A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sycamore Pumpkin Run 10K Race Report

Sunday was the last race in the CARA Runners' Choice Circuit Competition. While I have earned a few points here and there for my running club, I was mostly running these circuit races to earn a participation award by running 111 kilometers. Since I wasn't running the Chicago Marathon nor several of the half marathons on the circuit I basically had to run almost all the shorter distance races.

Which means I was racing A LOT of weekends.

During the hour+ long drive to the race several of us in the car were expressing our gratitude over this being the last race of the circuit.

Since I'd done so well the previous Sunday at the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K I just wanted to take this race easy. No pressure, no worries, just running it to get the miles.

After we parked the car and picked up our packets I realized just how CHILLY it was. The wind was blowing and it really felt like fall. Perfect for fall-themed race. I was wearing my shorts, tank, and arm warmers and wondered if I'd be warm enough. I did my warm-up 2 miles on the the last bit of the course wearing my wind pants and a jacket. Even then I wasn't super keen on taking either of those things off. But I knew I'd be fine once I did.

I lined up near the 9:00 minute/mile sign and did a few stretches. My hip was feeling a little sore and I'd forgotten to bring my knee brace. "Just six miles," I told myself. "You can do this." My warm-up miles had felt pretty miserable so I hoped the race felt better.

The first two miles were through the town of Sycamore and many of the residents were out cheering. There's an actual pumpkin festival later in the day so quite a few people were already out setting up booths or settling in for the parade. A nice, friendly atmosphere. My zen was broken, though, by a guy who kept trying to get people to talk to him. "I don't talk while I'm racing," one woman finally said. I tried to distract myself by silently chanting those lyrics I discovered on Saturday.

There were a lot of people in costume and I wish I could master the art of taking photos while running. I lined up behind an Eskimo and something yellow (a flapper? A bird? Still not sure) and ended up using them as wind blockers for at least a mile of the race. When you run in the country the wind whips across the fields and was right in our faces for most of miles three and four.

I stopped for water just after the 4 mile marker and lost my Eskimo buddy. Instead I found myself running behind a scarecrow, a cave girl, a fairy, and a guy wearing a shirt that said I <3 Ceilings! His running buddies informed me he was a ceiling fan. Har har. Earlier in the race I'd been behind a guy running in khaki hiking shorts and a cotton t-shirt. I wanted so badly to beat him but once we entered the park and golf course at mile 5 I saw him up ahead of me and knew I didn't want to push hard enough to catch him. Oh well. When we only had a mile left I started really pushing it. I'd been holding back quite well so far but wanted to see what else I could do. My knee felt okay but my left hip was killing me. I really just wanted to be done. I sprinted the last .2 and came in at 53:34. Hey, I guess 53:XX felt left out since my PR skipped over it entirely last week.

I grabbed an ice cold beer at the finish line and basically chugged it. Hey, why not?

I'd like to say "and thus concludes my racing season" but we all know I've got at least one more race on the docket. On to Las Vegas!

Sycamore Pumpkin Run 10K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Weekly Workout Wround Up

October 24th - October 30th

Oct 24

5.5 miles with the running club. My left knee was pretty sore after going all out during Sunday's 10K, though.

Oct 25

Since I still don't know what's going on with my left leg I'm trying out some chiropractic stuff. I had an appointment on Tuesday so that took up most of my evening.

Oct 26

I'm bummed because this was the last night of the summer track group and I had to miss it due to work. At least I like my coworkers.

Oct 27

In my never-ending quest to figure out why my left hip seems to hurt randomly I had the last ditch effort: an MRI with contrast. They had to jam a pretty huge needle into my hip ball and socket joint and that left me pretty sore for the rest of the day.

Then after work I had another chiropractor appointment so I wouldn't have run even if I'd felt up to it.

Oct 28

Rest day

Oct 29

10 miles including practicing my falling skills.

Oct 30

The last CARA circuit race of the season: the Sycamore Pumpkin Run 10K. Plus a 2 mile warm up for a total of 8.2 miles. Race report to come later. I bet you're getting tired of reading that, huh?

