Tuesday, October 09, 2012
CHICAGO MARATHON OCT 7, 2012 RACE REPORT
4th marathon, running for 1 year, 8 months
Female, age 43
Starting temperature- 42, finishing temp 48?, winds 12-13 mph
headwind last 1.5 miles or so
Unofficial time 3:33:13 (my Garmin registered 26.42 miles)
Training plan- a SmartCoach Runner’s World that I modified- 15 weeks- running 4 days a week, and 5 days a week during the last 4 weeks before the taper
Topping out at 2 weeks in the 40s, and two weeks in the low 50s (50 and 53)
Cross training- Per week- 3- 1 hr cardio group fitness classes (step, and dance), 2 weighted barbell classes, 1 hour of mixed yoga, pilates, and tai chi
We arrived in Chicago late Friday night and checked into our hotel, Hotel 71.
Saturday we went to the EXPO first thing in the morning via provided shuttle buses. I was able to meet Maureen from our Sparkie Marathoners team! It was so great to hang out with her and chill a bit, eating our free pasta.
My big pre-race obsession this time was what to wear. I ended up going with a tank, arm warmers, running skirt, gloves, fleece earband and my NIke dri- fit cap over it. I had a thin long sleeve dri fit as a second layer.
We left the hotel at around 6:50 am. The walk to the start seemed like it took forever. Eric and the kids accompanied me to the edge of Grant Park. On the walk over I saw many others with garbage bag, plastic ponchos, silver heat ponchos, and disposable clothing. We stopped for a few photos along the way. After I said my good-byes, I followed the rest of the crowd towards the gates. This was the part I didn’t expect to take so long. To get to the C corral, I had to go much further than where I said good bye to my family. We parted around 7:10 I think. It took me 8 minutes at least to reach my proper corral. At that point, the corral was almost full and you enter in the back of it. I ditched my pants before entering the corral, but kept my bag on. I had put heat warmers in each of my pant pockets, but when I shed the pants, I forgot to take one out, so I only had one.
Within two minutes of me entering the corral, an announcement came on saying, “Corral gates A-E are officially closed”. All other runners must proceed to corral F. I would have freaked if this had happened! Not only would I probably have had a really hard time establishing my pace, but would never have found the 3:35 pace group, or for that matter my family who would not have known about me starting with the 8:00 wave. Geez, that one was really close. I would definitely leave my hotel earlier next time- I just didn’t know it would take so long to get from the edge of the park to my corral. I actually started running with several other runners when it was about 10 minutes to start- thank goodness I did or I know I wouldn’t have made it.
The 3:35 pace group was at the very front of this corral and fighting my way through was almost impossible. It definitely made some people grouchy that some of us were doing this. At one point a man said, “I think it is funny how these people are trying to push through to the front”. I turned and said, “I’m just trying to find my pace group”. With a smile he said, “Oh that’s ok”, but I don’t know if he really meant it. I kept asking tall men if they could see up ahead to the 3:35 signs and most of them said no. Everyone was pretty nice when i’d ask this. As it was, another lady who was also looking for 3:35 and I, never made it to the 3:35 group. We ended up stopping behind a man wearing a 3:35 pace sign on his back who also couldn’t get up to the group. Her and I started chatting and her name was Laura. She was from Chicago and this was her 3rd marathon. She definitely was much younger than me and was really cute and excited. She was a great one to start next to. She was worried about her ipod draining for the whole race. I told her I was planning on keeping my ipod off until the halfway point based on suggestions from RW. She decided to try that out, too. We had the same Garmin and were talking about them. Within minutes, the race began and we were off! :) It took 3:30 to get to the start line and then within seconds we were all flying! I was shocked how we got up to our pace immediately. I hadn’t expected that to be able to happen. Laura continued talking to me and after a few minutes I said, “OK, I’m probably going to have to shut up now” and she laughed and said, “Me, too” and then we were on our separate ways- I know she didn’t take it offensively. I just don’t talk when I race and there was no way I could have continued on with that!
The first thing I remember was going through a tunnel. I don’t remember if there was one or two, but I remember the crowds stationed along each side of us and on the overpass into a tunnel. It was a surreal feeling at that moment- they were all going crazy with cheering, screaming, signs, and huge smiles! I was grinning from ear to ear for so much of this race.
Going through the tunnel, I remembered someone’s words from our RW daily boards saying that the Garmin would wig out for the first few miles due to the tunnels, as well as later around 13-14. Yep- it was happening, but after a few minutes of emerging, they recalcuated and it seemed to maybe be accurate? I don’t know. Within 5 minutes I could see the 3:35 pace signs. Thank goodness. I continued to gradually move towards them until I was at the back of the pack. There were 4 pacers and I believe two had started in corral B and two in corral C. This was great because at every split in the road, two would take one side and two the other. Looking back at my Garmin times, my first mile was a 7:45, because without trying to, I guess I accelerated too much to try to catch up with the pacer. Either that or because of the tunnels and the lost satellite. I don’t remember ever running that packed in before. We were on top of each other, especially around the first couple of curves where you would have to slow down not to slam into the person in front of you. After the first mile, I started thinking about shedding my long-sleeve. I had just slipped it off over my head when I hear, “Renee!”, thank goodness I looked, because there was my cheering section- hubby and two kids. I don’t know how he spotted me, and I never would have spotted them if DD hadn’t been wearing her kooky Georgia Bulldog mad hatter hat. :) That fueled me up. I knew that I would see them in another mile, around 2.5. However, I never saw them there. I knew that I would see them around mile 12.5 so that was fine- I actually felt bad for them, picturing them waiting for me and never seeing me.
Chicago clocked me at running the first 5k at an 8:04 pace. This was a little faster than I had wanted. I wanted to at least keep the first 8 miles at an 8:10, but still was happy with this. I felt like I was getting into a rhythm and warming up a bit.
I’m not sure at what point this happened, it was while running by some park area, really pretty, but I came up behind a tall guy wearing a navy blue tank, arm warmers and sun glasses- I knew that Bookerman from RW was going to line up with the 3:35s and as soon as I saw the sunglasses, yelled out, “Bookerman” from behind. He turned and I said, “Ebunny!” So fun to run along side of him for a bit- we chatted for a short while and then a water station came, we parted, and I never saw him again. LOL! At least I got the chance to meet him, we exchanged our real names, and it was a great race distractor for even the short time we were together.
FUELING and HYDRATION-
I had planned to take my Clif shots at 6 miles, 11, 16, and 21. The plan was to take the caffeinated ones 1st and 3rd, and non-caf 2nd and 4th. I had brought an extra one in case I needed one more around 23-24, and I also knew they would be handed out at mile 17. I pretty much stuck to this plan, taking the first at mile 6, then right after seeing my family after 12.5 (a little late), mile 16.5, then mile 21 I think. I drank water with every one I took, and in between, drank my Cytomax and when that was gone, gatorade.
I ran this race with my Amphipod handheld water bottle that was filled with my Cytomax I had brought with me. I skipped the first several water/gatorade stations because of it which was great. When it began getting almost empty, I started adding gatorade to it and mixing it with water. I did a combo of taking cups and drinking and drinking from my handheld. I really do love running with it. i had 3 pace charts taped to the bottle with various goal split times. I didn’t need it while running with the pace group which was great. In the future, If i ever decide to not use it, I will plan to have a pace tattoo that I can refer to, even if I’m planning on using a pace group, just in case I get separated from them or need to adjust my run.
The water stations were absolutely incredible. One about every 1.5 miles for the first 13 or so miles and then every mile after that. Each water station went on for two city blocks, both sides of the street, both sides having Gatorade the first half in green Gatorade cups, and water the second half in red cups. The volunteers were standing side by side with the water cup on the palm of their hand. I have NEVER SEEN such organization- this got to me- what an incredible group of volunteers this race had. Not only the sheer volume of people but their overall amazing, positive attitudes. Each statin had porta potties and a first aid station. Mile 17 provided Clif Shots- 4 flavors, each side of the street, labeled with signs above which flavors. ARE YOU SERIOUS????? 5 stops had bananas sliced and being held out. I almost cried a few times by the volunteers and how well Chicago did this. Kudos to Chicago. If anyone ever questions the race fee, they need to look at all that is put into these productions.
The pacer I stuck closest to was really positive and upbeat. Someone asked him around mile 6 if he had paced Chicago before. He said no, but that he’d paced other marathons and this was his 21st marathon. A couple of people ran up and asked if he was on pace. He said that yes, they were on pace and a little bit under. That was good because I wasn’t sure what the tunnels had done to my Garmin and its accuracy.
I loved running with the pace group because I barely checked my Garmin at all. It was such a liberating feeling and was much more enjoyable being able to just focus on the run, the crowds, the cool architecture of the city, and all the fun and motivational signs.
We went through Boys Town which was a blast- there was a group in costume on a stage twirling fake rifles to some song, lots of color, lots of cheering, really fun section to run through.
My 10k split according to Chicago was also an 8:04 pace, but I didn’t realize this because I wasn’t checking my Garmin during this time.
After finishing mile 8, I decided to increase the pace just a little so I crept ahead of the 3:35 group. I figured if I could stay in front of them, I would meet my sub 3:35 goal. If I couldn’t, I would fall back in line with them and try to stay with them. I never saw them again, but they couldn’t have been far behind me at any point.
Around this time I was aware of people cheering for “Blaze”. He was right in front of me with a purple Team in Training shirt on. At one point I came up beside him and saw that his face was painted pink and purple- don’t know who he was supposed to be, but the crowd loved him and I fed off of it. We were pretty much together for many miles, at least 10 or so.
I passed a spectator dressed as a sneaker. The best costume I saw of the day, even though it was professional.
Around this point, I also passed a crank chair driven by an older man. The crowd was going wild for him and I got emotional here. I started thinking of all the people running this race that faced so many more challenges than I and it hit me hard.
The only time I ever felt ANY incline or decline at all was going over the small bridges. I couldn’t believe that the race had padded the iron grating on the bridges with thick mats! How cool is that??? Somewhere amongst the bridges I remember going over a slight hill and being able to see the thousands of runners in front of me. That was the only view I remember like this because the race is so flat and so curvy with all the street turns. This was an incredible sight and I wish I’d pulled out my camera and taken a shot of it.
I found my family stationed around mile 12.5 just like planned and they were sitting on a bridge railing. My husband yelled, “Looking strong, Girl!” My kids were cheering for me with smiles on their faces. That did it for another huge refueling for me. :) LOVE THOSE PEOPLE!!!!
My 13.1 split according to Chicago was 1:46:09, and 8:08 pace. Miles 9-14 I was attempting to hit around an 8:00 pace, but because I decided to plug into my music at the beginning of mile 13 (couldn’t I have waited until after the 13.1 split??), that mile registered an 8:30 avg pace according to Garmin! Boo- I had trouble typing in my stupid passcode on my iphone, then finding my playlist since I’d forgotten to set it up ahead of time. I fiddled with my phone for a good 2-3 minutes which stunk. Finally got that going and back into my Spi belt, but that was a pain. FUTURE NOTE- TAKE OFF THE PASSCODE LOCK BEFORE A RACE!!!! Fingers were too useless to work for all this. The 4 miles before mile 13 and the mile after, I avg an 8:01 pace.
Up until now, I had been feeling great! A little cold, but physically great. My AT and hamstring had not bothered me once. My heart rate was right where I wanted it- hovering around 168- low 170s. Around mile 15 or so I noticed my right quad started feeling tight. I started throwing in a few exaggerated kick strides to try to loosen it up, but that didn’t seem to be working. It was more a nuisance than anything, since I was aware of it. I noticed my pace was now averaging more around an 8:10 from miles 15-19. I still felt good though, just that tightened quad that I kept trying to shake out while running. I still had not seen any sign of the 3:35 pace group so I knew I was still above pace. My heart rate continued to stay under 175 through mile 19.
Mile 20 I started picking up the pace again. Not sure why- this might have been when I was going through the cool Hispanic area with a mariachi band in full costume, dancers, two giant paper mache people, lots of wonderful smells coming from the restaurants, and lots of loud and enthusiastic cheering. I clocked an 8:00 mile 20, and an 8:01 mi 21.
Around mile 21 when I knew we’d be entering Chinatown soon, the crowd again grew thicker and louder and I spotted my family on the left. My DH and son both got short video clips of me here which was cool- I was smiling and as I passed them, gave a large eye roll, like, “Ok, I’m getting tired”. About another 75-100 feet, the course turned a sharp right and there was the super cool gate entering Chinatown. The smells here were phenomenal! I started craving Chinese food so badly! I remember hoping that my family had made it down to this point to see this cool entrance and later they assured me that they did, but that it was too congested there to get a spot to see. I never saw the Chinese Dragons that MAPS told me about, but my family did, so I’m glad of that.
Mile 22 through Chinatown was an 8:15 pace- probably because I slowed down to smell all the good food!!!
I had already taken my 4th gel by mile 21, and had been consistently drinking throughout. I felt really good, just starting to notice getting a little tired and that right quad gradually contined to tighten more. I was glancing at Garmin more frequently during the last 10k, using a bit more mental coaching.
I don’t remember too many more specifics from here on. I do know my music was driving me, but I still could hear all the crowds. I smiled a lot during this race.
Somewhere around mile 23-24 we got hit by an icy cold headwind. I remember thinking, “oh my gosh, I’m so cold”. My legs looked pink and I thought to myself that maybe I should have chosen the full length running tights- spilt milk -too late for that. I also remember thinking that I felt surprisingly good for having only a 5k left to go. I started getting really happy knowing that even if I had to slow down some, I should be able to get my sub 3:35 since I’d still not been caught by the pace group and I had started the race behind them.
I read in some other race reports about some hill at the end. Funny, I remember no incline at all. Is that possible? Or maybe I have forgotten because I started digging deeper at the end. I knew I wanted to finish strong, so I started pushing the pace a bit again and was aware that my breathing had gotten heavier and my heart rate had gone up some. Maybe this was the hill? Mile 24 I clocked an 8:08 and mi 25 an 8:02. My heart rate was avg of 177 for both of these miles.
I remember thinking, “Only 1.5 more miles, only 1.5 more” this was really the only part I remember feeling like I wanted it to be over. I was picturing I Dream of Jeannie and wishing I could nod my ponytail and blink me to the finish. I also was picturing the deep dish pizza I knew I would finally get after finishing! With all the extra wide turns I had to make, I was having to run past my 26.2 on my Garmin- I knew this coming into this stretch, but still it messed with me and made me mad. I was aware of people around me really pushing it and it was noticeable in their heavy breathing, adjusted strides, etc. One guy yelled out, “Come on, People, let’s DO THIS! It’s right there in front of us!” That was great. My Garmin mile 26 was an 8:04 pace. I loved that there were signs of “ONE MORE MILE”, 800m, 400m, 300, 200, 100m. That was wonderful and all races should have that. When the crowds started getting thicker and louder those last 800 m, I remember I was grinning from ear to ear. My last .42 miles clocked in at a 7:47 pace. I finished in 3:33:13, a new PR by 6:27 and also a BQ minus 11:47. First half 1:46: 09, second 1:47:04- a positive split of :55. That’s the first time I’ve not run negative splits. Don’t know if that is good or bad and will need to research it. The time is funny, because my daughter and I had been joking the week before how cool it would be if I could get a 3:33:33- that almost happened!
mi1-7:46 (probably trying to catch pace group)
mi 4-7:30(sat dropped?)
Chicago chip registered split paces:
Half- 8:08 (1:46:09)
Finish-8:07 (2nd half- 1:47:04)
(**Was with 3:35 pace group (8:12 planned pace) from around .5 mi through mi 8)
After crossing that finish line I was making loud sighs of happiness and I remember thinking that everyone around me was so quiet! I was looking from person to person trying to see if they all were as jubilant as me. I asked the guy next to me who wore a small smile, “Are you happy?” He looked up with a huge grin and said, “YES!” Then a woman behind me started high fiving the woman next to her saying, “I Boston qualified!” THe other one said, “ME, too!” I joined in and said, “Me three!” It was a lot of fun. I told the woman she needed to run to a computer and register though, and she looked like she didn’t know what I was talking about. Maybe she thought 2013 was closed?
Got my mylar blanket, then my medal, and then someone taped my blanket closed for me. At this point my legs started stiffening up and becoming useless. I have no idea why I didn’t pull over and stretch. Very limited brain function. At some point I became emotional thinking about what I had just done. We then moved through the food line. They had a TON OF FOOD! I immediately ate a banana, and drank most of a Gatorade protein recovery drink. Then before I know it someone is putting a beer in my hand and I’m cheering them, then looked around at everyone drinking, and thought, “why not?” Though I only took a few sips and continued to carry that full beer around for the next 15 minutes trying to find my family. In a right state of mind, I would have put the beer down. Again, very limited brain function.:)
By the time I located my family, I was shaking violently from the cold- teeth chattering beyond belief. I freaked my children out, but kept telling them, “I’m ok, I just need to put more clothes on” but I really wasn’t able to move much, besides all the shaking. It was much worse this time than my February marathon, but then again that one ended in the low 60s. My husband helped me pull on my warm-up clothing which was quite an ordeal.
I went next to the massage tent and got a great massage. Two people worked on my legs at the same time which was awesome! I read somewhere that someone else had to pick whether they wanted the front or the back of their legs done, but they worked on both sides of my legs which was fantastic.
We started our long walk back to the hotel. A funny sight worth recording- several people in front of me were attempting to walk up about 10 or so stairs out of the park without much success. I came along behind them and walked up the grassy incline alongside the stairs. They all stopped, looked at me, and followed suit. I guess their full brain function had not yet returned. LOL! Walked through Millennium Park and finally got to see “the bean”. We finally made it to our final destination, Bella Bacino’s for our pre-ordered Chicago deep dish pizza. It was all worth the pizza! :)
Later that afternoon, we went to Fado's Irish Pub to meet up with some of my RW forum group. It was great meeting Mdawg, RA, Badger, and Mini in person and to hear some race stories!
THINGS ALONG THE COURSE I REMEMBER:
The residential areas we ran through were beautiful with all the canopy tree-lined streets. I couldn’t get over all the individuals who had their own fuel stations set up- passing out whole bananas, water bottles, sliced oranges, cups of smarties, I even saw someone handing out gels!!!! This touched me greatly. It reminded me of my first marathon, Boston in 1995, with all the orange slices and bananas being passed out by residents just out of the kindness of their hearts.
I think it was early on, but I loved passing a section of Koreans, displaying their flags, blasting “Gangnam Style” and doing the dance. This was one of my favorite spots to pass- I was always tempted to stop and dance with anyone dancing, but I refrained, just doing some arm moves, and high fiving them, maybe an occasional head bob or stupid fist pump or something instead!
I loved, looking at all the buildings and store fronts. I truly got to enjoy this course. I thought it was neat also how the race set up the two giant screens so you could see yourself running. I’ve not seen that before.
I high fived the Elvis impersonator who was on stage singing some Elvis song in full Elvis costume- I had to jump to reach his hand- he even had on an oversized ring! No idea when this was either- anyone else remember?
I tried to post pictures in here, but for some reason, it wouldn't let me ! Probably for the best, because I looked horrible by the end!!
Saturday, March 03, 2012
It's been 2 weeks. I'm sad it's over. It was an incredible day for me and it was even sweeter because my family was there this time for me.
Our hotel was about 3/4 mile from the start line. Race start was at 6:30. We had driven the course the day before so that Hubby and I could pick spots for them to be along the course and I would know to look for them. At first the plan was for them to walk, but at the last minute on the way to the start line, he decided to drive so that they could hit more spots along the route.
My family dropped me close to the start around 6:00. A long distance friend of mine was running the half and we met up to say hello prior to the race start, planning on meeting up after to have a post-race victory lunch. Stood in the port-o-potty line, since I swore I'd not skip this step after last marathon's huge mistake of not doing so!
Half and full start separately, but then merge together within a few tenths of a mile. We said our good byes and good lucks and went our separate ways. Since there were no start corrals, I had decided to start between the 3:35 and the 4:00 pace groups. I was surrounded only by men. It was really odd! You could feel the excitement in the air- one of my favorite parts of these long distance races.
Temperature was 39degrees at start and still dark out. I had on a tank top, arm warmers, shorts and a fleece hoodie over that that I planned to ditch as soon as I was warm enough. Also had on gloves, but I realized I had already lost one of my gloves between the port o potties and the start line! I also had on my visor since I need something for the sun that I was hoping would come out later. had a fleece ear band wrapped around my arm incase I needed it.
The race started on time, and I have a distinct memory of everyone's GPS watches beeping at the same time as we went over the start line- it almost seemed deafening to me, but I loved it! It took me 34 seconds to cross over the start based on my clock and chip times.
Within a few minutes, the half and full runners merged together. Very odd that our group had to cut over a grass median with no warning that it was happening. All I could think of was, "oh no, it's been a few minutes and I'm going to twist my ankle." My first mile turned out to be exactly an 8:45 which was my plan for mile 1. At mile 1.75 I hear, "Renee!" in a deep voice- It's my hubby and kids whom I'd already passed and somehow he spotted me in the mass. We were all still very packed in, but the light was coming up. I had already ditched my fleece- was running on pace and feeling excited. Second mile came in at 8:22.
Crowd was starting to thin out a bit. There were approx. 1800 running in the full and 5000 in the half. I remember seeing everyone's breath over their heads and thinking that it certainly didn't feel that cold due to the adrenaline flow! :) That is, except for my frozen fingers of my un-gloved hand! I kept switching the glove from one hand to the other which actually worked out pretty well. I was carrying my handheld 20 oz water bottle which would make my fingers freeze up faster. I had taped a pace chart to my water bottle so I could check it against the time clocks on the course to try and stay on my goal pace. This worked out pretty well for me and I'd probably do it again in the future.
Around mile 3 a juggling runner passed me. I've never seen anything like it. He was juggling 3 balls to the rhythm of his stride. I followed behind him for quite some time because I was mesmerized by this! I still have no idea what his story was, though I was sure it would be written up later.
Around mile 4 we passed our first band of the many on the course. They were great- playing some 60's music. This is also where the course doubled back and the front runners of both the half and full started passing by. That gave a great distraction for a couple of miles because then it was our turn to double back by! Friends were high-fiving and taking photos of each other which was fun to see. Somewhere in here between miles 5-6 I passed another noteworthy sight- a dancing duck! This duck was dressed up in a costume, standing on a table with his owner next to him. There was music playing and the duck was bobbing up and down! IT was so funny and unexpected! :)
Around mile 8 we turned onto Ocean Blvd that runs along the Ocean with the high rise hotels arranged between the road and the coastline. This stretch went for 9 miles and was wonderful! The sun was out around 7am, the temperatures were already up around 50, and it is FLAT, flat, flat! :)
The crowds were wonderful. There were people along most of the course and really added to the experience. There were probably 7-9 bands/ DJs along the route which was a nice touch.
I'd been keeping a steady pace between 8:22-8:29 other than that first mile of 8:45. At mile 12, the half runners branched off and we kept going along the ocean. My family was around mile 12.5. My son ran along side me for a good 3-4 minutes before I made him go back, but it was so nice to see them! Probably around mile 14 or so is where the hotels got sparse and there were more houses. This was a quiet part of the course, but I really loved it.
Felt more like a training run here. My family surprised me showing up again at mile 16. I thought I wouldn't see them again until the finish line! It was great! I was able to toss my fleece ear band and my glove to my daughter and just seeing them got me rejuvenated.
Water/powerade stops were every two miles and the volunteers were fantastic and supportive. I had brought my Clif shots and was taking one every 6 miles. I alternated between caffeinated ones and non-caf. I just drank water the whole course since I felt good with the gels. I would fill up my water bottle with the cups of water from the volunteers. This worked out fabulously and I will definitely do it this way again for the next race.
Around mile 19 I was starting to feel tired. I had maintained my pace between 8:22-8:29 through this point. My family showed up again at mile 21 and boy, did that help! I told them that I was starting to feel it and later my Hubby told me he could really tell. HAHA. I hate all the photos after this point! :) I also had decided at mile 19 to kick up my pace because I realized now that if I did, not only would I be able to break my 3:45 goal, but possibly my 3:40 ultimate dream goal! I kicked it up a notch and began shooting for a bit faster pace. Around this point I really started passing people which I used to mentally help me keep up the pace. Mile 19- 8:18 , mile 20- 8:14, mile 21-8:11, mile 22- 8:17. My left quad had started feeling tight around mile 16, and my right one joined it around mile 19.
I took my 4th gel at mile 22. By mile 23, I was now really having to dig deep. I had put my name on my shirt in bright letters and it really helped to hear all the cheers specific to my name. Mile 23 pace was 8:25, and mile 24 was 8:23. I was trying to play the mental game of "only x minutes or x miles left". Thank goodness it was flat!
On mile 25 I noticed not only was I hearing a lot of, "Go, Renee", but also "Go, Emily". This is the first time I had heard another name cheered besides mine and I was very aware that this Emily was coming up from behind. I also realized at this point that NO one had passed me for at least 7-8 miles and I used that to gun me on because i didn't want someone to pass me now! I'm so ridiculously competitive and I can use it to push me. So when I heard "Emily" approaching, I picked it up. The cheers for both of us continued and then I hear, "Renee!" It was my son again running alongside me with words of encouragement! Hubby was with my daughter taking photos and I again increased the pace. However, so did Emily. Now she was next to me for the first time- the funny thing is I never once glanced over at her, I just used it to push me faster. Well, it's funny what a delirious mind will think at a point like this. I was sure she was some "young early 20's girl" and i didn't want to let my 42 body give in. I passed her, she'd pass me, I passed her and now we were coming down the chute. We were both breathing ridiculously heavily, but I kept pushing. My son had turned off before the chute, but now I saw the finish line, the finish clock and I saw the time of 3:39:xx. I knew that I had started approx 30 sec behind the gun so my goal was in reach. I pushed with every ounce of my being and crossed that line with nothing left to give. I was smiling from ear to ear! :) I heard my kids yelling my name and we did a hug over the fence. My Garmin time read 3:39:44 with 26.28 miles. I knew I'd have to wait for the official chip time, but I was hopeful!
I received my medal, got my photo taken, met up with my girlfriend who had run the half, and then hit the finish party area with all the yummy food and the time kiosks that gave you an immediate print out of chip times. Chip time was 3:39:37!!! Woo-hoo! I did it! I came in 6th in my age group (well, I guess 5th because one of my age group placed in overall so I was 5th in my category), and I think 52nd for female. Later, we were able to look up my running pal Emily in the race stats. I didn't know who had crossed the finish line first, but I had by 2 seconds! Woo-hoo! I owe Emily my time. The "young 20 something" turned out to be 32 Because of Emily, mile 25 split was a 7:36, and the last .2 was a 6:56 pace. That never would have been the case if it had not been for her. Thanks for the motivation, Emily!!! :)
I felt really good after this race. I took 3 Aleve immediately following, ate immediately and stretched back at the hotel room. Got in my ice bath and then leisurely walked around an outdoor mall area for the evening with my family. I still can't believe I did it. I hate that it is over, but I have the next one to look forward to! :)
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I had my last long run yesterday, 22 miles. I overslept by 2.5 hours and hubby woke me up saying, "It's 8:00!" I never had set my alarm. UGH. I wanted to try running early so it would be most like Myrtle Beach (which has a 6:30 start time). Oh, well, guess that didn't happen. My run started right at 10:00 am with the sun out. I did the run on our wonderful Greenway which I love. So many runners were out yesterday, lots of them doing long training runs- I know because they were wearing their fuel belts and since there is construction going on right now, only a portion of the path is open so you have to keep doing "loops" to get in the mileage. I passed a few of the same runners 6-7-8 times, which I love! :)
First mile I was distracted with 3 text messages coming in and I'm always afraid it's going to be something with the kids or the hubby so I kept having to take my phone out of the pouch, find the messages etc. Anyway, first mile started at a 10:00 pace, but after that I averaged a 9:02 min mile for the next 15 miles (minus the 1st mile). I felt REALLY good through the first 12, better than I've felt probably in any long run! Next 4 miles felt more tiring, but ok. Stopped for a couple minutes at mile 8 to refill my water bottle, and quickly talk to my husband, and then had to make one more stop at mile 16 to refill water for maybe 20 seconds, but other than those two, no stops for bathroom, stretching, anything. I decided to try to pick up my pace for the last 25% of the run and was shooting to run around an 8:30 for those, lost the pace on one of the miles, but gained it back on the final mile with an avg pace of 8:24 for the last 6 miles. I wore my new compression socks for the first time on a run and I'm going with my theory they helped me out.:)
Breakfast- I had oatmeal, banana, a tiny bit of natural PB, and coffee, with skim and sugar
Fuel- Took my 20 oz handheld bottle with half powerade and half water (they are passing out Powerade on the marathon course). I only drank every 2 miles for the first 16 since that is how the water stations will be spaced out. I refilled at mile 8 with reg water and again at mile 16, so I was averaging drinking 20 oz every 8 miles. I drank at mile 17 with my fuel, and then about every mile until the finish I think. (I'm still debating whether or not to carry my 20oz handheld at the marathon this time. Last marathon I carried a throw away water bottle with water that I used through about mile 8 or so and then ditched it. I really liked having it). I did my regular 100 calories per 6 mile- mile 6 was a Clif gu shot, mile 12 was clif shot blok, 3 of them, and then at mile 17 I did another Clif gu shot (took that one a mile early since I was only doing 22 and wanted the extra calories a little earlier). As SOON as the run was over, I took aleve, ate a half of turkey sandwich on wheat, and another banana. About an hour later, I took an ice cold bath, followed by the hot tub. I feel pretty good today- legs are a bit sore, but nothing like how sore I was with my 20 milers training for Savannah. My overall pace for the run was 8:55 including the 10 min first mile.
Now let the taper begin! Woo-hoo!!! :) Hubby and I went out last night for a few hours with another couple and I think I celebrated too much with wine. Don't think that was the best post-race recovery beverage. Looking forward to a day of no physical activity- legs are propped up for now at least, still in PJs with my coffee, and the sun is out for two days in a row! :)
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I never wrote anything down about my one and only previously run marathon, the Boston Marathon in 1995. I have always regretted not recording the memory, so this time it’s ALL going down!
THURSDAY- FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3-4
We were a group of seven women, ages 28-45. Four of us were running the marathon and three the half. Three of us are fitness instructors and two are cyclists. I drove down with my friend Nicole (who was running the half) Thursday morning and we arrived at the EXPO at the Savannah Convention Center around 1:30. Tons of parking and the EXPO was not crowded at all. We picked up our bibs, shirts, bags, and proceeded to the pace group table. Based on my predicted finish time from 6 months earlier when I registered in Nashville prior to even running my half (I had just put down 10 minute miles and a finish time of 4:20), I was slated to be in corral 10. I knew that I wanted to sign up with a pace group, but they only had a 4:15 and a 4:30 group which would be either faster or slower than what I wanted to start with. I decided to stick with my original corral 10 since the 4:15 pace group was also starting in the same corral anyway. I figured I could think about what I wanted to do over the next few days as far as pace was concerned. Expo was easy in, easy out. Bought lots of 26.2 goodies.
Look how fast I ran that marathon! Didn't even break a sweat! and in jeans, too!
After the Expo, we went and checked in at our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on River Street. This was the host hotel for the marathon and the desk told us that pretty much every room was occupied by runners. For that matter, the whole city seemed to be taken over by runners. It was fun no matter where we went, to be surrounded by others there doing the same thing as us. The hotel was great. We had a view of the river and River Street. The start line of the marathon was out the front door of the hotel which was the main reason we booked here.
View from our hotel room window
After getting our luggage in, we grabbed some food and then decided to try to drive the race course. We were able to drive most of the half. It got tricky with the one way streets since some of the course went the opposite direction. The first half of the course was mainly flat with just two short, low grade hills. The first 5 miles was pretty industrial, but the next 5-12 was through historic neighborhoods, really pretty and scenic. We had to cut our drive short due to dinner plans with the rest of our party.
We went to dinner as a group at the Chart House on the water. We all got some type of steak with lots of carbs for sides! :) I had a massive steak with a huge portion of mushroom risotto. I definitely was digging all my pre-race meals, especially all the carbs!
Nicole and I did a ghost tour that night of the Sorrel- Weed house which was kind of fun and really the only touristy thing we did the whole weekend. This house was featured on the tv show Ghost Hunters!
Sorrel- Weed House
The ghosts are after us!!!!
Friday was basically an eat-and-prepare-for-the-race day. I slept in, had a small bagel with almond butter, banana, then later went for Starbucks coffee and oatmeal. We spent hours discussing race strategies, fuel, pace groups, etc. We went to a late lunch at a great pasta restaurant, Leoci’s, that makes all their pasta fresh. We again enjoyed our carbo loading! Nicole and I split another risotto dish topped with steak and a pasta dish with meat sauce.
Did some shopping on River Street and then back to the hotel to prepare for the big day. I had brought food from home and had a light dinner of almond butter and jam on wheat with some of the left overs from lunch. Got to bed a little after 10.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5- RACE DAY
Unfortunately I awoke around 12 from a text coming in on my phone and was up pretty much after that, getting only another hour of sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30. Started off with some coffee from the hotel coffee shop that opened that morning at 4am. Gotta love staying in the host hotel. :) When we went down to the lobby at 6:30, it was packed with runners, many from outside the hotel. Two of our party had stayed at a different hotel and had to take the ferry over the river from the convention center since roads were all closed for the event.
We headed outside at 6:45 to find gear check and drop off our bags. It was cold, windy and pitch black dark! The weather had decided not to cooperate with the weather forecasters’ predictions from a few days prior and the temps were about 10 degrees colder than had been anticipated. I believe when the race started, it was 47 degrees. The main topic of conversation within our group the day before was what to wear. It was definitely a rookie mistake we all made, but several of us didn’t come prepared for colder weather than planned. I ended up wearing a singlet with arm warmers and shorts, then a long sleeved dry fit I bought at the expo over that. I had on fingerless gloves that I would toss once I warmed up and my trusty visor I always wear. As a top layer, we all started in old sweats that we would strip and leave for the donation pick-up. If I were to do it again, I’d skip the long sleeve tee. I think I would have been fine with the tank and arm warmers if I’d just kept my throw away hoodie longer until I warmed up.
It was wall to wall people. We had to walk several blocks to get to the 20 or so school buses that were transporting the gear. They were marked alphabetically, so we all split up, found our buses, dropped our bags, and then met up again. We said our good-byes and good lucks to each other since all but two were starting in different corrals.
By now, it was 7:15 and the race was to start at 7:30. Problem was, I had drank two full bottles of water and propel since waking, plus coffee, and I definitely had to use the potty! But all the port-a- potties had lines at least 10 deep. This was my mistake #1. I will never EVER drink that much liquid the morning before a marathon! I decided to ignore it (mistake #2) because I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to find my corral and the 4:15 pace group.
I got in my packed corral, took off my sweats and left them on the railing for the charity pick-up, and got situated with my music, Garmin, etc. I had brought a disposable water bottle with me so I could skip the first water station. I’m used to running with a hand held water bottle on training runs, so no big deal there. The 4:15 group was about 10 people ahead, but I could see the neon green sign well so I wasn’t worried about being directly in the midst of them. My loose running plan going into this race was to do the first 6 miles at a 10 minute pace. At that point, I’d reassess how I felt and decide if I wanted to do the next 6 miles at the same pace or if I felt good enough, to pick up the pace by about 15 seconds. I figured that the first few miles might bottle neck anyway which might keep the 4:15 pace group going a bit slower and possibly have them around 10 minute miles to begin.
The national anthem was sung and the gunshot went off! The waves were close together and my corral crossed the start line at 7:41. I got my Garmin started right on the line which I was worried I’d not be able to do. I had my music going from the very beginning and all the way through the whole marathon. I’m very driven by music and I knew that music would be a huge factor in my performance.
The first mile was on a wide, main road and staying close to the pace group, we ran it in 9:41. There was a small hill somewhere towards the end of this mile, but being right in the beginning, I couldn't even feel the incline. I felt good, pace felt easy, so I decided to stick with the pace group for as long as it felt comfortable. The sun started coming out within a couple of miles which was so nice. :) Miles 2-6 were through a very industrial section. We crossed lots of railroad tracks, and the roads were all fairly flat which we had anticipated. Water stations were spaced out about every 1.5 miles. Every other station served Cytomax sports drink which I had trained with to prepare. I took Cytomax every water station that had it and water when there wasn’t. Well, since I hadn’t found a port-a-potty pre-race, and I was taking all these liquids, the need to find a bathroom continued to grow. I was amazed at how many men were just pulling 10 feet off the road in full view and relieving themselves! This, of course, was not going to be me! I also was in the dilemma of wanting to stay with this 4:15 pace group as long as I could because I was feeling like I was in a groove with the 9:40ish pace they were maintaining. There weren’t any potties in sight at this point anyway.
I took my first fuel (besides the Cytomax) at around 50 minutes, 1 serving of Clif shot blok. I loved having the disposable water bottle so I didn’t have to time it with the water station. Speaking of water stations, I never had any issues getting what I wanted, it felt like there were tons of tables and volunteers passing out cups the whole route, but a couple runners I spoke with said that they had several stops that were still pouring or they were told to cross over to the other side to get water/Cytomax.
Around mile 6 I ditched my gloves, and then around 8, my water bottle. We had hit the historic district (approx miles 6-12) and it was beautiful. I was still hanging with my pace group and feeling great. That is, great all except the fact that now I was fully needing to find a port-a potty and that was pretty much all I was able to think about! I hadn’t seen any potties that didn’t have long lines, so I had pressed on! Took my second fuel, a Gu pack when it was passed out around mile 8-9. The temp started warming up, so I stripped my long sleeve tee and tied it around my waist which was a pain in the neck to contend with between my two waist packs, iphone, and bib already hanging from my waist.
We continued at a very steady pace, still teetering between 9:35-9:50. We only hit one more small hill before the half marathoners split away from us at around the 11.5 mile. At that point, the marathoners turned onto Truman Parkway, a highway with absolutely no scenic appeal whatsoever. We started out with a long incline of the ramp and then we had to settle into the next 1.5 miles of this monotonous stretch. What definitely was the highlight of this portion was that coming back the opposite side of Truman Pkway around mile 24, was the lead runner, a 20 year old college student from GA with the pace car, police motorcycle, cyclist riding next to him, and no other racers to be seen behind him whatsoever! He ended up winning the race in 2:29, with a 5 minute lead! It was fun to see him, but not to think about how he was running the race almost twice as fast as our group! LOL! Later that evening we happened to dine at the same restaurant as him, the Olde Pink House. One of the servers brought him around room to room, and we all cheered and congratulated him.
We made it off the parkway and then at mile 14 we hit a large park which the course circled. Every 75 -100 feet was 1 port-a-potty! The desperate need to use it won over sticking with the pace group, so I dashed away from the team, hoping to find it empty which of course it was not. I waited a minute or so for the man inside then my turn. Now this is definitely TMI, but I NEVER have to stop for a bathroom on any of my runs. EVER. I hadn’t accounted for the time just to remove my fuel packs, phone, tied shirt around the waist, etc. What a pain in the neck and a huge time loser! Oh well, the main issue was taken care of and four minutes later after having to reattach all my gear, I was on the road again and for the first time in a couple of hours, not thinking about having to pee!!!! :)
Here’s where I think I made mistake #3. I decided I would try to speed up so I could eventually catch up with my pace group. I also wanted to make up the 3 minutes of time lost at the stop. I also was feeling 50 pounds lighter after the potty break!!! I sped my pace up for mile 15 and mile 16 (8:48), until I caught up to them. During this time I started to feel my quads begin burning. Instead of slowing down a bit, I continued on with my quest to find the group. Well, I did after a few miles and when I did, I made the decision to keep on going past them with this new pace since I’d settled into it and besides the quad burn, it felt somewhat comfortable. I continued taking water, Cytomax and my fuel every 50-55 minutes. I fueled four times altogether during the race with Clif shot bloks and Gu packs alternately so as to only have caffeine every other time.
I ran mile 17 at 8:51, mile 18 at 8:54, 19 at 9:04, and 20 at 9:05. During two of the water stops within those miles, I pulled over for about 10 seconds each time to quickly stretch my quads that were continuing to tighten and burn. One other water station I walked through while I drank my Cytomax for about 15 seconds. Other than the potty break, the two stretches, and the walk while drinking the one time, I kept running the whole race. The course from miles 14-20 was really pretty. Lots of sprawling homes and we passed a beautiful marsh. The spectators and volunteers were so great and motivating.
The worst part of the course for me and I think most everyone else I spoke with, was the stretch of Truman Parkway from mile 21.5-25. This I had not driven when we did our course drive and I had not put two and two together that it was all highway. Not only was it highway, but it was a hill. Not only was it a hill, but we were in a strong headwind the whole 3.5 miles. This is where I would say 70% of people were walking, stretching, sitting, getting med aid, etc. It was definitely brutal. No fans along this part of the course either except for the water station volunteers. There was one cheerleading team that was stationed along the parkway and boy, were they a welcome sight to see!!!
My pace for mile 21 was 8:48, 22 was 8:37, 23 was 8:59, and 24 was 9:18. I think that I was propelled along by the fact that it WAS so tough there. I put my head down and just pushed on. I had to do a lot of talking to myself that stretch to hold on to my pace since my quads were definitely tightening more with each mile.
When we reached the end of Truman Pkway and the road began to decline, I was ready to do the happy dance! And not only were we coming off of that HORRIBLE stretch, but there were all the spectators again! AND we were turning so we lost the headwind! Hip hip hooray!
I was completely re-energized with the crowds of smiling, cheering people. I was motivated with every person I passed, but the quad burn was pretty incredible. My pace for mile 25 was 8:51. At about mile 25.5 I looked up and there jumping up and down and waving at me on the side of the road was my good friend Nicole. She had finished her half and had come back out on the course to find me! It was just what I needed! She jumped in with me and ran to the mile 26 sign, giving me a pep talk all along the way. She told me later that it was so funny because the first thing I said to her was, “I’m dying!” and she said for a dying person, she was having a hard time holding my pace! LOL! I love that. She definitely made me speed up!! I did mile 26 in 8:46. At the 26 mile marker she hugged me and said she was going to run back to find the others in our group. Nicole truly was a gift to me at that moment.
I came down the last .2 miles of the shoot with an 8:33 pace, tons of people yelling and cheering, and I crossed the finish line at 4:07:45 with an average pace of 9:25. A woman placed the medal around my neck, I got a foil blanket, and then my other two friends who had also run the half were right there waiting for me, yelling my name. What a welcome sight they were! I was really out of balance and had trouble stepping up on the curb because my quads had started to immediately stiffen. But after some food, water and a short walk to the bag check, I was feeling better. Once our whole crew had come in, we had our medals engraved, enjoyed a post race beer, got our pictures taken and then made our way back towards the hotel which was a 1.8 mile walk away. We stopped for food at Panera Bread and chowed while discussing each of our races. It was great!
Later, when I returned to the hotel, I took an ice bath, Aleve, and we all headed out for dinner and dancing (to the best of our sorry, fatigued ability!) to celebrate. My legs were really fried, but I sure wasn’t the only one around town that walked like a penguin! Everyone everywhere seemed to be in the same boat as me, some better, some worse.
Looking back upon the whole race, I learned A-never to drink that much again the morning of, B-regardless of the time, find a bathroom right before, and C- never surge suddenly like I did after the bathroom to find the pace group. I think that sudden surge started the quad dilemma and if I had been more gradual, maybe I wouldn’t have had such the muscle burn out that I did.
My split for the first half was 2:07:36, and the second, 2:00:09 (1:57:54 if you take out the stupid potty break! LOL!)
Four days post race and even though my quads are still not totally back to normal ( I taught a 1 hour step class today and survived!), they are better every day. I’m super pleased with my time. I went into the race knowing I’d be happy with a 4:30, but hoping for a 4:15. Being able to finish faster than that? I couldn’t be happier! I can’t wait for my next marathon! :)
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
I can't believe it's over. It's Tuesday morning, I'm sitting in my empty house with my cup of coffee and I'm thinking about these past three months. It's funny how bittersweet it is that it is over. Complete immersion into the planning and preparation of something that lasts for a matter of hours. Then when it finally happens, it goes by in the blink of an eye, and although there is a feeling of calm, satisfaction, and accomplishment, there is also that bit of sadness because it has totally consumed you physically and emotionally, and now you've lost your main focus. Well, that part is fixable. I'll just have to sign up for another one. :)
Sixteen years ago, I ran the Boston Marathon. I was 25 years old. No, I didn't qualify to run it. In 1992, I moved to Boston. In 1993, I was dared by an elite runner I worked with (he finished in the top 100 each year in the Boston) that there was no way I could run a marathon. I was a gym girl- I took classes all the time and this co-worker of mine said that what I did was easy and I could never do what he did. Game on. I had never run more than 2 miles. I signed up with the Dana Farber training group to raise money for charity and in return earned an official race spot in the 1995, 99th Boston Marathon. We trained for approximately 6-7 months starting from scratch. I had a training buddy that I had talked into doing this with me who also had never been a runner. Those months we trained diligently, running several road races throughout our training- 5ks, 10ks, a few half marathons and a 30k race building up to our big day. It came, it happened, I did it, and it was one of the hugest accomplishments of my life.
Back then there were no timing chips. We were in one of the back corrals because we weren't the fast ones, the actual qualifiers. I had no Garmin, just my digital watch. I went with my training pace of 10 minute miles for awhile and then at some point, I started to gradually speed up. I finished strong. I know that the last couple of miles I finished with seven something minute miles- I do remember that. I didn't document anything in writing and over the years my memory has faded, but the official clock time was 4:14:56 from the initial gun fire. I know we had to wait forever to actually cross the start line since I was in one of the back corrals, but I've no clue anymore how long it took. Regardless, it was such a huge achievement for me and I was over the moon with the experience. I couldn't wait to train for another marathon! However, my body had taken a beating during the marathon and I did something to my knee, never feeling the same after Boston. Time and time again I'd try to get my running back after that race and my knee would always bother me. After many attempts, I actually dropped the running completely and just continued on with the classes, figuring it was never meant to be.
Over the years I continued taking group fitness classes, eventually became an instructor, and I focused on that for the past 10 years or so. THis past February when I was trying to get off some of the stubborn winter weight I'd put on, I thought I'd give running a go again. I started with 1 mile. Felt fine! Kept increasing over the next couple of weeks and had no pain whatsoever. Within a month of feeling good, I decided to train for a half marathon and was able to successfully complete the Nashville Country Music half marathon in April. Now I was hungry for that feeling again I had had 16 years earlier! The fire was definitely lit again. I didn't want to get my hopes up though, as I was sure that something would happen that would knock me off my training course.
But it didn't. I did it. Sixteen and a half years later, at age 42, I completed my second marathon, the Savannah Rock N Roll Marathon, with a time of 4:07:56. I will never really know if I beat my "chip time" of Boston, but it really doesn't matter. And for the record, I believe I probably did. It took awhile to achieve this goal, but I did it! Although, three days later both of my quads are still extremely fatigued, everything feels "normal". I guess I won't really know though until I hit the road again for my first post-marathon run on Saturday. I'm holding on to the hopes that NOW I will be able to not have to again be a "One Hit Wonder". :)
Next up, blog entry on Savannah Rock N Roll*****
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