The Day Before My First Marathon

Since we flew into Chicago midday on Friday, and the marathon was on Sunday, we had a full day in Chicago before the big race.  Even though I had 26.2 miles to run the next day, we kept quite busy the day before my first marathon, and I wound up walking over 5 miles that day.  I was on my feet way more than I wanted to be, but such is life with an active toddler.

First on my priority list for the day was checking out the finisher merchandise at Niketown.  After seeing on social media the day before that the finisher gear would be available at the Nike store starting Saturday morning, I made it a point to get there as early as I could.  I thought that getting there shortly after opening (8 a.m.) would result in an empty store, but to my surprise there was a shake out run that started at 9 a.m.

Even though I was initially disappointed about the crowd that I found at the store, I was excited to find out that Paula Radcliffe was there for the shakeout run.  Nike coaches did a short interview with her to kick off the run.  It was incredibly motivational to get some last minute marathon advice from a world record holder.

Nike coaches interviewing Paul Padcliffe

Once the shake out run started the store emptied out and it was much easier to browse the finisher merchandise and take advantage of the photo ops available there.  There were three finisher items: a jacket, half zip, and t-shirt.  My favorite of the three was the half zip, though I wish that it had been available in a color other than black.  After purchasing my finisher item, and taking lots of pictures, I headed back to our hotel, which was conveniently right around the corner from Niketown.

Although we had initially planned to take little man to the Chicago Children’s Museum Saturday morning, my mom, sister, and I decided that since the weather was as beautiful as it was (it was sunny and in the 70s) to instead take him to the children’s play garden at Maggie Daley Park.  He had an absolute blast!  During our walk between the L stop at the park we passed by the start line of the race.  Seeing the start line made me that much more excited for the next day.

The race crew assembling the start line less than 24 hours in advance of the start of the race

After leaving the park we met up with my husband and dad, who had stayed behind at the hotel to get some work done, for pizza at Gino’s East, one of the famous Chicago deep dish pizza restaurants.  The pizza did not disappoint, and it was a delicious way to fuel up for the marathon the next day.


After lunch we all headed back to the hotel since it was little man’s nap time.  I also wound up taking a nap, an over two hour nap to be exact.  I cannot remember the last time that I napped for that long, but it was a great way to relax and rest up for the next day.

Since I wanted a lot of protein the night before the race, and one of the things that Chicago is known for is its steakhouses, we decided to head to a steakhouse for dinner.  Little man wasn’t feeling well that evening (it turns out he was in pain from the beginning of yet another double ear infection), so my sister and I took turns entertaining him out in the lobby.

Reading with my little man in the restaurant lobby

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel, and after putting little man to bed I prepared my gear bag for the next morning.  After taking my flat Kathryn picture, I headed to bed, excited and anxious about the next morning.

Flat Kathryn ready to run the streets of Chicago!

QOTD: What do you prefer to eat the day before a goal race?

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Now That I’m a Marathoner, What’s Next?

Since crossing the Chicago Marathon finish line last Sunday, I’ve been asked some fairly expected questions:

What’s your next goal race?
Was Chicago a one and done, or will you run another marathon?
Will you ever run Chicago again?
Will you run with a charity group again?

Maybe its because I’m delirious from the runner’s high of having run my first marathon, because I’m thinking that someday I will run another marathon.  I’m not sure when that will be, but it definitely won’t be anytime soon.  After spending 18 weeks training for Chicago, the bulk of which was during my summer vacation, I’m realizing that despite running long distances in heat and humidity that training for a fall marathon fits best with my schedule.  It was incredibly challenging to balance school, family, and marathon training once the school year had started.

Just 0.2 miles away from crossing the finish line of my first marathon

Running Chicago was an absolutely incredible experience, which is part of why its taking me so long to put my race recap together.  Despite it being a challenging day for me and not being able to run the race that I had hoped to run, I had such a fun time running Chicago.  I loved the course, the crowd support was nothing short of amazing, and I’m beyond thankful that I had the opportunity to make my marathon experience meaningful by running for a charity.  I will most certainly run the Chicago Marathon again.