Total running mileage: 23.7

I actually did get some news about what's going with my hip. I'm still processing it, though, so I'll tell you about it later. Short answer: let pain be my guide. Longer answer: I may be out of commission for part of next year but I won't know until late December.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

First and Ten

I had my alarm set for 6:15 this morning. My plan was to run 10 miles with my running group. When the alarm went off, however, I decided there was no real reason I had to run at 7:00 AM. So I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep.


So instead of running at 7:00 AM with a group I headed out for my run around 10:40 AM with just my iPhone and my favorite Pandora station to keep me company.

I must have still been slightly asleep, however, because just before the end of mile 2 my right toe caught an uneven portion of the sidewalk and down I went. I managed to fall mostly on my right side and land in a mostly dirt patch of someone's yard.

I sat up and looked around. I don't think anyone saw me, which cuts down on the embarssment factor. Injury inventory? Just some road rash on my left palm and a lot of dirt on my right hand and side. It took me a minute to decide what to do. This was my very first fall while running. In the end, though, I decided to keep going. I wasn't hurt badly and I figured I'd wash off the dirt at the next water fountain.

The very next song Pandora decided to play for me? "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor. If you've never heard this song, here's how it starts:

It's just ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

Mile 3 was my fastest mile. Gee, I wonder why.

This run alternated between feeling like I was flying and feeling like I was plodding along. My knee strapped into its knee brace was fine but my left hip and hip flexor were sore. And I was really disappointed to discover they'd turned off the water fountain at my 8 mile mark. Boo.

Still, you have to admit it was a pretty badass run. Dirt and all.

Neighborhood 10 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, October 24, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright 10K Race Report

Several years ago I attended a scrapbook convention where I purchased a set of letter and number stickers in the style associated with Frank Lloyd Wright. Why? Because I knew the Frank Lloyd Wright 5K and 10K existed and I knew I wanted to run them some day.

Last year I didn't run it because I thought it would be too soon after the Chicago Marathon and I didn't have any idea how I'd feel. Turns out I was physically able to run but by the time I decided to sign up the races were sold out.

The year before I believe I was out of town a conference.

But this year the stars finally aligned and I was able to sign up and run the Frank Lloyd Wright 10K on Sunday.

The start of the race is just a hair over two miles from my house. Since the race didn't start until 8:45 AM and I needed to get in a long run this weekend (you know, with that pesky Las Vegas marathon hanging over my head) I decided to run to the race as my warm-up and to get some extra miles in. After the race I made plans with Maribeth to run a few more to get us up to 12 miles.

The first part of my warm-up miles was rough. My legs felt like concrete and I felt a little woozy. Not a good sign, I thought. I guess I pushed it too hard on Friday? Too much walking around a jewelry and accessory expo the day before? Who knows. Thankfully I started to feel a little better during the second mile.

I wore my OPRC tank top, my arm warmers and shorts. To keep warm during my warm-up I threw on the tech shirt I got from that 5K last weekend. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got to the race so I shoved the t-shirt in the goody bag and tossed it into gear check.

Because there was no need to carpool to a race in our own town, the OPRC group didn't really seem to meet up like usual. But I ran into a few people and chatted before the race. After a few half-hearted stretches and one last bathroom break I headed over to the start line. While I was cold standing there in just my tank and arm warmers I knew I'd be warm enough in a mile or two.

Jason cheered for me as the horn sounded and we were off. Based on Friday's run at lunch I knew I could hold an 8:30 pace for almost 5 miles. I figured why not go for that?

The first mile felt okay.

I passed the clock right at the 8:30 mark. Perfect. I skipped the water station at 1.5 even though I was starting to get warm and I could feel the salt starting to build up on my face. Not a good sign.

The arm warmers became mostly forearm warmers at that point and I just focused on making it to the next water station near mile 3. When we got there I stopped and grabbed some water and walked for a few seconds. Hey, I figured it worked at the Chicago Half Marathon, why not here? Miles two and three were sub-8:30 so I knew I had some time in the bank.

Near mile four we apparently went up what passes for a hill around here and at the time I saw Jason again. He and Coach Holly's husband were cheering for us. "It's downhill from here!" they shouted. I gave them a small wave but basically felt like death. My legs felt like they were coated in wet cement.

I stopped for water at the next aid station and willed myself to keep going. Mile 4 felt like the longest mile of my life. I can't believe I still kept up my close-to-8:30 pace!

When we FINALLY reached the mile 5 marker I kept telling myself we only had a mile left. My legs weren't having any of it, though. That last full mile was really rough and when I passed Jason close to the finish line I couldn't even manage a thumbs up.

I could see the finish line, though, and knew I only had .2 left. That's less than once around a track. I pushed myself as hard as I could and, of course, Coach Holly screaming at me that I'm a sprinter gave me a little extra oomph at the end.

I really couldn't believe my eyes at the finish line clock, though. My previous PR from last year's Lincolnwood Turkey Trot was 54:08. I had a feeling I could beat that since I'd already run longer distances at a pace faster than that one. But I had no idea I'd finish in 52:41 for an 8:29 pace!

I'm a little irritated that I couldn't keep that last mile closer to 8:30 (it was 8:45), but in the grand scheme of things, I managed to hit my overall goal pace right on the nose!

And then went on to run another almost 4 miles as a cool-down. I had Jason come pick me up in the car, though. I didn't feel up to running home.

The only downside to this race is that my left knee stiffened up immediately after crossing the finish line and took almost two miles of our cool down to loosen up again. Guess I'll need to wear my knee brace more often.

But with this race I've now PR'ed in every distance so far this year and I think I'm running some really smart races. Fun, fast, and educational. Yeah, I think that sums up a good race.

Frank Lloyd Wright 10K by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Weekly Workout Wround Up

October 17th - October 23rd

Oct 17

Rest day. Busy with conference stuff from 8:00 AM until 10:00 PM.

Oct 18

8 mile run from Maryland to Virgina and back.

Oct 19

Another rest day. Conference and then travel. Not to mention our plane being delayed due to weather. Apparently it was windy in Chicago.

Oct 20

More rest. I had plans to run at lunch but was thwarted by getting home late on Wednesday and crappy Thursday weather.

Oct 21

4.7 miles at lunch with a Ragnar Relay teammate. We really pushed it and I felt a little ill at the end. However, the weather was lovely so I was totally overdressed. Capris and a long-sleeved shirt and not quite necessary yet. Hard to think about that, though, when it's below 40oF when you're packing your gym bag in the morning.

Oct 22

Rest day

Oct 23

2 mile warm-up, Frank Lloyd Wright 10K race, followed by almost 4 miles of cool-down. Total of just over 12 miles. Race report to come later.

Total running mileage: 24.7

I'm still battling the weird hip flexor issue so I'm still not strength training. And I just haven't had time to get out on my bike. Still, just over 24 miles during a week when I had to travel isn't half bad!

Friday, October 21, 2011

State of the State

I went to college in Oxford, Ohio, a small town approximately 6 miles from the Ohio-Indiana border. For almost four years my best friend (and roommate) and I had a dream of walking from Oxford to West College Corner, Indiana, the town right over the border. How cool, we thought, would it be to walk from one state to another and back?

So, on the last week of school our senior year, after all our finals were finished, we took a break from packing up our apartment, and set out on foot.

I'm on the left

It's a pretty cool feeling to know your own two feet took you from one state to another and back. And apparently now they do a half marathon in my college town that does just that!

On Tuesday I got to recreate that feeling while in the DC area for a work-related conference. Our hotel was on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, right on the water. And not that far away? The Woodrow Wilson Bridge that connects Maryland to Virgina.

I'm not normally a morning runner but Tuesday morning was the only time I had available. A benefit to morning running that probably everyone already knows but me? Getting to watch the sunrise.

I'd set off from my hotel along the boardwalk that turned into a crushed rock and shell path before returning to a paved area in a small undeveloped park. From the research I'd done I'd discovered that this was a newly built bike and pedestrian path. I saw several other people walking and running and quite a few that looked like bicycle commuters.

The path continued along the river until I got to the freeway overpass that would take me to the path along the bridge. They'd done a great job landscaping the pedestrian bridge to give it some character other than concrete. They'd also done a great job throwing a huge hill into the route!

The bridge wasn't anything too spectacular. Traffic whizzing by on one side, the river on the other. However, if the fog in the distance had lifted I would have had a spectacular view of Washington D.C. A few spots along the bridge had bump-outs with telescopes on them and signs with tidbits about the area. I didn't linger long enough to get a history lesson, though.

A little more than halfway over the bridge, Virgina welcomed me.

And when I reached the end of the bridge Alexandria nicely gave me directions on which way was what.

So, I turned around. From my hotel to this point was about 3 miles. I'd messed up my Garmin (again!) so I don't have an exact number.

Maryland gave me some lovely information as I entered their state.

I wanted to get in 8 miles plus I was feeling really good. So when I got back to the hotel and calculated I still had 2 more miles to go, I ventured in the opposite direction where I found a dirt path.

I thought it made a nice counterpoint to the steel and concrete and brick I'd just come from.

I had to throw in a few other loops throughout the convention center area in order to get in my full 8 miles but I did it. And it was fun. And, guess what, according to the map I not only ran from one state to another, I also ran through Washington DC!

So, I added one new state (Maryland) to my map of states I've run in along with the District of Columbia. Plus, it was just generally a good run. I felt awesome the entire time, I got to watch the sun rise, and I didn't let the pull of conference exhaustion suck me in. And that's the state of the state :-)

Innovation 5K + VA-MD Run by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

MD-VA Run - National Harbor by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PTOS & FAPTO Innovation 5K Race Report

As I mentioned last week, I signed up last minute for a 5K taking place a few miles from my hotel where I was staying on business just outside of Washington, DC.

For the first time in a long while I was at a race with no friends, no husband, no running group. And, as it turned out, no gear check. But it wasn't really a problem.

This race was sponsored by the Patent and Trademark Office Society and took place in front of their building in Alexandria, Virginia.

After parking my rental car I walked through a beautiful campus of federal buildings and into the lobby of the building. Did you know the Patent and Trademark Office has a museum? It wasn't open, sadly. Still, it was fun to see the inside of a building that I'd never really given much thought to.

The packet pick up was located on the lower lobby level. Everything in the area seems to be built on a hill so even though you go in on one level you can almost always exit on completely different one.


I grabbed my race number and my t-shirt from the tables in the center and took the shirt back to my car. And, of course, pinned the bib on my tank top. The morning was chilly but the sun was shining. I kept my jacket on while I did my stretches and my warm-up jog. I decided to run to the first mile marker on the out-and-back course to get an idea of what I'd be in for. I'd looked at the elevation chart and was a little worried.

That huge hill? A freeway overpass. And, yes, it was a pace killer on the way up.

I was sweating something fierce by the time I got done and was happy to ditch my jacket. With no gear check, though, I was a little worried. So I put my phone back in the car and asked a nice lady at one of the tables if I could leave my jacket and car keys there.

Everyone at this race was really nice. You could tell that most of them work in the building or at least knew each other. There were about 300 people total and most of them were clustered in groups of friends, joking, and laughing. When the PA system wouldn't cooperate and play the National Anthem someone shouted out, "Hey! Why doesn't Jerry sing it??" And a bunch of people laughed. I guess Jerry is a good singer? Or maybe a bad singer? Anyway, someone else stepped up and we were treated to a less-than-perfect version sung by a willing volunteer.

The race was chip timed but I didn't want to start too far in the back lest I get stuck with walkers or less experienced runners. I had some delusional visions of winning my age group or some such thing since it was a small race.

I'll tell you, though, those DC-area runners are FAST. Or at least they go out of the gate fast. But I'd already run up that hill so I knew what to expect. Which means I wasn't too worried when I slowed down on the uphill.

My Garmin beeped exactly at the 1 mile marker. Exciting! 8:16. Hmmm, not as fast as my last 5K. Oh well.

There was a water station before the turn around point but I eschewed water. We saw the race leader go by the in opposite direction minutes ahead of everyone else. Then it was our turn to do the 180-degree turn and head back.

The Garmin beeped after the mile 2 marker which had me slightly concerned. But then it was time to tackle the big hill again which was slightly less steep from this side. Still, it wasn't easy. I didn't even look at my pace.

A slight downhill and then a long, gradual incline up to the turn to the finish. And then another hill! What? Where did this one come from?

I'm not in this photo but you can kind of see that final hill

I did my best to power up the hill and passed the mile 3 marker at the top. Then, suddenly, I was at the finish line.

