Oh…I Didn’t Think You Were Serious About that Green Shake Thing…

You THOUGHT I was kidding when I mentioned green shakes yesterday.

(I’m not going to lie…I was kind of hoping I was too, but nope).

Aaron has been reading ultra marathoner Scott Jurek”s book Eat and Run and has decided that we are going to start trying some of his crazy so-healthy-it’s-scary recipes.

He looks like he knows what he’s talking about…right?

So, he made a list on a billion little post it notes (we have far more appropriate list  making paper, but whatever) and we headed on what turned out to be a health food expedition to Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Smiths (our Kroger store).  This shopping trip took us a really long time because we had no idea where to find most of these things like miso (tip, not in the Asian food aisle).

I like chocolate chips! 

We also ran into my uncle at Whole Foods who I thought lived in Boulder, Co (?).  He and his wife (who are experimenting with true barefoot running) have been vegan for about 15 years.  He knew all about Scott Jurek’s book and I think he seemed pleased that we were picking up an entire bag of quinoa (I left out the cheesy enchiladas I ate for lunch yesterday).  And apparently he’s working here (living in my neighborhood) and flies home to Boulder ever weekend.  So that was an unexpected run-in.

Anyway, Scott Jurek uses a lot of weird stuff in his food.  What the heck is a aduki bean? And spirulina powder? I can’t say that it smells very good, although Giuseppe seems to dig it. A quick google search tells me it is green algae.  YUM.

We got a whole wheat grass garden! It comes like a chunk of sod. 

So, why am I subjecting myself to this?

Apparently it aids in weight loss, is an excellent source of protein (good for building muscles), boosts the immune system, and is an excellent source of nutrition for endurance runners.

I guess we’ll see.

If you too would like to have your algae boost in the morning, here is the recipe straight from Jurek:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mango or pineapple chunks
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons spirulina powder
  • 1 teaspoon miso

Aaron also added in wheat grass.

In honor of Halloween, I have deemed this Green Monster Juice!

Bottom’s up! (For the record, it actually tastes pretty good).

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I Ran!

First, lots and lots of good thoughts for everyone on the East Coast.  Video coverage of the coast is looking really intense.  Stay safe out there!

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I RAN THIS WEEKEND!

After my test sprints across the living room, I determined I could get a few miles in without limping.

So we did an easy 3 on Saturday (I felt out of shape and my muscles took a long time to warm up), and a more labored 2.8 yesterday.

I’m not having the same pain that I was having a couple of weeks ago, but my calves (both) still feel sore.

It did feel amazing to get back out there! Even with sore muscles, I was so happy to be running.

I’m still taking it easy for now because I’m not fully healed (3 weeks later…seriously?), but at least progress is being made.  I still have 2 weeks before I have to dive into “long” runs (6 miles to start) and speed training, so I’m not worried.  At least I know now that I will be able to actually do it…I was starting to worry that I was an injured for life person!

Still, I will likely take a running rest day today just to make sure I don’t re-injure myself.

Unfortunately, during my 3 weeks of inactivity, I have put on enough weight and lost enough muscle that my clothes are starting to fit funny.  Turns out, going from running a billion miles to not running at all, and eating pretty much the same except worse since I don’t have to worry about long runs and stomach issues… equals rapid weight gain.  Why can’t Mexican food and that fabulous plate of chicken and waffles that I ate on Friday be low calorie?

I hate talking about things like weight because I try to value my body for its ability to run marathons and not for looking (rather trying to look) like a Victoria Secret model, but feeling like a stuffed sausage in my jeans isn’t fun either.

To add to the pressure, two of my best friends from college are getting married in a month, so I will be seeing people who only know me as 18-22 year old Amy.  I’d like to show up at the very least not looking worse than I did back then.  Plus, the wedding is in Scottsdale, home of tall, tan, trophy wife types.

So, I’m going on a month long health food kick.  (At least trying to).  Isn’t it funny.  I couldn’t clean up my diet to improve my marathon time, but throw in an impromptu college reunion, and BAM bring on the green shakes.

Annoying also, because I have never lost weight while endurance training.

We’ll see how it goes. Especially since Halloween and Thanksgiving fall between now and then.  I JUST WANNA FIT IN MY PANTS AGAIN!

Ok, insecure girl rant over.

I’ve seen some fabulous race recaps from this weekend! Great job peeps!

I didn’t dress up, I didn’t carve pumpkins, and I didn’t make spooky cocktails.  I DID buy a big bag of candy.  And pin lots and lots of Christmas decor ideas.  Sigh. I’m also behind on responding to people! I’m sorry.  I’ll get on that today.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

 

Giuseppe, 007, Halloween…and I Still Haven’t Run!

Good morning!

So, this is your official update that, almost three weeks out, I haven’t run yet.

I think my biggest argument against the marathon lifestyle right now is the recovery time.  I know I’m taking longer than most, but my goodness is this getting old.

Since I’ve turned this primarily into a running blog, I don’t know what to talk about when I’m not running. My puppy? (check! See below).  Halloween? (check! See below).  My intense crush on the new James Bond Theme Song? (also check! See below).  But sadly I still unable to contribute to the training recaps or race recaps or even the “I’m so sad I’m not running” recaps because that’s already been covered.

Although, a couple of sprints across the living room yesterday indicate that I might be ready for a pain free run this weekend!

And of course, this happens when we have our first freeze of the season.  Wednesday was 80 degrees.  Today I have Giuseppe bundled up in a sweater because it is so cold! (and how many times is he going to want to come in and out of the house this morning???).

So it looks like our perfect running temperatures were wasted on me this year.  Bring on the winter running gear!

I have at least been keeping active this week, but no matter what, I can’t make the elliptical feel like a good workout.

So….Basically, I just wanted to say “HI!” and share a Giuseppe picture.

And a song!

