Showing posts with label marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marathon. Show all posts

May 11, 2017

What to Pack in Your Marathon Gear Check Bag

Disclosure: I received complimentary product from ShowerPill. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


When you cross the finish line of a half or full marathon, the first thing you are thinking is YAY, glad that's over. If you are me next you are thinking where can I get a beer, water, banana, and sit down, PLEASE. If it's a big event or one where you plan on hanging out around for the post-race festivities that so many races have now, it might be a good idea to pack a gear check bag. I find this especially true if you're running a big race where it's going to take you a while to get back to your hotel/lodgings/house or you'll be hanging out in your post-race clothes for a while. 

After the Chicago Marathon the past 3 years the weather has been nice, and I've been feeling good so I hang out with friends, have a couple beers, and listen to the music in Grant Park. 
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Post-Chicago Marathon 2016 with a beer in one hand and my gear check bag beside me
Now, I'm the type of person that is usually cutting it close to getting to a race start or at least isn't giving myself much time beforehand. Even with marathons which are big deal to me, I still feel like maybe I should give myself some more time to get around. This is particularly true if you're running a huge race or one with security checkpoints. 

I usually hope that I have a friend or my boyfriend to carry some stuff for me until I finish. If not then sometimes I'll quickly navigate the pre-race area and drop off a gear check bag, if available. For some of the bigger half marathons and marathons I've run bag check is usually offered, and the process is pretty organized. Races give you a clear plastic bag at packet/bib pick-up (security reasons nowadays!). Then you can drop it off before the race with your bib number attached, and pick it up after finishing the race. It's not recommended to store valuables in there, because it's not like locked-in-a-safe secure. 

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Here are 5 items that I always pack in my gear check bag

1.Clothes
The type of clothes is dependent on you and the season, but I think having something not damp with sweat or smelly is a post-race must have. Even if it's summer I like to have at least a dry shirt to change into. If the weather is cold, I love having a comfy sweatshirt, dry shirt, and possibly extra pair of tights to change into. After hanging out in my sweaty clothes I usually feel extra chilly once my body starts to cool down and some fatigue sets in. 

2. Socks
This kind of goes along with clothes, but having a nice pair of clean, dry socks to change into after logging some race miles is great. It gives my feet some relief. Often I pack a pair of compression socks to wear to get a head start on recovery and to aid with circulation. 

3. Wet wipes
Having a travel-size pack of wet wipes is great to just wipe off my face and arms of sweat or dirt after a long run, particularly if I'm hanging out post-race for a bit. 

Since I discovered them a year or so ago, I've been loving ShowerPill wipes which are a thick washcloth-sized body wipe which kill 99.9 of germs and also contain hydrating vitamin E, witch hazel, and aloe vera. They come in single packets and are perfect for travel or gear check bags. 

You can save 20% off any ShowerPill order through 6/15/2017 with code LAUREN

4. Sandals
Oh yes, I've been known to rock some socks with sandals post-race. Actually my beloved Adidas sandals from my high school soccer days are falling apart and need to be replaced (not shocking). Again like the socks, it's nice to get my feet some relief and a chance to air out. Besides for comfort, I also like having sandals or even a spare set of shoes if the race has been muddy or wet. 

5. Favorite snack & drink
I always usually eat something offered post-race after I have my go-to recovery snack of a banana. If it's a long distance race or I'm not sure what post-race fuel will be available, I like to pack a small snack or drink that's a favorite of mine. That way I'm positive I have something that my body can easily handle and that I'll be able to quickly refuel with. 

For me this means a tube of Nuun Hydration that can easily be mixed with water and a Honey Stinger waffle. The gluten-free salted caramel  waffles are my favorite! 

6. Hair ties 
These are always just a good thing to have (for us longer haired gals and guys anyways). Possibly for pre-race if I (or another runner!) realize I've forgotten them or had one snap when fixing my hair (it's happened). Sometimes it's nice to pack some extra hair ties or a headband if I take out my sweaty pigtails post-race and want to look a little less like I just ran 13 or 26 miles 

Do you often gear check a bag? What's your must-have item to pack for post-race?

