Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oh 2011...

I don't want to be the only blogger who doesn't do a 2011 recap so here goes and since I actually started my blog in 2011 I guess I should wrap up the year...

Looking back on my I Run Alot! page I realized that 2011 is definitely the busiest running year I've had to date and probably the most fun I've ever had running.  Let's take a look back through some of my 2011 races...shall we?

Mercer Island 10K: I started off the running year and my blog around this time so this was my first official race recap and I'm finding out that I really enjoy going back and reading my recaps...I have a terrible memory so if anything it reminds me why I run or why to run or not to run a particular race again.  This was the beginning of my 2011 PR's...coming in around 57 minutes.
Seattle Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon: I had some pretty lofty plans to run a sub 2 hour half at this race but I knew my speed training wasn't up to par and when I hit mile 6 during the race I knew it wasn't going to happen, but a PR was possible so I still pushed through and set a new half marathon PR of 2:03:53.  This race holds a special place in my heart because it's where all the running madness began back in 2008 when it was still the Seafair Half Marathon.  I'll probably run this race every year until I can't anymore.
Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage: My third year running this relay and I still can't say enough good things about this race and how much fun it is!  If you are considering a relay JUST DO IT, I promise you'll have fun...unless you are an anti-social hermit.  I ran some super speedy times for me and was proud of my whole team!

Chicago Marathon: And oh yeah, I ran a marathon this year...did you forget?  Sometimes it feels like a year ago that I ran this race but it was mere months ago, crazy!  All the training leading up to this race, traveling to Chicago with my besties, and running probably the longest race of my life was an experience I will NEVER forget.  And of course, the marathon was the whole reason I started this blog that has introduced me to a whole new world of friends that share my crazy obsession with running and telling others about it.

P.S. WOW...I really like the color blue, maybe I should try to run in something other than blue this year during races :)
I have to admit after the marathon I kind of hated running, but I think that is normal?  I decided to focus on weight training and started following Jamie Eason's LiveFit program on and I'm still doing it and loving the change in routine and actually seeing muscles on myself.  It has definitely taught me the importance of incorporating strength training into my running routine and it will be making it's way into my future training plans for sure!

Rest assured my love for running is back and I plan on making 2012 an even better year...stay tuned for that friends.

Question: Do you plan on your race calendar a year in advance?  What race are you most looking forward to in 2012?  Mine will be running a sub 2 hour half marathon no matter how many races it takes to do it :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

LiveFit Trainer - Phase 2 Recap

Hello all! It's almost Christmas, where on earth did this YEAR go...I honestly have no idea.  I'm still sort of struggling to post regularly on this blog post marathon but just be aware that I really want to, so don't leave me :). 

I'm still doing Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer and in fact I just finished Phase 2.  I followed the weight training portion of the program almost to a T but usually did not do two days of legs.  I found it really hard to be at the gym 1.5 hours/ 6 days a week so I just considered my extra activities like 5K's and indoor soccer my 6th day of working out and called it good.  I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't sore since starting this program but definitely in a good way. 

Some things I LOVE about this trainer:

1. VARIETY! Every two weeks the exercises are changed up completely.  You never have time to get bored with any exercise, number of reps/sets, etc.  I have learned how to use so many different machines at my gym I would have just stared at in confusion otherwise.  For example check out the Arms/Abs workout one week and then two weeks later you change it up to this

2. SUPPORT! is so comprehensive and FREE.  This entire program including what you should eat and what supplements you should take for FREE.  There are videos for every exercise so you can see the proper form before you head to the gym.  One of my new favorite moves I learned was the Straight Arm Pulldown...I could only do like was much harder than it looks!

3. RESULTS! I immediately noticed at the end of Phase 1 how much stronger I was and could even notice it in the mirror a little.  Now after Phase 2 I'm down about 6 pounds and my jeans are all a little loose.  My arms/shoulders/back actually look muscular! 

There really isn't anything I don't like about the program but I'm not doing it 100%.  I'm not following the nutrition program or supplementation plan.  I did, however make Jamie's Chocolate Protein Bars and they are pretty amazing, I would highly recommend for someone with a severe sweet tooth like myself! 

What's next?  Well Phase 3 of course, that focuses on getting super lean with lots of cardio type intervals and sprints along with weight lifting.  I'm not planning on starting this phase until after the holidays since I can't get the time in at the gym with the travel to my parents and all.  I also need to start training for half marathon season soon so I need to figure out how to fit it all in.  Just check out this workout from Phase's super long and then you have to sprint for 30 minutes at the end of it.

