Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chicago Marathon Race Recap: No Giving Up

 "I don't look at a marathon as a race. It's a 26 mile journey, is what it is." -Frank Abramic, 80 year old Chicago Marathon 2015 Finisher, after running his 17th consecutive Chicago Marathon in 6:26. Read his story here
That's his motto. Not a bad way to approach a marathon.

Here's mine.

Back when I was a staff nurse, we had to pick up extra shifts during the winter. We could do a 4 hour or an 8 hour shift, but most of us opted for the 4 hour shift. Dubbed the "princess shift", our motto was:
"You can do anything for 4 hours".
That's what I told myself Sunday morning. This was going to be a princess shift.

Not having a killer long run during my marathon training, I was a little worried about the marathon, and if you've been following me, you know I adjusted my goals. Originally, I wanted a sub-4, BQ race. Even though I trained with this goal in mind, not crushing my long runs during my training made me rethink that goal. I realized that going into this race, if I didn't achieve that goal, that BQ, I would have been hugely disappointed. If you read Sunday's post, you now know that the Chicago marathon is really fun. No matter what the outcome of this race, ultimately, I wanted to have fun. Heck, after all that hard work, I'd hate to throw it all away based on a disappointing race! So I made my B goal about having fun, with, of course, the extra goal of a respectable finish time. I mean, come on, this is overachiever Wendy talking here! I wanted to have fun, but I wanted to hold my head high. And finish with a smile on my face.

But even with my adjusted goal, my backup plan, I was really nervous. I don't know why. I think not crushing my long runs was messing with my head. Even with all the words of wisdom imparted to me by friends and my coach, I just didn't feel as confident as I did last year.

Becky gave me this to wear on my wrist with her mantra: "Good Vibes Only". Race morning, I wore that along with my lucky throwaway sweatshirt that has made it to every race this year! I also slipped the rock she gave me for last year's marathon into my waist pack--the one that said "Believe" on it.

Inspiration from my coach
My husband took me to the El station at 5:30. I sat next to a woman from Alaska who talked my ear off the entire ride into the city. She's done Boston, blah blah blah. When you line up for NYCM, stand on the top deck of the bridge because "everyone pees on the runners on the bottom" blah blah blah. Anchorage is "so boring" blah blah blah. There was another guy with her, whom I thought was her husband, but turns out was just another runner. He was from British Columbia, and we walked through Gate 1 together. Miss Alaska took off for parts unknown, so the Canadian guy and I got to talk while we waited for our bags to be checked. This was his third marathon, having run the Victoria Marathon twice. He was a super nice guy, and once we got through bag check, we had our picture taken and split up.

My Canadian friend and me. Baring our bibs. 
I checked my bag and lined up for the portapotty. Once I finished my business, I walked around. Although we had planned to meet for some pre-race good wishes, Sara texted me--she was going to line up in her corral and wouldn't have time to meet. We texted back and forth about the predicted weather for the day. It was chilly pre-race, but the forecast was for wind and a warm up to the 70s. I also heard from my tribe, who sent last words of encouragement. No one was able to meet me at Buckingham Fountain, so I asked some women who were stretching to take my pre-race picture.

A peaceful moment before heading to back to the circus.
I lined up with my corral and at 8:00 we were off. I knew from previous years that because of the tall buildings, my Garmin would be unpredictable. I wanted to use my Garmin to track my pace. But it went crazy, showing paces all over the place, and so I had to run by feel. Once we got closer to the lakefront, I was able to see an accurate pace, and I was running an easy 8:55 min/mi. I felt good and thought that if I could maintain this pace, I might actually achieve that A goal! Believe and you will achieve, right?

I fueled with Tailwind as I planned, 24 ounces/hour. When I stopped to refill my bottle, I also took about 6 ounces of plain water. At mile 8, I felt the need to pee. That never happens to me when I run, but I stopped at the portapotty. As I headed forward, I felt some cramping in my stomach and a little bit of nausea. I wondered if I was taking my fuel too fast, so I backed off a little bit.

