Week 9 & 10 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

Now up: Training for the Green Bay Marathon in May!

I had a good race at the Phoenix Half Marathon (you can see my recap here), and followed it up with a solid training week as I shifted goals from 13.1 miles, to a full 26.2.

Sunday, February 23rd: Stretch + foam roll

Monday: 4 miles
Solid jaunt on the treadmill.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles
I can’t remember exactly why I skipped this workout, other than I was probably just being lazy…

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 2 miles
After a 4-hour flight, I arrived in Phoenix with my sisters. That afternoon, we went on a little shake-out run to loosen up for our big race the next day.

We ran from our hotel…

tempe palms hotel

…to nearby Tempe Beach Park, which had a convenient running path along Tempe Town Lake.

running path along temp town lake

We enjoyed the views and the weather. It’s been so long since I’ve run in a t-shirt and shorts and actually felt the sun heating my skin. It was glorious, and made me itch for spring even more.

Saturday: 13.1 miles, Phoenix Half Marathon! 2:17:38 (10:30/mile pace)
phoenix half marathon medal
Felt strong and ran my last four miles progressively faster, with the last mile the fastest of all. Overall I was happy with my race and my time. This was no PR for me (I think a 2:08 is my best) but considering I haven’t been doing any speedwork, a 2:17 is pretty decent in my book.

Sunday, March 2nd: Rest
My “rest” day included hiking this beast, the “Tempe Butte” (aka “A Mountain”) in Tempe.

tempe butte, also known as A Mountain

Doesn’t stack up to the other hiking mountains around Phoenix, but we still felt the burn walking up this guy.

tempe butte

Monday: 3 miles easy
It was our last day in Arizona, and the weather was so refreshing (sunny + 60-something degrees) that we had to get one more run in. After all, we were heading back to single digit temps and snow. We went for another jog along the Tempe Lake path, this time crossing a footbridge and exploring the other side of the lake.

running in tempe, phoenix, arizona.

[thanks to my sister for the Instagram]

I wasn’t sure that a jog so soon after my half was wise, but I actually felt really strong and wasn’t sore at all. Success!

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 4 miles 2 miles
Back in the arctic tundra in Wisconsin, I reacquainted myself with my treadmill. Five minutes into the run, my left knee started bothering me a bit. I hopped off and foam rolled/stretched for a few minutes. I got back on the ‘mill and the naggy pain was gone, so I think my IT band was just tight since I hadn’t rolled in a week (I normally do it at least every other day). I didn’t want to push my luck, though, so I hopped off after 2 miles and just stretched/foam rolled some more.

Thursday: 6 miles
I got outside for this run, thankfully. I felt strong and actually had to keep slowing myself down, as I was pushing close to a 10-minute pace, which isn’t my “easy” pace at all!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 14 miles
The temps were in the 20s for this long run, which hasn’t happened in a long while—heat wave! The wind was pretty severe, but I could still feel all of my limbs and exposed skin, so I count that as a win.

I felt really tight during most of this run.  My running partners did too, so we stopped every couple of miles to stretch, which helped us get through it. We hit a few treacherously icy stretches of road, which makes you run differently… I noticed after one particularly long bout on the ice, my hip flexors were super tight. I finished the run fine, but at the end I couldn’t have pushed it any faster, my legs just wouldn’t loosen up.

I was pretty tight and sore, especially my hips and knees, after this run. Even two days later now, my knees are feeling a little tender. I have a tendency to over-analyze pain due to all of my hip/knee related injuries in the past, so I’m trying not to freak myself out. 🙂 I’ve been foam rolling and icing my knees just in case. I’m also taking today off instead of tomorrow. (I was going to cross train, but I’m actually feeling kind of sick. Bleh.)

On a fun note, during the long run, my friend June found a $20 bill half-frozen into the ice on the side of the road.

030914-money-in-ice

We used a car key to chip it out, and then June bought us coffee with it after we finished the run. The bill was totally soaked and dirty, and I wish I would’ve gotten the poor cashier’s face when she pulled the bill out to pay. Hahah!

– – –

This week’s workouts:
Sunday: Yoga + foam roll
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 15 miles (eep, starting to get up there!)

Depending how my knees feel, I might replace some mileage with cross training.

– – –

Do you overanalyze your aches and pains?
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever found while out on a run/bike ride/walk?

The funniest thing I ever found while on a run was discovered during a high school cross country practice… We were running around some trails and found a “road closed” sign in a huge ditch near the woods. Thinking it’d be funny to use it as a prank somehow, my younger sister and I got the sign after practice and took it home. When my mom saw it, she totally freaked out on us because apparently taking road signs is illegal. Oooops! I mean, it was in the ditch, not even on the road… If that was the worst thing I did in high school, my mom is lucky. 😉

Phoenix Half Marathon Recap

The trash bag flapped around me in the wind as I squinted my eyes to see through the dark. Where was the starting line? Not too far away, I could hear the reverberating voice over the loudspeaker—we must be close! Suddenly, my sisters and I turned the corner of a low, concrete building and were greeted by a crowded mass of runners huddled around heat lamps.

Welcome to 60 degrees in Arizona at 5:30 in the morning! We entered the throng of runners, ready to race the Phoenix Half Marathon this past Saturday, March 1st.

My sisters and I, coming from much cooler climates, had to chuckle a bit about the huddled runners. Coming from the sub-zero long runs in Wisconsin, the balmy 60 degrees felt amazing—even the threat of rain during the race didn’t scare me. In fact, I thought it might help me; I was afraid 60 degrees would feel too warm!

The garbage bag “dresses” we wore proved useful.

garbage bags before a rainy race

The slight wind and misty weather turned out to be a little chilly after standing outside for 15 minutes. Even we were glad for the heating lamps that we, and all the others, corralled around as we waiting to line up for the start of the race.

It wasn’t long before the Star Spangled Banner was being sung; beautiful voices echoed over us all, and a spark of excitement ran through us all as fireworks went off. What a way to get the adrenaline going!

phoenix half marathon fireworks before start

We headed for the start line. At 6:28am, the rain started falling. At 6:30 on the dot, the starting gun went off.

waiting in line to start running the phoenix half marathon

Five minutes into the rainy run, I clenched and unclenched my chilly fingers and wondered how quickly they would warm up with the rain. But just five minutes later, the rain had stopped and was replaced with an intermittent mist. It hadn’t rained in 80 days or so in Arizona, and although we had a few showers during our half marathon, it turned out not to be the water-logged run we all expected.

We ran down residential streets, somewhat tightly packed. I got stuck behind some slower runners and walkers a handful of times. Frustrating, but easy enough to quickly find a spot to slide around. I took in the humble homes; the desert landscaping right with cacti and stones; the groves of lemon and orange trees, which completely but happily surprised me. The birds chirped as the sun came up and lit our way.

I focused on how I felt—good, strong—and tried to stick to a consistent 10:30 pace. I went up and down but stayed somewhat close—good enough. Water and Gatorade stations popped up about every two miles, and I made sure to hit up most of them. Vaseline, kindly offered by a volunteer around mile 3, saved my arm from being chafed to death. {How did I forget this tank top always did that?}

Clif gel shots, licorice, bananas and oranges were all offered along the way by smiling volunteers. I grabbed a Clif shot to try on a different run, but gobbled down my trusty Shot Blox gummies as needed. I was amazed at how well the runners were supported, and thanked the volunteers and numerous policemen (and the few cheering fans who braved the cruddy weather) when I could spare the smile and breath.

Soon, I was nearing the 10-mile marker. I felt great still, and decided to kick it up a notch. I had been sticking close to my 10:30 minutes per mile goal, but I wondered how much further I could take it. I hadn’t been planning to race this half marathon or try for a goal time, but that itch surfaced and the push began.

Mile 10: 10:34
Mile 11: 10:17
Mile 12: 10:06

This was it. The end was getting close, and I stared out at the mountains in the distance. Glad to finally glimpse some Arizona scenery, I spared the seconds to slow down and capture the moment.

scenic view during the end of the phoenix half marathon

But not for long. I opened up my stride and continued the downward descent to the finish line.

Mile 13: 9:05

I sprinted past people left, right, dodging around like a little kid running around his parents’ legs. I smiled huge, feeling so strong and fast, hearing my older sister cheering for me—“Go Mandy!”—as I stared down the fast-approaching finish line.

Then a man’s voice behind me:
“Runners, move to your left! Make room for the first marathon finisher!”

I glanced back to my right to see a male swiftly approaching at the end of his 26.2-mile run. I sailed over the finish line at nearly the same moment as him, and grinned to myself.

smiling at the finish line

At least when I got home, I could tell everyone I had tied with the winner of the Phoenix Marathon.

Final half marathon time:
2:17:38 (10:30 pace, on the dot)

phoenix half marathon medal

Race Recap: Run with the Turkeys 5K

Yesterday morning, I braved the bright & sunny, yet brutally cold morning for the Run with the Turkeys 5K at the Rec Plex in Pleasant Prairie, WI.

It was only about 20 degrees out, which is unusually cold for this time of year. We also had 20mph wind blowing from every direction, which brought the wind chill down to 5 degrees. BRR! I questioned myself, do I really want to do this?

When I went to pick up my packet that morning before the race, they didn’t have mine. Maybe it was a sign?! But no, they also didn’t have 3 of the 5 packets for my friends that I was there with, either. So, it wasn’t a sign, just bad organization. I was doing this, no matter what.

Pleasant Prairie Rec Plex Run with the Turkeys 5K

[thanks to my friend, Jeni, for taking this pic!]

A few of us went outside to do our “warm-up jog” before the race. We literally ran maybe 200 meters to my car to throw some stuff in there, then ran back to shelter from the cold and stretch. Haha!

Finally, the race was going to begin. We shuffled in a herd to the exit of the beach house and listened to a sweet little girl sing the National Anthem. With the blast of a shrill air horn, we were off!

It was very confusing, because we literally took off by the exit of the beach house; some people were still streaming out, others were along the path waiting to go, and still others were on the road next to the path, which was blocked by a car and fence. “Where are we supposed to be starting?!” I called out. Nobody seemed to know.

I finally just followed the crowd in front of me forward, only to be stopped two seconds later midstride because a lot of the people were simply walking the race. With only a 4-foot wide path to run on, they were completely jamming everyone up, and you had to run in the frozen, bumpy grass to pass. I kept waiting to roll an ankle.

After a mile, the racers spread out enough that I could stay on the small paved running path. I hunkered down in my jacket and ran. The wind was SO cold on my face, my toes had been numb since the start, and even my legs felt a little numb. How cold does it need to be, to get frostbitten? I wondered. Everyone else seemed unconcerned, and people even had their kids out running with them (crazies), so I told myself to just run faster so I could get to the dang end.

Over the next two miles, we ran along the paved path, then turned onto a gravel path. At some point, we hit a turn-around point and traced our route back along the gravel path. But, instead of dividing the road in half with the orange cones for incoming & outgoing runners, the cones were offset 2/3 of the way across. On the way in, there was plenty of room on the road to pass others. But on your way out, it was single-file running, unless you wanted to run on the rutted, ankle-busting, gravely sideline. I had to brave that a few times, due to people slowing down a ton or stopping to walk in front of me.

Finally, I made the turn off the stupid gravel path and back onto the paved path. I looked at my watch and I was at 2.89 miles. Yes! Less than a quarter mile to go. I buckled down and picked up the pace, determined to push myself to the limit and finish strong.

If only...That would have made everything worth it! ha

If only… That would have made this race better!

But then I kept going, and going… I passed 3.1 miles on my watch, but still saw runners shuffling up ahead for quite a ways. 3.2 miles. 3.3 miles. What the heck?! At this point I was so irritated with the whole race, I just wanted to stop and walk the rest of the way in, but it was too damn cold to stop. So I kept going. Finally, at 3.6 miles, I crossed the finish line. They had marked the course over by a whole half mile!

For me, this was just annoying. I had really wanted to see what my best 5K time could be right now, so I can use that to get faster over the next few months. But I really felt bad for the walkers, who would still be out there for a long time; and for other people who were out running with kids in that cold; and for anyone who had decided to do this as their first race. Push yourself as hard as you can for 3.1 miles, then run an extra half mile. That is rough!

I’m not one to be a negative nancy, but even without the crappy weather, the race itself was a mess, and I won’t be running it again! After the race was done, we had to wait almost an hour and a half for race results. (I give them credit: They tried to appease annoyance by bringing in mini Jimmy Johns subs for people.) After waiting all that time, none of the five people I was with got a medal (a few of us were just seconds off), but later when we saw the posted results online, one of my friends should have gotten FIRST in her age group! They just totally skipped her. Also found out from a running club friend that he should have also won a medal; and he had been training a teenage girl, who was also skipped when she should have won third in her age group. The adults can handle it, but what a bummer for a kid to train for a race, place in her age group, and then not get her medal! Boo.

I’d cut some slack to the Rec Plex for all these issues, except a couple people told me that things like this happen every year, every time they organize a race…which is several time a year. Come on. You’d think running a race on your own property, a few times a year, you could get it right eventually. There are plenty of other Turkey Trots out there, so next year I’ll be looking for a new one.

Overall, the race experience wasn’t awesome, but I’m still proud of myself for braving the elements and getting out there. It was time spent with friends, which you can never complain about, and I got in a good workout…extra long, in fact. 😉 My friends and I also went to lunch after all was said and done, to celebrate that we’d all survived. I’ll take it.

Final time for 3.6 miles: 35:09 

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…

101913_chimarathon_1

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.

101913_chimarathon_3

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.

101913_chimarathon_8

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.

101513_breathe

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!

101513_amandaliz

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?