Race Review: the Ottawa Marathon, 5K and 2K

This time last we, I was in Ottawa falling asleep after finishing marathon 11. Spring Marathons are always difficult when you live somewhere where you snow and ice all winter. I spent most of February running inside due to Spokane weather if that says anything. After working a 10 day stretch, I flew out to Ottawa the Thursday before race day by going through Salt Lake City and Toronto. I ended up getting to the hotel around 830 after getting through the airport (and finding myself some Tim Horton’s).

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Reasons to love Canada 🤗🤗

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On Friday, I walked over to the Expo that was at the Shaw Center in downtown Ottawa. The poor girl at bib pick up was running around getting my 3 different bibs, since I was running the 2K, 5K and Marathon. 3 shirts (2 of which are the same), 3 bibs, but not a whole lot of swag in the swag bag. I went wandering through the expo and ended up with a fun sweatshirt that was 25% off (and cheaper in USD when compared to CAD). Decent amount of vendors, but a lot of stuff that seems the same when compared to other expos. I spent the rest of Friday walking around Ottawa, exploring the grounds of Parliament and finding some good food.

Saturday was a double race day. If you were being incredibly ambitious, you could sign up for the lumberjack challenge, which involved doing the 2K, 5K and 10K on Saturday plus the Marathon on Sunday. I wasn’t feeling that crazy, so I did everything but the 10K. The 2K took all of 10 minutes and was an easy jaunt around town. I spent it trying to not trip over little kids weaving in and out of people, and it was actually semi obnoxious. After finishing and dashing to bag check to switch out bibs, I headed over to the 5k start, that was a little more organized. Having corrals that were sent off every few minutes helped thin things out. Plenty to see on the 5K including Parliament, downtown Ottawa and the river. Water stops about half way through, but I feel like I had an additional stop due to the 10K being part of the course. After you finished your race, you went through the finisher chute and got fluids, medals and then directed to food, where they handed you a bag with bagels, a banana and some chips

Sunday was the main event. I was up bright and early and out the door around 615/630 to get to the marathon. It was a 7 AM start, 2 hours ahead of the half marathon. The start was in the same location as Saturday’s events downtown and when I got to the start, the energy was buzzing and exciting. Corrals were set up by color and time to keep things smooth. Guns went off at 7 AM, after the Canadian National Anthem. The first few miles of any distance race, I usually get a feel for how I’m feeling and what I want to do. I ended up falling in with the 4 hr 30 min pace group with the goal of staying with them as long as I could and then aiming to beat my NYC Marathon from last year.

The course itself is a mix of city and scenic, relatively flat, though there are some hills. The first 5K was along the Rideau Canal before we weaved through town and towards the Ottawa River. We kept on pushing though and crossed over into Gatiineau for 10K. Along the way, we passed the Canadian War Museum and the National Gallery. It was about here ( just over 14 miles in), that I fell off the 4 hr 30 min pace group and slowed down some. I made the mistake of not having a throw away shirt and then over dressing, so I spent time losing a long sleeved shirt that I ended up tossing because I didn’t want to carry it for the next 11 miles. Definitely sad about that one because it was one of my good shirts. We followed the Ottawa River some more before hitting some more scenic parts of the race, in addition to passing Riddau Hall and 24 Sussex. The last 10k was spent coming back into town and covering some ground we had already seen. The last 3-5K we joined up with the Half Marathon, as we shared part of the course. Final course time was 4:49:04 (approximately)!

On course, water stops seemed to be every 3-4K. It got warm quick, and I wish we had stops every 2K or so to accommodate. Aid stations had water and Nuun, with some that had gels. I’m part of the gatorade/powerade fan club as Nuun doesn’t sit well with my stomach. I was wishing they’d at least alternate to help us out a little bit. One of the big areas to look at is the post race area. We were met by water and medals and then had a good 1/4 mile minimum walk to the runners area. Only downside is that they were essentially handing out half of a bagel and a bag of chips because so much food was out. The only beverage available in the post race area was beer, which doesn’t go well with me. I wish there was more bottled water and something like chocolate milk for runners because I was dying. After you exited, there were food trucks available, but I feel like there should have been more available for runners that you didn’t have to pay for.

