I had a friend run the New York Marathon last weekend. She did great, and with the app (which was awesome, btw), I was able to track her every step. As she approached 26, and I knew that she only had the .2 to go, I felt my heart start to beat faster and faster as I replayed scenes from the last bit of the Chicago Marathon in my head. When she finished, and her bubble disappeared from the tracker, I let out a sigh of relief – I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath – and shot her a quick text. She was done, and she’d done it well!
As I chatted with her about how good she’d felt that day, I really got excited about the prospect of possibly doing Chicago again in the fall of next year. As I was prepping for the race, I told myself that maybe I would hang the marathon shoes up, and run for enjoyment. Get back to doing more yoga, cycling, and more hanging out with my hubs. But there’s some part of me that’s dying for the experience of Chicago.
Blue skies. One of my dearest friends of 5 years. Food. Drinks. The Cubs winning things. Texts from friends as I made my way through the course. My husband telling me that I “look so good” 19 miles in. I find myself absolutely consumed with the idea of running through the streets of Chicago, high fiving folks, reading signs, and flopping down in the grass in the park after I run.
So, back it up to Friday. Friday, I went to work, and had to actually do stuff, but I was really really preoccupied with getting things together for the race. Did I have shoes, did I have shoes? Did I have a little something to carry water in? Had I glanced through the participant packet?
So Saturday, we woke up and it was cloudy and gloomy here. We packed, cleaned the house, and called an Uber to take us to the airport for our fight to Chicago. I’m not a great flier, so I passed some time on the plane when we were waiting to take off by making fun of how poorly designed the safety cards were.
I’m not 100% on who did this artwork, but NO REMOTE CONTROLLED CARS ALLOWED! Bummer, right?
Once we touched down, we took an Uber to the expo, where I was able to pick up my packet. I have to admit, even though I’m smiling in photos, I was not in the best mood. We sat in some traffic, and my anxiety was really starting to get to me. I’m incredibly social, but something about being that the expo was a lot for me. There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and I found the expo a little confusing to navigate.
After the expo, and after we got a chance to get our bearings (we took a dumb pointless trip on the Metra, a stupid train that we had no business on), we hopped on the blue line to Logan, and met my friend, Lindsay, who let us stay with her.
First-off. Lindsay is amazing. We met at camp like 5 years ago, and were like, immediate besties. She has a cute place, a cute french bulldog, and allowed us to stay at her cute place FOR FREE. It was SO nice to sleep in a bed that wasn’t a hotel and spend time with friends.
So the night before the marathon, Lindsay took us to an AMAZING pizza place. And it wasn’t a regular pizza place, it was Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. So the place featured a delicious salad with amazing dressing (my favorite was the poppyseed), a flat bread, and a pizza pot pie, none of which I could finish. We headed home, set clothes and an alarm out, and I was in bed by 11pm the night before the marathon.
The Day of.
The day of the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t sleep well. I don’t think you can before a race. I woke up a few times, for fear that I may have overslept, and finally ended up getting up a bit after 5. I’d laid my clothes out, and only needed to jump in the shower for a rinse. I put on some BB cream and some mascara, and headed out to Lindsay to our metro stop.
AND THEN REALIZED I FORGOT MY BIB IN OUR ROOM AT LINDSAY’S.
I need to take this second to apologize to my girlfriend, Linds, who went BACK to her house, grabbed my bib, and basically single-handedly saved the race.
So I have my bib now.
Austin and I rode to the start, and I started to feel myself getting a bit more anxious once we started walking toward my corral. The night before, I’d purchased a men’s shirt for like $4.99 from Walgreens, so I was somewhat warm(ish). I hung around with Austin long enough, and then got into the corral before they told us we couldn’t do it anymore.
By the time I got to the front line, nearly an hour after the race had started, it was about 8:18am, and the sun was up. I started with some music, and the first song I listened to was Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do”. I tried to take it all in. Even now, I don’t think I will ever forget the streets, the shade, the sun. About 4 miles in, I decided to ditch the shirt, and laid it neatly on the side of the road. 6 miles in, I had a Shot Blok with extra sodium, as the temperature started to climb to the mid-70s, and then the upper 70s really quickly.
I’d decided not to run with my GPS, so I was just keeping track of things really loosely by the folks around me, the 4:40 group, and keeping an eye on where I was at each hour. Because of how warm it was, and how quickly it warmed up, I refilled my little handheld often, and I chewed a lot of margarita-flavored Shot Bloks with extra sodium to avoid cramps, stomachaches, barfing, and pooping. Just keepin’ it real.
The first 13.1 miles flew by. The crowds were amazing, and I gave a lot of high fives, smiled a lot, and made it through my amazing playlist. After 13.1, I focused on 19, where I knew two things. One, that I’d made the Paul Ryan Finish, and two, that I’d get to see Austin. So I focused on making it to 19 in good time, while I refilled my bottle, grabbed vaseline, and generally, watched my speed as the temps climbed close to 80 degrees.
Mile 19 came, and a few tenths of a mile in, Austin waved me down.
My dear, sweet husband found a friend. Dawn was not super comfortable with public transit, so Austin and her rode all over Chicago together on an unlimited pass that I clearly was not using at the time. She was so sweet, she opened my Coke for me, and told me how pretty I looked when I got there. She wins.
Miles 20-26.2 sucked, but idk what to say about that because it’s gonna suck and it always will. It was really warm at that point, and I really focused on drinking and staying limber.
Mile 25.5, I was like ::side eye:: but I knew the end was nigh, and decided to chug along. The ONE thing I will say that made me sad, was that as we came to the end, the crowd was pushed further and further out for security reasons. By the end of the race, after we had climbed a small hill, there was no one but volunteers left, and it made me sad to think that two idiots had changed the entire game for everyone.
But I made it to the end, trotted through the finish, and took it all in!
Covered in salt, and sweaty, I made it through, and hiked another mile or so to catch my dear husband, who wasn’t allowed anywhere near the finish line (no one was).
BALLER. Do Chicago. Do it. It was amazing. I want to move there. Minus the freezing cold in the winter. Everything else. The food, everything. It all can stay.
Yesterday, the world of pop culture, my world was ROCKED by photos of Justin Bieber on vacation in Bora Bora.
Should I have been probably biting my nails to the quick in prep for Sunday’s marathon?
Yep, probably. But instead, my friend Mollie and I set about assaulting as many people has we could with photos of Justin Bieber *ahem* enjoying some time in Bora Bora, and gauging reaction. Reactions ranged from ::eyes looking emojii:: to “leave me alone!”
I’d say, all in all, my day was a success as far as that was concerned.
For dinner tonight, I was on my own since the Austin Samps was playing volleyball with some friends. I made a tofu steak and a teeny sweet potato. I bought the regular sweet taters, and not the ones you get at the farmer’s market. For some silly reason, these babies are grown smaller (and less soily) so it’s really like eating a little bite of baby potato. I only can eat half of the ones from the farmers market.
I got some more Qalo. Mostly because Austin’s ring was starting to get a little stretched, and I had my eye on the athletics collection. But I love this color. I’m hoping to partner with them on a post soon. Cross your fingers!
Jen posted these photos from the Headbands of Hope fashion show I did a few weeks back. In every pic, I look like I’m having the time of my life. ALSO, I look like my butt is huge. Whatevs. I squat a lot more than I have ever squatted in my life. I generally can say, eating differently, my chest, arms, and booty are much more beefy. I’m still shaped extraordinarily like my brother. Tall, long, and lanky. It comes from the Jonassaints. My brother’s brother used to have to bend down to get into doorways. But I’m definitely starting to pack more muscle onto my 5’8″ frame.
Ok. So time for a serious question. I will blow this up on social media.
I don’t think I’m listening to Spotify for most of Chicago on Sunday. Maybe for a first few miles, just because I struggle with anxiety during that “pre-race chatter” part of a race. BUT for those first few, I will take suggestions from some of you beloveds. I need something that makes me smile. Not something that was on my wedding playlist, because I’ve been known to cry (hard) when I’m being really physical (bawled during ‘Roar’ and ‘Run the World’ during a race because I appreciate what Queen Bey and Katy Cat have done for me and women). But, all that said.
What songs would you suggest for my marathon playlist?
I don’t know a whole lot about Chicago. Yoga Kerri, who used to make an appearance on this blog every now and again before she moved to Cali lived there for a time. And I met one of my favorite camp friends, Lindsay, who came from Chicago to grace us with her presence. We spent an entire summer not really showering and talking about how much fiber our favorite meals contained. Both good.
So it seemed like sort of a no-brainer to apply for the Chicago Marathon, especially given the fact that as soon as I got into Marine Corps, we got a save-the-date for a wedding that we really couldn’t miss. So MCM was out (and I’m trying to unload that bib if you’re into it), and Chicago was in. Tuesday morning, when we were due to hear about our status in the lottery, I checked my email nonstop, refreshing it by swiping it down on my phone with no results. I checked Twitter and saw the tweets trickling in, that some folks had gotten their results. I sort of assumed (annoyingly) that I hand’t gotten in, but found out later by way of a tweet that the approvals were being made on a rolling basis.
Anyhoo, so I got tired of waiting, and logged into the Athlete Center, and right on top was a banner with the word “Approved” along the top! I sort of waited to say anything, especially given that that protests in Baltimore were still full-swing, and I didn’t want to come of insensitively. But this came later…
…And just like that, I’m running one of the major marathons in October.
I’m pumped. A little nervous. Already got my training plan together. And taking extreme measures to make sure that we can get my knee back to working order, to where it’s not so stiff.
Have you ever been to Chicago? What should I do while I’m there?
I ran my first marathon 2 ish years ago in Virginia Beach on a cold, rather blustery day. I know what my experience was like, but much like childbirth, you sort of forgot what the actual day is like, and you romanticize the idea of a marathon, only remembering the feeling of crossing the finish line and smiling a lot for pictures while you hold up your medal. Or, as it were in my case, bawling like a baby whilst your husband snapped pictures of your blotchy face.
I thought it was important to talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll through the eyes of someone who’d just done it, and had just done it for the first time. So without any further blathering on, here is my amazing friend, Liz!
Liz is in the pink in the middle, just after completing 26.2 miles in 4:45:06, which was her GOAL!!!
Introduce yourself! Name, how do you know me, and what do you do! Hello!My name is Liz Passannante, I am 25 years old and currently live in New York City. Cheri and I go way back to my freshman year of college when I joined her a cappella group Twisted Measure and we’ve been friends ever since. I work in HR for a consulting firm in NYC, and have been dabbling in running for a few years now.
Liz caught my attention during her audition. She was really cute, fearless, and admitted to fully appreciating Nicole Richie at the audition. I was hooked then!
What made you decide to sign up for a marathon? What running had you done leading up to it? I decided to register for the Raleigh RNR Marathon kind of on a whim – I had run a few half marathons and always felt the ultimate goal would be to run a marathon. I started running after college when I signed up for the More Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon in Central Park. It was really a life-changing day – that race is still my favorite to run. I always hated running in high school and college, but found myself wanting to stay active after I stopped playing sports. Enter running! This past October I really just kind of decided to go for it – I registered and set off on my training plan!
Tell me about your training process? Since it was a spring race, I know you had to do some winter running/possibly modify your training? What did that entail for you? I started running regularly again in November 2014 to build up a baseline before launching into the training program. I started really increasing my mileage in January, just in time for one of the snowiest winter’s we’ve had in recent history. I think the biggest trick with Winter running is to prepare, prepare, prepare before long runs. I would make lists for myself of everything I needed, and it took a few tries to get it right. I usually pushed back the start time of my runs until about noon or 1PM so I could hit the warmest part of the day. On the coldest days I would wear 2 pairs of tights, a thermal layer, my winter running jacket, a neckwarmer, earwarmers and gloves.Keeping all that gear in one place was surprisingly difficult (ex: a few times I left gloves or my watch at work, and would have to swing by the office on my way to the park). I also don’t have a washer/dryer in my building, so it was also a task keeping everything clearn! I did some of my shorter runs indoors, both by booking gym time on ClassPass (best thing ever) or by attending classes at Mile High Run Club (<<<so much fun). My most memorable run was probably when I ran in 8 degree weather in Vermont on a ski weekend – FUN!!! Overall though, I was usually able to find one day of the weekend where it was bearable.
Why did you choose the race that you chose? I chose the Raleigh RNR for a few reasons. 1) It’s always been a goal of mine to run the NY Marathon, and I was advised to run one marathon before tackling New York so that when the time came I could really enjoy the experience of the NY Marathon. I think looking back that was smart – I have a much better idea of how to train and what to expect, and now am genuinely looking forward to when I will (hopefully) get to run that race! No first time race jitters there. 2) I wanted to run a race where I was close to my family, both because I like spending time with them and because logistically it made things much easier. My mom took me to the expo, the starting line and we had an awesome lunch all together after the race. It would have felt lonely without them, and seeing them along the course was such a great motivation. Race day would have been way less fun without them – my sister even hopped in for the last stretch which was a really cool memory for me.
Okay, race day. What were you jittery about? Looking forward to? I think I was most anxious about 1) hitting “the wall,” and 2) not being able to keep up with the pace group. I think I can say pretty confidently that I did not hit “the wall.” As Cheri can attest, there were a few times especially towards the end where I needed to walk, but I was for the most part able to push through. I definitely didn’t feel like I was going to die or anything (although I probably said it LOL). I also for the most part was able to keep up with the pacers, which is good for me because they were amazing. They were so so helpful, and I knew that staying with them for as long as possible would be key to me hitting my goal. I lost them a little during the last mile, but I think I ended up finishing only 2-3 minutes behind them?
Talk to me about your nutrition leading up to/on race day? I kept things pretty normal leading up to race day. I didn’t drink for the majority of the 2 weeks leading up to the race but that was mostly to make sure I was well hydrated. The night before I ate some delicious gluten free pasta, and the morning of I had a luna bar, hot tea and water. During the race I used 2 flavors of Gu: Tri-Berry and Jet Blackberry (delicious). The plan was to take them at 3, 10, 15 and 20. I ended up taking one at 19 because I started feeling tired and I felt like I wanted to get ahead of any potential crash.
Talk to me about the race. What time did you wake up? Talk to me about your outfit (silly, important tho!). Talk to me about the day. How long did you feel good for? When did you start to feel rough (if you did at all)? Did you run with pacers? What factored into your decision to use/not utilize a pacer? Race day I woke up at 4:20AM because we needed to be out the door at 4:40. I tried to pick clothes that I had run in many times before, but it was hard because I’ve been training in cold weather and race day was warm! I wish I could have worn shorts, but it was just risky because I hadn’t trained in them and the last thing I needed was some type of wardrobe malfunction. I honestly felt great up to mile 18. I feel like I looked up and we were at mile 13, and then again at 17 when Cheri joined. At 18-20 I started thinking to myself “this is getting really hard” but overall the race flew by. I could not believe when I crossed the finish line. As I mentioned above I did run with pacers and am so glad I did. I wanted to stay with them for majority of the race because I felt like I would probably really benefit from having a group later in the race. I was confident in my ability to push myself through 20, but felt like having the extra motivation during the last 6 miles could be helpful. It was such a lifesaver. = The pacers were truly amazing – they had an altitude specific pace plan and they did such a great job telling us when we should bank time or when we could dial back and take a rest. I definitely lost them a bit on the last mile but really feel like I was able to stay on target due to their help.
And finally, what’s your takeaway from this experience? Would you/will you do this again? I had such an amazing experience training for and running my first marathon, and I would totally do it all over again (and hope to this fall for the NY Marathon!) I was initially dreading the training process but by the end I really enjoyed it overall. The hardest part surprisingly was fitting in runs during the week – I weirdly started looking forward to my long runs and feel like I don’t know what to do with all of my free time now that my weekends aren’t going to be dominated by training! My key takeaway – if you want to run a race, any length, just go for it! I hated running in high school (ask my parents). When my field hockey coach made us run 3 miles I thought it was the hardest thing in the world. Little by little I trained, improved and learned how to enjoy myself! I also need to give credit to you, Cheri Armour Samples, because you definitely have inspired me to run races far beyond what I believed I was capable of doing (hello, marathon). My race day was so fun and you were such a huge help to me – thank you!!!
And that’s it! An extremely well-prepared marathon first-timer!
So my weekend started long, long before Friday at 5pm.
Tuesday evening, I stayed up until 2 am, getting my ducks in a row for work because Wednesday morning, bright and early, we were headed out for our Annual Director’s Retreat at work. The day kicked off with a scavenger hunt downtown, and then we boarded an activity bus for Lake Gaston in North Carolina.
The home we stayed in was beautiful, and the first thing I did when we got there was hop on a paddleboard, and paddle around the lake, despite the fact that I haven’t really done it before. But I’ve seen it done a ton in the tabloids, so I picked it up pretty quickly.
Because I’m still fairly new in this position (I’m only about a year old), I often feel guilty about taking time away from my computer and my email, but it was so nice to spend time sleeping, running, and paddling around the lake, without my phone going off, or without someone walking into my office with a problem that needed to be fixed then and there.
While I was there, relaxing, I continued to worry about my knee and hip. I was resting (somewhat), taking a ton of Aleve, and hydrating, but some residual knee pain from this bad boy…
…which resulted in a fracture, some crutches, and some physical therapy, started to creep back. After I talked to my friend Google, and then the Physical Therapist, she told me it was most likely that I had a small tear in my right meniscus, and that I needed about two weeks of swimming, cycling, foam rolling, Aleve, and that the tear should take car of itself.
And there went my plans for a marathon.
I was a little disappointed, but relieved that I wasn’t making the pain up in my head.
I was able to pull out some of the braces that Dr. Miller gave me when I was on crutches, healing that fracture, and make use of them for the first time in years. But I made the decision then that I would meet a friend who was running her first full on Sunday, and pace her for a few miles, and that was that!
After working the expo for a few hours on Friday and Saturday, I convinced my hubby to take me to this new place in Raleigh, Pho Pho Pho, since I’d been looking for pho nonstop since I had it from Whole Foods a few years ago, and hadn’t had a great bowl since. It was AWESOME, and I was served enough to save some for lunch on Sunday after the race!
The night before the race, I was able to sign up for text tracking for my friend Liz, who was running her first full in Raleigh. When I got the text that she had passed the 13.1 mile marker, I started getting myself together, and walked down the street from my house, which was right between miles 16 and 17. I spotted her, and we headed out. My hip felt okay, and knee felt good, so my plan to just run a few miles turned into 5, which turned into 10ish. Oops! But I got to see my friend through her first finish line, and she finished her first marathon with an impressive 4:45 time, which was her goal! And I got to test out my legs before going into a two-week break, which is supposed to fix me up. Cross your fingers for me!
I had a nutty weekend. What did you do this weekend!
While you’re reading this, I’m actually sleeping in my little brother’s room at my parent’s party pad in downtown Charlotte. I’m in town here only for a day or so, but that’s totally cool, because it gives me a new terrain to run on, and keeps things interesting.
So a few interesting points about this weekend.
My Fitbit is turning me into a lunatic. I don’t think people really believe me when I tell them that my competitive nature has taken me to really really ugly places. But to put things into perspective, my first summer working at Camp Pocono Trails, I was playing Gaga with the kids, and they would make fun of me for how into the game I would get. At the top of my lungs, I’d scream that I would be the “LAST. WOMAN. STANDING,” as I picked kids off with the dodgeball, one by one. They thought it was a game. I knew better. Well now that I can see how many steps I’ve taken, a friend of mine and three of her coworkers challenged me to a “Daily Showdown,” so I proceeded to walk to the bar, walk home from the bar, and continue walking well past 11pm. I came in second, and I can’t really talk about my defeat, that’s how painful it was.
We had a shed put in the backyard on Saturday. So I wake up on Saturday to check out the shed, and it actually was pretty cute! Then I look over at one of the guys installing it, and he’s wearing swim trunks and no shirt. No judgement here, I’m just truly curious about his choice in attire.
And finally? I’m feeling really ready to sign up for something serious. I got over my running hump, and running is starting to feel like a natural state of being for me again. I’m playing with a few options – I ran Shamrock a few years ago for my first full, and I’d be interested to try it again to see if I’ve made any improvements. I also have an entry for Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh set up, but since they haven’t released the full course, I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit without knowing the course. Raleigh is terribly hilly, and that race can either be really really awesome, or kinda miserable. I also am playing with the idea of like a 50k or so, to delve into the world of Ultra Marathons, but don’t tell my husband. We watched a documentary about Dean Karnazes, and for some reason, I still have the itch to see what I can do. I have zero interest in being a regular 90+ mile a week girl, especially with all of the teaching I do, but once or twice? I think it would be worth it!
I’ve felt this way once before. Last year, right after my grandmother died, I hit a little running slump. I was tired, my motivation was low, and when I was running, I felt slow and consumed by anxious thoughts, which really took away from my running.
This time, I think the reasoning for the slump is a little different, but the symptoms are largely the same.
In the span of two months, I got a new job, got married to my love, and we bought a house. And none of it was planned to all hit at once.
With the job, I got a call in May, interviewed throughout the month of June, and was offered the position in early July. The wedding had been set for August 23rd for some time, and the home came available, and honestly, the inventory is so low in Raleigh that it would have been silly to have forgone that home.
So we dove in headfirst. And I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my entire life.
And like I do anytime I’m faced with any major life changes, I felt this exhaustion come over me. It hasn’t affected my work, as I’m still in that phase where I’m killing myself to impress everyone, but it’s definitely affected my running and my motivation. Rather than constantly being raring to go for those runs, I’ve had to pull out every trick in the book to make sure that I make my workouts. I invite friends, I try new workouts, I make sure that I am scheduled to take one of my instructors classes, all in the hopes that I don’t fall behind on my workouts. But motivating myself to go when ALL I want to to is lay around in the bed and watch reruns of Sex & the City is hard, and I’m really trying.
Honestly, the last time I felt like I was in this slump a year ago, I pushed through it, but had a few tricks to help get me through.
I went to a lot of hot yoga. Granted, one of the times I went, a pose we got into tapped right into my emotional side and I finished out the class sobbing for whatever reason, but I sure felt good after.
I ran. And I revamped my runs. I listened to Motown the Musical, Les Mis, and sometimes, nothing at all, all different from my usual playlists.
I read Dean Karnazes books. Which is really good cause he’s an ultra marathoner. So it kind of made you feel like your little 26.2 wasn’t that bad.
I vomited my way through the Greensboro Marathon. But the fact I finished convinced me I was a lot stronger than I thought I was, and rekindled my love for running.
So the slump sucks. I don’t like the way it makes me feel, and it scares me – makes me feel like I will never love to run again. But slowly and steadily, I will be back to exactly where I was before, maybe even better!