Tag Archives: marathon

Chicago Marathon

So, a year ago I ran my first (and only, so far) marathon in Chicago.

Somehow I never managed to finish my recap post. Maybe because I wasn’t entirely happy with the way the race went. Maybe because I needed some time to wrap my head around it. Maybe because I didn’t want to remember the struggles.

I’m a little bitter watching this years marathon, because they have absolutely perfect temperatures. Last year was, shall we say, absolutely imperfect. By the time I was finished temps were in the low 80s. Today? They’ll top out at about half that.

Watching this years marathon, broadcast live on NBC Chicago, has brought back a lot of memories.

Lakeview, Old Town, Little Italy, Near West Side, Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, Bronzeville, South Loop. Just a few of the 29 neighborhoods that the marathon course runs though and the most memorable for me.

Lakeview is one of the first neighborhoods you enter, and is possibly the most exciting. The streets are lined with spectators and roadside entertainment abounds.

Old Town is another exciting neighborhood to run through. The view is pretty darn beautiful as well, tons of historic homes and trees lining the streets. (This was pretty nice last year, as trees = shade!)

Little Italy smelled so delicious! The crowds here were awesome and brought the excitement.

The Near West Side is the halfway point, as you pass by Chicago’s Union Station. I was still feeling really good at this point in the race last year. I also got to see my mom (again), husband, and mom-in-law here. That was definitely a huge boost.


I was feeling pretty good up until about mile 15 or so, until the heat started to really get to me. My legs started cramping like crazy and I was just feeling totally depleted. I took a lot of walking breaks and pulled off to the side to stretch a few times as well. At that point in the course the runners are kind of alone as well, not too many (if any at all) spectators at this stretch, until mile 18ish.

Right around mile 18 you turn in the Pilsen neighborhood and things start feeling so much more exciting. It seems like everyone comes out of their homes to cheer on the runners. Pilsen is a Hispanic neighborhood, so imagine mariachi, colorful decorations, and delicious smells of cooking food.

Chinatown is after Pilsen, and is another amazing neighborhood to run through. You can hear it coming before you finally pass under the iconic sign welcoming visitors. I saw my cheering squad again as I ran though Chinatown. This was also where I realized I was actually going to run farther than I ever had before.



After Chinatown you head into the Bridgeport neighborhood, passing by U.S.Cellular Field, home of the White Sox.

After this the course goes across the Dan Ryan Expressway (via an overpass) into Bronzeville. My little bro happens to attend school in this neighborhood so he came out to cheer me on. He took it up a notch by not only cheering but actually jumping in to run with me for a bit. He had a nice, fresh, cold water bottle and fresh legs to keep me going for about a mile or so. He also made sure to tell me that he was officially scared of his big sister, since I was running a marathon.

After Bronzeville the course heads back into the city, eventually winding into the South Loop. When Grant Park is faintly visible in the distance, you know that you can make it. I started run/walking at this point, trying to run 3-4 minutes before walking for 1.

Coming back into Grant Park, there are a few crazy turns, including a hilly bridge which most people hate. Thankfully I ran most of my training runs on hills so I was able to power through and dominate it. Seeing my cheering squad again right before this bridge gave me the last little boost I needed.

Turning onto the final stretch your heart totally takes over. The finish line is visible, there are thousands of people cheering, and there is no turning back.

Crossing the finish line was probably the most emotional experience of my life. I’m not too proud to say that I cried after crossing and getting my medal. My sister happened to be volunteering at the finish line, so she found me and “assisted” me off the course.


I felt pretty good right after finishing. Sore & tired, but good. And there really is no better place to run than in the beautiful city of Chicago!


Marathon Part One

I’m finally home after a long, exhausting, amazing weekend.

Instead of writing an insanely long post about the marathon I’m gonna break it into two parts. This here post will recap the expo and pre-race stuff. (Or I may be sleepy and want to get part of it up before I hit the pillow. You choose.)

Marathon weekend started off early Saturday with a trip to Dunking Donuts for some carbs. One sesame seed bagel w/cream cheese and a large coffee later, I was good to go.


Yum. I wish there was one closer to my house.

We got to the expo a little before noon and got right to business. You know, striking silly poses and such.




I didn’t really take too many pictures this weekend. The expo was super crowded – Saturday afternoon – and I was just trying to soak up the experience. I picked up my bib, goodie bag, and a few things for race day. Matt and I walked around a little bit, but didn’t stay too long. We had other stuff to do, and he was getting freaked out by all the “crazy marathoners.”


Official race shirt. For some reason I registered for a medium (haha) but was able to exchange it for a larger size.


I also bought this cute official marathon shirt at the expo. There were a few others I wanted to buy, and now finisher’s apparel is available – my bank account cannot take it!

I did also buy a new running hat that I wore during the race, too. That actually was a necessary purchase – I haven’t been able to find my other one since we moved and it’s way nicer anyway.


At the Bank of America customer upgrade booth I just flashed my card and got this nice (free) water bottle.

Dinner was cooked by mom – rice, grilled chicken, green beans, stuffing, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Yum yum.

We got everything ready to wake up bright and early at 4am. My sister was actually volunteering and had to be there a bit earlier than I did.

