Friday, October 31, 2014

Chicago Marthon recap part 2: race day

So, I guess I should write about the actual... race day. (considering the fact that tomorrow is November... and November calls for a  lot of epilepsy-awareness type things.)

Well, race morning, I woke up early.. if you can call it that, since I did not sleep well at all. I woke up almost a dozen times throughout the night. It felt more like I had been taking a little nap than sleeping. When I got up, I got dressed for the race... aaaand we headed to downtown.

My mom and I tried to stop at a few different places in order to get some breakfast-type food to eat, just so that I would not have to run an entire marathon on an empty stomach. That task turned into an adventure... and an adventure that was more a challenge than it was expected to be. We could not find any fast food restaurant to get something to eat, so we stopped at a drug store.. which was closed. After a while, we ended up going to a little gas station, where I got a Clif Bar. Then, we were finally off to downtown Chicago.

This was my third consecutive Chicago marathon. That was lucky, because I had an idea of where I was going and what I was doing.

..that didn't save the beginning from being dramatic and anxiety ridden, however.

When we got downtown, some of the roads were already closed, making traffic a little bit of a mess. We were cutting it close on time. So, I jumped out of the car and walk/jogged the mile-ish to my corral. I came to an intersection and saw... the wheelchairs go by. That was the part when I freaked out a little bit. Logically, I knew that my coral hadn't closed yet and I also knew that the wheelchairs always start first and, often, start much earlier than everybody else.

But still... when I was trying to cross the streets and they were blocked by the wheelchairs that had already started, it freaked me out a little bit. (by a little bit, I  mean a lot. I may or may not have been borderline panicked at that point.)

Anyways, I ran across the street between groups of wheelchair races and made it to Grant Park, to my corral, then felt much better about everything. I'm very thankful that I didn't have to gear check anything. That saved me from one very very long line. I got into my corral, texted my mom that I made it, she said that she had finally parked. Then I started to get more nervous. For some reason, I was dreading the race. I had hyped myself up for it, especially since last year I had a terrible race, did a horrible job training for it.. and I wanted to do better this year. I did train better, but I was not where I wanted to be. At all.

I was nervous about everything, having a bad race, freaking out, not being able to do as well as I wanted to, and so on.

I ended up talking to some people around me about things. This one woman was running her first marathon and seemed to have a mix of emotions. She was both excited and nervous. We talked about some races that I had done, but mostly... just talked about the day ahead of us. One thing that I enjoy about being a back of the pack runner is that I get to talk to a lot of people in the corral before I get to actually start. Does it calm the nerves? Not necessarily. It's just a nice camaraderie type of thing.

So, then the race started. I decided to push pretty hard in the beginning in order to get a good start, then, if everything fell apart later, I still would have had a good beginning. I'm not sure that was really the best strategy, but it was the best that I had at the moment.

I felt good. Actually, I felt great for many miles. I was killing each mile, on track to smash my PR by at least 15 minutes. I was still on track to beat it by 15 minutes by the time that I got to mile 22. I had a good race. I saw my mom at several different intervals, starting at mile 3 and going all the way through the race. I also saw Katherine and Andi at different places to, but didn't see them until mile 13ish. (I was starting to think that I would not see them at all.)

There's something about having spectators that helps get through the race. It was an energy thing. It's just nice to have someone that you know being there. (though the spectators in general in Chicago are great.)

The streets of Chicago are awesome. I loved running through the streets, seeing all of the buildings. I think that my favorite parts are being between all of the tall buildings. The course, for the most part, is pretty flat. I really enjoy the start, then running underneath the overpass.

One unique thing about running in Chicago is the number of bridges. It seems like we ran over the water a number of times, which was pretty cool. One of the time, at about mile 3, my mom was standing up on the side of the bridge cheering. That was the first time that I got to see her, so that was awesome. The bridges were really fun. I liked that they put carpet over most of them, because it made them easier to run on. (though I did see a girl trip over the carpet. I guess that you can't win them all.)


I started to feel a little bit rough a little bit after mile 22. My legs started to get very tired, my mind started to go negative, in a sense, and I started to feel like I wasn't sure I'd make it. I thought about all of the things of the last year, the tough year that it was, and all of the changes that I had gone through and was about to go through.

At a certain point, it always seems to get a little bit more difficult to run that 26.2. After 24 miles of being on pace to kill my PR, of feeling awesome, of keeping a pretty steady pace, it all started to fall apart. It got tough. I think that part of the problem was that I hit the same point where I really fell apart last year. I wasn't sure if I could run anymore. My legs were heavy, I was frustrated, I was exhausted... So I turned my phone on. I texted both Katherine and Kristie.