November 8, 2016

So I Have a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

So this really isn't the thing you want to be given (aka pay for) at the doctor's office as a runner. 

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It seems I have a metatarsal stress fracture in my right foot. 

According to OrthoInfo a stress fracture is "a small crack in a bone, or severe bruising within a bone. Most stress fractures are caused by overuse and repetitive activity, and are common in runners and athletes who participate in running sports, such as soccer and basketball." Recovery time for healing is 6-8 weeks. 

How it started
So 6 days after the Chicago Marathon on 10/9 and a couple easy runs, I decided to run the 5K and a leg of the marathon relay (Leg 4- 7 miles) at the Baltimore Running Festival on 10/15/16. It was super fun and the excitement got to me so I ran a little fast. The next day as I took my first steps during my run with the Charm City Run training group I was coaching, I had pain on the bottom side of my foot that did not go away.  In fact it continued to hurt the next couple of day as I took each step walking. It was mostly this pain on the outside of my foot which made me suspect tendinosis, but there was also this achy not sharp pain on the bottom top and heel of my foot that also felt kinda burning sometimes.  

Initial Steps
I took a a bunch of rest days, iced my foot, and used some KT tape to tape it up. It was feeling better later that week by the time of the appointment I made with the orthopedist. I've never had any injuries so I was freaked out and wanted to get it looked at. Things felt good and the X-Rays came back clear. I did a couple shorter runs with my training group (3, 4 miles), and it felt a lot better.  

Monday 10/24 I went for a 9 mile run with a friend, and my foot felt great until just after mile 4 where it was in pain. After the run it was in a lot of pain-no bueno. So I called my doctor and got an MRI scheduled for 10/29. Perhaps for another post, but MRIs are SO weird. 

MRI & Where I'm At Now
The MRI saw some bursitis between my 2nd, 3rd, 4th metatarsals (inflammation between my toes), tendinosis and fluid at my peroneal longus tendon (inflammation in my tendon along the outer edge of my foot), and a 4th metatarsal stress reaction (stress fracture almost in my 4th toe). 
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Image from AAOS

My doctor said it's a stress fracture from what he sees on the MRI despite there not being a ton of pain. It hurts more when he presses on it than the next toe but not a ton and way less than there was initially.  Honestly the tendinosis is bothering me on the bottom/side outer edge of my foot more lately.  As a future clinician the science of it all and looking at my MRI was pretty cool. Minus the fact that it was MY foot. 

The doctor think it is just an overuse activity from running and marathon training since nothing else seems glaring wrong. Although we're going to get my bone density tested as a precaution (despite not having the Female Athlete Triad), and in a few weeks I'll go to physical therapy and get my gait analyzed to see if it's something bio-mechanical in how I'm running as well as re-strengthen my foot. I just had my calcium and Vitamin D levels tested with Insidetracker, and both were in the normal range (which I tried hard to make sound legit when I explained to my doctor, haha).  

I got the MRI results on Thursday and pretty much spent all weekend watching Netflix and having a pity party party for myself. There was a lot of sobbing, beers, and some ice cream. Plus reading every Google search results on metatarsal stress fractures and running, of course. 

It just sucks because medical issues cost lots of money and time which I am happy to do to be healthy but still I'm a poor graduate student. Also I LOVE RUNNING, and JUST came off some great races and was finally feeling stronger and faster for the first time in a while. 

Now I feel like I'm going back to square one.

I went to a yoga class (that was actually great) last Tuesday and haven't worked out since. 

For now I'm in the Aircast boot for 3 weeks all the time except sleeping, until I go see my Dr. again and get re-evaluated with some X-Rays to see how its healing. He said for now pretty much just rest unless I can get in a pool and go swimming.  

Feelings About It All
Honestly I go back and forth between being fine and accepting my body-mandated rest period, and then just crying and freaking out. I'm actually really bummed that I can't run the Philadelphia Marathon anymore, but clearly it wasn't meant to be this year.  

