Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicago Marathon: After the Race...

After a quick shower, Michelle and I were ready to hit the down.  

We had decided to go on an architectural tour, which I had done before but enjoyed it so much that I wanted to do it again.

We made our way down to Navy Pier.  I was shocked to learn that Michelle had never been to the pier before.  Please keep in mind, this is the same girl that is afraid of escalators.

It was still a beautiful day out.

I really do like the Chicago skyline.

Happy girls on the pier

This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.

We hopped on the boat and I befriended the lady next to us.  She was shocked to hear that I ran the marathon and was out and about.  She said her son and daughter in law ran it and were in bed napping.  I did not want to tell her that you know, I am an Ironman, ha, ha.  I am only kidding.  I told her that I was in Chicago with a bestie, I can sleep at home.

The boat tour did not disappoint.  Here are several of my favorite photos.

The Wrigley Building and the Tribune Building are my two favorite buildings.

I am like the corn cob buildings for some reason.

A different view of the Wrigley Building

After the tour, we made our way to my favorite restaurant in Chicago, Rosebud on Rush.  Ken and I stumbled upon this place a few years ago, and now I go there anytime the opportunity is there.

I had an embarrassing amount of pasta, but it was so yummy!  Michelle liked her food too.

We decided to skip dessert and go get cupcakes from Spinkles instead.  All of this and a pumpkin cheesecake in the fridge at the apartment.

Operation Sugar is about to commence.

I would call this a very happy face.

So, a word about Sprinkles.  Not impressed at all.  My cupcakes at home taste better.  Let's just say that it was no Gigi's.

I did not like it at all and this happened:

Half of a red velvet cupcake is going into the trash.  I disliked it so much, that I did not finish it.  Ken is reading this and gasping.  This never happens.

We watched a little of the baseball game and went to bed.  It was definitely a full day.

We woke up on Monday, had a little coffee and walked around a bit.  We decided we had just enough time to stop at Lou Malnati's for one more round of pizza before going back to Kansas.

Does this girl look happy or what?

Because I did not eat enough yesterday, sure, I will have more pizza.

After all of the yumminess, it was time to go to Midway.  We made zero transportation errors until hopping on the last train.  Yep, we ended up getting on the train going to Harlem.  


A very nice man pointed out that clearly we were going the wrong way and helped us get back on track. 

I will end the post with this picture: 

This is my new friend John.  He was so close to me while I was sitting at the airport waiting for our flight, that I could hear his entire conversation he was having on his cell phone.  Not just him talking, but the person on the other end.  It was not awkward at all with John practically in my lap.  Not at all.

It was a fun trip!  Thanks for going with me Michelle.  A special thanks to Ken for taking care of Kya and the cats while I was away!

Until next time, Chicago!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicago Marathon: Race Report..

An alternate title could be:  A Lesson in Pacing.

This was my 9th marathon overall, 10th if you count the marathon at the end of an Ironman and my 3rd Chicago Marathon.

Chicago is my favorite marathon.  It is better than the New York City Marathon, I promise.

I had the alarm set for 5:30 am, but woke up before it went off.  Ken sent me a text at 5:30 am to wish me luck.  What a sweet husband.

I had my coffee, my yummy Luna Bar for breakfast and was out the door.

Ready for marathon #9!

I had planned on walking a few blocks to the El, but when I walked out of the apartment building, there were two guys that walked out with me that had called a cab.  So, I did what any girl would do, I asked them if I could ride with them.

I learned that both of them were trying to break 3:50 as well.  I told them that I only planned on being able to if all the stars aligned, since I barely trained for this marathon.  Oops.

I was so excited, because my friend Tara text  me on Friday that she ended up coming to Chicago and was going to run the marathon after all.  The poor girl has registered three times and had gotten hurt every other time and could not run.

I was excited to see her at the start line.

Tara and me.  Tara insisted on taking off her 1989, two sizes too big, Schoolast fleece that she was tossing at the start.

After a trip to the bathroom, I made my way to start corral D to wait for the start.

It was then that I learned that I could just sit at the start and people watch all day instead of run the race.  There are some odd balls out there.

I ended up texting this picture to Ken.

Is it just me or does this guy look like Hitler?
All in good fun, he probably kicked my ass in the marathon.

The National Anthem played and it was about time to start.

Side note:  Does anyone else get very mad whenever people from other countries do not have the respect to not talk or laugh during the playing of our National Anthem?  It really irritates me.  I mean, they are in America at an American event.  Show some respect please and at least be quiet.

It was a beautiful morning for a marathon.

I crossed the start line in about 6 minutes.  I lost my signal inside the loop and my Garmin seemed to take a while to recover.  I had positioned myself between the 3:55 and 3:50 pace groups.