Kath and Andi met me and walked with me for about a half mile or so, before I turned off my phone and ran the last part by myself. It was nice to have that support. Kristie gave me a text message pep talk that helped push me through the last part.

I ended up finishing strong. I didn't get my 15 minute PR, since I walked about a half mile. (well, honestly, probably a full mile, if I could the part before I turned my phone on, too.)

When I got to the last push, that last hill right at the finish, I struggled again. That hill kills me every time, even when I'm expecting it. It feels impossibly long and large. I pushed as hard as I could through that point, and ended up finishing with a 6 minute PR.

New marathon PR: 6:24:13

I'm good with that.

The theme of this year: I'm not where I want to be, but I'm on my way. I think that this race showed that.

(thankful for my supporters near and far: those who were physically there supporting me, running all over Chicago, those who gave me words of encouragement during the whole process, and those who sent me well wishes and thoughts that day.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chicago Marathon part one: expo day.

Ah. So, today has been a week since the big Chicago Marathon. I can't believe that it's over.

I had a lot to prove this year, at least in my head. Last Chicago Marathon was really rough for me. The whole training was really tough for me, as I had about 800 other things going on in my life that I prioritized. I didn't really prioritize the training the way that I should have. So, the race was really tough, very VERY mental, and I really felt like I needed to do better this year.

So, my training wasn't perfect. at all. It was much better than last year. (somehow, I managed between two jobs, working 6-7 days a week, every week, to run 5 days most weeks, including long runs.. in the Florida heat, starting in the beginning of the summer. On top of moving.) There is more that I really wanted to incorporate into my training- like some strength training and more speed work, but it just didn't happen.

So, since I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was getting pretty nervous about the race, up to about two weeks prior to race day. That's when I started really reflecting and feeling like I wasn't adequately prepared.

So going into the weekend, I was really nervous. I'm not sure if I have been THAT nervous for any race, ever.

So, last Saturday, my mom and I drove out to Chicago for the expo. (by my mom and I, I mean, she drove. I'm a really good passenger.. or freeloader, whatever.) So, we got to Chicago, went to McCormick Place... and met up with Kath and Andi for the expo!

My mom was sad that she was not running this year, so she brought running clothes and hoped she could get a bib from someone, haha. No such luck, and I think she ended up being glad to just spectate.

I've been to the Chicago expo before, as I ran the race in 2012 and 2013, as well, but I am always impressed with the size of the expo and the organization. It's very well organized, and, though it is crowded, the expo never feels overwhelming. I don't think that I had to wait in a line for longer than 4-5 minutes.
Anyways, so I checked in, got my packet, picked up my race shirt, and THEN, we browsed around. My mom signed up for a raffle for every free race that she could find. (and won an entry to Grandma's Marathon, actually. Go Mom!)  Katherine bought my traditional souvenir for my birthday present. (I got a long sleeve shirt. It's pretty awesome.) Andi got really into the expo and took lots of pictures and tried lots of free samples. I told her that she needs to take up running in order to go to more expos. She said no, she'll just enjoy the expos and pretend to be a runner.
We stopped at the information booth and everyone made signs for me. That was fun. I've never run Chicago by myself. (and hardly any races all by myself, honestly.) Knowing that I was going to have spectators was really cool. They made little sheets with my projected times at various spots on the course, which was neat, too. Everyone was all geared up and ready to spectate the race for me on Sunday. (the only thing was that... I was 100 times more terrified than I was excited for the race.)
I got my picture taken with Bart Yasso, which was pretty cool. He joked about my paparazzi, because I had three people taking my picture at once. We talked about the race a little bit. He wished me luck. (no Deena Kastor this year, meeting her was the highlight of my trip last year.)
Deena Kastor, my mom, and me last year. Because I love this.
Walking around the expo was really fun, as it always is. The Chicago Marathon expo is by far my favorite race expo that I've been to. (though, I haven't really done a lot of BIG races. So yeah.)

I was pretty impressed with myself that I didn't spend money at the expo. I had to hold myself back a little bit, because there were lots of things that I really wanted. So yeah me! (I think.)
After we spent about an hour or two (I have no idea) walking around the expo, we left to go hang out downtown a little bit. Andi split up from us, because she had some errands to run, as she lives in Chicago. Katherine came with my mom and me to Michigan Avenue to have some dinner and walk around, which ended up turning into just dinner, before Andi picked her up to go to a haunted basement thing. (I don't do scary.) We had dinner at a cute little soup and sandwich place called Potbelly. I just had soup, which was really good, but I heard good things about the sandwiches, too, from my momma and from Katherine.
When Katherine left, my mom and I walked around downtown a little bit and chatted. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the night before a big race.
(I was still terrified.)
Then we went back to the hotel to sleep for the night. Sleeping was a struggle for me, for sure.