Overall, a fun race and definitely one to consider. Fun bibs, fun crowds and good medals!

The New York City Marathon: A Way Too Late Race Review

The New York Marathon. It’s been 5 weeks since marathon #10 and one that I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about for awhile. I even did the Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K the day before as a shake out run.

I ended up leaving for NYC a day earlier than expected. Last minute, someone from work needed a day covered the Tuesday after the race, so she took a shift for me that allowed me to leave on the Thursday prior to race day. I got into NYC a little after 7 pm and took a Lyft from JFK airport to the hotel. After checking in, I found a little Italian Place for dinner close to the hotel. I walked around Times Square some and then called it a night. Friday, I woke up and headed out for a run in Central Park, and everyone was out stretching out their legs. It’s always fun to see the energy to a bigger marathon, especially leading up to it. After a quick shower, I headed over to an ASICS pop up shop off 28th (ish) street and found some pretty good deals. I checked out of hotel #1 (I had to book a one night last minute hotel with the leaving earlier than expected thing) and switched hotels before heading down to Penn Station and finding lunch in the area.

Around 1 or so,I headed over to the expo. I met up with quite a few of my Bibrave Pro friends and we walked around for awhile and I tried to save my bank account as much as possible. Trust me, I really don’t need another Garmin at the moment! I took the rest of Friday to walk around a little bit and just relax.

Saturday, I was up early and over by the UN for the Abbot Dash to the Finish 5K. I’m all about getting in as many races as possible over a weekend, let’s be real. Afterwards, I got a quick shower and before meeting up with the Team Animal League runners at our pre race brunch. Pretty sure we’re the only ones who had puppies at our brunch (for what it’s worth, their names were Salt and Pepper). Post lunch, I took a load off and watched some college football and found a Saturday night church service to go to over in the Broadway district. After finding dinner, I headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Sunday. I always appreciate when we fall back an hour on a race weekend, because that means I get an additional hour of sleep. I woke up ridiculously early and headed over to the NY Library to pick up the buses to Ft Wadsworth on Staten Island. We got there just before 730 which meant I had about 3 hours of time to kill before I had to care about getting into my corral. I wondered the runner’s area, went to the bathroom about 5 times (oh hydration), found some bagels and therapy dogs and made sure everything was charged. When it finally got time to line up, we made are way into the corrals where there’s no turning back. I ran into my friend Andy (fellow Bibrave Pro) in the corrals and we chatted while waiting to get to the start. I forgot about the hike to the start from where we were at (I got to run on top of the Verizzano Bridge this year, unlike 2011 where I was on the bottom!). Once we were finally off and running, the real work began.

The first 2 miles are on the Bridge and I wish I could have gotten pictures of it, but I also didn’t want to get run over. The first mile was uphill, the second down hill. Once we got off the bridge, we spent a good 10 miles in Brooklyn. The quite quickly turned into the start of a party and everyone was excited. 3 miles in, the corral from under the Verizzano Bridge finally met up with us and some people were confused as to who they were. I enjoyed the flatness, that’s for sure. I lost a little bit of time because of a bathroom break, but whatever works. We made our way into Queens and we weren’t there for long. I was not excited about the Queensboro Bridge though. Mentally up until mile 15 I was doing pretty well, but the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan took a lot out of my legs and I felt it the last 10 miles. Coming off the bridge and onto First Ave, it was fun to be back around a good fan support. We headed towards the Bronx and joined in on a few street parties to boot. We didn’t spend much time in the Bronx and when we were coming over the last bridge back into Manhattan, the best sign I saw was “last damn bridge” and it was the best sight I’d ever seen. We chugged along into Central Park, and as my mom put it, I was probably really glad to see it. Yup, I really was. You forget how hilly Central Park is until your legs are really tired after 23 miles or so. By that point, you’re just trying to finish. Once you get to 6th Ave, you get diverted out to road for a little bit until you hit Columbus Circle and sent back into Central Park for the last .3-.4 miles.

