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Day 4, 5, and 6 of The Weekly Challenge (Weekend Wrap Up)

6 Nov

Whew. Been a couple days, right? Sorry for the delay. I had a recap written about Thursday, but wordpress stole it. Then both Friday and Saturday were pretty hectic. Last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write a blog.

But, all in all, I’ve done well. And I’ve done it by making little changes.

For example, on Thursday, I searched my fridge for something healthy to eat with my PB&J lunch. Apparently, we at some point last weekend acquired a veggie tray. For two days I’ve been munching on homemade hummus, cherry tomatoes (a new favorite of mine), celery, and carrots. For a girl who HATES veggies (this is a big leap). My nutrition for both Thursday and Friday were pretty decent:

Thursday- a bit low on calories, but never exceeding any of my limits.

Friday- Still low, but I didn't workout at all and I was carbo-loading for the race the next day.

And in case you are curious of what carbo loading entails… I basically ordered a 10 inch cheese pizza and some bosco breadsticks and ate half of it. Yummmmmy. And so worth it.

As for the race, I’ll be honest when I say that I was dreading it. My running lately hasn’t been up to my normal standard. I’ve been feeling sore and beaten up on almost every run, even when I take it easy. And even though I built myself up to 8 miles, I felt like the distance (15K, or 9.3 miles) might do me in. I vowed to myself that I would take it easy. I would run slower than my usual 12 minute mile pace (in fact, I wrote down 13 minute mile markers on a piece of paper that I occasionally referenced during the run).

Also, let me take a moment to express extreme frustration with RAM Racing. This will most likely be one of my last RAM races. I found it extremely expensive. The expo they advertised was nothing but four booths and a whole bunch of (much more) expensive merchandise. But my main complaint was the lack of trained (and friendly) volunteers. Rant done.

So, Saturday comes and I reluctantly put on my outfit, gathered my gear, and got myself on the 6:30 bus downtown. Here are some pics:

Black Racer

I was really digging the black look...

Grant Park

The weather, at least was beautiful... about 35 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

The 5K portion of the race took off around 20 minutes late and I began to warm up. Feeling some stiffness in my legs and still unsure of my new shoes (that I only had run on once), I ran about a half mile up and down the start line as the runners began to line up. Knowing that I wanted to go slow, I put myself in the 12-15 min/mile start group. We slowly marched to the start line and I put on my ipod to some slower tempo music.

The first 3 miles went by so quickly. This race followed the same path as my half marathon for the first part. Then it wrapped westward towards the United Center where the Blackhawks played. It was certainly fun to run around that area, but miles 4-6 were a complete bore. To be honest, everything was pretty much a blur once I left downtown. I passed the same people over and over again with my intervals, and I just listened to my music at full blast so I couldn’t really hear anyone around me.

The last two miles were the most fun and challenging. My intervals were becoming slower and slower and the pain I had felt over the last month was beginning to act up. Yet, I was so close that it didn’t matter. As we winded our way downtown and on to Michigan Avenue, I began to push myself harder than most of my past races. However, like a good Chicago runner, I knew that I would have to face the worst thing any runner may face at the last mile… Mt. Roosevelt Road. While only a quarter mile long, Mt. Roosevelt Road is known world wide as being a major biiiiitch. I told myself that I should walk up the damn thing. But the other, more stupid side, wanted to keep trucking up it. By the time I got to the top, I was completely out of it. My energy was at a zero. I ended up skipping my last run interval and walked until I saw Brendan at the finish line. I mustered up enough strength to run the last tenth of a mile.

My watch time was 1:56:06. That’s a 12:30 pace. For someone who spent the night making contingency plans on how to exit the race in an emergency… I’ll take it. I also graciously took the chocolate fondue and cup of hot chocolate at the “after party.”

Spent the rest of the day relaxing until dinner came. We went out to the Chicago Diner to celebrate. SO GOOD.

Ok, as for today… Here are my goals:

  • Clean the bedroom and bathroom
  • Dance Dance Party Party
  • Gentle, non-leg strength training
  • Knit until my yarn is gone
So that’s it. One more day to go!



Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon RECAP

15 Aug

So many of you are asking for it, so here it is… my race recap! It’s going to be long and I may or may not ramble. I’m an emotional recapper.

Let’s start on Saturday. SOB and I headed down to McCormick Place for the Health and Fitness Expo. I have mixed feelings about these things. For the most part, I love getting free things (the Qdoba nachos and cheese were divine), but I am usually overloaded with coupons and race pamphlets that get thrown out anyways. So not green. 

