Chicago Marathon Rewind

36 hours ago, I was just over an hour into marathon #4 that was the Chicago Marathon. Now that the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to digest the weekend, here’s the race that was!

I left for Chicago Friday morning. This month, I could make my own schedule for work, so I decided to to take Friday off. I changed my flight and flew out Friday morning. I landed in Chicago around 10 am and headed out to the race expo at McCormick Place, luggage and all. Once you get to the expo, it’s officially race weekend! I picked up my bib (#13957), and my shirt, I checked in with ACS at the DetermiNation tent. Not hard when you have an ACS arch to look for. They were impressed I came right from the airport! I ended up staying to volunteer at packet pick up for a few hours. At 4:10, I left and was to my friend’s house. The nice thing about having friends in Chicago means I have a couch to sleep on while in town. Later that night, we headed to Lake Forest for a bonfire and some fun.

Woke up and headed back to the expo for some retail therapy. A pair of shoes, a long sleeved shirt, a pint glass, a sweatshirt, a bibfolio to hold my bibs and a few other things. I was a happy camper. Any good runner grabs carbs for lunch, so I headed to The Italian Village. Good food right there! I stopped in Nike after lunch and met the one and only Paula Radcliffe. She was giving a talk about marathon day and what to expect. She reflected on setting the world record at Chicago 10 years ago. Shortly after, she signed my bib for me, a touch of good luck! After stopping at my friend’s apartment, I got my bib on my ACS shirt, pinned on my in memory of and in honor of ribbons. Later that night, I headed to dinner with my friend and his girlfriend. Of course, there was some OSU football watching as well (of all nights for them to have a night game). With all my stuff laid out, I hit the sack around 10pm.

Marathon Morning
Only crazy people run marathons, that’s for sure. I woke up at 4:30 am. I felt like I was on a surgery rotation! I changed into my white base running shirt with my ACS shirt on top and red capris with some black mixed in. After getting my stuff together, I grabbed my luggage and headed to a downtown hotel where family friends were staying. They were kind enough to let me leave my stuff at their place and shower there afterwards. A group of 8 ish of us headed towards Grant Park. Once we got there, the group of 7 went to the CARA meet up while I hustled around to find the ACS tent. I dropped my stuff off around 7 and used the bathroom (no lines!), grabbed an orange and dashed to the start. At 7:30 the gun went off and the Kenyans and Ethiopians took off. About 9 minutes after the gun went off, I crossed the start. It reminds me of the scene of the start of the Marathon in The Spirit of the Marathon. The temperatures were cool, perfect of running at 42*, an indication of good things to come. People were hanging over bridges cheering us on and waiting for us under underpasses. Mile 1 and all cylinders were working well. I found a good pace and went with it.

Come mile 3, I detoured for a quick bathroom break. Oh hydration. The crowds were out in full force and that is always a plus. Come mile 7, I had hit the 10K mark in just under an hour and was looking for my friend N who let me crash at his place, but we missed each other. Running through Old Town, Boystown, Lincolnwood reminds me of my undergrad days. At the halfway point, I was running about 9:57 miles and was at 2:08:12. Less then a mile later a saw my friend K’s husband. He recognized me because of my crazy pants and was impressed how well I was doing. Just after that around mile 14, I saw my boss from undergrad. A quick hug and a ‘go go go’ of encouragement and I was off again. I had been chilly the whole race and after mile 14 I threw on my arm warmers. I then hit the charity cheer section and was greeted by a group of DetermiNation cheerers who cheered loudly for me! Mile 14-16 and I was still under 3 hours. I had the Just keep running montra in my head. Through Little Italy, Chinatown, passed UIC and their marching band. The don’t stop was in full effect. 10 miles left and I was beginning to think if I could PR and by how much.

Mile 18, 19 and 20 came and went and I was in the mindset of just a 10k left. I also realized I was still under 4 hours and by a good amount. I started thinking this was going to a decent PR. However, my hip flexors, quads and feet were aching. I had to walk a few times just to work the issues out. At mile 23, I was at 4 hours and that kept me going because there was going to be a PR.

Mile 24 brought more cheers stations. I saw a DetermiNation coach and then passes Mister DetermiNation himself DPTurtle. 1.2 miles later, we hit one mile to go. The point of where you’re almost done is welcome. After the 800m sign, we turned a corner and had to deal with Mount Roosevelt. After getting through it, I ended up with a bout of dry heaves. After making the last turn, we hit the last straight away and there was the hallelujah, we’re there phase. After 4:32:53, I crossed the finish line. I PRed by TWENTY MINUTES. My goal was for 4:45 and I went well below that. My friend N called me right in the chute. After collecting my medal and some food and headed to the exit.

I headed back to the ACS tent and got a much needed massage. 2 pieces I pizza, a hot dog and cake later, I began hobbling back to the hotel for a shower. Once i got a good pace, I just went with it. A warm shower does wonders, let me tell ya! Before my weekend came to a close, I got lazy and took the bus 3 stops to Nike to get a finisher’s shirt and my medal engraved. It was a good weekend all and all with a wonderful ending and PR!

Here Come’s Chicago and DetermiNation deadlines!

Earlier this month, a story ran about an 8 year old boy from Edwardsville, IL who won $1000 in a scavenger hunt sponsored by a local bank.  Later that day, he called the parents of a 2 year neighbor girl fighting leukemia and asked how much chemo $1000 could buy.  We need more kids and people like 8 year old Wyatt Erber.  The type of people who help people (not just with money) during times of need.  That’s part of the goal of the American Cancer Society and people who run for DetermiNation.  Our goal is to make life a little bit easier for people suffering from cancer.  Whether it include helping with rides to treatment, providing wigs or helping them through the shock of their disease, money raised is going towards a good cause.  I have 15 days to raise $550 and I’m asking for help in my goal to help fight cancer.  Head on over here to my DNation Page to donate to a good cause.  No amount is too small!!!  I promise Chicago Marathon tweets and blog posts, a hug if I see you in Chicago and hand written thank you notes!

Chicago Marathon or Bust…for The American Cancer Society!

In 44 days, the gun goes off for the Chicago and yours truly is making her second appearance!!  I made the decision after a friend of mine dropped the seed in my head (thanks Jay!!) to run for the American Cancer Society. My goal is $950 and I’m currently up to $250. Chugging a long and doing well!!  I’m hear to ask for a little help.  My challenge for the week: donate $10 on my page and forward my blog to 10 of your friends.  In return, I promise hand written thank you’s, regular updates on training and various race discounts as I come up on them!

If everyone who reads my blog donates $10, that would put me past my goal.  $10!  That’s 2-3 days of starbucks, 1 day out to lunch or something of the like.  For every DetermiNation runner who raises $1,000, cancer patients are helped out in a variety of ways:

  • assisting 25 patients to and from treatments
  • 22 wigs, free of charge, to female cancer patients
  • Personalized, cancer specific info to 85 newly diagnosed cancer patients
  • Help medical students provide 3 parties/yr for 20 pediatric patients

I’ve personally come back as a bone marrow match for an individual and am waiting to see if I’ll be the final donor, so as I train and fundraise, I’m trying to control the one thing I can and raise money to put an end to cancer.  I’m running in memory of my grandfather and a family friend who lost their 7 yr old daughter earlier this week.  Know someone who you’d like me to run for?  Let me know!!!  Here’s to beating cancer, because let’s face it. Cancer Sucks!

It’s Marathon Time, DNation Style!

I seem to have forgotten the 95 degree temperatures that met me at the finish of the Chicago Marathon in 2010.  October in Chicago is pretty unpredictable- in 2006, we had snow October 12, 2006 (ish) and in October, 2007, we hit the 90s and the marathon was stopped around 1130 AM because of the heat.  Thus, for whatever reason (I just want the weather to cooperate with me, it’s a flat course and Chicago is my second home), I’m coming back!!  Chicago Marathon, I’m preparing to tear you apart on October 7.  You’ve been warned!  I’ve seen part of your course as of last weekend.  This year, I’m doing it with a chip on my shoulder, because, let’s face it, I have some beef with the 95 degree finishing heat from 2010.

