Marathon weekend

[Southwest flight from Nashville to Chicago Midway Airport, 8:05 pm to 9:35 pm, Friday, October 10, 2014.]

At the last minute on Friday before the race, we had a change of plans and decided to stay in a hotel downtown that night rather than going to my parents’ house in the suburbs. Although at first it seemed hectic, it turned out in our favor, actually. We were able to get more sleep this way and we cut down at least two hours of unnecessary travel time.

We knew that going to the expo early would be in our best interest. This was correct; however, we ended up spending a lot of time there even though we should have been in the hotel room relaxing with our feet on pedestals, watching movies and relaxing!

When we first arrived, we picked up our race bibs and t-shirts, then figured we would wind our way up and down each aisle.

IMG_3734.JPG
IMG_3720.JPG

We found vendors, clothing, race day fuel, drinks, giant course maps and even a huge #OWNCHICAGO sign people could autograph.

IMG_3726.JPG

IMG_3820.JPG

IMG_3760.JPG

One memorable stop we made was at the Goose Island bus, which was parked in the middle of the room. As we waited to climb in the bus to get our free samples of IPA and 312 (something I had sampled a few times previously!), the man in front of me turned and said “I always tell people not to try anything new before a race.” I proceeded to impress him with my charm and assure him this was nothing new for me. We continued talking and eventually discovered that my new friend Everett used to run with the Fox River Trail Runners, which is the group with which my dad trained. He asked for my dad’s name and seemed to remember him. I told him I would have better luck with dad remembering him if I had a face to put with the name.

IMG_3930-2.JPG
He mentioned that he had left The Fox River Trail Runners (FRTR) to branch off and start coaching beginner runners. He also said he was part of a fundraising group for a man named Jack who was unable to beat his battle with Melanoma. This hit close to home for me since I was diagnosed with melanoma just one year ago next month. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. Luckily mine was caught very early and the surgeon was able to get it all when he did surgery to remove the spot and one lymph node.

When we were finished talking to Everett we headed over to the booth and learned more about Jack and his diagnosis. Jack passed away 9 months after his diagnosis and left his wife and four young children. I donated a few dollars and received a couple of bracelets. We ran the marathon with our bracelets for Jack (find more information at Jacksfund.org).

We arrived at the expo around 9:30 am and did not leave until about four and a half hours later. The expo, held at McCormick Place in Chicago, was enormous and basically my heaven! It was incredible. There was so much to see, so much to do, and not too long into our adventure, my goodie bag weighed at least half as much as I do.

The expo was great fun, however, there was not much time for relaxing in between our first trip to the expo and the time my parents arrived but, still, a few minutes felt better than none. I used the time to work on my note cards as well as organize my clothes and race gear for the race.

Obviously I had to go over “my list” before I left my house, but I didn’t want to pack anything up and have to dig it out at 5 am either.

IMG_3738.JPG

Not pictured here is the long-sleeved shirt I wore at the start. The forecast for race start was 40 degrees and overcast (typical Chicago weather). It was expected to last most of the morning/early afternoon.

The notecards I worked on were Ashley’s idea. She suggested that we make notecards to read to each other at each mile. We could dedicate certain miles to specific people, we could write quotes on our cards, etc. at first I thought this would be overwhelming but it became a fun little project.

We ended up back at the expo just a few short hours later so we could show my dad around.

IMG_3751-0.JPG
While we were there we all signed up for the 5:25 pace team. We didn’t actually want to set a time goal but thought it may be good to have some direction along the course. I thought the tattoo was kind of fun anyway. 🙂

IMG_3765.JPG

We rushed through it in time to meet my mom for a nice pasta dinner at Maggiano’s (not to be confused with Mariano’s, the grocery store….

Runners who travel for races, what do you do if you can’t get late check out? It would have been nice to get in a shower before heading home but not all of us are fast enough to run a marathon and still check out at 11:00 am. Since late check-out was unfortunately not an option, we packed up and went to bed so we could move everything out of our room when we woke up early for the big race.

As marathon day gets closer…

My running career began in 7th grade with track, which I despised. Running in circles is boring! In high school I ran cross country all four years and finally began to appreciate running. I enjoyed both the company and the scenery.

IMG_3689.JPG
I believe this photo is from my senior year.

I made and developed some life-long friendships out on those courses. I cut back on running while in college, naturally, but when I moved to the Nashville area in 2006, a year after graduating, I picked it up again. I lived out in the country in Greenbrier, TN. I had an easy two mile route from my front door to the stop sign, which was four miles round trip. I signed a friend up to sing in the 2007 Country Music Marathon and decided to sign up to run my first half marathon since I was already guaranteed the support of a good friend along the course. By the way – one of the most amazing feelings in the world is hearing your best friend cheer for you through a microphone while running a half marathon! My other motivation to sign up for this half was knowing that my dad had done the Ironman Triathlon five times, so my thoughts were “if he can do that, I can do this.” My time for that race was 2:26. After that I was addicted. Two years later I did the same race and my time was 2:25. Talk about consistent! My best time for a half marathon was 2:13 in Indianapolis when I first ran the Indy Mini Marathon in 2013. I have now done 7 half marathons and I am one of those people who could buy that bumper sticker that says “13.1…cause I’m only half crazy!”

That time will come to an end on Sunday, though.

If you would like to track me on Sunday in the Chicago Marathon, text 23360 to 37619. You’ll get text messages when I cross check points, about every 6.2 miles (once you send the text you should receive a message back confirming that you are signed up). 🙂 I do not have a time goal for this race because I have been advised not to set a time goal for my first marathon. Everyone says if you set a time goal and you don’t meet it, you will be disappointed. Call me crazy, but I believe there is no reason to run a marathon and be disappointed!

Just a few stats:
· History of the marathon: In 490 B.C. Pheidippides ran approximately 25 miles from Marathon to Athens to bring news of the Greek victory at the Battle of Marathon and passed away just after yelling “Victory!”. Twenty six miles and 385 feet was the random distance chosen for the 1908 London Games; this has now become the customary distance of the marathon. The race began on the East Terrace at Windsor Castle and ended about 26 miles away at the Olympic Stadium in West London. The runners ended at the opposite end of the stadium from the royal entrance and in order to enhance the view for the queen and others, ran clockwise for 385 yards to the royal box, thus resulting in 26.2 miles.
· The first Chicago Marathon, which started at 8 am on September 25, 1977, was called “the Mayor Daley Marathon,” named after the mayor. The entry fee was $5 and about 4,200 runners made it the largest marathon in the entire world.
· Today, up to 45,000 people run this race and the entry fee is $175.00. They cap off the entry to the race at this point. There are on average 1.7 million spectators along the course (I won’t get lonely!)
· There are two groups (waves) at the start. I’m in the second one that starts at 8:00 am (central time).
· My dad ran his first marathon when he was 34 years old – it was the Chicago Marathon. Sunday he will be running his 7th marathon at age 68.
· The cut-off time is 6 hours and 30 minutes. Anyone who finishes after this time won’t be counted. Fifteen minutes after the last runner crosses each mile marker, they begin opening streets back up.
· The course goes through 29 different neighborhoods of the city and it is known for being flat (yay!)
· I signed up for this last year and then got very sick so I was unable to train for it. My dad had signed up too, and ran it despite having bronchitis. His time was 6:07.

A marathon is something I NEVER thought I would do but I couldn’t be more excited to be doing this with my dad and my girlfriend. Ashley and I are leaving Nashville tomorrow night to fly to Chicago. Saturday we will attend the race expo and on Sunday evening we will each be able to say “I ran a marathon this morning.”

My dad during the marathon portion of his first Kona Ironman in 1983.

IMG_3686.JPG

30 miles in 4 days

For weeks, Ashley and I had been preparing to run 20 miles on Saturday, September 27 (my lovely mom’s birthday). The plan was to fly in to Chicago on Friday night, arrive around 7:30 and have my brother pick us up. We could have easily been in bed by 9 or 9:30. That all came to a screeching halt just before 1:00 on Friday afternoon when I received a message saying our flight had been cancelled. WHAT?! No matter what time of year it is, or what the forecast is, there is always an issue when we are trying to fly in to Chicago. All flights were cancelled in the Chicagoland area due to a fire in an air traffic control tower. So, instead, we drove 500 miles and arrived just before midnight. Needless to say, the 20 miler planned for Saturday turned into 10 miles since we didn’t have the energy to wake up nor did we have the time to run 20 miles before two weddings (both were amazing, btw, and I’m certainly not just writing that because one of the beautiful brides will read this :)).

I was determined to get in a 20 mile run, though, so Ashley came up with an idea. We would get 20 miles in between Monday and Tuesday. On Monday night (13 days prior to race day) we ran 13 miles; then, on Tuesday, I did 4 before work and 3 at lunch time (those 3 were the worst part) in the 85 degree beaming sun. However, my goal was to get 20 miles on my feet, and that I did. NOT EASY. We did not start until about 6:30 on Monday evening since we had to wrap up some things from the weekend (like picking up our four-legged children). The weather wasn’t terrible but the route we chose was a little difficult. The first part of it was something we had done many times. We knew where the hills and the mile markers were. However, we weren’t prepared for the sun to go down.

The last 6 miles or so were on a sidewalk that led to a busy road. By the time we got off the sidewalk and had “just a 5k” remaining, it was dark. It’s a little scary running on a 6 foot wide shoulder with semi-trucks passing just a few feet away at 60 mph… in the dark… Plus we were exhausted and hwy 109 is all uphill going that direction. We cut through a subdivision for our last mile and finally made it home.

Monday morning, my biggest battle was getting out of bed. Even when I finished, it was still dark outside. I ran out two miles, turned around and ran back. I had run this route several times but unless I’m alone, I usually don’t run with my phone so I don’t have a camera. I thought I would take the opportunity to capture the little bit of positivity I had with about a mile left to go.

(I have a photo I will add if it ever uploads)

For my 3 mile run, I ran from my driveway to the post office and back. This route is a little hilly, especially just before and after the turn-around point. Another negative feature is the sidewalks. There are a lot of driveways along this route and the sidewalk dips at every driveway, which is a little uncomfortable, especially for fatigued legs.

Wednesday evening we did five circuits which consisted of mostly arm/core exercises. Ashley did sprints at the end, and I did one before I decided I just wasn’t ready for it. Everything from my knees down hurt so I figured I better take a break. Even now, my arms are in quite a bit of pain!

Next run: Saturday, October 4 in Charleston. We signed up for a 10k which we will do twice.