Happy Holidays!

I know I am a few days late, but hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Mine was fairly low key this year,but I enjoyed it. I ended the day with a lovely 3 mile run. Loving the milder winter we are having here this year in Chicago. Hope we can make it through the next few months with the same type of weather.

I got a few running related gifts for Christmas. On Christmas Eve my brother surprised me with the book I forgot I wanted…

book

I love reading The Oatmeal online and this book is perfect!

My mom got me an ornament and also a Chicago Marathon running charms. I’ve never been big into the running charms,but like this one to remember my first marathon.

shoecharmornament

Christmas Eve I went out to a nice dinner with my family.  I love to get all dressed up,even if my curly hair lasts a minimal amount of time. 😉

curlyhairMy running really slacked last week. I did my 3 miler on Christmas Day and was suppose to do 12 today. My 12 turned into 6. Lately any mileage over 6 has led me to some knee/it band pain.  It’s really frustrating me. I figured I shouldn’t push it and will get one 12 miler in before my next half next month.

Anyone have any big plans for New Years Eve? I’m usually a pretty low key New Years person myself. I’ll enjoy the next day off work! =)

Mill Race Half Marathon Review – Columbus,Indiana

Last year after doing my first half marathon,Disney Princess Half, without any training due to injury, I was searching to run my first well trained race. A friend of mine that lives in Columbus,Indiana told me that her town was having an inaugural marathon,half marathon,and 5K weekend. After reading up that it would be a fast,flat course,in the cool Indiana fall weather,I was sold.  I had such a great race last year that I decided to do this one again.

Columbus is only a little over 4 hours away from me. I left Illinois a bit before noon on Friday hoping to get in,pick up my packet,have some dinner,and relax.

I cruised through IL, over the Indiana boarder… ( No driving and picture taking,I was passenger to my fabulous driver named mom who was also running) 🙂

indianaAnd BAM! Huge backup on, I-65. There was construction and a major accident. Didn’t end up getting into Columbus till after 6pm. It took over 6 hours! Crazy.

Checked into my hotel and headed to the Commons in downtown Columbus. This town is known for its architecture. If you are ever driving through the area,there are definitely some sights to see here.

columbus

Packet pick up was a breeze. I walked up,showed my ID,and was given my stuff. There was a small expo,which included many local businesses,a few other booths with sign ups for other Indiana races,and a few booths selling clothes,fuel,etc. For a small race it was nice.

millraceexpoRace swag was a long sleeve tech shirt that is sadly way too big for me,and a drawstring bag.

After the expo I grabbed my unhealthy race dinner of fettuccine Alfredo and a breadstick from Fazoli’s. I know,horrible,but its something that sticks with me and I don’t have issues the next morning. Then it was back to the hotel to lay everything out and try and get some sleep.

Race Morning

I always have a fear of oversleeping for races despite setting my alarm on my phone along with getting a wake-up call. I think I woke up 3 times before all the alarms went off and it was really time to get up.

I heated up some coffee I got the night before at Starbucks and toasted my bagel in the lobby breakfast area. Went back to my room to eat while I got dressed,stretched,and rolled on my foam roller.

Getting to the race area was a breeze,not even 10 minutes. Parking passes were distributed at the packet pick up,so everyone had a place to park in lots or parking garages near the start.

The race started at 7:30am. Last year it didn’t start till 8,and the sun was already up. They also added corrals according to your estimated finish time. I loved this,seemed to really alleviate the crowding issues that they had last year. I was placed in corral B of A-E. I was going to do a run/walk of 1:45/:30,so I started in the back of the corral,even though I run my first mile straight through. I didn’t want to go all out on this race, with my marathon soon approaching,but I really thought I had it in me to maybe,just maybe hit an under 2 hour half marathon.

The National Anthem was sung,and at 7:30 corral A was off. There was about a 30 second delay between A and B corrals,so not soon after I also was across the starting line. The weather was feeling great and before I knew it I hit mile marker 1. I turned my gymboss on and was ready to get into a groove with my intervals to see what kind of times I could hit.

About a half mile later, I turned a corner going through Mill Race Park area and see all these people cutting through the grass. I look further ahead and oh wow,whats that in the course path up ahead?  A TRAIN!!!! At that time it was stopped, and runners were climbing over, under, and running around it up a gravel hill, to get back on course,all while getting yelled at.  So, I did what I’m sure was the wrong thing to do..followed a big group to the front,and ran around the stopped train.

My Garmin beeped soon after to signal mile 2,and my only thought was,I just lost all chances of a PR,due to this darn train obstacle. Mile 2 was a 9:34. I kept on running,but was a bit down and wished we were further into the race.

Not long after,my Garmin beeped for mile 3, 8:49. I was shocked. I rarely pull off miles in the 8’s when I do intervals. I didn’t want to get too wrapped up into my time,but thought I was possibly making up time.

