Running with Marathon Man

One time, I got to run with a superhero.

Have you ever heard of Marathon Man? No, not the movie, but the real man. A guy named Trent Morrow, an energetic Aussie with lots of spirit and an infectious love for running. A man who’s on the quest to break the Guinness World Record for the most marathons run in a calendar year.

Marathon Man with some Frost 5 Challenge runners.

Marathon Man with some Frost 5 Challenge runners.

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How many marathons is that, exactly? Well, last year a claim to the record was made of 157 marathons run in one year. Marathon Man is aiming to run over 160 marathons this year. That means Trent has to run at least three marathons a week. Can you even imagine?!

I can’t. But, I got to be a part of the experience when our running club pulled together a series of races to help Trent make a dent in the number of marathons left for the year. In order to reach his goal by the end of December, he needed to run almost one marathon per day this month. One of our club members, David, stepped in to organize the “Frosty 5 Challenge” series to help make that happen.

For the “Challenge,” Trent got to come stay in our lovely little [frigid] Wisconsin town earlier this month, and while here, ran five marathons in a row. WOW!

David recruited volunteers for the course, as well as runners (at least two marathoners each day) to race with Trent. A lot of people jumped in to run the first 6-13 miles with the [crazy?] marathoners as well.

It was inspiring to see how quickly people stepped up to run the marathon. Some people had, like me, just run their first marathon in Chicago in October. Others made this marathon seem like a walk in the park, no big deal. Another guy found the marathon to be his vindication after he bonked the Chicago Marathon—he had a blast and, better yet, set a PR for his best marathon time yet.

The Frosty 5 Runners, ready to take off!

The Frosty 5 Runners, ready to take off!

I, on the other hand, took the easy [sane?] route and signed up to run simply 6 miles during one of the night marathons.

When I first saw Trent, he bounded into the hotel lobby where all us runners were waiting to start. For someone who had already run two marathons the two days before, I was expecting him to be quiet, maybe moving a little slow and walking gingerly like I had after my marathon. But no! He was lively and seemed excited to go run 26 miles again. No limping, hunching or waddling in sight.

Start & Finish Line for the Frosty 5 Challenge with Marathon Man.

Start & Finish Line for the Frosty 5 Challenge with Marathon Man.

Once we were off, I got to run three miles side-by-side with Marathon Man himself. I was so excited to ask Trent lots of questions about himself, his journey to break the world record, and other running nerd questions in general. But, after my friends informed him that I had just run my first marathon this year, I only got one question in before Trent whipped out his phone and announced I was being filmed on “Marathon Man TV” and started interviewing ME. Ha! I’m waiting for my 15 minutes to fame. 😉

I did find out that the Chicago Marathon is Trent Morrow’s favorite marathon EVER, out of the over 200 marathons that he’s ever run. Can’t beat the crowd support there! He also raved a few times about making a hot cocoa stop at the 13-mile turn-around during his marathons here. Who would have thought, hot cocoa instead of a water stop? Probably because the water here was frozen, it was so cold.

Running in Wisconsin winter = Frozen water!

Running in Wisconsin winter = Frozen water!

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I also wondered how on earth Trent manages to get in enough calories while logging so many miles, and his host for the few days he stayed here said he had been eating pretty much constantly. Now that I think of it, when I first saw him before the run, he was carrying a bag of baked Cheetos with him. Pre-run fuel, I guess.

Another night, I volunteered to hand out water and gels on the course. It was freezing out—literally, 15 degrees—and the wind was growling. I told myself not to whine about standing outside in the cold for 20 minutes when these six runners were tearing up 26 miles. Soon enough, Marathon Man trotted up, smiling and waving. His pace had slowed down, his foot was bothering him, but never once did he sound discouraged, crabby or whiney. He gulped some water and thanked me for coming out—even remembered my name from the night before!— and then he was running again, off to face the dark, cold miles ahead.