This year, I’m running for the American Cancer Society.  It’s one of the larger teams that runs the marathon, with the goal of raising money for cancer research and to put an end to cancer.  As they say, they want more birthdays and quite frankly, I agree.  How did running for ACS and team DetermiNation?  I blame my friend Jay.  I met Jay when I ran Chicago back in 2010.  At the time, he was working for Ryan and Sara Hall’s Step Foundation.  Since then, he’s taken a job with ACS and begged me to join the team.  What can I say, for Jay yes, yes I will.

This year, however, will be special.  Yes, running the marathon in general gives you a small piece of immortality as Katherine Switzer puts it.  However, at the end of June I received an email saying that I was a potential match as a bone marrow donor for an individual needing a transplant.  So, while training, I’m going through blood work and waiting to see if I’m helping someone out with a bone marrow transplant.  Who woulda thunk…helping someone with cancer while running for ACS.  Want to read more of my story?  Head over to my DetermiNation page and help me out.  I’m trying to raise $1000 for ACS and again am not asking for any physical birthday presents.  Peace out and help out a runner!!

NYC Marathon Saturday in Pictures

The Japanese Power Sushi Ranger Team


Expo Welcome


With Hal Higdon


With Desiree Davilia


26.2 miles. Or DAYS!

On Oct. 9, 2011, Chicago hosted the Chicago Marathon. Now that it’s October 10th, it’s officially OK to say: 26 DAYS UNTIL THE NYC MARATHON! 26 days until I run through the 5 boroughs of NYC for the time of my life. At least for this year.  How official is it, you ask?

  1. I’m $821 away from my $2500 goal for Jack’s Fund to raise money for Melanoma Research.  There’s 3 weeks left to donate!
  2. I received my BIB NUMBER! 58481 incase you’re wondering
  3. The Race Week Handbook.  Want to know what I’ll be doing? Or where I’ll be running? Or marathon rules? Take a peak.
  4. I’m debating what to get from Tiffany’s. Yes, Tiffany’s. This coming from the person who wears very little jewelry. This is where I need help. What should I get? They do things specific to the NYC Marathon

58481 what?

In the world of running, you know things are official when you get your bib number and your corral number.  Tuesday (yes, 7 weeks beforehand), the NYC Marathon uploaded confirmation information for runners.  Who is bib #58481?  This girl right here!!  For me, I’m in corral 58 with a 10:40 AM start time.  Because the NYC is so large, they have 60 corrals set up in 3 waves of start times (9:40 AM, 10:10 AM and 10:40 AM).  I’m semi regretting my 6:10 AM Staten Island Ferry to the start but we will see in due time if I can change that.

This past weekend, I was in Chicago for the Chicago Half Marathon and was able to meet some runners who will be running the NYC Marathon for Jack’s Fund.  So far, I’ve raised $810 through my donation page and have an additional $410 in the bank, putting me about halfway to my $2500 goal for the marathon.  YAY!!!  If you’ve donated, THANK YOU!!  I really appreciate it as does Jack’s Fund.  If not, you still have time!  No donation is too small as all will be going to a good cause and will be appreciated by me and my fellow runners and Jack’s Fund teammates.  As of now, I’ll just keep running, just keep running (remember Dori- Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming?). And Fundraising!

Chicago Half Marathon for 9/11

Earlier this week, I made the decision to take Amtrak out to Chicago for the weekend in order to run the Chicago Half Marathon.  This year, it happened to fall on 9/11/11- the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  Part of the decision was that Philly was flooding for the second time in 3 weeks and there was no way I was going to attempt 17-18 miles on a treadmill, even in 2 runs.  The Schulykill path is where I do most of my longer runs since it’s an 8.5 mile loop, but it ended up being closed off Wednesday with it reopening Friday at the earliest.  Anyways, I arrived after taking the Limited Capitol train to Chicago from DC on Friday morning and was able to drop my bags off at my 50% off hotel in the loop.  I headed over to an LA Fitness I found 2 blocks from my hotel (score!) to get a swim in since sitting for 17 hrs on a train isn’t the most exciting thing to do.  Afterwards, I headed out to Navy Pier to pick up my race stuff.  Score the Long Sleeve Tech shirt (see Friday’s post)!  However, wasn’t a fan of the packet pick up.  After almost a dozen half marathons, 2 marathons and some 10 Mile races, this is the first where if someone else was picking up your bib, they had to bring in a NOTARIZED Form saying it was alright for them to pick up your stuff.  I kid you not!  Want proof? Head over here.  Couldn’t you see this being a problem for people coming out of the country or who work long hours? I mean really.  The fact it was at Navy Pier was also an issue- it’s not necessarily the easiest place to get to, but I digress.  When I got there, the people handing out bibs looked like a bunch of High School students who had no idea what they were doing.  The guy in front of me nearly got a 5K shirt and I heard there were numerous problems with the volunteers giving runners other peoples’ bibs.  Giving the wrong bib to the wrong runner?  Part of it was the runner’s fault for not noticing this until they got home, but still.

