Showing posts with label race. Show all posts
Showing posts with label race. Show all posts

April 14, 2017

Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Race Recap


My recap of this last April's inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World 2016 is here, just a week before this year's race. 

 As I mentioned in my post on my favorite Disney eats, my sister works at the parks so it was an excuse to visit her. My friend was also running this race as his first half marathon and had a place for me to crash which makes it more enticing because the price tag on this race was $185 which is A LOT for a half marathon, or a race in general. 

There is a 5K and 10K, and half marathon during the race weekend as well as the Dark Side Challenge (10K Saturday, half marathon Sunday).  

inaugural-star-wars-dark-side-half-marathon-recap

Pre-Race

I stayed at the All-Star Disney Resort with my sister the night I got to Florida so getting to the expo was easy-I just caught a bus over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  First there was a huge room where you go and get just your bib. I love when your name is printed on your bibg for races like this one. All of the cast members/employees I encountered were very nice and helpful. 


Next you head over to another giant stadium room where the actual race expo is. They had lots of fun vendors, but it wasn't too crowded when I got there early on Saturday morning. They had some cute things, but I don't really buy anything at most race expos anymore. I did end up getting Sparkly Soul headbands (Star Wars themed)- one for me and one for my sister.


I loved this graphic of the course map hanging up.  Everything in the expo was pretty well-organized. 


I did think it was really cool that there were stormtroopers patrolling the race expo. 


Here's a photo of the race shirt. RunDisney uses Champion products which aren't my favorite racing shirt style, but I do like the design of this shirt with Darth Vader on it. 

People are known to go crazy for the RunDisney race merchandise for sale at the expo. I tried to make my way there quickly and apparently some things had sold out, but there was still a ton available for purchase. I bought another cool Darth Vader shirt and a pint glass, but honestly wasn't too impressed with anything.

Race Day

The half marathon STARTS at 5 AM so that meant like a 2:30, 3 AM wakeup for me. That is damn early for a race morning for me. My friend and I ended up taking an Uber to Epcot and managed to use the bathrooms at the entrance to the park (score!). There were some photo op backgrounds up which was fun.  I was in the first corral which made me feel super speedy because for such a huge race with over 18,000 runners I was close to the front. The race had a fun start with a video and then fireworks!  


I didn't have any racing goals for this race and knew that because I wanted to stop to get photos with characters that my time would be slower. My only goal was to fully experience a runDisney race and have lots of fun! The race temperature at the start was in the 60s with 75% humidity, something I was not yet used to running too in April in Baltimore (that humidity kicks in there in the summer though!). 

The race course starts in Epcot, goes through the Boardwalk and Beach resorts area, through Hollywood Studios, to and through Animal Kingdom and then finishes at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. One of the first character stops was R2D2 so I jumped right in line behind only a couple people and got a photo with R2D2-it was awesome! 

My race outfit was BB-8 inspired with a Sparkle Skirt, hand-painted visor and shirt. 


The first couple of miles took us around the World Showcase with all the different countries at Epcot which was one of my favorite parts. They had the parks lit up and many employees standing out and cheering. It was really fun to be running through one of my favorite parks with no one but runners there. 

Miles 2-4 have you going through the Boardwalk and Beach resort area which had a few more brave family members and friends cheering who were staying at those resorts and then we made our way to Hollywood Studios. I stayed at one of these resorts last time I was in Disney World with my family so it was fun running by these. I was having a great time so far!

Race photo on the boardwalk
I had been previously warned that due to the distance between parks, there were long highway stretches of races at Walt Disney World. The first 4 miles of this race were so fun and exciting that it was like a blur until I got to the long highway stretch to get to Animal Kingdom at Mile 9. Settling into miles 4-8 was a little mentally tough, but there were some characters as well as big video screens playing clips from various Star Wars films. 

Getting a photo with Chewbacca was super fun as well and one of my favorite photos. 


Running the ginormous parking lot at Animal Kingdom to get to the park entrance was killer. It felt like I was never getting any closer! Once we got into the park it was really fun to run through it, especially with all of the music, employees cheering, and wildlife due to the nature of the park. 
Miles 9-12 lead us through Animal Kingdom and back along the highway again towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports, with the last 1.1 miles going through the complex. 

By the end of the race the sun was up, and the weather was warming up quickly. Overall the course was fairly flat with a couple inclines on the highway stretches. 

I appreciated all of the photo ops with employees willing to take photos with my phone (although many of those from the beginning came out really dark i.e. my Chewbacca photo above) as well as the PhotoPass professional photos. I've heard that the lines can get long which can be annoying unless you just expect that it's part of the experience. The start and stop of running can be a little weird feeling during a half marathon too. 

This was one of my favorite photos from the race,trying to look as boss as possible in the emperor's chair. 


There weren't as many characters out as I expected, although there were some fun photo ops that put you in scenes from the movie. During the highway stretches there was some music and video screens including a DJ playing remixes of Star War music, but I was expecting more entertainment. 

This movie scene photo op I wasn't thinking straight and posed wrong and should be going away from the monster, haha. The photo then gets flipped over so that I'm like Luke hanging in the cave in Empire Strikes Back, which I did not understand at the time it was being taken. There was another fun scene photo op in the trash compactor from A New Hope


By the end after the long highway stretches, I was ready to be at the finish and enjoyed myself that last mile. 


I finished the race in 1:49:12, 11th in division and 497 overall out of over 18,000 finishers,  which is pretty solid considering I stopped to take a bunch of photos and was running this for the whole runDisney experience. That also gives you a sense of how many people run this race. 

Once I finished I was handed a medal and picked up a Powerade, water, cold towel, and box of snacks. 


Now I will say that the medal is pretty freaking awesome. It's heavy and Darth Vader middle part spins. 


I finished fairly fast so the finish area in one of the big parking lots wasn't too crowded yet. There was a big screen so you could watch as people finished. Here they had more photo ops including the big man himself, Darth Vader.  They had all of these next to each other, and the queues quickly became pretty long. 


Dressed up as BB-8, this was the first photo line I jumped into. I love this photo, although I wish I could have like hugged BB-8 or something. 




As I said, the morning heated up fast. I ended up waiting for my friend to finish his first half marathon and then journeyed back to the hotel for some snacks and a nap. I headed out to the parks later that day. It was fun to see other's wearing their medals around the parks. 


Overall Race/RunDisney thoughts

Positives 

-Great photo opportunities: You can get lots of awesome photos during and after the race. I also thought getting photos with the characters was very fun! 
-Awesome medal: If you care about your race bling, a runDisney race is definitely the place to grab some awesome, unique race medals. 
-Unique experience: I think it was a unique experience with fireworks at the start, character stops, and a fun theme throughout (especially if you are a big Star Wars fan like I am). Running through the parks before they are open is also really fun. 

Negatives

-Price: I still think for the pricetag that Disney could offer runners 10% off park tickets. The price for tickets only keeps climbing, and I think it would be nice to offer SOME sort of discount on park tickets. 
-Highway stretches: There are long stretches of highway during the races, based on how far apart the parks are and the race course. Here you aren't getting really getting any fan support or as much excitement as I expected during this race off the park premises. 
-Early start: I was pretty tired after the race so it wasn't the day where I was going to have a long day at the parks. I can't imagine doing that wake-up multiple days in a row for the challenges. 

Something that could be positive or negative is the race size. The Disney World races have a capacity upwards of 20,000 runners. It was fun to be part of such a large race,and get to start the race with the energy of a crowd of people. It also makes the expo, race start and finish, and parks/resorts more crowded at that time. My friend who started in the back because he didn't have a time to put in when he registered said it was really frustrating trying to get past many people and the start was really crowded. 



You can find information about the race and this year's events on their race website here

Have you ever run a runDisney race? Do you like big or small races? 



March 8, 2017

5 Spring Race Day Tips

Even though the weather can’t make up its mind, it will soon officially be spring. In the Mid-Atlantic region, that means ALL the races as the weather warms up.  I know many people are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon and 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I have the past three years (2015 race recap here), but am holding off a couple weeks before racing long distance because I haven’t quite built my mileage up enough.

I will be, however, be running the KELLY Shamrock 5K with most of Baltimore on Sunday, and can’t wait (2015 race recap here). It’s not going to be fast, but that race is pretty easy-going. I've run it 4 years, and it's always a fun, city-wide event. Spring may mean the first race of a new racing season for many runners. Here are some of my tips for the first race of the spring racing season.


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5 Spring Race Day Tips

1. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. 
I do this before every race, but it’s especially important if it’s been a few months since you’ve raced. Make sure all your gear is together and that you aren’t forgetting anything. Charge your phone, running watch, or iPod if need be too! You don’t want to be scrambling around in the AM looking for your fuel belt, headphones, gloves, or clean running clothes.
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2. Run with friends. 
I love running with friends in general but especially for the first race of the season it can help keep the pressure off yourself and keep things fun. The first race of the season is usually not a goal race for me. I look at it as more of a warm-up for the copious other spring races. Keeping pace with a friend can keep you motivated and help you pace yourself in the beginning of the race.

3. Start slowly. 
The first race of the season can be super exciting, especially once you are the start line and have the energy of the crowd and fellow runners. It’s super easy to get caught up in starting too fast at the beginning instead of pacing yourself. You don’t want to use up all your energy at the start or it could be a longgggg race. Trust me.

4. Dress in Layers. 
At least in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, spring race weather is very unpredictable. I’ve run races in March and April where it was freezing cold or unseasonably warm. I always grab some throwaway clothes from Goodwill. I also have few pairs of arm warmers that I love to race in when it’s cool at the race start, but not cold enough for long sleeves because I can pull them down during the race. Dress in layers you can easily take off and toss as well as have layers like a pullover available at the finish line for when you cool down after the race.
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5. Have fun. 
The first race of the spring season I am usually a bit under trained after taking some time off and adding more cross-training into my routine. That is even more true this season as I’m rebuilding after an injury. This first race of the season is a benchmark for where you are at so learn from it. Reflect on where you are right now and what your goals for the rest of the year are, but don’t get discouraged. Think about the positives, decide what you want to work on after the race, and stay motivated through the season. Have fun and enjoy the race! 

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Yet again, this will be me after the Shamrock 5K!
I linked this post up with the Half Marathon Race Tips link-up below. Check out all the awesome posts!




Do you usually run your first of the season for fun or to target a goal? What's your first competition or race this season? 

February 2, 2017

ZOOMA Annapolis 2017 Is Coming!

Disclosure: As a 2017 ZOOMA Women's Race Series ambassador, I received complimentary registration for the events and a unique discount code. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I am back as a ZOOMA Women's Race Series Ambassador in 2017 for the third year in a row and am more excited than ever. I first got involved with ZOOMA because I was attracted to a female-centric race series that was really catered towards womens running. Now I also love all the people I've met behind ZOOMA including Brae who started the series. ZOOMA has taken lots of feedback from last year and is always trying to improve their race experiences. 

I have run the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon race in 2015 and 2016 so I'll definitely be back this year.  This year is actually the 10th anniversary of ZOOMA Annapolis so it's going to be an extra special event.  

The half marathon and 10K start at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and then takes you through lovely downtown Annapolis then up and over the challenging Naval Academy Bridge before ending back at Navy Stadium. The race course is open for 3.5 hours for both races. 

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Same courses in 2017 as last year!
I always loved the open and relaxed After-Party Expo at the race with live music, wine, and recovery yoga. The weather and humidity in June always make this race a little challenging, but it's a great weekend with awesome perks such as a great swag and FREE race photos. It is a women's race series, but men are welcome to run! 

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My free race photo as I crossed the finish line at the half marathon in 2015 
This year for the 10th Anniversary celebration there will be a Virtual Half Marathon or 10K option which lets your participate virtually and still receive swag including a shirt and medal in the mail.

This year ZOOMA Annapolis falls on the June 3, 2017, the same day as the Baltimore 10 Miler again so I wanted to get the word out there to peeps in the area. I am just starting to feel more comfortable in my injury recovery with making future race plans so I marked it on my calendar officially. I'll also be coaching the ZOOMA 10K training group out of the Charm City Run Baltimore location in a few months which will be super fun as a race ambassador and someone familiar with the course too. 

Registration is open for the Annapolis race and prices increase May 21. 
Use my code LAUREN2017 to save 10% off your registration. 

ZOOMA also has a great podcast about all things health and fitness that you can access through their website here

I'm excited to have a fun summer race already on the books! 

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Do you have any big summer races planned yet?

January 3, 2017

2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

Welcome to my 2016 year in review blog post. I know it's a bit cliche, but this is a really fun way for me to reflect on the year. I always forget all of the amazing adventures I went on, the races I ran, and fun I had this year.  It's nice to scroll through the photos on my computer and really spend time thinking about the past year before jumping into the next. I'm sharing a couple fun things that happened each month in 2016 running, fitness, and beyond!


2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

January
Snowzilla hit Baltimore in January bringing the best snow on record for the city. It was crazy.  I also started coaching at Charm City Run which was definitely challenging with lots of snow and ice on the ground!

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I also spent plenty of cold mornings running and working out with November Project Baltimore, which celebrated it's second birthday. 

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February
Besides a lovely Valentine's Day dinner in with my boyfriend and some more running, I ran the Nuun Year Dash with a group of fellow Team Nuun runners and some cool people from Harlem Run. It was great to spread the Nuun love and run the FitFam virtual race in person! 

fitfam-underarmour-nuun-year-dash

March
March is always when lots of spring races start popping off despite the weather still being a crapshoot. I visited Asheville for the first time and ran the Asheville Half Marathon at the Biltmore Estate-a BEAUTIFUL race! 

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Baltimore also held it's first Light City which was a lights festival with light art installations, performances, and events. 

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? 
 
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