I’m pretty sure Adele was put on this earth to make a James Bond theme song.  This is just so perfect.

I rarely take interest in new movies that aren’t Harry Potter or Disney, but James Bond movies create a world so glamorous and exciting that I can’t help but want to live it in and drink martinis and save the world everyday.  And if Adele is there, sign me up!

In other news, Happy Halloween weekend! I haven’t dressed up in 4 years, but I’m kind of wanting to this year.  (We usually don’t go out on Halloween so, I would likely be dressed up watching Hocus Pocus or Monster House and eating candy since there are no children in our neighborhood, but I always buy a bag “just in case”).  I do plan on carving some super awesome pumpkins this weekend and possibly making a spooky cocktail that I find on Pinterest.

Are you dressing up this year? I need inspiration! 

Good luck to everyone racing!  I know a lot of people are doing fun costume runs! I’m so jealous because we have like 2 happening here this weekend.  And I hope Sandy doesn’t kill the Marine Corps Marathon!

Have a great Halloween weekend!

So…Now What? Or, Accepting that Chicago is Over

This past weekend I went to cheer on my dad (and a bunch of other people I know/don’t know) at the Duke City Marathon.  I came bearing big race signs and I wore my Chicago marathon shirt so people wouldn’t think I was a non-runner just because I wasn’t racing! (just kidding…sort of…).

My dad had a great first half and finished in 2:06:something! AND he wasn’t even sore the next day! Pretty sure an addiction was created.

I rarely spectate at races (I know I should probably be volunteering more), so it was interesting to experience it from the other side.  For one, cheering is kind of awkward.  I have the same two phrases, and I was stressing the whole time that I was saying the wrong things and causing runners to lose motivation in the home stretch.

I was also pretty stir crazy, standing there with my race signs watching all of the runners coming into the finish line area.  I wanted to be racing!

But two weeks after Chicago, I’m still not able to run.  I have nagging issues in my calf/shin area.  As far as I can tell, it is just muscle tightness, but it is pretty annoying.  I’m doing all the usual rehabbing efforts, but I have to keep in mind that supposebly it will take 26.2 days for me to be all better.

Luckily, I don’t have anything to train for until the second week of November, so I’m able to not run without affecting any future race times.

I’m trying to really enjoy this time off, but boy am I really taking it off.  My workouts have included walking the dog, “weight lifting” (and by weight lifting I mean squats and curls), a single elliptical workout and my 1st swim lesson (attempting to put my head underwater without plugging my nose with my fingers…I think progress was made!).

I’m amazed at how sluggish I’ve become just from not working out regularly.  I always feel tired and I can feel my body slowly getting more lard-esqe.  Luckily I think I’m over the post marathon blues because of the excitement over the upcoming holiday season (OMGSOEXCITED), otherwise the combination of not working out and depression might have driven me to eat lots and lots of ice cream and potato chips.

On the plus side, all this lack of activity has given me the chance to reflect on what I’m going to do now that Chicago is over and establish what my goals are for my upcoming races.

First, in mid-November I will start half marathon training for Rock n’ Roll Arizona (January).  I’ve decided I want to train into running a fast half (1:35 or 7:15 average pace).  9 of my marathon miles were sub-8, so I feel like this is a reasonable goal to reach for.  It will require a lot of speed work (more 400’s instead of 800’s! Hooray!), but it is nice to have a base established.

I will start training for Boston the week following Rock n’ Roll.  I want to have a completely separate training plan for each of these races.  Instead of the 16 week training cycle, I’m going with a 12 week cycle.  After a training into a fast half, I should have the speed, so I’ll just have to work on re-building the endurance and focusing on becoming a strong downhill/uphill runner.  Unlike Chicago, Boston is not flat.  That little tiny hill felt epic at the 26 mile marker at Chicago.  I’m dreading the Newton Hills.

I’m not quite ready to call my Boston time goal.  I obviously want to put in my best effort and train hard.  EVERYONE is fast at Boston so I’d at least like to not feel like the one slow person in the bunch.  But now that I’ve qualified, I don’t know if I want the same pressure to hit a certain goal. I kind of want to see how Arizona goes before I start thinking about whether I’m ready to prepare for a sub 3:30.

I do also want to learn to swim by the end of the year, per my bucket list.  Saturday showed that I really have a looooong way to go.  But with coach Aaron leading the way (did I mention he’s also an accomplished swimmer?) and a new-found confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to, I think it can be done.  I’ll consider myself sufficiently schooled in swimming if I can make it across the pool and back using proper free-style stroke, and employing a solid breathing strategy that doesn’t include keeping my head above water at all costs.

I also want to get back some of that muscle definition that I’ve lost ever since I started running half marathons last year.  It was near impossible to do any quality weight lifting while training for a marathon because my muscles always felt fatigued, but now that we’re back in half marathon land for awhile, I want to focus on a supplementary workout program.

I’m also excited (surprised but excited) to see most of my marathon buddies signing up for a second round! We must all be nuts.  But it will be awesome to follow everyone’s training again come spring!

What’s your winter/spring race schedule?  (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere…your summer/fall schedule!).  

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Race Shout-Outs and The Non-Food Part of Chicago

Race Shout-Outs

Kelly is going for her BQ this weekend in Detroit! Go, Kelly, go!

Allison’s husband, JP is running the Fall 50 (as in, 50 miles).  And I think I’m cool when I run 26!

Stephanie is running the Army 10 miler this weekend!

And a VERY special shout out to my dad who is running his first half marathon this weekend at Duke City! Just keeping runnnnnning!!!

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Two weeks after the fact, and I’m STILL posting pictures of Chicago.

LOVE the iPhone Panorama feature!

But really, it is THAT cool.  San Francisco will always be my favorite, but Chicago sure tried hard (granted, we weren’t there in the dead of winter…I might not have liked it so much then).

