Monday, October 21, 2019

Chicago Marathon 2019 {race recap}

Pre Pre Race: 

On Friday night, we ran the Take the Bridge race. 
{Race Recap Here}

Pre Race

We hosted our annual MRC Chicago Marathon shakeout at Centennial. We met MRC’ers from all over the USA and world. 

For dinner we had Burrata and ham. And pasta bolognese. 

We printed out photos of Hampton to place on our bibs. 

Ze photo bombed the same way CB always used to do. 

Race Day 

Training didn’t go as well as I wanted. As L reminded me, we did the best we could do. A year ago post Ironman my goals for 2019 were to: crush my shamrock shuffle time, and then “get as close to 3” as possible. 

I dealt with fatigue and other issues for many months post IM. I went to a doctor who basically disregarded all of my concerns “you’ll be the healthiest person I see this month and I’m sure your bloodwork will be 100% perfect.” Thanks for nothing. 

We walked over to the start with our neighbor/friend who was also running the race. 

Training went as well as it could. I did a hybrid Hanson-Naz elite that I made myself. But basically bailed on most of the speedwork/tempo runs due to the fatigue. I did 90% of my runs at 8:00-9:00 pace. I did increase the volume to 70-80 miles vs topping out around 60. 

So in thinking how I ran a 3:25 in Boston in horrific weather last year (despite feeling the best I’ve ever felt about a training cycle- I was trained and prepared to execute 3:10) , I decided 7:49/mile should be doable. I’ve run 3:3x in the heat and after beer festivals. My stretch became sub 3:20 because solidifying a spot in Boston 2021 would be awesome and because I had nothing to lose if the wheels came off. 

The weather was perfect. Low 40’s, low dew point, light wind. It was the kind of day we live for as runners. I was marginally bummed that I wasn’t trained to execute my ultimate goal, but with all the stress from Hampton and life, I was happy to be on the start line healthy. 

Bag drop was a cluster. It had super long lines- I waited 10 min to just drop my bag off. After I dropped my bag and was halfway to my corral, I realized I had left my sunglasses in the bag. Oops. 

I got into my corral with ease, tied my shoes again, and sat on the ground to wait. I was so cold but knew as soon as I started moving that I’d feel great. 

We used to call CB dog “koolaid man” because he would bust through my bathroom door (it didn’t latch properly). I bent down to tie my shoes and looked up to see Koolaid Man! I started crying. I asked him if we could take a photo together. At that point, I knew Sunday would truly be Sunday funday. 

I took off at the back of my corral to avoid the jag bags who weave around people to win the first 400m. My plan was to click off 7:30’s and hold on for as long as possible. Pacing is hard due to the tunnel and the buildings blocking the gps signal,  but I had practiced running at 7:30 pace a few times so I knew what kind of effort it was. People are entirely too dependent on technology these days. 

I crossed the start with a huge smile that never left my face. 

First miles were low 7:40’s and I was super happy. Then I settled into low 7:30’s. It felt too easy! I was manually lapping my splits because I knew gps would be totally inaccurate. I had the biggest smile as I ran through this beautiful city. 

I saw Pete B and was so happy! We high fived and I kept chugging along at “goal pace.”

More miles and more smiles. I got to the half in 1:39 and thought this is awesome! I was on pace for a PR and was feeling amazing. 

The second half was more mentally trying. The first half I was so amped up on adrenaline but I knew that at some point I’d get bored, so I employed all of my mental tricks to stay engaged- picking off people ahead of me, looking forward to the next time I took a gel, etc. I visualized these moments many times so I was prepared. 

Pilsen and Chinatown were a party as always. I was lip-syncing to the songs on my iPod the whole time. I couldn’t stop smiling as I clicked off more 7:3x’s. I saw so many people I knew on the course which also took my mind off knowing I had an hour or whatever left- looking for them made the time fly by. 

Hit mile 23 and the area we used to spectate at and knew with only a 5k to go I was about to clock my fastest 26.2. Smiles for days!

