Sunday, April 28, 2013

Illinois Half Marathon Race Report

This week was my last week of taper and race week!

As you may recall, I decided not to train for a spring marathon for the first time in 8 years.  Instead, I was going to keep riding my high of a PR at Chicago last fall and focus on the shorter stuff.  It was a good call for me as it took a LONG time for me to recover from Chicago, both mentally and physically.

This season started with a lot of soreness, aches and pains I normally do not have.  I also struggled with motivation quite a bit.  I had a 25 week training schedule, but really knew I didn't need that long to train for a half.  So I moved workouts around and skipped them a bit too much.

But I also put in a lot of high quality work.  My typical week included a speed workout, a tempo workout and a long run.  It was quite similar to marathon training.  The only differences were: (1) my speed workouts were faster; (2) my long runs were shorter (I maxed out at 17 miles); and (3) my mileage was lower as I peaked out around 50 miles per week.

Three weeks ago, I had the unfortunate problem of losing my running mojo.  I just didn't care.  The conditions for my goal race looked awful, so my coach and I decided to switch it up and have me focus on the Illinois Half Marathon.  I was excited to make the change, but I was second-guessing my training, etc. non-stop.  The Boston bombings didn't help as it made personal racing goals seem so irrelevant.

But I didn't work hard for nothing, so this week was ALL about getting my head in the game: tuning out the missteps in my training and focusing on the hard work.  I had lunch with my coach, we talked about the course, and I declared my goals: I'd shoot for around 1:37, but would frankly be happy with anything under 1:40.  Above all, I was looking forward to getting out there and racing.  The time (for once) wasn't my main focus.  Just run.  Run hard.

We left for Champaign on Friday.  I worked all morning, then left around noon to pick up my kids, meet up with my husband, and head south.  The trip was just under 4 hours, but it was a whirlwind once we got there.  We hit the expo, picked up our bib numbers, checked into our hotel and then headed down for the 5k.  All three boys were doing it and for a change, I was the one spectating.  None of them have been running much, but I encouraged them all to race hard and have fun.  They all did awesome.  We headed back to the hotel for a late dinner, then I hit the hay while they swam and watched a movie.

22:45, 25:57, 24:21
I woke up bright and early on Saturday at 4:30 am.  I slept pretty poorly as my husband was coughing all night.  I didn't mind though - I was just thankful I did not get the ugly head/chest cold all 3 of the boys had.  It was a quiet, easy morning and when we left to walk down to the starting line, I felt great.  My legs had been heavy and sore for weeks, but this morning they felt light and snappy.  The weather was awesome - about 50 degrees, sunny, and a light breeze.  I lined up for the start and was so thankful to be there.  There was a moment of silence for Boston and then the National Anthem.  As always, I felt moved and thankful.

The race started and we were off.  I felt great and decided to go for it.  I knew a PR was unlikely given my training and the fact that I am up about 8 lbs, but why the hell not go for it?  Instead of starting out at the 7:35 pace I planned, I did the first 6 miles a bit aggressively (7:21, 7:19, 7:25, 7:24, 7:21, 7:27).  Mile 6 had a slight incline and I slowed a bit, 7:41, but I picked it up for miles 7 and 8, 7:30, 7:19.  At that time, I felt pretty good and was thinking how great it was that I only had 5 miles rather than 18 left.  I thought I may just have a PR in me after all.  But by mile 10, I was hurting and thanking my lucky stars I only had 3 more to go.  I tried to focus, but lost a fair bit of steam (and time) those last few miles (7:51, 7:55, 8:06, 7:43).   

As I turned into the University of Illinois stadium, I could see the clock was at 1:39:xx and gave it all I could to come in under that 1:40.  Barely made it at 1:39:49 (7:38 average pace).  :)  After the finish, I met up with the boys and we hit the hot tub and pool in our hotel before we made the trek back home.

There was a time that this race would  have disappointed me, but today was not that time.  I did not regret going out aggressively even though I knew I wasn't in shape for a PR race.  I am proud I went for it and worked through the pain those last few miles.  I am so glad I can do this and that my whole family supports me.  

I am also now ITCHING to get back to marathon training.  This half stuff is fine, but I really want to get back into marathon training and top shape.  If I want to  hit my goal of 3:20 in the fall, I better be able to keep the pace I had in today's race for the entire 26.2.  I'll admit that seems a little daunting, but I know I can do it if I refocus my training and go get it.  After a season of little motivation, I am feeling it rush back in.  Bring it on!

Field Placement:389 / 6193 (6.3%)
Age group:35 – 39
Group Placement:7 / 453 (1.5%)
Gender Placement:66 / 3587 (1.8%)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tap Tap Tap. Hello? Is this thing on?

I'll start out with my apologies to my 9 readers for being gone so long.  With work, life and blogging at Salty Running, my personal blog has fallen firmly onto the back burner.

It is the weekend before the Boston Marathon and I am feeling SO excited for all of my friends who are running it.  The weather looks ideal for racing or for just enjoying the ride.  I can't wait to hear how everyone does.

That said, I did the unthinkable.  I scheduled an off-site client meeting on Monday morning for 11:00 am CST.  Yes, I really did that.  No, I was not thinking.  So with my travel and meeting, I will completely miss the end of the elite races.  Doh.  Oh well.  Thank goodness they have an app so at least I might be able to sneak a peak at my phone for results.  It's not the same, but it's something.

In other news, I am in taper mode for my goal half marathon, which is next Saturday.  I have to admit this half marathon training thing isn't settling so great with me.  But that may also be because it was a crazy season altogether - so maybe it isn't the distance.

I peaked out around 50 miles a week and did 2 speed/tempo workouts each week with a long run on the weekend.  Training was so hard given that much of it was on the treadmill.  I had 2 tune-up races and neither went great, but they weren't awful either.

This week training got derailed a bit due to a family member's health issues.  Lots of stress meant running had to be de-prioritized.  I was wicked sore by the middle of the week too, which I didn't expect.  I'd expect that during marathon training, but not for the half.  I don't know why I thought it would be different, but it isn't.  I am sore, I have log legs and my heart rate is super high. Just like it always is the weekend before my goal marathons.

So here is where it gets interesting.  I decided to run a local half, the Parkinson's Half Marathon.  It is ideal because the start and finish is less than half a mile from my front door.  I ran it last year as a training run (at goal MP) and it was awesome!  This year doesn't look so good though.  It has been cold and rainy and the trail it is on (rails to trail) is an absolute mess.  The footing is all uneven and it is impossible to run fast on without risking a serious turned ankle.  Of course rain is forecast almost every day next week too - with the bonus of snow on Friday (ugh).

Add to that the fact that this year the race is sold out.  It has gone from 220 runners to 800+.  Gah.  That does not bode well for an out and back on a rails to trail course.  The trail itself is only about 5 feet wide.  I don't think I'll have a problem running out to the turn-around point, but I imagine a huge traffic jam on the way back.  Not cool.

So I talked to my coach about all of this.  It looks like I may extend my taper an additional week and travel to Champaign to do the Illinois half marathon.  I know that the course will be fine (roads) and hopefully we won't have snow.  Hopefully it will be a good choice.  I have to admit it all just feels a little off though.

Wish me luck.

Happy training to you all.  For those running Boston tomorrow - kick some @ss and have a blast!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Been a Long Time

Ooops.  I can't believe my last post is about the Berbee Derby on Thanksgiving 2012!

I have been remiss in updating my blog.  Mainly because life has been busy and I have been regularly contributing to the Salty Running blog.  I guess it is hard to deliver consistently in both places.

My training this winter has seen a lot of ups and downs.  Unbelievably enough, I am in my 15th week of training.  It took me a long time to get into a good groove with soreness, injury and pure lack of motivation.  But I think I am on a good track now.

As you may recall, I decided NOT to train for a spring marathon this year.  (I know, crazy, right? :)  Instead I am working on the speedier stuff - namely the 10k and half marathon distance - with the half being my primary goal.  The really crazy thing is I haven't identified which half I'll be running.

It will either be a local run in mid April (the start is less than .5 from my front door) or I will run the Illinois Marathon Half.  The local race would be much more convenient, but I am worried it may be very crowded this year and hard to navigate.  Last year it was perfect, but was an out-and-back on a trails to trail.  It gained a lot of popularity and I am afraid if there are a lot more registrants, it may be way too crowded to try to race.  We'll see.

For now, I have worked into two speed workouts a week.  It has been fun getting my speed on as last year I never ran faster than a 7:08 pace in training.  I am also happy to report that today is the first day after speed work I am not wicked sore (hello hip flexors!).

The other fun new development is I am trying out new shoes.  The Mizuno Wave Alchemys hurt me (13s) and I am anxiously awaiting the 14s.  But in the meantime, I am strengthening my feet and trying to run in shoes with less stability.  So I've started cycling in the Brooks Pure Cadence, Mizuno Wave Inspire and Mizuno Nirvana.  They are super light and super bright. 

Mizuno Women's Wave Inspire 9 - Wide

Bright shoes make training fun.  :)

Unfortunately, we've had a pretty hard winter here in Wisconsin.  Lots of snow and freezing temps, so I have been spending a fair bit of time on the treadmill.  I am used to it by now, but not ideal..  That said, I am off to run.  I hope you are well, healthy and happy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Berbee Derby 2012

I love Thanksgiving.  Spending time with family and slowing down to count our blessings for a few days is good for the soul.  Kick it off with a road race and you have all of the ingredients for a perfect holiday.

Almost every year since 2005, I have run the Berbee Derby on Thanksgiving morning.  The race features a 5k and a 10k.  Both courses are hilly and you never know what mother nature will bring on race day: sometimes it is -20 degrees with biting wind, other times it is 50 degrees and sunny.  Either way, it is always a treasured start to my Thanksgiving.

I used to get up early Thanksgiving morning and come out to race.  However, as my children have grown, we have made the Berbee Derby a family tradition.  Rather than racing, my husband and I run with our boys.

Imagine my delight when this year my oldest son James told me he wanted to train for and run the 10k this year.  This was big.  You see, he ran a 10k in the summer of 2011 after begging me non-stop for months.  He had run several 5ks and he wanted to do a 10k really badly.  I told him he needed to build up to it and train for it.  He wouldn't train, yet he wouldn't let up on the idea of doing a 10k that summer.  So I gave in - hoping he'd learn a lesson along the way.  Sure enough, the race was very hard for him.  He finished it and we actually had a fair bit of fun, but he had to walk a lot and he didn't like that.

Before we even finished, he decided next time he'd surpass the 5k, he'd train for it.  So this spring, we trained for and raced a 5 miler.  He rocked it and began to understand the importance of training.  When football season ended and he decided to shoot for the 10k, he knew he had to start training again.  I wrote up a six-week training schedule and we ran together 3-4 times a week.  We put in the miles and had a blast chatting along the roads.  He taught me some French and told me all about his favorite video games.  I pushed him to run father and he pushed me to try trail running.  Our training was not perfect because we all got slammed with a bad head cold 2 weeks ago, but I knew he could do it and do it well.

Thanksgiving morning was absolutely gorgeous.  It was windy, but the sun was shining and it was almost 50 degrees.  The 10k starts first, so James and I lined up ready to go.  The race has turned into a huge event and we were surrounded by a ton of people.  I could tell James was a little worried since he was the only kid we saw in our Corral.  A snarky guy didn't help by scolding him "are you sure  you belong in Corral B?"  Internally I wanted to let that guy have it, but I ignored him and reassured James that he was exactly where he should be.

The gun went off and we were in a sea of people.  All the 5k racers surrounded us and it was fun running through a tunnel of screaming people.  Just past the starting line, we heard Gangnam Style blaring and we both laughed out loud.  I knew it was going to be a great race.  From the get-go, we were passing through a very crowded field.  It would have made me crazy if I was trying to race, so I tried to help him carefully navigate through without expending too much energy.  The first mile clicked off at 8:28 - perfect.  We continued on and he was getting warm, but seemed to be doing great.  Miles 2 and 3 he ran in 8:19 and 8:40.  Mile 4 was hard as we turned into 20 mph headwinds and the huge hills started.  But he welcomed the cooling wind and pressed on.  Miles 4 and 5 were 8:33 and 8:48.  Once we hit mile 5, he was ready to kick it up a notch though.  It was still really windy and very hilly, but his last mile was the fastest at 8:04.  He then flew down through the finish chute, logging a 52:46.  Amazing.  It was a 9 minute PR over last summer's race (and he beat that snarky guy too).

I am so proud of him.  Hard work pays off and it tends to be a lot of fun too.

Shortly after we finished, we found my husband and youngest son.  They had run the 5K in 26:59 and had a blast.  What a great start to my favorite holiday.  I am so thankful I can run with my family.

* Reposted from Salty Running.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I haven't been posting much here because frankly, I haven't been running much.

You know that feeling when you finish an awesome goal race and you are pumped up and ready to continue with 110%?  But then reality creeps in and you have aches, pains, exhaustion, colds and you realize you need some more time off?

Yup, that's been me the last 6 weeks.  Chicago was amazing.  But it kicked my butt.  Seriously.  The last 2 weeks I had good intentions, but between work, the end of (a fabulous) Girls on the Run season, and a horrendous cold meant that I've been barely squeaking out the mileage.

Today I ran my first double-digit run since the Chicago Marathon.  It wasn't pretty, but it was motivating.

I have been training with my son, James, to run the Berbee Derby 10k on Thanksgiving morning.  It is his second 10k, but the first one he's trained for.  Our training has been imperfect with our colds and busy schedules, but I think we are going to have a blast.  Stay tuned.

After Berbee, training commences in full swing (yes, it was supposed to several weeks ago, but it didn't - I have been ignoring my coach wholly - sorry Joe!).  We are going to do some base building and then I am going to take a swing at some shorter distances.

Even though it is getting darker and colder, I am excited about this.  This is a new thing for me and I think it will be fun.  I just need to make sure I stay on track.  It is SO much easier to stay faithful to a 5 month marathon training program than it is to "a few months" of basebuilding before we start to focus.  But I can do it and I WANT to do it.

Have any of you successfully done this?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude

Tis the season to reflect on all the things I am thankful for.  I have joined the "30 Days of Thanks" bandwagon and have been posting things daily on Facebook. I wanted to save it here too though (slightly modified) - so I can fully reflect on the whole picture at the end of this journey.  Enjoy!

Day 1: I am thankful for my friend Emily, who left us far too soon. God bless you, girl. ♥

Day 2: I am thankful for reminders that we are not all on the same page in life and we need to go with the flow without anger or regret when others lash out.

Day 3: I am so thankful for my healthy, awesome and beautiful boys.

Day 4: I am thankful for all the great guys in my husband's band, Undercover! I love you guys!

Day 5: I am thankful for wonderful people who come to my rescue when I need it.  Friday night our after school child care provider quit via email without any notice. Kathy Gile Brad Gile & Emily Wagnerquickly came to our rescue for the rest of the semester! Thank you so much for helping us! We are now in such a better position all around. When one door closes, another (better door) opens. We are so thankful for you!

Day 6: I am thankful to be an American! I am particularly thankful for all of the men, women and their families who work hard to keep us safe and free.

Day 7: I am thankful I am a lawyer. Yes, lawyers have a bad name. But the vast majority of them I know are really great people. I get to help individuals and companies solve complex and interesting problems, my brain is never on hold, and I work with highly motivated, smart people. I am very proud to be in the profession I am.

Photo: Our lovely Loon.  :)
Day 8: I am thankful for my fellow spice girls at Salty Running. It is fun to be a part of such a positive, fun and BA community of running chicas.

Day 9: I am thankful for this tiny, feisty gal! We met our cat (Loon or Loony Girl) 14+ years ago in Gainesville, Florida and she has been part of our family ever since.

Day 10: Words cannot express how thankful I am for Girls on the Run. It is such a powerful, healthy & fun program. I am truly blessed to be able to coach these awesome girls and do it with my awesome co-coaches!
The joy of GOTR
Day 11: I am thankful for my husband's fabulous Greek Soup! Hopefully it will do the trick with this darn cold.

Day 12: I am thankful for my sister! She is smart, beautiful, funny and totally crazy. She is highly invested in all the people and things she cares about and is an amazing person. I love you Beth!

Day 13: I am thankful (and proud) my son made the high honor roll. After a rocky start to the semester, he had to work for it. Great job J-man!

Day 14 - I am thankful for vacation! We just booked our cabin in the Grand Teton National Park for next summer - woo hoo!

Kayaking with my boy in Colter Bay June 2011
Day 15: I am so thankful I can run!

Day 16: Thankful for all of these (see image on left). And Fridays. TGIF.

Day 17: Thankful my boys like to run with me! I ran 7 miles with James today as his last big run before the Berbee Derby 10k. Soon we are off to dinner to celebrate both boys having great report cards this semester. :)

Day 18: Thankful for sunny 55 degree days in November!!

Day 19: I am thankful for laughing hard and just being crazy sometimes. :)

Day 20: I am so thankful I am a mom! It isn't always easy, but there is no greater blessing than to love and be loved as a mother. Plus, I always have people to mess with. ;)

Day 21: I am so thankful for my legal assistant. She is smart, reliable, organized, friendly, and down to earth (she's also funny and a great singer). She keeps me organized and on track (no small endeavor). I don't know how I'd manage day to day without her and am VERY thankful for everything she does for me.

My boys after the Berbee Derby
Day 22 (Thanksgiving): I am thankful for the Berbee Derby! It is the best way to start Thanksgiving. We get to run into friends, we run with our boys, and we get to jump start our pre-turkey calorie burn. Have a great day everyone!!

Day 23:  I am so thankful for my mom!  She is smart and strong and has always pushed me to work hard and do my best.  She is also incredibly talented and creative.

Day 24: I am thankful for Florida State football!  GO NOLES!!

Stay tuned for more throughout the month...

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Recovery Month Recap

I haven't given an update in weeks and for that I apologize.  But I've been recovering and dealing with all that life has to throw at me.

After 4 weeks of recovery, I still feel a bit, well unrecovered.  I am sore after easy runs and am still not ready to start ramping back up.  Weird (and I feel old).  But I'll give it 2-4 more weeks.

I have been training with my son, though, which is so awesome.  We are training for the Berbee Derby 10k.  Running with him is amazing.  If you are a runner, you know how valuable it can be to have your friend at your side.  To have your son at your side is indescribable and awesome.

Recap for this week:

  • I ran 16+ miles.  Was planning for more, but life went a bit haywire this week.
  • A good friend died unexpectedly and tragically.  I am still reeling and trying to wrap my head around it, but running become an afterthought. 
  • Our after school child care provider then quit via e-mail on Friday night after she smiled and told me the week was awesome when I was writing the check.  She hurled awful (and untrue) words about me, my husband and my children. 
  • I was supah PO-ed.  But I do believe everything happens for a reason.  She was a horrible fit for our family and we knew it from day 2 - we kept saying we just needed to make it through the semester.  When she left, we put out a call and now we have the best team I could imagine to get us through.
When one door closes, another opens.

I'll tip my hat to that.

Friday, October 12, 2012


So the official results are up for Chicago and I am feeling pretty darn stoked (do people say that anymore?!).

Why, you ask?  Thanks for asking.  Here are my placement stats:

Field Placement:3013 / 37455 (8%)
Age group:35 – 39
Group Placement:68 / 2752 (2.5%)
Gender Placement:398 / 16761 (2.4%)

How awesome is that?!  

BTW, the winner of my age group was Maria Konovalova - 2:25:38.  Amazing.

Day 1

Today was my first run post-Chicago.

It was also the first day of training for James.  We are running the Berbee Derby 10k together on Thanksgiving and training has officially commenced!

We had a fun, easy run down the trail.  James brought his football too so we could toss it around.  I learned that my legs are snapping back from Chicago nicely and that my ball handling skills are better than expected. Who knew?  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mission Unleashed: Success

I PRed today.  In the marathon.  It has been SO long since I have recorded a PR in any distance.  And after 5 years of chasing 3:25, I crushed it today.  3.23:39.  If I hadn't faded in the last 5k, it would have been nearly a minute faster.  Awesome.  The gory details in my training log are here.

Favorite Race Sign:  That is not sweat, that is liquid awesome!  RAWR!

This week I published my full race report, along with a mini pre-race report on Salty Running.  I am re-posting here because I like to keep all the good stuff on my personal blog too.  So if you already read this - please carry on. If you haven't checked it out , please do - it was a great day for me!

Chicago Marathon Unleashed!

I ran Chicago this weekend. My goal: 3:25.  My actual race time:  3:23:39.
This is HUGE for me as I have been trying to hit 3:25 for 5 and a half YEARS to no avail.  I’ve come close several times.  But today I sealed the deal.
My mantra throughout?  I am strong, I am in control, and I am seriously kicking @ss.  Today is my day.
And it was.
I logged a 2 minute 33 second PR.  Yes, I am counting seconds.  Because I ran thousands of miles and worked hard for those 153 seconds.  You can never give them back to me.
I learned a lot along the way too because I took a very different approach this time.  More on that……
For now, many, many thanks to our readers and Salties that followed me.  It was awesome to know you were with me during this milestone.
Yeah, I am looking at you! Thanks for your support for this race!

The Monkey Is Off My Back: Mint’s Chicago Marathon Race Report

Every marathon training season has its own ups and downs and every race day is different.  Sometimes it is a grand success, sometimes it is a heartbreaking fail.  Usually there is no in-between.  But no matter the end result, each season takes on a life of its own and each holds a special place in my heart.  No doubt this is because we must devote months of hard work, commitment, sacrifice, self-doubt, and dogged determination all for (hopefully) success on one day.  Thankfully, this season was one of the best ones yet for me and it reaffirmed why I do this:  no matter who we are or where we are in life, we can always push ourselves to achieve more (take that Father Time!).
The Goal:  3 hours and 25 minutes.  I have been chasing 3:25 for five and a half years.  That is a LONG time and I am certainly not getting any younger.  I’ve hit 3:26:xx twice and 3:27:xx twice.  And I was way off a handful of times due to heat, nor’easters, illness, lack of fitness, and who knows what.  But over the years, one thing has not changed:  I wanted that 3:25 really, really badly.
The Plan:  I used to faithfully abide by the Pfitzinger/Douglas training programs (which are excellent).  But in December 2011, I hired a coach, Joe Marks.  He led me to a strong race this Spring, and this Fall we decided to take things up a notch for Chicago.  I completely switched up my training so my easy runs were faster and in a set pace range and I consistently logged 3 quality workouts per week.  I peaked at just over 70 miles per week, but even on my lightest weeks I felt as though Joe was making sure I was working hard.  It was challenging, but great.  I knew going into this race I had my best training cycle ever–thank you Joe!
The Cause:  I ran Chicago as a SoleMates runner for Girls on the Run.  I was able to raise $400 for our local scholarship program, which is a cause near and dear to my heart.  I also knew I had 16 awesome girls all cheering for me on race day (thank you awesome girls!).   Even more importantly I ran for my sister-in-law, Jamie, who is undergoing breast cancer treatment.  My task was far easier than anything she is doing on a given day and I kept her in my mind (and on my back) every step of the way.
Pre-Race:  The stars fully aligned for me this season.  I nailed almost all of my workouts, the weather forecast was ideal and I did not get the awful cold that seemed to be circulating among my colleagues and family in the days leading up to the race.  John and I headed to Chicago alone instead of bringing the boys since it is a super expensive venue and spectating would be hard for John with both boys with 1,000,000 others.  We made the whirlwind trip, hit the expo and then went on search for my last supper.  My best marathons have been preceded by cold pasta feeds, so superstition prevailed and I insisted that we have the (way overpriced) pasta buffet at the host hotel.  It delivered as expected and I was one happy camper.
Race Morning:  This part wasn’t so happy.  I woke up at 4:00 am with a WICKED headache.  My stomach was not happy at all either.  Great.  I Googled taking NSAIDS prior to a marathon and it became abundantly clear that was a bad idea.  I suddenly panicked a bit.  I fully promoted this race on Salty Running and Facebook.  People are watching me.  Lots of people.  How awful if I fall apart now due to a headache or tummy troubles? I have no idea why or how, but thankfully my headache fully subsided and my tummy issues disappeared just before the race.  Little things like this that I looked at race morning didn’t hurt (my kids rock):

A note my son tucked in my bag as a race day surprise.
The Start:  Last year was a bit of a debacle at Chicago.  All of the front corrals (A-E) entered through the same narrow entrance.  I barely made it in before the gun went off and was stuck in a crowd of people kicking my shins for 7 miles.  Thankfully, they rearranged things a bit this year and I got in seamlessly (great job Chicago).  The National Anthem played, and as usual, I teared up and felt so thankful for being healthy, strong, and there.  The gun went off and it took me a little over a minute to cross the start.  The first few miles were awesome.
I was determined to take it easy the first mile or two, but I was also determined NOT to be a slave to my Garmin.  Thanks to three failed watches over the course of this season, I had the most basic model and I was not planning on relying on the GPS.  I had an arm tattoo with my goal splits and that was how I was going to track it.  As each mile clicked off, I hit my lap button.  Early on, I noticed I was a good minute off the clocks at the mile markers since it took me a while to cross.  But by mile 6, I noticed I was right on track – which meant that I was a good minute ahead of my 3:25 goal already.  Throughout the race, I ran solely by feel.  I did not look at my time and speed up or slow down.  I just ran.  Amazingly, until the last 5k, I was incredibly consistent too.
Somewhere between mile 5 and 7, I ran into my friend Cindi.  Wow, what a highlight!  I have known Cindi for years through running blogs and forums but had never met her in real life, so it was really cool to meet her among 40,000 people!!  We chatted briefly and then I distanced myself as I did not want to botch her race or mine by chatting; we needed our energy to run, not talk.
The early miles were so great because I kept thinking of last year.  Then it was hot and I was miserable.  This year, I felt awesome and strong.  I had an aggressive goal, but I felt good.  Strong.  In control.  Kicking Ass.  This was my race!

Happily cruising along.
Middle Miles:  I hit the half at 1:41:02.  This was HUGE.  I have never hit the half that quickly. I felt great.  I was overwhelmed.  And I knew that today was my day.  I was cautious though as I know a lot can happen in those last 13.1 miles.   I saw John and hammed it up big time for him.  It was the 3rd time I saw him and I was so happy he was there.   I admit I am also a major cheese ball in big marathons because the crowd support is incredible, and Chicago is the perfect venue for this.  Its spectators beat any other race I have run (including Boston) and I love it.  I high-fived lots and lots of kids with outstretched hands, I thanked every volunteer I took water/Gatorade from, and I hammed it up BIG time when I ran through a big crowd (whoop whoop).  It takes no extra time, but it adds exponentially to the race experience.  Awesome.
Last 10k:  I always think of the marathon really starting at the 20 mile mark.  I don’t care who you are, but here is where it really starts to hurt.  I was feeling really good through mile 20, but was definitely starting to feel the fatigue.  By the last 5k I was dropping pace some.  I checked my Garmin at this point and it said I was at an 8:22 pace.  I knew that so long as I didn’t stop to walk and kept my forward motion, my 3:25 was in hand.  However, I admonished myself for thinking this way.  Come on, Mindi!  Don’t settle when you have worked this hard.  You came here to race!  So I picked it up and I felt like I was running fast as I was passing so many runners.  The truth was that I had slowed down a bit (the last 5k was at a 7:55 average pace), but I was focused and working hard.  The last mile I started to feel a bit of a headwind, but I could smell the sweet finish.  Just before mile 26, the course turns up a big bridge and then down to the finish.  I saw the finish clock was at 3:24:xx and I knew I nailed it.  My time was 3:23:39.  Sweet, sweet success.
The walk to the family meet up area was pure pain.  I won’t lie.  But I had Gatorade, water, beer and a banana in hand with my space super cape and had a smile that couldn’t be brought down.

Yes, I am cheesy. But I also have a shiny new PR, so I don’t care. ;)
  1. Don’t ever give up.  I could have freaked myself out by my headache and stomach problems.  But I didn’t.  I went on and I was fine.  Don’t let it stop you until it truly stops you.
  2. Run for someone or something that really matters to you.  Someone who truly inspires you.  You’d be amazed at how much that can push you through.
  3. Ignore your watch (gasp).  This race was so great because I ran within myself.  I was never breathing too hard and I was constantly checking in with myself rather than my watch.
  4. Enjoy it.  Be a ham! Smile at people and have a good time.  You aren’t here to suffer, this is your victory lap after months of hard work.  Take it with a smile and enjoy it, even if you are working hard.  Outstretching your hand for a kid won’t take any seconds off your finishing time.
  5. Feel the gratitude (and say thank you).  I was shocked and floored by all the love I received from friends and family before, during and after the race.  What a treasure.  Thank you everyone!