’ve completed to date has been 14 miles. Originally I was planning to get in 2-3 20 milers, but with a trip to Europe, my GI woes, and life in general, that just isn’t going to happen. So instead, after this past weekend’s run I’m planning on a 16, 18, and a 20 before tapering. For a lot of people that probably doesn’t seem like enough training, but before my first marathon last November I only completed one 18 miler, and I survived. I realize this means I probably won’t smash my PR, but I have high hopes that I’ll at least come in under my 4:37 PR simply by having more experience and being faster overall.

I’ve actually read quite a few articles that believe the elusive 20 miler isn’t necessary aside from being a mental boost. Most of these plans mention doing a 3 hour run. For someone like my husband, that means a 20 miler (plus some). But for someone like me, that’s more like an 18 miler. A big reason for this is due to weekly mileage – someone like me worries about my long run on the weekend, and doesn’t run nearly enough during the week, which hurts training just as much as not doing a long run. So, if it means keeping my mileage during the week higher and doing a shorter (but still long!) long run, I’d be willing to give it a try. I’ve also read some suggestions on running two medium length runs back to back, instead of one super long run (i.e. a 10 miler Saturday, and a 10 miler Sunday). I’m obviously not experienced enough (nor do I have enough time left) to have the room to experiment much, but I’m at a point now here I have to just run as frequently as I can, while keeping my mileage at the right amount to make sure I’m successful in the marathon without hurting myself before or during.

Running both Chicago and New York give me a unique opportunity – if Chicago isn’t a huge success, I still have another marathon a mere 4 weeks after. Obviously this will only work if I’m not too beat up after Chicago, which fingers crossed, I don’t think I will be. Only time will tell!

Any words of advice in my last few weeks of training?
Who’s running Chicago? New York? Both?! 

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Running and Cupcakes

On both of my runs this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about my pace and how that should translate to race day. I usually find myself sneaking a peak at my watch and being concerned with not going fast enough. When it comes to marathon training, though, I need to have a different outlook on my training runs than I did when I was training for my last half marathon… slow and steady.

Most of the training plans I’ve come across suggest running your long runs about a minute or so slower per mile than your goal marathon pace. So far, this has been a big struggle for me. I finished my first marathon in November in 4:37, which was about a 10:30 pace. Since then, I think I can very easily run a 9:30 pace, bringing me to just over 4 hours. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I can easily run a sub 4-hour marathon considering my easy 1:47 half in April, which of course would be fantastic. Either way, that means I should be running my long runs at about a 9:30 to 10:30 per mile pace, depending on what I ultimately decide my race day goal to be. Well, I ran 10 miles last weekend with an average 8:20 pace, and today’s 8 as slow as I possibly could in 8:50. I realize that once I get to the higher mileage long runs I’ll slow down, but I’m wondering if I need to readjust my goals, or somehow figure out how to run slower. I suppose I’ll have to experiment over the next few weeks.

Even though most of my weekend revolved around running, I did make time for cupcakes and a BBQ. Some friends were celebrating their engagement with a relaxed backyard party, so I knew I had to bring cupcakes. I’ve become known for bringing cupcakes to parties, and when I show up with anything else everyone seems to be disappointed. Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting from Gimme Some Oven. They were a hit, and I had plenty of leftover frosting that is currently taunting me from the fridge. I’m thinking of turning into truffles (just shaping it into little balls and coating it in chocolate), but that’s if I can keep my spoon away.

Pinterest has really become a source for my meals and workouts in the past few weeks, and I’m really loving what I’ve found so far. It is a little dangerous at times (links to adorable clothes, and a serious time-waster), but I like to think the helpful things I’ve found outweigh the negatives of spending so much time on one website. I mean, I did find those cupcakes. Now if only I could find an answer to my marathon pace dilemma.

What did you do this weekend?
Any suggestions or words of advice for my marathon training pace dilemma? 

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Running