The clock said 24:50-something and in my either sleep-deprived or oxygen-deprived state I was bummed. 24:50-something? What a poor showing! Especially when I looked down at my Garmin at it said 3.04 miles instead of 3.1. Bummer!

It wasn't until I looked up the race results later that I realized I'd actually run a pretty good race! I wasn't able to stick around for the awards ceremony (had to get back for conference stuff) and they were only doing awards two deep in 10-year age groups (so I was in the 30-39 age group). Turns out my official results are a time of 24:50 which was good enough for third in my age group and tenth woman overall!

Too bad the race was a hair short so I'm not counting it as a 5K PR. Still, that time translates to an average 8 minute mile even with some decent hills.

And too bad I forgot to reset my Garmin before going for another run a few days later so my stats (and map) are all messed up.

Finding this random race to run was a great decision. Sure, I could have slept in on Sunday morning before the conference started. But this way I was able to see somewhere I'd never been, run a small, fun, friendly race, and get in a workout. All wins in my opinion. So, if you've never done it, I highly recommend searching for a fitness event in the area where you'll be traveling. You never know what you'll find!

Weekly Workout Wround Up

October 10th - October 16th

Oct 10

Rest day. I was presenting to a graduate class which took up my entire evening.

Oct 11

Another rest day. When I went for my massage before the Milwaukee Marathon I decided to sign up for a $35 evaluation from the chiropractor's office in which the massage therapist works. I went for my evaluation on Tuesday night. And I couldn't run at lunch because I was in meeting from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM.

The evaluation was....interesting. I'm viewing it like an experiment. Some of what he said made sense, some of it seemed like total hooey. But my insurance covers it so why not see what, if anything, I can get out of it. I'd love to be able to lift heavy again without worrying that I'm going to regret it days later and I'd love to be able to run without worrying that I'm going to screw myself up even worse.

Oct 12

4+ miles w/Kim. My Garmin didn't want to pick up a satellite signal so it was probably more like 4.2 miles.

Oct 13

4.45 mile lunch run.

Oct 14

Rest day

Oct 15

Since my flight to DC didn't leave until the afternoon, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:00 AM and met my running group for their 7:00 AM long run. I don't think I'd run with them since June! Anyway, I did 10 miles. My legs felt a little stiff before and after and I was worried about running 10 miles and then sitting on a plane but it worked out okay.

OPRC Saturday Route by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Oct 16

I ran that random 5K race in Alexandria, VA! I still need to write a race report but I'm kind of hoping they get some photos up soon. Short version: I thought I ran a pretty crappy 5K but when I looked at my stats later I realized I ran a solid race that was *almost* a PR! If the course hadn't been hilly or a little short (3.04 instead of 3.1 miles) I might have done it.

I also did a 1.9 mile warm-up to test out the hills.

Total running mileage: 23.59
Total strength training sessions: 0
Total biking mileage: 0

Friday, October 14, 2011

Runners Must Be Crazy

Craziness Example 1: Running in the rain

Another rainy run on Thursday. Of course, when I decided to go running it was only misting but by the time we got outside it was coming down pretty good. The funny thing about running in the rain, though, is if you have on a hat (and don't wear glasses) you can barely tell it's raining. It's not until you get done and strip off your clothes that you realize how wet you are.

Only one other guy from the lunch time crew was able to go but we're close to the same pace (if I push it a little harder) so neither of us was out there alone. Of course, we weren't the only crazy runners doing our thing in the rain. Nope. We saw quite a few other runners as well as some cyclists.

Look, when you want to get in a workout you can't let Mother Nature deter you too much. In the end, we did almost 4.5 miles even though we originally said we were just going to do 3.

Rainy Lunch Run North by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Craziness Example 2: Signing up for last-minute races while traveling

I'm flying to Washington, DC on Saturday for a conference. We arrive Saturday evening but the conference stuff doesn't start until 11:30 AM on Sunday. The conference center is located across the river from Alexandria, Virgina in National Harbor, Maryland. In my quest to get in a run in as many states as possible I got online to Google running routes in the area.

Which of course meant I stumbled upon a running club website. Which had a list of races in the area.

Hmmm, I thought. I want to run a few miles on Sunday morning. I wonder if there's a race nearby. I think Kim is rubbing off on me :-)

A few clicks later and I landed on the website for the Inaugural Patent and Trademark Office Society 5K taking place less than 15 minutes from my hotel on Sunday morning.