Question: How do you runners out there fit in weight training? I definitely don't want to loose the muscle I've gained but I'm itching to get back into training mode for races!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Race Recap: Jingle Bell Jog 5K

First off, can I just say that I LOVE 5Ks!!  Definitely my new favorite distance.  Of course, I'm not really taking them seriously or trying to sprint them but at the same time you get all those giddy race feelings without all the nerves knowing you will be done in 30 minutes or less!


I signed up for the annual Jingle Bell Jog in Seattle a few weeks ago with my running buddy, Sonia, and we had a great time just chatting it up for the whole race with a short sprint to the finish.  I was telling Sonia during the race that some day I would like to train and try to place in my age group at a smaller race or something but the Jingle Bell Jog is definitely not the race to try and do it.  The third place female came in around 19 minutes...I have LONG way to go!

Pre-Race: Another reason to love 5Ks...I don't have to get up insanely early to eat a huge breakfast so I don't starve while I'm running for 2-5 hours.  I woke up around 7, got dressed, ate a Luna bar and headed out the door to pick up Sonia. We parked a few blocks away for free in downtown Seattle and stepped right in line 10 minutes before the start.

The Race: The jog is really about people watching and hearing all the fun!  There were santas, reindeer, a grinch and even a couple guys in nothing but shorts and running shoes (I'm not sure how that is Christmasy)...BRRR!!  It was a pretty crowded course so we really couldn't run fast even if we wanted to.  The course started on a gradual uphill going through downtown before it turns back north on the express lane tunnels.  The tunnels would have been nice if it was raining (it wasn't!) and they were just kind of loud and a little smelly.  By the time you get out of tunnels you zip up a decent hill and then it's downhill to the finish.

Results: 29:29 - 9:34 pace
finish line madness

Post Race: For a 5K this race had the most extensive post races treats I've ever seen.  Water bottles, orange slices, bananas, bagels and Top Pot donuts...oh and a FREE beer. Sonia and I decided to skip it all including the free beer and head right to brunch at Pesos where I enjoyed a bloody mary and shrimp and avocado omelet.

You can't see our awesome socks in this photo...darn!

Raced a 5K, ate a delicious brunch, good time with a good friend and home before noon...great start to a Sunday morning.  So great in fact, I signed up for another holiday 5K next weekend :).

Oh and I'm still doing Jamie Eason's LiveFit trainer, I'm on week 8 starting today...last day of Phase 2.  I'll recap for you all after this week!

Question: Who out there is running holiday races this year?  Did you dress up?  I bought some fun socks and wore reindeer antlers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Race Recap: 5k Turkey Trot

This race recap doesn't have a mile by mile breakdown or some great story about how I trained and ran the fastest I've ever raced.  In fact, I didn't even wear my garmin and I couldn't see the clock when I finished or started.  It was just a fun run...or trot as the shirt states!

I signed up for the local Turkey Trot 5k in my hometown kind of last minute since one of my running buddies, Rachel, was doing it.  I figured it would be a nice race as a post marathon race and a way to hopefully kick start my running again.  It worked!  The 5k was a nice out and back along the Columbia River and by the time we turned around I was ready to race and ran fast...I have no idea!  It was a pretty small race so it wasn't well organized and I had to stop about 20 feet short of the finish line because it was so backed up :).  A girl in front of me said she ran it in 29 minutes so I assume I was around that time as well.

I have no idea why my photos from my phone have this gray line but I'm too lazy to edit it
I would definitely say this race re-ignited my passion for racing and I can't wait to start "officially" training for half marathons in 2012!

The rest of the Thanksgiving holiday was spent eating great food, hanging out with great friends and family and NOT working for 4 days in a row...glorious!  I have many things to be thankful for and my ability to run is near the top of that list.

I'm going to repeat week 6 of the LiveFit trainer since I really didn't do any of it last week with the holiday, so recap to come next week!

Question: Who else ran a local Turkey Trot?  Do you love a laid back race with no expectations?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

LiveFit Week 5 Recap

Week 5 was the start of Phase 2 and it basically added one more day of working out plus cardio.  I would be lying if I told you I worked out 6 days, I didn't.  The program has you doing legs 2 days a week and since I have other fitness commitments during the week I figure it doesn't hurt to miss it.

If you are dying to read previous recaps you can read about week 4 and week 3

I'm actually really starting to see changes in my body and my pants are fitting a little looser, which is definitely motivating me to keep going with the program.  The LiveFit Trainer was introduced about 4-5 months ago so there are tons of people who are already done with it and you can see some results on Jamie Eason's facebook page....check em out!

Here is what week 5 looks like in the plan:

Here is what I did:

Monday: Back & Cardio
Back included doing pullups, something I've always wanted to be able to do unassisted so I'm glad the plan includes these.  I still need quite a bit of weight to help me out but hopefully each week I'll be taking more and more off.  Cardio included a 30 minute treadmill workout I found in my latest Oxygen magazine, I will share later!

Tuesday: Chest & Abs & Cardio
We are up to 15 pushups at a time now which  can actually do semi-easily, although the 3rd set of those was pretty painful.  For cardio I went to Element 5 for a boot camp style workout and ended up doing more pullups...yikes...abs and everything in between!  I was SORE the next day.

Wednesday: Legs
Oh squats!  Lots of weighted squats and lunges in the leg workout in phase 2.  I started having some slight right knee pain which I now remember from weighted squats and lunges from years ago, so I might take it a little lighter on the weights next week to prevent any injuries.

Thursday: Arms & Cardio
I didn't get to the abs portion of the workout because I was distracted with a free 10 minute massage at my gym, well worth it!  Cardio included 2 back to back indoor soccer games where my team got crushed!

Friday: REST
I took a half day on Friday for a very important event
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1...this is NOT Bella's wedding dress BTW
And I was in such a Twilight daze I went home and watched the first movie that night...NERD alert!

Saturday: Shoulder & Abs & Cardio
I tacked on the abs from Thursday's workout and did the same 30 minute treadmill workout from Monday for cardio.  It is a great moderate intensity cardio workout which is exactly what Jamie prescribes in Phase 2.

Sunday: REST

I actually had every intention of starting week 6 on Sunday but Saturday night I went to a wine tasting event...enough said!

20something wine event with my ladies!
Me and my bro and his porn stache
Week 6 is going to be pretty mixed up and I'm sure I won't get all the workouts in since it's Thanksgiving and I'll be traveling to my parents, but that's ok...I'll give it my best try.

QUESTION: Any one doing a local Turkey Trot out there?  I just signed up for the 5K in my hometown, it's my first race since the marathon and I've run about 3 times since then so we'll see how it goes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

LiveFit Trainer Week 4 Recap

I'm still not sure if I'm going to stick with these weekly recaps but since I can't figure out anything else to blog about here we go :).  The end of week 4 actually signifies the end of Phase 1 and I honestly didn't expect to notice any changes, especially since I wasn't really following the meal plan and I skipped a couple workouts.  However, I have definitely noticed that I'm a little more toned looking and I jumped on the scale and have actually lost about 5 pounds over the last month.  I don't usually stress about my weight or weigh myself very often but I don't fluctuate much so I know the 5 pounds is gone and I can only assume it's because of the weight training...bonus side effect!

So, here is what week 4 looked like online:
And here is what I actually did:

Monday: Chest & Triceps
I like that the rep range (10 reps) is smaller so I tried to up the weight for some of the exercises while still trying to keep a minute between sets.  The workout still takes less than an hour which I love, but I'm not getting too used to it since I know they will be longer in Phase 2.

Tuesday: Legs
I actually woke up at 5AM and went to the gym...yikes!  It was hard but I had a work event after work so I knew I had to do the workout in the morning.  I warmed up with 10 minutes on the bike and got to squating and lunging.  I actually hadn't done this workout yet (skipped it last week) and all the weighted squats and lunges really worked my whole legs, I was FEELIN it the next day.

Wednesday: Rest
I was supposed to use Wednesday as my extra day to do whatever and I was going to go to Element 5 for bootcamp but I was exhausted and sore so I listened to my body and did nothing!

Thursday: Shoulders & Abs
I really tried to up the weight on the shoulder exercises since I don't feel like I've pushed myself in this department yet.  I still think I could bump it up even more in the next phase.  I'm hoping a REAL pull-up is in my near future :).

Friday: Back & Biceps
Veteran's day = day of off work so I woke up and went into the gym in the morning which was nice and quiet.

Saturday & Sunday: REST
I know Phase 2 is going to be challenging so I rested up my tired and sore muscles so I'm ready to go on Monday.  I spent the weekend eating great food, hanging out with some great friends, and seeing a great band...all around GREAT weekend. 

And since no post would be complete without some pictures, here are some random ones from my phone:

That would be a variety pack of cocoa from Costco! gorilla!  She is 4 years old and that is her mama.
Cutie Brecken checking out the penguins

Question: Do any of you make it a point to say "hi" to people you are working out around in the gym?  I find it a little odd that everyone is so silent when they are literally working out inches from one another.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday - The Taste of Fall

Along with not being consumed by running every day after work comes more cooking and baking!  I have starred many blog entries in my Google reader lately and over the past couple of weeks I've had the chance to actually go through and make some of them.

1. Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:
From the SkinnyTaste website that takes everyday recipes and makes them a little lighter.  I made these for Halloween and brought them into work.  I bring pretty much all my baking experiments in for my coworkers and I usually let them eat one before I tell them how many calories are in them.  Everyone was VERY surprised how moist and buttery they tasted but with only 120 something calories a piece! 


2. Mama Peas Spicy African Peanut Slow Cooker Soup:
I made this via Mama Peas amazing cookbook, but it's also available from her blog...lucky you! It couldn't be easier and you only have ONE thing to chop.  Otherwise, you open up some cans, measure out some spices and voila...dinner!  I added some spinach to mine at the end to give it some green.

3. Daily Garnish Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:
I've made these twice in one week and even my vegan, allergic to everything, coworker loved them.  They are light and cakey, with a subtle pumpkin spice kick!  I used craisins instead of raisins because I'm obsessed with them.  I'm not sharing my second batch, they are all for me!

You should take my advice and make all of these things in the very near future, you won't regret it!

Question: What is your favorite thing to cook in the fall?  Something with pumpkin, soup?

Monday, November 7, 2011

LiveFit Trainer Week 3 Recap

Okay, so here is my attempt to keep you interested people updated on my fitness life and keep me motivated to continue this program!  As mentioned in my last post, I started Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer a few weeks back and since I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with it for the 12 weeks I figured I'd tell you all about it so you can yell at me when I miss workouts...okay?

Week 3 on the website looks like this:

My week 3 looked like this:

Monday: Chest & Triceps
Weeks 1 and 2 had you doing this workout first thing in the week and I liked that, so I switched it up.  I especially like this program because the exercises change a bit every 2 weeks so I never get bored, plus I'm getting to figure out all the equipment in my gym which is a fun challenge.  I especially like that doing 10 pushups in a row doesn't really even hurt anymore :).

Tuesday: Element 5 Bootcamp Class
I switched it up and went to Element 5 where my good friend Linden teaches boot camp.  During week's 3 and 4 Jamie tells you to work out one body part twice, so I figured I would just do the boot camp instead of that.  The class consisted of circuit type weight training and some cardio bursts at the end...per usual I left drenched in sweat. 

Wednesday: Back & Biceps
Warmed up with a quick 10 minutes on the elliptical and then got to work.  Another thing I love about the first phase is you are in and out of the gym in less than an hour.   Jamie tells you to stick to a minute or less between sets and my gym has a HUGE clock in the middle of it so this makes it easy for me and gets me out of the gym quicker.

Thursday: Shoulders & Abs
I have to admit I rushed through this workout and didn't do one of the shoulder moves.  But in my defense I just got done playing 50 minutes of indoor soccer so my body was already tired.  The place where I play soccer and my gym are literally connected so I didn't have an excuse for skipping out on this workout all together.

I was going to do legs on Friday but decided to rest instead since I was planning a hike up Tiger Mountain the following day, good decision on my part since the hike ended up being a leg workout itself!  I'll get to those legs next week!

So, I didn't get the legs workout done but hiking was a workout and on Sunday I worked out my toes by getting a post marathon pedicure...a month later.

Week 4 is the same as week 3 and I'll be making some adjustments to the schedule this week as well. 

Question: What weight training do you runners out there do?  How do you incorporate weight training when you are training for a race?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where has Marathon Lar been?

I know my 33 followers and probably 5 other readers are just dying to know what I've been up to since the marathon and I'll be honest, I do miss blogging...and I'm just grateful I haven't lost any followers! I still stalk blogs every day and start to get jealous that I'm not posting. 