I knew that our run club would be out before mile 24 handing out beer. I looked forward to seeing them the entire race- I love this community so much. 

I saw them and grabbed a beer to drink- most of it went on my shirt, but that taste of savory carbonation hit the spot so hard. I decided at this point to start picking up the pace to finish under 3:20. 

I motored up michigan Ave - waved hi to Ze when I passed in front of our house and saw another friend. 

I knew at this point there was less than Half a mile to go to crush my PR- bad math / marathon brain told me I had 4 minutes to break 3:20 so I zoomed up Roosevelt (it’s seriously not a mountain- stop being so dramatic) and zoomed down to the finish. Holy shit I was so happy. 

The only time I was serious - the last 1.5 miles when I decided I had to break 3:20. 

I started crying the last 200m. I kicked it in to finish with an 8+ min PR of 3:18:18

I was out of my mind happy. Happy for a PR, happy that I felt great the entire race despite not feeling good about my training, happy that I just had an absolutely party in my city and saw so many friends. 

Negative splits!

That “blissed out holy shit just executed a perfect race” face. 

I ran into one of our friends from Copenhagen who finished right before me. 

Beer + PR = smiles. 

This was a huge celebration after Hampton had passed 3 weeks ago. I felt so incredibly happy- I thought about him so much during the race. 

L got a huge 1 hour 35 minute PR!!!  I was his coach and was so proud of him for executing a perfect race as well. 

Post race we met up at ballast point. 

And then lone wolf for Malort and stuff. 

The best running club ever. 

We met so many fun people marathon weekend. 

Monday night we went to The Loyalist to celebrate. 

The food was amazing and we plan to return again soon. 


Oatmeal pre race 

4 Maurten gels (miles 5, 11, 16, 21)
Base Salt every couple of miles
Ran on the blue line as much as possible. 
Wore the MRC singlet we designed, tracksmith shorts, pro compression socks. 
Wore Nike Vaporfly Next % - was the second time I’ve ever worn them. At one point in the race, I looked down and 37 of the 40 people in my line of sight had the same shoes on. 
Wore gloves the entire time. 
Carried a bottle of water with me until mile 24. 
No sunglasses because I left them in the gear bag. 

Going into this race with the mindset of “let’s see what happens” took all the pressure off. I had a party running through the streets of Chicago. 

I’m encouraged with the 3:18 on the training I did- i know for sure that a much faster PR is waiting as long as I can train appropriately (with speedwork) and stay healthy. 

#medalmonday Ze Pequeno edition. 

What’s next?

Get my hip back to 100%

Day of the dead 5k

Boston 2021

Stairs to get stronger. 

Slowly incorporate speedwork back into my life. 

Find some new challenges. 

“We are so lucky to be able to do this.”— Jill to me before Boston 2018. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Take the Bridge 2019 {Race Recap}

I’ve followed Take The Bridge for a while. The photos from their races always made the event look crazy fun, so we decided this year was as good as any to try it out. 

We got some pre sale entries and signed up- it typically sells out in minutes.  We really had no idea what to expect. 

The race was Friday night- a few days before the marathon. 
We got numbers to put on our hips and a wristband to designate we were in the race. 

We also got a nice Lululemon long sleeve shirt. 

We also got a drink token for the post race party. 

Once we got to race HQ, I asked a bunch of questions on the logistics. Basically you start the race at a designated spot, then run to the checkpoints any route you want to take. First person back wins cash money.  This race attracts some fast folks. 

We went outside to watch the men’s race- it started 9pm and the women at 9:30. It was roughly 5k total distance depending on which way you took.

Hip numbers on and ready to have fun!

The atmosphere was electric despite it being high 30’s and crazy wind. We cheered for the men and it was really fun.

First place guy averaged low 5’s. Insane.

L kicked ass after some high altitude training in CDMX.

Natali and I ran together for the women’s race. We were both running Chicago a few days later and didn’t want to over do it. We stopped on one bridge for selfies and pics because it was so beautiful.

We had a lot of fun chatting and enjoying a crazy race at night. 

We ran into an MRC runner from Seoul that night too.

It was an interesting race experience- I’d consider doing it again if i wasn’t doing a marathon a few days later.

photo by @gnp_photos

You get marked at each checkpoint. We decided 2 checkpoints of 3 was enough. We were super cold by that point.

Post race party was fun- great music, burgers and kombucha.

We took the bridges!

I’m glad we signed up for this as it was a unique race experience. It gave me some ideas for MRC event/races in the future.

It was a fun night with good people. 10/10 would try again. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fox Valley Marathon 20 {2019 Race Recap}

On Sunday we ran the Fox Valley Marathon (Final 20). 

I had signed up to run the marathon a few months ago- it was going to fit in with my training perfectly as an easy long run. 

On Saturday, September 21, the day before FV, we said goodbye to our big dog, Hampton. His health had declined significantly over the past few months but Monday - Thursday of the week was nothing short of awful. He rallied and we had a good day Saturday, before freeing him of his failing body and mind. 

Sunday morning we woke up to rain and grief from losing Hampton. We drove out to St Charles and knew today would be a tribute to Ham, our big fox. 

I had planned on the Marathon as a training run + way to process all the emotions I had swirling in my head about losing our soul dog after almost 15 years. 

The weather was low 70’s, high dew point and humidity. I was feeling ok enough. 

I started with the 3:25 pacer who seemed to easily be clicking miles off 15+ seconds faster per mile than the 7:49’s I was expecting. I didn’t chase them. 

I walked through water stops and started running with the 3:30 group for a little bit. They also seemed to be running 10+ Sec faster a mile than 8:00- so I didn’t chase. 

Around mile 9 (my favorite number) a song came on my iPod which made me start crying because it reminded me of Hampton “someone you loved” by Lewis Capaldi. Luckily the course was spread out quite a bit so I was by myself.  Running + crying is hard. During this time I almost stepped on a chipmunk which darted out of the bushes. I can only imagine Ham Laughing at me saying he expected better from me since he trained me to be an excellent squirrel/small animal spotter. 

I made the decision shortly after to drop to the 20. I felt spent from the stress/sadness surrounding Hampton + the heat/humidity + possible hangover from celebrating CB’s life the day before.  I didn’t want to slog through the conditions for another hour more than I needed. 

Somewhere in the last 2 miles there was a group hanging out mimosas. I remember them from when I did the Half with Kim a few years ago. Mimosa never tasted so good!

After the 20 mile turnoff i was running with a few other ladies for a bit. We had all dropped to the 20 and also had Chicago marathon on deck in a few weeks. After finishing we all high fived and wished each other luck for the big dance in 3 weeks. 

The course is beautiful. It’s whats kept me coming back infrequently over the years- I’ve completed the marathon 2x, 13.1 once and now the 20. Its chill and well organized. 

In the second half I continued to walk through aid stations and take base salt (thank you Natali)

I also started walking a little in between running. When I’d run I felt good but I would start having difficulty breathing so I’d walk. 

S2 tribute for CB dog at the finish. 2:55, avg 8:45

I was very happy to finish. I was so hot and done and emotionally drained. L didn’t finish too far behind me and had a decent day as well. 

We got changed and drove to More Brewing to celebrate. 

This one’s for you, CB. “Space Boots”

I had a crazy Cobb salad with chicken - not my usual first choice post long run but it sounded the best. I was feeling nauseous for a while post race. 

My only goal going into FV was to finish upright. I did that. It was mentally and physically exhausting due to everything that happened. I’m so glad we didn’t bail - getting out of the house for a few hours definitely helped me a lot.  


Belvita almond butter biscuit thing in the car ride over. 

Water at all aid stations. 

Base salt at all aid stations. 
No gel/gu/carbs whatever. The plan was to run to depletion to train my body to run off fat. In Chicago I’ll take Maurten. 

Sunglasses would fog up due to the conditions, super annoying. 

Dedicated to our big fox, Hampton.