So, I signed up. Hey, why not? Now I'm sure to get in at least one run while I'm there. I'll still need to run in Maryland, though....

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I wasn't able to attend the track workout on Wednesday night because I had to be somewhere else after work. So I brought my running stuff to work with plans to do a solo run along the lakefront at lunch.

Then I was emailing with Kim about our respective weekends when she mentioned she had brought her running stuff to work. Was there any chance I happened to have mine?

Why, yes, yes there was!

This is why we're best friends. Totally on the same wavelength :-)

So we met up for a quick 4 miler out and back along the lake. I hadn't run in almost a week (since last Thursday) and I felt like I was sucking wind the entire time. And when we got done my left hip felt SO tight. If I only I could figure out a way to easily bring my foam roller to work. Maybe I should just order another one and have it shipped directly here.

Anyway, regardless of how the run felt, it was so awesome that Kim and I were able to meet up last minute.

Lunch Run w/Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

October 3rd - October 9th

Oct 3

Rest day! I actually went to running group to show off my medal and enter the raffle for a pair of Saucony shoes. I guess my good luck from Sunday didn't stick around, though. No free shoes for me.

Oct 4

Another rest day! I mean, my legs felt pretty good but why push it. Plus, I had a running club meeting to attend. We heard a presentation about fueling during endurance events. Basically, drink more water and Gatorade.

Oct 5

Return to the track! However, I just did the warm-up and then ran easy miles while everyone else did 400s and 800s. Kind of lonely to be running around the track by myself, but oh well.

Oct 6

4 miles run at lunch.

I was exhausted when I got home from work but thought maybe a quick strength training workout video would perk me up. So I put in Denise Austin's "Shrink Your Female Fat Zones". 40 minutes of dumbbells and Pilates.

Okay, I know it's been awhile since I lifted weights but this felt HARD. Which makes me sad.

Oct 7

Rest day. My parents, my husband, my brother and I all went out to dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday. Jason and I got home WAY past my bedtime I was so thankful I could sleep in on Saturday morning.

Oct 8

And sleep in I did! But in order not to be too lazy of a slug, I went on a leisurely 20 mile bike ride in the afternoon. The day was just too gorgeous to not do something outside.

About mile 12, though, my bike started making a weird noise. It sounded like something was caught in the wheel so I slowed down to check it out. I didn't see anything but the noise was driving me crazy. As I stood on the side of the path trying to figure out what was going on two cyclists stopped to help. Turns out I did have a leaf stuck in the front brake caliper but it was jammed up there so far it was nearly impossible to see. The hazards of riding in the fall I guess.

Oct 9

Up at 4:00 AM, I think I was up earlier than many of the people actually running the Chicago Marathon! Instead of running I was in charge of the Gatorade stations on the north side of the street near mile 18.

The sun was brutal and although the elites managed to finish before the temperatures rose, I really felt for everyone else. Still, my running club had a lot of PRs and quite a few first-time marathon finishers so it was great to be out there supporting the runners.

By the time we finished cleaning up and headed home around 1:00 PM my legs and feet felt worse than they did after Milwaukee! I scarfed some pizza at our volunteer thank you event and then collapsed into bed around 4:00 PM. Where I proceeded to stay until I had to get up for work this morning. 14 hours of sleep? Don't mind if I do.

Total running mileage: 7.24
Total biking mileage: 20
Total strength training sessions: 1

Friday, October 7, 2011

These Legs

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathonphotos are up and there are some really good ones of me, Kim, and the two of us together.

I'm super excited about my finish line photos.

At Chicago I'm not even sure I got a finish line photo, so these more than make up for it.

But you know what I saw when I looked at these photos?

Did I see the smile on my face? Did I see how strong I looked?

No. My eyes immediately gravitated towards my thighs. And my hips.

Since I haven't really been able to strength train I feel flabby and gross. I felt like these pictures were just highlighting that fact.

But yesterday, after a 4 mile run at lunch where I finally felt good again I realized something.

Those thighs and hips, those legs, they carried me for 26.2 miles in a time I never dared to imagine.

Those legs carried me on a 4 mile run along the Chicago lakefront less than week after running that marathon.

