Monday, October 12, 2015

Surviving my 4th Chicago Marathon

Wow, I cannot believe I just did that.

Really. I can't.

Rewind to training over the summer. Without Celina Annable and Ashley Schwab getting me out of bed to run 8 miles twice a week, I didn't run nearly as much this training season. I was lucky to run 5.5 miles twice a week and then my long run on the weekend. However, I did add CrossFit into the mix twice a week for cross training, but while I feel stronger, I don't think it helped as much as I had hoped it would.

Fast forward to a month before the race. I flew to Denver for a day trip on 9/11 to interview at a digital marketing agency. My flight on the way in was early which only meant one thing - my flight home would be delayed. And it was. But only by an hour, so not terrible. However, getting up at 3:30am and not getting home until around midnight was rough - especially the night before my first 20 miler. Despite the perfect running weather, I only made it 18 and had to have my sister, Casey, come pick me up.

A couple weeks later, our friends, Matt and Katie Feley got married in Mexico. The Monday before we left on Wednesday, I ran my second 20 miler. And I made it! Whew. I had to make sure I had at least one decent 20 miler under my belt before 10/11. We left on Wednesday and spent Wed-Sunday on an adult Spring Break. Way too much food and booze and way too much fun. I wouldn't change a thing - I even got two treadmill runs in at the resort - 6 and 7 milers.

Oh, the 9/11 interview - it went great! So, I flew from Mexico directly to Denver, CO where I started my new job on Monday, 10/5. Fortunately, travel was really easy - getting up on Monday morning after Spring Break to start a new job was not. But I did it! I even got in two training runs of 3 miles in the mile high city.  Full days of training and dinner/drinks every night was my second marathon of the month - behind Mexico.

Now, onto the third...

Originally, I thought about flying directly to Chicago from Denver on Friday, 10/9, but decided against it - too much to pack! Plus, my mom and my younger sister, Morgan, decided to make the trip. So, on Friday I flew home at got to Indy around 8pm. Woke up on Saturday and drove with my mom and sister to Chicago.

After packet pickup, we checked into our hotel, The Hilton on Michigan Avenue. Thank you, mom.  This was actually the hotel all of the elite athletes stayed in - amazing.

Considering what my body had been through the last couple weeks, I was exhausted. I wasn't feeling great, so I stayed behind while my mom and sisters went out and about in Chicago. Since they are the best, they ordered takeout pizza and pasta and brought it back to the hotel for my pre-race feast.

I went to bed at 9pm feeling like I had a fever. I was terrified that I would wake up the next morning feeling worse and not able to run. Fortunately, I got a great night of sleep and this wasn't the case.

My walk to my starting corral was about 15 minutes - and chilly - perfect running weather. I crossed the starting line about 7:45am. The first half was a blur of just focusing on pacing myself and not going out of the gate too fast. Last year, I ran 3:56:59 and I knew I wasn't going to PR this year, so my goal was under 4:30 (I did the Marine Corps Marathon in just under 4:30).

By 13.1, I was starting to wonder how I was going to do the rest. I finished the half in 2:03:45. I told myself at this point that if I could get to 20 without stopping then I could walk/run the rest. My cheerleaders were planning to be around mile 14-18, so I'd started looking out for them which helped distract me from the fact that I still had over two hours left to run.

Just after mile 18, I spotted my sister, Casey, wearing a bright blue jacket and jumping up and down. Tears fell instantly. It's hard to control your emotions when your body is so completely depleted. I was so excited and relieved to see the familiar faces of Casey, my mom, Morgan, and Casey's boyfriend, Brad. I knew they'd driven around downtown like crazy trying to figure out the logistics of spotting me. After the race, my mom told me that they were on plan C at that point...which makes me even more grateful that it worked out to be able to see them. Morgan had my husband, Zach, on FaceTime so I got to see him and a quick glimpse of Dug (our dog) and my in-laws cheering me on from Ohio. Only 8 miles to go!

8 miles to go... holy shit...

Back to my earlier thought - if I could get to 20 then I would let myself walk a bit. Well, I got to 20 and I was hurting. So. Much. But what I started thinking is that it would hurt worse to stop - my legs were on fire and I felt like I could cramp at any second (something that has never happened to me before during a race). I kept running. I just kept fucking running. That's what I kept telling myself to do... keep fucking running. Pardon my French, but I wish someone could tell me how many times I actually thought that to myself. Probably a million.

Each remaining mile felt like it took twenty minutes. The best thing about Chicago is all of the spectators. 1.7 million or something like that - maybe more this year because the weather was outstanding (for watching, not necessarily for running). I had a shot of beer somewhere around mile 20 and then an orange popsicle. God bless the woman with the popsicles. The last couple miles I knew I could do it without stopping. Yay! Close to 800M to go, people were handing out full PBRs - OK why not? I cracked one open and it sprayed everywhere - I raised it above my head and let the beer spill all over my face (almost a straight arm, Sarah Perras). It's possible some got in my mouth, but it was more for the spectator's entertainment than my refreshment. I was elated to be almost there.
I passed the 800M sign and could feel the finish. I could see ahead where the course curved to the right to go up and over the bridge and then to the finish line. I started picking up speed (who knew I could - not me) and I raced up and over the bridge closer to the finish.

Words can't explain the feeling you get when you see the actual finish line. Relief. Excitement. Pride. Pride is probably the best word. I was so incredibly proud of myself for finishing. Tears again. So many tears, but happy, proud tears.

Thank you to my cheerleaders, mom, Casey, Morgan, dad, Brad, Zach, Pam & Joe, Dug, Accidental Runners, friends, spectators, and volunteers. Thank you for believing in me.

Now onto the next one... Philly!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Running Heartbreak

Running Heartbreak 

I have always had a love hate relationship with running... Since the days of playing soccer in high school to distance running these past couple years.  From the constant blisters, losing toe nails, waking up before the birds, running in rain, snow, and ice, But... even with all of these woos I keep coming back. Drawn to it like my own personal addiction.... There is no better feeling then waking up and seeing the sunrise, the sunset. Discovering new scenic routes, achieving that  new PR, bonding with good friends over that long run, enjoying a nice cold beer as a reward, crossing that finish line and feeling that you have just accomplished the greatest achievement in your life, that all of that hard work leading up to this point was worth it... These feelings and experiences cannot be described or replicated... This is why I love running! 

I am now at a heartbreak point with running... I moved to Austin, TX in the dead of summer. Not knowing what Texas heat was really like I still thought my running ability would stay the same. I thought getting up early in the morning would help, that even with slight hills I could still accomplish the goals I had set before me. Running quickly gave me a swift kick in the butt. Even in the early hours it is in the 80's, add humidity and hills and new found allergies, I was done for. I couldn't run more then 2 miles without hyperventilating. Trying everything from changing my route, to different times of the day, to new shoes, to eating local honey to combat the allergies, nothing has seemed to help. So with much anguish, tears of frustration, and heartbreak I have come to realize I can't run the Philly Marathon in November!! This has been one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in awhile and it does not come without disappointment. 

I wish my girls nothing but the best of luck next month and I will be cheering for you on the sidelines as I know how much work you have put into this... 

This is not goodbye to running, this is an uphill battle that that will require one foot in front of the other and I will cross that finish line no matter how long it takes me....     