Part two: race day, coming soon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Year 28: my year of adventure.

So, maybe, I should change the name of this blog, because I don't think that it is only going to be about my running adventures anymore. I'm in the midst of this massive life transition thing... and I am making huge changes in my life.

One of those changes is to actually write. Whether it be in this blog or working on my stories or a novel, I need to write more. So here I am, writing, blogging, multiple times within a month. (craaazy.)

Hmm.. something to think about, I guess...

My birthday was Saturday. Woo hoo, twenty-eight.

I'm not sure if it is because of my birthday or because of... something else, I'm just at this point in my life in which I feel as though I need to make some pretty significant life changes. (like moving 1000 miles, while not knowing or having a plan of exactly where I will be, even a year from now.) I'm trying to push the envelope a little bit, push myself out of my comfort zone, so to speak.

I'm calling this my "year of adventure."

I've made a list of adventurey things that I want to do this year:
(and I'm going to make them public, because I need to be held accountable or else I may never do them.)
1. Get my SCUBA certification. This has been a dream since I was a child. I always told my dad that I would go on a SCUBA trip with him, but he died waaay before I was old enough to get certified. It's time to fulfill it, even if it means I go diving by myself.
2. Go on a solo road trip adventure. By living in Florida and working for Disney, I currently have friends that live in almost every state. I want to see so many of them. (and places. I want to see places.)
3. Move somewhere new. (obviously, this depends on work and jobs.) For many years, I dreamed about living in Chicago or New York, but I've decided that I want to live somewhere a little bit more laid back. I'd like to live my life somewhere beautiful. When I think about moving, I think of my friend, Latefa, who moved to Montana for AmeriCorps after college.. then stayed for a while, then moved to North Dakota. She's not afraid of trying new places, new things (she also told me today that she just bought a motorcycle. I'm not going that far. ha.). I'd like to try new cities, too.
4. Write. Freelance write. Work on my short stories. Blog. Write a novel.
5. Speaking of novel writing, National Novel Writing Month is November. I've attempted to participate once. Maybe this is my year.
6. Travel. I want to see places, do things, enjoy people. I think it may be the best way to learn about myself.
7. Say yes. This is something that I've started in the past year. I used to ALWAYS say no to new things, hide in my comfort zone and around my specific group of tight knit friends. That part of me is over. I need to experience new.
8. Volunteer. I used to volunteer a lot. I taught for Junior Achievement, I volunteered with a leadership group when I was in college... I want to bring that back.
9. Work on my French. I'm a little obsessed with France and French culture. I've studied the language, visited the country... but I want to work on it some more.
10. Get a tattoo. (this is something I've put off for years and years and years... and years. and years.)
11. Epilepsy awareness month. November. I want to get my story out there a little more, get some more awareness. I'm still toying with this idea.


This list is obviously not exhaustive. It will be added to, edited, changed... it's just a list of ideas, at this point.

I just... feel like life is much too short to be stuck in once place, being unhappy. I'm on this journey and there are things that I'm looking for... specifically, joy, laughter, and... following my dreams.

I've been a big dreamer for as long as I can remember, especially when it has come to writing. (I mean, I also wanted to be an Olympic swimmer and a professional baseball player... but I'm just going to have to make some sacrifices for my writing.)

I've been told that I dream too big, that I need to make smaller goals, that I'm setting myself up for failure. However, I've also been told, recently, that I'm inspirational (that one floors me), that I'm brave, that people are proud of me.

I think that I've been waiting until I was ready, comfortable to do these things, but now I'm realizing that I may never be comfortable taking these steps, traveling on my own, getting my SCUBA certification... putting my writing out there. I need to just take the leap. So that's what I'm doing.

(I mean, by trying to write freelance and write a novel... and putting my short stories out there... these things are huge for me. I don't DO that. I don't share my writing with anybody. Ever.)

I need to leave my comfort zone.


On a running note, I'm still going to run my races and write about them, too. I'm just not going to only be the girl who runs and works all of the time.

Time for change...

Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. And by doing it, they’re proven right. Because, I think there’s something inside of you—and inside of all of us—when we see something and we think, “I think I can do it, I think I can do it. But I’m afraid to.” Bridging that gap, doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—THAT is what life is. And I think you might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s special. And if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. Now you know. A mystery is solved. So, I think you should just give it a try. Just inch yourself out of that back line. Step into life. Courage. Risks. Yes. Go. Now. (Amy Poehler)
Postscript: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified.