Showing posts with label running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running. Show all posts

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.


5-spring-race-day-tips

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.
rock-n-roll-dc-2015-half-marathon-gear

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.
rock-n-roll-dc-2014-half-marathon-start

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! 

shamrock-5k-run-for-beer
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. 

zooma-annapolis-course-map
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! 

zooma-annapolis-half-marathon-2015
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! 

zooma-annapolis-2017-race-discount

Do you have any big summer races planned yet?

January 30, 2017

What Will Make Me a Better, Faster Stronger Athlete in 2017

Hello! I'm still moving along on my return to running plan and am up to running TWO WHOLE MILES. Yes, sarcastically because I have had a couple runs this week where I just want to keep going, but then my mind is like BUT THE PLAN and then I think about how I don't want to be injured or in a boot again so I stop. Being able to run 2 miles is way better than 0 miles. I am still trying to work on changing my running form which is proving to be hard and might not happen, but at least there are things I think of like squeezing my booty to engage my glutes every so often and lean forward a bit to prevent over striding.  

I have been really wary of registering for races even though I have 2 half marathons on the books in the spring because coming back from the injury and getting my mileage up is a slow process. Therefore I am still thinking about 2017 goals (besides not getting injured) as well as what I want to accomplish outside of fitness. So that post will be later. 

There are things I have been doing that I want to continue with as my mileage slowly but surely increases to make me a [harder] better, faster, stronger athlete.  

Yoga

I was always on this blog talking about how I need to do more yoga and how yoga is so great for runners. Finally completing Yoga Sculpt teacher training at CorePower Yoga and then starting to teach at the Harbor Point studio has been a little blessing. It gave me a nice outlet when I was in the boot and couldn't run. Also teaching has made me do yoga more besides the obvious reason. It helps that as an instructor I get free classes at CorePower (which is AMAZING), but it is also easier to practice on my own before or after I teach as well as take other classes when I am already at the studio. Besides the physical benefits, the mental and spiritual benefits for me have been missed and are much needed when I am busy with school and work. It's always good to be reminded to slow down, breathe, and stay present.  I am finally getting back into yoga and am loving it. 

corepoweryoga-federal-hill-whyiyoga

Stretching/ PT Exercises 

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I need to carve out time at least 3x a week to continue with some of my theraband exercises from PT for my glutes and hips once I am no longer going on a regular basis. I also have been valuing a warm up and cooldown to my runs. For me that is walking a bit before and after a run. Stretching during the week is important to. I mostly stretched well after long runs during this past marathon training cycle, but taking the time multiple times during the week is so important. I like this quick stretching sequence from Runner's World. 

January 17, 2017

Injury Update #2: Stress Fracture Recovery Begins

In case you missed it, I was diagnosed with a 4th metatarsal stress fracture at the very end of October/beginning of November and survived almost 4 weeks in an Aircast boot doing pretty much zero exercise of any type. Yup, I did pretty much nothing besides a few workouts during my time recovering. 


injury-update-stress-fracture-recovery

What I'm Doing

Physical Therapy
Das boot came off in December after an X-Ray and getting the okay from my orthopedist. I wore an ortho sandal for 2 weeks after the boot to still offer some protection, but could at least get around better. Luckily I was not having any pain in my foot. 

The second week of December I began to see a physical therapist once a week as recommended by my orthopedist. A gait analysis was completed and the body mechanics of muscles involved in running were analyzed.  Not so shocking, but I found out I have weak hips (main problem) and weak glutes. ::whomp::whomp::


happy-gilmore-hips
But really though. Happy Gilmore, anyone?


Exercises
To help strengthen these muscles I was prescribed weekly exercises to do at therapy and at home daily during with a Theraband. Lots of variations on clamshells, squats, step-ups, lunges, and fire hydrants. This article from Runner's Connect has a nice set of exercises which includes some that I have been doing. These will continue to be a staple in my life to help prevent any injuries in the future. 

Theraband exercises are why PT is short for Pure Torture, right? Just hitting you with some rehabilitation professional jokes. 

Working on My Running Form
I'm always sweating and doing hard work when I'm at physical therapy. As a future occupational therapist and science nerd, getting my gait analyzed has been really awesome. It's also been a little depressing because I want to have this great running form and then look at the recording all slowed down of me on the treadmill and am like GEEZ, THAT LOOKS TERRIBLE.

I have been working on transitioning from a heel striker to a midfoot striker as well as trying to keep my feet underneath me during my stride instead of reaching out with my legs and overstriding. Overstriding increases the force put through my foot and increases injury potential so that's not good. 


overstriding-infographic1
This graphic I found makes it easier to visualize. {Source}

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!

baltimore-snowzilla-2016-blizzard

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

november-project-baltimore-2birthday

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! 

biltmore-asheville-half-marathon-2016

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

December 19, 2016

8 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Fitness Fans

I seriously can't believe it's the week of Christmas. SERIOUSLY. Between moving, bouncing around between doctor's and physical therapy appointments, plus finals, this past month has moved crazy fast. Luckily I have done some online shopping plus braved the crowds at Target this weekend so I only have a couple gifts left to purchase.  

If you have been mostly shopping deals to buy presents for yourself and now need to finish all your shopping in T-7 days, here are some great last-minute gift ideas for you! 


holiday-shopping-myself


I shared lots of products that you can purchase on Amazon because I'm an Amazon Prime addict with that free 2-day shipping. You can't beat getting things in 2-days if you are short on time!  Check out some of my favorite items for runners, yogis, and any other fit fans in your life. 