I am not exactly sure why either.  But, you know, I was hopeful.

I was right with the 3:55 pace group for a while and could see the 3:50 group up in front of me.  I made it my goal to catch them.

Dom, dom, dom...

Why or why did I want to catch them and run with them?

I am an excellent pacer on my own and always have run my own race.  For some reason, I wanted to try to run with a pace group.

I had caught up to the 3:50 group sometime right after the 5K mark.

5K - 27:19 - 8:48

I caught up to the group and thought it was kind of fun to run along with them.  Two of the pacers were further ahead and one named Rick, was further back.  Rick was a talker.  I listened to him talk and talk for a while and liked the distraction.

I knew we were running faster than we should have been, but I was feeling good and it felt easy.

Now, how many race reports have you read where that exact statement has been said?

Now, how many race reports have you read where that exact statement has been said and the person reached their goal?

Probably not many.

I will save you the suspense, this is not a happy ending.

Just before mile 5, we entered Lincoln Park.  This is such a pretty part of the race.  The trees, the leaves, the men dashing to pee by the trees, it just screamed Fall.

I was still just cruising along, knowing that I should slow down, but I feeling good.

10K - 54:06 - 8:37

As I was seeing the miles tick away in the 8:30 range, it finally started to click that the pace group was going too fast.  Knowing this, what did I do?  I stayed with them.

We ran through Boys Town, which is my favorite neighborhood.  I love the cross dressers, men thrown guns in the air, the music, it is just such a fun spot of the race.

It was somewhere near Boys Town that I heard someone running shout my name.  It was the two guys from the cab.  I could not believe that I had run into them.

There was also another guy with them that must have thought I was someone else.  He talked to me for a while and told me thanks for all of the support.  He was a super nice guy, but not sure that we knew each other.  Maybe he reads my blog?

A little after Boys Town, I decided it was time.  It was time to let the 3:50 pace group go.  I knew I could handle pacing myself and knew there was no way I could keep up with them.

This was sad because I had secretly promised myself a Burberry scarf if I could break 3:50.

Of course I did tell not Ken this, but it does not matter, it didn't happen.

15K - 1:21:29 - 8:49

I kept chugging along and was excited about seeing Michelle at the half way mark.  I also was mentally preparing myself in case I somehow missed her on the side of the street.  She is only 4'10 after all.

20K - 1:48:54 - 8:50

I had decided that a 3:50 was most likely out, but that I could still beat 3:56, which was my marathon PR from this race in 2010.

Half Marathon - 1:55:01 - 9:00

As I crossed the half marathon timing mat, I looked at my watch.  I knew if I could run the exact same pace for the remainder of the race, I could make 3:50.  I laughed.  I knew that was not going to happen.  My legs already felt tired.  I knew those 8:30's were catching up to me.

I was scanning the right side of the street and found Michelle!  I knew she would make a few friends while waiting for me and she did.  I gave her a big smile and wave and was on my way.

The stretch between the half and China Town was a hard stretch for me this year.  I just could not get it together.  It was then that I realized that trying to run a 3:50 marathon without really training was a bad idea.

This was also the stretch where I swore that I would never, ever sign up for a marathon again.  This is it for me, I remember thinking.

25K - 2:17:37 - 9:19

As I was running along, I noticed a guy that was limping.  Not just a hobble, full blown limping.  I noticed that he started in the A corral, which means he is fast.  I went passed him and for whatever reason, I stopped and turned around to check on him.

The poor guy, he hurt his foot at mile 12 and was going to limp the rest of the way.  I felt really bad for him.  I talked to him for a few minutes and wished him well and was on my way.

This next section could just be titled the beginning of the end.

My legs felt dead and I wanted to be finished.

The 4:00 pace group paced me and I was so mad at myself for not just going out conservative and running a 4:00 marathon.  I can run 9:00 miles all day long and at that moment I was struggling big time.

30K - 2:48:25 - 9:55

The rest of the race was more of the same.  For whatever reason, I was not all that excited for Chinatown this year.  Chinatown is my second favorite neighborhood.  I hated that I was not in the mood for it this year.

35K - 3:23:14 - 11:13
40K - 3:55:  45 - 10:28

Finally it was time to make the turn toward the finish. I scanned the area by the turn for Michelle, since that is where we talked about meeting.  Unfortunately, I did not see her and she did not see me.

I did notice that the area around the finish line seemed different this year.  Not as many people were in the bleachers and I am sure that this was a result of Boston.

I crossed the finish line in 4:09:15 and was thrilled to be finished!

I walked through the finish area, collect my stuff, got my beer and started walking toward the exit.

I had to surrender my beer since you cannot take it out of Grant Park.

