Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkins in the Park 5k

21:30 (avg 6:56/mile) A new PR by 45 seconds!!! And I finally averaged less than 7 minutes a mile for a race! AND I'm now able to run faster than I did in High School, only took me 15 years...

1st in my Age Group! out of 239 YAY!!!!!

14th woman of 1128 1.2%

80th Overall of 1825 4.3%
Since the race was at 4pm, CB took me for a walk in Grant Park in the morning.

Then we ate all the Honey Nut Cheerios and drank Brasilian coffee and rested.
I was happy this was an afternoon race since i'm a rust bucket in the mornings, but then the waiting started to get to me. I started looking at Turkey Trots, and thinking how excited I was to race a 5K again and feel that good lung burning sensation. Until I ran this race and was all FU&K this is HARD! Why do I put myself through this torture? When's the next half marathon? ha!
The shirt for the race was really cool. It is a black long sleeve shirt with the nice logo on it.
So my plan, was to not puke up the cheerios and gummy bears I ate earlier. Other than that, just run. If I could survive the last 10 miles of Fox Valley marathon feeling as shitty as I did, 3.1 miles would be "easy." *5k's are never easy if you are "racing" them. 

Splits: 6:47, 7:03, 7:01, 6:12 (final .1)

So I might have taken off a tad too fast? eh my splits were fairly consistent though and I had a lot of kick at the end (especially when I saw a girl com up behind me the last .1 and I went into overdrive to make sure she didn't pass me. She didn't.)

The course was interesting and a little challenging in Lincoln Park- some hard turns and hills spiced things up a bit. (and might have caused my ankle to hurt the last mile...)
For winning my AG I got a cupcake and a gift certificate for Fleet Feet- which I cannot wait to use to buy some more cold weather running gear! They also had 3 varieties of Goose Island at the finish. I celebrated my PR with a Harvest Ale.
Fleet Feet puts on stellar events. Everything about the race was top notch- packet pickup was a breeze, the course was well marked, the volunteers were plentiful, the post race party was amazing. Do yourself a favor and register for Rudolph Ramble 8K or Soldier Field 10, you won't be disappointed.
Joe and I post race, was bummed to miss photos with Liz, Shauna, Chris, Brooke, Autumn...

Because of Fleet Feet Fun Runs (and my blog) I've met a ton of really cool people in Chicago. When I go to a race now, I am never alone. It is always so fun to roll up to a race and randomly run into friends made through running. This community is so strong and supportive, I really never thought I'd experience something like that since I'm a bit of a loner. But I have to say it is really nice to see friends and chat post race about our experiences and what's coming up. That usually gets my juices flowing for the next race. 
Running Changes Everything.
YES OF COURSE REPLACE IT! But i have a feeling this record won't be lasting too long.... :)

Next up: Naperville Marathon.

Then: a trifecta of Turkey Trots, perhaps. GOBBLES


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Chicago Marathon

First off   HUGE CONGRATS to my L for getting a 30 MINUTE PR in his 2nd marathon for a 5:41!!! I cant say enough how proud of him I am :)

The theme of the marathon this year was "life is better when we're connected." That phrase was on all the banners hanging on the streets of Chicago- and for this race, couldn't have been more accurate.

Throughout the summer, I don't think there was one run I had on the lakefront where I didn't side 5 or say hello to someone I knew. Chicago may be a large urban city, but this running community is tight. Seeing Jenny, Ken, Jeff, Chanthana, Marla, Hillary, Vicky, Chris, and Kim, on Saturday mornings or randomly at Fleet Feet events always lifted my mood tremendously. The support and encouragement online is also always nice to come home to. It still amazes me how running is no longer a solitary sport- but instead something very social and fun.

At the expo:

We went to the expo with my co-worker and her 2 friends who were all in town to run their first ever marathon. While there we ran into Declan! He hung out with us while we waited in line to change my bib from corral C to G. (Yes, the Chicago marathon was very strict about starting in your assigned corral this year and I needed to start with L. Luckily it was a quick and easy swap of a bib at the help desk)

Photo stolen from Declan.

While meandering through the endless booths of the expo we ran into Sara and Erica.  And also saw Britt at the Truebar booth. Those bars are really tasty BTW.
 After walking 3 miles in McCormick place, we took our obligatory "pose with the bib" shots and went home.

 The night before the race:

We went to our favorite Japanese place and I ate ALL THE FOODZ.. AKA Soba noodles and tempura veggies.

Pre race thoughts: (aka my knee is Fu*ked)

On Thursday on my way to the Nike store, I smashed my knee hard in the EL turnstile. Like I'm seeing stars and my leg is going numb kind of smash. At this point I was happy I wasn't "racing" the marathon because I had a 2" welt on the bony part of my knee- like where the ITB is. AWESOME.

Other than that snafu, I just wanted L to have a great race. His training had been going well considering all the cross country- overseas trips for business. We knew it would be a great day to run together.

Race day!!

Luckily we live a stones throw from Grant Park and didn't have to get up too early- minus to eat some oatmeal at 4:30am.

There's a certain electricity in the air on race day that just cant be put into words. It's the nervous excitement-anticipation of what's to come, it's the calm that comes over you while waiting for the gun to go off, its the rush you get as you cross the start and start your watch. It's the celebration of many months of hard work.

We got into our corral easier than in years past.And waited in the "cold" since we were in the 2nd wave. We saw the flyover honoring the Boston marathon victims, and heard the announcers introduce the elite field.

 While in the corral I heard someone call my name- and it was Sonja on of my FF Cheer buddies!
Sorry I didn't recognize you immediately Sonja. 

Sonja and I.

Soon it was go time, and as the corral made its way to the start, clothes started being shed and a hush came over the crowd as we inched forward
 Memories vs Splits

The sound of 1000's of runners breathing and their shoes hitting the pavement.

The sight of loads of men taking advantage of the dark tunnel in the start to relieve themselves.

Hearing the roar of the spectators gaining strength as you got closer to State St.

Running down State street and seeing spectators, signs, and a sea of runners in front of you.
 "You're running better than Congress."

"Smile if you peed/pooped your pants."

"Chuck Norris never ran a marathon."

"My arms are tired, how are your legs."
Seeing the runners ahead of you waving to the residents in the nursing home who were watching from their rooms. (mile 6ish?)

Hearing the cars honking as they drove by.

Seeing loads of pups out with their owners.

Seeing a cat in a cage next to its owner who was spectating.
Seeing the parts of the city I never have visited outside of the marathon.

The ROTC rifle team

The cheerleaders in Boystown.

Elvis in Old Town.

Giving high 5's to so many people I lost track.
The tree lined streets starting to change colors for the season.

The way your feet stick to the pavement after going through the gatorade portion of the aid station.

Giving L a big sweaty kiss that *hopefully* the course photog captured.

An older man in a wheelchair whose legs had been amputated cheering for the runners. and yelling at the younger ones for walking around mile 20. "You are young, run wile you can, you have no excuse."
Giving a high 5 to a boy who had down syndrome and the huge smile that resulted while his mother recorded the moments on her phone.

The distinct smells and sounds of each and every neighborhood and the way each group celebrates the marathon in its own way.

Passing under the gates of Chinatown and knowing we only had about a 10k to go.

Stopping at mile 23 and getting a beer from the Hash House Harriers. As I got one cup from someone, another person said "take another." I did. We enjoyed that beer immensely. Sidekick by Two Brothers.

Looking over and seeing L smile so big as we crossed the finish.

Overcome with emotion at how this incredibly diverse city comes together.

The smiles on the volunteers faces.

Marathon Shuffle.

 That good sore feeling you get once you stop running.
How great that (2nd) beer tastes after 6 hours of being on your feet.

 Literally running into Jaime and June right after they finished. We didn't even txt to meet up. It just happened and i'm so glad we got the chance to chat for a bit.

Seeing my L so happy to feel good immediately after his 2nd marathon, and right before 24 hours of travel to Asia.

Post Marathon.

It's the co-workers who always poke at me for running long (all in good humor) that came up to me Monday to ask how it went.

It's that sense of accomplishment and awe and amazement that only comes with a marathon finish. 

 And now the streets are devoid of the moving city of runners for another year.

Life really is better when we're connected.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago!

This Sunday is my 3rd Chicago marathon and I'm just as excited for this one as I was for my first.

In 2011, I ran the Chicago marathon for the first time with my Daad. I remember being blown away by all the spectators and the "moving city" of runners as it made its way through the streets of Chicago and all its neighborhoods.

My Daad and I still talk about that race in 2011- it was his last marathon before his knee forced him to retire from running.

In 2012, my L decided to run his first marathon, so it was a no brainer that I would be by his side every step of the way. We had some setbacks that day but also had a lot of fun together.

looking back on state st.

I haven't ever ran with music for the Chicago Marathon because there's so much to look at enjoy along the course.

The smells of chocolate in the loop, all the crazy spectator signs, and being in a huge crowd of runners going through all the distinct neighborhoods of Chicago is stimulating enough.

You never know who you might see spectating the race...

I love how distinct the neighborhoods are. From Boystown to Pilsen to Chinatown, each area has it's own unique way to celebrate the marathon.

The cheerleaders of Boystown.

Elvis around mile 10 in Old Town

Taiko drummers near Chinatown

I love how people celebrate this race. There's rarely a dull moment on the course.

Chinese dragons

At mile 23 last year I spotted the Chicago chapter of the Hash House Harriers handing out beer. I drank some and have to say beer never tasted so delicious and cold. I plan to grab a beer again from them this year :)

I'm so freaking excited to run the streets of Chicago again with L, and 45000 other runners and experience the sights and smells of this town I call home.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

- xaar

Thursday, October 10, 2013


A little background on why I've been MIA from the blogosphere- internets lately...

•Ever since I've run Fox Valley I've been feeling a little down. Sure it's probably a combo of the post marathon blues plus not hitting the goal I know I have in these legs. I've grieved enough, and am starting to move on and even started thinking about training for an early spring marathon! I'm happy that the "Marathon mix" on my iPod no longer almost brings me to tears. Oh and work has been super busy and has left me stressed to the point that reading blogs doesn't make me feel any less stressed.