I snapped these before heading out the door.


Electrical tape to write my name = awesome idea. Until it was falling off at the halfway point, it was so awesome to hear people cheering for me by name. Thanks for helping, Mom!


Mom snapped this one while we were waiting for my aunt to meet up with us – she ran the race too! There was a gorgeous sunrise peeking over the lake. At this moment it was finally starting to sink in that I was going to run 26.2 miles.

Last Eight

Saturday morning I completed my last long run of marathon training!


A nice 8 miles in 1:24 – I couldn’t ask for any better! That’s an average pace of about 10:45 – smack dab in the middle of my goal race pace of 10:30 – 11:00. That last .10 miles was actually walking, so the average running pace may be a teensy bit faster, too.

This was a near perfect run. The weather was amazing,  about 43 degrees when we started. My legs were well rested and I think I only took 2 walking breaks – both up hills near the end of my 8 miles.

Again I filled my water bottle with plain water, but had a few sips of Gatorade at our water stop – miles 3.25 and 4. 75. I also had a chocolate Gu the second time I stopped. Yum.

Post-run I grabbed a bagel and strawberry milk from the store and headed home to stretch and ice.



I felt really good during this run.

Chicago is just a few days away and I’m beginning to go into “race mode.” All I can think about is Chicago and everything that goes with it. Matt will probably want to remove the words “Chicago,” “marathon,” and “running” from my vocabulary after Sunday. But I don’t care. This is something that I once thought was impossible and am incredibly proud of myself for getting this far.

Not it’s time to taper and stay healthy for the big day!

Welcome, October

Now that it’s a new month (already!) it’s time to set some new goals. I’m looking at the end of marathon training and I’m ready to jumpstart my fitness and lose the rest of the extra weight I’m carrying around.

1) Cross the finish line of the Chicago marathon. I’ve been working towards this goal for 18 weeks, and have been registered since February 1st. It’s been a long road, lots of hard work, and an incredible amount of anticipation.

2) Transition from marathon training (mostly running) to more strength training. I love running, but with the cold weather (and a wedding) coming up soon, I want to get into fighting shape with some ripped muscles.

3) Smartly train for and run the Hot Chocolate 15k in November. This will be the second year for me running this race, and I’m super excited. The course is much better than last year and I’ll be running it with lots of friends and family.

4) Get back to counting calories and tracking all my food. I’ll be using MyFitnessPal which has both an iPhone app and a website.

5) Work on my time management skills – still. This is, I think, an ongoing goal for me. Some days I can be really on top of things and others I spend the whole night surfing the internet/watching tv and don’t realize where the time goes. I know we all need to have lazy days every once in a while, but I feel like I have too many – especially when there are still moving boxes to unpack and things to organize.

So, this is me. This is how I feel about October – I will succeed. I will be a marathoner, I’ll lose a few pounds, I’ll be productive, and I’ll be able to say I accomplished all I set out to in 31 days.



What about you? Any goals for this month?

20 miles I don’t want to talk about

So, Saturday I ran 20 miles.

I really haven’t thought much about it since then, only when I feel a twinge of lingering soreness in my muscles.

It was an awesome run up until about mile 12. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but I started getting a weird dull pain in my side. It was also accompanied by rumbling in my, er, gut.

Miles 12 – 20 were mostly walked with just a little running thrown in. I was the tail end of the group this week and running long by myself can really get me – and probably anyone else – down. Then around mile 17 it started to drizzle. Awesome.

I finished in just over 4 hours, and given the conditions and excessive walking, I’m sure I’ll still hit my marathon goal of 5 hours. Unless it’s deathly hot, in which case I’m just going for a finish.

I ran a tiny bit on the treadmill Monday, but my hips and quads were still pretty sore so I switched to a bike for some cross-training.

Tuesday was 3 miles on the treadmill. I wanted to get outside but I kept putting it off until it was almost dark outside. Oh well.

Yesterday was an unintentional rest day. I had the day off from work and spent some time cleaning the apartment and reading.

Speaking of reading, I am hooked on the “Hunger Games” series. After I finish the 3rd one I’ll do a full review.

I didn’t get in a run this morning, though I had planned to. I really need to get better at not slacking on my mornings off. Any suggestions?

I finally got my wedding binder organized to my liking this weekend. Yeah, I know, I’ve been engaged for over a year. But now that things are kicking into gear, planning-wise, it was a long overdue chore. Look for an upcoming post about it, too.

Nothing too terribly exciting has been going on around here lately, except for being busy with work. Blogging has kind of unexpectedly taken a backseat and I think it was a good break for me to focus on other stuff. Hopefully in October, once the marathon is over, I can get my health-fitness-weight loss-blogging self back in order. It’ll also be the 8 month countdown to wearing a white dress in front of all my friends & family, so there’s that to think about, too.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. Thanks for putting up with me and my excuses lately Winking smile I love all my readers!


September?!? Are we really entering the last third of 2011? It feels like we were just celebrating New Years and making all sorts of crazy resolutions we’ll never live up to.