I ended up finishing 30 seconds (ish) faster than my time in 2011, which I’ll take. It was light out and I was still standing which is all I really wanted. I forgot how long it takes to get out of Central Park post race though. I didn’t check a bag and went with the Pancho option instead, but I felt like we walked a good .5 mile at least just to get out. I appreciated that they just handed you a bag that had food and fluids in it, but the finish is still fairly congested (beware). The finish is at 67th and the first exit for the poncho group was at 77th. After showing them my bib with the P on it and my wrist brand that said give the poncho (that I had to tape on because it was flimsy), I finally started getting somewhat warm (yes the ponchos are fleece lined and really nice). We had to walk another .5 mile just to fully get out of the finish area. I tried to get a pedecab back to the hotel, but they were grossly overpriced so once it was all said and done, I’m pretty sure I walked another 1.5 miles post race. At least it kept my legs loose.

Overall, I love the NYC Marathon, but I’d be ok if this was it. It’s a fun race, but it’s also pretty crowded in terms of the sheer amount of people running it (52,700 or so this year alone). There were also times where the crowd (I loved them) was getting so close to us on the course it made it difficult to get through. It’s a fun and exciting race, just be ready for a little bit of a long day!

Bibrave Race Review: Honolulu Marathon

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Honolulu Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It’s sad that I was in the land of paradise, sun and relaxation (though running a marathon) a few days ago, only to be brought back to the coldness and winter of Washington State. I committed to the Honolulu Marathon months back with the idea of it being an end of the year trip, a way to celebrate finishing residency, moving to Washington, starting a new job and (thankfully) passing my Internal Medicine Certification Boards.

I spent the first few days hanging out with Erin (see here) and spent Saturday morning running the Merrie Mile. Thankfully, the weather decided to turn around and the sun came out, as it had been raining all day Thursday. That led to us going to the Expo earlier than expected and picking up our bibs. We actually went back to the expo on Friday and I signed up for the Santa Rosa Half Marathon (Peanuts themed and wine tasting!). I also picked up more Stinger waffles for the run. Overall, the expo was average. It had your typical running stuff (2XU, Asics, running clothes/races), but there were also vendors where I was having trouble making the running connection with; it seemed like those vendors were more geared to the Japanese runners and visitors, as there was a large delegation from Japan who came for the race. On our way out, we got pictures with our estimated/goal times. I had low expectations because training got messed up and half marathons were missed (thanks movers!).

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Because 5:59:00 sounds better than 6:00:00

Saturday night, after we did the Merrie Mile in the morning and dropped our bag off at the bag check, we went over and hung out with fellow Bibrave Pros Eric and Chris. We enjoyed some carbs while hydrating and there was hilarity that ensued. Afterwards, Erin and I walked back towards the hotel. I actually stopped at the Apple Store to pick up an iPod mini. I didn’t realize until I got to Seattle that I had left mine at home and it was either get another mini or run with a battery pack to charge my phone. We made it back to the hotel and came up with our play lists for the race. Not going to lie, mine was a hodge podge of songs, but it’s gotta be something I want to listen to. Wardrobes got put out, bibs placed and we were in bed early for a 345 AM wake up call, as the race started at 5 AM.

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Sunday Morning we were up and at it. Erin was up at 310, me by 345 with my 50 alarms that were set. We changed, did the bathroom ritual, had a lite bite to eat and started walking to the start. Another trip to the bathroom and we found our way to the start. The corrals were set up so flags along the side of the road indicating times (2-3 hrs, 3-4 hrs, etc). The race is huge (30,000 people) with runners and walkers. The trip from Japan is relatively close, so there are a lot of runners from Japan and SE Asia in general that we saw at the start. Fireworks went off at 5 AM and off we went. It took 10-15 minutes to get across the start. Erin and I were weaving around walkers and ultimately got into our own separate grooves. The first 8 miles or so, it was still dark out, which was appreciated because the sun stayed off us. It was still humid, especially coming from the Pacific Northwest where weather is currently cold, snowing and calling for single digit weather in the next few days. I also spent the first few miles trying to get around walkers. We went through downtown, around the Honolulu tower, by the former palace and made our way past our hotel 4 miles in. We went down Kalakaua Ave and headed up the roads around Diamond Head. Talk about energetic volunteers. Eric called it high 5 mile- look for plenty of high fives in a short span! Quarters were on the tight side because we only had one lane to work on (the other lane was for the the return trip). Around mile 8, there was a runner down with already plenty of help around her.