Check out that reflective gear. Just before Marathon Man took off along the marathon route.

Check out that reflective gear. Just before Marathon Man took off along the marathon route.

Trent is such a positive, friendly, endearing and inspiring individual. I don’t think anyone could help but want to help him reach his goal. Big kudos to my friend David for organizing the “Frosty 5 Challenge” to help Trent on his mission to beat the World Record. And most of all, thanks for allowing me the chance to meet Marathon Man and absorb some of his passion and enthusiasm for running. In my mind, he’s already a legend, and I’m glad I was able to be a small part of it!

If you would like to help support Trent on his goal to run over 160 marathons this year, you can buy a “Team Marathon Man” t-shirt, or donate here to help him cover lodging, food, marathon entries, and more. Whatever you do, be sure to follow him on Facebook as he sprints down the road to the World Record!

The Stages of Marathon Recovery (a.k.a. What the Heck to Expect When It’s Over)

Ever since I ran my first marathon about 10 days ago, I’ve been on a post-marathon high. I’m probably one of those cliché, annoying runners, who talks about it every chance she gets. But, hey—I ran a freakin’ marathon! I worked hard for months, I’m super proud of myself for getting there… People get to talk about their kids or pets all the time, so I am going to talk about my running. 🙂

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Luckily, you’re all here voluntarily.

I have to say, recovering from the marathon didn’t take as long as I thought it would. People keep trying to tell me that’s because I’m only 26. Ha

But for me, I went through what I shall call the 4 Stages of Marathon Recovery…

Stage 1: The Day of the Marathon (a.k.a. PAIN)
I shuffled around; groaned a lot; and had trouble lifting my legs, er, at all. I popped Advil like it was my job. Stairs were a joke. Sitting = heavenly. My right knee felt like a 90-year-old’s. I probably looked like a 90-year-old. Passersby and strangers stared a bit—I just made sure my medal was blingin’.

Why yes, I feel like I'm about to fall over and I'm caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Why yes, I feel like I’m about to fall over and I’m caked in salt. Please take my picture.

Stage 2: The Day after the Marathon (a.k.a. Why is that sore now? )
Walking was halfway back to normal. My knee felt akin to a 70-year-old’s knee—quite painful going up and down the stairs. Working from home, sitting on the couch with my legs propped up, was the best ever. But, every time I stood up, the soreness came flooding back like a tidal wave. Ooph. With slightly less leg achiness came newly sore body parts—my back, my shoulders, my lower abs, my arms. What a lovely surprise! I wanted to go to bed by 7pm.

Stage 3: Two Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Advil = Life)
Popping all that Advil over the last few days must have helped. Walking around felt pretty normal. But, after sitting at my desk for an hour or more, getting up and stretching my legs felt like straightening out tightly-wound Slinkies. My knee was progressing to a 60-year-old’s doesn’t-yet-need-to-be-replaced knee. My appetite was voracious. My fatigue was returning to normal, and I stayed awake until almost 9pm. Woo.

Stage 4: Three Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. Did I really do that?)
The return to normalcy! Walking, sitting, standing, even squatting to pee = normal. Joy. Only the outside of my hips still felt a bit sore, and that was only if I jiggled them around weird to see if they still hurt. Ha. The pain had worn down, the euphoria was still in full-swing, but with passing time the marathon began to seem like a dream.* My appetite wasn’t slowing down. A giant bakery cupcake may or may not have made a minor appearance at dinner before disappearing into my bottomless pit of a stomach.

And now I suppose I’ve entered stage 5…

Stage 5: Ten Days after the Marathon (a.k.a. What’s Next?)
I’ve enjoyed taking the last 10 days off from running. I’ve been relaxing, getting a lot of ignored housework done, and just spending time with friends and family. It’s nice not rushing to leave work to go run before it gets dark; or just simply come home after work to make dinner and relax the rest of the night with my fiancé. But, the itch is creeping back up…The urge to run and see how these legs feel again…To get out in the crisp air, eating it up by the lungful as my feet kiss the road and leave it behind me. Soon, I will get back out there.

But not today. Today, I’m enjoying the triumph for just a while longer.

*Yes, the marathon seems like a dream, not a nightmare. Like I said, we runners are a rare, special breed…  

How do you feel mentally and physically after you reach a big goal or race? How long do you take “off” afterwards, to recharge yourself?

My running buddy Liz finished the Chicago Marathon, but it didn’t quite go as planned; then she went on to run a half marathon last weekend with a PR for the year. Wow! I guess we all recover differently, huh?

Running the Chicago Marathon, Part 2

It was pitch black when I woke up at 4am on marathon morning. The silence of the city drifted through the windows, by which I mean—a sort of humming, punctuated silence that never quiets completely. There was something already present in the air, something thrumming around me: excitement, anticipation. The city knew what was happening that day.

Realizing I had no chance of falling back asleep, I got up to pee for the umpteenth time. (Good hydration!)

Before I knew it, my two sisters & I were awake and ready to go. My mom snapped a picture of us before we left, remarking on our uncanny ability to look happy and excited at 5am with the prospect of running 26.2 miles weighing on us.

Ready to go run the marathon!

Ready to go run the Chicago Marathon!

What can we say? Runners: We’re a special breed.

It took about an hour of walking + train travel to get downtown near Grant Park, where the race started. We stopped in at the nearby Hilton to drop off our bags with my older sister’s running club, the Alpine Runners.

We followed the signs to find the right room…

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Note: Follow the yellow sign.

Funnily enough, they wouldn’t let us into the elite breakfast.

It calmed me to meet and talk to a few of the Alpine Runners as we prepped ourselves to head to the start corrals. I shook out any nerves I had. For the time being, anyway.

Brandi and Lara headed up to the wave one corrals (they are speedy) while I went to my entrance for the [slower] corrals.

Heading to Corral G.

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I kept an eye out for my friend Jessica, who was in the same corral as me, while I waited and stretched in the crowd. I figured there was no way I’d be able to spot her…

The corrals were packed!

The corrals were packed!

And then suddenly the crowds parted—and there she was! Yay. By this time, I was definitely getting super nervous—it was finally hitting me that I was actually going to RUN A MARATHON—so it helped to have a friend and someone to chat with while we waited over an hour to start.

Waiting with thousands of other runners to start.

Waiting with thousands of other runners to start.

The first wave of runners took off running at 7:30, but our corral wasn’t set to start ‘til 8am. Finally, at 8:08 I crossed the starting line and the marathon had BEGUN!

Oh my gosh. Is this really happening after all this time?

I quickly got split up from my friend Jessica and her running partner, but I knew that would happen as soon as I started my 10 min. run/2 min. walk plan anyway. I had my headphones and running playlist all set to go, but as the hordes of cheering people and music started filling my eardrums, I knew nothing on my playlist would match that.

The pure energy from the crowds, the music blaring over loudspeakers, the runners all around marching to the beat of some unknown drum, the sun rising brightly, the crisp and cool air—it just couldn’t get any more perfect.

I decided to just take it all in for the first 13 miles, and soak up as much of the experience as I could while I still felt great. I knew the second half of the race would be tougher, and I’d need to focus more on how I felt, making sure I was staying fueled, keeping a strong form, etc.

But for now, I would simply enjoy the ride.

Action shot taken while running.

Action shot – taken while running!

I got 10 minutes in and it was time for my first 2-minute walk break (all in effort to keep my rehabbed ITBS from bothering me). Let me tell you, it was mentally painful to stop and walk already. I was so amped to run, the last thing I wanted to do was stop! Every time I hit a walk break, I got to the outermost edge and made sure nobody was directly behind me, so I wouldn’t cut anyone off. It was so packed though, that I nearly always felt annoying and in the way of the other runners. I also felt people in the crowd eyeing me up, and actually a lot of spectators wouldn’t even look at me—they were probably thinking, “Dang, it’s this early and she has to walk already? That girl’s never gonna make it!”

But, I knew it was the right plan for me, and I had to do it to make it to the end. So, every 10 minutes or so, I diligently stopped for my 2 minutes of walking. (I admit, sometimes I’d get to 90 seconds and decide that was long enough!)

Suddenly, I was crossing the halfway point of the race. Mile 13. It sounds crazy, but I remember thinking to myself, It only feels like I’ve been running for half an hour. That is how inspiring, entertaining and motivating the crowd support was in this race (and, I suppose a nod to my training paying off). It was absolutely amazing to feel like 13 miles had literally passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye!

Around this time, I also spotted my fiancé on the side of the course, and got a little good-luck hug and smooch. Even with thousands of other people yelling support to you mile after mile, seeing a loved one makes all the difference in the world. I took off trotting from there with doubled ambition.

By mile 15, I started to get a bit tight and achy. Considering my comeback in the prior 6 weeks or so before the marathon didn’t include a ton of running, 15 miles was a lot of pounding that my body wasn’t used to.

I also realized, at this junction, that math is not my strong suit…as I had miscalculated how many Shot Blocks to bring for all 26 miles. I was going to run out of fuel at around 18 miles. Marathon rookie mistake. It all worked out, as the race volunteers were handing out bananas later in the race. I was able to eat some banana, and thankfully my stomach was fine. As a fun bonus, I felt like I was in a real-life Mario Kart race as I ran around trying not to slip on banana peels. Those suckers really ARE slippery!

At mile 18, I had the realization that, Hey, this is the furthest I’ve ever run! Awesome!

I probably looked better than I felt. Silly runner.

I probably looked better than I felt. Silly runner.

That marveling thought was quickly followed by another realization:

Hey, I still need to run 8 more miles though. Awesome…

I hadn’t hit The Wall yet, and felt fairly decent, so I wasn’t worrying. But by mile 20, which you hear so often as really being that threshold to The Wall, I started to feel it. I was really starting to ache all over: in my feet, legs, back, shoulders… And every time I stopped for my walk break, it was becoming harder and harder to start again—not mentally, but physically. I was literally groaning out loud in pain as I’d start to transition from the walk to running. I told myself to stop being a diva, but I couldn’t control it.

At mile 22, after my 2-minute walk break, I started running again and decided that if I stopped to walk anymore, there was a good chance that my body would not be able to start running again. There were people all over the place walking at this point, and ironically enough, this is when I decided I needed to STOP walking.

Those last 3 miles felt literally as long as the entire rest of the race. My body ached, I was tired, my ration of Shot Blocks was gone, and I was nearing 5 hours of running. FIVE! It was 100% heart, soul and mind that got me through those last couple miles.

And then, with a mile to go, I started hearing a familiar tune over some speakers someone had set up on the sidewalk…  One of my all-time favorite songs, Kings of Leon’s “Fans” was blaring. I felt a huge grin transform my face, feeling like a goon, and probably looking like a freak as I shuffled along. But I didn’t care, that song was just what I needed to push me along for a couple more minutes.

I was still smiling as the notes drifted away behind me, when all of the sudden I heard, “AMANDA!” out of the roaring crowd, with a half mile to go to the finish.

Happy to see some familiar faces at the end of the race.

Happy to see some familiar faces at the end of the race.

My family & friends were there on the side of the course, screaming and yelling for me. They later said they were surprised to see me at that point looking SO happy and smiling! Their cheers pushed me on for that last half of a mile, and my legs were flying beneath me, pushing me faster and faster. I was relishing the moment, oddly lamenting that I was about to be done, my goal was about to be achieved—but at the same time, I just wanted to be done. I was so close.

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Turning the corner, there was a bit of a hill at the end, and I wove in and out of people as I continued to pick up my pace. I don’t know where all that extra energy and speed came from in the end, but it rallied me forward faster and faster and then… Then it was there in big, bright letters:

FINISH

With whatever strength I had left, I lifted my arms up and smiled as I crossed the finish line.

I am a runner.

I am a MARATHONER!

Chicago Marathon 2013 Finisher Medal

Chicago Marathon 2013 Finisher Medal

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

Final clock time: 5:06:43 

Running the Chicago Marathon, Part 1

I think the days leading up to a race are just as important as race day itself. You need to get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated and keep a positive, upbeat attitude. With all that in mind, I had a great Friday & Saturday leading into the Chicago Marathon. Let’s recap!

On Friday, my mom and little sister, Lara, traveled into town, and by lunchtime we were on our way to Chicago. My older sister, Brandi, lives in the city, so her apartment was our headquarters for the weekend. After a little relaxing and chatting there, we headed out for some serious carb loading.

We went to an Italian restaurant, Calo, to get our pasta on. They had some amaaazing sundried tomato focaccia bread to start with. I followed that up with the Linguini Frutti di Mare as my entrée (aka linguini with shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari and mussels). YUM! It was delicious, and even though it was a pasta dish, the seafood helped to keep it feel a little on the lighter side, if that’s possible. I didn’t want a rock in my stomach like, say, the gorgonzola-stuffed gnocchi I was originally eyeing up… (Some day I will have to go back for that!)

We finished up dinner with some dessert, of course.

Calo dessert

The four of us split the tiramisu and a chocolate mousse sponge cake. Ahhh, heaven. Dessert is quite necessary for pre-race carb loading, let me tell ya.

After a quick walk home, we headed to bed early because we had plans the next morning!

Runner’s World hosted a free shake out run with Bart Yasso at the South Loop Fleet Feet store at 8am Saturday morning. Brandi, Lara and I headed there, ready for an easy 2-3 mile run to shake out the nerves and loosen up our muscles. Before the run, we were each given a bag with Bart Yasso’s book, “My Life on the Run,” and the latest Runner’s World Magazine. Woohoo! I have wanted to read Bart’s book so I was stoked. A lot of people took pictures with Bart and got his autograph. My sisters & I snapped a little pic with our running idol.

We love Bart Yasso!

We love Bart Yasso!

(Thanks Brandi for the pic!)

We were able to stow away our belongings in the bags to leave at the store while we all went out for the run, which was pretty convenient. The run was an easy out & back to the lakefront path. I only chose to run two miles, so I didn’t get to see much of the lakeshore, but it sure was a beautiful morning.

Chicago Lakeshore path

Chicago lakeshore path

It was fun to chat with other runners who were psyching up for the marathon, too. I talked with a few ladies on the trot back to the store, and got some useful advice. One of the women had done a run-walk method like I was aiming to do, and I mentioned how I thought I’d feel stupid during my first few walk breaks, as my first walk break would be only 10 minutes in. Plus, with all the cheering & adrenaline, how would I be able to stop myself from running?! I felt like everyone would be looking at me funny. She told me she understood because last year when she had done a run-walk plan for the marathon, she made the mistake of skipping the walk breaks in the beginning for those reasons. It ended up biting her in the end; she ran out of energy and hit the wall pretty early on, but was still able to finish. I was very glad I got to talk to her and reinforce that it would be important to follow my plan, no matter what.

Once we got back to Fleet Feet, there were water bottles & Gatorade waiting outside for us. I sucked down some Gatorade while I got in lots of stretching. While stretching, I looked down next to my foot and loved this saying. Perfect timing before the race.

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We went inside where a nice carb-y spread of food was waiting for all the hungry runners.

Don't get in the way of hungry runners!

Don’t get in the way of hungry runners!

We just grabbed a little snack to munch on while we listened to Bart recount some funny running stories and then give us some advice for the Chicago marathon.

Bart Yasso giving words of wisdom for the Chicago Marathon.

Bart Yasso giving words of wisdom for the Chicago marathon.

This was such a fun event to go to, and it was all free! Awesome. If they host this shake out run again next year, I’ll definitely be going.

Afterwards, we made a pit stop at Target for some last-minute race day needs, and then stopped for a big breakfast before heading to the expo to pick up our packets.

Arriving at the Chicago Marathon expo.

Arriving at the Chicago Marathon expo.

With sooo many runners & the place being so packed, packet and t-shirt pick-up was pretty painless and quick.

Got my bib!

Got my bib!

We wandered around the expo for a little while, and I stopped at the Nike pop-up store to buy another Chicago marathon t-shirt. Because, duh, when it’s your first marathon you have to get all the goodies you can. 🙂

I also ran into my running club buddy, Liz!

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Cheese.

Runner sisters!

Runner sisters!

After the expo, we went back to Brandi’s apartment and relaxed. Our mom made us a yummy homemade dinner with salad, baked chicken and pasta. We chowed down early and then settled in to watch some TV and a movie to keep our mind off the race & our nerves calm. Pretty soon it was 9pm, and we headed for bed to rest up for the Chicago Marathon…

Stay tuned!

~ ~ ~

How do you prepare for a big race day? Any traditional meals, or lucky habits you have to do?  

Tips for Chicago Marathon Spectators

It’s almost that time! If you’re going to watch the Chicago Marathon tomorrow, along with over 1.5 million other people (for real), are you wondering how to track Chicago Marathon runners? What about where you should watch from, and how to get around? I’ve got some answers for ya!

>> Tracking Chicago Marathon Runners

The EASIEST way to track runners is to download the Bank of America Chicago Marathon app (named ChiMarathon2013). You can easily search and add runners to track, and check up on their split times.

If you want to track Chicago Marathon runners by text message alerts, Facebook, or Twitter, you need to sign up by 11pm CST tonight (Saturday). You can track up to three people as they cross the 10K (6.2 mile), HALF (13.1 mile), 30K (18.6 mile), and finish line. Here’s how to do it:

Create a user account here.

• One you create your account, you get three buttons you can click, to authorize messaging by mobile phone, Facebook and/or Twitter:

Chicago Marathon Runner Tracking Registration

Runner Tracking Page

• If you click to authorize your mobile phone, it will ask for the phone number of the phone that you’ll be tracking with. Once you enter that, you’ll get a code via text message to then enter. This verifies you’ve given the correct number.

• If you click the Facebook or Twitter buttons to authorize your accounts to receive alerts (posted directly on your Facebook wall, or Twitter feed), you simply then enter your username & password for FB/Twitter and click “Authorize App.”

• Once you have authorized mobile/FB/Twitter, you click on the “Next” button to search for the runners you want to track. Once you get the results, just click on the bubble next to their name and click “Submit.”

• Voila! Runner will be tracked for you. Now you can add up to two more people to track, if you choose.

It might look complicated, but it only takes a couple of minutes, I promise! I’ve tried to condense & simplify the steps to take, but for more complete details, see the official runner tracking page.

>> Where to Watch the Chicago Marathon

Devise your game plan of where you want to go, and where you runner wants you to be, before you get to the marathon. Use the CTA train map on page two of the Spectator Guide to figure out where to go and how to get there. It’s quite easy if you use that map as your guide, even if you’ve never been to Chicago. You obviously can’t make it to every other mile to see your runner, so pick a handful and give yourself time to get on & off the packed trains, plus the time it takes to get from point A to B.

When in doubt, follow the crowd! Thousands and thousands of people will be blazing the same trail as you. And, don’t be afraid to ask for directions or help from those around you. Chicago peeps are pretty knowledgeable, and any other marathon spectator will understand and lend a hand.

>> How to Be a Kick-Ass Spectator

Make funny signs.

Funny signs I've seen at races past.

Funny signs I’ve seen at races past.

Watch for runners’ names on their shirts or bibs and cheer for them. Even if it’s strangers cheering for you, any time you hear your name cheered while running gives an instant boost to your step!

Don’t be that annoying person who crosses the street in the middle of the race. Just don’t, or we’ll run you over…or run into you. Literally. If you must cross the street, hop into the race when there is a good opening, and run upstream with the flow of the runners until you get across. As an added bonus, on Monday you can tell everyone that you ran in the Chicago Marathon.

>> Enjoy your time spectating the race and cheering!

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 16 Recap

Only SIX DAYS ‘til the Chicago Marathon!

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it’s so close. These last four months have really flown by. I can’t even fathom that in less than one week, I will have completed the marathon. It’s been a long, unpredictable, exhausting but exhilarating journey. I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Last week’s training went pretty well, so I’m glad we’re ending things on a good note before the big day arrives. 🙂

Sunday, September 29th: 27-mile Bike Ride
I biked with a couple friends on a nearby trail called the Des Plaines River Trail. This trail is so wonderful! I couldn’t really take many pictures while biking, but the scenery is diverse and beautiful: There are fields of wildflowers, wooded areas, wide-open fields, marshland, you name it. It’s great for a run, bike or walk; in fact, there were tons of other happy people out exercising while we were there. If you live near this trail, I recommend you give it a visit!

The weather was perfect for our ride, the sun was shining, and I had some great company to chat with. We stopped at our turn-around point for some homemade pumpkin bread (YUM), water, and snapped a few pictures:

Refueling with water & snacks.

Refueling with water & snacks.

Biking ladies on the Des Plaines River Trail

Biking ladies on the Des Plaines River Trail

This is the longest I’ve ever biked, and it took about 2.5 hours to ride at a moderate pace. My legs were definitely wobbly at the end, and even a little sore the next day! It was a fun way to spend my Sunday.

Monday: rest
I had my last PT appointment early Monday morning. They gave me a take-home program to keep my hips strong, and lots of well-wishes for the marathon. Those people are the best!

Tuesday: 4.22 mile run/walk • 10:54/mile
Went running with two friends of mine from the running club. Everything felt good during the run, and I felt very strong. I even had to slow myself down a couple times, as all my runs are supposed to be relatively “easy” while I make my comeback.

Wednesday: rest
I did lots of PT, foam rolling and some extra stretching.

Thursday: 4 mile run/walk • 11:42/mile
I met up with my buddy Liz for a run along the lakefront. It is so nice to make plans to run with people again, and know that I will actually be able to run! We took it nice and easy while we chatted. The weather was kinda funky, and it was super foggy out, but cool looking:

Foggy lakeside running.

Foggy lakeside running.

Overall, I felt strong and it was good to have some company. I finished the run sweaty & feeling positive!

Friday: rest

Saturday: 12.68 mile run/walk • 11:24/mile
Yahoo! I wanted to run 13 miles so I would feel more mentally prepared for the marathon next week. I got close enough and decided lopping off 4 more minutes of running wouldn’t make or break anything.

It was a pretty decent last long run, but I already wrote all about it, so you know that. 🙂

This week’s (+1) schedule:

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 2 miles
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 2 miles
  • Sunday: MARATHON!

This is it! Taper week is officially here. I hear all about people going crazy during taper week because there’s not much running and all. Maybe I’m weird, or a lame runner, but I’m excited for a little R&R time! I have plenty of other stuff going on, like our engagement photo session (yay!), painting my office, cleaning up & prepping for my mom and sister to visit… It will be nice to have more time to get all that done.

Any last-minute marathon tips? What’s your favorite carbo-loading meal?

The Last Long Run

It’s done! My last long run before the Chicago Marathon is in the books.

I should have had 8 miles on my schedule today, according to my Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan. But due to my lack of running over the last 6 weeks or so, I decided to go for 12-13 miles. Mentally, I thought it would help me to know I can make it to 13 miles with no problem, so when I’m running the marathon, I can enjoy the first 13 miles without worrying about how my knees and hips will feel along the way. I’m hoping that will leave lots of mental power for the last half of the race, which will probably be tough physically & mentally for me, due to taking so much time off running.

Last night, I was looking forward to only one thing about my long run today: Getting it over with. In fact, I started to write a post last night about how much I was not looking forward to my last long run, and how much I wanted it to be done.

Then I felt like a whiney bitch, and gave myself a little reality check.

Uh, hello? Weren’t you just injured for the last 6 weeks and wishing you could run almost every one of those days you had to take off? Weren’t you worried about not getting those long runs in, and whether or not you could run the marathon? Weren’t you wishing you could wake up early on Saturday morning to meet up with your running club friends for a jog along Lake Michigan, with the sun rising over the water?

Yes, you were. So suck it up, Amanda.

In my defense, I’d imagine this is a common feeling among runners who are entering their taper for a marathon. The training requires so much sacrifice: Time, energy, even sometimes pain, as I’ve learned. Maybe it’s natural to put so much effort and determination into something, that it sucks everything within you dry to the point that you’re excited, but ready, to finally reach, and freakin’ complete, your goal.

And that’s how I feel: Simply ready to be at that starting line, running along the streets of Chicago, and then crossing over that finish line… Hopefully still smiling.

But first, I had a 13-mile run to tackle today. I didn’t really eat enough for dinner last night, and I didn’t hydrate well yesterday like I normally would, either. Maybe I’ve just been out of my long runs for too long, but I woke up this morning SO tired, and worrying about whether or not I had set myself up for success.

It was still quite dark out when my alarm started squawking at me, and I didn’t sleep well, so I was reallllly tired. Like, I-only-got-four-hours-of-sleep tired. For a minute, I debated just not getting up—maybe I’d run later… But I knew there was a crappy rainy day in the forecast, so I dragged myself outta bed.

When I got to my starting point, I thankfully spotted my long-lost marathon training buddy, Liz! I was glad to have someone to start my run with, because it was a little creepy looking outside with the sun still half-sunken and the fog blanketing the town:

Foggy morning running

Plus, she made my smile and remember that running is a good thing that I like to do. 🙂

The run started out slow, maybe because of the literal 99% humidity. Hey, I’m just glad we’re not getting forecasts like this…

winter storm Atlas

SNOW?!

I mean, seriously. I am so not ready for snow.

I took my first couple of miles very easy and made sure to stretch well. I felt pretty sluggish, but tried to push any negative thoughts away. At mile 4, members of the running club, who started at a more normal time of 7:30am, began to pass me. Saying hi and exchanging a few quick words took my mind off my worries and energized me. I ran into Liz again (who had gone ahead of me due to my walking breaks) and we were able to log about a mile together until I had to continue on alone once more.

I still felt decent as I approached 10 miles, though not as good as I had last week. The last few miles were a little challenging—mostly, they just felt long because I was alone for them, and tired.

I did feel strong, especially at the end of the run, but my legs just aren’t used to the pounding miles of pavement. After mile 10, my legs were very achy from the ankles up. It makes me worry about how achy I will feel for 26 miles, but I guess I’ll just have to deal with it, and maybe throw in a little extra walking if my body asks for it.

I got to my starting point a tad short of 13 miles, but I called it a day, because at this point, three-tenths of a mile isn’t going to make or break my race!

And thus, the final long run for Chicago Marathon is complete:

long run splits for chicago marathon

long run splits

Now, I start the real “taper” for my training. This week I will only have three runs, which are one 3-miler and two 2-mile runs. I’m not sure if I’ll know what to do with myself?!

Rest, eat well, hydrate, think positive, and enjoy the extra free time… That’s my plan. 🙂

Any tips on what to do (or what NOT to do) the week before a marathon? What’s your favorite pre-race meal? Do you carb-load?