Showing posts with label Boston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boston. Show all posts

May 8, 2018

The 2018 Boston Marathon: Miserable yet Amazing


Every one of my friends who I talk to asks me “How was Boston?” and my response has been “::sigh:: Miserable and amazing”. That’s the truth.

Settle in for my big Boston Marathon race recap. I thought about shortening it, but I like having all of these thoughts down on the interwebs to look back on. You’ll get expo and logistics thoughts in a following post!

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap


PRE-RACE

The week of the marathon the weather forecast was not looking good. Eventually 3 or 4 days before the race the forecast was saying 100% rain. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. Where in the eff do you ever hear a weather forecast saying 100%?!?! The weather was forecasted to be raw with temperatures around 40 degrees (real feel colder), rain all day, and 20 mph E/SE winds (that’s a headwind). People talked online about how it rained in 2015 when they ran it and how it wasn’t so bad. I wanted to hope that the forecast would change or at least it wouldn’t be so bad. My parents were in town for the race and literally only came to one other half marathon ever-where it also poured rain (are they unlucky?Just saying.) My mom overheard someone in her hotel grabbing shower caps to cover her shoes so I did the same. The concierge said he thought they were out but luckily found a couple for me (#runnerprobs).

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I woke up in Cambridge at my Airbnb Monday morning feeling anxious. Part positively, part negatively. I woke up to the wind howling and rain beating down outside the bedroom window. Yikes. I layered up my outfit and ate a Honey Stinger salted caramel waffle and banana along with some Nuun. I cut holes in my trash bag poncho. I packed my little Athlete’s Village bag with my headphones, gels, extra Honey Stinger waffles, old race heat sheet, gloves, and an extra trash bag.
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Garbage bag chic with shower caps on shoes as an accessory

I was worried about being cold AND soaking wet. Part of me thought too many layers may get too hot over the marathon distance (LOLZ WHAT A JOKE).

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I ended up wearing: Brooks Launch shoes, Maryland buff,  Lululemon shorts, Lily Trotters compression socks, toe socks underneath my compression socks (in an attempt to avoid extra blisters, a Tracksmith Brighton tank (hoping the merino wool would keep me warm), a Lululemon Run Swiftly long sleeve tee, a Brooks Running rain shell, with a Nike November Project tagged shirt on top (gotta rep!). On top of all of that was a clear rain poncho. I also had some Nathan gloves, a Flipbelt, a Mizuno Coldgear ear warmer, Goodr sunglasses, and my trusty Nuun Headsweats hat.

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A candid photo of me looking at the weather outside. YIKES. 

This race was supposed to be my victory lap, so I had trained for a fun and slower race. I got on the T along with all the other runners in a variety of rain and “garbage bag chic” gear. Once I got to Boston Commons to catch the bus to the Athlete’s Village I was feeling okay despite it being 38 degrees outside. The rain wasn’t coming down too hard, and the excitement of being with other runners was fun. We're running Boston, YAY! I waited in line to get on Bus #1 while two men from Dublin chatted with one of the volunteers and photobombed my selfie!

Boston-marathon-2018-pre-race

On the bus I sat next to a girl who had run the marathon before, and there was another Boston first-timer in front of us. People around me seemed to be positive and have the “oh well” attitude I had adopted. Honestly I was a little more nervous because I had been so freaking miserable the year I ran Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon when it was in the upper 30s and rainy. I hate the cold weather in general (not just running) and do not like running in the rain much either (aside from summer rain).

 Boston-marathon-2018-athletes-village

The bus ride to Hopkinton was about 45 min-1 hour long, and it felt like it. I also made the mistake of picking a seat next to the heater on the bus so I was literally sweating and feeling uncomfortable by the time we got to the Athlete’s Village. Once we got to the village I was pretty excited, despite the fact that it felt cold and rainy. I made it to the port a potty and then into the Athlete’s Village tent a.k.a. the Athlete’s mud pit. On the plus side-no line to get a photo with the Hopkinton sign!
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Instagram Story screenshot! 
I squeezed into the tent, and it was not the fun time I imagined getting to hang out before the race. Near me there was no room to sit or even squeeze past people to find a spot. So I awkwardly stood around, sipped on a beet juice, and ate another Honey Stinger waffle. Once the first Wave left the tent to walk to the start there was a little more room (it’s a 0.7 mile walk from the Village to the actual Start Line). I had a Chicago Marathon mylar heat blanket (things they give you after races to keep you warm) that I ended up tossing since I wasn’t sitting down. Luckily I had some Hot Hands I packed for the race to put into my gloves for the walk to the start. Once it was time for Wave 2 to head to the start I started walking. Getting in the mud was unavoidable, but my shoes stayed semi-dry thanks to the shower caps.

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I was having a flustered morning with the uncomfortable heat on the bus, the logistics, the mud pit and standing in the Athlete’s Village, that I hadn’t gotten my headphones ready and spent time walking to the start trying to finagle them and get them set up (I brought wired ones because I was worried about my AfterShokz wireless headphones getting soaking wet?) as well as remove my sweatshirt and pants. I met a girl who was running her first Boston in my corral which was nice to have a small chat before our wave started. Also sidenote, it's bizzare because the race ends in downtown but literally starts in a neighborhood in a small town. 
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Think happy thoughts at the start line? 
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Welcome to my corral! 


THE RACE

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Boston Marathon race course (source
I knew the first few miles were downhill and fast so I tried to stay slow. I was actually embracing the rain and having fun those first few miles. Trying to avoid puddles was pointless because the rain poured down those first few miles so everyone was soaking wet and cold anyways! I decided to keep my clear rain poncho on for the race and kinda knotted it up so my legs were free to move. It was exciting to see spectators and to be running the BOSTON FREAKING MARATHON. The rain was cold, and around Mile 3 I just remember running through a heavy, heavy downpour. I honestly do not understand how some runners ran without hats. Also because the wind was blowing against us the whole time, wearing sunglasses totally helped keep the rain out of my eyes. I tried to focus on looking out for the signs for the iconic towns we were running through during the first 10K. It's so historic, and I read so much about this course and knew the names of these small Massachusetts towns that it was exciting. 

I was feeling okay and running consistent miles through the first 10K. I had some feeling in my feet by now! My gloves were soaking wet and annoying so I tossed them around this point and hoped it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. Once I hit Natick I was struggling from miles 7-13. There wasn’t a ton of spectators. In my head I was fighting mentally-I kept thinking that I was miserable.This was miserable, but then I would try to keep my thinking positive because it’s Boston and I’m here. It was just hard for me to swallow that I needed to buckle in for 4 hours of this. I was also struggling because I never felt this crappy this early in a marathon-usually the hard part comes around miles 17-18. 

I had my name written on duct tape on my chest which helped to get some cheers-I was so grateful for every spectator that yelled out my name. I thanked every volunteer from whom I took water from too. I took water or Gatorade at all but a couple aid stations because I knew I might not feel thirsty but still needed to hydrate. At the halfway point I checked in with my watch and was happy to see that I was running consistently at a 8:35/mi pace. At this point I focused on getting to the Nuun Hydration cheer station at Mile 17 and knew my November Project friends would be at the cheer station at Mile 18.

Again, the whole race was into a headwind (with sometimes the wind comically filling up my poncho, but I wasn’t ready to give it up) with light rain alternating with heavy rain. Somewhere after the halfway mark I moved into a happy running place. I was running the Boston Marathon and kept telling myself that I was doing great. I chuckled to myself that I wanted a victory lap and Boston was like “NOT TODAY. Prove you’re a badass, again!”. 

Boston-marathon-2018-race-photo

Once we entered Newton around Mile 16 I knew there would be some smaller hills before Heartbreak Hill, but actually they weren’t too bad. It was some climbing, but nothing I haven’t seen in Baltimore before. I grabbed a Twizzler from a spectator which makes an excellent running fuel choice-especially in the rain!

Sidenote, shout-out to Honey Stinger Ginsting gels for not being gross to suck down in the cold rain! Surprisingly I had no problems fueling during the race.

Before I knew it I made it to Mile 17 and grabbed a cup of Nuun. At Mile 18 I saw my friends including my buddy Sarah. I was confused as she came on course with me to cut across the course to get to a train station, but it was really great to see a familiar face. I think I deliriously told her I was feeling great, haha. Heartbreak Hill was a little tough of a climb for me, around here my legs were feeling cold and tight, and I started to have pain in my foot. It did feel really great to finish that infamous hill and have all those spectators cheering at the top! At this point I was lower on energy and started giving thumbs up to spectators who cheered my name instead of cheering back.

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The twingy pain was in both feet and then just my right foot, and all I could think was that I was injured. After Mile 20 and Heartbreak Hill I knew it was fairly downhill. My numb-ish legs, the headwind and cold, and the pain in my foot (plus my mind now wrapped up in the pain) made the last miles a struggle. I took walk breaks at all the water stops and stopped twice to stretch out my legs. I knew I was slowing down, but at this point the goal was just to finish. I saw a box of clean white socks on the side of the road which was a nice gesture, but I wondered if anyone took the time to change their socks during the race.  

My next visual goal was to make it to the Citgo sign at mile 25. I struggled through until Mile 25 and then attempted to take my phone out of my Flipbelt for a photo which was comical. My hands were so cold they wouldn’t work, and the STRUGGLE WAS REAL. It literally took a minute or so on the side of the race. I took a foggy, rainy selfie and then headed on to the finish. 
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Terrible selfie. And comically so wet. 
At this point I dropped my poncho for the finish line in a poncho graveyard (everyone was shedding gear!).

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You can make out some of my ugly crying face in this one LOLZ. 
Once I saw the iconic Right on Hereford followed by Left on Boylston turns I cried some ugly tears (hidden mostly by the rain and my sunglasses). IT WAS SO ICONIC AND STILL AMAZING, even in the terrible weather. I heard my name yelled out by a few people and even stopped for 30 seconds to go hug and chat with my boyfriend who was like “GO finish the race, Lauren!”. I was so happy that last mile.

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Thanks to Sarah for the great photo on Boylston! 
And then I threw my arms up in the air and crossed the BOSTON Marathon finish line in 3:52:44. It is my slowest marathon time to date (which was the plan anyways) but was more of a struggle than I had anticipated.

Boston-marathon-2018-finish-line

I laugh at this now, but part of me wondered during the race if I was a big baby about the weather and maybe everyone else didn’t think it was so bad. Seeing the faces at the finish told me I was right. A volunteer gave me a medal and another wrapped me in the fancy hooded mylar coat thing. I knew I’d be sad if I didn’t take a finish line photo so I wrestled with my phone again and took a finish line selfie.

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Look at those tired, defeated faces behind me

POST-RACE

I knew the cold would kick in fast-it always does for me post-race even when it’s not freezing cold and rainy. I heard at the finish that Desi had won the women’s race and cheered for her. If Shalane wouldn’t take it I really wanted Desi to win. I shuffled down to grab my bag of snacks and water. I felt like the finish line chute was SO long. I kept shuffling until I got to the family meetup. My boyfriend had my jacket and a warm shirt so I wanted to meet up with him, and I was happy to not have to wait at the gear check. BIG THANKS to the volunteer who had a map to help me figure out what direction to head and what streets to go on to get to my parents’ hotel. Also BLESS THEM for having a hotel by Copley Square.

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My boyfriend called and insisted I wait for him somewhere although I argued that if I kept shuffling in the right direction I would make it there faster (cold, tired, runner sass). So in typical Boston fashion, I huddled my SOAKING wet self into a Dunkin Donuts. Here I was on the verge of not happy tears because I was really uncomfortable, and it seemed to be taking my boyfriend FOREVER to come find me. Eventually he did and bless him, he took off all of my top layers down to my sports bra (no shame) because my hands weren’t working (so I really wasn’t any help) and got a dry sweatshirt and jacket on me. We shuffled back through the Prudential Center mall all the way to the Marriott across from my parent’s hotel. Inside we made a pit stop at David’s Tea (which I mostly agreed to because tea is warm, despite loving David’s Tea in all other scenarios). The cashier comically asked me if I had just run the race even though I CLEARLY was wet and bundled in my Mylar coat.
 Boston-marathon-2018-post-race1
Upon showering I found out that I had the worst chafing I ever have had, despite liberally applying Aquaphor to my entire legs and feet (Thanks a lot, thighs! No blisters though!). I’ve never had literally chafing wounds that lasted a week and needed to be bandaged the next 2-3 days. I’ll spare you the details, but DAMN. A hot shower and a cold beer along with an entire plate of French fries (no shame in my game) warmed me up faster than I imagined. I also got to see some news coverage of the race in the hotel and learned about how SO MANY elites dropped out! It was over, and I could celebrate being a Boston Marathoner now.