But, I did walk away with lots of larabar samples, a Star Trek messenger bag (which went to SOB for putting up with the expo), an awesome Sweaty Band (more on that later), and a 13.1 car magnet. I also bravely changed my estimated end time from a very slow pace to a less, but still horribly slow pace so that I could move up in starting corals. And, I got an XS tshirt. Yes, an XS.

After a pretty sleepless night, my alarm rang at 4am and I hopped in the shower, got in my running gear (Target top, Brooks running shorts, Mizunno Wave 6 shoes, and my sweaty band). After many check and re-checks of my gear, I was out the door at 5am:

A vision of blue...

Clouds were starting to become more and more ominous as we walked from the L stop to the starting line. Weathermen predicted sun, but the weather was more of dark blue, scary shit. It all died down after my porta-potty-pit-stop and some stretching.

Getting nervousssss.

The corals started going just around 6:30 and my coral, #27, moved slowly to the start. My hand started shaking as they called each coral number, and I inched closer to the line. When #26 went, a race organizer started yelling for everyone to go, so I said screw it and began to run.

My garmin (a gps based watch that tells you your time/pace/distance/and more) started fuzzing out as soon as we started the downtown and through the first of many overpasses. Throughout the race, my distance would be about .2 miles ahead of the race markers*. My watch read a pretty fast time for me, so I just thought it was off. I felt that I was going slow and conservative, which was good for maintaining.

*Edit/Addition: There’s been a ton of twitter buzz on this issue with GPS watches saying the course was about .5 miles longer than 13.1. I sincerely felt like the 1 mile marker was off because of the underpass, but I trusted that it was just my GPS. Now, after plugging the map course in on some map applications, I’m still getting 13.4 miles… which would be awesome considering my PRs.*

The race itself was pretty entertaining. Not a ton of chatter between runners, but so many people out and watching. One of my favorites was a random guy (alone) at mile 3 and 4 dressed up like Will Ferrell and banging on a cowbell. The poor guy didn’t even have rhythm… he was just out there banging on a cowbell… in costume.

Of course, this got everyone screaming "More Cowbell"

At every 2 miles, there was a local cover band playing Nirvana, Styx, and Journey.  There were also cheerleaders dressed as KISS members… many who ended up looking like ICP members.

The aid/water/refueling stations were every one and a half miles, which felt pretty good. Even though there wasn’t much cytomax (a gatoraid like drink that is pretty necessary after running over an hour), I felt fueled up and less dehydrated than usual. The wet sponges near the end were also a nice touch, but became a hazard when you were at the back of the path and had to run on piles of them.

The race itself went very quickly. As I said, I felt very conservative until I passed the 5K mark. It was a personal record by about 30 seconds. The hills and bridges helped slow me down near the middle, but when I hit the 10K mark and saw my time, I was floored. It beat my old record by 3 minutes! I started to panic that I was going way too fast and that I would fizzle out. But, doing a body check, everything felt wonderful.

At mile 7, I spotted B in the crowds. I cant describe to you how I felt when I saw him wave at me. Because it was during a walk interval, I stopped, hugged him, and talked about the race for a couple seconds. Spotting him and getting some time to go re-focus certainly helped me pull through the next half.

Miles 8 and 9 flew by. I cant even tell you where we ran. Oh wait, yes I can… here’s a map. All I remember was that the blueberry gu they were passing out tasted pretty darn good (added to my shopping list). The rest of the time, I was in da. zone. My intervals were slamming. My legs felt wonderful. And my heart rate was in the cardio, but not near death, zone. It felt perfect.

Mile 10 was in the dark. Like, literally. Running through McCormick Place’s underpass tunnel was pretty scary. I couldn’t see a thing and I kept imagining tunnel rats or that subway scene from Cloverfield.

... And then she gets eaten or bit or something terrible

At mile 11, it began to rain. There I was, with less than 2 miles left of my first half marathon and it was f-ing raining. I finally removed my sunglasses and picked it up a bit. At one point, while suffering in the rain, I knew that I could walk the last two miles and still finish in the time I wanted, but that wasn’t me. I had the last two miles. I had trained in the rain, and a little drizzle and wind was certainly not going to stop me.

…And that’s when the reality of it all hit me. One year ago, my only form of exercise was occasionally taking the stairs. In October, 2010, I started running again. And now, 10 months later, I was RUNNING A HALF MARATHON AND FEELING DAMN GOOD. This wasn’t my goal race, the Disney Princess Half was, but I settled on it. I built it up in my head. And now, with two miles left to go, I was going to finish it. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming.

