10-16-2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Race Recap

Where to even begin?? My mom and I finished our third marathon together on Sunday and it was a truly great experience. Yes, the race did not go as planned, but Theodora reminded me in her recap post that we should never lose sight of the fact that running 26.2 is a feat in and of itself. I think runners beat themselves up over their times (I see it on my own XC team) and forget that the fact that we CAN run is most important. PS – this recap might be on the longer side!

We got into Chicago on Thursday and did our sightseeing Thursday and Friday. We were up at 5 am for our Thursday morning flight, so we were pretty tired when we got there but I wanted to see as much as possible.

Thursday we decided to go to Millenium Park and check out Cloud Gate/The Bean, then walked along Magnificent Mile, and then took a bus to Oak Street Beach to take a lakefront walk.

thebean

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.06.45 AM

It was a lot of walking, which is why we decided to do it Thursday since we had a few days until the race.

Friday we slept in, then woke up for a shake-out run on the lakeshore path (which I loved!!). Then headed to the expo to pick up our bibs. I am dumb and forgot my license in the hotel, so we got there, tried to check in, then had to leave to get my license and come back. I’m pretty sure the woman didn’t believe me when I initially walked up, because I was like “omg I forgot my license!! can I show you my credit card or ANYTHING??” (worth a shot), and she said no (obviously), so I said I would be back. When I came back she was like oh wow you actually DID forget your license?? So I am thinking she thought I was trying to pick up someone else’s bib or something…good to know that they take all that seriously! Here are a few pics from the daytime:

lakeshore

It was cold and cloudy that day…it couldn’t stay like that for the race???

ownchicago

startline

We did a lot of walking around the expo because I had to buy a few things. We decided to buy gels at the expo and I forgot to pack my hydration belt (rookie mistake lol), so I had to find something. I actually bought a Fitletic belt with just the loops for the gels AND their water bottle add-on and I actually really loved it! (I can’t find it on their website actually but here it is).

I wore my FlipBelt just to carry my phone (it is so light you don’t even feel it), then the Fitletic belt to hold my gels and the water. It did not feel heavy at all. I tried their other belts at their booth but they felt too big and bulky for me.

I also bought a pair of lightweight running sunglasses since it was going to be super sunny and I don’t own running glasses. The race director’s email recommended it to protect your eyes, so I got some. I know…”nothing new on race day” but I wanted to be safe.

Afterwards, we went back to drop off our stuff at the hotel and then head to Willis Tower. By this time it was around 6:45 PM. There was not much of a line since most people go during the day, but we got up there around 7:20. Then my only gripe about this entire trip happened…

We are waiting in line for the SkyDeck, which is actually just 3 tiny glass boxes basically, and each has a line. This group of probably 10 tourists are in there legit setting up a photo shoot. One would shine their flashlight on them while others took pictures. They would take a million pictures each, then switch with other people, do different poses, etc. No joke, they were in there for FIFTEEN MINUTES.

The people behind them in line were starting to get annoyed and finally a man went forward and said you need to leave you have been in there for 15 minutes it’s not fair. They continue taking photos. Then a person who works at SkyDeck came up to tell them 1-2 photos per person and then leave. He also says SkyDeck is closing in 10 minutes so everyone gets 1 photo. That really pissed people off because we had all been waiting patiently AND paid, yet now we are going to get kicked out?? By the time my mom and I got in there, we took literally 2 photos and he kicked us out. We didn’t even get to take in the sights. For me, that was a complete waste of $40. I tweeted at them with my thoughts but never heard back – oh well. Why isn’t there someone at each SkyDeck area monitoring how long people take????

ANYWAY, here’s a photo we did manage to get.

skydeck

Moving on…so Saturday we went to Target to pick up race essentials (post-run recovery drinks, breakfast, etc.), ate lunch at Potbelly’s, then just relaxed all day. We laid in bed and watched videos on FloTrack Pro. I love the Driven series! We watched the Kara Goucher and Alexa Efraimson episodes to get ourselves pumped up to run.

Race Day

We woke up at 5:30 am and since we had put together everything the night before, we were quickly ready to go. We made our oatmeal with PB and banana, and coffee, and called our Uber. Our hotel was 2 miles from the start so it was super easy to get there (Chicago South Loop Hotel). On our walk to the starting area I was trying to eat my oatmeal but the nerves had set in. I had to force myself to eat it and not gag lol. I get bad race day nervous – I feel this way even in little local 5K races!

We got ready before checking our bags: leg massage with Tiger Balm, inhaler, tying shoes, putting hair ribbon on (priorities).

gettingready

Oh that picture just reminded me I also bought a Sparkly Soul headband at the expo. Thick and did not budge at all during the race!

Once we checked our bags we hit the porta-a-potties one more time and did some strides. Corrals closed at 7:45, and we were in the opening for our corral at 7:43 yet the woman wouldn’t let us in. She was yelling at a bunch of runners CORRALS ARE CLOSED and this one women said IT’S NOT 7:45!! The woman would not let her in and told her she had to move back a corral. Well that runner did not care; she jumped the barrier and ran away. The woman legit tried to grab the runners arm to get her back…come on, it is not even 7:45 yet. I didn’t really care because I knew our goal pace was going to be slower than those in F corral anyway, so we went back to G.

 startcorral

Our wave started at 8 am, and by 8:08 we had crossed the start. We were on our way!! We really had to hold back in that first mile – the crowds were crazy! In mile 2.5ish, I had to stop at the port-a-potties again really quick, and we lost 2 minutes, but we made it up by the 10K mile marker.

I don’t have splits because I did not wear my Garmin. I had read that Garmins lose their signal and gets all funky PLUS the night before, my Garmin refused to turn on. I was like, oh cool, bad omen. Of course, now it works perfectly fine. But I’m thinking it was a good thing, or I would have been so disappointed in the second half seeing my pace splits.

Anyway, so I don’t have splits but I’ll tell you what I remember.

We were on pace for a 4:48ish all through half way. I felt good still at that point. The first half was all shaded too so it was perfect. I started thinking about how I would write a blog post about how I PR-ed…don’t ever get too ahead of yourself in a marathon haha.

halfmarathon

At around mile 15 is where I started to feel tired and fading. The heat had started to play a role and the second half was not shaded at all, and as I have mentioned before I sweat A LOT. But I tried to not let it phase me. I kept repeating “Deal with it.” That was my mantra of choice.

I think around 16 or 17 I needed to put headphones in. I put on earbud in so I could still hear my mom if she needed to talk to me. When we got to areas with big crowds, that gave me a little boost and I’d try to pick it up a little.

By mile 18 I was like, nope, going to need to run/walk for now. I had a killer headache from neck tension I think. It’s weird because it’s not like my legs were tired or felt like lead, I think it was mainly dehydration issues. My face was now covered in salt. I made sure to take a salt pill every 30 minutes and stop at every water stop for 1-2 cups of water. I was taking GUs every 4 miles or so. I took my Honey Stinger waffle at 18 hoping it would give me a boost.

We got to mile 20 and my mom was like only 6 miles to go! At that point, I honestly thought to myself (didn’t say this to her though), “I don’t know if I can make it 6 more miles.” But I told myself to shut up and “grind it out.” That was my second mantra of the race. Honestly, if my mom weren’t with me and I didn’t want her to get mad at me (lol) I probably would have walked those last 6 miles.

At this point I knew 2 of our goals were out the window (anything below our PR, and 4:55). I was like ok, let’s try to do sub-5. But my pace just kept getting slower and slower. I was running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute. I would really try to pick it up in those 3 minutes. I stopped at a medical tent at one point to get advil for my headache that was not going away.

At mile 23, my mom was like come on! We can run these last 3 miles! I’m like, you can, I can’t. I told her to go on without me but she didn’t want to. I tried to continue picking it up when I could. I knew that now we were going to finish in over 5 hours.

Finally we hit one mile to go and I told her ok I will try to sprint for a 1 min (sprint…ha), and walk for 30 seconds. I would run as fast as I possibly could, recover for a bit, then repeat. I did pass some runners at least.

We saw the sign for 800 meters to go and I told myself I would run the rest of the way. It was 2 laps on the track. Then 400 meters to go (on a hill!!!) and then I saw the finish line. Wow people warned me about that hill before the finish and I’m sure in real life it is small but at that moment it felt never ended. We turned to the final straightaway and ran as hard as we could through the finish line.

Even though it was a miserable run (not as bad as my first marathon), we finished with smiles on our faces and happy to finish together.

medal

finishline

Final race time was 5:12.

Despite the race conditions, I would run Chicago again. My mom said she likes NYC Marathon better (I still think nothing can compare to that marathon), but Chicago had great organization and crowd support. Water stops were well organized as well, and they had various wet sponge stations and banana stations! Although in the middle miles you are kind of in no-mans land with not many supporters, the same could be said for some miles in the NYC Marathon as well.

This was our first race outside of the tri-state area AND our first marathon besides NYC (which we have done twice).

Yes I was disappointed with my time, but I also know I tried as hard as I could with the conditions that were given to me. Thankfully my mom was with me or I might have walked those last 3 miles. She pushes me in races and in practice, and although she said she didn’t want to run another marathon again, I know she will ;) She did great and had zero issues/pain…she probably could have ran 4:30 or something if she wasn’t with me. I feel bad holding her back because of my hydration issues, and it is something I really need to figure out. Clearly I need more than salt pills and water/Gatorade every mile. I don’t know what the solution is, but I have to figure it out.

Oh we also made “mom” and “daughter” shirts and got lots of comments on the course about it! My mom keeps saying we should write a book about our mother/daughter running adventures lol…new ebook idea perhaps?

daughtershirt

Surprisingly, after the race I was fine, legs-wise. I did stop in the medical tent at the end due to nausea, and they told me I was pretty dehydrated and gave me water + Gatorade. But my legs were fine. I was walking normally and felt no pain. So we went back to the hotel, showered, then went to check out Niketown. We wanted our medals engraved but the line was pretty long. I ordered myself a Chicago Marathon sweatshirt which should be arriving today :) 

We celebrated with an ice cold beer and some PF Changs. The next morning we were up at 5 am yet again to catch our flight back home. My legs were a bit sore for about 2 days but now I am back to normal and ready to get back to running. I usually take the winter off inadvertently because I will lift and stuff instead and am sick of running. But now, I want to keep training and build upon this training cycle so I can get that PR in NYC next fall.

If you read all of that…thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input…and if you ran Chicago (or any marathon recently) congratulations!! No matter what your time is, we must remember that 26.2 is a tremendous feat and always something to be proud of.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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05-07-2015

NJ 5K XC Series Race 1 Recap

Last night I ran my first 5K that is part of the NJ 5K XC Series. I discovered this group last summer on their last race of the year (of course) and have been so excited for it to start back up this spring/summer.

The NJ Trail Series group organizes a 5K every Wednesday evening at Central Park in Morris Plains, NJ. The best part is that it’s only $10, or if you pay for the full series ($75) it comes out to like, $4 a race!

Your $10 includes chip timing and food and refreshments at the end. Yesterday they had pretzels, brownies, chips, juice packs, beer and more.

They actually used some high-tech timing that I have yet to see at other races. They placed a velcro chip around your ankle (like an ankle monitor) which you gave back at the end. I personally liked it better than having to pin something on my shirt and take it off at the end to return it to them for the next race. I’m lazy, I know.

The course is actually a cross country course. The local high school XC team has meets at this park, and big meets (sectionals, counties, etc.) are held here as well. 

My dad ran the race with me, and my mom and aunt (who is visiting from Argentina) came to watch and cheer us on. I love that my dad came to run a 5K with me on his birthday! 

NJ 5K XC Series
The race itself wasn’t anything great for me, time-wise. But I knew that going in. First of all, it’s a XC course, meaning it’s all grass, gravel or dirt. Second of all, I took about 2 weeks off because I was sick before the half marathon I was supposed to run, so I wasn’t in 100% shape. But it was still awesome!!

I don’t know why, but I was so nervous driving to the race and lining up…like butterflies in my stomach. I thought to myself, “Why am I so nervous for this fun run 5K race where I know I’m not even going to PR??”

The race starts in this grassy field then goes out to a dirt, grass and gravel path where we did 2 loops. There are about 3 hills, the first one is really short but steep, the second is longer but not super steep, and the third goes straight up. I swear it felt like I was running at a 90 degree angle. It’s only a few feet long but I had to stop and walk once I got to the top. 

I mean, check out this elevation profile:

IMG_2008
I also like that the updated RunKeeper shows you how many steps you take per minute…very handy! I run around 175-180 steps apparently.

Anyway, I struggled a bit on the second loop but told myself once my RunKeeper told me I had a mile to go I would try to push it. My splits were 9:43, 10:48, 10:15. Like I said, that second mile was tough.

I finished in about 30 minutes and my dad finished in 27:XX minutes. Despite my time, I felt great afterwards. Just happy to be there and happy to be running. I was definitely feeling that runner’s high! I’m really excited to keep running every Wednesday with this group, and perhaps I’ll make some new runner friends! It will be a great way to get in a workout once a week as well, especially on trails.

If you live in New Jersey, I highly suggest you come to a race! Everyone is really nice and welcoming and it is not a competitive atmosphere at all.

Have you run a 5K series or something similar before?

Would you prefer an ankle monitor type thing for racing or good ol’ bibs?

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