We made it to the top of Diamond Head and went through some of the residential streets and got on a straight stretch of flatness for quite a few miles. Around mile 11, I saw Eric, a fellow Pro, coming opposite me on his way back. I made it half way and was still feeling decent. I got to mile 15 and my legs started to feel it for sure. We had some miles around a lake which is a whole other reason to run this course. Even stopped to get my picture taken!

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Slowly I kept on trucking along and made it back to the straight away, were I’d be until mile 21-22. Initially, my goal was to keep a 12 mile pace, but by mile 16-18, the sun had come out in full force with humidity that made it really rough. Water stops were every 2 miles or so (but thankfully I had my handheld water) and they did have ice and sponges on course which helped. I slowed down and was walking more. My whole goal was under 6 hrs. Eric and Chris had long finished and I was keeping an eye on Erin as I was running. The course headed back down past Diamond Head and finally towards the finish on Kalakaula Ave. There were drummers at one point that really gave a second wind. It got to the point where I kept looking for people to pass and keep the motivation up (the old lady, the military guys with their bags, the little kid). The finish was right there, but so far away.

I crossed in 5:57 and was given a shell necklace shortly after. My first thought was if this is the medal, I’m going to cry. The next stop you could here the clanging of the medals and we got a good size medal placed around our neck. We went through the rest of the chute, grabbed a cup of water and into the post race area where runners and spectators were hanging out. I picked up my bag I had checked Saturday and found the finisher shirts and picked mine up (it’s one I’ll wear too!). Chris and Eric had already gone back to their hotel (and I was wishing ours were closer to the finish). I sat for awhile, listened to music playing, changed shirts and changed into my sandals and compression sleeves. Erin made it an hour and change after me, though she was having foot problems. After she got her medal, shirt and bag, we got food which included Polish donuts, freshly made (best thing ever, go find some if you’re in Hawaii)! I ordered a Lyft because there was no way either one of us wanted to walk a mile and change back to the hotel. Erin went and jumped in the pool, I went up to the room, chugged my chocolate milk and took the million dollar shower.

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Honolulu Marathon Bling

I got my stuff situated and napped a little bit. We chilled out in the room as best we could and went down to pay my portion of the room before heading to dinner with Eric and Chris. I had all of my stuff with me, as I had a red eye flight back to the mainland Sunday night. We had a good time catching up and comparing course notes. Overall, we had a really good time in Hawaii.

I thought the race was well run overall, but some things can be worked on. I feel like once we got passed Diamond Head, water stops every mile would have been good. It was hot and humid and not everyone trains in the heat/humidity of Hawaii (read, me who’s lived in the Midwest and Pacific NW). With so many people, especially a race that’s walker friendly (which isn’t a bad thing), the corrals need some work. The flags on the side of the road were a little hard to see because it was dark and the blended in with the dark. I feel like something needs to be on the bibs to indicate where you should be and there should be more separation of corrals. There needs to be something done, like a wave start every 2-3 minutes to separate runners because I was spending more energy getting around people than was needed.

Overall, though, a good race and definitely one worth doing! I’m bummed I’m back to the cold and work of the PNW, but will be back to visit at some point during my west coast travels!

 

Honolulu Marathon: Pre Marathon

Aloha from Hawaii! Such a much needed vacation and time away from the snow of Washington State. The Honolulu Marathon has been on my radar for awhile and making a trip out to Hawaii seemed like a fitting way to end 2016 (end of residency, taking/passing written boards, starting a new job, moving, all that fun jazz).