While I was there, I signed up to take the shuttles they had from Millennium Park to Jackson Park just because they went straight there.  It seemed all find and dandy since they had multiple shuttles leaving at multiple times- until we got an email Saturday saying that most if not all shuttles would leave at 530 AM only. Lack of organization there.  Come race day, I was able to hop the shuttle (thank goodness I was only 2 blocks away) and arrived around 6:15-6:20.  I normally never check anything since I’ve learned to run with little or I’m in Philly or a surrounding area with my car, however, I brought a change of clothes since I had another 4-5 miles to run after the race.  I checked my bag and jumped into the porta potty line like any good runner should. I headed over to the corrals while the national anthem was playing and at 7 AM, we were off.  The first few miles were led by NYFD Engine 4 which was at Ground 0 on 9/11 and has since had some restoration work done to it (see yesterday’s post for pictures!).  During the first mile, there were bagpipers playing Amazing Grace which I thought was a nice touch.

The race overall was a rough one for me.  My legs were tired and I had to work out a sore calf muscle in my right leg.  I also felt sick the entire race because I took some advil which didn’t feel like it went down the entire way.  I got some motivation out of some signs on the course however.  Some of the better ones were:

  1. Hurry! There are Zombies behind you!
  2. Move your @$$ honey! (I apologize for anyone who doesn’t swear!)
  3. Running means making sacrifices. I decided to drink after the race instead of before the race.

The last few miles, the medics were getting busy as it started to get warmer out.  Some people were passing out on course or at the finish.  I appreciated the last mile when they were saying how much further you had left!  I some how made it across the finish and within seconds was dry heaving before getting sick on the sideline.  That is honestly a race first for me, but I had been trying to get whatever was stuck in my throat up the entire race.  Someone brought me water but I ended up fine in a minute or two.

After working my way through the finish area, I got some food, water and awesome medal, I headed over to pick up my bag.  Utter 1/2 Marathon Fail.  It took a good 20 minutes of me waiting in line to get it.  There seemed to be no system of how it was organized or who was looking for what.  After I finally got my stuff, I headed over to the Jack’s Fund tent, the charity I’m running for during the NYC Marathon, since they had a small group of 1/2 marathon runners.  I got some free hugs and met some of the other runners doing NYC in November and had the opportunity to talk with some of the organizers on why I chose Jack’s Fund and how I found them.  I got some free Pizza and headed towards the NYPD Engine 4 truck to get a few pictures and hopped the shuttle back to downtown and finish off my last 4 miles.   I have mixed feelings about this race.  Not quite sure if I’ll be back for it, but if anything, it was a good way to remember 9/11/01 and I got a decent long run out of it.  It also didn’t rain which was a change from Philadelphia.  Take it as you will, but this is how I spent remembering 9/11/01

Running for Charity- The Nun Run (literally!)

As I’ve written before, I’ve run the 2010 Chicago Marathon for Charity (The Steps Foundation) and am currently training for the NYC Marathon for which I’m running for Jack’s Fund.  Currently, I have $750 in online donations with another $386 in the bank collecting interest (I’ve donated some of my saved money since I last posted about Jack’s Fund!).  To this, I have to say THANK YOU and ask that you keep me in your prayers and pass along my story of running for melanoma research and education to your friends.  If you haven’t donated yet, that’s OK! You still have time and if you donate, you get and hand written thank you note AND you don’t have to get me a birthday present!!!  I also figured I would write of a friend of mine.

Sr Alicia Torres

During my time at Loyola University Chicago, I became friends with Alicia Torres, LUC Class of 2007.  My freshman year, she lived on my floor in Simpson Hall as an over night host for prospective students.  On occasion, when we both had students staying with us and would do things as a group.  We stayed in contact through out undergrad and after she graduate, she went on to work in the Diocese of Chicago.  Over the course of a good 1 yr plus, she ran the Chicago Marathon in order to help pay off her student loans so she could enter the convent.  Last year, she ran Chicago on 10/10/10, shortly before which she had completely paid off student loans and entered the convent at Our Mission of Angels of Chicago (which is a Franciscan community).  She blogged about her experience and titled it The Nun Run.  This year, Alicia is again running the Chicago Marathon, while wearing her habit mind you, in order to raise money to rebuild her church, Our Lady of Angels.  Since she is allowed only limited communication (as are most who are undergoing studies to be a religious sister), communication is few and far between.  As of late July, the Church was $50,000 away from being able to complete Phase 1 of their remodel and $120,000 total from being able to complete their entire project.  Their goal is to be able to have full services by December.

I had the chance to stay at the Mission last August when I ran the Chicago Half Marathon in preparation for the Chicago Marathon and know that Father Bob (their priest) as well as the postulant and those in training for the religious life at Our Lady of Angels could use a hand with their project.  Their Charity team will take on Chicago on October 9,2011 and they have some fundraising events set up for the upcoming months.  For information on how to donate, head over here (The Nun Run site) and take a look at Our Lady of Angels to learn about their mission and projects.

On behalf of me (running for Jack’s Fund) and Alicia/ Our Lady of Angels, we appreciate any support you can give us, no matter how big or small!

7 Mile at 7 PM (Allentown, PA) Race Review

It’s been awhile (alright, a few weeks) since I last did a race.  I found a 7 mile race in Allentown, PA (an hour or so from Philadelphia) that was an evening race rightfully called the 7 Mile at 7PM.  Us runners, we sure know how to have a fun Saturday night!!  I went up early before the race and went to 4:15 mass at the Cathedral by Lehigh Valley 17th St hospital and then headed over to the Park off Jefferson St where the race was being held.  Little difficult to find check in and the start, but there were arrows on the ground which I figured would lead me in the right direction.  I was able to pick up my shirt and bib, but still had about 90 minutes before the race.  I headed to get gas for my car as I was just about out and took a look at the course map which I brought along.  I got to take my Jack’s Fund shirt out for a run.  Also this week, I’m close to $700 in online donations for Jack’s Fund (including $220 I put in myself) with another $338 in the bank so over $1000 total.

I was in one of those it’s a good thing I could live out of my car moods as I brought some water and powerade with me like I always do only to find out that the race only had 1 water stop on the course and that was at the half way point (1 water stop for 7 miles, really?).  Around 650, runners were directed to the start for instructions.  There was maybe 100 people at the race, so it wasn’t that big.  One of the volunteers was giving a course description and completely lost me and the people standing next to me.  We agreed since we weren’t Kenyans or Ethiopians or in contention for even winning the race, we really didn’t care.  As someone else put it, just follow the person in front of you.

We were off at 705 and began our gravel pounding run.  Who knew about a mile in there would be winding hills with a steep incline like no other.  My legs were still tired from the 15 miles I put in Thursday countered with the fact it was a 7 pm race.  I knew I probably wasn’t going to be anywhere near the front of the pack so not finishing last was the goal.  It was still really humid and by 3.5 miles in, I had sweated through everything and was dripping with sweat.  I was so glad to see water station because I knew I was half way through (no mile markers makes things difficult).  The second half of the race, it started getting dark.  It was kind of uncomfortable because it wasn’t lit and in the back of your mind, you’re thinking is someone going to jump out of somewhere.  I was able to pass a few people along the way and the last 1/2 mile or so, I picked off another 2 people (yay me!).  Unofficially, I finished 7 miles in 1:12:30.  There were photographers at the end taking pictures as we finished and boy were the flashes bright!  Even better was that there was ice cold water and hamburgers and hot dogs.

Good race, don’t know if I’m willing to drive the 2 hr round trip to do it again.  I would suggest moving it up a week or 2 or starting it 1/2 an hour earlier just to deal with the darkness.  It was good that there was food at the end.  If your ever looking for a 7 miler, you may consider this one!

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