Chicago Marathon Recap #1 of 2

chicago8Sorry for the delay in my Marathon Recap of the Chicago Marathon and let me apologize about the length but it is full of pics too so enjoy and I did divide it up into two different posts so you have to come back tomorrow to get the end.  🙂

Well…. I finished.  I also finished over 23 mins faster than my marathon in April.  Unfortunately it was still not to the goal I had set but more on that in a little bit.

The weather for the trip could not have been better (well, it could have been a little cooler on Marathon day but definitely a beautiful day).  We arrived in Chicago on Friday afternoon and made it to our Airbnb residence for the next 5 nights.  Here is the view:


After taking Uber to the expo to pick up my bib it was time to relax and get ready for my first ever group shake out run with Another Mother Runner.  On Saturday morning, I woke up and ventured down to take my first adventure on the Chicago Transit system to make it to the meet up location.  I do have to say I was impressed.  It was easy to get around and pretty cheap too.  (Let’s just say that we did not use Uber after we figured out the subway)  Here are some pics of the run on Saturday morning…..


Sarah in the middle is one of the creators of Another Mother Runner. Go check out their website here and get some cool another mother runner bling.

Great shot at Lake Michigan and the background of Chicago

Great shot at Lake Michigan and the background of Chicago

At the "Bean" in Grant Park with another running group we hung out with. So much fun.

At the “Bean” in Grant Park with another running group we hung out with. So much fun.

I was so happy to have spent some time getting the nerves out of my system and thankful to meet so many other mother runners.  But we all know that the day before the marathon you should not walk around too much so we opted for a River Boat Architecture Tour on the Chicago River.  It was a great idea and there are some fabulous buildings along the river.  Take a look….


Sunday morning arrived and believe it or not, I was not really nervous.  After all, as my other half says, “You’re a pro.  You have done 4 other marathons.”  Well I am not really a pro but I am beginning to really learn what works and does not work before races and have developed a sort of routine like visiting the bathrooms early because they fill up as the race gets closer and then sitting in the corral because we didn’t even get started until 8:20 which was almost an hour after the race started (that’s what happens when you are in the slow group but I did not mind.)  I look pretty ready for the race here:


Right before I said Goodbye to Dave to head for the Corral.

Right before I said Goodbye to Dave to head for the Corral.


Once we got going I was very excited.  I also tried to not let the excitement get me to go out fast and I would like to say I did a great job of that but really I have no idea.  Why you ask?  Well, let’s just say that my wonderful Garmin watch does not like the very tall buildings of downtown Chicago and since that is where we are running I was at a loss for pace from almost the very beginning.  My first mile went pretty well but when my 2nd mile chimed on my watch and I was nowhere near the 2 mile mark according to the course and the clocks where off because they started with the elite runners I knew I could not trust the watch so it was time to just run based on feel.  Now I am not sure you have ever tried running by feel in a huge race (45,000) runners but if you haven’t and I really didn’t train that way, trying to do it for 26.2 miles is a little bit of a challenge.  Really I did not let this factor into my mind though and focused on enjoying the race.

Right after mile 2. Who needs a working Garmin? Im having fun.

Right after mile 2. Who needs a working Garmin? I’m having fun.

Even though the weather got up to 75 by the end of the race, it was a beautiful day to run.  The first 13.1 miles where pretty much in the shade of the huge buildings of downtown Chicago and through the parts of Chicago that had lots of trees and were very beautiful.

In fact, a little side note… I did something I never thought I would do.  At one point in Lincoln Park, I did jump off the course and find coverage in some of their draping trees and gave back to nature.  Hey, when you have to go and you are only at mile 5 and the bathrooms are all 10 deep at each water stop you do things you would never do before and really I had no desire to pee down my leg which I have heard some people do.  Yuck!

Anyway, back to mile 13.1… I felt great.  It was the best I have felt at the halfway point in a marathon EVER!  (big accomplishment #1)  Here is photo proof:

A big thumbs up for just over halfway!

Little did I know that after mile 13 was the heat wall.  Apparently when you leave the downtown area there are no more tall trees and the buildings are shorter too so it’s just you and the sky (oh and those 44,999 other runners)!  So it got warm and it got warm fast but more on this tomorrow…..