And I know that vacation photo posts are not all that interesting, especially for you folks that live in/around Chicago.  But we took about 500 pictures and they want to be shared with the world!

SIDENOTE: in lieu of souvenirs, we decided to update our “family” photos by hiring a local photographer to take pictures of us in front of local landmarks.  The last time we took professional photos was 3 years ago for our engagement session in downtown Albuquerque, and while downtown Albuquerque is…uh…there, Chicago was too beautiful of a place to NOT take pictures.  As awesome as I am with my Cannon (and by awesome I mean I use auto setting and “no flash” when I’m feeling risky), I wanted to make sure our vacation photos of this fantastic city didn’t all suck.  The professional photos are still being processed, but among them are photos of us in front of the Chicago Theater, in front of The Bean, around Millennium Park, and on a water taxi.  So you won’t see any of that here today.

We stayed at the W Hotel City Center which was a fun place.  They had Bliss bath products, an awesome concierge team, and a lot of little details that made for a fun stay.  For example, they changed the elevator mats 3 times a day to greet you appropriately.  They also had an Acura MDX that would transport you around within the area provided you listened to Acura commercials and provided feedback (I didn’t get off any easier by telling them that I already drive an MDX).

The Architecture Boat Tour that our concierge arranged was awesome! Not only did we get cookies and Starbucks, but a member of the architecture society was our guide, so we learned a lot about the history of the city.

The home of the Chicago Tribune is a spectacular landmark of a building called (appropriately enough) The Tribune Tower that was built in the 1920’s in downtown Chicago. My great great uncle, Rene designed the ornamentation and gargoyles for this building! It was really cool to see the architectural contributions of a family member in person. One of his other works: the Atlas in Rockefeller Center.

Both the Field Museum and Art Institute were worth the visit.  The Field Museum feels like what a museum would have been like at the turn of the century.  Before people had TV’s or computers, pretty much the only exposure they had to exotic plants and animals was in museums.

The Art institute housed such famous works as American Gothic and Sunday Afternoon at the Island of Grande Jatte among thousands and thousands of others.  It was overwhelming.  Also, Bank of America will comp your admission to several museums across the country on the first weekend of every month if you have a credit/debit card from them.  WE GOT INTO THE MUSEUM FOR FREE! I hadn’t ever heard of this program, but I think I will be taking advantage of it.  A full list of participating museums can be found HERE. 

I LOVE this photo! Aaron, having a stare down with the niece.

And we just walked around, taking in the sites of the city.  Chicago is really a walking city, so I had to put on my happy smile as I limped around town in the days before the marathon!  I also packed a lot of cute outfits, but ended up wearing workout clothes and my running shoes for most of the trip! The “L” was a really efficient, cheap mode of public transportation (all the locals said it is super safe too).

We had a wonderful vacation, even though there were a billion other things we would have liked to have seen (Wrigley Field, The Marshall Fields/Macy building, more mafia stuff, the Shedd).  Chicago is a beautiful, clean, and exciting city and we hope to get back there eventually!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Chicago Has Food (and Lots of It!)

So, a couple of weeks ago we went to Chicago.  The marathon was obviously the whole point, but seeing as how neither Aaron or I had ever been there, we decided make a vacation out of it and do some exploring.

Vacations include testing out the regional flavor.

For Chicago, this means deep dish pizza and loaded hot dogs.

Don’t mind if I do!

In the days before the race Aaron was really keeping to a gluten free diet, but after the race, when stomach issues wouldn’t ruin mile splits, his inner garbage disposal came out and the Chicago style gorging began.

I will say this though.  Chicago is lacking in the local microbrew department.  We did find PBR at every restaurant (like, even the really snazzy ones) but since we can get that here for 75 cents on college night, we refrained.  Even though 75 cent PBR was the first drink Aaron bought for me before asking me out.  Big spender even bought a round for the whole table. Ah, memories.

Also to be noted that in addition to the 38,000 + people in town for the marathon (and their loved ones), a big football game between Miami and Notre Dame was held on Saturday, so the city was PACKED with runners and football fans.

Amy and Aaron’s Adventures in Chicago Eating

I forget the name of the restaurant where we got these martinis, but it was some sort of chop house a few blocks from our hotel.  It was an “Amy” type of place as evidenced by the the photos of my best friends on the bathroom wall.  They had a cool martini menu.  I’m usually a dirty martini type of girl, but who can resist a martini with chocolate swirls?

An added bonus was witnessing a lady trying to get a very drunk man she met at the bar to ask her out. I mean, he couldn’t figure even out how to spell Julie in his phone. How romantic.

On Saturday we stopped by The Berghoff which was down the street from our hotel.  Turns out it was a German themed microbrewery and the building has been there since the late 1800’s.  The beers were actually pretty good, and the Reuben sandwich was perfect.   

So happy to be at Berghoff’s!

Our carb loading on Saturday took us to Elephant Castle, another pub across from our hotel.  I wish Albuquerque had more pubby type places because I enjoy a good black and tan surrounded by British memorabilia.  It proved to be a great “pre-race” choice because of their special marathon menu.

We ran into a very drunk man who said as long as he stopped drinking by 10, he’d be ok for the marathon the next morning.  I wonder how that worked out for him.

The official beer sponsor of the marathon was Goose Island which is a Chicago microbrewery and it seems like the pride and joy of Chicago beer.  Aside from PBR.  Apparently they have a tasting room in Chicago that we didn’t get to.  The 312 Wheat Ale was pretty good as was the Matilda.  Aaron tried out the Bourbon County Stout at a restaurant which was AMAZING.

Our post marathon dinner on Sunday was at the infamous Lou Malnati’s (sounds suspiciously like Illuminati…I kept thinking we were in a Dan Brown novel).  Thanks Allison for this suggestion! This place did not disappoint (and with an hour long wait, we weren’t the only ones vying for some pizza goodness).   Fantastic deep dish pizza, and some great people watching.