Those legs, no matter what they look like, are strong and capable. So, sure, I don't look like the women on the cover of Runners World. That doesn't mean I'm not a strong runner. Sure, I don't look like the celebrities on the cover of the fashion magazines, but that's not the point.

I'm proud of what my legs can do. And that's what's important.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Asleep on the Job

On Monday my calves were still a little stiff, especially after sitting at my desk at work for too long. The blister/callus thing on my right big toe hurt, which made me walk funny, which made my right hip hurt.

Tuesday I felt better, although my toe still hurt.

Wednesday I went to my last physical therapy session (for now) and went to track. No, I didn't do any speedwork. I did the warm-up drills and then ran a nice, easy 5K around the track.

Post-Marathon Workout by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Apparently it wasn't easy enough, though. I feel worse today than I did on the day after the Milwaukee Marathon!

My legs felt like lead last night during the drills. Galloping and skipping were rough.

And today I could totally fall asleep at my desk.

I brought my stuff for a lunch time run. Maybe that will make me feel better, maybe worse. But there's no way to tell unless I try.

Oh yeah, and I still need to make a decision about Las Vegas. If I'm doing the full marathon I need to figure out a training plan! Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weekly Workout Wround Up

September 26th - October 2nd

Sept 26

5 miles, partly in the rain, entirely in my hometown.

Sept 27

Rest day. Actually, I used a Groupon I'd purchased awhile back and got a massage. I had her work on my legs and they felt lighter than air when she was done.

Sept 28

4.01 miles at the track
. First "real" speedwork in awhile and I certainly felt it. But I'm running strong this year so I think the overall track training has gone well.

Sept 29

Rest day. I did a ton of laundry to make sure my stuff was ready for Sunday.

Sept 30

Another rest day. All this free time is fun!

Oct 1

3 miles the night before the marathon. Kim and I ran around her neighborhood just to shake out our legs and so I could try out my new knee brace.

Night Before Marathon w/Kim by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Oct 2

Milwaukee Marathon! Seriously, just go read the report.

Total running mileage: 38.21
Total biking mileage: 0
Total strength training sessions: 0

Monday, October 3, 2011

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Race Report

I don't even know where to begin. When I told people in my running club that I was doing Milwaukee I got a lot of "Oh, that race is great!" and "That's one of my favorite races!" comments. Having only ever run one other marathon I had no idea what would constitute a great marathon for me.

I'd heard varying things about the course. It's hilly, it's not so hilly. There are no spectators, spectator support is great. I honestly had no idea what to expect and didn't even look up any other race reports online until Thursday or Friday of last week. The only thing I heard consistently was "Watch out for the downhill at mile 23."

At the last minute (i.e. Saturday evening) I decided I wanted a knee brace for my left knee. I figured I'd rather be safe than sorry and I knew I could always ditch it at an aid station or mile marker and pick it up after the race. Just one of the perks they advertised at this race. Kim and I did a three mile run on Saturday night just to shake out our legs and the knee brace was fine after some adjusting.

So at 4:00 AM on Sunday we got up and met our ride at 5:00. Since this course is a point-to-point race we had to get to the start and have someone pick us up at the finish. Thanks to an offer of a carpool from one of Kim's running club buddies our husbands got to sleep in and meet us during the later miles.

I stepped out of the car at the start and immediately began to wonder if I'd under-dressed. A tank top and shorts felt pretty chilly in the 40oF morning. Thank goodness for my throw away jacket and gear check! After a quick port-a-potty stop and some last minute race prep I shed my warm-up pants and we walked to the start line.

Much different than Chicago! I could see the actual start line. The race directors had a sense of humor with pace signs that ranged from "Under 2:02" (the world record marathon time is 2:03:38, FYI) to "Same Day" and the atmosphere, while buzzing with energy, felt more laid back. We positioned ourselves just in front of the 5:00 hour pacer since we thought this would keep us from going out too fast and since our goal was just to finish under 5 hours. I did a few stretches and then it was time to run!

I wish I could give you a mile by mile play by play but I can't. Actually, you're probably happy about that. Anyway, I remember ditching my jacket at mile 1. I remember how beautiful the trees looked as we ran through wooded rural areas. I remember that we could see everyone's breath in the morning air. I remember that our husbands texted Kim to say they'd see us just before mile 12.

