Monday, July 20, 2015

Rock'nRoll Chicago Half Marathon: Recap of State #24

I was so nervous all last week. 
Last Sunday's long run wiped me out. I kept worrying, "What if I get like that during the race?" There were heat advisories on the Rock'nRoll website. There were heat advisories on my phone. Ech!

I was off to a good start: Pre-race highlights included Michelle at the Expo. I always order a large and give it to Ron, but since he's running in the 5K's now, he gets his own shirt. So, even though I ordered a large for Ron, I exchanged it to a small for me. I went to five different areas before I met Michelle, who knew how to make the exhange. It was lovely meeting you!
Thank you for helping me with my shirt!
It also didn't help that Ron ran (as promised) the 5K the day before the half, and looked like he was going to pass out at the finish. His face was cherry red. At the finish, he grabbed a water bottle, didn't speak - he just kept walking. I just followed thinking that he was gonna pass out! He finally stopped and sat down under a shade tree. Then he turned to me and said, "You're going to have trouble tomorrow!"
Well if I weren't nervous before - I sure as heck was nervous now!
That's Ron in the red shirt.
Sort of "Run/Walking"
To add insult to injury, I kept showing Ron pictures of Meb at the start of the 5k! Okay, so I love Meb. I look at all his Runner's World secrets to a better stride, faster pace, etc, etc. You can imagine how star struck I was when he was just two feet away!
More Meb!
I have more - but there just about all the same ... he-hee! I even tweeted @RunMeb, and he favorited my tweet! If you follow Meb on Twitter, you'll notice his tag line, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

Ron was getting tired of me talking about Meb, so I tried to be quiet and let him continue telling me how miserably hot the race was. I kept thinking of Meb's tag line, to keep my panicky feelings at bay. Somehow, we moved to the celebratory beer garden - and Ron started to feel much better. LOL!

Ron celebrating!
His hottest 5K now a distant memory!
The heat really was exhausting. To make matters worse, my stomach decided to misbehave. The last thing I wanted was to be dehydrated on a race day with a heat advisory in effect! Wiped out from the heat, Ron and I went back to the hotel and passed out. Isn't napping one of life's underappreciated luxuries?

When we finally were able to get ourselves moving again, we decided to explore Chicago. Chicago is a really pretty city. A little smaller than NYC, but a bit bigger than Boston. Lots of great brewpubs with craft beers (shout out to Goose Island) and tons of restaurants. There's great shopping along the Magnificent Mile, and lots of new, shiny buildings - like the Trump International Hotel & Tower. 

Trump International Hotel & Tower
Everywhere you turn, there's another statue or sculpture. The last time we were here, we ate along the waterfront and enjoyed some of the beauty of Lake Michigan. Based on these past two visits, Ron and I have a good idea of what we would like to do when we come back in October - when I run the marathon! Hopefully, it will be much cooler.