I flew out to Honolulu on Wednesday. I finished work on Monday and took Tuesday to get my stuff together. Bright and early on Wednesday, I was up working with my trainer at the gym and I got a quick beat down and work out in before getting to the airport. I flew from Spokane to Seattle (easy 45 minute flight if that), before flying 6(?) hrs to Oahu. We got delayed because the flight to Vancouver at the gate in front our flight was 2 hrs delayed. I spent the flight getting caught up on movies and reading.  I got in around 515 to Honolulu and got my bags and headed to my first hotel of the trip. I checked in and met up with Erin, a fellow pro. We watched the 75th anniversary parade for Pearl Harbor and found a place for dinner

Thursday morning, I picked up a rental a rental car for the day and we headed out to Pearl Harbor. We were able to get tickets to tour the USS Arizona and managed the last 2 tickets of the day (at 3 pm). We decided to go to the expo, get our bibs for the Marathon and Merrie mile, search the vendors (I ended up with a HNL Marathon T Shirt, long sleeved t shirt and towel) and chat with people along the way. We then picked up our stuff from our hotels and checked into the Hilton, where we’re at for the rest of the trip, splitting a room. Afterwards, we hightailed it back to Pearl Harbor and made it in time for the boat shuttle over to the USS Arizona (after a short video on the events of Pearl Harbor). After we left, we found a grocery store and found a few things before sitting in traffic for over an hour in an attempt to return the rental car before 6 pm (we failed at that). We found dinner and chilled in the hotel the rest of the night after searching through the small city that is the resort.

Friday morning, we woke up to more rain. We finally returned the renal car and went out to meet up for our shake out run. Only one other runner showed up (which we half expected due to the rain). We decided to bail on the run, just because the sidewalk was so slick, we were worried about slipping and/or injury. Instead, we found a coffee shop and had breakfast (if you’re ever in HNL, try an Acai bowl, to die for!). We did some shopping and I ended up with 3 pairs of sandals! Later in the afternoon, Erin and I ended up going to a photo shoot for the elite athletes, something we got invited to last minute. Note to selves, Outrigger has a few hotels and it’s always beneficial to ask which location things are at before walking a mile more than you need to. We then took advantage of some sun and beach time before finding some cookies at one of the stores in the resort and doing round 2 of the expo. Needless to say, round 2 of the expo found me signing up for a 1/2 Marathon in Santa Rosa and getting more stingers. For dinner, we met up with Chris and Eric, another group of pros who came in today for the race. We chatted over dinner for quite some time and made plans for the Merrie Mile and meeting up. We all went our separate ways and ended up getting ready for race #1.

Next up, the Inaugural Merrie Mile and my inaugural mile race!

Race Review: One City Marathon

Disclaimer: I received entry to the One City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Marathon #7 is officially in the books. This past weekend, I went out to Newport News, VA with fellow BibRave Pros Angie and Amy for the Newport News One City Marathon. We all had our own adventures as to getting out there or getting home! I left Friday afternoon and arrived in Newport News around 1130 pm. Amy had arrived earlier in the day and checked into our room. Angie and her friend Kate had loads of fun coming through Ohio thanks to a 2 hour stand still outside of Dayton due to a car accident, and ended up getting in Saturday Morning.

Amy and I slept in until 930 AM, which was beautiful. We went to a little coffee shop to get a bite to eat and waited until Angie and Kate came before heading off to the Expo. The Expo was held at the Denbigh Community Center, about a 15 minute drive from the Marriott Hotel. It was a smaller expo, but we walked in and were greeted by lots of friendly volunteers. We picked up our bibs (of which, there were a whole 381 marathoners) and our shirts (long sleeve techs!).

It was a smaller expo, with Point 2 Running store there selling some gear, some local races and some sponsors. There were also a people around making sure we had all our questions answered. There was an area for kids to play in, an area to get your gait checked and a few other fun things to look at. While we were there, we ran into fellow Bibchat regular, Meredith, who was running her first half (yay!). After the expo, we went to get some real food and then back to the hotel. I stayed back to do some work, while Angie, Amy and Kate went to the beach.

The race put on a Pasta Dinner Saturday Night at the Marriott, which we got to go to (and were even able to high jack our own table). We enjoyed some good food and more than enough dessert for 4 people, while hearing from some panelists (Roger Brown- a former NFL player, last year’s One City male and female winners and one of the docs overseeing the race). Afterwards, we went back up to the room and got all of our stuff put out for race day.

