… awkwardly meeting new team members for the first time:
Before my first leg:
Thinking about roadkill:
During the mid-race shower:
… awkwardly meeting new team members for the first time:
Before my first leg:
Thinking about roadkill:
During the mid-race shower:
Something very awesome is happening this weekend and no, it’s not just me obsessively stalking the forecast for Ragnar Chicago. No, June 1 is the launch of Kindrunner.com, a site that bills itself as a revolutionary new way to handle the purchase of new running shoes, and the repurposing of old ones.
Joe from Kindrunner.com was, ahem, kind enough to answer some of my questions about the site.
Lindsay: Tell me a little about the site and what makes it so different.
Joe: Kindrunner is the only place on the web where runners can trade in their old running shoes for new shoes. What we are looking to do is to take shoes that would normally go into landfills or in someones closet and re-purpose them, give them to someone who would greatly value them. I think of it like this: “Your old shoes may not last another long run, but they would go the distance in changing someone else’s life for the better.”
Lindsay: That sounds great. But of course I gotta ask, what’s in it for me?
Joe: Runners receive Kindness Cash Rewards for every shoe they send to us. We in turn give those old shoes do our shoe donation partners including Soles 4 Souls. The runners received a credit that they can apply to anything on our site. We have Free 3 Way Shipping that allows a runner to both return product if they change their mind and send their old shoes to us for free.
Video Break! What is Kindrunner.com?
Lindsay: What else does Kindrunner.com do?
Joe: I can’t stress enough that NO-ONE is going to be doing what we are doing. Our goal is to bring the knowledge of a local-running shop to your fingertips online. We are a group of runners who have a combined 40+ years working in the industry. In short we are all passionate runners who know that there is a better way to do things online.
We have a virtual running shop on the site that includes a staff product review for every product. I think you will find them both informative and funny.
Lindsay: See for yourself:
Asics GT-2000 Review
Garmin 610 Review:
Joe: We also know that there are millions of running shoes that go into the trash yearly, and think we can do something better with those shoes. There are tens of millions of people around the world who would get years of use our of the shoes that most of us consider to be trashed… we also think that people should be rewarded for helping others, hence the kindness cash idea!
Lindsay: How did you come up with the idea?
Joe: I own a few running stores in NJ and have been collecting shoes for various charitable causes for years. I just wanted to find a way to help more people. Great running shops do something very special that can not be easily duplicated (case in point, you know this if you have tried a new running store in the last few years) so we wanted to combine the idea of expert advise and helping others in need. We found some willing partners in Soles 4 Souls and the More Foundation Group who agreed to helps us recycle the customers boxes and get the shoes directly to people in need and support projects that help people in places where they need assistance the most.
Lindsay: What happens to the shoes and packaging materials?
Joe: All of the old running shoes are shipped directly to our shoe donation partners distribution centers where the boxes and paper are recycled properly and the shoes are sent to to people in need in counties like Haiti and those in Western Africa among others. In some cases shoes are given to people in need in the US.
Lindsay: Sounds good. But, what happens if a new runner doesn’t have a pair of old running shoes?
Joe: If you do not have old running shoes we accept other rubber soled shoes that are not designed to be worn as dress shoes. For every pair you purchase from kind runner, you can send back an old pair.
Lindsay: Has anyone mentioned how much this sounds like Toms? Is this the same or different?
Joe: It is different in a very positive way. We applaud the good work they do, however for ever pair or shoes purchased (and thus manufactured) they create a mother pair to give to to someone. This helps the person in need, but it also doubles the carbon foot print of the company in one transaction. At Kindrunner we simply repurpose your old running shoes, giving them to non-runners who need them for basic transportation and protection from injury and disease. We stretch a single carbon foot print to its maximum potential. We believe that thoughtful and educated runners all over the country will relate to our movement and want to be a Kindrunner.
Lindsay: Anything else we should know?
Joe: Actually, if you go to kindrunner.com before June 1 and enter your email you can learn more about kindrunner and be entered for the chance to win free running shoes for a year for you and a running partner of your choice! Just make sure your running partner enters, too.
Lindsay: Nice–I see what you did there. Thanks, Joe, and I look forward to seeing all the cool things Kindrunner does! Here’s how you can keep up with them:
Happy (kind) running!
First, the headlines:
1: Finished the race with my “B” goal time. Had a blast.
2. I adore an organized race, and I’m not sure I’ve been to one that was more organized. A+++, Soldier Field 10-miler.
And they still are! Your running surfaces may be flat, but man they beat up my legs. Last year I got shin splints after being here for two weeks and running a lot. Imma have to find some trails to run.
Back to the race:
My sister, brother-in-law and I went into the city Friday afternoon. We hit packet pickup at Fleet Feet. This was a pain to get to, and not worth the trip–will have packet mailed if we do this race again.
We ate an early dinner at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods. I know, I know, we’re in an awesome food city and ate at WF. But! This store has awesome smoked meats and tons of vegetables, so it’s a very safe pre-race choice, as opposed to eating, say, Chicago-style pizza or a hot dog. I had smoked chicken and a baked potato with broccoli. Delicious. We also got our breakfast goodies. Oh, and some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies because I like to have a simple dessert before a race. It’s the little things, right?
We went back to the hotel and got to bed about 8:30 and got up at 4:30. If this isn’t your race-day alarm ring tone, well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you:
I got dressed and went down to check the weather. It was pretty perfect–about 48 degrees or so. I grabbed coffee for my BIL and me and headed back up. We finished getting ready (breakfast: Cherry Limeade Nuun, miniature whole wheat bagel, and honey roasted peanut butter) and headed to the race at 5:40. We wanted to be in the garage at Soldier Field by 6 AM because I figured there’d be a rush about then. Parking was organized, and there were portapotties in the parking garage. Genius. In fact, everything was so organized that we had some time to kill. Goofy pictures in front of Soldier Field? Check. Another portapotty trip? Check. Try to find friends who apparently hadn’t arrived yet, eat a banana, shiver in the cold? Check, check, check.
Finally it was nearing 6:45 and time for me to be in my corral. I said goodbye to Lesley and Clay and got in place. There was a really lovely pre-race ceremony that included a lot of thankfulness for the soldiers that have sacrificed everything for our country, and a beautiful rendition of Taps. I hadn’t made the Memorial Day weekend/Soldier Field connection before then–duh, Lindsay. I’m sure what was happening on stage was very touching; it was touching even where I was, where I could only hear what was going on.
Soon enough the race had started and we were moving toward the start. I was in corral 7 and we crossed the start around 7:20. They do a really nice job of keeping the runners spaced. There’s plenty of room on the south-bound part of the course, but coming back north, on the trail, there’s not as much room, but it was never crowded.
In the first mile, it was still hard to maneuver, and there is a good long portion where you are running underneath McCormick Place. Here, it is dark and you really need to concentrate on not losing your footing because the road is not perfect. I lost satellite reception, but knew my clock was still running, so I didn’t stress out. But if you run this in the future–update your software. My sister has an older Garmin and she never updates the software, and even her clock didn’t work under there–her actual chip time was a full 4 minutes slower than her Garmin time because her Garmin basically shut off in the tunnel.
We got out of the tunnel and I found a bunny to pace off of. We were maintaining a pretty even 8:40 pace for miles 2-4 and she stayed just ahead of me. I’d lose her and find her again, and while I knew I might not be able to maintain the pace when we headed north and into the wind, this was no an un-do-able pace, either. This was the point at which my shins started to hurt, and I spent some time being surprised at how quickly that had happened.
So, here’s the stupid-ish thing I did for this race. I didn’t even think about race nutrition until the day before, and I grabbed some Jelly Belly Sport Beans I’d gotten at the factory in Kenosha earlier this month. I’ve never used Sport Beans before. But I knew they’d at least keep my blood sugar from dipping, and they probably wouldn’t give me any GI issues I couldn’t run through. And they did just what I predicted: blood sugar stayed up, and my stomach was a mess. I have a new theory: my stomach doesn’t like things with added vitamins in them. When I trained for Myrtle Beach, with the Trader Joe’s stroopwaffels, which are literally just little cookies, I was fine. But when you start throwing gels, shots, blocks, beans in there that have vitamins, my stomach rebels. My stomach doesn’t like regular vitamins that I take without food, and it sure doesn’t seem to like them when I’m running. But again, nothing I couldn’t run through, so onward we went.
I found my pacer bunny at the aid station near mile 7. She had 2 cups of water in her hand, and some Gatorade. I never saw her again, so I’m not sure if she petered out or what. It was definitely harder running into the wind in the second half, but not terrible. And there was the skyline to look at. Just after that, there was the only real hill on the course, and so the Alexi Pappas in my head said “You know this hill!” and I attacked it.
At mile 8.5 I was in the mood to be done, so I started picking people to take down. Matchy-matchy Lululemon outfit? You’re gone! Fishtail braid girl? Goodbye! Other fishtail-braid girl? Later! I finally came on a young woman with a ponytail, and passed her. Then she passed me. Then we finally ran side-by-side as we came into the final stretch beside Soldier Field. We went through the tunnel and when we came out on the field, I waved her on, and we both sped up and crossed the line. I also totally forgot to look for myself on the Jumbotron. Oh, well.
I got my medal, my food, and found Clay. He had my bag with a change of clothes so I got warm(er) and we waited for Lesley to come in. We used the Find My Friends app on our phones to track Lesley–this is a great tool if you are tracking someone at a race. We made a lot of noise for her when she came in, and then collected her, too.
Afterward, I got to see Jenny and Chrisy, who are the ones who hooked me up with my Ragnar Chicago team last year, and we also went to a little after-party with our actual teammates.
Can’t say enough good things about this race. Very organized, and lots of fun. I also like the 10-mile distance a lot. For the record, my A goal, back when I was hopeful for a flawless training schedule, was 1:25, my B goal was 1:30 and my “Hey, my foot hurts” C Goal was 1:35. My official time was 1:29:47, so I’m fine with that. It was a solid training run for Ragnar Chicago, my foot didn’t hurt (!!!!!), and it was a good reminder that I need to baby my shins while I’m here.
If I go AWOL on the blog for a little while, it usually means one thing: I’m hurt. Or afraid I’m hurt. And I just hate to use this space to whine about being hurt. Or being afraid of being hurt. I wrote a bit about my right foot before I went to Wisconsin, but all you need to know is: I somehow managed to hurt it by not lacing new shoes to avoid the high top of my foot.
it’s been bothering me to some degree since. Dr. Google diagnosed me with a bit of Extensor Tendinitis: top of foot pain going down into the toes.
Knowing that it has a name and fancy medical drawings makes me feel better only because I thought surely I was the only person in the world who could injure themselves by tying their shoes too tight.
Icing like a madwoman. Literally, four times a day.
Different shoes: My older Asics 2170s don’t have too much wear, and the laces are at very different places from the Brooks Ravenna 3 & 4. This has helped tremendously.
Rest (sort of): I have kept the streak alive (Today is day 256!) by running a mile, but only a mile, a day for the last week. The top of my foot no longer hurts, and isn’t swollen the way it once was.
Last night, I arrived in Chicagoland, and went out for a test 4-miler in my parent’s neighborhood. It’s a magical place, where I feel pretty much safe running at night. Where, on Halloween, people dispense full-sized candy bars to my children, where everyone drives nice cars, and where you see multiple bunnies–BUNNIES–on nighttime runs in spring. Bunnies. Also, no hills.
Anyway, at this point, the only lingering niggle is a feeling like I need to pop my toes. Oh, how I wish I knew how to pop my toes! Someone at Big Peach suggested I just sort of drive my toes vertically into the floor to get them to pop, but it hasn’t worked so far.
With all that said, I have sadly downgraded my expectations of Soldier Field. Or perhaps I could say, this race has magically transformed to something less than I wanted. When I registered, I was excited to be doing a new distance, and really wanted to kill it. There aren’t many 10-milers in Atlanta and I knew it would be a while before I’d do another. But, life and running being the awesomely unpredictable beasts that they are, I am instead going to treat it as a training run for Ragnar Chicago.
If I happen to run into Soldier Field in a blaze of glory, I’ll let you know. But frankly, my greatest hope is to run the thing niggle-free. I’ll report back. But you already knew that.
Spoiler One: Yes, I PR’d.
Spoiler Two: No, I did not puke.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let me start by saying that the Brunch Run was everything I wanted it to be. It was so low-key, but well-organized. It felt like a small-town race (450 runners), but in the middle of the big-name greenspace (Piedmont Park) in a major metropolitan area (Atlanta, of course). The start line was scrawled on the pavement and the course volunteers were (among others) the race directors themselves. At the end, most everyone stayed and lounged on the grass, enjoying coffee (in our new race mugs!) and breakfast, and even moving en masse to participate in the awards ceremony and raffle. That doesn’t happen at the races I’m used to in Atlanta. It was really the perfect start to a spring morning. I definitely want to be back for it next year.
So, the recap.
My sister’s registration to the race was my gift to her for her 40th birthday. She and my BIL were running, and Katie agreed to pace me to a PR. That left my husband watching the kids–not a big deal since we were in a park and they were pretty happy just running around. We met up with Melissa from My Peach Life, who warmed up with us and hung out with us afterward.
Katie and I headed to the start line, and an a capella group from Emory sang the National Anthem. It was one of the most beautiful renditions I’ve heard–I don’t normally get emotional at the National Anthem but I actually got a tiny bit verklempt. Didn’t last long, though, because we were off.
Oh, were we off. The plan was 8:22, 8:15, 8:10 for our miles, with a push at the end. But we also talked about being a little more aggressive. Well, I was all excited like a new little runner bunny and I went out waaaay too fast. I will say, I felt great the first mile. Stupid, stupid. Never run faster when you’re feeling great. Never run that much faster than The Plan.
I realized this at 1.5 miles when, as predicted, I wanted to die. Everything in me felt tense. I was pretty sure by this point that my goal (25:xx) had slipped away. My hip flexors were very tight, but I was expending a lot of mental energy telling my shoulders to come down from ear-level, and I even felt tension, more than the usual amount of tension, in my core. My legs just felt slow and sad. Katie named a couple of people to pick off in front of us, and so we did. Finally as we came into the last mile she picked one more woman for us to pick off, but I just couldn’t do it. Katie told me to dig, but I didn’t have the energy to tell her I felt like I already was. By the time the last song on my playlist came on, I was getting the tunnel vision that I get when my blood sugar is low. I could tell we would even be tight to make it for a PR (sub 26:59). The last .25 was uphill but I managed to push it for the last .1.
Official time was 26:32, which is a PR by 27 seconds. As many have said, “It is always good when you can run faster than you have ever run before.” That is true, and I’m trying to remind myself of that.
Here’s the thing: I could blame not making my original A goal (sub 25), and my revised B goal (sub 26) on a lot of things: it was hot, I didn’t stretch out my hip flexors, I needed sugar, blah blah blah.
But the truth is, I got the PR that I trained for. I haven’t been training like I should. I took a lot of time off real training after the marathon. I couldn’t decide if this 5k, the Soldier Field 10-miler, or Ragnar Chicago was my goal race, so I just didn’t really train hard for any of them. My mileage has been low. I haven’t been to the track since March. I did do speed work but it was on the treadmill and was a bit haphazard.
I’m glad for the PR but I’m more thankful for the good kick in the pants for my training. The Summer of Speed is here. If you need me, you can find me at the track.
Tomorrow I’m off to the Brunch Run to A) Eat bacon and B) Acquire a new PR. My original goal was to break 25 minutes, but I honestly have not put the work in to do that. Of that, I am not proud.
However, sub-26 (a big PR) is certainly within my grasp. Katie has even agreed to pace me through it. Now, I just have to want this PR pretty bad. How bad?
Bad enough to focus.
Bad enough to hurt.
Bad enough to puke.
That’s right. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that 5k’s are just… always… hard. And in the words of my friend Tim, you really should be hurting within two minutes of starting one. So, I’m readying myself for a goal that is in reach, with a high level of discomfort. I’m not saying puking is definitely in the cards tomorrow. I’m just saying I need to be prepared for the possibility if this is actually a goal I want to achieve, and if, frankly, I want to continue to better my 5k times (which I really, really do).
And so, I present to you my Prepare to Puke Playlist. It’s approximately 26:45 so it should get me well over the finish line, possibly even providing some musical accompaniment for the predicted wretching.
1. Where the Streets Have No Name, U2. There’s no better tune to get you pumped up for the start of a race. It’s epic. EPIC I SAY.
2. Beat It, Michael Jackson. Do I really need to explain this one? “Show ’em how funky, strong is your FIGHT.”
3. Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Wang Cheung. This one makes my feet move, and I think there’s something there in the subtle irony of talking about having fun when I’m already hurting at mile 1.5.
4. Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees. By this point I suspect I shall want to lay down and die. This song will be motivation to… you got it… stay alive. Stay in my race.
5. Good Time, Owl City. This one always makes me think of Ragnar, which are the fun races I reward myself with after all the hard work of the rest of the year. It makes me smile and think happy thoughts. I’m hoping it will distract me from the pain.
6. My Body, Young the Giant. I’m late to the party on this song, as I just discovered it a couple of weeks ago. (Shout out to Jenny and Andrea, who introduced me to this song through their Nuun Hood to Coast videos.) It’s perfect for an end-of-race push–“My body tells me nooooooooo! But! I won’t quit! ‘Cause I want more!!!”
So, that’s my playlist for tomorrow. If you need puke-preparation, feel free to use these songs. Wish me luck. And at least if I puke, there’ll be more room for bacon, right? Right?
Note from Lindsay: Yesterday I wrote about my experience spectating, cheering, and pacing my friend Katie’s attempt at a Boston Qualifying time at the Wisconsin Marathon. These are Katie’s thoughts, 48 hours after a disappointing (for her) finish at the race. Anyone who has hit the wall, or who dreads hitting the wall, will find something here that may help you in the future. In her words:
In the past 14 months, I have run 3 marathons, (3:57, 3;43, 3:53). In each race, I experienced the same dreaded end-of-race fade. Of course, it was the wall. Everyone talks about the wall. There are so many reasons for hitting the wall: nutritional, physical, mental. But in all my reading and researching and geeking out with other runners, I never bothered to ponder and never bothered to ask the question: “What happens after you hit the wall?” I am not exactly sure where to go from here: could it be that I need to look at a very different pacing strategy? Do I need to look at alternate strategies for fueling? Or does it mean that I am just not capable of a Boston Qualifying performance? Will I forever be wishing that a marathon ended at mile 23?
This past Saturday, I kept such a close eye on running even, easy splits, staying calm, hydrating regularly, fueling early. My dear friends Lindsay and Kristiana even drove the ENTIRE course the day before this race so that I would have an idea of what to expect: hills, road conditions, gravel road portions, stretches of the course which appeared a little more remote and would likely have very little crowd support.
I have to wonder how much of this fade at the end is mental: when I had one mile that was off pace by 15 seconds, I didn’t give up. I can vividly recall wanting to just lie down on the side of the road in the final miles 7 or 8 of the Myrtle Beach marathon in February. My body just felt exhausted, and my feet just hurt.
This time, my feet didn’t hurt, and I certainly didn’t want to lie down. I had one mile where my pace slipped by 15 seconds. I had enough cognitive ability to know that even if I could hold that pace until the end, that I would still have a qualifying time. Easy math: 15 seconds x 5 miles is only a just over a minute slower than I wanted. My mind was sharp and I just hit the gas a little bit more.
But then I turned into the wind, going uphill. And because we had driven the course the day before, I knew very well that I would keep running this direction until just before the finish. The wind wasn’t going to end. I didn’t remember the hill. And when I turned around, it looked like the road I had just climbed up was also going uphill. How could that be? I kept giving myself surges to push faster. I have trained for this.
The mental strength that I gained from the 9 x 1 mile at 30 seconds faster than marathon pace workouts? This is when I needed it. I thought about those workouts. I thought about the 25 miler that ended with a fast finish which I accidentally routed UP a massive Atlanta hill, but still maintained an 8:10 pace. I needed that right now. And then, something just broke inside me. And my legs stopped going as fast as they were. And the pushing that I was doing to keep the pace that was going to get me in a 1:15 slower overall? That effort level was giving me a per mile pace that was 30 seconds off my goal pace, and then 50 seconds off my goal pace. And then I started throwing up.
My friend Lindsay jumped in at mile 23, and I started to vomit more. This was not puke-your-guts-out after a hard track effort vomit; it was a foamy, energy gel spit up.
This happened to me once in Myrtle Beach. I had a bit of vomit in my mouth. But then it didn’t happen again.
But now it kept happening. I slowed down to walk, and each time I started up again, I would throw up some more. I started to feel woozy and dizzy. Later, Lindsay later told me that I was weaving instead of running in a straight path. When Lindsay talked to me, I had trouble answering her, but it wasn’t because I was going so fast. I was able to talk to people a little earlier in the race, at miles 14, 15, and 16, when I was racing at the right pace.
I took some Gatorade from an aid station (I thought that maybe I needed some more electrolytes) at some point during after mile 23, and it came right back up a few minutes later.
At some point I thought: “what if I really hurt myself trying to do this?”. And instead of vomiting and running the whole thing in, I just slowed to a walking pace for the last mile, and ran in the last 0.2.
It is hard for me to not feel really disappointed right now, especially because I just felt so strong and ready. I didn’t hit the wall so tragically during training in the 23 and 25 milers. I felt a little exhausted towards the end of those, but I was able to push through that and really finish strong. But during all those training runs, I had to take breaks for stoplights, and to refill my water bottles. I wonder if these little breaks in running allowed me recover just enough to not have a big bonk at the end.
My husband asked me how I was feeling, and I told him I felt devastated and ashamed. He told me that I had every right to feel sad, maybe even devastated, but not for long. And I had no right to feel ashamed.
It is easy to get caught up in the concept that if you put in the work, you will always get results. But, that is not always the case. That is why you show up on race day and race, instead of just being handed a medal. And the marathon is, in its simplest form, a beast that is not easy to tame. Every time you toe the line at a marathon, the possibility of failure looms large. No one is guaranteed a great day of racing, fueling, hydrating, pacing, staying mentally focused. It is a challenge.
No, I am not ashamed. I did take a risk. My day was not Saturday. While I was at the medical tent being checked over (I am sincerely thankful for having such loving friends at the finish line to propel my stumbling self over to medical) I looked Kristiana and Lindsay in the eye and said my typical refrain about 10 minutes after finishing a marathon: “I am never, ever (!!) doing one of these again!”.
But the lure of qualifying for Boston is there for me. It’s a goal that I have talked about in front my children, my friends, my parents. I can’t just walk away after a measly two tries. What sort of example does that set to them? How does that affect my own self esteem?
It may be another year or more, but I will come back to this goal. I’ll spend some time laying down an even stronger base of fitness before I begin another marathon training cycle. I also need to spend time building up all the other things that began to be neglected. My family needs me to step out of the season of marathon training and come back to a more attentive, present state in our home. There is, after all, a race we are all running that needs a lot more endurance than the one I ran on Saturday.
20. 8:23 (this is where running into the wind off the lake was starting to mess with my head)
24. 11:50 (this is where I started vomiting)
26. 15:32 (walked and vomited probably 8 or 10 times)
Ah, Wisconsin. I love ya.
This marks the first time in three years that I attended the Wisconsin Marathon but didn’t run it (the half, anyway). Back in January, I had decided to forego it in lieu of running the Soldier Field 10-miler in late May, with my sister and Kristiana. I knew I’d miss it but figured I’d deal. However, after my dear friend Katie narrowly missed qualifying for Boston in February at Myrtle Beach, it came up again as an option for another try for her, and ended up being the race she decided on. Since I know the course (half of it, anyway) and the area, and since I love a good runcation, I quickly volunteered to go with her for race support, and to drag Kristiana (who got me into running in the first place) along for the ride.
We flew into Chicago on Friday morning and picked up Kristiana at her (amazing, 39th floor) place before heading straight for Kenosha. I was super duper (hi, i’m in 3rd grade) excited to show Katie so much of the Upper Midwest that I adore so we immediately started packing everything we could into the trip. We stopped first at the Lake Forest Oasis, because they just don’t build large rest stop/gas station/Starbucks combos over the interstate in Georgia. I went with a risky choice for lunch–chicken kebabs from a no-name Greek place and enjoyed them with a view of… cars.
We crossed the border into Wisconsin and headed toward packet pickup. Just off the interstate, we saw the Jelly Belly factory and store and stopped in to get goodies for children: Jelly-Belly Uno games and toasted marshmallow jelly beans. I also picked up some very strangely colored “Irregular” Jelly Belly Sport Beans for a little bit of nothing. Jelly beans. This trip was already going well.
Packet pickup for this thing was short and sweet, one of the things I love about this race. It took about 7 minutes total. Then we drove the course, so Katie would know what to expect, and since I wanted to see the other half of it. After that, it was off to the hotel to settle in and get dinner. We ate at the restaurant in our hotel, The Chancery, which is a local chain that has a lot of Wisconsin specialties–five cheese French onion soup, cheese curds, and lots of beef. Kristiana and I both got a grass-fed Angus burger, no bun, with sweet potato tots, and man, it was good. Katie got -shocker- pasta, and should you choose to eat at The Chancery before this race, you should know that the portion sizes are smallish, so order a large. After dinner we hit up Walgreens for some toiletries and poster board and then went back to get Katie race-ready. I snuck in my mile to continue my run streak, made some signs, and then put Katie’s name on her shirt with KT Tape so she’d have support when Kristiana and I weren’t around. Then it was lights out in preparation for a 5AM wakeup call.
The next morning went smoothly and we were at the race start by 6:20. Katie warmed up and Kristiana and I found Kim, who is a fellow Nuun Hood to Coast teammate this year. She was ready to go for a PR in the 1/2 marathon but sweetly met up with me and we had a few minutes to chat. I loved getting to meet another of the ladies that I’ll be running with in August.
Soon it was time for Katie to get in her corral and we walked her toward the start. The race lets people wearing cheese-related apparel into the first “corral” (truth be told, there are no corrals in this race, just a self-seeded start) and so it was fun to get a chance to see that, for once, since I wasn’t lined up behind them. After a moment of silence for Boston, a round of applause for the first-responders, and the National Anthem, they were off. I started my Garmin as I watched Katie cross the mats, rang the cowbell a few times, and then headed for the Harborside Coffeehouse. With a 7AM start in May, it was pretty chilly at the start, and coffee is always good. Plus, the coffee shop sits at the 4.5-mile and 11-mile mark for both the 1/2 and the full, so it’s a great place to cheer without having to be terribly mobile.
We got coffee and watched the leaders go by. Actor Mark Ruffalo is from Kenosha, and his brother Andy is usually in the top two finishers for the Wisconsin Marathon Half. So if you’re watching the leaders in the race, you get to see the sibling of a famous person. Hey, hey!
Soon it was 7:30 and we went outside to watch for Katie. She came through looking strong and we held up our signs and yelled and yelled. Then we kept cheering for a bit, until we saw my friend Angie come by, and Kim too. We had made double-sided signs–one side just for Katie and the other for everyone else, and so we spread some good cheer around until we got cold and holed up in the coffeeshop again.
Kristiana and I had a few minutes to visit before Katie came back through at mile 11. She was perfectly on pace, looking strong and as happy as I’ve seen her look when she’s focused (one of her great strengths is race focus, in my opinion). After she passed, Kristiana and I headed to the car to shed some layers since we both had some running of our own to do. Kristiana is in the early stages of planning for the Paris 10-miler (illness set aside her plans to do Soldier Field, unfortunately) and was going to do 5 miles before heading to the finish to watch for Katie. My job, was to get myself to mile 23 to try and run Katie in the last part of the race. I say try because her planned pace (8:15) would mean that 3.2 miles would be major PR pace for me. I’d been training for it, but I was nervous.
I used the 3 mile distance between downtown and the 23-mile mark as a nice, long warmup. I’ve run in this part of Wisconsin many times, while visiting friends, running this race, and doing Ragnar Chicago. I just love it. Scenic and flat, and particularly when the weather is nice, there’s just no place nicer.
I got to the mile 23 mark with about 15 minutes to spare so I cheered and yelled for the runners. Saw my friend Tracy’s husband Jon, who I wasn’t expecting and who I’m sure had NO clue who I was, but I hollered for him anyway. ‘Cause that’s what I do!
I saw Katie round the corner about .25 away, and yelled really loud and cheerleader kicked for her. As she came closer I realized my cheering time had taken its toll on my warmup, and that I needed a little head start to work up to her pace. I started to run as she came toward me. My Garmin was not giving me pace info–something about having the time on it run for so long when we weren’t moving at the start seemed to make it not want to give me a pace when I was moving. So I have no real idea how fast I was going. I can run 9:00 miles and 10:00 miles by feel. Faster than 9:00 miles and I don’t really know how fast I’m going. But it seemed like it was taking her longer to get to me than it should have. So I slowed.
She caught me quickly after that but as soon as I saw her, I could tell things were not good. She has agreed to write a blog post about the race that I’ll post later this week. We had not gone but about .5 when she tearfully said, “Not today, Lindsay. Not today.” I am rarely without words but I was not prepared to hear that. That’s how well-trained she was. I’d watched her training logs on Daily Mile. I’d seen her run. There had not been a doubt in my mind that she would get this BQ done. So, I wracked my brain for the right words. I worked on being encouraging to her regarding finishing, without being so over-the-top Pollyanna that she would want to punch me.
The last 3.2 miles were very hard for her. I’m so proud of her for finishing that race. I was very worried about her and honestly wouldn’t have blamed her a bit for walking off that course. Something went wrong, and while that is frustrating, I think the hardest thing for her, and even me, to deal with is that no one is quite sure *what* went wrong. I know that is the nature of the marathon. All the planning and training in the world can’t guarantee a race of that distance will go smoothly.
For better or for worse, we made it to the finish line. I had not planned to cross the finish line with her, but obviously plans changed on a number of levels, and I couldn’t leave her alone. We got her medal, foil, and food, and I took her to Medical. I wasn’t sure if it was necessary, but I have also been close enough to nutrition and dehydration situations to know that I’d feel better if she got checked out before we went on our way that day. I couldn’t return her to her husband and kids broken!
Thankfully, medical cleared her pretty quickly, and she was even smiling about 15 minutes later. There were tears in there, too, but she seemed herself again (make no mistake, unlike baseball, there is ALWAYS crying in the marathon). It’s always cold after this race–the finish line is right up on the lakefront, and the wind can be fierce. We headed toward the car pretty quickly.
Friends nearby in Racine welcomed us into their homes for showers and scones, and then for lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them, and it was relaxing. After loading up the car with Kringle from O & H and cheese curds from the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, we headed back to Chicago. We grabbed dinner from the Lincoln Park Whole Foods–third largest in the country, with far more . We ate and went to bed. I know, it’s a wild life we live.
Sunday morning Katie and I went for a recovery run by the lake. We shuffled through three miles and then did some good stretching before heading to the ‘burbs to worship with my parents and model the latest in runner fashion: Katie’s compression socks under a maxi-dress combo. It was so good to see my parents. After church we went to Portillo’s to have lunch, and Katie got to have her first Chicago dog. We also made a quick stop by Naperville Running Company, where I found a special-edition Oiselle tee and some cherry-limeade Nuun, while Katie and Kristiana both got fitted for new shoes. I think Katie also got to have some good race analysis with the awesome gentleman fitting her. Thank, NRC!
All that was left then was to come home. We’d pretty much done as much stuff as three runners can do in 52 hours or so. The “A” Goal of getting Katie to Boston was not achieved. But the goal of having a great time? That was met in spades. Another runcation success, in the books.
Tomorrow Katie and I leave for
the Great White North Wisconsin, with the aim being to secure her BQ on Saturday before we head back home.
I couldn’t be more excited.
Oh wait, yes I could.
You see, my foot hurts.
Two weeks ago I got a new pair of shoes out to start rotating them into my running cycle. It was the week of Boston, so I was angry and not thinking right, and running a lot. Instead of lacing them my usual wonky way (I normally skip a lot of the holes in the middle since the top of my foot is high), I just pulled them out of the box and ran.
Cue bruised right foot. Cue insanely tight left leg from overcompensating. Cue tons of cow-face pose, foam rolling, and painful massage to get the leg loosened up.
And it did, loosen up, after a week of pain, last Sunday night. I can’t tell you with what delight I have been rolling my leg around and just relishing the feeling of it not hurting. Not unlike this:
But the foot pain remains. I have actually considered seriously considered, for the first time in 234 days, breaking my run streak because of it. It HURTS. And it has definitely hurt my training for my plan to jump in with Katie at Mile 23 and run with her to the finish. I have been icing, Aleve-ing, and I even pulled out an old (but little used) pair of ASICS 2170s in hopes that a different lace pattern would help.
The good news: I did a 6-mile progression run Tuesday, ending with a mile slightly faster than her marathon goal pace. The faster I ran, the less my foot hurt. And I mean that honestly, it wasn’t just that I was more focused on the various other huffing-and-puffing pain I was feeling. 😉 My body feels strong, so strong. It’s just a matter of the foot. And yes, I could push past the pain for 25 minutes. But I’ve got an insanely busy race schedule coming up that includes a Ragnar and Hood-to-Coast, and I’ve got other people relying on me to
not be an idiot get there healthy. So, there’s that. Decisions to make.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about the midwest! We leave Atlanta at 8:45 tomorrow morning.
1. Hydrate Katie in Atlanta and on flight. Bottled water and Nuun. Got it.
2. Feed the marathoner. Probably on touchdown at Midway.
3. Get rental car and pick up Kristiana. Drive to Kenosha. Stop at an Oasis so Katie can see what it’s like to buy Starbucks as you stand atop an interstate.
4. Go to packet pickup. Pick up packet. Drive course.
5. Check into hotel and sit down for a minute. Make some signs.
7. Feed the marathoner. Haven’t picked a spot for dinner yet.
8. Sleep. Get up. Cheer (at mile 4.5 and 11, AKA in front of the coffeehouse). Jump in and run. Maybe. If foot cooperates.
9. Post-race recovery for Katie. Including a nap.
10. Everything else we are going to do after we get back to Chicago, which may not be much and which, whatever it is, I shall update you with here, later.
Cheerio! Bon voyage! Cheese!
Feet, FOR REAL, don’t fail me now.