•It's the deluge of "Fitspo" images that I see all over Facebook, twitter and instagram. I hate the kitschy slogans and borderline "Thinspo" models in the photos. This has bothered me for a long time. Anne Wrote an excellent post on this topic. I delete & hide all posts that contain this garbage. IMO I especially hate "strong is the new skinny" because I'm naturally "skinny" and can't do much to change that. There's plenty I'd like to change about my appearance, but I choose to embrace the body I have and not compare myself to some unrealistic ideal. Instead of being labeled "skinny" id rather be labeled as healthy and active. (Or why have a label in the first place?) Why put down a group of people? FYI, I haven't seen a "thicker" girl in any of those photos either. They are all skinny & most look like they have some sort of disordered eating. Plus, I love my wine, cheese and beer. Mmm

Kim found a cool advertisement that actually used a fit relatable looking woman as the model- who didn't have 0% body fat and ripped abs. Shocking I know!!

•Along those lines, I also hate the "Fitspo" of "you only regret the workout you don't do" or "someone somewhere is working harder than you." I will never be guilted into working out and know that value of rest days Are the key to success or longevity at any fitness goals & staying healthy. I have struggled a lot with guilt for not working out as much post FVM. I've maybe logged 30 miles total in the past 3 weeks and every day I decide not to go to the gym I feel guilty. I was used to running 5 days/ 45+ miles a week. My body needs rest after 14 weeks of intense training to remain injury free. And if I gain a few lbs during this time, then so be it.

•Daily Mile is starting to rub me the wrong way. I like recording my workouts & tracking my shoe mileage on there- because without it, I'd never be diligent enough to keep a log elsewhere. But... When I log a workout of "3 easy miles avg 8:00 a mile" I get the comments- "wow your easy pace is my full out sprint pace" or "I wish I could be as fast as you." Just as if I write how I'm disappointed in my 3:35 marathon and avg 8:12 a mile pace people will comment once again how they "wish they were as fast as me, don't be sad" or something else a long those lines. Of course I'm bummed, I just trained my ass off for 14 weeks and my body just broke down out of nowhere in the middle of a fu$king goal race.

And don't get me wrong, the support and encouragement is wonderful- but saying things like this puts down someone and diminishes people's accomplishments on both sides. Comparison leads to nowhere useful. I'm not "fast" by any means and won't be competing for an Olympic medal ever. But I do have work ethic and chose to spend some of my free time with this running hobby & for as long as I'm healthy, I'll keep trying to better my times- because that's just how I operate. I am starting to feel "guilty" writing a short blurb about my speed workout or whatever workout because of the comments. I should not feel bad I'm running faster than X or slower than Y. And perhaps this is just me over analyzing- and these comments mean no harm.

So I guess after this release of thoughts I'll feel better and eventually start reading blogs and stuff again. :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for a lighter- fluffier post about the Chicago marathon.

Are you sick of hearing about fall marathons yet? Haha


- xaar

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What's next?

So almost 2 weeks ago I ran the Fox Valley marathon for the 2nd time. And subsequently fell of the face of the social media.

My Daad was here visiting for a while which was nice- since we hadn't had a beer together in like a year. We live in different states.

I really thought I had it all figured out leading up to #FVMBQorBUST.

The original plan was to BQ by at least 5 minutes (3:30) and then run Chicago and Naperville marathons with some people very close to my heart. Or, if Fox valley was too hot, I'd race Chicago.

But since Fox Valley didnt go down as planned, I had one major thing to think about in the days post race...

•Would I "race" Chicago or Naperville and try again to punch my ticket to Boston?

I took some days off running post FV even though I really had no soreness afterwards. Last Saturday I decided to run an easy 10 miles just to see where I was at fitness wise and if another marathon would be feasible a few short weeks later.

It was nice to be back on the lakefront again. However, my "easy" pace was about 30 seconds slower than normal. So no, I guess my body wasn't fully recovered from the marathon after all.

The progression of how Fox Valley 2013 went for me.

Mentally, I am still not recovered from those final 10 miles. For the past week I've been having marathon nightmares almost every night. Now usually you're supposed to have freaky dreams about your big event before it happens, right? I feel like I've got some sort of post traumatic stress from the marathon going on now. Those final 10 miles were so difficult, words cannot fully articulate how I felt.

His & Hers Chicago Marathon bib pickup packets.

What's next?

I'm going to hang up my marathon racing hat until next spring and focus on some 5ks or even a half marathon before Chicago freezes over. Sure, I could probably get my BQ this winter given the fact I'm injury free & healthy, but the dark cloud of those last 10 miles is still hanging over my head. The performer side of me knows that until my head is clear, I wont function at a high level in the next marathon. Marathons are deceptively a large part mental, especially after you've been on the course a few hours. Some success at shorter distances will bring back my confidence for the long haul.

Edited to add: I cannot wait to run through the streets of Chicago and the trails of Naperville, with some of my favorite people in the world, while enjoying every-single-step. Stress free.

I need to grieve the marathon that wasn't, and celebrate the marathon that was before I attempt to race another 26.2

- xaar