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Pasta dinner time! #bibchat #onecitymarathon

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The down side to any race this weekend? Daylight Savings time and we lost an hour of sleep. Needless to say, my alarm was the first to go off, but all I remember is hearing someone say, crap it’s 5 AM (which wasn’t the case at all). We all got changed, brushed teeth and determined how much or how little clothing we wanted to wear. The nice thing is that there were shuttle buses that took us to the start. The buses started at the Marriott and went to the other 2 host hotels and then to the start in Newport Park. We arrived a bit after 6 (and I may or may not have tried to sleep on the bus) and made our way to the starting area. Plenty of port o potties for people to use and not a whole lot of lines. Then again, there were only 381 Marathoners running (and the first leg of the relay). The 8K runners and the Nautical Mile started where we finished.

The ‘corrals’ were small, only marked by your pace/ mile. There were also pacers at least through 5 hrs that I could see carrying timing sticks with them. We started right at 7 AM and enjoyed the first 2 miles or so through the Newport Park, before we took to the streets of Newport News. We ran through neighborhoods, older parts of town, past schools, through 2 parks total. I was expecting something completely flat (or else I had course terrain mixed up), but there were some minor hills on course that I noticed. It started out cooler and cloudy, so I had a long sleeved shirt on under my Bibrave Shirt. It definitely warmed up and I noticed humidity by miles 15 or 16. By mile 23, I had yanked my long sleeved shirt off! The streets of Newport News had some areas with cheering sections (high schools, church groups etc) and areas in the residential areas with people sitting outside their houses cheering. Water stops were every 2 miles with gatorade at every other stop. With the relay, every once and awhile, we’d come up on a relay exchange and we’d have to pay attention to which side of the road to be on. It was definitely a rougher marathon for me because of lack of training (yay 12 hour inpatient medicine shifts!). It was definitely hot by the end of it. The roads were well marked and there was police and volunteers throughout. Though there was some traffic, runners had more than enough room to spread out and never had to worry about being hit by anything

By the time I hit mile 20, I was at a wall, but when you’re in it just for fun, you tend to not care. Took a long while, but the Victory Park came soon enough. You finish with your name being announced. All you have to do is walk straight ahead and get your medal from the volunteers with some water and drinks waiting for you. Down some stairs you go and you hit the post race party. I got there later in the game and listened to the band while attempting to find Amy and Angie. After meeting up with them, Angie got some tacos from one of the food trucks that they had. I didn’t have much of an appetite (and never do after races), so I passed. There had also been post race yoga, post race massages and some other activities for people. Angie’s friend Kate drove us back to the hotel (there were shuttles too if you needed it), where we took the 1 million dollar showers

We all headed home, but I was in for a long adventure. What was suppose to be 8-9 hrs turned into 12 hrs due to rain most of the way (especially on the turnpike), traffic in Virginia and having to stop at rest stops more often than not (yay for 3 hrs of sleep before heading to work this morning!).

Overall, I thought the race was well run and I think on the right track. I think if a half marathon was added, they could increase the amount of people that come for the race. I was also hoping some of the pre race stuff was more centralized (the expo/pasta dinner, etc), it would make things easier (less places to be). Also, minor thing, but chocolate milk would have been awesome!

If you’re in the area, look for One City. I thought it was a good race if you live close to run it and is something they try to include everyone in!

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Marathon #7 prep #bibchat #onecitymarathon

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Explore America’s Top 10 (ish) Marathon Courses

Ever want to explore the course of a huge marathon before signing up for it?  Here’s a nifty tool posted by Ryan Hall last week.  Go check out the likes of Chicago, NYC, Seattle, Miami and The Marine Corps marathons.  It’s a cool little site by Innovation for Endurance.

  1. Chicago Marathon
  2. New York City Marathon
  3. Marine Corps Marathon
  4. Boston Marathon
  5. St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon
  6. ING Miami Marathon
  7. Chevron Huston Marathon
  8. Rock n Roll San Diego
  9. Rock n Roll Las Vegas
  10. Rock n Roll Seattle

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!

Friday
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.

Saturday
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!

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