I trained for this

About six months ago I began training for the marathon. The runs got longer and faster, my heart, lungs and legs got stronger.

Sleep got short.

Slowly I cut back on cheeseburgers, I officially bowed out of functions where late hours and wine were part of the package.

My strength training took a back seat to sleep on non-running days. (This would come to bite me.)

I became one of those people who says “only 8 miles” and does ice baths. I STAY hydrated and have cultivated a taste for particular GU’s and Nuun.

By no means have I been perfect; but I still trained for this race and on Sunday I will run it. My #1 goal is to have fun and stay injury free (finishing is a foregone conclusion). I would really like to finish in under 5 but as my first this is a guaranteed PR. I’ll be happy if everything in #1 happens in under 5 1/2. If it’s hot, that number will creep closer to 6.

When it’s over I’m almost guaranteed to cry.


the taper

keep-calm-and-taper-on-1Physically my summer of marathon training has left me with very few ailments: I had a really bad blister early on, some Achilles agitation and most recently a budding IT band problem. The last two have really flared up since the temperatures began to rise and our miles peaked; so I’m resting this taper!

By resting I mean foam rolling, more stretching (instead of none), stabilizing exercises and sleeping. All things that I knew I needed to do but really didn’t, my most often used excuse was lack of time.

Mentally I am so excited, I’m on TEN! There’s no guilt from not running as much, there are some jitters about running 26.2 miles but I won’t be alone and I know I’ll be fine.  But man oh man am I going to miss my training group!  This because very apparent when I looked at a photo of us from the beginning of training and felt weepy eyed: that used to be a group of strangers to me/my Dad’s friends, and now they are people with names that I know, voices I recognize because we’ve spent so many hours talking about and through the miles, friends that I will miss.

After our final group run I had my first sports massage for the above mentioned IT issue and Achilles ache – oh the pain, my solace was found in knowing that I would feel better eventually.  Of course then I went to sleep and woke up with sore muscles.  Do your foundation stuff children (stretch, foam roll, strengthen your stabilizers).  Afterwards there was an informal BBQ at the beach and just relaxing (and not running) by the lake with my newfound group was great!

my dilemma . . . z z z

As of late I cannot get enough sleep. I go to bed, before 10, ready to get up and run but when my alarm goes off my body lacks the motivation to move, on a very serious level.

The marathon is three weeks away, the 20 miler is on Saturday, I need to pull it together because not doing the weekday training runs is not good.

Today I’m going to try and do something I mentally have been opposed to from jump, I’m going to try running after work.

I know that for many this is the norm. For me running in the evening seems harder because now I’m taking time away from my family and what if I have to work late, I have no idea what type of lunch to eat and what if I can’t sleep because I just revved my heart for the last hour or more and now it’s ready to GO! I’m naturally a morning person, 4 (or earlier) is just wearing on me, at least that’s my suspicion.

running, running and things related to running – lessons learned:

Last week I got in only a single training run before the long run on Saturday.  I made it through all 18 miles; but I felt the difference of going into a long run well trained vs NOT. Because Chicago Marathon is next month, September is the most important month of training and I plan to do my best to be a “model” trainee and stick to the schedule!

Of course if it were that easy I would have been doing that all along.  I’ve been pretty good but by no stretch have I been perfect when it comes to sticking to the schedule and doing what I should be doing as a non-professional athlete. Some of my lessons learned so far are:

I am not a professional runner, I have a career and I have a life neither of which evolved around running. Tuesday mornings are a mid-week long run (this week 9 and next week 10 miles), I cannot fit that in before work without being late or depriving myself of sleep (I’m already up at 4).  Last week I ran for as long as I could, this week I took advantage of the holiday and ran that run Monday, next week I’ll go back to doing what I can.  I think that taking a sensible approach that does not completely let me off the hook is the right way to go.  I KNOW that I can finish the marathon in under 6.5 hours, my goal is to do so with the ability to move the next day ;)

I have not been working my core the way I should and now that the miles are getting up there I’m kinda feeling it but I’m also a little miffed that I ran 18 miles but don’t have the definition that I want around my mid-section.  Running has toned my arms and my core is stronger but when fatigue sets in form gets sloppy. A strong core and hips will help me to not maintain proper form and not hurt myself.  There really are no valid excuses here “if you have a floor, you must work your core” . . . I hear you Coach Mark.

I am a salty sweater. I read somewhere that people who don’t eat much salt and drink a lot of water tend to be salty sweaters.  go figure.  Because I am loosing so much salt when I run I need to work to get more in.  Typically I don’t care for salty foods, I have a few indulgences but they are not necessarily the healthiest of choices.  My solution will be two-fold:  instead of carrying water with me I will carry a sports drink (nuun) and I may give salt tabs a try.  OR . . . I can just have a delicious cheeseburger and fries from Portillo’s the night before a big run ;) this one might be a definite.

On Monday something terrible happened, chaffing.  I have Body Glide that I use on my feet to prevent blisters (my one true injury to date) and sometimes I put it on my legs when I run in shorts, Monday I did not.  Monday was relatively humid and my run was long.  I suffered the consequences of not being prepared.  I stopped to try and use my lip balm a few miles from the end of the run . . . . . I doubt it made matters worse but I would not jump to the conclusion that it worked.  I give myself credit for the creativity.  Aloe gel burned, A&D ointment seems to have had the most soothing and healing outcome.

The decision has been made to run the marathon in my favorite running capris ;)

A few weeks ago I was having a great run but when I stopped to get water I noticed that I suddenly felt dizzy.  Passing out is a fear of mine, I’ve joked about it long before I started running but it’s still a fear.  I took my drink of water and walked the last mile.  Later that day I started researching what happened, I had been feeling just fine, I was hydrated and fueled, I had a comfortable pace going . . . it turns out that my mistake was rooted in a bad habit.  I ran to the water fountain took my place in line, and stood there.
What I didn’t realize is that my heart alone does not pump blood, all of the muscles in our bodies “pulse” to help our hearts circulate our blood.  When I stopped running those muscles stopped helping, but my heart was still expecting the assistance so in that moment my blood pressure dropped and I became dizzy.  What I SHOULD have done and now do is that I begin walking as I approach the water fountain and as I wait I continue to move around.

If anyone has ever wondered why the chute is so long after the marathon it is in part to keep runners walking and to get their hearts a chance to adjust to not running so that fewer faint.

I also tend to experience a (seemingly) dramatic drop in body temperature after I stop running, I will be donning a silver cape (heat sheet) after my marathon and will probably have warm clothes checked in my bag.  This too is normal . . .

With a month left I am also facing the reality that I need to make a push in fundraising.  I would have a hard time asking a coworker to spot me for lunch because I left my wallet at home but I haven’t had a problem asking my friends to join me in supporting a worthy cause, I just haven’t done it with as much frequency as I would like to (time getting away from me, busy life, yadda yadda, yadda).  It is time for me to be “that guy/chic” who wants to do something good and get everyone else around her to do it too.  I don’t expect you to run, though I would have recruited you if you showed any inkling; but I am asking everyone that will listen to donate to my fundraiser because it means that much to me.  Be “that guy” as often as you can, there is no shame in being passionate about something worth while.  (link below in this post and above on the “donate” page.

This has been a long winded post about a lot of different things that relate to marathon training and I’ll close it out with saying to listen.  Listen to your body when it tells you that you need (not want) something and listen to your soul when it wants to answer to a calling.  There is a reason you are getting that message.


If you know me you probably know that I decided to run the marathon because of my dad. You may or may not know that I chose my charity because of my daughter (and my best friend’s daughter, my other best friend’s son, a sibling or two and my younger self . . .) who suffered from depression.

You probably also know, or have a strong inkling, that I am a volunteer.  Not consistently, but if there is a worthy cause and you need some (wo)man-power I’m in!  I donate blood, I help old people, it’s just the way I am.  If I could qualify for the marathon based on speed I would still be a charity runner because I sincerely believe that not only can I make a difference but that I can influence others to help make an even larger impact.  So I set my mind to it, I enthusiastically committed to Team Erika’s Lighthouse, I started running (first time ever). Once our fundraising page was set up I sent hundreds of emails and with each donation I received my feeling of accomplishment grew.

As the summer progressed my mileage increased and I began to develop regular routes. Chicago is pretty flat so I sought out inclines. From my perspective things were going well, I wasn’t at my fundraising goal yet but close and I’m definitely on course to be a marathon finisher.

Then I got an email from the high school communications director about the sudden loss of a student. Within hours I learned that she had taken her own life and a few days later I learned how. Somewhere in the middle I learned about parts of the kind of person she was.  Suddenly too many old feelings resurfaced in me and I fell into a slump and lost most of my desire to run. When I did begin to run again I could not bring myself to run the street or bridge where she died.

It took about three weeks to get there and I broke down when I did.  It helped with my healing a bit but it still hurt.

Today I allowed my run to take me back and noticed flowers. I’ve been wanting to share these feelings / to write this post so I went back to photograph them.  As I approached the bridge I saw a young man standing towards the middle, wearing all black, longish hair, he left before I got there which is just as well.  He may have thought I was some weird, morbid, old lady taking pictures of flowers placed to honor the girl that died.  In addition to the flowers was a cross country medal that I hadn’t noticed in the dark of early morning.


I took my photos then headed to the train and then I saw fresh yellow daisies in a lock where the young man had been standing.





I’m so very sorry that you were suffering and that you are not here today. In the short time that you were here you were loved, you were loved by many, and from what I’ve read you were pretty awesome.  You not being here has broken a lot of hearts, it has changed peoples lives.  There are some trying to figure out how to love you and still move forward without betraying you and I would imagine that is terrifying.

I didn’t know her and I don’t know her parents, so I will not put her name here.  Her name will be on my singlet above my heart with one other; on my back will be the names of those who struggled with depression but thankfully are alive today (they are not alone).  If you want to add a name to my singlet let me know the name and where it should be placed, I have no judgement just love.

If you know someone that is suffering from depression or having a hard time, talk to them, encourage them to get help, let them know that they are not alone, hug them, look them in the eyes and be present with them, let them know these feelings are not permanent and that they are loved.  You never know when your words or actions will make the type of difference that pauses time just long enough to create a different outcome.