Not only will I make it a priority to run Chicago again, but I will also run with a charity group again in the future.  I had nothing but a positive experience running on behalf of Ronald McDonald House Charities, and running with a charity group made my first marathon that much more meaningful.

At the RMHC booth at the Chicago Marathon expo

As for what’s next, my focus in the short term will be on continuing to recover from Chicago.  I went for my first post-marathon run last night, and it was obvious from the start of my run that my legs are still tight and tired.  I plan to resume regular exercise this week, but will be putting more time and focus into cross and strength training over the next couple of weeks.  I plan to run once, maybe twice, a week during this break from being “in training.”

Last night’s run with little man was more challenging than I thought it would be, but it felt good to get back out and run again.

I am not currently registered for any other races this year, and if I do run anymore races it’ll be a local 5k or 10k.  My next big races are in February, when I’ll be traveling to Disney World with my friend Kathleen for a girls weekend.  We’ll be running the Princess Half Marathon, as well as the Enchanted 10k the day prior.  The focus of both of these races will be on having fun, and although I’ll train for these races the focus of my training will be on crossing the finish lines safely.

Kathleen and I ready to cross the start line in Chicago

Although I have a long list of possible races for 2018, I haven’t committed to any yet.  My family already has quite a bit on our spring calendar, so it’ll be a matter of finding the right race that fits into that calendar.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the mental and physical break of being “in training” and am excited about shifting the time and focus that training takes to other things.

QOTD: What race is next on your calendar?

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2017 Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

The excitement of Chicago Marathon weekend kicked off one week ago today.  After one last visit to the chiropractor before the race, we headed to the airport for a lunch time flight to Chicago.  At the airport it was clear that there were lots of other runners on our flight.  Between seeing other people wearing race shirts and jackets from other races, and seeing others carrying foam rollers in their arms, you could feel the excitement of the race in the terminal at Reagan.

We arrived at Midway around 1pm, and after a short wait for my parents, who also joined us in Chicago for the weekend, we were on our way.  We had planned for them to drop me off at the expo at McCormick Place on their way downtown to the hotel, and during our drive I excitedly texted my friend Kathleen, who was at the expo waiting to meet up with me.

Walking into McCormick Place, I could tell that the Chicago Marathon expo would be different than other expos that I have been to.  Between the sheer number of people and all of the race decor, as well as the excitement that you could feel resonating through the air, I could tell that this was going to be an expo experience like no other, and it did not disappoint.

My first stop was packet pickup, where I received my bib and other race credentials.  Just outside the entrance to the expo itself was a monitor displaying the video of the course, which was exciting to watch while holding my bib.  After watching the video for a few minutes we walked into the expo.

The Chicago Marathon expo was by far the largest race expo that I have ever been to.  Kathleen and I spent just under two hours wandering the expo floor, visiting numerous vendors including Asics, Brooks, Fleet Feet, North Face, Sparkly Soul, and Sweaty Bands.  It was fun to be able to see all of the different brands’ Chicago merchandise, although by mid afternoon a lot of merchandise was already gone.  Kathleen had arrived at the expo when it first opened that morning, and said that there was a much wider variety of Chicago specific merchandise available at the vendors when she first arrived.  I wasn’t too disappointed, though I did find it interesting that after only being open for a couple of hours, and with another full day the next day, that some vendors were already starting to run out of their merchandise.

One of the booths where we spent quite a bit of time was the Ronald McDonald House Charities booth.  Since I ran Chicago with Team RMHC, this was a necessary stop in order for me to check in with them and receive my access sticker to the RMHC tent.  I also picked up support crew shirts for my family.

RMHC support crew gear

I found the expo itself to be quite organized.  The participant bag and t-shirt pickup lined the far back wall of the itself.  Although some might have seen it as an inconvenience to walk the entire length of the expo floor in order to get to it, by taking up an entire wall at McCormick Place allowed for there to be plenty of space in between the lines for each shirt size, and it didn’t feel crowded whatsoever.  In the back corner I also picked up my official race poster.

My bib, participant shirt, race program, and poster

Prior to leaving the expo we made a stop at the Nike area, which was the official merchandise for the race.  I’m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed in the merchandise options for this race, and liked the other vendors’ shirts a lot better.  However, I knew that I would kick myself if I didn’t pick up at least one official item to commemorate my first marathon, and decided on a blue tank with the 40th anniversary race logo on it.  I know that I will get a lot of use out of it and that it wasn’t a waste of money, or just “settling” on something to buy.