The course brought us through neighborhoods, and past some of the architecture sites of downtown. The course continued on into more of the outskirts of town before winding up back to the center of Columbus. As the miles passed,and my Garmin continued to beep,I continuously was hitting just under 9 minute miles. Around the half way point,I took my Hammer Gel apples and cinnamon, and was feeling great. I was back on pace,and if I could hold it, I could get my under 2 hour half. I remember while winding through a neighborhood headed back into town,at mile 10 checkpoint, a police officer yelled out, “one hour 28 minutes in.” I knew that was clock time,so I was under that. I kept telling myself,keep this pace for a 5K,you can do that in under 30 minutes.

And, keep the pace was exactly what I did. I turned the final corner,and saw the finish line,of which seemed like a mile away,and sprinted as fast as my legs would let me with a huge smile on my face.  😀  There is something about crossing a finish line,especially knowing you have a PR,that is a major sense of accomplishment.

My text messages beeped,since I was getting updates on my phone,and said 1:55:00 was my unofficial time! (this also turned out to be my official time)  I was ecstatic! Way under my under 2 hours that I was hoping for.

After crossing the finish,I was given my medal. For some reason they chose to use the exact same ones as last year,except changing the lanyard.  The engine represents Cummins engine,which was the main sponsor and the headquarters are in Columbus.

millracemedal

I was given a cup of powerade, bottle of water, and they had a table of snacks that I could pick whatever I wanted from. I ended up taking one from every pile since I had no idea what I would be in the mood for later.

water bottle and sunglasses from QMIX crew

water bottle and sunglasses from QMIX crew

Not long after,my mom finished her 7th half marathon!

millracemommeI also finally qualified for Half Fanatics at this race!

Back to the hotel we went,showered,and checked out. We headed back downtown to the cutest ice cream parlor restaurant, Zaharakos.

millracezahkaros

Grilled cheese avocado sandwich and a brownie sundae. Delish!

Since this race is sponsored by Cummins, something very different at this race is that they give away a Cummins engine powered Dodge Ram truck. Anyone that finishes the marathon or half marathon in the allotted amount of time gets their name entered in this drawing. My mom and I waited till the drawing at 5:30pm. Unfortunately,this year wasn’t our lucky year to win. Next year! 😉

I would recommenced this race to anyone that enjoys smaller races, also anyone looking to get a PR on a fast and flat course. Hopefully no train next year. 😉

Marathon Training Week 17 & a new half PR!

This week in training started off with my legs feeling super fatigued from the 23 miler on Saturday. I struggled a lot through Tuesday and Wednesday. Nevertheless,Saturday morning my half marathon rolled around,and I PR’ed!  At the beginning of the year I laid out a few goals for myself and one was to hit an under 2 hour half marathon. At that time, I was only at a 2:13. This year,race by race I seemed to shave time off of this.  Saturday, I not only made this goal,I ended up with a 1:55:00!!  Super excited to see training paying off!  Hopefully my marathon will result in a great race as well!

Monday: Rest Day.

Tuesday: 5 miles. Seemed super difficult.

Wednesday: 8 miles. Today was one of my first days I wondered how I ever ran 23 miles. 8 miles seemed like a super long time today.

Thursday: 3 miles. Legs finally were starting to feel back to normal

Friday: Rest Day.

Saturday: Mill Race Half Marathon in Columbus,IN 13.1 miles never felt so good!

millrace131

Review of the Mill Race Half coming on the blog later this week. If anyone has seen videos of a train blocking runners course,yep this was the race. 😉

Also,reminder I have a giveaway going on to win a Spartan Race Entry! Ends on Sunday! Enter here!

Magnificent Mile Women’s Chicago Half Marathon

I signed up for this race at the end of May when I saw a coupon code and the price was increasing the following day. I debated a lot since August can be really hot in Chicago,and anyone that knows me knows,I am not a big fan of hot and humid weather. In the end I decided to just use it as a training run that I’d get a medal for doing. 😉  What sold me was the course. A lot of races in the city run on the Lakefront path,which means it’s also an open course. This course was going to be almost all on the the city streets. I figured this would be perfect for getting a feel of running Chicago before the marathon.

The Bad:

I need to get this part out of the way at the beginning so I don’t dwell on it during the rest of the recap. A few days prior to the race,the old race course was taken down from the website,and later replaced with a new one. The new course was going to be running on the streets, Mag Mile being one of them, for about 3 miles,then move onto the Lakefront path going south,out and back,for the remaining 10 miles. To say I wasn’t very pleased with this, would be an understatement. Watching the weather and imagining running on a path with zero shade wasn’t looking very enjoyable.

Fitness Meets Fashion Market and Packet Pick-Up:

There was only one location to pick up your packet and it was at the Fleet Feet location in the South Loop. You also could pick up your bib the morning on the race. I would much rather have my bib in hand since you never know what comes up race morning. I drove downtown with my mom,who was also going to be running the race,on Saturday morning. The location was easy to find and the free parking was nice. Bib pickup was very easy,in and out. They also had tank top exchange. Unfortunately,the tank that was initially advertised was changed to a different lower quality one.