Motivational Monday 9/28/15


Less than 2 weeks!  In less than 2 weeks I will be done.  Okay maybe not done but my 5th marathon will be in the books (I am optimistic that it will be a success).

I have now almost completed training for 5 marathons and it is true if you want to change your life train for a marathon.  Each one has been different.  My spring marathon I completed during the snowiest winter ever, completing four 20 miler runs on a treadmill (needless to say I try to stay a long way away from treadmills for this training plan!).

This summer brought it’s own challenges of relentless heat and humidity which only started to subside last weekend right after I finished my last 20 miler.  That’s okay, my hope is that it will not be this hot and humid in Chicago in two weeks.

So this brings me to my quote for today.  It’s one of my favorites and something to think about on this wonderful Monday!


Happy Monday!  I hope you have a fabulous day!


Made it through but it hurt (25/31)

All I wanted to do was get my long run done outside today.  All I wanted to do was run and feel my feet hitting the pavement and enjoy the sunshine.  All I wanted to do was not go to the gym to run 20 miles.

Well guess what, what I wanted and what I did were not in alignment!

I spent the late morning and early afternoon with friends I had not seen in a while and had planned to get my run in around 2.  I was kind of on track but did have to start around 2:30.  The wind was crazy windy and they talked about the temps plunging this afternoon setting us up for a blizzard on Tuesday (that’s right about 2 feet of snow is what they are predicting for my area).  I drove through the area I wanted to run and they had not plowed the sidewalks like they usually do so I knew right away that this was gonna have to be inside.  😦

I did however make the best of it.  I actually used headphones and watched a college basketball game which was great.  I got to see a legendary coach win his 1000 game in a very close game, it was a great distraction to what I was doing.

Because treadmills at the gym only let you go 10 miles before they shut off I had to break my run up, which would make it easy to quit or for me made it easier to make it through.  I did 8 miles, then took a quick trip to the bathroom, then 8 more and got some more water, and then finally the last 4, each time resetting the machine and stretching just enough to get it started again.  I also added some hills in every once in a while, nothing real long but maybe a mile here and there just to spice things up a little and actually give the legs a break.

I was glad to get the run done but this one took all the motivation I could muster to make it through.  When I restarted the treadmill for the last 4 miles I had some energy and was telling myself, “you can do this”.  But by the time I got 1.5 miles in to the last 4 I was hurtin’.  I went back to my mantra from 5 days ago during my sprints:“you will not meet your goals with easy!”   It would be easy to quit and say, “Hey at least I’ve done 17.5 miles that counts right!”  It would have been easy to at any time in the next 2.5 miles to stop because believe me, my legs began to scream and I began to have a few cramps in my legs.  But I kept hydrating, kept pushing and saying to myself “you will not meet your goals with easy!”  So glad to finish and so glad to stretch out, roll my legs, soak in a tub, and put on warm clothes and call it done!

On another note, I guess winter has finally made it to my area so I might be resigned to the treadmill for these long runs for a while.  If it truly snows as much as they are predicting, it will be a little while til the streets are clear enough to run on them again.  Don’t get me wrong, we won’t be trapped because we have lots of snowplows and they clear the roads well but being on the roads with huge mounds of snow is not safe because drivers can’t see you very well.  So I’ll take my chances inside.

I would say my training is going well, 4 full weeks completed, only 17 more weeks until the marathon!  It will be here before I know it.

How is your Janathon going?  Last full week!  Did you set in goals during this long first month of the year?  Did you hit them or are you close?  Mine was to stay fulling engaged in my plan.  I have exercised on each day I have planned and really working on my core.  Thanks for a great first month Janathon!



New mantra and Janathon 20/31

sprintsToday I struggled to complete my workout.  My training plan calls for sprints on Tuesday’s because that is what I wanted, I wanted to get faster.  Today however was hard.  The plan said I had to do 5 x 1000m at 4:46 pace (7:37 per mile).  I decided I would do them at a faster pace then required so I cranked the wonderful treadmill up to 8.6 (6:58 per mile).  I can tell you I was ready for the resting jog after each of the 5 sprints.  I was able to do the first two sets with some struggle but tried to really get into it.