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Boobs, *Thugs, and Harmony

As a 30 year old woman, I'm a little late to the breast party. As in, it literally wasn't until a few years ago I got boobs. I mean, I HAD them, but they were perky little C cups that never gave me grief, or even required a bra for that matter. For most of my life I've never given a second thought about my chest, which was perfectly fine with me. Bras are expensive and big boobs give you backaches and I never had to tell a man that my "eyes are up here." Life was pretty great a smaller chested lady, but because I am a woman and therefore am never in the same body for more than what feels like five fucking seconds, those days came to end. As I crept toward 30 I noticed my button up shirts weren't fitting like they used to, my dresses were started to pull in placed they never had, and those flimsy, shapeless sports bras I had been running in for years? Yeah, they now supportive as a dead beat dad. For whatever reason (excluding pregnancy, extreme weight gain, and praying to the many-breasted god El Shadday because none of those happened), I am now the owner of a pair of DDs I never wanted. In my day-to-day life, this affects me little. However, as a lady runner, they were becoming quite the pains in my ass. Well, my back, really, as all of my sports bras (all a generic size "medium") had started to dig into my back so much that the bands left chaffing marks so deep they'd start bleeding when I'd take my bra off. After the cuts on my back bled through a T shirt the next day, I admitted defeat. My boobs won the war, and their prize was going to be the most expensive bra I had ever purchased.

I was not thrilled about the idea of spending a lot of money on a garment that was hardly, if ever, going to be seen, but I bit the bullet and headed to my local running store. I was of course tempted to order them for a lower price online, but decided that if I was going to do this bra thing I was going to do it right, and I'm really glad I did. Fleet Feet carries Moving Comfort, a brand I had read good things about and runs in actual bra sizes instead of the standard S, M, L XL sizing. While I really liked the idea of the Finoa design (it has a U shaped back like a traditional bra, which would mean I could get rid of my racer back tan line!) I chose the sturdier looking Rebound Racer. My normal size is 32DD, which I took to the fitting room along with a size up from that and a size down. Like the nice sales lady suggested, my normal size felt just a little snug around the ribs. As breathing is kind of important while running, I sized up to a 34DD. This gave me a little extra room to accommodate running bloat (that happens to you guys too, right? Guys?), take deep breaths, and get the damn thing on and off with relative ease. Just seeing myself in a sports bra in my correct cup size was kind of mind blowing. There was no spillage or pulling or flattening. I felt secure and looked good. But would it hold up during a long run?

The next morning I found out that yes, it did! Normally my shoulders are killing me by the end of a run from the weight of my chest pulling down the straps, but because the straps on the Rebound Racer (and most of Moving Comfort's bras for that matter) are adjustable AND padded, my shoulders felt great. Not only that, but the band and cups of this bra are so supportive that it feels like they do most of the work, and the straps are just there to keep the bra in place. While I had gotten used to the girls jiggling a bit during my runs, this bra kept everything on lock down. And should for a long time. Like a traditional bra, there are three sets of hook and eyes on the band in the back, so as it naturally stretches out I can just move it in to the next set of hooks. I mean, while I had a successful bra shopping trip, I'd rather not have to do do it again for a while.

I know fellow Accidental Runner Betsy loves this bra, as do I. So I'm giving it four tits up! Just make sure you try it on in a store first. You can always go home and order it online for less $$ later (oh don't act like you haven't done that).

Happy long runs this weekend!


*I am the thug.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Never Give Up.

10AM: I went to Eagle Creek Park for a what was supposed to be a beautiful Saturday 12 mile run. I took all of my Advocare (supplements that keep me going), strapped on my CamelBak, and started my run with my husband. I made it 4 miles. 4 whole miles before I decided that I started too late in the day, it was too hilly, and I just didn't have it. I went home, ate lunch, and proceeded to sleep the rest of the day.

5PM: That same day I took off for another try at my 12 mile run. I walked out the of door my house and set off on a familiar trail. It started great and fast.

I even saw this little gem on the trail: A reminder that even on bad run days what we are doing is pretty awesome.

It ended at 6 miles and with a feeling of pure failure. My mother and father-in-law picked me up so I didn't have to walk all the way home.

6:30 AM: I woke up without snoozing my alarm (a rare occurrence for me). I sparked up (Advocare supplements again) for the third time in less than 24 hours. I wrote all of the girls that are training for the Chicago with me (accountability, since I clearly didn't have it on my own). I set off for my third try at completing 12 miles.

I finished all 12. I didn't stop one time. And for the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed running. It wasn't the fastest or longest I've ever run, but it was perfect. It was a perfect effort.

Third times a charm.

Never Give Up,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sunday Runday

More like Sunday Rundown. 

(JaxDog after our 20 miler)

This weekend marked the last of the super long runs. 
After talking with the ladies, 
we've all been pretty rundown lately. 

Wah. Wah. Wah. 
I know, we signed ourselves up for this. 
But still, it feels really good to be through the final push. 

Now it's on to tapering and carb loading...yay! 
Noncrazyrunning folk, tapering is slowly cutting back before a race, 
aka slowly losing your mind because you think you're not prepared.

But enough of that. 
Here are some photos from the last couple of weeks! 

Ashley running through a winery in Indiana...
hopefully there was wine at the end of the run! 

Lora in Chi
"I fucking hate running/existing in any temperaturebelow 80 degress, 
but I can deal as long as the sky looks like this."

And also her being a B.A. after that 20-miler

I was dying that day in Philly
and should have jumped in the fountain! 
Too bad the pup HATES water. 

And speaking of water....

Betsy taking advantage of the Chicago Lakefront.

Ally on the Tow Path in Indy. 

And Cel in Playa Del Carmen FTW.

17 days to go! 
Cheers to pizza, pasta and sleeping in, 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Runday!

Happy Football Season everyone!
In the midst of watching a billion hours of football this weekend, 
we managed to also do some running. 

Ally in Indy with a speedy 20-miler! 

Ash and her hubs loving those country roads! 

Cel in the muck at the Warrior Dash. 

My 18-miler was pretty brutal...
Not only did I procrastinate for 2 hours and 
end up in 85 degree heat with 80% humidity, 
but I left my running buddy/trainer at home. 

I was so sweaty I couldn't wipe off the camera any better than this. 
Thank heavens that run is over! 

And Lora by the lagoons in Chicago. 

Only 2 Sunday runs until it's time to taper! 

My Long Run Routine

My husband and several of my friends know how big of a nut I can be when it comes to my routine before a big run. I imagine 80% or more of it helps me mentally and the other 20% actually does help my body get through my long run in optimal condition. I envy anyone who can just roll out of bed and go.

The Night Before 
I used to limit myself to no alcohol the night before a big run, but training during the summer and running on Saturdays makes it nearly impossible not to have a few beers with friends on a Friday night. For dinner, I'll eat just about anything I know won't upset my stomach. This is usually pizza, pasta or a bit ol' juicy burger. Depending on when I'm going to take off, I aim to be in bed by 10 at the latest (this Friday I went to bed around 9). I also have to lay out all my stuff... which may be weird - anyone else? My list of stuff includes:

- Shoes
- Shorts ( I only do long runs in spandex because otherwise chafing kills me)
- Shirt/Sports bra
- Socks (regular and compression)
- Hat
- SPI running belt 
- Headphones
- Camelbak
- Gu/Sports Beans
- Garmin watch
- O2Gold and Catalyst supplements by Advocare (ask Ash and Celina - this stuff rocks) 

I set my alarm for 70 minutes before I want to hit the pavement (allows for a 10 minute snooze of my alarm), and hit the head hoping not to toss and turn and get a good night of rest. 

The Morning 
7:20 - Alarm goes off, I hit snooze
7:30 - Pop my O2Gold (supposed to take an hour before running) and brush my teeth, wash my face etc.
7:35 - COFFEE - essential to the success of my morning 
7:40 - Make peanut butter toast (2 slices) with banana slices on top and grab a Chobani yogurt to go with it

7:45 - Turn on HBO Go and fire up an episode of whatever I'm binge watching (right now it's True Blood) or watch the news 
7:45 - 8:15 - Eat and watch TV waiting for the coffee to work it's magic 
8:15 - Pop my Catalyst (take 15 minutes before running) and hit the restroom 
8:20 - Put on all my gear and watch a couple more minutes of TV
8:27 - Fire up the Garmin and find those darn satellites, pull up my Spotify playlist
8:30 - Get after it

This is what makes me happy before a big run. I've had to adjust based on circumstances or lack of peanut butter, but otherwise this is what you'll catch me doing every Saturday morning of marathon training. Does anyone else have a pre-run routine?