I called Ken to tell him I was finished.  He asked me if I was okay with my finish time.  I hesitated and told him I was.  I mean, I made a few mistakes, was not in the best shape, and ran a 4:09.  I was happy with that.
I am not going to lie, I was a little bummed about the no go on the Burberry scarf.

I found Michelle and we started our walk back to our apartment.

Marathon #9 in the books!

On the way back, we had an interesting incident.  We were at a cross walk and some man stood there for a bit and turned to me and asked me (in an Irish accent) if he could take my picture and take it home with him to Ireland.  Yep, that happened.  Of course I let him take my picture.  Who knows, I might become famous in Ireland.

Soon we were back to the apartment, where we asked the door man to take a picture of the two of us.

Here is what we ended up with:

Yep, he gave me my phone back with no shame.  I guess I should probably mention that I am not sure if he spoke English or not.

Once inside, I asked a nice guy to take our picture.  This one turned out much better.

Michelle and me

The guy that took our picture asked me if running a marathon gets easier the more you run.  I promptly responded with, um no.

So that is marathon #9.  Oh, and don't worry, there will be a marathon #10, and 11, and 12, and well, you get the picture.  :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicago Marathon: Prerace

I must start off by saying that Chicago never disappoints.  It is a great city, that puts on a great marathon.

I had to take a Microbiology test the morning before we left.  Gah.  At least I got it out of the way.

I also told Kya that she had to pose for a picture with me.

I think we can all agree that Kya looks less than thrilled here.

Michelle and I flew to Chicago on Friday afternoon.  It was a great weekend for a little outing for us girls.  Our last trip with just the two of us was to the Bahamas for my 30th birthday.  Needless to say, this trip was destined to be less eventful than our shindig in the Bahamas.

Michelle and me on the train

We decided to go by the expo on Friday to get it out of the way.  Can I just say I am not a fan of expos?  They are just too crowded for me.  

My obligatory photo in front of the course map.

A view of all of the craziness

Michelle was such a trooper all weekend!

On the bus, which was a school bus, leaving the expo to go to dinner.

I introduced Michelle to my favorite Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's.  It is safe to say that she is in love with it as well.  

Walking around Michigan Avenue

One our way back to our apartment, we came into contact with a few bums.  Michelle figured out a way to get them to leave us alone right away.  If they are looking for $2, tell them you are trying to get $10 for yourself.  It worked and they left us alone.

We woke up on Saturday and made our way out to go shopping.

Wandering around State

We ended up walking about six miles.  Oops, I am not sure that is what you are supposed to do the day before a marathon.

We stopped at Ghiradelli and I had this little slice of heaven.  

We found this little guy on our walk back to the apartment.

After we hung out for awhile, we decided to go to a local bar and grill for dinner and to watch the Cardinal game.  Then, we made our way to a little bakery that I found that is in Chicago and NYC.  It is called Magnolia Bakery.  It was fabulous!

I know what you are thinking, I already had a brownie, hot fudge sundae and I should not have another dessert.

What is a girl to do when there is all of this yumminess in one place?

Cream cheese brownie?  Well I do not mind if I do!

100% pure happiness.

Michelle found her happiness, a peanut butter toffee bar.  She said she was not going to eat the whole thing at the table.  But, we all know that would have been impossible.  It was too yummy!

There may or may not have been a pumpkin cheesecake purchased for an after marathon treat.

Back on State again and happier than ever after visiting Magnolia Bakery!

After our treats, we stopped at Macy's to use the ladies room.  Little did we know that they had already started putting up their Christmas decor!

This Christmas tree may or may not have made my day.  

Well, that is until a store associate told us that the 6th floor had several trees set up and was basically Heaven.  

So, off we went to the 6th floor!

This is when I learned that Michelle has a fear of escalators and would not ride them all they way to the 6th floor.

Here she is scared to death and forced to ride the elevator.

You exit the elevator and come upon this:

A little Holiday Lane.  My day was made.

Actually, my week was made.

 Ice cream, brownies, and Christmas trees, all in one day?  Yes please!

Michelle was less than thrilled about Christmas trees in October, but did find a dog friend.

She also admitted that she liked this pink tree.  I knew that she had a little Keri in her somewhere.

So much holiday cheer, all in one place.

And yes, this happened.

Michelle told me that I was taking too many pictures.  I could not help it.  It was so pretty!

I know she will never admit it, but I think she liked the Christmas trees too.  You know you did Michelle.

Michelle could have left me in Macy's for the rest of the trip and I would have been happy!

After Michelle drug me off of the 6th floor of Macy's we made our way back to our apartment for an early bedtime.  I got several good luck texts from Ken, since he was starting to realize that for the first time ever, he would not be at the finish line of the marathon waiting on me.  Cue a little tear.

Don't worry, Michelle made an excellent Marathon Mom!