When I got to the third sprint I just wanted to give up and call it a bad day.  I was also thinking, “maybe I should just slow down to the pace I was supposed to go and it will be easier”.  Well that was the wrong thing to say to myself because I got mad at myself.  I started to yell at myself internally (which is good because the gym was pretty full this evening).

Who wants it to be easier?

Would I be happier with easier?

Would I get faster with easier?

So I pushed on, but believe me I wasn’t happy!  I started telling myself over and over, “you will not meet your goals with easy!”  This did it to get me through the last of the sprints, I did however cut the cool down a little shorter just because I needed to stop and really catch my breath.  I was happy I kept going but because of all the negative thoughts I thought I needed to challenge myself a little more (what can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment!).

Instead of just stretching I did some core work: planks, crunches, bridges, supermans and some hip flexor work with clam shells and leg lifts.  At this point, I stopped.  Which believe me my body was overly thrilled to do.

I would say overall today’s workout went well and so glad to have developed a new mantra: You will not meet your goals with easy!  I have a feeling this will come in handy as I am only 4 weeks in to this 17 week training plan.  So here we go.

Have you ever developed a mantra?  What is it?  If not, are you willing to give it a try?  I am pretty sure once I get to the marathon my mantra will change to get me to the end but while training I think I have found a good one.

Janathon Update:  Run 6 miles w/sprints with a 7:54 pace overall, 2-1min planks, 2-30 supermans, 2 sets= 30 crunches and side crunches, 12 bridges, clams, leg lifts


Enjoying a race

On Sunday I had one of my best runs EVER!  Or being a person who now lives in New England, I guess I should say, one of my best runs EVAH!  I didn’t even plan it.  In fact, my focus has been on training for the marathon in October and this was just one of the races that I have on my calendar.  This was one of those races I have done for 4 years now and keep coming back because it is wonderful.

When I first competed in this race, the Lone Gull 10K, there were about 600 runners, parking wasn’t a problem and there was breakfast at the end on the beach.  The only thing that has changed in the 4 years has been the amount of racers.  I say racers because now it has changed from running to racing.  It has become a USA track and field event, which means it attracts VERY fast racers.  The amount of runners has doubled, in fact there were 1361 runners registered for this event.  Okay, so maybe the parking has changed too.  In fact if it keeps growing, it may have to change locations because we maxed out the parking lot at the beach.

Yep, I said it, this race starts along the beach.  It is beautiful.  Nothing like starting a race next to the Atlantic Ocean, hearing the waves hit the shore, the wonderful smell of salt in the air and let’s not forget about the seagulls announcing their presence.   Here are some pics that Dave took, enjoy: (sorry for no real beach pics but believe me it is there!)

Getting all warmed up in the 50 degree temps.

Getting all warmed up in the 50 degree temps.

1300 of my closest running friends out for a sunday run.

1300 of my closest running friends out for a sunday run.

Already relaxin'!  Kind of floating on air.

Already relaxin’! Kind of floating on air.

Finishing up strong.  Serious game face too.

Finishing up strong. Serious game face too.

Having run the race so many times before, it was easy to relax from the beginning because I knew the course.  I expected to feel pretty bad for the first two miles but my body said, “not today, today you are going to enjoy your run”.  And I did.  My first mile was 7:28.  In my mind, I was like “holy crap, you need to slow down” but it felt so comfortable.  In the end, I did slow down but not too much.  I felt strong, knew where the hills were, knew when I could push it harder, and was so excited when I was finishing the race in under 49 minutes, this was my goal that I was okay if I did not make but deep down wanted to make.   My official race time was 48:16 with a 7:42 pace.  If I had run this 4 years ago I would have placed in my age group.  Now I think I’m somewhere in the 30th something for my age group.  Oh well, I loved it.  It made me remember why I run this race and why I run in general.

Sometimes, for me, running races becomes a lot about completing it, another race completed.  This run was more about enjoying it.  Taking a moment, being mindful of where I was, what was going on, and how I was feeling.  In doing this, I had the best race EVAH!

I think we do this in our daily life too.  We become overwhelmed, we don’t enjoy the moments in our day, we set expectations/goals and then work our hardest to live up to them or achieve them.  I discovered on Sunday that sometimes, enjoying the moment, enjoying the race, gives you a better outcome.

Have you ever tried this, enjoying a race?  How about your day, ever tried to just live in the moment and take it as it comes?