So, what the heck have I been up to since the marathon?  Well, in a nutshell, NOT running!  I love running and I still get out there once a week to make sure I remember how to do it but I'm also enjoying other things at the moment including not having to schedule my weekend around a long run, hanging out with friends, lots of cooking, and focusing more on weight training instead of cardio.

Halloween with the bro!
As far as fitness goes (this is a fitness blog right?) I actually started a program I found via another blogger Meals & Moves from  It's Jamie Eason's LiveFit trainer and it looked very doable, especially after running my butt off for 6 months I figured I would welcome the change of just lifting weights.
I'm currently on the 1st phase, week 3.  So far I really like it.  Jamie really emphasizes NO cardio in the first month but I haven't listened to her.  I've done a couple short runs, played soccer and went to one spinning class but I don't think it will affect my ability to do the weight exercises since I had a decent fitness base to start.  As I attempt to get back to a regular blogging schedule I'll attempt to post a weekly wrap up of this program, but I'm not promising anything :).
I'm not following this schedule at all but I am getting in all the workouts...flexibility people!
What about running you ask?  Well, I am signed up for 2 half marathons in 2012 so far and I WILL run one of them in under two hours.  I'm halfway considering the Portland marathon...halfway!  Plus the title of my blog is Marathon Lar so I guess I have to run marathons right?  <---worst reasoning ever!

March 25, 2012: Mercer Island Half Marathon

I ran this race back in 2009 as my second half marathon and really enjoyed it.  You run around Mercer Island (literally!) and it's often promoted as the first race to kickoff running season in Seattle.  It's relatively small, the weather is usually perfectly cool and well organized.  I ran the 10K option last year and PR'd!
Way back in 2009, the last time I ran the Mercer half!
My goal is to start officially training for this at the beginning of 2012 and work really hard to incorporate speed work like crazy to try for a sub 2 hour finish.  It's amazing how simple a half marathon seems now that I've done a full marathon but I know I'll be humbled as soon as I attempt to run faster than then the 10+ minute miles I became accustomed to during marathon training.

June 23, 2012: Rock and Roll Seattle Half Marathon
Three months after Mercer I'm running my 4th Rock and Roll race in Seattle. I LOVE THIS RACE, but I'm not in love with the fact that they are completely changing the course and the anticipation of how hilly the new course will be is already stressing me out.  Last year I PR'd but didn't quite get that sub 2 hour goal. 
So bloggy friends that is what I've been up to lately.  I'll try to keep more in touch with you all, I feel like a bad friend!

Question: Anyone out there running any crazy races next year?  Any ultras out there?  I can't say the thought of an ultra marathon didn't cross my mind post marathon, but those crazy thoughts will be pushed in the back of my brain for now.

Marathon Lar

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oatmeal Pumpkin Protein Bars

I really shouldn't claim these are protein bars since I didn't work up the nutritional stats to back that claim up but I threw in some protein powder so I'm calling them "protein bars".  It's been a while since I've posted a recipe but I want to get back into it now that my life isn't consumed by running...for now anyways :).

These are based off a recipe I found in the peas and thank you cookbook that I'm obsessed with.  Go buy it now...I have not made a recipe I didn't love from this book.  Basically I swapped pumpkin for the silken tofu and added protein powder and voila!   

Oatmeal Pumpkin Protein Bars

Serves: 16 bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 dried cranberries
1 cup milk (I used coconut)
1/2 15oz can of pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (from oats to salt)
3. Add wet ingredients and mix
4. Fold in dried cranberries
5. Pour in greased 8x8 pan
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes (longer if you want a more crispy dry bar)

Dry ingredients
ENJOY!  I recommend topping them with nut butter of even cream cheese.  Makes the perfect between meal sweet snack!
Mama Pea claims her version has about 143 calories a piece with 5 grams of protein.  I imagine my calorie count is similar and that there is at least 7-9 grams of protein with the added protein powder.

Question: Do you have a go-to protein bar (made or bought) that you always grab on the go?  I'm also a HUGE fan of Luna bars, specifically chocolate peppermint stick!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marathon Lessons Learned Part 1 - BEFORE a marathon

I've never run a marathon before so I really had no idea what to expect come race day and how my body would react to 26.2 miles.  Even though I've poured over marathon runner blogs you don't really know until you experience it yourself. 

Three lessons learned of what NOT to do in the days before a marathon (side note: despite these lessons learned I'm still very happy with my time and performance but you can't help to think how you could have done better)

1. DO NOT walk all day every day in the days leading up to a marathon:
Ashley from Redonkulous Runner told me multiple times (via email, comments and her own blog posts) to try and not walk too much in the days before but obviously I didn't listen.  I was in a new to me city and since we had two days before the race I wasn't going to just sit on my butt in the hotel.  Looking back we probably should have utilized public transportation a bit more and I should have cut my multiple mile walk through the park down to a couple miles...oops! 
There were just too many fun sites to see!!
2. DO NOT have an abnormal meal schedule: 
On our first full day in Chicago I didn't eat a full meal until 3PM...bad idea.  My stomach did not like me and decided it didn't want to keep anything in it's stomach for the entire day.  Of course this did not help my nerves.  Luckily, the day before the marathon I was super strict about eating 3 good meals that day and on time and my stomach forgave me. 

The 3PM first meal which was delicious BTW
3. DO NOT spend an abnormal amount of your time doubting yourself and all you training:
As marathon morning approached I was very nervous and began to analyze all my training and what I might have done to be more prepared.  Maybe I should have ran more 20 milers or ran 22 or even 24 miles...6.2 miles is a lot more to run when you've never run past 20 before!  As much as I tried to squash those thoughts knowing that there was nothing I could do about my training in the days before and that I was READY they kept getting overpowered by negative thoughts.  I think this played a large part in me being SO nervous for the first half of the actual race. 
Of course there were lots of things I did right like not having one sip of alcohol the entire week before the marathon, carbo loading, drinking TONS of water including gatorade and coconut water and trying to get a full nights sleep each night.

Stay tuned for Part 1 - What not to do in the week AFTER a marathon :)

Question: What lessons have you learned about what not to do before a race?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Race Recap: Chicago Marathon

I honestly don't even know where to begin with this recap and I still don't believe I actually ran a marathon but I can tell you that it is single handedly the hardest most nerve racking thing I have ever done in my life to date and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it!  The sense of accomplishment I feel for myself and my running pals, Stacey and Katie, is still keeping me up on cloud nine.

Let's start at the beginning of the festivities with the expo!

It became VERY real as we stepped into the convention center for the biggest expo I've ever been to.
After picking up our packets we hit up the Nike area to spent way too much money on marathon gear.  We spent multiple hours at the expo looking at everything it had to offer.

Becoming more and more real by the minute!

I think the nerves were really starting to kick in for me because I had an upset stomach ALL day and all I could think about was having an upset stomach during 26.2 miles.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating bland food.

Day before the race!
I woke up bright and early to meet my cousin and her family at the Shedd Aquarium.  After the aquarium we walked through Grant Park and I got to visualize what race day might be like.
Finish chute!
The "hill" in the Chicago marathon

Start line
After walking around for WAY too long I cabbed it back to the hotel to relax for the evening.  Dinner was in the hotel lobby and Katie and I had a great pasta dish that totally hit the spot.  My stomach had been calm all day and I was looking forward to the race finally being here.

Race day is here!
Katie and I woke up bright and early at 5 am when our breakfast was delivered.  I was sooo nervous eating anything was really hard but I knew I had to so I tried to choke down as much eggs and toast as possible.  We ate, put on our race outfits, stalked our race belts with fuel, wrote our names on our arms and headed out the door.
We cabbed to the start line and met Stacey at the bag check.  My long sleeve throwaway shirt wasn't even necessary at 7AM, it was already 60 degrees and sunny...I could tell it was going to be a sweaty sweaty run!
Ok ladies, it's time to run a marathon!
Miles 1-6
We squeezed into the start line around the 11:00 pacers and danced around with nerves until the race started at 7:30am.  We crossed the start line close to 8 and just like that it was happening.  I was REALLY nervous and sweating by the first half mile.  I really don't remember much of the first 6 miles because I was just trying to calm myself down, I don't remember ever being this nervous for anything in my life. The course was very crowded and getting through the water stations without stopping and walking was virtually impossible.

10K - 1:08 - 10:44 pace

Mile 4
Around mile 6
The cutest spectator on the course...thanks for the sign Brady!