A bunch of former frat boys in town for the Notre Dame game (who still were acting like idiotic 21 year olds despite being about 30) kept trying to pick up a pair of British marathon runners. Very unsuccessfully.  Made me a bit embarrassed to be American. Luckily the pizza made me happy again.  And seriously, even though it was good…I still prefer thin crust. Sorry. 

Monday evening we stopped by Paddy Long’s (I think it was in the area by Wrigley Field).  This was the bacon and beer bar.  They had an ok beer selection, but the bacon board was heavenly.  It was also the first place we went to that wasn’t crawling with people.

This place was also really cool because if felt “local.” So many of the other places we went to were overridden with tourists.  I felt like a Chicagoan! On Monday for lunch we headed to Portillo’s (thanks Hyedi for that suggestion) for their famous hot dogs and chocolate cake.  The place was a bit overwhelming and set up kind of like a food court (it took us a few minutes to figure out where to stand in line), but there were a lot of fun pieces of Chicago memorabilia.  And it was CHEAP. And tasty.

Aaron, staring dreamily at the hot dogs.

Monday night, on the recommendation of our Paddy Long’s bartender who understood our plight to find good beer that wasn’t IPA (way harder than it sounds), we headed to Clark Street Ale House.  I think Dominick, may have also recommended it, but I can’t find evidence of that conversation.

The beer selection was big, but most of the stuff we found was stuff we could buy in Albuquerque. The place was really empty too.  Apparently people in Chicago are too responsible to go out partying on a Monday night? We still made friends though. 

These dudes were like, “take a picture of us!”  I would kind of be surprised if homeboy actually knew what Livestrong was.  The other guy actually had a job similar to Aaron’s  and had lived in a similar part of Phoenix (and he was relatively sober), so they were able to talk for a bit.

“Seriously?” Or, “Bitch, please.”

NOT PICTURED: We had a post marathon breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s which was a cute mid-century diner.  I was seriously too sick to enjoy the meal (or take pictures), but it was a really cute place that has apparently been in a lot of movies that I’ve never seen.

IPO was the hotel restaurant.  REALLY trendy interior but the food was TOO trendy.  Oh, and pork belly is just pure fat. I didn’t realize that.  I was hoping for a bacon sandwich.  BLECH. The hotel (The W City Center) also had a really swanky bar/lobby, but it was pricey.

Chicago isn’t a cheap place to eat/drink.  We were really surprised every time we got the bill.  But people watching was better here than it has been anywhere else we’ve gone.  And I did love the feel of being in places that had been there since the turn of the century.

Thank you, Chicago, for feeding these very hungry and thirsty runners!

The W Lobby/Bar.  They had giant lamps.

Pretty Much The Coolest Thing About Albuquerque

From a tourist standpoint, Albuquerque doesn’t compete with the excitement of a large city like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco.  We don’t have amusement parks or professional sports or beaches.  We lack the historical appeal of Santa Fe and the quirkiness of Roswell and our ski valley isn’t the best when compared with the others in the state.

But, I can say this about my city: we put on a heck of a Balloon Fiesta.

For one week in October, we play host to the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world (and also the most photographed event in the country), and Albuquerque turns into an international hot spot of early morning green chile seeking, hot air balloon loving dwellers.

We get up and get to the park by 5 am, find some breakfast burritos, FREEZE (mornings are cold here in October), and then watch as hundreds of hot air balloons inflate and take off against the backdrop of the New Mexico sunrise.

The Balloon Fiesta is an awesome experience and is a yearly tradition in which I gladly participate   Even in college I would come home from California for the occasion   This year Aaron and I went with my parents and sisters (who had both come home from school for the weekend) on Sunday morning for the “farewell” mass ascension.

Burritos: Just as important as the balloons!

Me and my dad ordering burritos.  The man looks VERY interested.

Eating the burrito

Dawn Patrol.  These first few balloons go up to make sure conditions are ok.

Aaron’s photo artistry

DARTH!

This guy is a local investigative reporter who brings down politicians and other scammers…this is a really scary balloon.

Bee Family!

Instagram Version!

 

Marathon Reflection Monday: The Taking a Break Edition

Since I won’t start really training specifically for Boston until January after the Rock n Roll Arizona half (and not even mentioning the word marathon until December) , it seems pointless to continue Marathon Reflection Monday until I’m actually reflecting on a marathon.  But before I vanish off into a land where I talk about something else on Mondays, I thought I’d do a final reflection on my first marathon.

Really, I think it takes more than one marathon to understand the ins and outs, so by no means do I consider myself an expert.  Who knows if I can ever replicate last weekend’s performance.  But I would like to take this opportunity to share a few things that I’ve picked up over the last four months that I wish I’d known going in, and that I will spend a lot less time worrying about on round two…I hope.

Amy’s Marathon Wisdom Tidbits

1. It will be hard.  Probably harder than you think it will be.  Physically, yes.  You will have weird pains that never existed in half marathon land and recovery takes longer.  But emotionally too.  Be prepared to get your confidence tested every week.  Be prepared to hate running in every possible way.  You WILL get stronger and better.  But it takes a long time to get there.

2. I compared myself to others and I didn’t die.  Everyone says not to compare yourself to others.  But, everyone puts their paces and workouts up on weekly recaps and pictures of their Garmins after weekend long runs.  To pretend that we aren’t comparing ourselves to everyone else is ridiculous.  And truthfully, as a competitive person, it drove me to run faster.  THAT BEING SAID:

3. Winning a morning workout does not a champion create (loosely quoted from a book I’m reading called Once a Runner).  Several people I’ve been following (none of which read my blog by the way) had fast long run paces (and by fast I mean faster than mine) that freaked me out and made me question my progress.  But they didn’t come close to my marathon time come race day.  Compare yourself to others if need be, but don’t assume that it tells you ANYTHING about your performance or theirs.

4. Don’t become a run snob.  This goes both ways.  I actually saw someone post on the Chicago Marathon facebook page that faster runners didn’t work as hard for it and medals are more meaningful for the back of the pack.  HUH? I’ve also heard people criticize women who put on make-up before races or wear run skirts (guilty on both accounts).  Then of course there are those that say nobody should be proud enough to put a 6.2 sticker on their car. Everyone has a journey and an ability.  The most important thing is that we support each other instead of finding reasons to be jerks. Be friendly, people!

5. Train in conditions harder than you want them to be.  We ran a lot in the hot sun.  We ran up a lot of hills.  We ran when we were tired, or when we hadn’t eaten very well the day before. Essentially, we didn’t seek out perfect conditions for our workouts.  I hated it at the time.  But the better prepared you are to deal with anything the better you’ll do when conditions are just right.  Apparently, Michael Phelps was trained with this same philosophy.  And you know, he won lots of medals.

6.  DON’T WORRY ABOUT LONG RUN PACE.  I get it now.

7. Everyone has advice (HA! Get it.  I’m giving advice right now).  Take the advice of the runners you want to be like more seriously.  Also, seek out runners who run races within your goal time.  Follow their training.

8. It is ok to whine.  We all understand and we’ve all been there. Occasionally there is a really awesome relaxing mind clearing run, but more often there are hard runs that are satisfying to finish or runs that just plain suck.  Marathon training isn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done.  Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we survived and thrived despite the pain and having people treat you like a rockstar because you ran 26.2 is pretty cool.

9. I think Marathon training is kind of like having your first child (because in addition to being a marathon expert, I’m also a parenting expert!).  You try to do everything by all the rules and stress that every little thing is going to mess up your marathon.  But for the most part, everyone makes it out just fine if not slightly traumatized.  Is it possible that I would have run faster had I drank less, eaten cleaner, slept more, and kept more closely to the schedule? Um…I kind of have no clue.  But in the end, I managed to still enjoy life AND meet my goal.

10. It comes down to YOU.  In the end, your training will only take you so far.  The last few miles are a mental battle and if you don’t believe in yourself, then you will have a harder time making through.  I credit my intense mental workout for keeping me going when my legs didn’t want to.

11. HAVE FUN!  (thanks to Brandi for this contribution!).  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Wear weird outfits.  Prance every once in awhile.

Crossing the finish line is a fantastic feeling. I would recommend a marathon for any runner because it does push you to your limits and you do come out stronger.  I’m already forgetting the pain (DAMN), and the thought of training for another marathon is not sounding too bad.  WHY.

And because it is getting colder and I’m going to need to remind myself of this pretty soon:

Have a fantastic week!

Weekly Race Shout-Outs and My Feelings on Boston

FIRST: HUGE AMENDMENT to yesterday’s Chicago Marathon Recap.  I accidentally added 10 minutes to Aaron’s finish time.  He actually came in at 3:27:21.  If he had come in at 3:37 I would have passed him, and I was not so focused as to leave my poor distressed husband on the side of the road just so I could BQ.  Goals are fun. Being a supportive wife is a top priority.  But non-issue since he came in more than 6 minutes ahead.  Sorry, Aaron for making people think you were so slow.

Also, the recap has a few photos added to it that came from Aaron’s phone.  They really aren’t exciting (I guess my mind is somewhere else pre-race).

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

Jen who is going for a Half PR in Wine Country!

Christina is running a half in Baltimore!

Julie is earning her Tiffany’s Necklace at Nike Women’s

Laura is going for a big 10 miler PR!

Good luck to you ladies and everyone else racing!

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(I realize that this post will probably make me sound like a jerk).

On Monday, we were sitting in our Bacon and Beer Bar (Paddy Long’s), and I saw a message come through from Julie letting me know that Boston registration was open.

Confusion.

On Sunday evening when I went to the site, registration was closed because the max field had been reached.  I actually wasn’t too heartbroken.

But Boston made a mistake that they blamed on an IT issue.  The max field had never been reached (well, until yesterday.  It is really closed now).

But here it was, a renewed chance to run Boston in 2013.  I sat in this bar deep in conversation with Aaron in tears, trying to figure out if I really wanted to register.

HUH?

But Amy, the whole point of this blog for the last 4 months was for you to qualify for Boston. What the heck is going on here?

Well, I realized something about myself and my goals on Monday.

I made the goal to qualify truthfully independently from actually running the marathon.  I mean, I did want to run it, kind of, but more than anything I wanted to run an awesome marathon.  I wanted to reach for the stars and attempt the impossible because it isn’t something that I get to do very often if ever.

Also, at the time I didn’t think I’d get in until 2014.  2014 is a long time from now.  And running Boston hasn’t been a lifelong dream.  I only found out about it 2 years ago, and I only started caring about 10 months ago.  But I wanted to be really good at something, and Boston qualifying times seem to be the standard of what constitutes a really good runner (self-satisfaction just never does it for me).

As part of the pre-marathon freak out, having to register for 2013 was put on my plate.  But, I didn’t think registration would still be open by Sunday afternoon, AND I really didn’t think I’d come in under 3:40.  It was something else to stress about like tornadoes (Chicago is in the Midwest) and the apocalypse.

I was relieved when registration was full on Sunday.

But then, on Monday evening I faced the decision. And this is when all the emotion came loose.

This is not how I wanted it to be.  I am supposed to run Boston with Aaron.

Running has become a source of personal enjoyment, and I’ve realized that even on the blog I talk about Aaron less and less (he’s still here all the time by the way).  But without a doubt, the whole reason I run is for our marriage.  It is our thing to do together.  I know some of you know this story, but after Aaron and I had been dating for a few weeks, he asked me to be his girlfriend and at the same time asked if I would run a half marathon with him because he wanted me to understand his lifestyle and his passions and interests.  And now, 4 years later, running and active living is really our thing.  The thought of training for and running the world’s most prestigious amateur race without him literally brought me to tears.

So, we had a serious discussion in the Bacon/Beer bar.  I could use my time for 2014 still.  But that is a long time from now. Who knows what could happen in our lives between now and then.  I may only ever get this one chance at Boston and I’d hate to think I passed it up if something happens in those many months.  Also, just because my 1 minute and 5 seconds below BQ got me in this year doesn’t mean it would get me in next year.  People are out for revenge after a hot spring racing season.  Plus, the chances of Boston hitting temperatures like that again are like 1 in a million.  And people are getting faster.  And there are so many new runners kicking butt.  I would hate to run a qualifier and then NOT get in.

Plus, we had to realistically assess Aaron’s ability to come in at 3:04:49 in the next 11 months (and can we just discuss for a minute how much crazier men’s qualifying times are?  I think I got off pretty easily).  Possible? Yes.  I think he easily had the ability to come in at a 3:10 even after missing a month of our training due to injury.  And he is out to kill a marathon if it’s the last thing he does.  But there is no guarantee.

And on top of all this is this horrible, nagging feeling of guilt.

I don’t deserve this.

I feel like Lindsey Lohan in Mean Girls when she’s giving her prom queen speech and breaks the tiara.

Some people spend years working very hard to reach a BQ.  People run marathon after marathon in an attempt to run Boston only to be unsuccessful.  Most people who want this will never get the chance. And what? I waltz in here like a cocky B and do it in one try.  I’m talking people who’ve run their whole lives and people who could run faster than me any day.  Real runners who give up beer for 4 months or who never miss a workout during training.  NOT FAIR.  Not fair to the people who have worked so much harder for so much longer just to run a marathon with a unicorn as it’s mascot (for the record, I really like unicorns).

I’m not looking for affirmation of my hard work and dedication.  I know I trained well and pushed myself and made sacrifices and haven’t slept in on a weekend in months.

But I can’t help feeling like I didn’t pay my dues.

So, if you’re keeping track…I talked non stop about qualifying, made it my obsession for 4 months, QUALIFIED, got in a year ahead of schedule and I’m not happy about it???  Royal jerkdom.

I decided to register anyway, and I ‘m trying to make myself be more excited about it.  The least I can do is be appreciative of this opportunity and go out and run hard for the people who may never get the chance.  And I’m sure after the initial shock has worn off, I will be talking non-stop about how crazy excited I am to run Boston.

And please let me know about Boston (the city and the race if you’ve done it).  I literally know NOTHING about Boston aside from what I’ve seen in Good Will Hunting and The Town.

ANYWAY.  Thanks for letting me share that with you.  As much fun as crying over my bacon platter was.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  CRUSH your long runs and races!

Bank of America Chicago Marathon: The Recap

So, I am probably the last person out there to offer up my Chicago Marathon story.  26.2 is a lot of miles to process.  The drawback is that the mile by mile play by play is fuzzy and making way for a more general race memory.  So, unfortunately you won’t get the most detailed report of what I felt during 3:33:55 hours of pure marathon goodness (and not so goodness).  BUT I think you’re probably cool with that. Even though this is still over 3000 words long.  It WAS 4,000 words long. And I think all of the pictures of the race (rather before and after the race) are on Aaron’s phone which is with him at work right now.  So, you may have to check back tomorrow!

THURSDAY

We arrived in Chicago on Thursday afternoon to temperatures much warmer than we’d been anticipating.  Our hotel was about half a mile from the start line, so our cab drove us right by the starting area.  I was amazed at how huge the marathon village was, and how many porta poties were lining the streets (this would seem like a lot less on Sunday morning while waiting our turn to pee). As I started unpacking, I realized that I had forgotten some essential items like  running socks, pajamas, iPod shuffle, and toothbrush. Oops.

FRIDAY

We went out for a 2.5 mile easy run along the lake front.  Temperatures were still warmish, though not as warm as they had been the day before.  The temperatures were predicted to get colder until Sunday.

Then we headed to the expo.  I love expos.  They combine running AND shopping! The expo was well organized and everything was labeled and easy to find.  But wow, were there a lot of people, and Friday was the slow day.  I’m scared to think what Saturday looked like! Nike had a whole store set up, and I bought myself a special marathon shirt (and some socks because I forgot mine).  I also signed up for my 3:35 pace group, and got a 3:35 bib to pin to my back.

SATURDAY:

We did a 2 mile shake out run, however this one was much colder.  But really, a few minutes in, I felt overdressed in my winter gear.

We opted to do the Art Institute Museum on Saturday morning.  Coach Aaron wouldn’t let me wear heels, but my jeans are all too long, so I had to walk around Chicago in my running capris and running shoes.  THE HORROR.  Seriously.  But the museum was huge and we were on our feet for easily 3 hours, so I’m glad I wasn’t in stilettos.  We also carried a water bottle and focused on drinking obscene amounts of water.

I did insist on changing into boots for dinner on the condition that we eat at the pub across the street from our hotel.  Awesomely enough they had a special marathon menu so I got my pasta carb loading fill! Aaron ate something with mashed potatoes (how does one carb load on a gluten free diet?). Bedtime was 9:30.

Why yes, carb loading included beer.  This means beer + marathon = BQ! And one of the few moments I got cell phone service! Aaron was annoyed. 

SUNDAY:

The alarm went off at 5 am.  I did my pre-race ritual of showering (one can’t dominate marathons with unshaven legs), and ate some Luna bar and some banana and layered on the winter gear. We got out the door at 6:15.  The city was dark but alive with thousands of shivering runners walking to the start.  We felt like cattle.  We may have moo’d.

The first thing we did was get in the potty line which was already pretty long (we waited about 20 minutes).  Gear check drop off was easy, but at this point it was time to head to the corrals (they closed at 7:20, no exception), so I didn’t get in my second ritual pee.  Aaron and I said our goodbyes as he headed to “B” and I headed to “C.”

This was post race, but it gives you an idea of what I look like when I realize that my husband is photographing me coming out of the porta potty. 

I couldn’t find my pacers.  And since everyone was wearing sweatshirts over their clothes, I couldn’t find any 3:35 bibs.  I kept inching up until I found a nice looking man and asked if he’d seen the 3:35 signs.  He said he was in the 3:35 group and as far as he could tell the people surrounding were all in it too. A few people turned and nodded in agreement, and grunted a “welcome to the pack.”  I took off my long sleeve and tied it around my waist because I knew I would get warm pretty fast and I didn’t want to attempt undressing while running.  I was cold in my racer back, but not miserable.

Looking around I also realized that Chicago was a pretty male dominated race.  And let’s just say I was one of very few women wearing hot pink, sparkle headband, and a running skirt.

The race started, and while I was anticipating a good 10 minutes before we crossed the start line, we actually approached really fast (within 3 minutes).  And we were off!

The first 3 miles

This is the official start line photo.  I found Aaron (he has a red circle around his head).

So, the first thing you do is run uphill into a tunnel.  Tunnels are dark.  Tunnels also have dividers in the middle. Someone ran into someone who ran into me and I ran into the next person because someone didn’t see the divider in front of them until it was too late.  Luckily nobody was actually knocked down in the confusion, but it was pretty funny to see.  I guess you had to be there.

We emerged from the tunnel, and I looked down at my Garmin to see that it had lost signal.  Fantastic.  I spotted the pacers way ahead so I figured I would just hang out with them since I no longer had pacing function. It was awesome (and warm) to be running with so many people (over 38,000 at the start), but hard to get anywhere.  I saw the pacers but I couldn’t actually get near them.  Luckily, my Garmin got it’s act together pretty fast.

I saw some soldiers with amputated arms, and the crowd went wild every time they ran past.  I saw a lady with a prosthetic leg.  I saw people in wheelchairs.  I saw people going out of their way to support other runners.  Marathons restore faith in humanity.

I allowed myself to not worry about pace (pointless since maneuvering around people was impossible), and take in the sights.  A huge shout out to the city of Chicago and the spectators!  I felt nothing short of  rockstar status because these cheering people with their crazy signs were amazing. Also amusing were the people starting to shed clothes.  They would attempt to throw them into the crowd, but 75% of the time the clothing article would bop a runner on the head.

After trying to get myself next to the pacers for the first few miles I finally succeeded at about mile 3.  Everyone was de-clothed and I could see the huge group of 3:35ers emerge.  The crowd started thinning, and I finally got myself into a rhythm.

Miles 4 to 16

Crowd support was amazing.  Every neighborhood/church/school had bands or DJs and motivation was high.  So high that I suddenly found myself running sub 8 miles with no effort, and the pacers were somewhere far far behind me. I knew I needed to slow my ass down.  But I couldn’t.  The energy was too much to handle.  I was on track to run a 3:30 marathon (noted that at mile 6 this is hardly confirmation of anything), yet here is where I made the decision to run a Boston qualifier.

Gangham Style was being played by three different groups (including a Korean church with nice Korean middle aged ladies in track suits doing the dance).  Aaron, who at that point was about 15 minutes ahead of me, said that those same groups were playing that same song so it must have been on repeat.

The pacer bibs turned out to be quite the conversation starter.  I had people come up to me saying I was ahead of schedule (as a compliment, not as a warning that I was running too fast). And indeed I was.  While there were a few 3:35er’s I was surrounded by 3:30s and 3:25ers.  But I was feeling great. Instead of wishing desperately to be done at the 13.1 sign, I was like, hey, half way done! Hooray! But I was still stressing that I was running too fast.

The course was awesome! So many cool neighborhoods and so many cool sights.  For several miles, the Sears Tower was in view. And the weather was perfect.  I was cold at a few points, but overall, I was feeling wonderful.

There was uphill.  Not anything crazy, but there are rivers to cross and bridges aren’t at street level, so we did have to go up them.  I figured if this is what the last hill at the end looked like, I should be in ok shape.

Mile 16: 

Potty break. My pre-race ritual calls for 2 stops at the porta potty, but I only had time for one.  I had to pee the entire time,  and while it was annoying, it wasn’t affecting my pace.  I put it off as long as possible and was looking for a pee station right off the course (a few required some detour efforts).  I had my chance at the mile 16 aid station. By the way, Chicago gets a HUGE thumbs up for their stations.  They were almost every mile and 2 full city blocks long.  A nice person yelled out where things were upon approach so no guess work was involved.

According to my Garmin, I was stopped for well over a minute which makes me sad.

Miles 17-22

I was still feeling good, and amazed that I was SO CLOSE to finishing.  But, this is when crowd support went from super energized on steroids to non existent.   I REALLY wished I had my music to turn on at this point, but alas my iPod was back home in Albuquerque.

And people started dropping like flies starting at mile 20.  Up til this point I hadn’t seen anyone have any major problems.  Now people were puking on the sidelines, stopping to stretch, and stopping to walk.

Meanwhile I was gaining a whole new crazy confidence.  I calculated along the way that I needed to be at the 20 mile point by 2:40 to be on track for a 3:30.  I hit 20 miles at about 2:41.  CRAZINESS.  I was going to pull this off!

Miles 23-25.9

Um….WALL.

Training at elevation made it so that I never felt out of breath or without energy in low altitude Chicago.  But at mile 23, my legs said NO with the stubbornness of a two year old.  My feet felt fine, but my calves tightened and I realized that I was ready to be done with this thing.

The whole race my pace had stayed pretty consistent   Here it dropped to about 8:30 (the same as my pee mile) and it never came back down. But this was also when I had the most support from my fellow runners. A nice man came up to me and said, “way to go 3:35! You’ve got this!” Another lady came up and said something about girl power. But, despite the encouragement, the marathon became a completely personal battle.  I had to make a decision to keep going or stop and no amount of course support or inspiration could do the work for me.

Last week Kelly left me a comment that said to “trust myself.”  I decided that I would use that as my mantra, and in my time of need, that was the only thing my mind could come up with.  Trust yourself.  It literally got me through.

Regardless, at mile 25 I wanted to stop and walk.  I was beyond ready to not be running anymore.  But then I realized that if I kept going, I only had about 10 minutes left.  With 10 minutes left I would hit my goal.  If I didn’t keep going, I would literally miss qualifying by mere seconds.  The prospect of coming in at 3:35:02 was far more painful than sucking it up for the last 1.2 miles.

So, I sucked up (after taking the last water station very slow). And wow.  A mile has never felt so long.

Somewhere near the end

Miles 25.9-26.2

I saw a sign that said “only 800 meters to go!”  I HATE 800’s.  Not helpful.

We turned a corner and there it was.  THE HILL.  It was humongous.  Much bigger than the rest. At the top was the  mile 26 sign.  But I had to get there first. I felt like I crawled.  It was the longest minute? 30 seconds? of my life.

I felt a huge relief in my legs and I knew that I had reached the top. The course turned and the giant FINISH sign came into view.  I couldn’t move any faster, but I ran in (no sprint possible).  My life turned into a movie with the Rocky soundtrack playing in the background (in my head) and the roar of the crowd somewhat muted behind my racing heart. I crossed the finish in 3:33:55!

The crossover was pretty uneventful.  I know I was happy.  My goal was met.  But I didn’t have the energy to be super excited about it.  A girl that came in right behind me screamed BOSTON! And I wanted to turn around and give her a Boston Sister high five.  But I didn’t because I needed to focus on forward motion. I didn’t cry at the end.  Strangely, aside from complete contentment, I experienced very little emotion until hours later.

Aaron spotted me pretty fast (hot pink does have it’s advantages), and we proceeded to go through the longest post race walk EVER (about a mile worth of walking).  We did get our medals and our space blankets, but it would have been ok with me if the walk had been shorter.

Aaron’s Race

Aaron had such a strong and awesome first 21 miles.  He was holding a really fantastic pace and should have come in right about 3:10.

But then he got muscle cramps.  He had already run through the world’s ugliest blister (2 inches in diameter and YUCKY to look at), but running through muscle cramps just isn’t very easily done.  His last 5 miles involved a lot of walking and stretching.  And at the end of that hill at mile 25.9, a medic asked if he needed her to walk him in, so apparently he looked pretty pathetic.

He politely declined (people actually started cheering for him when he got moving again) and made his way to the finish in 3:27:21.

When he found me after I finished we had to stop on about 3 occasions during that long, long walk for him to sit down and stretch.

He wasn’t in good shape. He was understandably frustrated and really has been playing out what he could have done differently in his mind.  But he still had an awesome finish time that he’s happy to brag about!

After:

Gear check pick up was kind of a cluster-f and it took a good 20 minutes for us to get our stuff.  Not impressed.  It was arranged by bib number and bib numbers were arranged by pace, so each line was bombarded by people finishing at the same time.

After that, we still had another half mile walk to the finish line festival. We redeemed our free beer ticket then started the long walk back to the hotel with all the other limping people.

About an hour after finishing my left calf tightened to the point that I couldn’t walk on it (and couldn’t for the next few days).  And my stomach which thankfully held up so nicely during the race, decided to go crazy on me in grand style for the rest of the day.  I may have reached my goal but I paid for it.

In Conclusion:

Chicago organizes a great race.  I’ve heard some complaints, but my experience was fantastic! Volunteers, aid stations, the course, the signage, everything was spot on (they did run out of medals for the last few finishers but I think most of them were in past the cut off time).

The crowd was so amazing, and I appreciated all the support, all the signs, all the costumes and all the music.

I was amazed at how my legs just knew what to do and did it and at a much faster pace than I thought I could do.  I don’t think I would have been able to go faster at the end if I had slowed it down during those sub 8’s and if I had slowed down, I probably wouldn’t have met my qualifying time, so I’m happy that I ran faster than advised.  And really, my pace was so consistent throughout which really makes me happy.

I don’t think this will become a lifestyle.  I still enjoy halves far more, and I’ve never had such a long recovery period.  I’m still walking with a limp and trying to get my calves to loosen up.  And even though I am already forgetting the pain, I remember thinking how wretchedly awful it was to be at mile 25.  I’ve had some mean thoughts during the later miles in races, but I’ve never hated my whole existence as much as I did toward the end of the marathon.  It did make for a very sweet feeling when I pushed through it anyway but really, humans aren’t designed for this.

BUT, I will run Boston in April and earn my Unicorn (more on that tomorrow).

Thanks again for all of your amazing support this weekend!  I thought of all of you each time I passed a time sensor, knowing that you were getting a text message or seeing my little stick figure along the interactive map! It helped me so much going in to know that you were coming along with me. It was a great experience and I enjoyed getting to share it with you all and with Aaron, obviously the best running coach ever.  I questioned him many times throughout training.  We were running too much.  We were running on courses that were too hard.  We were running in the heat.  But in the end it helped me have a relatively uneventful and goal crushing marathon.

It was the proudest moment of my life to cross that finish line under my goal time, and THAT was worth all the training and pain.