8-last-minute-gift-ideas-fitness-fans

8 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Fitness Fans

1.  Believe or Complete Training Journal and Believe Logbook

I have been using the Believe Training Journal for the past two years to record my weekly workouts, log my miles, and write down my goals and progress.  I love that it includes articles on different topics like goal-setting and nutrition. This year I was given the chance to review the Complete Training Journal and Believe Logbook

believe-training-journal-compete-logbook


The Complete Training Journal is a souped-up version of the Believe Training Journal and focuses more on competitions and tracking progress towards goals and races more in-depth. The Believe Logbook offers an open and customizable, minimalist workout logbook with an annual calendar. 

All three are also available on Amazon with Prime shipping: Believe, Compete, Believe Logbook

2. Namast'ay in Bed candle

The Brooklyn Artists and Fleas Market is open Saturdays and Sundays in Williamsburg, BK and carries this cheeky 100% natural soy wax candle from the 125 Collection. The candle is hand-poured in NY and features one of my favorite quotes-perfect for the yogi (or sleepyhead) in your life.  
namastay-in-bed-candle-brooklyn-flea

If you're not near Brooklyn, you can order the candle from the store's Etsy site

December 7, 2016

5 Winter Workout Items to Put On Your Wish List {and Athleta Giveaway from one of the best gyms in Pittsburgh}

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by XShadyside. The giveaway gift card is provided by and will be delivered by XShadyside for my readers.

 I'm currently still recovering from my injury, but I can't wait for the day soon that I get to start running again. I'm going to start adding in some workouts this week after not having gotten my sweat on in over a month. That means I'm definitely adding some fun winter running and workout clothes to my Christmas Wish List. Who am I kidding, I rock tights and running clothes as part of my regular wardrobe even if I'm not working out. Here are five items I have my eye on from my favorite brands. 


Also thanks to one of the best gyms in Pittsburgh, there's a giveaway below for a $25 Athleta gift card so you can treat yourself before the holidays! 


5-winter-workout-items-to-put-on-your-wish-list

5 Winter Workout Apparel Items to Put On Your Wish List 

1. Women's Distance Long Sleeve Running Shirt from Brooks Running ($44)
This is my favorite color and the shirt looks SO comfortable for working out or lounging around. 

2. Spandos Jane Bra from Oiselle ($64)
I LOVE all of the Spandos line which sells out fast. This bra offers nice coverage and is super cute. 

December 5, 2016

How to Survive Being an Injured Runner


Disclosure: I received Mizuno winter gear through a campaign with Fitfluential, LLC. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I survived 3.5 weeks in a boot due to a  a stress fracture and over a month of not running or working out really at all. This crazy runner lady has not run in over a month. If I can do it so can any injured runner. Honestly being swamped with school and work has made the time fly by.  I still am in a little bit of a funk and just got cleared to seated cycle so I'm hoping to hit the gym and start working on my cardio again this week. Running and working out makes me feel good about myself and is stress-relieving so it has been a difficult transition. Here's some of the ways I found to make an injury bearable. 

How to Survive Being an Injured Runner

how-to-survive-being-an-injured-runner

1. Catch up on sleep. 

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I have been running on fumes for the past 6 months and have been trying to catch up on sleep on the weekends because I was averaging 6 hours of sleep a night during the week. I don't know what caused my stress fracture, but I'm assuming that lack of solid sleep and recovery may have played a factor.  No early morning runs or workouts means an extra hour or so of sleep!

2. Netflix and chill, literally. 

Netflix-marathons
At the moment at least! {source}

I spent lots of time relaxing on the couch, putting my foot and boot up, and catching up on my Netflix queue, guilt-free. Find a new show to binge when you get home from work or school. I'm currently making my way through Parenthood-it's SO good.  

3.  Stay off of social media. 

Nene-crying-phone
{Source}

November 23, 2016

Things Runners are Thankful for

On a serious note, I'm beyond grateful each day for my health, my family, my ability to go to graduate school and work, as well as all of the opportunities and amazing things in my life. 

Despite currently not being able to run (#bootlife), I am also so thankful for the sport of running and all that it has given me. 

Remember to not only eat lots of delicious food today but also to appreciate what you have and donate to a good cause this holiday. I plan to donate to the LiveUp Programs and Planned Parenthood this holiday season and have already donated some coats, hats, and scarves to a local collection in Baltimore. 

On a funny note, here are some things that runners are grateful for: 


things-runners-are-thankful-for

Things Runners are Thankful for 

1. BodyGlide because chafing is THE WORST. 

2 Cold beers after races because if you drink beer, a cold one after a race tastes amazing. 

3. Race volunteers These wonderful people who help out at races, work at water stations, and cheer for runners early in the morning are awesome.  

4. Public bathrooms I'm looking at you, Starbucks. 

5. Port-a-potties (that actually have toilet paper!) 

6. Free race photos because aren't race registrations pricey enough? 

7. Water fountains which are amazing during those hot & humid summer long runs. 

8.  Friends who will meet you for a 5 AM run and give you an extra push to get out of bed to get in some miles before the sun comes up. 

9. Carbohydrates  -a runner's favorite food group. 

10.  Foam Rollers because it hurts so good. 

11. New running shoes which always make me happy. 

12. Race discounts Because things are getting priceyyyy. 

13. Washing machines When your hamper is 90% workout gear. 

14. Well-marked race courses because no one likes running extra or getting lost during a race. 

15. Earth for offering so many beautiful places to see and run! 

Oh and pie. Pizza pies and sweet pies. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you a safe and happy holiday. 

What are you thankful for? What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving? 


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. 

metatarsal-stress-fracture-blog-runner

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). 
metatarsal-stress-fracture
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. 


run-selfie-repeat-shakeout-run

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

oiselle-shirt-hat

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. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-1

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. 

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-3-nuun

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!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-4-moji

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!

chicago-marathon-expo-2016-5

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. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-gear

{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. 

chicago-marathon-2016-race-1

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.

chicago-marathon-2016-race-2
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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