I remember thinking we might be running too fast so we kept telling ourselves to slow down. Didn't want to waste all my energy early, a mistake I learned from at Chicago.

I remember smiling. I remember thinking about how much fun I was having. My hip didn't hurt. My knee didn't hurt. My shin didn't hurt. I was in awe at how great I felt. We passed the 4:40 pace group around mile 8 and they never caught us again.

We took our scheduled walk breaks every two miles and occasionally stopped at water stations to fill up our fuel belts. I took my shot bloks every two miles and switched to alternating regular ones with caffeinated ones at mile 10. I hammed it up for Jason and Kim's husband Steven when we saw them on the course.

Kim and I talked but I don't remember what we talked about. We checked in with one another every so often and we both seemed to be doing fine. I would say that with the exception of one short steep uphill the rest were so mild as to not be noticeable unless you pushed yourself too hard. There were some downhills, though, but I'm strong on downhills so I barely even noticed.

At some point we left the wooded and rural areas and ended up in more residential neighborhoods or running along slightly more major streets. This part wasn't as pretty but every so often you would catch a glimpse of Lake Michigan behind the houses and I would marvel at how beautiful it looked with the sun sparkling on it.

The majority of the course was shaded so it really was the best of both worlds. A beautiful sunny fall day that was cool and shady enough that I felt great. The spectators were great, too. Not too many that it felt overwhelming, but enough that you got good support. We heard "Go Team Purple!" and "Go Twins!" a lot. People may think wearing matching outfits is cheesy, but I think it's great.

Eventually we came across two of Kim's running club friends who were out cheering for us in the later miles. One of them ran with us for almost a full mile which I think gave Kim a much needed boost and made the mile go by really quickly for me.

We saw our husbands again near mile 22. "How are you doing?" Jason asked. "GREAT!" I replied, grinning like a fool. I really was. Just four more miles, I thought. That's nothing. The downhill at mile 23.5 wasn't even that bad. Not the "quad-killer" I'd been told it was.

Kim was starting to flag, though, and I did my best to tow her along. I kept thinking it was too bad we weren't tied together like the "Jennipede" that was taking place during this race. 64 people tied together trying to break the world record for most people chained together to finish a marathon. They were raising money to support Jenny Crain, an elite runner who was hit by a car and suffered serious brain trauma.

Eventually Kim told me to go ahead. She was running a great pace but my legs wanted to go faster. I felt horrible for leaving her but thought if I was in front and she could still see me that I would be her rabbit. The last two miles were the only time I started to feel a little tired but I think that's because we were running in the full sun. Kim caught me at the last aid station and we walked for a bit together at mile 25. I didn't really need to but I thought it would help her out. I already knew I was going to blow my original goal out of the water and that's all that mattered to me.

Then at mile 25.5 a volunteer was calling out times. Throughout the course the volunteers at the mile markers would tell you what your finish time would be if you kept up that pace. When the volunteer at 25.5 shouted out "4:32!" I thought, "Oh my god. Does that mean I could finish in 4:32? I started almost two miles after the clock started. Could I finish sub-4:30???" And I took off.

I crossed the finish line feeling great.

In fact, I felt amazing. I didn't leave the finish chute right away but instead waited for Kim to finish. When I saw her a minute or so behind me I cheered my heart out and grabbed her in a huge hug when she crossed the mat.

Post-race I didn't even feel that bad. I actually felt worse after Ragnar. I mean, I was tired and my feet were sore but it was nothing compared to Chicago. No tears of exhaustion. No leg pain. No state of delirium. Just pure elation. I wanted to break 5 hours. 4:45 seemed like a good dream goal. To finish in 4:36:58 seemed unreal.

Now I know why so many people said good things about this race. Maybe I'd feel that way about any race if it went as well as it went on Sunday, but perhaps there's a little bit of magic in Milwaukee.

If only that magic would extend to making the huge blister on my right big toe go away we'd really be in business. But, really, if a huge blister and sore calves and hips is all I have to give for a day that will go down as one of the best in my life? I'll gladly pay it.

Milwaukee Lakefront Marthon by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

P.S. You can also read Kim's report here.