I maintained my steady pace until about mile 14. My hamstrings started to tighten up, and when I stopped to hug my friend Karen, I couldn't catch my breath. I was trying to figure that out. The wind must have kicked up something that triggered my latent asthma and/or allergies. I haven't had to use an inhaler for a couple of years, but today would have been the day to pack one in my already overloaded SLS3 HiPZiPP (affiliate link). I started to run again. Interestingly, that shortness of breath didn't bother me as much when I ran, but every time I stopped, I had to catch my breath. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Trying to catch my breath
As was the nausea and a migraine that was threatening to go full blown. By mile 16, I felt so queasy that I pulled out my secret weapon. As a nurse practitioner, I prescribe a medication for nausea and vomiting, and I put one of those pills in my waist pack every time I do a long distance event. I've never had to take it before but today I popped in my mouth and let it dissolve. I chased it with some Tailwind. I figured I couldn't feel any worse than I was already feeling, right?

The sun was really starting to feel warm and at mile 17, I finally put up the white flag of surrender and began to walk. Crap!

This would be my pattern for the rest of the race. I tried to run slower, but I still had to stop to regroup every mile. I felt a feeling of despair. This is exactly what happened to me when I ran my first Chicago marathon. Except, I reminded myself, at that race I started to feel badly at mile 8. Here I was at mile 17. I could finish this thing, even if I had to walk the REMAINING 9 MILES. Oh, hell no! I remembered calling my husband at mile 18 during that bad race--I wasn't going to do that. I could finish this thing and meet my B goal, right? I needed to stay positive. There would be no burpees. Not only because I was going to push on and finish, but because I didn't think I was capable of getting back up off the ground once I went down to do them.

There's motivation, right there.

After that little mental pep talk, I felt better and began to run again. I listened to my music. "No Giving Up" by Crossfade came on.
"There's no giving up now. Do you really want to give this all away? Can't you ever see things in a different way? Somedays. No giving up now. Such a beautiful thing to throw away. You should think things through. Over and over again. All over again."

"I know we have given. All that we can give. When there's nothing to lean on. Well, I remember this. All we make of this lifetime. Is always here within. And remembering that's why. We should never give in. "

And to think I almost deleted this one from my playlist. If I ever needed to hear this song, it was now. I will admit it's kind of screamy. But the lyrics were just the push I needed.

And so it went. I couldn't count on my Garmin, so I kept my eye on the clocks at the mile markers, knowing that I started 31 minutes after the elites. I was able to estimate my finish. And as long as I finished under 4:30, I would be happy. I pushed myself to run a little farther, a little harder.

Run, walk, run, walk. I channeled my inner Jeff Galloway. Sipped my Tailwind. Ignored my hamstrings and my feet, which were now screaming in pain.

Spectators called out encouragement to me:

"You got this!"(believe it or not, yep, I do)
"You look great!" (to which I shook my head) 
and "Go USA" (in reference to my shirt) 

Finally, I made it to Mt Roosevelt. The final sprint to the finish. That 400 meter run up a stupid hill to the finish. My legs found something that I had been missing for a while. A little surge of adrenaline pushed me up that hill and I flew through the finish line! 

Finish line, here I come!

Official finish time: 4:25:53
I felt a huge sense of euphoria, crossing that finish line. Because even though I didn't get my A goal, I got something more. This finish was a huge mental victory for me. I didn't quit. I didn't give up. I dug deep and did what I had to do. And I finished with a respectable finish time. One that I could be proud of. 

If the weather conditions were different, could I have done better? Probably. But I always think of that advice that my friend and Ironman finisher Sandy gave me back before my first marathon: 
"You have to go with what the day gives you."-Sandy, Ironman finisher
And that's exactly what I did.

On my terms. I haven't stopped smiling since I finished.  What a race!

Have you ever had to adjust your race goals based on your training? On race day conditions? How did you do? And how did you feel?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns and Wednesday Word, which for this week just happens to be adjust. Who knew?

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Chicago Marathon: it's a spectacle!

Just part of the spectacle that is the Chicago Marathon expo
I'm recovering from yesterday's Chicago Marathon, and while I soak it all in (and soak my aching feet!), I thought it would be fun to share some of the many highlights of my hometown race, as well as a few of the lowlights.

Spoiler alert: There aren't many lowlights. 

Since I had a conference on Saturday, I took the day off Friday so I could head down to the expo for packet pickup. I'm not a big expo person, but the Chicago Marathon expo is such a spectacle, it deserves its own post. I was looking forward to shopping and picking up some fun memorabilia. But even more, I was looking forward to meeting my #vrb, Susie, from Suzlyfe. I love this lady. She has a wicked sense of humor and has kicked Crohn's disease to the curb. Lots of inspiration over there, and if you don't read her blog, you should.

Susie and me. I've got that death grip on her shoulder...
Clearly, I was nervous, though, not about meeting Susie, but about the marathon in general. I got off at the wrong exit and drove right past McCormick Place. Doh! Once I turned myself around, I found the signage for the parking garage to be really lacking, but I finally parked and headed in. I figured that Friday morning would be a great day to go to the expo, but shame on me. It was packed. And full of sensory overload. Loud, crowded, and over the top--it's hard to take it all in! But I found what I was looking for. Besides doing some shopping--I scored some awesome shirts, I met some famous folks:

I found SBS and chatted with her for a while. Really, it was like 2 old friends meeting up.

I met Bart Yasso, got a signed copy of his book, and an agreement to participate in our book club!

After meeting Bart, I decided to head home. I stopped to validate my parking ticket, and of course, I had dropped it somewhere. The woman at the booth told me it would be $46 to park without the ticket. Oh, hell no! So I retraced my steps. I found the ticket on the ground near the Runners World booth. After validating my ticket, I returned to my car. No car keys. Sh**! I went back to the expo and stopped at the parking booth. The woman barely contained her disdain when I asked if she had my car keys. I went back to the Runners World booth. Yes, they had my car keys. No, Bart wasn't there when I came back. Thank goodness. He would have thought I was a stalker at that point.

But I did spot Bart at mile 12 on the race course. Mingling with the crowd. He saw me, and we made eye contact. It could have been an auditory delusion, but I swear he called my name as he gave me the thumbs up...

After I left the expo, I saw that I had parked in a handicapped spot. Thankfully, I didn't get a ticket.

I missed the entrance ramp to the highway. Again, I blamed the signage. So I took a detour that traversed some of the marathon route. I spotted the blue line that was painted on the streets and smiled to myself. I would be running this in 2 days!

I finally found the street that took me to the expressway, and I made it home without mishap.

Even though this was #3 for me, the race itself was an amazing experience. I'll be recapping the race on Wednesday, but what put a smile on my face?

-getting hugs from my friends Penny and Michelle at mile 3, Karen at mile 14, and my neighbors at mile 18:
Karen giving me a pep talk at mile 14
-running next to Captain America and Wonder Woman; I got power from his shield,
-the cheerleaders, the Windy City Drill Team, and the drag queens in Boystown,
-the aid station volunteer who came onto the course with a gallon of water and asked me if I was ready to refill my bottle (I wasn't),
-the aid station volunteers who told me I was going to win the race,
-getting vaseline from the "nipple aid" station for my underarm chafing,
-the guy in the white unitard--which left NOTHING to the imagination; so not cool dude; thankfully I didn't see him on the course (altho I hear he hugged Marcia),
-the sample of Dude wipes that I received at the expo, I tested it and gave it 2 thumbs up;
Chase the link to the website--omg!
-Elvis serenading the crowd at mile 10-11,
-spectators handing out beer around mile 22 (I took a pass),
-the Goose Island 312 at the finish line (I didn't pass that up),
-the massive chafing on a guy who was wearing a costume. I passed him around mile 26, and he had chafing on his head and back. I wasn't smiling about the chafing--alll I could think about was the shower later,
-the energy in Pilsen (the Mexican neighborhood) and these guys dancing:

I never stop to take pictures, but I just love these giant dancing puppets!
-the sign that said "Love your stamina, call me",
-the runner with a prosthesis,
-the runner pushing a disabled person in a wheelchair,
-all the runners from other countries that were in the corral with me,
-my oldest son and his girlfriend meeting me at the finish line (this was my favorite part of the whole day!)


Stuff that didn't put a smile on my face:

-I didn't see anyone I knew before or after the race. Race logistics make it difficult to meet up. I exchanged phone numbers with so many other bloggers, but it wasn't going to happen.
-missing Marcia and Emily at mile 13--how did I do that?
-the wind and the rapidly warming temps; altho the wind did cool me down and pushed me up Michigan Avenue towards the finish,
-the runner who was down at mile 26, unresponsive, being resuscitated. Made me grateful for my Tailwind and that I decided to let go of my time goal,
-the long walk from the finish line to the beer,
-the signs that said "if Britney survived 2007, you can survive this"--come on people, that was SO LONG ago,
-and the sign that said "don't sh** your pants. Ugh. I mean, sh** happens, but is that the best you've got?

On Wednesday, I'll recap the actual race. But in case you didn't already know it, the Chicago Marathon is not just a race. It is an amazing experience.

Have you ever run Chicago? What were some of the highlights for you? The lowlights? 

I'm linking this post up with Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin and Holly at HoHoRuns for their Weekly Wrap.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Five: Motivation!

I didn't have a post planned for today but I'm jumping in at the last minute with the DC trifecta for a perfectly themed post as I head to the starting line of the Chicago Marathon--People Who Motivate Me.

I get asked all the time about motivation. What keeps me going, who keeps me going, how I keep pushing through those tough workouts....

Looking for answers on the run
My #1 motivation: Mental Health. It's no secret that I'm a pretty high-strung person. Some may even call me anxious. Well, let me tell you that I am a much calmer person when I run and workout. I started running in my 20s as a way to channel my nervous energy and I have never stopped. Running has made me achieve things that would never have been possible as the old nervous wreck that was me. When I saw Becky yesterday for my pep talk, the one thing she wanted me to know was how much I have changed throughout this year's marathon prep. In her words: "a 180 degree turnaround from where you started". Less anxiety leads to more confidence. Yes, please!

I don't want to let this lady down...
And speaking of Coach Becky, she is a huge motivator for me! I cannot thank my friend Karen, who owns the CrossFit box where I train with Becky, enough for connecting me. When I was questioning if I was going to be able to run at the level I wanted, thinking that I would just fade away as I aged, Becky has injected life back into these 50-something legs. If you've been following me, you know that I go from astonished to thrilled about my progress and performance. I have to tell you that this has been fun, and Becky makes me believe that age really is just a number. Now, if only she could do something about those wrinkles...

Dinner with my family made my birthday complete!
#3 would have to be my sons. Sure, they are teenagers and I embarrass them on a regular basis, just by virtue of being Mom. But I hear them talk about me and my running with pride. My youngest came home from a tough rugby conditioning workout and said to me "you could have done this one easily, Mom". Yep. I always said I never wanted to be that mom on the bench watching them have fun. I've been able to keep up with them, and that's been great.

The pope at my mom and dad's church?
#4 My dad has suffered from osteoarthritis since his early 50s, having his first joint replacement at age 55. He's had multiple surgeries since then, including both hips (which have been since revised), a knee, and 2 surgeries on his back. He's always been active, but not formally, and I am so determined to avoid the physical disabilities that he has suffered from. The good thing about my dad is that he pushes through the pain (with a lot of complaining) and keeps on going. He also has a great sense of humor, something I have luckily inherited from him. That complaining gene is also something I inherited...

with some of my wonderful friends
#5 My fellow runners and bloggers keep me on track. I read a ton of blogs, and I get so much information and motivation from all of you. As I revealed my angst this week about approaching the start line of Chicago Marathon #3, you've all been amazingly supportive and encouraging. I had lunch yesterday with 2 of my running girlfriends, and we all talked about the amount of support in the virtual running community. This is my thank you to all of you who have read my posts, commented, and propped me up when I was doubting myself. I hope to make all of you proud!

Lucky me to have all this motivation in my life!

Who motivates you? What motivates you? Check out this perfectly timed link up with the DC trifecta: Mar @ Mar on the Run, Courtney @ EatPrayRun DC, and Cynthia @ You Signed Up for What?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015



The perfect word to reflect on as I finish my final preparations for this week's Chicago marathon. The final week of the taper is all about recovery and mental preparation for the race. 

What words come to mind when you think about a long distance runner?


As part of my final marathon preparation, I reflect back on my training. Those tough CrossFit workouts that Becky had me do were all about building physical strength. But she also packed in enough challenge to help me build mental toughness. Her goal is to get me through those tough miles at the end of the race. I never quit on any of the workouts she threw my way. I'm not going to lie and tell you that it was always fun. But in the end, I knew it would be worth it.

The running was a mixed bag this time around. I had great success with my speedwork--I was able to push through those tough intervals to achieve some really great splits. That was so gratifying! I also had a lot of good runs at marathon pace. My long runs were a little more challenging for me. I didn't do a great job with pacing myself--my training focused so much on speed that when I tried to slow down, my legs wanted to fly. As tough as those long runs were for me, I finished all of them but one. That was a hot, humid day, and my inability to slow down cost me. My biggest challenge for Sunday will be reining in those legs so that I have some gas left in the tank for the finish. I won't quit, no matter what. 

I am all of the above. I am tenacious. I am determined. I am strong willed. I am tough. I am persistent. I am relentless.

This is my pep talk. I may not be the fastest. I may not achieve my original goal (sub-4). But I will cross that finish line. I won't give up. I will feel strong.

And I will have my beer at the finish line.

See you on Sunday.

DebRuns hosts Wednesday Word and today's work is tenacious. Are you tenacious? Find out what everyone else says about this word.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

After the marathon.....

I'm pretty sure that anyone who has trained for a marathon has had this mantra in their arsenal.

"I'm going to have a big steak...after the marathon..."
"I'm going to get a haircut...after the marathon...."
"I'm going to get a pedicure....after the marathon.."
"I'll clean out my closets....after the marathon..."
"I'm going to cook for my family...after the marathon..."
"I'm going to get a colonoscopy...after the marathon..."

Oh wait...that last one...I should do it....maybe after the Big Sur marathon. The prep is really like a cleanse, isn't it? And what do you think about cleanses? It's not even the prep that I dread as much as the clear liquid diet. I've done this once before and I was seriously hungry. That was the tough part.

Riddle me this, tho...why do they call the prep Go Lytely? Seems like a bad joke, really. Can you imagine the conversation when the drug company was developing this product:

"Hey Joe, what should we name this stuff?"
"I dunno...how about Colon Blow?"
"Nah, that's too harsh. What about Liquid Plumber?"
"Already taken. Plus we don't want to scare the consumer. Let's call it Go Lightly!"
"Great idea! Hahahaha! But let's switch up the spelling to make it look more scientific!"
"Great idea, Bob!" (back slapping all around)

Really, though, shouldn't it be called Go Heavily?

Man, that's a tangent...this taper is making me a little loopy! Ok, so maybe I will and maybe I won't have a colonoscopy...after the Big Sur Marathon.

Moving on.

We runners are known for our mantras. Our mantras sustain us throughout our training, they inspire us to be our best and help us push ourselves through those tough miles. Now that I'm at the end of the road, so to speak, this mantra is calling me.

What will I do.... after the marathon?

Truthfully, I plan on taking a little break from running. Gasp! I didn't do this last year after my magical Chicago marathon. I felt so great that I just kept running.

Against my coach's advice, that is... it probably was not the best decision I've ever made. I paid for it eventually with some shin splints and finally some time off.

But this year, I have independently made the decision to take a week or 2 off running....after the marathon. I've written a lot about how hard this training cycle was for me. I'm looking forward to resting my legs and finding my love for running again. I know it will be there and I bet that after a week, I'll be missing running and ready to hit the road for a few miles. But I can't wait to just run!

Goals are good!
In case I'm lacking some motivation to run again, I do have a few virtual runs on the calendar, just to keep myself accountable.

First up, on Saturday, October 17 is the Second Annual Slay Sarcoma 5k run/walk. I learned about this event from my friend Paria, who writes the wonderful blog Mom On the Runsanity. Paria has a friend who developed Stage 4 leiomyosarcoma following surgery for uterine fibroids. The fibroids were removed by a device called a morcellator. Basically, the morcellator grinds up the fibroids. The advantage of this procedure is that it can be done laparoscopically. Unfortunately, women who had this procedure didn't know beforehand if they had this rare cancer or just a benign fibroid. With the morcellator, there is the risk of spreading the tumor throughout the abdominal cavity. This story kind of hit home for me. Seven years ago, I had a partial hysterectomy to remove a large uterine fibroid. Several well-meaning friends told me that I "should have" had the much less invasive and easier to recover from laparoscopic (morcellator) procedure. Everyone has an opinion on medical management, don't they? You know I listen to my gut instinct, and my gut told me to go old school and have the abdominal procedure. Luckily, my fibroid was not a leiomyosarcoma, but still, learning about the risks makes me feel like knocking on wood. Like I dodged a bullet.

Anyways, the Slay Sarcoma 5k run /walk is all about spreading awareness about this risky procedure. I don't know if I'll be back to running by then since it is only one week after the marathon, but for sure I will walk. If you are interested in participating on Paria's team, you can contact her via the blog. She will register you. If you want to register on your own, the link is here.

Later this month, I have another virtual run from Gone for a Run. The Faster Than Boo 10k takes place Oct 29-31 and benefits The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. The bling includes a t-shirt, bib, and fun glow-in-the-dark spinning ghost medal; you can add on cute socks and arm sleeves! Halloween is on a Saturday this year, so there's no excuse not to trick or treat yourself with this one! I'm thinking costumes since I work in the clinic on Halloween! This is one of the perks of working with kids. Last year I dressed up as Doc NP McStuffins. It was such a hit with the little ones that I don't think I can top it this year. One of my little patients suggested I dress up like a witch. A Witch Doctor NP?

Ready for your checkup?
Let me know if you plan on running this one so I can feature you in my recap!

And I do still need to chase one last goal this year...that 2015 kilometer goal (1251 miles) that I committed to via Run This Year!

Do you get a little wacky during the taper? Do you postpone life events/chores until after a big race? Do you have any unfinished business left for 2015? Want to join me in either of these events?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marathon training week 11: Stay on

The beginning of the end. The taper. The final countdown. How did the week shake out?

Monday: I woke up from my sister trip with a 12 miler on the plan and some really tired legs. We walked and we walked all over Seattle, and I think it all caught up with me on Monday. Couple that with a very warm, humid day and I paid dearly. I fought for every step of the one, and I was seriously doubting myself. Luckily, I talked myself off the cliff (with help from my friends) and the rest of the week was uneventful. But this is the run where I made the final decision to pull back on my goals.

Tuesday: I had an easy bike on the plan, but work had other plans for me. I had to go in at 8 and there was not going to be a bike ride in the dark. It's scary enough running in the dark, but on 2 skinny tires? I even considered bringing my bike to work and riding at lunch, but I didn't know if I'd have time for that. I also considered riding after work, but after seeing 27 patients, some of them quite ill, I was mentally exhausted as well as physically and decided it would be better just to go to bed. Which I did, quite early.

Wednesday: I woke up with a smile on my face. There's nothing better than a good night's sleep, right? I wanted to go to a yoga class at the studio but with my instructor out of town, I was worried about someone new and the possibility of an injury. My recovery yoga was just what I needed.

Thursday: I did my final speedwork of the training cycle. It was also my fastest of my mile repeats. What a confidence booster! Then I saw Becky for my final CrossFit of the training cycle. I pulled the sled, did some slam balls, and some kettlebell sumo deadlifts. Not too taxing, but my hamstrings felt it. This was kind of the icing on the cake for my hammies and glutes.

Friday: I had a rest day on the plan. But as I looked ahead to Saturday and that 4 miler I was supposed to run, I struggled with logistics. I had a conference downtown on Saturday and needed to leave my house by 645. That would mean a 430 wake up call and a run in the dark. I had a nice, uneventful day at work Friday, and made the decision to do a run when I got home. I never run in the evening. Ever. This run reminded me why. The first 2 miles were fine, but I started to feel weird and weak in mile 3. Someone was grilling hamburgers and it smelled soooooo good! I stopped for water and that helped get me home, to pizza and wine. As hard as this run was, I'm glad I did it for a couple of reasons. One, it took me out of my morning run comfort zone. I had to push really hard to get through it, and I didn't quit. Mental toughness! And two, I didn't have to get up so early the next day. It was going to be a long day of listening to speakers. The extra sleep would be a good thing.

I forgot to take my makeup off! Yikes!
Saturday: And I was really glad again that I got that run done. It was nice to get up and just drink my coffee without having to rush. The conference was held at Lurie's Children's Hospital, and it didn't disappoint. The hospital is in downtown Chicago, and I had some fun with the views. I also was able to catch up with colleagues and a lot of my former students!

Just to clarify, I am standing in front of a window! What a view! That is the water tower behind me.
Saturday night, my husband and I went on a date to see Spamalot. A huge fan of Monty Python--The Holy Grail is one of my favorite movies--this musical adaptation was hilarious! I can't believe I've never seen this before. I'm pretty sure that all the laughing I did counts as an abdominal/core workout. And the final song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life--well, how can you be in a bad mood listening to that?

Sunday: I had my last long run on the plan--an eight miler. I took it easy and let the legs carry me. I did have to stop once to stretch out my right shin/calf when I felt it tighten up. I finished with plenty left in the tank and feeling good about this last week before the marathon. 8.15 miles, 73:19, 8:59m/m.

So what's coming up this last week of training? I've got a couple of short runs, yoga, and a pep talk. The marathon expo is Friday, and I have another conference on Saturday. Here we go!

What song got me through today's run? They were all good, but I would be remiss not highlighting a song that has been part of my running playlist since my first iPod Mini. Stay On, by The Bodeans, a band out of Milwaukee, has a nice easy rhythm, great lyrics, and a beat that keeps my legs flowing.

How was your week? Anything exciting? Any last minute song suggestions?

I'm linking this post with Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin and Holly at HoHoRuns for their Weekend Wrap! Check out what everyone else is up to.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Final Countdown

Well, I missed Runfessions last week...I actually was working on a post before I left for Seattle, but I couldn't wrap it up in time to publish it. I didn't have anything planned for today, but I've got a lot of thoughts going through my head this past week as I start the final countdown to Chicago Marathon #3!

If you read my Wednesday Word post on Passion, you know that I had a major freakout this week after my bad 12 miler on Monday.
Like an "I'm going to DNS" moment. 
Like an  "I'm a fool to think I could sub-4 this marathon." 
Like "What if it's 80 degrees and humid?" 
Like "I'm too old to be doing this anymore!".
Are you rolling your eyes? Because I am.

Fortunately, my friends Marcia and Sara talked me off the cliff. Marcia, in her usual pragmatic way simply told me:

 "you've got the bad one out of your system
and this gem:

"you can have all horseshit runs from here til race day and still rock it.

I'm thinking about getting that one tattooed on my forearm. If nothing else, looking at it on a run will make me smile, and we all know what smiling does for a run...

Sara reassured me that it was most likely "all the hills" I ran in Seattle. And the humidity. And she had a tough run too. Misery loves company.

Maybe it's the taper talking.

Anyways, I had a lot of nice comments on the post, Facebook, and Instagram regarding my angst. Thank you to everyone who shared stories and provided support. It really does take a village to train a marathoner.

Yesterday I had my final speedwork on the plan. After a couple days off from running, a few good nights sleep, and my yoga for runners regimen (or you can do Beth's here), I woke up feeling great. I put on my Brooks Run Happy shirt and that is what I did--I ran happy. I flew through my mile splits, even running hard into the 25 mph winds. Having the wind at my back was even better. I noticed the walkers smiling at me as I ran by, and I thought maybe that my shirt was having a happy effect on everyone. Or maybe it was my wild hair blowing in the wind. Or maybe they were laughing at me tearing around the pond. Whatever it was, when they smiled, I smiled back, and I felt that lightness return to my legs.

This shirt just makes me happy.

Today's truth post: 
Smile and the whole world smiles at you.

Note to self: smile A LOT at the marathon. The streets of Chicago are lined with spectators cheering on the runners. There are plenty of people to smile at. More cowbell. Kids to high five. Power button signs. Do them all.


I was not smiling at the SeaTac Airport. On the trip out to Seattle, as I was boarding the plane, the attendant stopped me and told me my carry-on bag was too big. She told me I'd have to check my bag. Meanwhile, my sister, who had priority boarding, was allowed to board with THE EXACT SAME suitcase. Whatever. So on the way home, thinking I had to check my bag, I packed a bottle of wine we bought on Bainbridge Island. But in order to check my bag, the airlines wanted me to pay $60 dollars. Oh hell no! I figured I'd just check it for free at the gate. You know where this is going, right? At the TSA baggage scan, I saw the agent yank my bag off the belt. She snapped on her latex gloves with the authority of a surgeon. I had a doh! moment. The wine! I told her about the wine. I offered to find it and she waved me away. "Step away from the inspection area!" I put my hands up and backed away. She pulled the offending bottle of wine out of my bag and set it on the counter as she rifled through my carefully packed bag. I told her to enjoy the wine. She told me it was going into the garbage. Yeah right.

I walked away and I started to cry. I may even have used the F-word a few times. My sister calmed me down. It wasn't the loss of the wine. What a way to end our wonderful sister trip. I was just so angry and frustrated and degraded by the whole process. I felt like Chevy Chase when he found out Wally World was closed.

If Marty Moose was there, I would have punched him too.

For the rest of the trip, I amused myself with scenarios of the TSA agents partying after their shift with all the stuff they confiscated from travelers. And laughing at all the fools trying to sneak stuff onto the plane...

But oddly, they didn't make us take off our shoes or take out our laptops...


I'm already weather stalking for the marathon and it's looking promising:

But this is Chicago, and conditions change in a hurry...stay tuned for that one. Remember that 10 miler I ran in April? It was 65 at the start and then the wind shifted off Lake Michigan, dropping the temps halfway through the race to 48? So who knows? It could be 88 degrees (it was that one year) or it could snow (it did that the following year). Or maybe it could do both. I mean, some of us will be out there for 4-5 hours. Conceivably, we could have all 4 seasons in one handy dandy race.


Not only did I have my final speedwork of my training cycle, but also my final CrossFit session (of this training cycle) with Becky. Fearing that I'm getting wimpy in my old age, I asked her if this training cycle was harder than last year. It sure felt like it.

The running was the same, but the CrossFit stuff was harder, she said.

I knew it! Ok, then. Whew.

I talked to her about my revised goals for the marathon. Before I learned that having a BQ didn't necessarily mean Boston acceptance this year (the cut-off was 2:28 mins under the qualifying times), I decided that I wasn't going to push for a sub-4 anymore. Now I know that I'd have to push even harder, and I just don't want to do that. Nope.

There. I said it. The pressure is off.

As this is very likely my last Chicago marathon, I've decided that I'd rather have fun again and finish strong. There is beer at the finish line, remember? So even if that means no PR, I'm ok with that. As much as I'd love to wrap up my marathoning with a 5th marathon in Boston, I don't think it's in the cards for me. And believe it or not, I'm ok with that. I've got Big Sur to look forward to....

Interestingly, Becky told me that she would be disappointed if I did anything different than have a strong race. She told me time doesn't matter to her. She doesn't want me to kill myself to get a PR or a sub-4. She told me I did great with my training and that is the most important. Although I don't have CrossFit next week, I'm going to see her for, as she put it, "a pep talk".

And that's why I love my coach. Her mantra? Good vibes only.

I'm feeling the love, my friends. Chicago marathon, I am ready. Let's do this.

How do you keep yourself sane as a big race approaches? After a bad training run? Have any clothes that seem to make you run faster? Ever have anything confiscated from your suitcase at the airport?