Boston-marathon-2018-post-race-beer

Sidenote: Also my foot was feeling a little sore post-race like it had before the Philadelphia Marathon in the fall and during some of my training, so I have been keeping an eye on it. I had two weeks of rest and it's felt okay with a few runs this past week, but fingers crossed it's nothing serious. 

Final thoughts: Boston was miserable yet amazing. I thank each and every volunteer and spectator who was out there that day. I do really want to come back when there are larger crowds of spectators and the weather isn’t the worst in race history. Maybe have a proper victory lap? I felt like crap for a lot of the race, but did have some happy miles. This race showed me that I can do hard things. Really hard things.


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April 26, 2018

Post- Boston Marathon Recovery Tips

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Fizzique through a campaign with Fit Approach. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 



I’m still finishing up my big Boston Marathon race recap (so much rain/wind/cold! so many thoughts!) but have really been focusing on my recovery since the race over a week ago. I talked about how my marathon training has been different since my injury , but I’ve also been more conscientious of my recovery as well. With travelling to Boston and an out-of-state wedding right after I haven’t been doing any foam-rolling or exercising. Now that I’m over a week out I’m focusing on getting myself recovered and reverse tapering back into running. I’ve talked on my blog about some broader post-marathon tips, but today I’ll share what I’m focusing on this week specifically for recovery!  

boston-marathon-recovery-tips

REST

I’m still trying to get plenty of actual sleep during the week, especially the couple days post-race. With the weather conditions along with regular hills on the Boston course, I read from some others that they felt they needed more rest after this race than previous ones. It is important to give your body proper time to fully recover, even if you are feeling better a few days after. This article from Runners Connect  talks about the physiological changes in your body after a marathon including how it takes your muscles about 2 weeks post-marathon to return to full strength. 

After the Philadelphia Marathon I really didn’t run except for a couple miles while coaching for 2 weeks and am doing the same after the Boston Marathon, especially because I had some foot pain the last few miles.

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Mid-walk coffee break in Boston

LIGHT CROSS-TRAINING

Last week with travelling in Boston and then to an out of state wedding I really did not have time to workout anyways. I walked around Boston a lot the days post-race which helps with blood flow and getting my legs moving. This week I’m adding in some cross-training such as cycling, yoga, and some strength training (mostly upper body focused!). I took a spin class yesterday, and it felt so good to get sweaty again. 

HEALTHY EATING

After some carbloading and eating more to help my body recover post-race (along with plenty of celebratory treats and good food in Boston!), I am trying to get back into more of a routine. That means including more greens and veggies back into my diet as well as balancing more proteins with carbohydrates. 

For me that includes more salads for lunch as well as being more conscious of trying to eat balanced meals. I’ve been loving these Fizzique sparkling protein water drinks as yummy afternoon pick-me-up that isn’t a sugary protein bar or shake.

healthy-eating-marathon-recovery-fizzique

TAKE CARE OF YOUR LEGS

With travelling this is the one area I neglected and need to focus on this week. That means adding in extra foam rolling and stretching. I also want to get back into doing my physical therapy banded hip and glute exercises. After my travelling I have gotten back into my once or twice weekly Epsom salt baths to help with recovery. If you can get a massage like I have after a couple previous marathons, that can be a big help with recovery as well.

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I love warm Epsom salt baths after a hard workout.

I mentioned Fizzique before which is a clear, sparkling water with 20g of whey protein for only 80 calories (0 net carbs) that contains no sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives, and is free of many things people care about (GMOs, soy, gluten). I was able to try it out via a sponsored campaign through Fit Approach. 

I like it because it’s easy to pop one open for some extra protein in a refreshing sparkling water instead of making a big shake after a workout or eating a protein bar on-the-go. Obviously you should be trying to get lots of natural sources of protein but with a busy lifestyle, I find that some supplements and snacks can be helpful.

Sidenote, I am skeptical of protein-infused things as a trend, but as a fan of seltzer and La Croix waters, I was intrigued. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the Strawberry Watermelon and Tropical Limon flavors. Upon first taste I could tell it was not just a normal water because the flavor is a little stronger and slightly weirder than some sparkling waters, however it’s clear and bubbly as well as really easy to drink when served cold.

You can try Fizzique for yourself by ordering on their website and using my code LAURENSFIZZIQUE to save 10% or order it on Amazon.  

There is also a Fit Approach & Fizzique “Curb Your Cravings” Instagram Challenge running April 16- May 4 with three weekly Instagram photo prompts and a chance to win a case of Fizzique.

How do you recover after a big race or event?

April 11, 2018

Why the Boston Marathon is My Victory Lap

If you've followed me or read my Boston Marathon acceptance post you know a little bit about my marathon journey. 

Today I'm over on the Momentum Jewelry blog sharing why the 2018 Boston Marathon is my victory lap, and how much running has changed my life. Honestly with the marathon mere days away, I've spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks reflecting on my running journey. I was even getting teary-eyed getting all my thoughts together for my blog post. Running has become a huge part of my life and not just the exercise part. It's changed how I view myself, opened doors to so many unique opportunities, and allowed me to meet and become friends with so many amazing people. 

Here's a sneak peak: 

Running has shown me that putting myself out there is less scary than I think it is. Running has given me opportunities and excuses to travel across the country and internationally to fulfill some of my wanderlust. My main goal for the 2018 Boston Marathon is to enjoy every mile. It’s a victory lap for my running accomplishments and it's also a celebration of running and what it's done for me. Five years after my first marathon, I’ll be on the starting line of the Boston Marathon, and I'll know that all of the strength I need for anything that comes my way is inside me.

Check out my Instagram page for a chance to win your own Boston-themed Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wrap today (giveaway ends Thursday 4/12 at midnight EST). 

A post shared by Lauren 💜🦄🍕 (@breathedeeplyandsmile) on

What has running added or changed about you or your life?  

September 28, 2017

So I'm Boston Bound-Hello Boston Marathon 2018!


So my goal of getting accepted to run the Boston Marathon is becoming a reality. I received an email in my inbox last Sunday night that looked like this: 

boston-marathon-bound-2018-acceptance

I saw the subject line in my inbox and was like HOLY SH#&! 

Now I had put in my application on Friday when it opened up for qualifiers who had a  time over 5 minutes under the qualifying time. I was expecting to hear back on Monday, because silly me assumed people weren't working fast enough to verify results and get a bunch of emails out on Sunday night. So just randomly checking my email Sunday night as dinner was cooking literally really caught me by surprise and I yelled and then got a bit teary. So it was more like omgomgomgomgomogomg


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And then randomly crying on and off. 

I celebrated with some prosecco and supermarket chocolate cake! Okay so really I was planning on having the cake before I got the email, but it was clearly meant to be.

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Running a qualifying time with a big cushion this past year at the Chicago Marathon was really special. Like really FREAKING special. It's been weird since then when I'm talking to people about having another qualifying time with a cushion most likely to get me accepted into the race based on previous years, but not having that official acceptance. I've been saying "well I ran X time, but do not know if I'm officially able to run the race yet." That leads to me explaining that there are only 30,000 spots available for the race with 80% going to qualifiers and the remaining 20% of spots going to charity runners. Therefore in recent years more people apply with qualifying times then there are spots available. This year the cutoff below the qualifying time ended up being 3:23 (more info here). 

I feel like I could drag on about how hard I worked for this.That I had a really freaking strong training cycle last year despite slogging through full-time graduate school, coaching, and working over 25 hours a week, etc.Then that I also had a really great race day where I stuck to my race day plan and things turned out better than expected. 

This dream I've had since running my first full marathon, and yes it was only a dream at first, of qualifying for Boston is REALLY HAPPENING. I know a bunch of friends and virtual running friends who will be there running, and even my parents are planning to watch me run (who have never seen me run a marathon before!). This is one of those big long-term goals that I've finally achieved. Obviously because they are big and long-term, it's not the type of  goal you are crushing every day or even every year. The hard work, the journey makes it even sweeter. 

I want to make you feel super inspired or could babble on about how important this goal is to me, but don't know what I can say that doesn't sound cliche or silly. So here's a little token of my journey I shared on social media. 

💙5 yrs ago (the weekend I received my acceptance email, actually) I ran my first half marathon at Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia
💙 4 yrs ago I ran my first full marathon- the Baltimore Marathon
💙2 yrs ago I qualified by 12 seconds but wasn't accepted to run Boston due to number of runners who applied vs. spots available 
💙1 yr ago I ran my best marathon yet at Chicago 7:36 under my qualifying time
💙2018 I'll be running the Boston Marathon 


hello-boston-marathon-2018

So remember to run happy, dream big, and keep hustlin'. Dreams come to those who hustle. 
See ya in April, Boston.  

October 22, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015: The Big Recap


 So I finally sat down and finished my big ol' Chicago Marathon 2015 recap. I started out writing 2 posts about the expo and race, and now I've shortened it plus included lots of photos! It was a little weird running Chicago after just running it last year. I knew the way things were organized, the course, and what to generally expect.  This year was less fun because I had a really stressful week of school beforehand and had to plan a shorter trip, as well as get some homework done when I was out there. 


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I went to the race expo on Friday after getting in late the night before. McCormick Place Convention Center is a hike from where I was on the western part of the city. Once we got there I grabbed my bib and checked out the expo. 


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The Chicago Marathon Expo is my favorite so far. It's so well-organized and more importantly, super spread out. It's not super cramped and ridiculously crowded like I felt the Boston Marathon expo or other large expos are.  Nike had a huge booth as a sponsor, but the designs of their race apparel & merchandise were really similar to last year and not super cool, which was disappointing. Although the race shirt I got with my bib is an awesome  red short-sleeved top with a graphic black and white text in the middle. 

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Once I was in the expo, the energy of all the runners and excitement for the race really hit me. I instantly became super proud to be among all these runners!  I also couldn't believe the race was in a matter of days. 

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Nike had a big sign again that you could autograph and would be on the course. 

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I wasn't able to make the official Nuun meetup on Saturday, but I was really happy to stop by and have a chance to chat with Kim who works for Nuun and was one of my Hood to Coast teammates! Getting a little pep talk and encouragement was really nice. 

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I also picked up a cool shirt from one of my favorite running brands, Brooks Running, as well as some extra race fuel.  

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Advocate Health Centers had a fun little photo booth going on. This sign really speaks to me! 

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I didn't get a chance to snag a photo, but I got to say hello to Bart Yasso at the Runner's World booth before he had to scoot off to go give a talk.  

Nike is really great at having awesome photo ops at the expo. 

chicago-marathon-2015-expo-Nike


The rest of the day I spent in the city including grabbing lunch and finally meeting Susie in person which was SO fun. I did too much walking during the day and knew it was bad when my feet were hurting. 

The next day I went back to the expo to spend a little more time persuing and grabbing a few more things like an awesome Bondiband to wear on race day.I even bumped into Angela leaving the race with was SO awesome and random. My calves and hamstrings were feeling really tight which worried me, especially because I couldn't bring my foamroller out to Illinois. I had dinner at Little Goat Diner which included a burger, a side of homefries, and a little bit of apple pie aka all the carbs.  

Race morning I was so anxious that I woke up before my 5 AM alarm multiple times in a panic, which is typical for me before big races. My boyfriend said I was really amped, even before eating and having a little caffeine.  I had a banana and a plain bagel with peanut butter along with some Lemon-Lime Nuun Energy before getting on the train.  

Once we got downtown I was getting really anxious. The weatherman the day before had said it would feel like summer in Chicago for race day, which is no bueno, but it made for a perfect race morning. There had been talk all week about how it would be windy and unusually warm on race day as well as the race bumping up their EAS safety levels from low to moderate. I quickly took my throwaway shirt off when I got downtown. My boyfriend also made my name on my shirt (written on hot pink KT tape) bigger before saying goodbye.    
pre-chicago-marathon-2015

I wore my Adidas Energy Boosts ESM shoes, Feetures! compression socks, Lululemon pace setter skirt, Under Armour sports bra, Bondiband headband,  and a Lululemon tank along with my Nuun tattoo and some throwaway gloves.  

I anxious because the security line ended up being really long around 6:40 when I got there. I knew Corral C closed at 7:20 so I wasn't sure I would make it through in time. The energy of runners was filled with excitement, nerves, and impatience with the line.  

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Eventually I made it through security, jogged to gear check to drop off my bag, and headed to the port-a-potty line before I made it into Corral C with minutes to spare.  I was stuck in the very back of the corral so I wasn't near any pacers. Once the race started there was so much excitement. I heard the elites start and then all of a sudden before I knew it we were running. The beginning of the Chicago Marathon is so special and is PACKED with spectators. It's also flat & fast so I know a bunch of people start out way too fast. I was nervous about my pace and how the weather and wind would be so I kept it slower for the first 13 miles. Looking back I wish I picked up the pace just a little bit, but c'est la vie. Also quick note, my Garmin GPS was all messed up from a tunnel and the buildings so I think I thought I was going faster at times than I actually was. 

Since I wasn't running with friends this year, my boyfriend made a plan to meet me at 5-6 locations based on his experiences trying to catch me last year. He was fabulous and saw me 4 times during the first half and manged to snag this awesome action shot at mile 3. Notice how happy I look! 

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It's hard because now after the race, the miles blur. I loved going through all the different neighborhoods of Chicago. It was also fun because after racing last year and then exploring the city, I recognize different parts a lot better now.  I tried to keep my pace conservative until around mile 16 when I knew I could speed up a bit.  I was SO cautious of going out too fast because it's such a trap, especially in Chicago where the whole course if flat and fast. I sped up to around 8:00 min/mile  and was feeling okay. I was having a salted caramel GU every 6 miles along with salt tabs and honey stinger chews in between when I felt I needed something. 

I made the last minute decision to buy a handheld water bottle at the expo instead of my waist belt that I had been training with. I knew I didn't want to suck down the Nuun in it and then have to toss my belt halfway through the race so I went with the smaller water bottle so I didn't chance the belt annoying me.  My skirt held all my fuel which was great! 

The first half of the course is amazing. It's fast, exciting, and shaded. Once I got about 2 hours and thirty minutes into the race I was feeling overheated. The second half of the race is all mostly in direct sunlight. There was not a cloud in the sky which helped, and I saw from an outdoor thermometer at one point that the temperature had already hit 70 degrees (the high for the day ended up being 78). I was trying to focus on my Paceband and was keeping an eye on the big clocks on course, but didn't know what time after the elites I had started. I knew I was behind my 3:30 race pace but figured a consistent pace was at least good to be. This time in Chicago I tried to soak everything in-the city,the signs, the spectators, and the fellow runners. I gave lots of high-fives, shouted, and always gave at least a fist bump when I heard someone yell my name off my shirt.  So many moments of running happy. 

Now I know I didn't hydrate well enough the days leading up to the race. I drank a bunch of fluids and electrolytes the day before and had lots of Nuun the morning of. I took a few salt tabs and alternated with water and Gatorade at every water stop. Something I've noticed in the last year however is that I just overheat sometimes and that's what happened. 

Besides my legs feeling tight since mile 14, and then generally feeling like lead pipes from mile 20 on, I just felt blah. I was feeling warm and not cooling down, despite a few ice cold sponges I grabbed later in the race from volunteers. Those last 6 miles were so tough. I walked through a couple water stops to try to regain composure because I was getting upset.  I can't explain it by anything except overheating. My head felt heavy and when my boyfriend managed to say hi to me at mile 22 and ran along side me as I took a few swigs of the Gatorade bottle he had bought for me, he said I was just sobbing. I just told him to leave me alone, that I needed to finish the race. I think you can be prepared, but my marathons have never felt like my training runs. 