Despite this I have a lot of gratitude. It's sucky but hey this all happened after training for the Chicago Marathon and then running a big PR and BQ and amazing race. I'm assuming since it's November it should get colder and take a couple months off from running at the holidays to rest won't be so badly. Lastly (and only second importantly to already getting the PR/BQ), is that I am lucky enough to still have healthcare through my job even though working full-time ish hours during full-time grad school sucks. That means I have a Hopkins sports medicine orthopedist to work with through all this which is awesome. He thinks I should be back to my running self in January/February which is great to hear.

Now I'm that runner who is on #injurydeck and can't run. Bring on the Netflix marathons and stay tuned!

So anyone ever had a stress fracture? How do you stay sane during injuries?

October 27, 2016

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

I have been putting this off because I don't even know where to begin talking about the Chicago Marathon. I've also been dealing with some foot pain and grad school midterms which can take a person's mind off blogging. Anyone else feel like their marathons go by in a blur? After it's over I only remember certain sites, certain miles, and certain feelings (including those steps across the finish line). 

The Big Chicago Marathon 2016 Recap {Expo and Race}

Because of my grad school schedule I missed some fun things and had to get into Chicago late Friday night. I was feeling like a cold was coming on all week which had me thoroughly freaked out about the race. Saturday morning I ended up taking the train downtown to meet up with Kelly Robert's #SportsBraSquad Shake-Out Run at the Westin on Michigan Ave. I had met Kelly briefly at the November Project Summit in Ontario in July but finally got to have a quick chat and snap a photo with her.  She's fabulous and had a nice big group for a 2 mile shakeout run that included lots of beautiful city views and selfies. 


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Also kudos to Oiselle for hooking us up with some swag. I am in love with this shirt! 

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You should totally go to Kelly's NYC Marathon shakeout run if you are in town for it! After a quick pit stop at Trader Joe's for bananas, bars, and beet juice with Emily  before heading over to the expo. 

Since this is my third year in a row, I knew what to expect. Things were still really organized as I expected. I suppose I was feeling a little bit anxious about the race and that my boyfriend hadn't up with me yet so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Also the expo is far more crowded on Saturday than it would have been on Friday so that is something to get used to if you haven't been to a big race expo, particularly a World Marathon Majors race one. 

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So I quickly grabbed my bib and bothered strangers to take photos of me, despite still being kinda gross looking since I didn't shower post-shakeout run. 

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No big race expo is complete without a stop to the Nuun booth to say hello and grab a cute new water bottle to add to my collection. 

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I also got to check out the Moji booth and try out some massage products that I took home with me. This Moji Foot Pro is fabulous on the bottom of your tired feet, especially if you freeze it first!

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As always, I love all the awesome Nike graphic photo backdrops around the expo. Perfect for getting pumped about the 26.2 miles happening the next day!

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I also co-hosted the We Run Social meetup with the fabulous Heather which was nice, despite some people being confused that we were not in fact speaking on the Runner's World stage but rather just meeting near it! 

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There was a few more photos before getting showered and relaxing. I grabbed some pasta with Erica for dinner. I had some pasta with chicken and marinara sauce as my pre-race dinner. 

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Before bed was iPod and Garmin charging as well as laying out all the goods I needed for the next day. 

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{Lululemon Run Swiftly tagged shirt, Lululemon shorts, Ciele hat, Feetures! compression socks, Brooks Launch 3 running shoesHoneyStinger Ginsting gels & Huma gels, Nuun Hydration Lemon-Lime Energy, and Run Gum in peppermint} 

I had worked with Coach Suz (she's fabulous!) to have her consult on my training plan and race day plans and offer her suggestions so I had a general idea of how I wanted to run the race. I was feeling anxious and unsure of how I felt about the race pretty much up until I got to the starting area.  Once I felt the chilly weather (despite not being quite as chilly as I prefer) and all the marathon excitement in the air, I was really happy. 

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It was also possibly that things were going super smoothly. I got dressed and had a banana, Salted Caramel HoneyStinger waffle, and Nuun. I took the train into downtown and caught one just as it arrived from the Austin blue line station. I moved through the security checkpoint super quickly this year and EVEN found a port-a-potty with only 6 people ahead of me in line. There were Nike pacers in line too so I'm almost positive it wasn't VIP or anything and was just covered by bushes so it was less crowded. The realist that I am, I was thinking that things were going too smoothly to be true but tried to roll with it. 

Miles 1-5: Pace groups make me anxious because of my self-placed pressure to keep up with the group, but I decided to line up with the 3:30 pacers anyways. Hats off to the guys that were super fun and amazing.  The start is really crowded which kind of helps with runners starting out slower and not going out too fast so I didn't worry. The beginning miles with the pacers was super crowded and for the first 5 mile I was almost tripped and bumped into people multiple times which was really freaking annoying.  It's such a big race and the 3:30 pace group seemed popular. Especially since I have run this race now twice before, I really tried to soak in the race and excitement with no music or anything. My GPS was yet again messed up because of the tunnels so I really focused on just staying with the pace group.

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My boyfriend got this cool shot of me running by and smiling at around Mile 3ish. 

Miles 6-10:
 I told myself to just try to settle in, stay comfortable, and follow the pace group but not freak if I wasn't right next to a pacer. The pacers were great with one guy telling the guy in front to pull back. I was feeling great and tried to settle in and stopped at most of the water stops. I wasn't carrying any water because it annoys me so I made sure to stay hydrated.  The miles were moving past especially because I wasn't paying attention to my watch. It was nice to feel comfortable with the pace group and not have to worry about anything but running and keeping them in sight.  Still no music and lots of crowd support! 

Miles 11-15: I feel like in my marathons I always am dreading and waiting for the wall so I talked to Suz about throwing in some faster strides and changing my mentality. This time I stuck with the pace group but was feeling really good and was annoyed by the crowdedness of the group behind the pacers so decided to run in front of the pace group around mile 14. I kept my mentality the same as I had at the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this year where I tried to just run where I felt good and not get freaked out by the pace. I also took an extra gel around mile 12.5 as Suz suggested to give me an extra boost when I usually start to freak out on the inside.  The pacers reminding everyone from Mile 11 onwards to stop at the water stops was also super helpful. 

Miles 16-20: Around Mile 16 I turned on the iPod. I also peeked back behind me a couple times before I just kept running and knew that if I saw the pace group pass me, I'd have to keep up-but I didn't see them. I kept telling myself my mantra "I am comfortable, I am strong" and reminding myself how crappy I felt at this point last year and how my legs felt good this year. My breathing wasn't heavy or labored, and I was having fun. Once it hit 18 I tried to periodically check out my watch but not let it determine the race for me.  Around 18 the thoughts that I had a fast enough 3:30 BQ (and PR) in reach but tried to not get ahead of myself because as I knew, the marathon is a 20 mile warm-up with a 10K race.  I saw my boyfriend at Mile 18 who had some water and was literally stunned as I ran by smiling and giving him the thumbs up, telling him I felt great. 

Miles 21-26: Obviously my legs started to hurt after mile 20 as is expected with a marathon. I knew at this point that I was crushing it and only had to make it to the finish. Mile 22 on was just giving it all I had left in the metaphorical fuel tank. I had my music and the crowds to help push me. At Mile 22 was the November Project-Chicago cheer station which was a huge boost to get some cheers and high-fives.  During this last stretch I focused on just getting to the next mile marker.  Making it to the next mile was a nice mental game that helped push me to the end.  The miles blur together now. 

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Around Mile 23, pushing it to the end. 
As I got to Mile 25, all the emotions start to hit me. It was different because usually I get more emotional during the race but was surprisingly composed during this marathon (mostly because of my mental game).  Once I was at this point I knew I would make it and tried my best to push it to the end.  As I crossed the finish line I was in tears and just broke down sobbing after I finished. Two different people asked me if I was okay, and I told them it was just happy tears, no worries. 

As I waddled towards the fountain with my Goose Island beer in hand, which tastes effing amazing after a marathon, I was SO damn happy. You can see it in this photo below. That moment of relaxing, with a beer in hand, all by myself was is my favorite post-race moment to savor. 

 I was ahead of the 3:30 pacer, completely surpassing my A goal for the race. I grabbed my bag and had texts from friends. Suz texted me that I crushed it. I was confused because friends were saying I had run 3:34 because the live tracking on the app had gone by gun time not chip time (which I later found out) and caused me to freak out that my results were messed up. 

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Suz texted me my actual race results which made me feel awesome. 3:27? WHAT?!


I met up with my boyfriend and some friends and was on top of the world. ON TOP OF THE WORLD. I was kind of in disbelief that I ran a marathon in crushing my goal time and it wasn't that painful. I mean my legs hurt, and I don't think I could go faster but I did it. Despite not really believing in myself until race morning. Over a 7 minute PR and a nice cushion over my 3:35 Boston Qualifying time.  

Third time's a charm, Chicago. I LOVE YOU. 

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The race was a little warm (not as much as last year thank goodness), but perfect for hanging out afterwards. After frantically finding the results tent I learned that their tracking system was down and others had messed up tracker times so I felt confident that my time was not completely messed up. I threw some sandals on and just hung out with friends jamming to the live band. 

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Oh and I used my beer ticket to grab my free beer (the one at the finish doesn't count-I love you Chicago). It was so sunny out I actually got a little sunkissed on my face.  

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After a shower and some relaxation, I headed out to Small Cheval for my post-marathon meal of choice-a burger, fries, and a beer. Amazing

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Finally the night was ended with a few more beers and some Jeni's Ice Cream in Wicker Park. I was going to go for the double scoop, but the triple scoop was the marathoner's special for the same price so obviously I went with that. The perfect end to the day! 

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The race day was better than I imagined and now I'm a little worried I won't have a better marathon!  Thank you again everyone for all the love, support, and good vibes!

What is your favorite big race moment? 

October 12, 2016

I DID IT! {Chicago Marathon 2016 Initial Thoughts}

If you follow me on social media you probably saw that Sunday was one of those perfect race days. It went so smoothly I still want to pinch myself to make sure it really happened that way. 

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Obviously since it was my third year in a row running the Chicago Marathon, you might have already guessed that I was a fan. Besides the flat and fast course, the whole thing is so well-organized. I love the city route, the atmosphere, the spectators that line the entire course, and all of the amazing volunteers. 

Race morning was a breeze, and I stayed calm, collected, and just let myself run. I can't thank all my friends, family, fellow runners, and followers for all the love, support, and good vibes I was given.  When I knew at Mile 20 that I had a Boston Qualifying time and my goal in me, it was just a surreal moment. I wanted that dream of running Boston really badly. 

I tried to tell myself not to get too excited since the race was just starting at Mile 20, but deep down I knew I could do it. I spend a lot of time trying to fake confidence and believe in myself (#workinprogress). The days before the race I was anxious about my goals and saying I was ready for the marathon despite so many people telling me I was going to rock it, yet it took race day for me to positively believe it.  I trusted the training and myself especially once I past the halfway mark. I knew that my legs and heart were going to get me to the finish line strong.  All those early mornings, hot & humid summer long runs, and tough workouts were worth it. 

The last 6 miles hurt (I'm pretty sure that's just a given in all marathons), but it was one of the couple marathons where I felt so in control for most of the race. My mental game was on point, and I stayed fairly composed during race until I saw the finish line. Immediately after crossing it I started sobbing. Sobbing so that people were asking me if I was okay, and I was like it's all good-they are happy tears! That elusive Boston Qualifying acceptance time (not just qualifying cuts it anymore!) was mine. I crushed and surpassed my goal time of 3:30 all while not only telling myself that I was strong but truly believing it.  

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I'll have a full race recap up at the end of the week, but just remember to run happy & dream big. You have all the power to achieve your dreams already inside of you.  

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My custom Momentum motivate wrap bracelet with my mantra from last year still holds true. 

And sorry that you'll have to keep hearing about the 2016 Chicago Marathon. Most of my races aren't this amazing so I'm soaking it alllllll in. 

October 7, 2016

Chicago Marathon 2016 Goal Chat

THE BIG RACE IS IN 3 DAYS, GUYS. Seriously can't believe at the end of this week I'll be running the Chicago Marathon for the third year in a row. This year feels a little different-like it snuck up on me somehow? I'm sure I'll be feeling more marathon excited once I get into Chicago tomorrow night. 

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Honestly the whole idea of writing about my goals is scary. It's stupid because everyone I am friends with or who follows me on social media knows I'm running the Chicago Marathon. People who run who I've talked to more in depth know that I want a BQ. And that means a faster BQ not a BQ like last year where I will not get accepted to run the Boston Marathon. 

The weather is looking cooler this year which means I might feel better than last year. My training wasn't perfect. School and life get in the way. I didn't get my mileage as high as I ultimately wanted. It's easy to sit in taper and look at your training schedule and think you should have ran more, or done more speed workouts, or ran an extra 20 miler run.  But now the work is all done and the race on Sunday is the victory lap. 

I did run many hard workouts and ran some really great races so I am proud of this training cycle.   

It's just the idea of putting your goals out there and not achieving them that scares the crap out of me because it's embarrassing and a terrible feeling. There's nothing I can do but put my goals out there and hope that lots of love, support, and good vibes are with me on race day.  I believe in the power of positive thinking and mentally getting yourself prepared but not psyched out. 

April 26, 2016

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more marathons

You know after the Boston Marathon, a day in which every runner at work is in fact sneaking away to watch the Boston Marathon streaming online, that it is almost fall marathon season. Okay so it's at least fall marathon lottery and registration season.  

Everyone and their mother is registering for marathons, maybe catching the fever and running their first or running multiple races. 

Of course as always, I'm super inspired and motivated to train again after watching the Boston Marathon and seeing all the heart and reading all the stories that come out of it. 

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I want another, faster BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) since I am less than a minute under my qualifying time and need to be faster to apply and be accepted to run nowadays.  I'm still shy about talking about it, but it's something I want that I can't deny. 

I talked about why a BQ is an A goal but obviously it's not everything here last year before I ran the Chicago Marathon.  Since I wanted to run a flat-ish marathon course, my options were limited. Because of my school schedule I also didn't want to run a marathon that was going to be a big trip and farther away.  

The Philadelphia Marathon has been on my list of races to run for a while.  I've shied away from it the past couple of years because I really would rather run a race earlier in the Fall since I have more time to train in the summer and less in the Fall, especially now that grad school is crazy.  I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon a couple years ago and have obviously raced there a bunch.  

Once I PRed a half marathon in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago (recap to follow!), my choice to run it was solidified. I love Philly, and it loves me.  I signed up on the day registration open, sadly missing their really discounted marathon entries, but still getting early bird registration. 

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So yep, Philadelphia Marathon 2016, and I'm all ready to go

Not so fast. Did you forget that I'm a crazy runner lady? 

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more marathons
Maybe I'm an old fart, but this skit never gets old!
I've been getting emails for weeks from the Chicago Marathon about entering the lottery or applying for guaranteed entry (which I qualify for again, as I did last year).  Then I saw a bunch of friends were entering the lottery. Then I thought long and hard about getting vengenace on that Chicago Marathon course which mostly because of the heat last year, kicked my butt. 

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. 

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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.  

chicago-marathon-2015-finish-line
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. 

chicago-marathon-2015-buckingham-fountain

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. 

chicago-marathon-2015-goose-island


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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. 

chicago-marathon-2015-snacks
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. 

chicago-marathon-2015-pizza

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! 

chicago-marathon-momentum-mantra-bracelet

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

 
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