Before we headed back to our hotel, we went to Whole Foods, and picked up breakfast foods for my pre-race meal: Yogurt, granola, chia, flax, beet juice, and Kevita (a probiotic drink). While we were in Whole Foods, it poured rain,  which brought the temperature down a bit - not a lot, but a bit! I kept praying!
Race Day:
Coffee made, Yogurt and granola mixed with seeds, Kevita sipped, Road ID - check, Garmin - DEAD! What? 
Yup - my Garmin was dead! 
No charge, no response. I know me - I'll go out too fast if I don't keep looking at my pace - yes I'm obsessed with my Garmin - especially during the first 6 miles of my halves. Ron saw panic written all over my face, and said, "Don't worry I will have your watch charged before you start your race." I wan't sure he was telling me the truth or just trying to stop my hands from shaking! I had to believe what he said.
Next freak out: tummy problems! 
I was off to a great start!
Next freak out: Long shuttle lines, with the possibility of more tummy melt downs.
Ron had my Garmin charging on a battery in one hand, while his other hand was hailing a taxi. I felt like a cheater not taking the shuttle over, but as Ron put it, "What if your stomach decides to blow up, again?" He was right. 
We hopped in the cab and started for the "Start"
Somewhere between the taxi and Corral #4, Ron figured out how to reboot the Garmin, and get the charge up to 42%, which I thought was plenty for the race. My hands started to shake a little less, and I kept repeating Meb's Twitter Tagline. It would be my mantra for the race.
Last freak out: 
My Garmin still had no satellite connection! 
I really do love/hate my Garmin!
Anyone else in with me on this one?
Next, Our National Anthem, and some announcements. I remember the announcer said something about having fun, not to expect a PR in this heat, and told us to smile. 
I forced a smile. 
The announcer called Corral #1, then #2. OMG! The announcer said that Meb's running in this race, too! Super WOW!  Corral #3 was called. I finally got a satellite connection. Mantra still being mantra'd, and there I was, at the start of Corral #4 ...
Boom - We were off. 
Mile #1: 7:37, Mile #2: 7:24 - Ech too fast. You'd think I'd listen? Mile #3: 6:50. Then, more watch trouble - it was telling me I was in mile 4, and running a 9'mile pace. No wonder the next two miles were also in the 7's. The heat was starting to get worse. I saw Ron on one of the streets. Nice iced coffee, dude, I'm dying here!
Mile 5: What? 43 minutes? I blew it, I'll never place in my age group. Oh the yelling in my head:
Why don't you just walk?
You're awful!
Look, another over 50 y.o. woman is passing you!
You just S*@CK
All that training: squats, jump squats, lunges - and for what?
 You run like a turtle!
I wasn't running fast - it's was just the Garmin - it's all screwed up.
Oh I blew it
Wait, girl, just shut up for a minute!
Mantra, Mantra: I can do all things ....
Think, you were in Corral #4. 
That time is from the VERY start -when Corral #1 went out.
Mantra - mantra: Through Christ ...
The heat really started to add up its effects on me and everyone around me. At one point, we were all running in dead silence. Everyone focussed on just finishing. No one was talking, there wasn't even anyone around cheering- just hot, heat, and the sound of sneakers hitting blacktop. It was very eerie. 
Then, I noticed a tall man. 
He was lumbering along. He had to be at least 6 feet tall. I thought, 'He looks like he's running so slowly - how come I can't catch him?' So, I did - and I decided to hang with him. I asked him what pace he was going for - he said he was going for 7:30, but he guessed we were only running 8'/mile. My screwed up Garmin said the same. "C'mon, dude," I yelled, "I'm gonna try to hang with you." For the next four miles, we ran side by side - he'd fall back, I'd fall back - we would yell, "C'mon." I needed all the help I could get running this one home. At mile ten, there were some DJ's along the roadside. The Rock'nRoll music helped. I tried to pick up my pace. I lost my friend, turned a corner, and saw a bridge - or rather a small hill to climb. 
Mantra, Mantra: Who strengthens me!
Then a woman passed me. The bridge seemed impossible to climb. The woman who passed me stopped. Inspired by Cliff Young, I yelled, "Don't stop. C'mon. Even if you gotta shuffle - keep running!" She started running, again. I looked at her and said, "Only stop if you're over 50!" We laughed, and pressed on! 
Mantra, Mantra, Mantra!
Finish strong, girl.
Finish strong!
Mile #12: The 7:45 minute pacer started to pass me. No way! No way! The thoughts through my head started:
Hang Half Crazed. 
Kick it out! 
You trained for this. 
It's okay if you throw up at the finish. 
Just don't let this chic pass you!
Mile #13: Stride, baby stride. You only got about 200 meters. So, you puke - big deal. I dug deep. Tried to shave off as much time as possible - and crossed the finish line!
State #24 completed!
No Puke!
The water bottles were so amazingly cold. I poured 1/2 of the water all over my body. I saw Ron walking outside the gated area, he looked so cool and dry! Aagh, the shoe was on the other foot!
Just then, I thought of the friend I made on the course. 
I turned around and looked for the big guy I was trying to hang with. I spotted him, ran up to him and gave him a huge hug. He was screaming, "You're like a little mighty mouse, a little mighty mouse!" He took out his cell phone and snapped a selfie of us. It was great hanging with you, Michael - I'm glad we met! I hope you look up Half-Crazed Runner and send me that photo! I'd love to get a copy!
Next stop ...
The Beer Garden!
 ... an awful celebratory beer!
I did have a lot to celebrate!
Overall time 1:44.
Not my best, but better than my other two really hot halves in
Maine and Texas.
Best of all:
First place age group!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Train Smart Today! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

I'm in, and I'm off to run my 26th Half-Marathon, 
My 24th state:
Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon: July 19th. 
Yeah, I was a little bummed because I thought this was state #25, but then I realized I ran in DC (For those of you not familiar with the US - DC stands for District of Columbia. it's where the US Capital is located.)
Next half, I will be halfway finished with all 50 states! 
Let's hear it for Half-Crazed!
And so far, I've only suffered two proximal hamstring strains! Speaking of which, my arse is killing me today. And you gotta see how many squats and lunges, jump squats and jump lunges, split squats and burpees I'm doing each week! It all probably contributed to my exhaustion yesterday on my long run. I finished with an average 8:45' mile pace - but that was my "pushing it".

I think I was so tired because I hardly ate anything on Friday, and Saturday, and I worked my but off getting my son's party together to finally celebrate his graduation from high school. I prepared a ton of food, Ron made BBQ chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and we had tons of watermelon and homemade desserts from Grandma and Auntie! So being tired from the party and running later in the morning heat left me absolutely spent. It was the first time that I stopped before my last mile to yell at myself, and try to psyche myself up to finish. I had to count to ten, over and over, just to get through the last mile. Then after the last mile, I threw my hands up in the air, and screamed, "I'm done (some expletives), I'm finally done!" It was a relief to know I was done with my long run.

I hate running in the heat.
Yesterday, my head was pounding, I was hungry, thirsty, cranky! Usually running through the local park, I stop to sip water from the fountain - it just didn't seem to be enough yesterday! Even my one Gu ration wasn't enough. It was the first time ever that I ran a training run and wished for another Gu! Gu to me is a gross, but necessary evil.
The celebration party was well worth it though.
My son, his friends, and all the family had such a great time. I know Johnny had fun because at one point during the party, he was lifting me in the air and threatening to do power cleans with me:
Pre-Press Threat!
How was your weekend?
Are you struggling through any long runs this summer?
Anyone going to Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon next weekend?
Ever have someone use you as a human barbell?