It’s been a long time since I last did monthly goals, and I think I’m finally back in a mental state to do it again. As a teacher, the new school year always felt like more of a new beginning than January 1 ever did. I’ll be the first to admit that I have done a terrible job keeping up with my new years resolutions. But with a new school year there’s room for a fresh start.

Here’s what I’m hoping to achieve in September:

1) eat more vegetables. Seriously. I eat tons of fruit, mainly because it’s delicious and portable. Easy to bring with me for a long day at school and the gym. I need to find a way for veggies to be just as easy.

2) plan my meals, esp. dinner, better. I’ve realized that meals with little or no prep are the best for weeknight meals. Need to find more of these.

3) finish out my marathon training strong and healthy. Way back in February when I signed up for this crazy thing, I was super gung ho. Then training started in July and I was just as excited. Then it got hot and I wasn’t as excited. Now there are just 37 days (what?!?) until the Chicago Marathon and it’s do or die time.

4) cross train at least once per week. This goes along with #3 of getting across the finish line in Chicago.

5) manage my time better. between school, running, cooking, me time, blogging, and a million other things it is all to easy to lose track of time or forget something important. Time management is one thing that I have always struggled with. I would love to turn all my “to-do” lists in September into “to-done” lists.

I also have a few other goals, but I won’t be blogging about them unless they actually happen. I don’t want to jinx a good thing Smile


I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t taken any pictures with my camera for over a week. Why? The battery is dead and I’ve been to lazy busy to charge it. Here’s a few pictures from vacation that I haven’t shared yet.


Hiking up Hoosier Pass at the Continental Divide. Yes, Matt is throwing a snowball at me. I threw one back.



This was taken at Royal Gorge park. Clearly, I am too cool to take off my sunglasses.



Cactus! This one didn’t bite me, but I did get a spine in my finger when climbing off this rock. Also, Matt couldn’t understand why I wanted my picture next to a cactus. Duh.

Tell me: what is your favorite make ahead or quick prep dinner?

We’re Getting There – 14

It has definitely been a week.

Are you a Sheldon or a Penny?

Friday night Matt & I went out to a local bar/restaurant/music venue for a free concert. It was a pretty good time, but I ended up eating and drinking more than I intended.

Saturday I slept in a bit before heading to work for a  few hours <—- my last day (for a while) at my part-time job. It was seasonal and we’re entering it’s slow season (tux rental). I’m cool with it, though, as I’ve been very busy subbing.

Sunday morning I woke up around 6:30 and got ready for a long (long, long) run. I got dressed in the clothes I’d laid out the night before, drank a glass of water, ate some toast with peanut butter, and laced up my shoes.

The temperature was pretty perfect – mid-60s, not too humid, no rain in sight – as I headed out around 8.

I didn’t have a specific route mapped out – I’m lucky that our neighborhood is pretty well connected by bike paths and sidewalks.

Fuel I brought with me:

– 22 oz. water bottle with 1/2 Gatorade

– 2 packets of Gu gel (espresso and tri-berry)

– 1 serving fruit snacks (~100 cals worth)

– 1 package fruit punch sports beans


What I actually ate:

– 1 packet sports beans (mile 4.5)

– espresso flavored Gu (mile 8) – did not like this flavor

– fruit snacks (mile 12)

– all the Gatorade + filled up with H2O twice.


I ran a (long) 14 miles and let me tell you – it was not easy. Physically, I can do the long runs. I’ve been training my body for them for a while now. Mentally, the time is getting tough. This week I continued to listen to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but I still found my mind wandering into a negative space far too often. I think for next week I’m going to upload some new tunes onto my iPod shuffle. Maybe that will be the push I need.

The first 10 miles were not too bad. I stopped at 4.75 for a bathroom break, then again around mile 9. After I hit the 10 mile mark I started to get tired – physically and mentally. Being on the road for that long, running, really can get to you. I definitely want to write a post on beating mental fatigue.

Anyway, the last 4 miles I was basically bribing myself with anything I could think of. Giant cup of root beer? Sure! Soup in a bread bowl? Definitely! Not doing anything the rest of the day? Bring it! I walked a lot those last few miles. My calves were cramping something fierce and my hips were super tight. But, I made it through and my Garmin chirped at about 11:30 let me know I’d travelled 14 miles that morning.

I texted Matt and asked him to pick me up at a gas station when I was done. The road back to our apartment is fairly hilly and just thinking about running back up them made me want to cry and cut my legs off.

I grabbed a super large root beer sans ice and hopped in the air conditioned car, then we headed to Panera for some delicious refueling. The days choice was a cup of black bean soup (yum) in a sourdough bread bowl – with a side of whole grain baguette.

My stomach is weird and doesn’t want food right after a long run – it usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. Just enough time to ice bath and shower the stink off me.

My knee/IT band has been bugging me all week, and I’ve kept it easy with a 2 mile treadmill run yesterday (in new shoes) and a 3 mile run today. Tomorrow will be on the ‘mill as well, because it’s supposed to get up to 100 degrees. Not cool, September. Not cool.

Now it’s off to bed to dream of pain-free runs. Isn’t that every runners dream?

Tell me: what song/artist/album do I just have to listen to while I run?