The North Face shirt, Nike tank, and Sparkly Soul headband that I bought at the expo

As we walked the expo floor we took advantage of all of the photo ops.  It was a fun way to get excited for the race itself.

After spending just under two hours at the expo, we called it a day.  Kathleen and I said our goodbyes and I headed downstairs to catch the free shuttle downtown.  After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, and then the twenty minute ride on a school bus, I was dropped off just behind the Niketown store on Michigan Avenue, which was right around the corner from our hotel.  I met up with my family who had already checked into the hotel, headed out to dinner, and afterwards called it an early night.  I was exhausted, but excited about being less than 48 hours away from running my first marathon!

QOTD: What is your favorite thing about race expos?

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Chicago Marathon Training Log – Week 18

Well I did it, I ran my first marathon!!!!!  I cannot wait to fully recap my entire race weekend experience.  Like I shared on social media on Monday, the race went far how I had hoped that it would.  I trained to be able to run a much faster race than I did, but factors out of my control made it difficult to maintain the pace that I had trained to run.  The important thing is that I did not give up and that I crossed the finished line, and can officially call myself a marathoner!

During the week leading up to the race I tried to find that delicate balance between staying active and letting my body rest up for the big race.

Monday, October 2nd

I completed my last 5 mile training run by testing out some of my race day essentials, including a brand new pair of running sunglasses (my old pair was badly scratched and desperately needed to be replaced), as well as the visor that I wore during the race.

Last Monday evening’s run was all about testing out some of my race day essentials

Tuesday, October 3rd

I took full advantage of taper time and spent some time at the playground with little man.  Chasing him around the playground counts as cross training, right?

Wednesday, October 4th

After work I headed to the gym for cross and strength training.  I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by 30 minutes of full body weight training.

Thursday, October 5th

Thursday was an incredibly busy day.  Before I left school I had to ensure that my sub plans were ready for Friday.  Once I got home I headed out for my last training run.  Since I still needed to pack and was tight on time, I only ran 4 out of my 5 planned miles.  After completing my run I felt strong and more than ready to take on the streets of Chicago.

I felt great after finishing my last marathon training run.

Friday, October 6th

Before getting on the plane, I headed to the chiropractor for one last adjustment before the race.  After arriving in Chicago I immediately headed to the expo, and afterwards had a very enjoyable dinner with my family.

Saturday, October 7th

I spent Saturday morning keeping busy chasing after little man at a playground.  I then took an over two hour nap while he napped.  I cannot remember the last time that I napped for that long, but it was a great way to relax and rest up for the big race.

Sunday, October 8th

Sunday was race day.  According to my Garmin I ran 26.98 miles in 5:13:27.  I’m excited to share the full story about my experience, not only running the race itself but also pre and post race with Team RMHC, the charity that I ran with.

I’m a marathoner!!!!!

Total Weekly Mileage – 39.19 miles (17.53 miles more than week 17)

Total Chicago Marathon Mileage – 507.91 miles

I have so many thoughts and pictures that I want to share with all of you, and am planning on dividing my recap of Chicago Marathon weekend into multiple posts.  Although I still have two other races from September to recap, I want to jump ahead and start writing about all of my experiences from Chicago first.  Stay tuned!

QOTD: For those who also ran Chicago, how did your race go?

I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap link up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well.

Posted in Chicago Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

It’s Chicago Marathon Weekend!!!

Almost a year after signing up with Team RMHC, as well as 18 weeks of training, Chicago Marathon weekend is finally here!  I have so many emotions going into this weekend, but overall I’m excited about heading to Chicago, seeing family and friends, and most importantly running my first marathon.

I will be running the race on Sunday with my friend Kathleen (this will be her second time running Chicago).  For almost a year now we’ve been planning on running the race together.  Our pace is almost identical and we both trained using 4:1 intervals on our long runs.  I am incredibly thankful to have had a virtual training partner throughout this journey, and I cannot wait for us to take our victory lap together on Sunday.

The last race that we ran together was the Shamrock 8k back in March 2015

The weather for Sunday’s race is looking like it’ll be sunny and warm.  As of this morning, the forecast is calling for the temperature to be in the low to mid 60s at the start of the race and the high 70s when we cross the finish line.  Its certainly warmer than the ideal marathon weather conditions, but as long as the humidity stays on the lower side then I should be okay.  I did plenty of training over the summer in the heat, but it was always the humidity that slowed me way down.  Fingers crossed that the humidity stays in check!

Other than having fun, I have three goals for Sunday’s race:

1.  Keep up with Kathleen
2.  Don’t give up mentally
3.  Keep running

Kathleen’s goal since the start of training has been to finish in less than 5 hours.  As long as there is a 4 at the front of her finish time she will be happy.  We have both trained to be able to run a sub-5 hour marathon.  We have discussed that if I start to struggle in the last miles that she will go ahead of me and meet me at the finish line, but hopefully with the crowd support, her tough love, and my determination we’ll cross the finish line together.  My other two goals are to not give up mentally (I really really really hope that I don’t hit the dreaded “wall”), and to keep running, even if in the later miles I have to reduce my running intervals and increase my walking intervals.

We head to Chicago today, and as long as our flight is on time I will be at the expo by mid-afternoon.  I know that there are a ton of other bloggers and readers also running Chicago on Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be able to say hi to at least a few people.  I’ll be taking tons of pictures, so be sure to follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  I also have my own hashtag for the weekend, #KathrynRunsChicago.

And who doesn’t need a little inspiration while running a marathon?  The Chicago Marathon will have large screens set up in the Bank of America Cheer Zones at miles 13 and 26.  You can click here to submit an inspirational message that I will hopefully see on the course.  I’ll definitely need some inspiration to help get me through the second half of the race.

Thanks for everybody’s support throughout this entire journey.  I am incredibly grateful for all of the encouragement that so many people have provided from the time that I started discussing the possibility of running my first marathon.  I look forward to catching up with everybody after the race!

QOTD: Who else is running the Chicago Marathon this weekend?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

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2017 Goals – 3rd Quarter Check In

Hard to believe, but we’re already three quarters of the way through 2017.  This year is just flying by!  With another quarter down, its time to check in on my yearly goals.

1.  Log 1,000 miles.

Progress Report: A

My current 2017 mileage total is 917.7 miles.  With three months remaining in the year, and less than 100 miles to go, its clear that I underestimated my abilities for the year.  I’ve been talking about needing to do so for awhile now, but its finally time for me to increase my mileage goal for 2017.  Instead of striving to log 1,000 miles, I’m increasing my goal to 1,150 miles.  Although I won’t be running nearly as much in the weeks following the marathon, I still plan to remain active with walking and spending time on the elliptical.  And since I believe that every mile counts, I want to push myself by increasing my original goal by 150 miles.

Little man and I logged quite a few miles together during the third quarter of 2017.

2.  Run my first marathon.

Progress Report: N/A

Only four days remain until I run the Chicago Marathon.  Based on how training went, I have no doubt that I’ll cross the finish line.  I cannot wait to be able to call myself a marathoner!

I cannot believe that the marathon is only four days away!

3.  Make strength training a priority.

Progress Report: C+

As the mileage increased during marathon training, I lost focus on my strength training.  This is one of the things that I’m looking forward to dedicating more time and energy to after the marathon.

4.  Stay on top of my blogging.

Progress Report: C

I am not going to lie, I have been losing focus on this blog this year.  I have put time and energy into other things, which has taken time away from my ability to blog.  During the third quarter, I wrote and published 75% of the posts that I had planned to write.  (I had planned to take a blogging break while away in Antigua back in August and never intended to write while away.  That week off doesn’t affect these stats.)  Thus far this year I have written 85 out of 110 planned posts (77%).  These stats are just slightly down from where I was after the second quarter.

5.  Put my family first.

Progress Report: A

Part of why I have been losing focus on blogging is because I have been trying to dedicate as much time as possible to my boys.  Little man is growing up so quickly, and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the time that we got to spend together while I was home for the summer.  My husband and I also took a much needed vacation together.  Although my time and attention has been taken away from other things, I do not regret that whatsoever because it has allowed me to focus on my little family.

Last Saturday at the Dulles Day races

QOTD: How much progress did you make during the third quarter of 2017 towards meeting your 2017 goals?

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Chicago Marathon Training Log – Week 17

On October 8th I will be running the Chicago Marathon as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities.  Please consider visiting my fundraising page and supporting this worthy cause.  Thanks!

I cannot believe that race week is here!  One week from today I will be able to call myself a marathoner!  The past 17 weeks have just flown by, and I’m sure the last couple of days before we head to Chicago will go by just as fast, especially since I have a lot on the agenda for this week, including a couple of chiropractor appointments, packing for race weekend, and writing sub plans for Friday.

I cannot believe that the marathon is less than a week away!

Despite it being taper time, this past week was another active one, though it was nice to have more time to spend with my little family than I’ve had in recent weeks.

Monday, September 25th

Given that I ran three races last weekend, and the bulk of the mileage was on Sunday, I more than earned Monday’s rest day.

Tuesday, September 26th

Summer’s last hurrah (or what I’m going to assume was our last day of intense heat and humidity), pushed me to the gym to complete my run.  I thought that running in the air conditioning would feel good, except it was so stuffy in the gym and it didn’t feel like the air conditioning was turned up very high.  This resulted in five very sweaty miles, and I left feeling like I would have struggled just as much had I run outside.

Feeling gross after that five mile run

Wednesday, September 27th

After work I headed back to the gym where I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes doing full body weight training.

Thursday, September 28th

The weather was night and day from what it had been on Tuesday, and the cooler air felt wonderful during my run.  In fact, I was able to push myself to run a tad faster than I have been able to recently, thanks to the much nicer weather.  It was a nice little confidence boost with the race right around the corner.

Feeling great after being able to run a tad faster than I have been able to recently, thanks to fall finally arriving.

Friday, September 29th

I ran a ton of errands after work, so even though it was a rest day I spent a ton of time on my feet walking around.

Saturday, September 30th

My last long run before Chicago was a hard one.  Between the 20+ mph wind and running with a fussy toddler, I wound up doing a lot more walking than I would have liked during an 8 mile run.  The run was it was, and the important thing is that I got the miles in, even if some of them were very slow going.

Its a good thing that he’s cute because him being fussy is part of what made my run difficult.

Sunday, October 1st

Another busy days of errands and chores kept me on my feet, even if I wasn’t “working out.”

Total Weekly Mileage – 21.66 miles (7.92 miles less than week 16)

Total Chicago Marathon Mileage – 468.72 miles

QOTD: What last minute advice do you have for me going into race weekend?

I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap link up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well.

Posted in Chicago Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

October 2017 Goals

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the month of September.  Its always an exciting month as the new school year gets underway and my family transitions back into a “normal” routine.  However, with summer being my favorite season of the entire year I am sad to see the days become shorter and the temperatures start to cool off.  Although the days have been becoming slightly shorter, it still feels like summer outside right now, which I am quite happy about.  The only reason I would like to see it start to cool off is because of the positive impact it would have on my running.

As usual, this past month was quite busy, which helped with reaching some of my monthly goals and made it difficult to 100% reach others.

1.  Log at least 135 miles.

Grade: A

As of today, my current mileage total for September is 127 miles, and I have an 8 mile training run on the calendar for tomorrow, which means I should have no problem reaching my goal.  Yay!

I am also incredibly excited about the milestone that I reached yesterday with my 2017 total mileage.  Last night’s run brought my 2017 mileage to 904.1 miles.  My goal for the year is 1,000 miles.  There is no doubt in my mind that I will log 95.9 miles between now and December 31st.  In fact, I’m pretty confident that I’ll log much more than it.  Its so exciting to know that I’ll reach one of my 2017 goals well before the end of the year.

2.  Strength train at least two times per week.

Grade: B

Most weeks I met this goal, but I really wish that I had made this a higher priority this past month.  It shouldn’t be an excuse since strength training is important, but too many other things took my focus away from strength training.

3.  Foam roll and stretch consistently.

Grade: B-

Although I did stretch after every run I only focused on foam rolling when my legs were sore and needed to be rolled.  I wish that I had been better about foam rolling regularly.  I really hope that I don’t pay for this decision on race day.

4.  Be more on top of my blogging.

Grade: B

Although I did better with my blogging in September than I did in August, I still missed writing two of my planned posts.  I also didn’t comment on nearly as many other blogs as I would have liked.  But at least my September blogging was better than my August blogging was.

October is going to be quite an exciting and interesting month for me.  The highlight will be running my first marathon.  I am very uncertain at this point how the rest of the month will look when it comes to my fitness.  I plan to take some time off from running after the big race to let my body recover, but I don’t know how much time yet.  I’ll be playing things by ear a lot in October, which means that my monthly goals look quite different for this month than they usually do.

1.  Log at least 75 miles.

Between now and when I cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon next Sunday, I’ll log at least 36.2 miles.  Although I have no idea how much running I’ll be doing during the rest of the month, I do want to keep moving, whether it be walking or spending time on the elliptical.

2.  Run my first marathon.

This should be of no surprise, given that my focus over the past several months has been on training for Chicago.  I’ll share my specific goals for the race next week.

3.  Foam roll, foam roll, foam roll.

Foam rolling is going to be crucial, especially in the days leading up to and the days just after Chicago.

4.  Listen to my body.

After crossing the finish line, its going to be imperative that I listen to my body.  The last thing that I need to do is try and convince myself that I need to resume running and other physical activities too quickly after running my first marathon.

5.  Don’t push myself too hard.

Much of the rest of October after the race will be focused on recovery, and just like it’ll be critical that I listen to my body, I also need to make sure that I don’t resume fitness activities too quickly or at too much of an intensity.

QOTD: What are your goals for October?

I’m linking up for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup.  Many thanks to the wonderful ladies at Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting!

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , , | 44 Comments

2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

Disclaimer: As a Rock ‘n’ Blogger I received a complimentary global tour pass, which I used for entry into this race.  I also received complimentary VIP access.  As always, all opinions are my own.

When I started planning out my Chicago Marathon training, I had a suspicion that my motivation for long runs would be difficult to find, particularly towards the end of my training cycle.  For that reason, I looked at incorporating races into my training plan where they would best fit.  When I realized that this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon fell over the same weekend as when I would need to complete my 20 miler, I knew that it was a no-brainer – that Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly needed to be added to my 2017 race calendar.

Having run this race two times previously, I knew to expect a flat course for the race, which is one of the reasons why I enjoy this half marathon as much as I do.  Another reason is the convenience.  Since my father-in-law lives less than 30 minutes from downtown Philly, running this race gives us an excuse for a weekend trip up for a visit.

We left Virginia early Saturday morning, and after a family brunch I headed into the city to pick up my bib.  The expo was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, and after battling some Saturday afternoon traffic downtown, I was in and out of the convention center in less than an hour.  After picking up my bib, I briefly walked the expo floor, which included the purchase of some new Experia socks that I found for a great deal, and then I was on my way back out of the city.

Race morning was an early one for me.  My alarm went off at 4:00 a.m., I took a quick shower, and afterwards was when my stressful morning started.  I couldn’t find my tea, and with 20 miles to run I was in desperate need of some caffeine.  I quickly searched for an open Starbucks, but with most not opening until 6 a.m. or after, and knowing that I needed to start running my extra miles before that, I started to panic.  Thankfully, I found a Starbucks that opened in Philly at 5 a.m., which was on my way to, and only a mile away from, the parking garage where I had reserved parking.  After leaving the house later than I had wanted to, I was in and out of Starbucks in less than five minutes.

But my stress didn’t stop there.  The parking garage that I had reserved a spot through SpotHero with wasn’t open when I pulled up.  My parking confirmation said that I could enter after 5:30, but the sign on the wall indicated that the garage didn’t open until 8.  After circling around for about 15 minutes I finally found an open lot with available space, but was frustrated that I had to pay a second time for parking.  (Thankfully, my follow up with SpotHero a couple of days after the race resulted in a full refund as well as a credit to my account for the inconvenience.)

After parking I made my way to the start area, about a mile away, as quickly as I could.  I knew that in order to run all 7 of the extra miles prior to the start of the race that I needed to start running by 6:00.  At this point, it was after 6 a.m., so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run all of my extra miles.  After quickly dropping my gear bag off at the VIP area and a quick run into a porta potty, I finally started running my pre-race miles at 6:35.  I accepted that I wouldn’t be able to run 7 miles, but vowed to run as far as I could.

I weaved through the neighborhood streets just north of the start area.  Many people that I passed gave me some weird looks since I was wearing my race bib and hydration vest.  I explained to a couple of people that I had to run 20 miles that day, which resulted in some even weirder looks.

The drive to run as many miles as I could had me pushing my pace a bit faster than I would have liked for the beginning of a long run, and I wound up running at a sub 11 minute pace, which was way faster than my long run pace had been in recent weeks.  After running 5.47 miles, I ended my pre-race run at the start line and jumped into my corral as it was making its way towards the start line.  I had debated whether I should run more of my extra miles and just start in a later corral, but ultimately decided that I would start in my assigned corral, corral 8.  After standing in the corral for just over a minute, I crossed the start line at 7:39 a.m.

I tried my best to not run too fast at the start of the race since I was already a quarter of the way through my 20 miles for the day, but the course crowding and excitement about the start of a half marathon got the best of me.  My first walk interval of the race was significantly shorter than one minute, which worried me since I had already been running for an hour using 4:1 intervals.  Thankfully, that one shorter walk interval didn’t wind up having a huge effect on me, and after weaving through the downtown portion of the course and making a loop around city hall I reached the 5k mark on the course at 33:52 (11:13 pace).  I was well on my way to maintaining my goal pace for the day, sub 11:30.

Running through the city of love

Just past the 5k mark of the race, and just shy of having run 9 miles thus far that morning, the humidity really started to take its toll on me.  It was in the low 70s throughout the entire race, but the 100% humidity felt like 1000%, and I was drenched in sweat only shortly after starting my run for the day.  The further that I ran, the slower that my pace became, and at the 10k mark of the race I had slowed to an average 11:22 pace.  At that point, I reminded myself that my pace prior to the start of the race was 10:53, so when I added all of my data up for the entire morning that it would help balance out my slowing pace.

Such an important thing to remember, especially during a difficult run

The humidity was so bad that morning, and I was sweating so much, that my feet felt like I had been running through puddles all morning.  Because of the blister on my heel that was almost healed prior to race day, I had thankfully brought along an extra pair of socks, and just prior to mile 9 on the course, I stopped to change my socks.  They were so wet that I could wring water out of them.  I am so thankful that I had put an extra pair in my hydration vest.

Feeling much better after changing into dry socks

The further that I ran on the course, the slower that my pace became.  I chalked it up to the humidity and the fact that I was running the farthest that I had ever run, and didn’t let my slowing pace bother me too much.  The course entertainment and crowd support kept me going, and I pushed through despite the awful running weather.  Thank goodness the course was flat and that it was an overcast morning.  I reached the 10 mile point on the course at 1:59:54 (12:00 pace), and celebrated the fact that I had less than 5 miles left to run that morning.

One of the many things that I love about Rock ‘n’ Roll races are the bands, especially the drumlines. They are so great at keeping everybody pumped up and motivated to run.

This Elvis impersonator ran the entire race barefoot!

I crossed the finish line of the race at 2:36:56 (11:59 pace).  According to my Garmin I had run 13.39 miles in 2:33:58 (my watch had stopped during my brief stop to change my socks).  After getting my medal, water, Gatorade, and some food, I quickly added up my mileage for the day and discovered that I only had 1.14 miles left before I would reach the 20 mile mark.  I downed the bottle of Gatorade as I made my way through the finisher’s chute, stuffed my medal into my vest, and holding the bottle of water and food slowly ran another 1.20 miles.  I received even weirder looks than I had during those pre-race miles.  After running a total of 20.06 miles, at an average pace of 11:17, I was finally done.  As I walked back towards the VIP area, I started to tear up, knowing that I had completed my peak run for marathon training and was finally in taper mode.