Fitness Meets Fashion Market and Packet Pick-Up

Fitness Meets Fashion Market and Packet Pick-Up

There was a Luna tent setup outside with samples of Luna Bars on one side,and samples of shot blocks on the other. There was a Fellow Flowers tent with some clearance tops,and a few other tents set up selling some running clothes. Nothing stuck out and interested me,so I ended up leaving with just my packet.

Race Day:

I woke up at 3:30am to start my pre race routine. Ate my bagel with peanut butter,had some coffee,got dressed,braided my hair, and did some stretching. We were out the door and headed downtown around 4:45pm.  Used Parkwhiz for parking,but with all the street closures,drove around for 30 minutes,asked 3 police officers,and still never found the parking garage. After starting to panic, since time was ticking,my mom and I just parked at the nearest garage and walked over. I only had about 15 minutes before the start,and this being an almost all women’s race,the porta potta lines were moving reallllly slow. Finally got through and ran up to A corral, unfortunately myself along with many others were shut out. The National Anthem was sung and the race started a few minutes after 7. Didn’t get to start with A corral,but got into B.

magstart

As soon as I started running, I knew this race wasn’t going to be great. My calves were cramping up on me,my legs felt heavy, and it was already too humid outside.  When I decided to run a marathon,I started training with the Galloway run-walk method. I have done straight running half marathons before,but currently this is the method I use on long runs. I ran my first mile straight through to get out of the crowding,which really wasn’t too bad,and then started my intervals. I did a 1:30/:30 on my past 2 halves,so I used that today. The first 3 miles seemed to go by fairly quickly,and we were at the 5K/half split before we knew it.  I admit at that point taking the 5K route looked pretty good,but I went on with the other half marathoners. 🙂

As soon was we hit the Lakefront path,I felt the sun just start beating down,and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for it to let up. The volunteers at the aid/water stations were awesome at keeping the water moving and encouraging the runners. The few misting fans,along with the guy holding the water mister on the runners was an excellent touch. I took my Salted Caramel around mile 5 and was still feeling okay, my legs seemed to get over the fact that they were running today whether they liked it or not! Around the 10K mark,I heard over the loud speaker that course conditions changed to Moderate level. I knew I needed slow down and take it easier. Also around this point I started feeling super nauseous. I brought my own water,but decided to take some of the Gatorade they had at the aid stations. Started feeling a bit better,and finally made it to the turned around point. The only plus to an out and back is having fellow runners on the other side of your course. We were all in this together! Few more miles in and I felt super nauseous again. Drank one more small cup of the Gatorade,and kept counting down the miles,which seemed like they were passing super slow. I hit the long home stretch and sprinted as fast as my legs would move.

Even though I wore my Garmin,I was still super shocked given the conditions,I only finished one minute off my PR! Official time: 2:02:40

Splits:

magmilesplitsRight after the finish line,the first thing I was handed was some super cold wet washcloths. These felt like heaven with how hot it was! Food selection was an apple, 2 Luna bars, 2 biscotti bars,and a frozen chocolate covered banana. I wasn’t really into any of these,and the chocolate was melted on everything so I only ate the chocolate covered banana. They also had bottles of Gatorade and water. Then, I got my awesome medal!

magmilemedal

Great bling!

 

 

 

 

I rested for a bit,then went towards the finish line to catch a picture of my awesome mom finishing her 6th half marathon.

momfinish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

momjenmagmileOverall,this was not a great race. The weather,which we don’t have control over,and the course played a big part in that. Sometime after I finished,the course was raised from moderate to red. The race turned out more organized than I was expecting given the last minute changes,and the all the volunteers I encountered on the course were wonderful,a HUGE thank you to all of them!

magmilefountain

Did you run the Magnificent Mile Half Marathon? How was your experience?

Marathon Training: Week 12

Another week of Chicago marathon training is over! Weather has definitely changed in the past 2 weeks,and not in my favor. Hot,humid, and sunny.  Hoping now that September,and pumpkin spice lattes 😉 are here,cool temperatures will follow!

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 4 miles.It was humid,but got it done.

Wednesday: 8 miles. Got a late start and it was dark when I was finishing. Definitely need a plan for my 9 and 10 milers during the week.

Gorgeous sunset picture at the end of my 8 miles

Gorgeous sunset picture at the end of my 8 miles

Thursday: 5 miles Rainy,weather outside so did my speed work on the indoor track to add up to 5 miles.

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Did my 20 miler last week since I had a half planned on Sunday. Did cross training,rest,and stretching.

Sunday: Ran the Magnificent Mile 1/2 Marathon. It was HOT,HUMID,and realllly sunny. I’ll write up a review later this week. Flag alert was moderate level for most of the race,after I was finished it went up to red. I still managed to pull off a 2:02 finish somehow. Still hate running in the warmer weather. 😉

Sweaty 13.1 miles!

Sweaty 13.1 miles!

6 weeks to go,and hoping to finish this training up injury free,and end with a successful marathon!