A man holding a very large “You Got This”sign brought me to tears as the 12 mile marker passed. 12.5 miles was the furthest I had run up until that point and I was about to go even further. I took my last cup of water and made it to the finish line- all while Mika’s “We are Golden” played on my headphones.

I crossed the line, hands raised in victory, and gladly picked up my medal, a water, a popsicle, a bottle of cytomax, and a waiting SOB. We celebrated with brunch at Tweet, a short nap, and some popcorn.

As for injuries- I felt great after the race. Really, felt wonderful. All I can report are 2 blisters (where I usually get them) and some chaffed arms. This morning, I woke up feeling very stiff and achy. My original plan was to buy myself a professional massage, but I cant afford it right now.

Here are my official results, btw: And yes, I’m slow. Please be nice.

Pace 5 Km 10 Km 10 Mile ChipTime ClockTime
13:04 38:56 1:18:54 2:09:15 02:51:18 03:08:26
OvrPl SexPl DivPl Bib First Name Last Name City State Chip Time
13312 7952 1273 28*** Michelle Ar***** Chicago IL 02:51:18

10K Recap

19 Jul

See these wonderful, delicious, sympathetic things? They were the only thing getting me across the finish line at the Fleet Feet Sports Women’s 10K/5K on Sunday.

There I was, at mile 6, ready to either throw up, cry, pass out, or all three… but the woman next to me (a saint in a red Chicago Marathon shirt) urged me to keep going. “Just think of the popsicles” she said, breathless as I was. “God, I hope they have red!” I replied.

.1 mile left, I spotted SOB waiting for me. He started filming, I started screaming at him to stop. And in about two seconds, I was across that finish line and searching for that illusive red popsicle. No luck, they only had orange and purple. Sucks being a slow runner. No good popsicles left for those slower than a 9 minute mile pace.

It could have been worse… much worse.

Run Hades had basically sucked the life out of me from start to finish. The ground was a sweltering 84 degrees when the 5000 ladies took off from the marina. My first mile was spent thanking all that is holy for giving me the insight to bring my amphipod water bottle along for the ride. It was then accompanied by curses directed at my shin splints. I wouldn’t blame them. My first mile was fast, even for me, causing my calves to basically buckle under me with each step.

“Slow the fuck down,” I probably said out loud (and to the chagrin of the other runners who already thought I was crazy). 5 miles left and I didn’t plan on burning out at mile 2. I was certainly not going to go down because my calves were a little pissed.

I was also not going to fail while trying to pass the herds of ladies walking the 5K, hand in hand. I get it, this is a celebration. You beat cancer, raised some money, got your lady loves involved, etc…. but do you really need to take up a path with all your love? Cant you just walk two-by-two, or a line? It could be a big freakin’ parade. Some of us are not in it to hold hands. We are there to get sweaty, make a PR, and allow ourselves to eat a second serving of popcorn. Next race that has this issue, I swear I’m going to play a game of Red Rover.

 More photoshop skills learned!

At mile 3, I got to witness the craziness of an enraged golfer. To that man, who cussed out a bunch of fine looking women in short shorts and sports bras running past the drive way to the Lincoln Park golf course… well, you deserve no pity. What you said was horrifying, and I chuckled loudly as the cop came and forced you back in to your car before one of the three women chasing you down could kick your sorry, old, white ass. Next time, check the website or the trail. Signs were posted and races happen almost every weekend.

Mile 4, well nothing happened then. Just hot air.

At mile 5, we headed back to the marina. We circled around the soccer fields and past the lake front church. I finally passed a group of girls who were casually chatting the entire time. No one should be able to chit-chat about their kid’s artwork and run a 10K in 90 degree weather. It’s just not fair.

And then mile 6 happened. My angel in a red marathon shirt guided me to that popsicle heaven. I crashed on the lawn, sucking down that orange juicy stick (mmm… dirty). After a good amount of not moving, SOB and I got back on the trail for the 1 mile walk home… in 90 degree temps. I spent the rest of the day happily eating mac and cheese and popcorn. Nothing like post race, non-guilt.

Other highlights of the weekend?:
– Harry Plopper
– Hair cutz. Wish I took a before picture, but my hair was past my shoulder blades and enough to be deemed a mechanical safety issue. So it got the chop. It was a last minute call, one that I put in the hands of a brilliant and awesome stylist. He did great. My hair feels fresh as a daisy and I can actually see my neck now.
– My eating… Cartman style… I’ll get back to you on the nutrition department. I’ve been bad.
– Oh, and hai, SOB’s Brother, SOB’sLBM had his graduation party. That was fun, but SOB’sLBM’s pictures were not flattering. I cannot wait till there comes a day when I do not look at pictures and shudder. A girl can dream.