My first priority when I arrived at the VIP area was changing out of my incredibly sweaty running clothes.  Thankfully there was a changing tent in the VIP area, and I didn’t have to try and change in a stuffy porta potty.  It felt so good to put some dry clothes on, after which I treated myself to a mimosa that tasted like heaven after running 20 miles.

I definitely earned my mimosa that morning

The VIP area

When I first arrived back at the VIP area, I had put my name on the massage list in hopes that the line would move quickly enough and that I would be able to get a 10 minute massage before heading back to the car.  Just as I was wrapping up eating my snack, I heard my name called.  That 10 minute massage was quite relaxing, and felt so good after running 20 miles.  Afterwards, I slowly made my way back to my car, and drove back to my father-in-law’s house.

Despite the absolutely awful humidity, it had been another great morning for a race.  I am so thankful that I ran the half as part of my long run.  Not only did the course entertainment and crowd support help me to stay motivated, but having access to extra water and Gatorade beyond what was in my hydration vest helped me significantly.  Had I not been running the race I would have had to stop at least once to refill my vest.  I greatly appreciated having access to the VIP amenities before and after the race, particularly not having a line for the porta potties, the changing tent, and the post race food spread.  It made running 20 miles a bit easier.

The delicious food spread

QOTD: When you have to run extra miles on race day do you run them before or after the race?

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Chicago Marathon Training Log – Week 16

On October 8th I will be running the Chicago Marathon as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities.  Please consider visiting my fundraising page and supporting this worthy cause.  Thanks!

What a week!  This past week was busy and long, and part of what made it so long was that I was sick for most of the week.

Monday, September 18th

Since I completed my 20 miler last Sunday, I took a complete and total rest day on Monday.  I usually prefer to start the week off with a workout but my body was still recovering from running 20 miles and needed the rest.

Tuesday, September 19th

I decided to do a running commute to daycare for my first post-20 miler run.  There’s no way to describe my run other than it was extremely hard.  Between the heat (it was in the 80s), my tired legs, and pushing the BOB stroller, I struggled during the entire run.  The fact that I struggled as much as I did during my  run should have also been a sign of what I would face later in the week: coming down with a cold.  Following my run I did 25 minutes of full body strength training.

Little man and I discussing just how difficult my run was.

Wednesday, September 20th

Although I had a sore throat, I didn’t have any other symptoms or signs that I was getting sick, so after work I headed to the gym.  I did a 30 minute workout on the elliptical, followed by 20 minutes of weight training.  I didn’t get to workout as long as I would have liked, as I needed to get to daycare to pick up little man.

Thursday, September 21st

When I woke up Thursday morning, there was no denying that I was sick with a cold.  Since I was just congested and otherwise felt fine, I decided to turn my run into a long walk, during which I picked little man up from daycare.

At I’m sick during taper time, and there’s still almost two weeks until the big race. Fingers crossed that I feel better sooner than later!

Friday, September 22nd

I felt absolutely miserable on Friday.  After running a bunch of errands after work, I came home and immediately fell asleep on the couch.  There was no way that I could have worked out had I wanted to.  I just had no energy.

Saturday, September 23rd

I had my first of three races of the weekend on Saturday, and when I went to bed Friday night I had no idea whether I’d feel up for running.  Thankfully, I felt a bit better when I woke up on Saturday, though I was still very congested, but at least I was no longer achy.  I ran the Dulles Day 10k as planned, though my pace was a bit slower than I would have liked given how flat the course was.

Running on the runway at Dulles Airport

Sunday, September 24th

My second two races of the weekend were the Clarendon Day 5k followed by the 10k.  Both races together made up the Clarendon Day Double.  When I registered for these races, I figured that it would be a fun way to complete my last double digit run before the marathon (I also ran and power walked 1.69 miles from the finish line back to the start line in between the two races.)  Just like with Dulles Day, my pace was slower than I would have liked since both races are a net downhill, but given that I was still sick all I could do was do the best that I could.

Total Weekly Mileage – 29.58 miles (7.23 miles less than week 15)

Total Chicago Marathon Mileage – 447.06 miles

QOTD: How do you manage your training when you’re sick?

I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap link up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well.

Posted in Chicago Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments