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

July 31, 2018

Gear Review: Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0


Disclaimer: I purchased this Ultimate Directions vest on my own-this is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

As a running coach and marathoner, I often am asked about hydration belts, bottles, and vests. I trained for and ran my first two marathons with a Fuelbelt hydration belt with 2 small bottles (that I picked up at a Marshalls on sale). I was never a fan of it, but it seemed to be an okay solution to carrying water on the course. My 3rd marathon, I ran with a handheld water bottle. For my 4th through 6th marathons I haven’t carried water on the course, but have relied on the on-course water stations. With big marathons such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston there are so many water stations that it is easy to not carry any hydration gear with me if the weather is not hot.

The problem has been training in Baltimore hot & humid summers for long distance races. I have been using a Flipbelt with a water bottle or this Peak Hydration Nathan pack for training. I tried a Camelbak on a couple runs a few summers ago and did not like all the sloshing as well as cleaning out the bladder. This summer anything on my waist has been really annoying me. That fact, plus toying around with the idea of running a 50K later this Fall, I decided to start looking into purchasing a hydration vest with bottles.

After much deliberation, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0 which I found on sale for under $80 (it retails for $114.95). This isn't a sponsored post, I am just sharing my thoughts on the vest because I've gotten a some questions about it. I chose it because it has two bottles that sit up front on the chest, it’s lightweight, and it had good reviews. I ran with the Race Vesta for the first time and had not properly watched the videos on how to adjust it so it bounced a lot. Since properly adjusting it, it has minimal bounce and is my new go-to long run gear.  Here’s an overview and my thoughts on the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0.
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Overall

(All information via Ultimate Direction
-Available in two sizes: XS/SM, MD/LG (I bought the XS/SM version)
-Available in two colors: pink or blue
-MSRP: $114.95
-Materials: 4-way stretch woven mesh, 30D coated nylon ripstop, micromono mesh, and 150g flex mono mesh.
-Includes (2) BodyBottles 500s (500 mL soft bottles)
-Volume Capacity: 494.29 in/ 8.1 L
-Weight: With Bottles-9.56 oz. / 271 g ; Without Bottles-6.1 oz. / 173 g

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According to Ultimate Direction, the women’s Vesta differs from the men’s Vesta in that it has a different configuration for pole attachment, is compatible with a 2L hydration bladder, includes two zippered pockets instead of stash pockets on the bottle pockets.  
This vest is one of the more lightweight hydration vests from Ultimate Direction, with larger vests including the Ultra and Adventure Vestas.

Features

-Sliding Rail Sternum Straps (adjustable!)
-Extensive Front Storage (2 zippered and 2 bottle pockets)
-Trekking pole holders
-Comfort Cinch TM Technology

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The Good

I love how lightweight the vest is. It doesn’t add a lot of bulk and feels really breathable on the run. The fabric is really stretchy too so the vest fits well to my body and feels like it moves with me. I have never used soft bottles before but like them so far. From the placement of the bottle pockets on the front, I am able to use the bite valve on the bottles to drink easily without removing the bottles from the vest.  The bottles in the bottle pockets sit right above “the girls” and feel comfortable and aren’t right up in my face when I’m running either.
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I have been using the zippered storage pockets for my gels and fuel as well as my debit card.  I love that the zippers mean everything is nice and secure. The fabric of the vest is stretchy so I can even fit my Samsung Galaxy S9 phone in one of the zippered pockets, but prefer to have it more easily accessible in one of the bottle pockets. I’ve been running with one of the bottles filled with water and Nuun Hydration in one of the bottle pockets along with an extra bottle filled with plain water in the large back compartment that I can switch out. Since I have been using this for running, I cannot speak to the trekking pole holders.

I love that the vest is easily cinched with the shock cords on the top and bottom in the back. On my first run with it, I did not pull the bottom shock cords tight enough and really tighten up the cords in the back to stop most of the bouncing. Once I adjusted it properly, the vest and bottles bounced barely at all.

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The fact that you can move the placement of the sternum straps up and down is awesome. I am 5’4” and bought the XS/SM size based on the sizing chart and did not adjust the sternum straps from their original placement.

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The Bad

I love the light pink and blue color options, generally speaking but always worry about gear getting dirty. After a handful of runs, I already have a dirt spot on the front of my vest. Sure, it’s easy enough to just throw the vest in the wash to clean it, but I would appreciate a gray color option as well.

As I mentioned, the pack is really stretchy. I haven’t tried to use a hydration bladder in it yet, but have been putting a filled water bottle, extra gels, or something like a light rain coat in the large back compartment. The large compartment doesn’t have any extra support on the bottom so I’m not sure how heavy it would feel if I loaded up the back compartment for a longer race and am worried it might wear out the fabric quickly due to the sagging strain on it.

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One last nit-picky detail is that in the right side bottle pocket there is also an emergency whistle which has its own little pocket. It sometimes comes out of the pocket and bounces around which can be annoying. I wish it was just a bit more securely fastened in the pocket.

Takeaway

I think the Ultimate Direction RaceVesta 4.0  is a great, lightweight option for marathoners or ultra marathoners who want a hands-free way to carry a smaller amount of fuel and gear during training runs or for a race. It’s a great option for ladies like me who need to do some longer runs with just the essentials-phone, fuel, and hydration.

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Do you use any sort of hydration belt or vest? How do you carry your gear with you on longer runs? 

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

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!  

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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.

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.

April 2, 2018

Why Marathon Training is Difficult Post-Injury

Be sure to enter my giveaway for Smile Brilliant easy at-home teeth whitening, ends 4/6/2018! 

As of today the Boston Marathon is officially 2 weeks away. It is really exciting and still feels unreal to me. Unlike previous marathons including the 2016 Chicago Marathon, I have not been posting weekly recaps about my training or how things are going besides some post-run photos on Instagram (you can follow my hashtag #BreatheDeeplyandRunBoston for all of my Boston updates!). This is a huge race and something I have been dreaming about since I ran my first marathon in 2013. So why no weekly recaps and blog updates on my training? Honestly because I have been scared I'll be injured again. I won't be truly relieved until I am at the start line. 


To recap after my best marathon and big personal record and Boston qualifying time at the Chicago Marathon 2016, I was diagnosed with a a metatarsal stress fracture. You can read all my posts about my injury and being an injured runner here. I did the whole boot and physical therapy thing. I have dealt with real or psychosomatic soreness occasionally in my right foot ever since. My last injury update in July talked about how I was starting to feel like myself again as a runner. 

Phantom Pains 

From my research and knowledge of biology/anatomy, my brain could just be hypersensitive to any normal soreness in my foot. There could still be some nerve or tissue irritating surrounding the site, although the bone callus has formed, and the bone is fully re-modeled. I have also read anecdotes that some people still get soreness and tingling years after a stress fracture. 

I had to defer the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon to 2017 because of my injury. I followed a low-mileage Hal Higdon marathon training plan because the goal was just to run the race for fun as well as prove to myself that I can run the marathon distance again without getting injured. For 2 months before that marathon, while I still had good health insurance at the end of graduate school, I went to True Sports Physical Therapy to continue to work on mobility and posterior chain strength. I remember even race week I had my physical therapist push around on my foot because I swore I was having some pain again. Then I had fun at the marathon, finished in 3:43, took my recovery seriously, and continued running. 

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


thehills-excited



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). 

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

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?