It was that mental point where I couldn't talk to anyone, I was in pain, and I just needed to get these miles done with.  The super long, straight race course at this point doesn't help mentally either.  Definitely lots of tough moments mentally that come up only in races like this for me. I focused on staying positive and trying to push out those bad thoughts.  There were some tears, but eventually I just had my head hanging back a little  and tried to power through. I was repeating my mantra of "stronger than you" and "breathe" out loud those last 3 miles. Eventually at Mile 26 there is that little hill for the last 0.2 miles, and I gave it everything I had left in the tank.  

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That face is a lot more pained than that photo at Mile 3!
I didn't even know what time I crossed the finish line in. When I was done I just needed to be done. I stopped my watch but didn't even look. I ended up finishing in 3:34:48, 5128/46034 overall, and 286 in my age group.  I'm not sure of my overall average race pace but it was probably around an 8:12 min/mile.  It was also a freaking negative split, which I mean, who does that?!

Once I crossed the finish line I just had to stop, but the amazing volunteers at the race finish wanted to keep people moving. The volunteers were great with checking on people, helping people, getting medical attention, and providing wheelchairs for those who needed them. Shout-out to ALL of the awesome Chicago Marathon volunteers at every part of the race! I felt like death for a minute or so and a lovely volunteer walked with me to make sure I was okay and not dizzy or anything. After chugging a bottle of water and 3 cups of Gatorade I was feeling okay, minus my legs barely being able to walk. 

I hobbled along, grabbed a heat blanket, and got some photos taken. Chicago is so big and organized so  they had a nice line to grab bags of snacks plus bananas, protein bars, and Gatorade protein drinks. They also had bags of ice which felt amazing.  At this point, a few happy tears were shed and maybe a few flexing/biting my medal race photos were taken. 

Goose Island, like last year, was handing out free 312 wheat beers in the finishers area (ones you didn't have to use your beer ticket for) which is what I had before any food. It tasted gloriously.  Eventually I hobbled over to Buckingham Fountain (which is currently being renovated so it wasn't working) and grabbed my gear. 

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Next I sat down and looked at my phone which was filled with texts and congratulations. In this moment I finally smiled and realized I did get a PR and a BQ. It's not far enough under 3:35, but still. There were points in the race where I thought it was going to end up being a slower race so this still felt amazing. 

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Once I found my boyfriend and a friend, I got to relax in Grant Park. It was a beautiful day if you weren't running! It was awesome to see so many people finishing and to take a few moments to reflect that I just ran my 3rd freaking marathon. Who would have thought 4 years ago that I would be a MARATHONER, PLURAL. Even though I was in horrible pain at the end of the race, I was already thinking of what my next marathon would be. 
It's a sick hobby, isn't it? 

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I eventually redeemed my free beer, munched on a protein bar, and then headed out to spend the afternoon grabbing some food and drinking a few beers. 

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Snacks from the race bag that I didn't eat until later!
Sometimes post-race it's a burger and fries, but today all I wanted was this personal pizza all to myself. Yes, I like thin crust better than deep dish! YUM. 

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Honestly, I can't be sad of achieving my B goal, a PR and  BQ, even if it isn't fast enough to actually get to run Boston. It sucks that I felt like it wasn't even a real Boston time because I know when I apply I'll get cut,especially with how many people applied this year. I just feel the need to qualify saying I have a BQ because when people ask if I'm running Boston I can't say yes. 

Now I've accepted that you know what, it is really freaking awesome and is a Boston Qualifying time so HELL YEAH. I'm chipping away and know that I can train hard and maybe have that magical race day where I can run a little faster. Anyhow, coming away with a PR is a really great feeling. It kinda sucked not having any of my running buddies that I trained with along side me, but I was super grateful for how beautiful Chicago and all the spectators, volunteers, and runners were. Also my boyfriend is a trooper for seeing me on course like 6 times and having some extra fuel for me if I needed it. 

I was so happy to have my custom race mantra on my arm thanks to Momentum because it was the best reminder to repeat it to myself. I am stronger than I know! 

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What's your favorite race mantra? How did your big race or event of the season turn out?