Miles 6-13.1
I was still nervous and it was getting WARM!  Luckily, Chicago knows how to run a marathon.  There was water stops before you knew you even needed one and tons of people on the streets with hoses.  The fire hydrants on the course were even open to spray runners and cold sponges were available twice on the course.  Stacey and I split off around mile 11 and we all ran our own races after that.  I thought I wouldn't like that but I actually enjoyed running by myself.

I think this is mile 11...
Half Marathon - 2:23 - 11:04 <--a little slower than planned but with the heat and sun I was happy!

Miles 13.1-20
I finally calmed down and got in my groove...what took so long?!  My hips and IT bands started barking at me at this point so I stopped to stretch for a minute during this stretch.  I didn't end up seeing any of my spectators during this stretch of course and was a little bummed out about it but just took in the surroundings and all the spectators!  Each neighborhood in Chicago came out to entertain runners and spectators and it was really great to see everyone coming together to enjoy one event.

30K - 3:26 - 11:20 pace <---slowing was HOT!
Only professional photo of me with my eyes open and not looking like I'm going to die!
Miles 20-26.2
I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Once I hit mile 20 I knew every step I was taking was farther than I've ever run before.  I tried breaking down the distance to make it more bearable. I knew I would see Lindsey and Mandy on the course at mile 23 so I focused on getting there.  Once I did I stopped to drink some water with them and then they ran with me for a couple blocks and kept my mind off the fact that I wanted to be done running now! Once you go around mile 23 you hit a straight away where you run until almost the end.  I think I was in a daze because I don't remember miles 24 and 25 very much.  I do remember seeing signs for 800 meters left, 400 meters left and finally 200 meters left.  You take a right off the straightaway and up the "hill" before turning left down the finish chute.  Right as I turned left I heard my cousin and her husband screaming my name and I couldn't have been more happy.  I remember I couldn't stop turning around to see them raising my hands and cheering. OMG...I'm going to finish a marathon and just like that I was across the finish line.  I high fived some strangers and started walking...the best feeling on earth!

26.2 miles - 4:54:29 <--Goal 2 met!

With the heat and sun I honestly had NO time expectations but once I hit mile 20 and knew a sub 5 hour marathon was possible I knew I had to try my hardest to accomplish it.

Post race was spent walking through a LLOONNNGG finish area that included my medal, water, mediocre snacks, a cold wet towel, and picking up my bag.  I went to the runner reunite area where Stacey's family was waiting and I was greeted with hugs and roses. I saw my cousin and her family shortly after and celebrated with them.

I was feeling pretty good at this point, although walking VERY slowly and with a little pain.  I decided to switch out of my running shoes for flip flops and glad I did. I discovered some HUGE blood blisters courtesy of wet shoes and socks and took advantage of the medical tent to get them taken care of.  All that hard work building up calluses on my big toes is over...they will be coming off soon (I'll spare you the photo I took of the grossness!)

I was reunited with my running buddies and spectators shortly after where we shared stories of the course and reveled in our huge accomplishment!
We did it girls! What's next? ;)
With spectators Lindsey and Mandy who waited on me hand and foot all weekend!
Our cheer signs!
Some final thoughts:
  • There is NO way I could have completed this race without all the spectator support from my family and friends.  Knowing I would see them at certain miles was what pushed me through many of the miles!
  • I never really hit the so called WALL...yippee! There wasn't a point in the race where I thought there is no way I can finish this which was a huge relief.
  • Would I run another marathon?  SURE!  Of course I was dreaming of how I would do if the weather was a little cloudier and cooler so I'm sure I'll try to find out someday ;)
  • The Chicago Marathon is hands down the most well organized race I've ever been in.  The aid stations, the volunteers, and the start and finish line areas were perfectly organized.  One teeny tiny suggestion would be to stagger the start a little more too avoid so much crowding at the aid stations but that might be impossible with 45,000 runners.  
  • I have never been more proud of myself or my running pals Stacey and Katie, we did it GALS!  I love them both to pieces and couldn't imagine a more exciting marathon experience without them.  It actually makes me kind of sad that it's over now and I want to plan our next adventure so we can start planning now!
I'm sure I will have many more thoughts and things to share about this experience in the coming weeks but I'll leave you with this super long post to start with :).  I don't know what is next for MarathonLar but I'm going to try and keep this blog up to keep in touch with all my friends, family, and new blog friends.

Marathon Lar